Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Twilight Zone

Happy New Year from Lui, Sudan. A different voice today: Dan Handschy

Life in the Lui Cathedral Guest compound has been quiet the last few days after our five companions have headed back to the States through Juba and Kampala. There has been a lot of time for catching up on notes and sermons and the like. Deb G preached the English sermon this morning for Holy Name Day. It was a wonderful sermon about how our name locates us in community (really true here, where children are named by the community at a naming ceremony), and that God has named us with the divine name, and claimed us as God's own. Our Lui friends have named us and claimed us, and we are blessed. Manyagugu told us that on Holy Name Day, people come to church to write their names afresh in God's book of life. What a great image.

Day before yesterday, Deb and I went to the hospital and saw the operating theater, the x-ray room (a shipping container with windows cut in it), and talked to Lois, the head nurse. We saw Charity Vasco, who was in the maternity ward. In the maternity ward, we also saw a mother with a five day old baby. The mother had fallen in the fire and had pretty bad burns on her face and shoulder. We saw John Fulla's uncle, as John was getting ready to take him to Juba for surgery, because the doctor had not yet been to Lui. Don't know if it would have made much difference anyway. In the operating room, they had no suture materials. They also had exactly zero rolls of adhesive tape in the whole hospital. Patients' families could buy it in the market and bring it to the hospital. Someone in Juba is skimming the shipments of supplies to the hospital. A case that should contain 8 rolls will have one or two.

WhenDebbie S got back from Juba, we got the blue supply box out of the store room, andwent through it. We threw away expired medicines, and decided that the mosquito net and trauma suture kit in the box would be better at the hospital. Deb carried them over in the afternoon. Lois nearly wept. She was able to change the dressings on the mother's burns. They hadn't been changed in two days.

This morning, on the way to church (the Moru service, at11:00 a.m.), life got a little more interesting. I noticed six white people under the mango tree. Now I know how strange we look. We got to church a few minutes early, and sat in the south transept. The other white visitors were escorted to the chancel. The usher tried to escort us forward also, but we declined.

When the time came for the introductions, the leader of the other team stood up and introduced them. They were with Sudan Christian Strategic Advocacy. They were in town for the day. He then opened his bible and declaimed to us a word of encouragement. I couldn't quite tell how were were being encouraged, probably because of the interruptions for translation. One of the women of the group got up and held up her bible, and told us that whoever ate food would hunger again, and whoever drank water would thrist again, but whoever drank for the living water of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the bible would never thirst again. It made me wonder how many jerry cans of water Ada and John Leon carry into the compound for us. I worked it out to be about six a day. Another one stood up and asked us all to hold up our bibles. He was encouraged that so many had bibles. I didn't hold mine up.

After church, we all had lunch in the piyat. They said that they were here to look at drilling wells in East and West Mundri. They evidently have a lot of money for that and that is a very good thing. The more wells the better. I guess it's o.k. to thirst after all. Then they said they were also here to teach discipleship. They wanted to train some of the Moru, who could then go to the Nuba Mountains and to Darfur. I guess that's a good thing. Tomorrow, they are coming back for a tour of the hospital. If they have deep pockets (as they seem to for the wells they are drilling) maybe they can do something at the hospital. I want to make sure I'm there when they come.

I'll end this post by pondering the idea of discipleship. When I hear the stories of people like Dean Joseph, and Manyagugu, who stayed on as priests in the Diocese of Lui during twenty years of war, and didn't flee, but made the rounds to the preaching stations to take care of the Christians there; when I hear about Canon Ezra and Morris, who worked on translating the Bible into Moru while the war was going on, and how Canon Ezra was shot trying to get to Juba; when I listen to Gordon and Vasco, who had to farm by night, I realize that I don't know a thing about discipleship. I hope to learn a little here from my Moru friends. I suspect my life is changed forever. I don't know that my Moru friends will be as profoundly changed by know me, as I by them.

And finally, hello to Shelley, Madeline and Lizzy. See you in a week.


that one girl said...

Happy New Year Dan, Debbie and Deb! I miss you all. Sorry it took me more that 24 hours after I arrived home to check the blog. I'm glad you are all well.

Much love,

Mike said...


thanks so much for this post, particularly your reflections on discipleship. I am interested in continuing this conversation when you get back.

Continuing keeping you all in prayer.


Lisa Fox said...

I am very glad to "hear" your voice on the blog, Dan. Very insightful writing. Thank you.

Yeah, I learned a lot about discipleship from the Moru, too. I think I hear what you're saying.

Anonymous said...

Continued prayers for you all, and peace.

Amy C.