In Melut the people I stayed with work at a small theological college. There were a few pastors visiting the college for a board meeting. They live in the city I used to live in up north so we were chatting away in Arabic and I talked about the centers where I’d worked. One of the men was familiar with the centers and asked who I knew that worked there. I start listing off the teachers I knew there and I get to one lady and he goes, “You know her husband is a student here.” I said “What?!”
So I asked around and it took no time at all to locate him. I (probably overly) excitedly warbled on that I knew his wife and worked with her and love that city and her and how was she and I am so happy to meet him and this is great. He handled my run-on sentence with grace and then said he recognized me from the Christmas celebration last December. He had been there visiting during his break from the college!
We sat and chatted for awhile. He didn’t go into details but confirmed that she and the other teachers were taken in by security for 20 days in a row. I said I knew they were treated badly and he just said, “Yes, yes.” He told me what was going on with the centers. That one had been closed, but the other was still open but maybe only for a month or two. I got choked up and asked what would happen to them and we lamented about the hard times for people there right now.
He showed me picture of him and his wife and of their four kids, who I know and have met. I gave him a picture to give to his wife, when he returns home to her. It was just of me and all the older boys on my last day there. Maybe a silly thing, but I dunno, it seemed like a good idea. Apparently he’d worked at the centers a few years ago and knew some of the boys who had been there for several years. We talked about them by name and he said he’d been able to chat with them sometimes when his wife was working and they would call him. My heart was so warmed!
While we talked he tried a few times to call her but she wasn’t answering. The next morning I was out and he comes up to me with his phone and says that it’s his wife! So we got to chat for a little while. It was so good for my heart! She asked what I was doing and I said that I would be in South Sudan for a little while. She said “Yes, you would come here, but it’s not possible?” And I said, “Yes, it’s not possible.” Assured her I’d been praying for her and others and would continue to pray. And I was hoping that someday (soon) I could return. She told me she knew I’d been praying; that one of the boys that I’m able to sort of keep in touch with had told her.
It feels so good to connect! Oh man, so good. I would hate for them to think that I left and just forgot about them or left them hanging. So I’m not sure if it is any consolation to them at all but it makes me feel better at least that they know how I feel.
I know, knowthat he, and she, and their family and probably all of their friends and community are facing hard times. I learned later from one of the teachers at the college that a few months ago their house, that he’d built, had been seized by the government and burned down by them. This is the second time that’s happened. Neither he nor she complained about that or anything else. Not once! I have much to learn from my brothers and sisters of the faith in this land.
What an unexpected blessing on this trip. Oh the good gifts the Father gives! Here’sto hoping this is the first of many connections.