As I sit on a small plane headed back to Entebbe (central Uganda) from Arua (Northern Uganda/West Nile) I just thought I would jot down my thoughts from our time here. It’s hard to put into words what is happening up here but I’m going to try! The past 2 weeks we have been in Midigo, a place very dear to our hearts. We have been coming to this area for over 15 years. We have many friends here who we consider family even though we only get to see them every few years. Senior Pastor Charles and his wife Levenia are our dear friends along with many others. We wish we had more time with them, but are so grateful for the time He allowed us to be there. The first 5 days of our trip were spent joining a team from Promise Child and Frontline Missions. We got to tag along with them as they were basically doing a surveying trip to see what kind of ministry would be possible to do in the newly formed refugee camps that are about an hour drive from Midigo. So we spent most of our time the first week in Bidi Bidi and Yoyo refugee camps. It was blessing but also a sobering and humbling experience. There is a very great need here. One that I know we can’t fill, but one I wish I could. It really breaks your heart to see the need and not be able to do much physically. Not only are there physical needs of food, water, and clothing but there are also great spiritual needs. People are dealing with the heartache of war and the trauma of seeing loved ones slaughtered. Depression and Post Traumatic Stress are common among most everyone I talked with. People are now beginning to get settled and into a new routine but the wounds of war and the need for spiritual peace are still very present. Calvary Chapel Midigo has been able to start a church there for the believers to fellowship. Our hope is that Christ’s love would heal these broken hearts. We know it is only through him that true peace can be found, and these people have left all behind in search of a peaceful life.
One man, Steven, translated for us as we went and met with different families around the newly started church told us his story. He, his wife, and 4 children fled from Juba (the Capital of South Sudan). In South Sudan he was in the military on the side of the government, but as the war grew worse he took the rebel side because he felt the tribe in power was discriminating against all the other tribes. (Tribal wars are very common in this region and have been going on for centuries.) As they fled from Juba to Uganda they took nothing with them, not even their Bibles, except for some money to buy food with. They knew anything they brought with them would be taken away from them by soldiers. They traveled on foot for 3 weeks. Steven carried his 2 oldest children and his wife carried the younger 2. They slept in the bush every night plucking leaves from bushes and trees to make beds. Many times rain found them sleeping out in the open or walking. Once they made it to Nimule a city on the border they were able to get transport to the camp. They were then given a small plot of land some grass mats for sleeping or sitting on and tarps to put up temporary shelter until they could build their own huts. They are given beans and corn flour every 15 days. Steven, like many other refugees, has started a small garden to grow some greens to add to their diet. He and his family are grateful to God for keeping them alive and bringing them to a place where they feel safe and can start a new life. It’s not without its challenges though as often there is not enough water to go around, food is not abundant, and the children are often sick.
Steven’s story is the story of many of these refugees. It is stories like these that really touch your heart. You wish you could just stop the wars and end hunger but you can’t. Though we weren’t able to meet any physical needs we were able to sit down with these people and try to encourage them, but What could I even say to these people? How could I help them in the midst of all their suffering? I have no great wisdom or special ability. Who am I to even have to opportunity to sit with them? I am no one, but my God is some who can heal them, give them hope, and ease their suffering. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to just be with these people. We listened to their stories, and told them of Gods love. We played with their children, and saw huge smiles light up their faces. We sat with a young girl, and helped her prepare her greens for supper. I pray that we were able to encourage at least a few of these precious people. I have been in many different refugee camps and have been into the bush of Sudan several times. These people went from an over 50 year war between North and South to getting freedom from the North and having a few years of peace into a new war basically between Dinkas and all the other tribes of South Sudan. Most of these people have grown up not knowing anything but war in their homeland and have already lived as refugees at least once. The good thing about these particular camps is instead of just a tent and food the refugees are given a plot of land. This helps them to start to create a new normal, have their own space, and build their own houses (which are huts here). They are free to move around Uganda and start new lives here. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in the camps. Pray that God will provide for these people and that they will see it as the Lord providing and not man!
This week we spent time in the Midigo hospital. We were able to do 2 classes with all the medical staff. I went over the Nursing process, proper communication between healthcare workers, and physical assessment. Heather taught on Neonatal resuscitation. It was a great time with the staff and we really enjoyed teaching them. We were left wishing we had more time to be with them and do more education classes. After the classes we helped out around the ward. It was a blessing to be with our favorite nurse Sister Annette. She has been working up here for over 15 years now. Her face is lit with the joy of the Lord and she has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. She is truly an inspiration to us. It was good to meet the new staff as well and to catch up with our old friends there. As our time came to a close we hopped on a plane to go back to Kampala for our brother Anei Peter’s graduation. Next week we are headed back home to Soroti. Praise report: our Visas were extended until we leave with no charge! 🙌🏼 that was a huge blessing. Anyway sorry for the long post thanks for all the prayer and support.
Love to you all,