Friday, July 28, 2006

Miscellaneous Reflections

I woke early on Sunday morning -- my first morning back from Lui -- and had the opportunity to make several entries in my Lui journal. I wanted to be ready, in case they asked me to articulate any major themes about my journey. Here are the things that I flagged:

The people in Lui have two feet planted in the Iron Age and two hands reaching toward the 20th [not even the 21st] century:

§ Their "agricultural tools" are merely a hoe and stick
§ The women must spend hours per day grinding grain.
§ Water is 3 miles away -- and the well is nearly dry.
§ There's virtually no machinery ... and they have little understanding of how machinery works. So even assembling the treadle sewing machines was impossible for them ... until Deborah helped them.
§ News & communications travel only at the speed of a walking person or perhaps by bicycle -- much like the U.S. 200 years ago.
§ There's just one computer [an old 486] in the whole diocese of Lui - -powered by a generator and connected to e-mail thanks to a satellite phone from our diocese. But all those connections are very fragile and prone to breakdown. While Deborah's there, they have satellite phone connection to the wider world. But what connection will they have when she (and her phone) leaves?

I visited five villages/archdeaconries (beyond the village of Lui) in my time there:

Kedibah -- burned in September by the Dinka
Wandi -- where the women gave us/Robert a live bird
Mariba -- also destroyed by the Dinka -- where they're now rebuilding with grass, because they're no longer confident of the peace
Nideh -- including healing prayers for children with nodding disease

Everywhere we went, people talked about how missionaries -- white people -- have come in the past, promising assistance, but never returned. Now the Diocese of Missouri has sent three groups in three years. And in one of our village talks, one old man said, "We have suffered war for 21 years, and have felt forgotten by the whole world. But now we think maybe we have real friends." We must keep our covenant with this man and this diocese!

Have I talked about their offerings during their worship? We Americans drop our checks and bills into a brass offering plate. But they do not have money. They give what they have: a handful of seeds, some leaves, a pretty rock. We give out of our abundance. But, truly, they give of their hearts.

One of the powerful things that hit me throughout this trip was the difference between being a relatively well-informed person -- one who lives and breathes NPR and PBS vs. one who really knows about the civil war -- who knows people who have had homes bombed, family members hacked to death, John conscripted at age 12 to serve in the SPLA.

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