Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blind Obedience

I am four months deep into the mysterious gift of South Sudan.  To begin to describe my experience is in so many ways impossible and yet quite simple.  The following three themes have penetrated every moment of my mission experience to this point.

JOY.  This overwhelming gift of God has been facilitated through the beauty of every child and Jesus’ profound presence in each one of them.
PEACE.  I've been given such a clear understanding that I am living in the Will of God, wrapped ever so tightly within the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 
BLIND OBEDIENCE.  I walked into this country completely blind.  There was no book, no photo, no straightforward advice as to what exactly I would experience in this new nation.  It seemed that no one could tell me exactly what the weather would be like, what I was supposed to wear, what language the people would speak, or what my work would be like; they didn't even seem to clearly know whether or not I would arrive in a country of violence or of peace.  While my Salesian superiors gave me the most wonderful (though quite vague) expectations, the internet told me so many horrifying things.  Despite the fear I felt in the weakness of my human flesh, my spirit was crying out for this place, drawing me here.  I knew in my heart of hearts that I was meant to discover myself and my life’s purpose in this very place.  Saying yes to that sweet call of the Holy Spirit, despite my human anxiety, was the best decision of my life.

I've continued to walk blindly in the arms of God since my arrival.  One transition after the next has caused me frequent doubts about my abilities and to ever question what the heck the Lord was doing.  He sent me to Juba for my first three weeks, where I felt the love of a family and deep purpose like I've never felt before.  I never wanted to leave.  But then it was time for Maridi!  After I allowed myself to feel at home and find my joy in the new placement, I learned that the hospital I was supposed to work for wouldn't open for another several months.  God decided I should become a teacher.  I laughed at Him.  How could I possibly teach 6th grade?  I have no idea what I’m doing!  He laughed back and handed me 5th and 7th grade as well.  And then I fell in love!  

Every transition has brought my human heart much worry.  I always fear these changes every time God calls me to shift forward, feeling incredibly incompetent and afraid of missing the place from where I have come.  Then, after I allow God to do what He does best- lead my heart to rest and fulfillment- I am again reminded that His plans are perfect, and I ought to have trusted Him from the very beginning. 

Big changes are again in the wind.  This time I’m trying to do it better!  So far, so good.  I ask for your prayers that peace can overpower any doubts or nerves in the process! 

  • I am pleased to announce: This coming Monday, 14th January, 2013, the Don Bosco Heath Centre of Manguo-Maridi will officially be open to the public!  Finally!  We will be running an outpatient facility, working from 8:30 am until 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday.  You will find me there in a white lab coat, confidently clueless, again practicing the nursing that I’ve been missing for the past six months.  I have no idea what my day on Monday will look like, but I imagine a mix of every nursing specialty in one jumbled package.  I am repeatedly quashing any fears with the reminder that this is what I came here to do.  It has to be the best yet.  God wouldn’t have put me here to do something lame.  I have big expectations. 
  • On the other hand, the opening of the Health Centre will result in the closing of my little nurse’s office in the school, which has been the icing on my cake since I've arrived here, sweeter than sweet.  Please pray for me in that transition as well.  I have loved being the nurse of each one of these children, knowing all their ailments and striving every day to promote health for my dear friends.  I will continue to love them so much, no matter what exactly my role looks like. 
  • Don Bosco Primary School commences the 2013 school year in two weeks, and you will find me there, every afternoon after the close of the Health Centre, teaching Religion to Class 7 and Arts & Crafts to Classes 6 and 7.  I am super excited for this class assignment; I couldn’t have asked for a better supplement to my nursing career!  I just pray it all doesn’t run me to the ground from exhaustion, but I know His grace will be sufficient.

“Cast yourself into the arms of God
and be very sure that if He wants anything of you,
He will fit you for the work and give you the strength.”
–St. Philip Neri


  1. Keep going, Grace, You're doing great.

  2. Gracie!! I will be praying for you so much today as it will be your first day at the hospital with it's grand opening! I hope all went well, and God WILL give you the strength to do this, this is what he has called you for. Always remember as you said in your earlier blog, every moment in your life has been preparing you for this, and I know you will do great even through the hardships. Love you so much! You are in my prayers!

  3. A beautiful reflection on God's will, Gracie. "In his will is our peace" (Dante). I hope the 1st 3 days of the new hospital have gone well; I'll bet they were busy. God bless you--and all your patients and kids!

  4. When you wrote aboit JOY & PEACE, the first thing that comes to my mind is how in the discernment of spirits, those two emotions or sates of being are indicative of God being operational (active) in the person. Praise God. For indeed He is working through you!
    -Fr. Gregory, TOR