Kithai yoi! (greeting in Laarim; Hello) We just came back from another vision trip to rural South Sudan. It was an amazing experience and I’m excited to share some highlights with you and take you along.
“O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. [...] I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. [Hosea 6:4,6, NLT]
I can totally relate to this. How quickly I turn away from God. I have moments where I am on fire for Jesus, where my whole body longs for Him (Psalm 63:1) and then there are moments where I don’t prioritize time with God at all. My desire for Him vanishes like the morning mist, like dew in the sunlight. This past month, I struggled especially with volatility. I had some good days where I was all excited to spend time with my Creator. But there were many more days of just living life and doing my own thing. I was still doing my quiet time every day, but often just so I had done it, to check the box. It was a sacrifice, but not love. I want to spend time with God, not just do the Christian things. Do you know those moments?
Preaching in Juba-Arabic
4 weeks ago, I got to preach for the first time in Juba-Arabic. I was super nervous, yet well prepared. Funny enough, as I was sitting in church, God gave me some new thoughts and bible verses to add. It worked out really well in the end and I got lots of wonderful feedback. Thanks for all your prayers, I could totally sense that standing up there. If you want to have a look, here's the recording.
The last 2 weeks we got to stay among the Laarim, a people group east of Torit. Similar to the last vision trip in November, we got to explore the villages, learn a bit of language and about their culture and learn from our missionaries over there. It was a wonderful time and it’s for sure a beautiful place. The Laarim live spread out on the foot of a mountain range. It’s as close to nature as you can get. My highlight was our homestay, where we got to live in a hut of a local family. What an experience! Sleeping on the floor in a hut in the middle of nowhere, no phone reception and whining hyenas in the background. (It was all safe, I promise!) It was amazing to see their way of living, the simplicity of life and how little you really need for living. I was especially amazed by how the community holds together. The father (I would guess is in his late 20s) lost his eye sight a couple of years ago due to a disease. I was touched by the way his wife and his brothers cared for him and enabled him to be part of life. And I was amazed by the joy with which he goes through life. 5 years ago, he gave his life to Christ and ever since lives joyfully every day. What a testimony!
I also got to do a lot of physical labour while I was there. Building a fence, cutting down trees and clearing the field for planting, working on motorbikes, … I loved it!
It was interesting to see the difference to the Lopit, the tribe I will be working among soon. While the Lopit have actual villages and big communities, the Laarim live on family compounds far away from each other. The Lopit are farmers, while the Laarim are mainly cattle keepers. The Lopit have more material things as they are in walking distance (50km) to Torit. On the one hand, they live very similar lifestyles, on the other hand there are my differences. Has this trip changed my mind about moving to Lopit? No! I still enjoy Lopit and the idea of living there excites me. The team is more and more taking shape and I’m really looking forward to it. But I noticed one thing: I love village life! I had a bit of a culture shock coming back to Torit, which is developing slowly but surely. I enjoy the calmness and lifestyle in the village a lot more. Not because it’s less work, I would say it’s actually the opposite, but because it’s more hands on work. I get to help in the gardens (fields), build houses and live a more simple life.
Nonetheless, it’s good to be back home in Torit. I was warmly welcomed and everyone was so happy to see me again. It’s really sweet to see all these relationships and how close you can grow with people in just 8 months.
I’m back in Torit for just 2 weeks before we go on a two week break. I will be going to Tanzania to visit some friends and team mates I met in Kenya and I’m looking forward to that. But we will spend Easter here in Torit and I’m really excited for that! I’m planning a sunrise prayer with my church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Pray that many would join us, even from outside the church. I also just started my first video project for AIM, a promotional video about Inbound, the training program I’m currently part of. I got some cool shots in Laarim while I was there and I’m so excited to stand behind a camera again! I’m hoping to finish the video by the end of May, I’ll keep you posted.
I hope you are doing well! I wish you already a happy Easter celebration. The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed!