On Dec 18, after 3 nights of shooting in Juba, the US Embassy ordered an evacuation and I left Juba. It was an amazing display of grace–a miracle really, the flight that I got out on. A friend called in the morning and said that Samaritans Purse may have extra seats on their chartered evacuation flight and that I should call them immediately and see if I could get on. I did. And they did! I needed to be at their office in 20 minutes. My go bag–with my computer, a change of clothes, warm shoes, and not much else, was already packed and ready to go. I grabbed it, hurried good-byes to the girls, and ran over to the SP office. During this time my boyfriend, Daniel, was already at the airport, trying to get on any flight. He wasn’t having any success. I called him and told him to call the same number that I’d called. They told me they only had one extra seat, but I encouraged him to call anyway. After a few phone calls they said that they’d change the manifest and he could have the last space! We were THRILLED.
So we made it out on one of the first flights out after the airport opened. For FREE. Which is no small thing, as other people were paying up to $1,000 for one way tickets to Kenya. A miracle in every way.
I spent the last 2 weeks in the UK with Daniel and his family. It was lovely. I’m now in Ethiopia for 2 weeks for conferences. These conferences seems timely. Many of us from South Sudan who were forced to leave and are in a time of waiting to see what will happen–if the peace talks will be successful, if it is safe (enough) to go back. It is a great time to be together with people going through the same thing and to process and talk through what is going on.
It was my second forced exit in a year. To be forced to leave a countries you’ve made your home twice in such a short time is hard.
Even before everything kicked off in Juba and in South Sudan with the fighting, I was gearing up writing a post about how exhausted I was feeling. I’ve been working full-time at CCC, and also living in the dorm with the girls. Across from the 5 year olds. I hadn’t slept through the night in months because of the noise in the dorm. Getting a day off has been difficult, as my home is in the same place where I work. Establishing boundaries has been difficult. I’ve been exhausted.
So, the ever bugging question–what’s next? There are many, many factors at play. Any and all decisions are dependent on many factors. This week I am going to talk through things with my Member Care people and others. While it may be too soon to make a plan, I’d at least like to establish some sort of framework to work from. I’ll need to return to Juba at some point to tie up loose ends (and I can’t really bear to leave most of my belongings in yet another country!)
There is a lot to think about and a lot to discuss. I am completely emotionally spent. It took most of my strength and lots and lots of faith to pick up and start over again in South Sudan after what happened last year. My work the last several months has been highly intense, I’ve been “on” constantly, and to deal with 3 nights of shooting and an evacuation and a country and people I love in turmoil… I don’t know. Africa keeps breaking my heart. But I still want to be here. I may need a break and some recovery for awhile, but I still love that I get to live here.
John 16 is a chapter I come back continually when things get tough. Especially verse 33–a forever favorite of mine: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Indeed, where can I find peace, if not in him? And he does bring peace. He brings rest to our hearts when they are hurting. I am sad, and I feel unsettled all over again. But he is good and his promises are true. And indeed he has overcome the world. And one day he will in full. I rest in that hope. What other hope is there?
So the path ahead is again foggy. I can barely see the next step. But it will lift. The way ahead will make itself known. I am worried for the girls, nervous about things, but my heart is at rest. All will be most well. Will keep you updated as plans develop. Your prayers for direction for me, Daniel, and South Sudan are appreciated.
“Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to you
Cuz I know that you are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart, You steady my heart”
Steady My Heart-Kari Jobe