|Goodbye to my Juba family!|
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 All the sand covering Juba has been replaced by foliage and life here in Maridi.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 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!