Monday, November 30, 2009

Meeting Noel on the road

Yesterday, a group of us packed up and left for Lozoh around 9:00 a.m., Lui time. Communications being what they are in Sudan, no one had been able to get word to Lozoh that we were coming, so we were traveling in faith that we would get there in time for Church. We stopped at Lanyi, to pick up Pastor Charles to come along with us, as he has friends at Lozoh. As we turned off the Good Road at Lanyi, Manyagugu began to navigate the dry creek bed that is the road to Lozoh. Anne Barrow (one of the missioners from Blackmore Vale) suggested elephants might be a better mode of trasportation that a twenty year old Toyota Land Cruiser. We came to the first bridge, and I remarked that this was about where we had high-centered coming back from Lozoh the last time, and broken the oil-pan. Deb and I both remembered thinking we might have to walk back to the Good Road from there. Manyagugu is a much more careful driver than the last fellow. It was getting on to about 10:30, so I figured we were in plenty of time to get to Lozoh by 11:00 for Church. We crossed the second bridge (Manyagugu had to get out of the car, and move several large rocks around to make a ramp from the road to the bridge deck), and we had just bounced down off the bridge, when we saw ahead of us three men walking towards us along the road. Deb said, "That's Noel Night!" Several other people said it couldn't be, because he was still in Nairobi. Manyagugu stopped the car, jumped out laughing, and began pounding Noel (who it really was) on the back in a great embrace, laughing and talking a mile a minute.

Noel had stayed behind in Nairobi to attend the graduation ceremony at the seminary, and people didn't think he had come home yet. But there he was. We stood in the road, and greeted one another. This was my first time to meet Noel, and as Deb had assured me, he is tall for a Moru man -- we are about the same height. He was on his way to Kadabusi, to celebrate the Harvest Festival at the little church there (one of the preaching stations associated with Lozoh). It was quickly decided that we should go on to see Lozoh, meet Noel's wife and children, walk to the river (one of the gardeners had come with us), and then come to Kadabusi for Church. They would wait for us. We drove on to Lozoh, walked to the river (where there were women doing their laundry, just as before), and then loaded back up into the Land Cruiser. Manyagugu drove about a half mile back up the road, got out of the car and folded the side view mirrors in, and then took a left turn into the bush. If there was a road there, I didn't see it. We drove about fifteen minutes through trees, grass, and burned fields, and came out into a clearing with a little church at one edge. Children had gathered and welcomed us with song.

After further introductions, we vested under a mango tree, and wooden chairs (made of woven sticks; much more comfortable than the standard plastic chairs) were arranged in the tiny chancel to accomodate all four white visitors, plus Noel, Alex (my translator), and one of the mamas. With great delight, Noel introduced the visitors (except me -- he quipped to me in an aside that I would introduce myself before preaching). Not only would it be church, but because it was the harvest festival, he said, we would have communion. I had to scramble a bit to rearrange my sermon, since we weren't at Lozoh, but you learn to do that sort of thing here. I took Isaiah 49:8-18 and Mark 1:1-8 for my texts, meaning to talk about God not forgetting the people of Lozoh, and how we could not forget each other either. I ended up having to talk a little bit about the road, and the surprises and joy one my find along it.

The local pastor of the preaching station got up for announcements afterwards and told everyone to stay. There would be a feast, and Deb would take blood pressures after the service. We had linya, some kind of yam (the best potato I've ever eaten), beef and okra, egg and sugar cane. Afterwards, very sweet hibiscus tea, and then it was time to get back in the car to head back to Lui. We left Kadabusi, around 4:00 p.m. What a day! Noel treated me like a friend of many years.

Noel is coming to Lui tomorrow to meet with the bishop, and ask to stay in Lozoh. He has many great ideas and plans for his community after two years in Seminary in Nairobi, but very little resources for the coming year. He has not been at home to farm, and so has nothing in the storehouse. You never know who you will meet heading down the road in the bush.


Bill_css said...


Sounds like about 15 sermons lurking in there! We look forward to hearing the whole story from Lozoh (and there and back!)


Listening and Looking said...

What a wonderful story! I can "see" it in my imagination and only dream of your adventures. Stay well and safe.


Listening and Looking said...
This comment has been removed by the author.