A letter from Nancy McGaughey in Sudan
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Our daily devotion in Across was recently on the concept of Shalom. Shalom means a lot of things: peace, wholeness, health, prosperity, safety. All the good things come together in Shalom. It was interesting that in all of the languages represented around the table that morning—New Zealand English, Kiswahili, Dinka, Dutch and American English, no one could come up with a word in their own language that encompassed all that the word Shalom does. No wonder we are missing so much in our world today—we do not even have a word to describe this sense of what God intends for His world.
While in Nairobi, I have had the time to reflect on my time in Adol. I was recalling a night soon after my arrival there for the first time. It was hot (I soon learned a new definition of that word), and so we were sleeping with the door open and only a curtain between the room and outside. I was awakened by a noise during the night. A very strange noise. As I listened, I tried to determine what it could possibly be—a jungle cat? a hyena? a strange visitor? After about a half hour of lying there imagining all sorts of possible things, I got up the courage to walk to the door and look beyond the curtain. There was a large bull, licking the cement floor outside my door! Never in my wildest imagination (and it is pretty good) would have I thought of that. I chased it away, only to have it return several times during the night. The next morning I discovered that my friends had had the bull visiting their veranda several times during the night as well, although they knew what it was.
One Sunday on our way home from church we met a cattle keeper. He was dressed in a very fancy woman’s dress (obviously used clothing) and with a little girl’s pink Easter bonnet perched on his head. To complete his ensemble he had an AK-47 slung over his shoulder. My friend, being a bit braver than I and having been there longer, questioned his choice of apparel. Their conversation went like this:
“Why are you wearing a woman’s dress?”
“Why should I not wear it? Do you not think it pretty?”
“Yes, it is very pretty, but it is a woman’s dress.”
“Well, just because I am not a woman does that mean I am not allowed to wear pretty things?”
I look back on that time as one of the "Kodak moments" that got away!
While in Nairobi I also was able to take advantage of learning from a Murle student studying at one of the universities. We met a couple of times a week to provide me with the basics of Murle language. On Saturdays his wife Elizabeth would also join our class. I learned the greetings, days of the week, how to introduce myself, and much more. The Murle name for Sunday is iio ubzento, which loosely translated is the "day of rest provided by God." One day I asked Hakim to teach me the names of the months. He thought for some minutes, saying, “We did assign names one time.” Finally he says, “Let me call someone,” and proceeded to call a friend to get the names from him. I decided it probably would not be a priority for me to learn the names of the months if he didn’t even know them!
I will soon be travelling on to Juba, where the future is uncertain. I will either try to find a Murle language/culture learning situation around Juba, go to the Across compound in Boma (which is located in Pibor county), or move on to Pibor. Wherever I am, it will be learning Murle language and culture.
• Thanks to our Father for the many blessings during my stay in Adol.
• Pray for the uncertainties of the near future—wherever I am, may it be in His will.
• Pray for the shipment of my tent (my future home in Pibor). It is still in the U.S.A.
• Thanks for wonderful people of Pibor—Elizabeth, Hakim, Pastor Orozu, and many others working to help make my adjustment to their culture a smooth one.
Thanks for all of you—for your prayers and support throughout the year.
“Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.”—Alexander Maclaren
The 2012 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 94
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 103