Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Goodbye to my Juba family!
This has been a week of goodbye songs and welcome songs- I have departed from my temporary home for the past three weeks in the village outside Juba to Manguo Mission in Maridi, which will be my residence for the next year.  It's good to finally be here!

There were some sad goodbyes this past week leaving behind the beautiful community in Juba.  The Kindergarten class I was able to assist over the past few weeks gave me the most beautiful send-off.  After I addressed the class to tell them I would be leaving the next day with the help of the class translator, they spontaneously erupted into a song of "Thank you, Sister Grace," and then a handful of students came to the front of the class one-by-one to give me their farewell wishes, which were also translated for me.  They said the dearest things: they would pray for me, they thanked me for playing with them, and one little trouble maker said she wished I didn't have to leave.  It was so very touching, and do I ever miss those sweet faces!  The goodbyes with the Salesian community were also very heartfelt and appreciated, a highlight being the Pre-Novices rendition of "You Raise Me Up" to send us on our way.  Each and every heart I encountered in Juba was a pure gift.

Our 10.5 hour journey from Juba to Maridi was slightly eventful- with the tremendously poor roads we had a few small delays, pictured below.  I never anticipated the car ride to Maridi would end up with us each covered in head to toe dirt, dust, and mud!  But we made it safe and sound, and that is all that really matters!

Maridi has welcomed us with open arms, to say the very least.  These are some of the most affectionate and loving children I have ever encountered, they are very respectful and are all smiles.  The children here speak a bit more English than in Juba, so our interactions branch from a bit of English, to my baby-Arabic skills, to them teaching me Zande, the local tribal language here.  The climate here in Maridi is beautiful!  It's cooler than Juba, dipping into the 60s at night and up to the 90s at the highest in the peak of the day. It is SO lush and green- unbelievably so.  Other than sky and a few homes, the complete 360 degree view is entirely green!  It's beyond picturesque.  My pictures absolutely do not capture the beauty!  It's all rolling hills and cool breezes.  All the sand covering Juba has been replaced by foliage and life here in Maridi.  It's awesome.  What an unexpected gift!
The hospital is not yet open, the final construction efforts will be completed by the end of October. Caitlin and I are doing odd jobs around the primary school (Grades K-8), and really at this point just taking it all in and getting to know the children.  We will also together be teaching 2 classes in the morning, one informal class for the children too poor to attend the primary school, and the other for the nursery school class!  They'll be 40 minutes each of Christian religious education.  All my teacher friends- send your activity ideas my way!!  I'm also taking my particular mission at the moment as memorizing names.  I'm retaining them really slowly, because the African names are really hard- like Zumie and Adembu and Pascarina, for example! (But hey, I at least I could remember those to type them just now!)  Hopefully with some persistence they will stick. Thankfully the children are really patient with me and will repeat their names for me every time I ask without making me feel bad for not remembering.  They have also been incredibly helpful and patient in teaching me Zande.  They let me repeat simple words over and over again until I can remember them.  I need to learn to have as much patience with others as they show me!

The kids here are seriously hard workers!  Fr. John Peter has a beautiful system in place, where he has given the children a large area of land and allowed them to cultivate it themselves.  They have sown rows upon rows of maize, and every week they pull weeds and till the soil.  When the children harvest next December, the food will belong to them, and they will all share the fruit of their labor, which they worked hard to earn!  They are showing me how to also weed the fields, which has been really neat for me.  I have always wanted to learn how to grow fresh vegetables!  I so appreciate the few compliments I receive from the children while I work, which are generally pretty sparsely given in this culture.  Yesterday, I was weeding beside about fifty children in the middle of a sun-shower, which is one of my heart's absolute greatest joys, and I was able to experience tangible gratitude for this life I have been offered here in Africa, which is more than I could have ever asked for or imagined.

"Be not afraid of life.  Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create that fact." -William James

Prayer Intention: Please pray that these weeks become fruitful as I develop a new routine.  I am eager for work to do and especially to start nursing again, but in the meantime, I need to be content with the simple life I have been given.  Thank you!

***Check out the newly added "Picture of the Day" tab at the top of the page!  I will be documenting my year through one meaningful daily photo, posted here on my blog.  A picture tells a thousand words!  Give a look!


  1. Maridi - no words to explain about that place. as i still consider the one year i stayed there is most spectacular days in my days. You may be staying in the same room i stayed the same room i dined with other Fathers the same room i taught the students the same church i spend time with the Lord. my dear friend i miss the place and i love you that you got a chance to be there. If get a chance to read this pass the message to the kids like Tony, Cicilia and the Oratory boys my greetings from Bahrain. and i pray for them everyday and for sure one day i will reach back to Maridi. my contacts are email - roshangeorge98@gmail.com
    mob - +973 33906995
    be in touch.

  2. wene ye Manguo yo, kporo wowo yo!

    I agree with Roshan. I spent six months in Maridi. It was real NGBARAGO there. And the day i left was one of the hardest and most unforgotable days in my life. I'm sure i want to come back at least to visit my friends some day.

    Do You have +211 phone number? Because i would like to talk to my friends sometimes, i miss them soo much. Please greet everyone from Tomas. I wish You good luck and i'm really happy that i found Your blog.

  3. that picture and how green it it is reminds me of the rainforests of Belize.