Juba is Hot!!!!!

In South Sudan, the “dry” season is about to come to a close, and I’m all too excited for it’s duration to end. It has been unbearably hot the past couple of months. I was warned that February and March were the warmest months for South Sudan, but I didn’t understand the brunt of its affect.

Today, the temperature is 43 degrees Celsius, or 109 Fahrenheit (the temperature average is 100+ for this month). Add to that a good amount of humidity and you suddenly feel the urge to take it easy all day. In buildings with a high roof, like a cathedral, the weather doesn’t seem as bad. If you’re fortunate enough to work in a place with an operable fan, you can also have a moderately productive day. If you are really in bad shape, and work in a place without a fan or high ceilings, it’s better you just sit under a tree. Inside my bedroom, the daytime temperature is usually 7 to 10 degrees higher than what I experience outside. If I walk in my bedroom, or any other room without a fan or high ceiling, in the middle of the day, within seconds sweat is dripping from my face.

We seek relief with water, but most places don’t have cold water, as that would require constant electricity. Water with a hint of chill is highly coveted these days. Usually, I drink about 2 liters of water by the close of the workday, and I still find myself with dry mouth and lips by the time I reach home. When I first started the program, I refused to drink soda as a testament to avoiding things I know to be unhealthy. Nowadays, a soda seems almost necessary. In actuality, the sugar is quite good for the body. People experiencing almost any sickness are advised to take Oral Rehydration Salts. If you’re in the village, or you don’t have the money for the fancy concoction, you just take 1 liter of water, mix in10 teaspoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and walla – homemade oral rehydration salt. This mixture saves the lives of many people, especially those suffering of dysentery or advanced malaria.

When I first arrived to South Sudan, I was amazed to see an air conditioning unit in my room. It was the first time in my four trips to Africa that I’ve seen an air conditioning unit. Now, I don’t understand how people survive without it. My air conditioning unit is relatively functional, but that is only during the times when we have power. City power has been non-existent for the past two months. At my guesthouse, they turn on the generator for 4 – 5 hours in the evenings. These are the moments when I praise God for relief. Everyone closes their windows and puts their air condition on full blast in an attempt to significantly cool the room and help the room contain the cool once the generator is turned off. This is how we make it through the night with reasonable comfort.

Most South Sudanese neither have electricity nor air conditioning. To make it through the night, those living in Juba lay their mattresses outside their homes and sleep in the open air. Some of the young people seek refuge in the hills of their respective villages. During the first months of the year, school is out, like June – August for most American east coast children. It would be impossible for the children to concentrate in this type of heat.

In the early morning the air is still cool (around 80), and people can be seen moving actively throughout the city. Those who work, remain active during the day. Others, whose primary occupation is farming, spend the peak hours of the heat lying under a tree. The South Sudanese government releases employees at lunch on Fridays to give them a break from the heat, or to travel to their village to prepare their fields for the rainy season (I’ve heard gov’t officials give both reasons). I used to question my NGO friends, who always looked so refreshed, how they were able to keep their vibrancy. They would reply somewhat astonished, “You don’t have air condition? Where is your office?”

Last night, it rained for the third time this month, which also is the third time in the past 5 months. I’m very excited at the prospect of regular rains that will undoubtedly cool the air. More importantly, it will also refill many of the wells that have gone dry due to the annual 6-month drought. Streams that now look like they have been dry for years will begin to flow water through many of the village areas again. The weather will become cooler and hopefully my energy level will increase. Until then, I’ll just continue trying to push through, pray for energy, and maintain my weekly visits to one of Juba’s ice-cream venues for relief.

Stream in village that becomes dry every year during dry season.

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Forgiveness in a Far Away Place

Mama Rose, ECS-Rejaf’s Mother’s Union Coordinator has been my closest South Sudanese companion since I’ve been in South Sudan.  She makes it her business to make sure I’m healthy, safe, and taken care of.  However, one day, through my actions I found myself seriously on her bad side.

Mama Rose, two other male pastors, the driver, and I traveled to an area called Wonduruba to do a health assessment.  When I told an American missionary friend that I was traveling to Wonduruba, his eyebrows raised and mouth dropped open before he warned of the places potential dangers.  Apparently, about two to three months before my trip, there was serious violence between the people of Wonduruba and the people of the neighboring town of Lainya.  During our trip I was able to see the effects of the violence.  A brand new secondary school was abandoned because of nearby clashes. The school’s chalkboard still held an English lesson from the last day class was held – August 17, 2011 (We visited in mid Nov).

Vacant classroom in Wonduruba due to violence.

On the third day of the assessment, we finished early and went back to the lodge where we slept.  The two pastors were born and raised in the area, each having family and in-laws still living in Wonduruba.  Because we were finished early, one of the pastors asked me if I could give him a ride to his in-law’s house.  I immediately said, “Yes”.  Going to his in-law would give me an opportunity to see how people actually lived, candidly.  Whenever I meet people they are always waiting for me, and have full knowledge that a foreigner is coming. It’s hard to tell if people are being genuine or putting on a mask for the visitor.

As we were preparing to leave, I told the pastor to inform Mama Rose, who wasn’t feeling well at the time, that we were going.  The pastor walked to Mama Rose’s room, then two minutes later he and Mama Rose walked towards the vehicle together.  Mama Rose said, “Darriel, the Bishop said ‘No unnecessary moving’.  I am the one in charge of you.  You have to tell me before you go anywhere.”  I said, “Mama Rose, I am telling you, and I’m not traveling by myself, I’m traveling with two other pastors who are from this area.”  Mama Rose shrugged her shoulders and walked away in a manner that clearly indicated her annoyance.

I didn’t pay Mama Rose’s attitude much mind.  I felt I was being reasonable, and I did not want to sit around just waiting for the next day to come.  When I returned, Mama Rose was sitting in the common area outside the rooms.  I walked up to her and joking said, “Mama Rose, we’re back and we’re safe”.  Mama Rose didn’t smile or respond.  I pulled up a chair to sit next to her, and asked, “Mama Rose, are you still mad at me?”  She replied, “Yes, I’m very annoyed.  I’m going to tell Bishop even.  Darriel I left my family for you and your program.  You are the only reason I’m here, and you disrespect me. Why?”  I said, “Mama Rose, I did not disrespect you.  I went with two pastors from this area.”  At this point, Mama Rose waived her hand to cut me off.  Five minutes later she got up and walked into her room.

I sat there by myself for a few minutes.  Then I walked in my room to get a book I was reading.  After a few pages, my conscious started bothering me.  I walked into Mama Rose’s room and said, “Mama Rose, I’m sorry, please forgive me.  I didn’t know I would upset you like this.”  Mama Rose was not listening to me.  She waived her hand and said, “No No, it’s okay.  You’re grown, you’re a big person.”  I tried again, “I’m sorry Mama Rose”, but she replied in the same fashion, not even looking at me.

I walked away and after about an hour or so, our dinner arrived and everyone entered the dining hall.  During dinner Mama Rose didn’t talk to me.  After dinner, we usually remained in the dining hall watching videos and talking, but again Mama Rose ignored me.  After about 15 minutes, I got up, walked into the common area, pulled out Watchman Nee’s “The Ordinary Christian Life” (a great book by the way), sat alone and started reading.

When I was reading, it was loneliest I’ve felt during my time in South Sudan.  I really felt like going home and returning to the things I missed – friends, family, the familiarity of US cities – out of concern for people I didn’t know very well.  A few minutes passed and I saw Mama Rose walking towards me.  I wasn’t sure if she was walking to me or to her room that was immediately behind where I sat.  After I glanced at her, I put my eyes back into my book.

Then, Mama Rose walked up to me and fell on my neck.  I was sitting in a chair.  She kneeled, wrapped her arms around my head and said, “Darriel I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  I don’t want you to think about America.  Don’t think about home now.  I’m sorry.”  I was really touched by Mama Rose’s apology.  I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed someone apologizing in a more sincere fashion.  She encouraged me to come in and watch videos with the rest of the group, which I did.

When it was time to sleep, Mama Rose asked if she could pray with me.  She prayed for our relationship, the work we were doing, and for our individual families.  Again, I was touched and I reassured Mama Rose that I didn’t harbor any negative feelings.  I also apologized for not respecting her fully.  The next morning things were back to normal and we continued our work.  When I thought back on the events, I really learned what a sincere apology looked like from mama Rose.  It was verbal and bodily, grace seeking, honest, vulnerable, and not defensive.  It reminded me of the way Walter (played by Puff Daddy [P Diddy]) apologized to his mother after he lost the insurance money in the latest re-adaption of A Raisin in the Sun, or the way Eudorus broke the news to Achilles (played by Brad Pitt) that his younger cousin Patroclus died in Troy (I like movies).  Moreover, it reminded me of way that God wants us to repent when we turn back to the Giver of Life, that is verbally and bodily, grace seeking, honest, vulnerable, and not defensive.

Mama Rose and me after a sermon she gave one Sunday

Mama Rose speaking at a community gathering in a Village

Mama Rose preaching at ECS-Rejaf Pro-Cathedral

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Disease: Malaria

Malaria is a disease most of us know something about.  Through the news and stories from friends who’ve traveled abroad we know that malaria is caused through mosquitoes bites that carry a particular parasite that enters the blood and causes the often deadly symptoms.

In Africa, the mosquito is known as the number one killing animal, surprisingly followed by the hippopotamus.  Within my first three weeks in South Sudan, I learned of 4 deadly malaria cases.  One of the deceased was an up and coming young leader of the church who died after receiving the wrong treatment.  He was dehydrated, which occurs frequently with malaria, and was given a saline drip instead of glucose drip (or, in other words, they injected salt into his blood instead of sugar).

Even I came down with malaria in my second week of Juba.  I slept under a mosquito net and took daily anti-malaria medication but the parasite found a way to get me.  Thankfully my symptoms were pretty mild.  It felt like I had the flu, and I could tell I had a fever.  The day I went for treatment, I decided to walk 4 miles through Juba to become acquainted with the city.  After the walk I was a tired, but more tired than I would suspect.  Plus, my stomach hurt a little.  I took a nap and woke up 3 hours later feeling the same symptoms and my body was aching.  When I went for dinner, I had no appetite.  The others whom I live with said I looked “horrible” and that I should get checked for malaria.  After they finished eating, we walked about ¼ mile to a nearby clinic where they tested and confirmed I had malaria.

I remember I asked people in a village once how often they catch malaria and they all murmured in annoyance and said, “Malaria is like air, it’s always there!”  This is true, particularly during the raining season, when it may rain everyday.  I usually follow-up to such responses by asking how many people sleep under mosquito nets, to which they respond “Bayine” (It’s not there!).  At first I would just let that type of response slide, but now I ask, “Why don’t you go buy one?”  A mosquito net costs between 10 and 15 South Sudanese Pounds (or 4.2 USD), which for some people in the village is hard to come by.  Still, villagers find money for luxury items like sodas and beers.

Truthfully, even if each villager had a mosquito net, they would still get malaria quite frequently.  The mosquitoes bite most often around dusk and dawn, which in South Sudan is about 6:30pm and 6:30am.  As the air begins to cool at dusk, malaria causing mosquitoes travel from the fields looking for warmer spots to loiter.  Homes full of human bodies are one such spot.  At dawn, when the air inside homes begin to cool, the mosquitoes move from the homes to the warmth of the sunlit fields.  At the times when the mosquitoes are moving from one location to the other are the times when people are most likely to be bit from malaria causing mosquitoes.  But these are also the times when people are walking home from working in the fields, preparing food, looking after animals, fetching water, or walking to school.  It’s almost impossible to expect them to be under a net during dusk and dawn.    I traveled to the village once with a lab technician that would tell people that they are taking malaria with them under the net as they slept.

So what can reasonably be done?  For starters, malaria is most harmful to infants and pregnant women.  So those who fall into that category should actually spend time under a net during dusk and dawn.  People in general can wear long sleeve clothes at night to shield their body from mosquitoes.  But, perhaps the most important steps are removing standing water and vegetation away from the immediate vicinity of the home.

Mosquitoes breed and rest in standing water and plants (especially the village staple plants like corn, sorghum, and cassava).  If you keep that away from the home, the mosquitoes have a longer journey to travel to get to the house, and they don’t like to travel far.  If a person is really advantageous they could plant lemongrass (or a few other strong scented plants) around the home.  Mosquitoes don’t like those.  When I go into some of the NGO compounds around Juba, lemongrass is planted all around and the mosquitoes are naturally repelled.  Some of the people who live there don’t even use nets because the mosquitoes are not present.  They probably also spray insect repellant, which is another option for villagers.

Another huge factor contributing to the high mortality rate of malaria is the treatment.  For those who live within walking distance to a medical clinic, death from malaria primarily occurs because treatment was not sought soon enough.  For many people, even those who live near clinics, the first treatment of malaria is a local herb called “dikori ti melo”.  The herb has given a degree of protection against malaria for generations, but no one knows the proper dosage.  People just give a pinch or two or more like it’s a secret ingredient to a baked good.  Sometimes people ask me to research the medicinal properties of dikori ti melo and notify them of the proper dosage.  Many people will only go to the clinic after dikori ti melo has failed to help them.  This practice is often fatal, because the malaria can become advanced to a stage where emergency measures are needed.

man holding dikori ti melo

Dikori ti melo for sale on the side of the road

Severe cases of malaria lead to a high fever (104+), and seizure-like convulsions.  If the symptoms become this advanced, a person needs emergency medical treatment.  They have to be taken to Juba or another city with a full hospital.  Without a vehicle, this is quite a challenge, and the result is often fatal.

In America we used DDT, an effective but believed to be ecologically harmful pesticide, to kill malaria carrying mosquitoes.  In South Sudan, and much of the world that still has malaria, DDT campaigns have been pretty much ruled out by the international community.  Thus prayers, preventative measures, and treatment are the best remedies.

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Ad hoc Eulogy

While I was away in America a Canon (a Rev who is recognized by the Diocese for long-time exemplary service) of ECS – Rejaf passed. I missed his burial, which happened the day after his death. Mama Rose also missed his burial because he she was attending a week long workshop.

My second Sunday back in Juba, Mama Rose asked me to go with her to pay respects to the widow. I agreed thinking we would just go there, spend time with the family and then leave. To my surprise, when we arrived I learned that we were going to have a worship service. After they rearranged the seats in a particular order, I sat down beside Mama Rose. A few minutes before the program started, Mama Rose whispered to me, “Darriel, can you share with us from the Bible?” I replied, somewhat surprised, “You want me to give a sermon?” She said, “Yes”. Mama Rose said it so matter-of-fact that I began thinking that I was silly for doubting. On one hand I was shocked because I wasn’t even expecting a service, to give a eulogy was out of my imagination. On the other hand, I was honored that Mama Rose trusted me enough to ask me to speak at such a critical moment.

Unlike my experience in Kenya and Uganda, people in South Sudan haven’t asked me to preach as soon as they’ve learned that I was a minister. I spent over 4 months in South Sudan and I am yet to preach a sermon from a pulpit. I do give mini-sermons whenever I go to the field for my program, but those are informal and unrequested.

So that Sunday, when I realized I would be giving not only my first semi-formal sermon in South Sudan but the first eulogy of my life, I felt a little unprepared. I remembered some of what I learned in seminary as well as tidbits from my Field Ed, but nothing concrete. I remembered my friend Edmund recently saying that his pastor told him preachers should only give a Eulogy from an outline after years of experience (beginners should always have a full manuscript). At the time it sounded like good advice, but I knew I was about to violate that rule of thumb.

I just said a prayer and tried to think of a scripture that would encourage the life of the living and provide peace about the soul of the deceased. That week I wrote a paper on reconciliation where I talked a lot about John 3:16, so that scripture was fresh on my mind.

Some 15 minutes after I was asked to speak, I stood up to read John 3:16 and begin the eulogy. I talked about the how God did something years ago to prepare us for the present moment. God made it so those that die in Christ can live with Christ in Christ’s wonderful abode. Then I talked about how God has also suffered great loss, and that we who live can find comfort from God who voluntarily allowed death to visit his Beloved. I spoke for about 12 minutes with Mama Rose translating after every phrase.

The sermon was truly a “faith” moment for me because everything I said is what I believe and not what I’ve experienced. Thankfully, I’ve never had to suffer the loss of someone extremely close to me, so I can’t speak from first hand experience. Afterwards, the family thanked me for the sermon, which I pray comforted them.

Once we left, Mama Rose and I went to dinner where I told her that I had never preached a eulogy before. Her eyes got big, she laughed and said, “Well you did a good job”. I thanked her and we talked about life as a pastor. It’s amazing how God can have us doing things in life that we don’t feel qualified or prepared to do, and send us on journeys we don’t feel prepared to walk. But I guess that’s what makes it God’s work and not our own.

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Sermonette: The Purpose of Others

Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) is the organization that provides a comfortable place for me to eat, sleep, and access the internet. Aside from taking care of me, CCC has a much more challenging and important task of providing for female street children and orphans. Recently, I stopped past CCC’s newly constructed center to say hello to the girls and see the center’s progress. When I walked into the center, the girls saw me, yelled “uncle”, and greeted me with a plethora of hugs. I must say the girls truly know how to make a person feel received.

I talked with them, and they showed me some of the projects they worked on that day. Each one showed me the miniature tukuls (traditional huts made with mud walls and straw roofs. I have a picture of one of the homepage of this blog) they constructed alongside miniature fences and storage huts to keep grain. Then they played together. I observed them smile and laugh as each one responded to the personalities of the other. As I watched them, I remembered how good it is to spend time with peers for no other reason than to enjoy their company.

Life in South Sudan is in many ways similar to life as I remember it in DC. Networking is a constant necessity, and I’m here to accomplish a specific task. In such an environment it becomes easy to view people as a means to an end. People become those who help us achieve goals – land the next job, achieve the next promotion, complete our projects, or become acquainted with a higher social echelon. Similarly, as a minister, it becomes easy to view people primarily as those we serve.

Spending time with the girls reminded me that all the aforementioned views are problematic. When God created, the only thing wrong with creation was that the first person was alone. God said it was “not good”. If we move past all the obvious necessities of romance and procreation, it can be understood that “aloneness” was problematic because there no one with whom to share life experiences. The first person didn’t need another person because of a lack of food or housing, or even to help him till the ground. God had already created plants and animals and gave the first human a brain and to take care of those needs. After all the necessities for physical life were given, another person was added simply to share in the journey.

My church choir used to sing a song with the lyrics, “I need you, you need me, we’re all apart of God’s body”. I would resist singing along with the choir as they sang this song because I adored another song with the lyrics, “As long as I’ve got King Jesus, I don’t need nobody else”. I couldn’t balance the lyrics of these two songs, so I loved the later and disregarded the former. I remember talking to my mother about it, and she replied, “That’s because you haven’t lost someone close to you.”

In hindsight, I suppose both songs have their place. When Christ calls we follow the call to the extent of hating mother and father, brother and sister, wife or husband. Thus, we find ourselves alone. But God’s call to Christianity isn’t a call away from genuine human interaction; in fact it’s quite the opposite. God always provides people to be with us for no other reason than to travel the journey alongside us. Christ called 70 disciples away from their homes and families, but gave each one a companion, sending them out, two-by-two.

The girls at the center have left their families. Many of the habits and viewpoints carried by their families are prohibited at the center. Still, God has provided them with others, not to help them eat, sleep, or accomplish goals but, to share in their journeys. Of course, through the sharing of journeys, burdens are lightened and goals are accomplished, but it is a by-product of relationships and not the purpose. I fear that many, including myself, haven’t fully grasped the understanding that people are primarily those with whom we share our lives and not those whom we serve or have serve us.

When God came into the world as Christ, God came not so that we could accomplish goals, become political leaders (as many expected), or even to institute a new plan to serve people. These may be by-products, but the purpose of God’s coming was to enable us to have a deep and lasting relationship with God, so that we could share in God’s journey and have God share in ours. Christ taught his disciples that it was by the measure of their sharing – otherwise stated, the measure of their love – that people would recognize them as his disciples (John 13:35). I recognized Christ in the interactions of the girls from CCC, and through the sharing of their lives with me, they taught me something about my Savior.

Praise God for them!

CCC girls singing at a school event

CCC Children performing at a school event

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Disease: Onchocerciasis

One of the many diseases confronting the people in Rejaf Diocese is onchocerciasis.  Many times onchocerciasis is called or OV, riverblindness, or Oncho (pronounced Oncko) for short.  This disease was foreign to me when I first came to South Sudan, which is not hard to imagine considering I do not have formal clinical medical training.  Unlike malaria, which receives considerable attention and continues to be the dominant disease killing people throughout South Sudan and much of Africa, oncho is categorized as a neglected tropical disease (NTD).  The disease is transmitted from the “black fly”, which injects small worms called microfilaria into its victim.  The microfilaria then grow into full size falaria and reproduce microfilaria throughout the body.

The most immediate symptom of OV is severe itching throughout the body.  Most of the OV victims I’ve encountered are farmers, and the black flies bite them on the lower portion of their legs as they till the ground.  The result is that their legs are the dominant site where the intense itching begins.  To reduce the itching sensation, they scratch their legs to the point of permanent scaring.  The people tell me the scratching has two purposes: to give temporary relief from the itching, and to dig out the worms residing just under the surface of the skin.  The male OV victims I’ve met, who typically perform the lions share of the farming duties for the family, almost uniformally have scratched their chins to the point that they develop pigment discoloration along their chins (commonly called “lepeord skin”).

Leopard skin on man with Ochocerciasis

"Leopard skin" on man with Ochocerciasis

Boy's leg begin to show the first signs of Ochocerciasis. The scabs are the result of his scratching.

For the women, who typically don’t till the ground as often as the men, OV has the tendency to develop nodules – raised lumps where the adult filaris congregate – on the arms.  The books and websites I’ve read to learn about this disease suggest that the worms also congregate in various places throughout the body causing body pain, back pain, and a number of other side effects.

Perhaps the worst side effect to onchocerciasis is its effect on the eyes.  Oncho, if untreated, often causes blindness, which is the reason for one of the diseases common nicknames – riverblindness.  When I travel to villages, the people show me a number of those who have gone completely blind from the disease.  Others, that is almost everyone, complain of eyesight loss, which they attribute to the disease.

A group of adults completely blind from oncherciasis

The positive side of this disease, if there is one, is that a treatment exists for it.  For those who have gone completely blind, there is no remedy.  For others, if they are given the drug ivermectin the microfilaria will die (which causes the bulk of the side effects), and the adult worm will be unable to reproduce.  Merck has donated ivermectin since 1987, and promises to donate the drug for as long as the drug is needed.  If done properly, mass distribution of the drug should be administered annually throughout areas where OV is present.

Unfortunately, the people of Rejaf have not received the drug since they began trickling back into their villages in 2008.  Some of them received the medicine when they were exiled in Uganda, or in an IDP (internally displaced persons – meaning displaced within your own country) camp in Juba.  Yet, the medicine has been brought into country consistently for several years.  I’ve been working with the World Health Organization (WHO), the organization responsible for acquiring the drugs, transporting them into the country, the national ministry of health, the state ministry of health, and the Juba county health office.  To date, the medicines have still not been distributed.  I’m tempted to just get the drugs and distribute them myself, but that will have a harmful longterm effect.  Instead, my goal has been to work with WHO, the government, and the local villages to ensure the medicine is distributed in a way that can be repeated in the upcoming years.  WHO and the government have continually listening to my complaints but there is no management plan or accountability measure to ensure the work is completed properly.  They have challenged me to come up with such a plan, and I now working on it.

Onchocerciasis medicine sitting in storage at hospital since July 2011. The hospital sits in an area where most of people in the immediate surroundings are affected, but still the medicines haven't been distributed.

Please pray for the people suffering with OV, for those responsible for distributing the medicines, and for the churches influence on the situation.

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Christmas Season in Juba

I must begin this post by stating that I did not spend Christmas Day, December 25th, in Juba, South Sudan. I was blessed with the privilege of traveling home and spending the Christmas holiday with my family and friends. However, I spent over half of December in South Sudan and it provided me with a glimpse of their Christmas culture.

When I was planning how I would spend my time in December, Bishop Enock told me not to plan many activities in December because everything shuts down for the holidays. The ECS provincial office shut down on the 16th of December. The Diocese of Rejaf, which is not yet a full office, decided to stop working from the 19th of December. I tried to contact people in neighboring dioceses about plans in January, but they were unavailable from the 14th and 15th of December.

The Christmas season didn’t appear similar to what’s normative in the states. Except for the day I spent 3 hours waiting in Juba’s largest bank, I never saw a Christmas tree or heard traditional American Christmas carols. I didn’t see tensile, wreaths, mistletoe, lights, or other forms of decorations on houses or businesses (I think some places, however, were decorated closer to Christmas.  I left on Dec 16th.)

I was able to experience two Christmas programs, both featuring children singing, one in Dinka and the other in English. At the Dinka service, a few hundred spectators gathered to watch the children dance and sing for several hours. The children changed clothes often, and performed various dances common in Dinka culture. I don’t understand Dinka, so I couldn’t interpret the meaning of the words they sung, but it appeared heartfelt and important. The English service was organized by British expats and featured the girls from CCC, where I stay. I’m accustomed to seeing the girls play games and laugh at my poor attempts to speak Juba Arabic. It was wonderful to see them dressed “smart” (the African way of saying dressed nice) while singing with pride before a church filled with expats, receiving their applause, and afterwards asking to be photographed to remember the moment.

Below are pictures from both services.   Enjoy.

Dinka congregation christmas carol performance

South Sudan Christmas carol celebration

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