So we hiked the side where there are no land mines (this is not a country to go off of the beaten path) and it was steep, but not that far up big rocks and through tall grasses. It was so nice to be at the top of the peak, looking down, and feel like I was able to breathe some fresh air. When we were at the top of the peak I tried to imagine what it would have been like centuries ago before it was surrounded by Juba. I wondered about the feet of those who tread the mountain all those ages ago and why and who they were with and how they felt at the top. I thought about the time before the war and all that has been lost. I saw tiny blue birds and butterflies with stunning bright red wings. I thought of the Creator and his goodness to us.
I came back and spent a low-key afternoon beading with some of the girls. One of the volunteers is leaving next week so her and her family came and made a special meal for the girls. As a token of their thanks the girls got out their drums and sang and danced in the rain. It was fun and beautiful. After the family left, as the sun went down, I and another Auntie and the girls continued to sing and dance in a circle around those playing the drums.
Miriam* (not her real name) came up to me after a few songs and grabbed my hands and held on to them for the next half hour. Miriam is 5ish, loud and joyous, onery. Easy to laugh. Both at small things but also at commands. So we sang and danced together. Towards the end we sang a few praise songs and the girls all erupted into prayer and even small not-so-serious Miriam prayed, but did so holding tightly my hand against her. And it just struck my heart how this little one doesn’t have a mother here taking care of her. Lots of Aunties and perhaps too many sisters, but not a mother who is hers. I was thankful in that moment that moment I could stand in briefly to hold her and say prayers with her and kiss her forehead.
Its days like these, filled with joy and only small frustrations that ease the heaviness of the other hard days.
Even though Juba isn’t really what I would call my dream or niche or sweet spot or whatever, there are pieces and pockets of satisfaction. As I was praying and swaying with Miriam holding on to my hands I thought of the words from a song that resonated deeply with me in my last few weeks in my N. African home.:
“Thank you, Jesus, Even when the pieces are broken and small
Dreams shatter and scatter like the wind
Thank you even then” (Even Then- Nichole Nordeman)
I feel like I’m collecting broken pieces of goodness and life here. They are not perfect and my vision and dream for the future is still blurry and feels a bit piecey at the moment. But I’m thanking the Lord. I’m happy to still be living parts of the dream here instead of being in the States right now. So even though they feel a bit like broken pieces, small pieces can make great things.
“But when your miracle doesn’t happen the way you planned, it becomes important to look for peripheral miracles. Peripheral miracles are those that aren’t directly in front of you. They’re not the one on which you have been so darn focused. You have to turn your head to see peripheral miracles.” Glennon Melton