A little bit of life in Doro

I’m sorry for my lack of blog posts. I am really trying to increase the number, even if I don’t think I have profound things to say. There are usually pictures that I can share, and those can tell a story all on their own. Here are a few from life recently.

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Holding one of my favorites, Bushara, while he sleeps

Evie having her hair put in braids by one of the ladies after church

Evie having her hair put in braids by one of the ladies after church

Some of our current Doro team at Evie's goodbye party

Some of our current Doro team at Evie’s goodbye party

Axa, one of the ladies that works at the clinic, aka my Sudanese grandmother

Axa, one of the ladies that works at the clinic, aka my Sudanese grandmother

After a visit to my old Arabic teachers' houses

After a visit to my old Arabic teachers’ houses

 

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Manga makes it home

Thank you so much for your steadfast prayers, love, support, and encouragement for this sweet family. They have had a month of travel, waiting, surgery, recovery, more waiting, doctors appointments, travel, waiting, and finally returned home to Doro this afternoon. God has been so faithful and has had His hand on this whole situation from the first time I met Manga and her mother back in February. Manga was not very thrilled about the idea of pictures and all the attention she was getting when she arrived home, but we are happy that today they are back with their family and village.

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Welcome home Manga & Sunday!!

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Manga

Many of you know Manga from my last newsletter. Some of you may not. Tomorrow she will have a long awaited surgery. It has officially been named a “frontonasal encephalocele repair” and it is amazing to see how God has orchestrated all the details over the past few months to bring her to this point. Forgive me for waiting until now to write this, but we have been without stable internet the past week or so and I have not been able to communicate what has been happening with Manga and her mother. My friend Stephanie, has so clearly communicated some of what has gone on to get to this point, so I want to share what she has written below.

“I think I have typed the beginning of this letter about 10 times now. It is hard to know where to start telling the story. I have watched over the last 3 months as the Lord has used His people to show extravagant love for one little girl. I want to ask you to pray for her, but before I do, I want you to know what you will be joining in on when you pray. (I apologize for the lack of pictures. I haven’t asked permission to share them yet, so I won’t. Just know she is completely adorable and as the week has gone on, a bubbly and giggly little personality has started to emerge. She is simply delighful.) 

My friend Ruth, a nurse practitioner with SIM who works at a clinic in Doro, South Sudan, met 18-month-old Manga and her mother, Sandy, a few months ago. Manga has a rare disorder where her skull has not completely closed in a place between her eyes, leaving space for brain tissue and fluid to come through and could threaten her life if left untreated. Ruth e-mailed our ENT here in Kijabe to ask what could be done. Once it was decided that he could do the needed surgery in Kijabe, Ruth went to work gathering all of the necessary documents, arranging for travel, places to stay, a phone to use, CT scans and funding….and probably a thousand other details she hasn’t told me about. From the beginning of this, I have seen Christ in Ruth’s love and compassionate care for this little soul.  

The team involved in this on the Kijabe side includes everyone from the employees at the guest house where they stayed to pediatricians to clinic assistants to missionaries new to the field. 

Kijabe has a number of nurse anesthetist students from South Sudan who have been so kind to help us with Arabic interpretation so that Sandy understands everything happening along the way and we can answer any questions she has. We have a neurosurgeon here and not just one, but two ENT surgeons who can work together to repair the opening. One of them just happens to have a specialty in facial plastic surgery. Just today, we found out that the cost (which will not be small) will be covered by one of our partner organizations at the hospital. 

As I have watched how the Lord is using His people to pour out His grace and display His compassion and very practical care for one little girl, I have been stunned by the beauty of it. All of us who have had the great pleasure of being involved in this keep talking about how amazing it has been to watch it all happen. What a great picture of those whose hearts have been captured by the Gospel working together to push back what is broken in the world. 

So, would you join us in Kijabe, the team in Doro and Manga’s family in praying for her as she has surgery tomorrow? Pray for her surgeons Anup, David and Humphrey – for good rest tonight, clear minds, steady hands and wisdom as they operate. Pray for the nurses and doctors who will care for her during her recovery. Pray for her mother who is young herself and who has made this trip alone. I cannot imagine the kind of brave you have to be to do what she has done in the last week. She will have a long day tomorrow waiting for her daughter to come out of surgery. Pray for comfort and for good rest tonight. Pray for a speedy recovery with no complications. Pray for their family at home as they wait for news tomorrow and for their girls to return home.” 

-Written by Stephanie Cox, Audiologist, SIM, Kenya

Thank you for being part of this journey with Manga and Sandy. Whether through prayers, helping orchestrate details, or giving financially, God has used many to come together to help this sweet child. I will continue to keep you updated, but please keep praying.

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Christmas

I know it’s a few months late, but let’s just say I’m on African time with these infrequent blog posts. Here are a few pictures from Christmas day and the day after in the Uduk part of the camp. While this Christmas was much different than any other I’ve ever experienced, it was sweet and many memories were made. God is good and is moving in South Sudan. Pray for His great name to continue to go forth.

My boss and friend, Cathy

My boss and friend, Cathy

"Trying" to be helpful cutting onions

“Trying” to be helpful cutting onions

All the food ready for distribution after a long day of cooking!

All the food ready for distribution after a long day of cooking!

Angel appearing to Elizabeth as part of the Uduk Christmas skit

Angel appearing to Elizabeth as part of the Uduk Christmas skit

Some of King Herod's guards

Some of King Herod’s guards

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My New Home

Forgive me for this long overdue post. It has been so much fun to jump into life here in Doro. So much so that I’ve been exhausted and beyond the point of fighting with the internet to upload photos and share what has been going on. Here are a few “sights” around our immediate area and compound.

My new house that I share with Briana. My side is on the right.

My new house that I share with Briana. My side is on the right.

A cow parking lot in front of our clinic

A cow parking lot in front of our clinic

Maban church behind my hou

Mabaan church behind my house

Hay Al Nuba church

Hay Al Nuba church

All health project staff (includes the primary health care clinic, maternity, and nutrition village)

All health project staff (includes the primary health care clinic, maternity, and nutrition village)

Me in a cubicle ready to get to work seeing patients

Me in a cubicle ready to get to work seeing patients

My friend Halima teaching me how to make okra soup (a staple in Sudanese cooking).

My friend Halima teaching me how to make okra soup (a staple in Sudanese cooking).

Halima, Leila, and I after cooking the restaurant food  for one day.

Halima, Leila, and I after cooking the restaurant food for one day.

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Last Monday

The past week has been surreal and exciting and a bit of a blur all at once. I thought I would share some of the events of one day of my life, last Monday, as things seem to take a bit longer, are a little less straight-forward, and sometimes a bit more stressful in this corner of the world.

A group of us left our respective housing in Nairobi before sunrise last Monday to catch our flight to Juba. Despite ample time to get checked in and through customs and security, we found ourselves being escorted to our gate as the last ones to board our flight with a few minutes to spare. After a little shut eye on the plane, the anticipation of FINALLY being back in South Sudan started building. We landed in Juba and were promptly directly to the Ebola screening tent where it moved much quicker than expected. In immigration I was sent back to the Ebola tent for my form–I didn’t know I needed to ask for it back after I was ushered through after having an appropriate temperature.

We then entered the chaos of “baggage claim.” It consists of masses of people picking up their bags that have been thrown into a pile and taking them to the next available customs agent (usually in a ‘whoever pushes the hardest gets there first’ type fashion). But this time my bag wasn’t in the chaos. For the second time in a month I stood there with no bag. The agents working the area assured me it would come later, but I did the only thing I could at that moment to cope. I cried. When you live halfway around the world from your home country and you are moving back to your country of choice 11 months after you had to unexpectedly and prematurely say goodbye (which also happens to be a country wrought with civil war), you just want some of the comforts of your “stuff” in your bag. You want your imitation ritz crackers, your chacos, your flash cards from months of Arabic study, your deodorant, and the contents of the care package you only had a couple days to enjoy. But that was not the case last Monday morning. I filled out the necessary paperwork that seemed all too familiar from a few weeks prior, and told the guy I would return in the afternoon.

We went to our hotel to drop our things off before running (why would we be running anywhere in 100+ degree heat? Let me rephrase…going, as in riding in an air-conditioned van), to the immigration office to try to renew our visas. We were unsuccessful (they don’t expire for 3 weeks), so we could not renew them early, but we were able to register as aliens in the country. About 4 offices and an hour and a half later, we were officially registered. We then ate a yummy lunch of grilled chicken and bread on the street, and had a few minutes to rest in the mid-day heat before returning to the airport in search of the missing bag and sim cards for teammates. In those moments of rest, I made a list of what I had lost. I became frustrated with myself for being frustrated about stuff. None of that stuff, if in my hands, would impact my purpose in South Sudan. Why in the world was I wasting so much energy over fleeting things of no eternal value?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in a steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~Matthew 6:19-21

By the time I headed back to the airport, I was doing better with the idea of another “lost” bag. But to my surprise and much grace, the bag did arrive. Evidently a conveyor belt broke and a few bags didn’t make it on the plane. I left the airport full of joy and thankful. It may seem stupid to be so worked up over a bag, but it was a great reminder to remember where my heart should be. While I sit here on my porch writing this blog, I’m reminded of this truth again. Things in South Sudan are far from stable. The probability that we could be evacuated in the next couple of months is high. I want to spend my time here in Doro storing up things of eternal value, and for my treasure to be in people and His name being glorified, not earthly possessions.

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Waiting in the Ebola screening line

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More photos of my new home coming soon!

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Steady On

I haven’t posted in a while, as there isn’t too much to share. I am still in language school and steadily making progress with Arabic. At least 6-8 hours of my day are completely in Arabic. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Thankfully, most of the time this pushes me to study and practice more.

He has been faithful this year to keep my focus on Him and language. I love being a nurse. I love taking care of patients. I miss this aspect of life. I am excited to get to Doro and start working as an NP in the clinic. But, I know this language season has a purpose, and I want to make the most of it. So, I’m pushing forward with the next few months of study and want to finish well.

“Contentment is not waiting for the circumstance to change, it is choosing to control our attitude when we can’t control our circumstances.” –B. McConnaghey

As much as I’m sure a picture of my daily flash cards or homework would interest you, I thought I’d share some pictures from our neighborhood and Ramadan decorations. During Ramadan, I was able to learn a lot about how it is celebrated here and share in some of the festivities with neighbors.

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