It’s now been a bit more than 5 weeks since we stepped on to South Sudanese soil. After a time of technology fasting, to be able to settle in better, I’m happy to share with you my experiences and what my everyday life looks like.
One Thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in his temple. [Psalms 27:4, NIV]
This verse has followed me the last three months. Several people shared it with me, my mom read it in her devotional the other morning and they preached on it one day in my church. I have made this my guide and goal, particularly for this year. My curriculum asks me to abide in the Lord, spend time with him, for 2h per day. I’m really thankful that this is such a high priority. But for me, this verse goes even further. Whenever I meet people on the street, who are made in the image of God, whenever I see the beautiful mountains and nature, whenever it rains and I see God’s provision, … I get to gaze on the beauty of the Lord. What about you? Is this the one thing you would ask from the Lord? To spend time with him forever?
What do I do again?
Maybe that’s a question that came to your mind: So Matze, what are you actually doing in South Sudan? After being here for some time now, I want to answer that question again and more clearly.
I’m part of an ‘Inbound’-team, which is not a ministry, but a training and learning team. Our focuses are: abiding in God (personal growth in the Lord), language & culture learning, partnering with the local church and mobilizing people for missions (both here and back home).
2h per day, I should spend time with God alone, reading Scripture, praying and worshipping. We also read and discuss a lot of books together. So far, I grew a lot and it’s been amazing!
3-4h per day, we should spend time in the community. Learning culture and language goes hand in hand with building relationships. I know have a small network of shop owners, people on the market, neighbors and church people. Relationships are huge in many cultures, they are essential. So a lot of the time I spend my time talking with people, sitting at their houses and walking around town. It’s so different than my cold-climate German context, but I really enjoy it! My language learning goes really well and I understand and can speak a lot already! Juba-Arabic is a very simple language and I really enjoy speaking it! It’s amazing to see the smile on people’s faces, because you try to learn their language and culture. Language is ministry!
The local church in Torit is really solid and I’m super thankful for mine. Everyone of us attends a different one. I have already built some relationships, especially with the youth. I’m really inspired by their faith and hope to be an encouragement to them in this next year.
I was pretty nervous when we were heading off to the airport in Nairobi. Not knowing what South Sudan actually looks like, I hopped into the small Cessna (airplane) and we took off. We stopped half way to refuel and so for the second half I got to sit in the front and was allowed to fly for a good 15 minutes. A dream came true! We arrived well in South Sudan, the team had prepared lunch for us and we settled into our homes. The first week was orientation only, so we met as a team and got our basic language, culture and tips and tricks. It was a good and slow start that allowed us to settle in well.
South Sudan is very different from what I expected. My home is quite luxuries (still local, but on the upper end), everything is very green (rainy season), you can get pretty much anything in town (food, clothes, housing stuff, …) and everything is very safe. Obviously security can change fast in these countries, but so far, there hasn’t been a single moment where I felt unsafe or threatened.
Life in South Sudan
There’s so much I could write about, because it’s so different than any Western country. There’s no power or water grid, no waste disposal or sewage lines. People rely on God’s provision! Our power comes from a small solar system, our water is collected rain water that we filter, we have a sewage tank and we burn our trash. It’s different and yet not super inconvenient, I really enjoy it actually! We don’t have a fridge, so food goes bad in days and we have to go to the market every couple days to stock up on veggies. Meat is a huge luxury and so I eat meat probably once or twice a week, the locals probably every other week. We do have a gas stove, but as gas is very expensive, we try to use it as efficiently as possible. The locals cook with charcoal and so I have started to get into baking on charcoal which works quite well. People usually walk or take a boda (motorcycle taxi). I try to find a good mix of walking and supporting some boda drivers. For reference: the market is a 20min walk, the church about 40min, you get used to it, it’s good to keep you fit. Life in South Sudan happens outside! If it’s not raining, it would be weird if you stay inside. I live on a compound with a lovely family. There’s always kids around and I get to play with them a lot, learn a ton of new words from them and teach them some German and English. They’re adorable and I’m super thankful!
We also got to see a village outside of Torit, where we stayed for 3 days to get a more local experience. It was an amazing time, very eye opening and inspiring!
Honestly, just day to day life. Language learning, church and building relationships. Things change hourly and so I’m curious what the next months will bring. In November/December, we will go to Uganda for a conference and a week of vacation.
Thank you so much for all your support, prayers and messages! I’m beyond gratefulness and feel like I’m exactly where God wanted me. I love you guys! God bless you,