An update on daily life in Yei...

Jenny_2010 Posted by Jenny Bell on Fri, 06 May 2011 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

The landscape is being transformed.

The dry red ground has long been covered with dust. As one walks along the road, vehicles speeding by leave clouds of red dust and a new comprehension of the phrase, ‘Eat my dust’! An abundance of tall trees (mango, teak, papaya and others) fill the horizon. As the rainy season begins, these have rapidly become very leafy and green. The luxuriant mango trees are heavy laden with fresh fruit, each mango suspended individually on a stalk, reminiscent of Christmas tree ornaments. It is amazing how quickly the ground has become covered with grass and shrubs with the beginning of the rains. Each rain brings very welcome cooler temperatures.

It’s been two months now since I arrived. I first slept in my little house one month ago. The bits of renovating have happened in typical slow African style (though some might argue quicker than usual!). The gradual pace has worked out well. The health work has continued to take large chunks of time and energy so it has been helpful for my home to gradually be prepared. My kitchen is wonderful now with its new wooden countertop. The very helpful carpenter was also able to mount a wooden board on the cement wall to hang my pots and pans as well as to put a fresh coat of varnish on the faded wooden window frames. The welder has mounted metal rods across the open shelving of the kitchen and bookcase for curtains in an attempt to keep out some of the dust. Soon I hope to pick up the last of the curtains from the seamstress. It is now very much feeling like home and a lovely place to return to at the end of the day.

Tabitha and I continue to cook and eat together (albeit now at my house, instead of outside her rooms a few metres away), which is a great help as well as great companionship. Currently we are regularly indulging in large amounts of mangoes! When did you last buy about 10 large mangoes for 20p/30 cents? I will miss Tabitha a great deal when she leaves toward the end of June. But God is providing a wonderful gift in the form of the daughter (Jen Taylor) of family friends who will come mid-July to do a 5-weeks’ stint as part of her clinical PhD in midwifery.

Life here means intimate contact with the world of nature. I don’t mind the geckos which one can hear at times in the ceiling, occasionally spot on the wall, and whose droppings one can often detect scattered around. It has been difficult to protect the bananas in Tabitha’s area from being gnawed on by mice at night but they haven’t yet discovered those at my house. Frogs like to appear after the rain – as do flying locusts, especially attracted to lights. There is an abundance of small beetles. Sometimes there are invasions of various sizes of ants. Tabitha, who is happy to co-exist with spiders and is intrigued by the bat, ‘Lucy’, hanging by her ‘kitchen’ door, really dislikes the cockroaches which can be in the outhouse/latrine, especially in the evening. But she has decided that she is happy with ants, as she intentionally left a dead cockroach she found in her bathing area overnight and was pleased to discover that the ants had caused it to disappear entirely by the next morning. On a lighter note, glow-in-the-dark flying insects are beginning to arrive.

The expat community here is not large. In Kyrgyzstan (1994-2002), there were many young families but Sudan has not been an easy place to bring children to. There have been several older couples (60-ish) but John and Poppy left a month ago and this week we are saying goodbye to a couple from the southern States. The only (German) family, with 4 children, leave later in early June. They are both doctors and the wife especially is lovely. At the end of May, an American couple a few years older than me leave for 6 weeks. Then primarily young (20’s and early 30’s) single women and two couples will remain. One is Dutch and the wife (Hilda) of the second couple is Dutch and her husband is Kenyan. In a ‘small world’ coincidence, Hilda is childhood friends with a Dutch woman I knew in Osh, Kyrgyzstan (who later married an Uzbek man).

So aerobics tends to be the above half a dozen women (2 Dutch, one English, one German, one Swiss German) and me exercising in the garden of a small house. Makes a pretty hysterical sight (do view a couple of photos on my Facebook site!) and I’m sure the nationals think we’re mad. This is an important time of connection and social support and processing of cross-cultural issues as well as the obvious exercise/fitness.

I am gradually getting my head around the many varied aspects to the work. Every Wednesday I do the hour and 1 /4 hours’ drive to the clinic in Liana (lengthened by a 5-45 minutes’ wait for de-mining). Do note that the de-mining is NOT on the road itself but in the fields adjacent to the road so there are periodic road blocks so that the vibrations from the road do not set mines off in the fields. Sorry if I earlier alarmed some of you! It hasn’t been easy to find someone to travel with me but I have come to really enjoy the ‘down’ time driving alone and have made the happy discovery that I am able to hear my MP3 player while driving! (Thanks sons, Daniel and Jonathan!) I try to leave by 8:30am so that I am driving in the cool of the day, when life always seems brighter with more energy in the cool after a good night’s sleep.

I have had a deep sense of God watching over my steps. Be it things that need doing in my house or the myriad of work details, it has felt as if God helps me to bump into people I need to see or otherwise prompts me to do certain things. I was struck by the wording of Psalm 23 the other day – ‘Surely goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life’. I continue to be convinced that God always wants what is best for us and that He is trustworthy in this. He loves to bring restoration in every area of our lives. Interestingly, I have been sleeping very well. In my late 30’s, for the first time in my life, I encountered some sleep issues. Now here in Sudan, I can go to bed early and have no problem falling asleep early– something I haven’t done for years.

This is already getting quite long so will save more stories from work until next time.

PRAYER REQUESTS

Prayers are appreciated for:
- continued building of relationships at the Martha Clinic (about 35 on staff), especially with the 5 on the management team
- that the management team would be willing to do just that!
- wisdom in leading the weekly devotions/how to encourage others and draw them out
- continued adjustment to the heat and developing a rhythm of daily life
- upcoming visit of the donors for the eye clinic 11th May – that I’ll be on top of all I need to know for that
- hoping to take a few days’ break in Arua in mid-late May (logistics for this)

May God continue to transform the landscape of each of our lives and those of the people of South Sudan.

Love Jenny

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