A letter from Jacob and Aliamma George in South Sudan
It is still the rainy season in Malakal, which requires high jumping and long jumping through muddy areas, and the vehicles cannot pass through the pasty mud. Even if you get a bus or car, the walking distance from the stop to the designated building is a terror! You can easily slip and fall. We had our share of falls, but God protected the bones! Malaria, typhoid and influenza are common. The unusual thing during this special rainy season is that we have acute scarcity of food and electricity as the border is closed and traders are not allowed to bring food items from the North Sudan. We are waiting for better possibilities. Our prayer is that people will not complain, "It was better before, when we had our cucumbers, onions and garlic."
There are interesting things happening here even in the limited situation. One day when we were about to leave the Giffen Institute of Theology, the principal told us that a lady was sick in a nearby house. After informing the family, three of us (principal, Jacob and Aliamma) went to the house; the lady was lying on a small mattress on the floor and a 2-year-old girl was sitting near her, and the husband standing. We talked to them a few minutes and found out that they had come to celebrate the freedom and to check whether they can settle down in South Sudan, though they are from the border area. Then she got sick with fever and body pain and was unable to travel to the designated village. Since they did not have any food we gave them some money and some Tylenol for the fever and pain. Aliamma was requested to pray and she did pray for Mrs. A's healing. They were happy, and when we called and checked about her after two days we found out that she was up and about the house. After about a week, the husband recognized us in the market and thanked us for the help and told us that she was doing the household chores.
When we were on a 10-minute break during the Stewardship Class we saw the same lady washing clothes outside her house. There were two lady students with me, and we got a chance to talk and the students interpreted for me. She expressed the fear that the pain might come back when she does not have pain medicine with her. We could reaffirm her faith in Jesus Christ and showed her an exercise for her legs to relieve her discomfort. The teacher, two students and the patient did it together and we were all laughing and happy when we left. After three days, during the break, the lady came near the classroom and told us that the exercise helped and she could freely move and work. They will be leaving for a village near Juba where her husband can find a job.
Another incident happened at a Malakal bus stop. One evening we just got off a bus and saw a staff member and his 13-year-old son. When we asked about the boy, the dad said he would be leaving for Kenya the following day to continue his schooling there, as he has relatives there. So Jacob asked Aliamma to pray for the young boy since we will not see him for a long time. We held hands and prayed. As soon as we opened our eyes, a man in his 30s came and shouted loudly: "Madam, now you pray for me to get a job. They call me for interviews but do not give me the job." Our circle became bigger, and we discussed about going for interviews confidently and about God's blessing. We prayed together and we are sure that he got the job and might be telling others about God's mighty acts!
We went to Juba three weeks ago to renew our six-months travel permit. We got the plane seats in different isles since there were no seat assignments. Whoever gets in first, takes the window seat. The queue system is not maintained well yet. Jacob got a seat near a lawyer in his late 30s who was born in Malakal, went to Malakal High School, and then went to Khartoum and took a law degree. He is one of the four lawyers practicing in Malakal. He is successful in spite of the war, has a wife and children, and has a positive outlook about life. He gets lot of cases on family and tribal issues and is enjoying his work.
Aliamma got her seat near a man in his 60s who spoke English. He was going to Juba for a celebration of his age group for the freedom. He asked: "Can you bring some of your people here to invest some money to do some infrastructure here? We need help from outside." Since he was speaking beautiful English, I asked him what kind of job he did. He replied: "I have not done anything yet—these people did not allow me to do anything because of war. I learned English when British people were here." Sir, I asked, what are we going to do about this acute shortage of food? Can you get a group of people to cultivate some corn (maize), which will be ready in four months? "No, I cannot do that. I feel it is not safe yet; we need to wait." Then, how about getting some fish from the Nile River or get a chicken farm started since we do not have protein for the growing children? "No way—I do not want to do any of those things. Those bad guys have guns at home—they have not given them all up yet. They can shoot me if I go for any of those things."
So, my dear friends, it depends how you look at life and not what you see! It has a lot to do with "the mind-set."
We bought two thermos flasks in Malakal at two different times. Both will not keep hot water hot, but it becomes lukewarm or cold. We do not have power as needed and gas is not available for the gas stove, and a charcoal stove is not safe in the second-floor apartment. We bought a kerosene stove, but kerosene is not available, nor are the wicks.
When we were in Juba we went to many stores, and by evening we found a store with different types of flasks. The man said, pointing to a tall red flask: "This is the one I have at home. This keeps the water hot." That was true; he told us this from his own experience ("Which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled," 1 John 1:1). This is the same with our Good news we tell to others—let us give it through our life story. The slow-moving lukewarm life is not enough, the coffee essence or tea flavor will come out only in very hot water, but not in lukewarm water.
When we go to the market to buy stuff, we use every opportunity to share Christ with the merchants who are non-Christians. One day a police truck full of Army officers with guns was going very fast, splashing the dirty water on the sidewalkers. Jacob told the driver, "Slow down, slow down." Peter, who was walking with us, said: "Rev. George, I am glad that they did not hear you—usually nobody tells them anything. They can come out and beat you." Jacob learned a new lesson from Peter.
A very poor man who sleeps on the open veranda of a store in front of our apartment wakes up in the morning and gets ready before the shop owner comes, brushes his teeth and washes the mouth, using the sewage water collected from rain and drainage. One night there were seven cows also sleeping on the same floor (was He lying in a manger?). Road construction might start in October and we are waiting anxiously.
Our students are enjoying the new semester and they are thankful for your prayers and support. One student gave the name Jacob to his son and another student gave the name Aliamma to his daughter! They like us that much! We are very thankful.
We request that you pray for Malakal as 50 percent of the population here is having malaria. We also need your prayers that food items be brought to Malakal. Thank you.
Jacob and Aliamma George
The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 54