One month down. And it seems like I just arrived yesterday! The past month has been filled with exciting adventures, so many laughs, hundreds of "firsts," and so much love. Although I am still settling in, this place has quickly become my home. I am excited for the adventures that lie ahead in the coming months.
|Sr. Merilyne and I at the conference|
This past week has definitely been a test of my flexibility and patience. For any of you who know me at all, you know that I love being on time and organized, having everything planned out and scheduled, and having list after list of things so I won't forget anything. But this is South Sudan--the land where a meeting that is supposed to start at 8am doesn't actually start until 2 in the afternoon and the land where you are supposed to be somewhere on Sunday and don't actually reach there until Tuesday. So last Saturday night, Sr. Merilyne called me and informed me that I would be leaving the next morning to go to Yambio (a town about 3 hours from Maridi). She said we would be going for a medical conference on case management for 4 days. I quickly became excited for so many reasons. #1. I've never been on a business trip before--so I'm thinking this is the real deal and #2. Not only is it a business trip, but it is a business trip in South Sudan which makes it instantly so much cooler and #3. I get to explore a new part of this amazing country. My mind quickly began to wonder what this "business conference" will consist of. I'm thinking a fancy hotel conference room, business suits, Powerpoints, people taking notes on their laptops and smartphones, the whole nine yards. Surprisingly, some of my predictions ended up coming true. Anyway, I definitely was not prepared to leave in less than 10 hours, so I quickly packed my bag and got everything set and ready to go. Sunday morning after Mass, Sr. Merilyne and I ate breakfast and waited for the vehicle to come pick us up to go to Yambio. And we waited. And waited. Finally by evening I realized we weren't going to Yambio that day. Okay, fine--we were told the car would get us on Monday morning instead. The communication wasn't the best, and we weren't really sure who was actually supposed to come pick us up on Monday. So the next day I repacked my bags and Sr. and I waited by the road for a car to come get us. After many phone calls back and forth to various people and many questions without answers, we realized we weren't getting picked up that day. I finally realized that we were not going to go to the conference at all. It was supposed to be Monday-Thursday and we already missed the whole first day. So I unpacked my bags and continued on with planning my classes for the week. Monday night, Sr. informed me that our driver for our site here would be picking us up at 5:30am to make it to Yambio in time for the second day of the conference. Although I doubted that we would go the next morning, I repacked my bags for a third time and sure enough we left the next morning.
|The conference-Powerpoints and all!|
We got to Yambio and pulled into the parking lot of a fancy hotel, and then proceeded to the conference room (My predictions started to come true, minus people taking notes on laptops and smartphones). The conference was put on by the World Health Organization and it covered management of different diseases (Viral Hemorraghic Fevers, Malaria, Measles, Meningitis, Neonatal Tetanus, Typhoid, Cholera, HIV, just to name a few). It turned out to be an extremely helpful conference, and I learned much more about treatment and management of common diseases that I will be seeing throughout my time here. Even though the travel plans were hazy and a bit frustrating, things worked out. I am trying to let go of the structure and organization that I am used to, and really just go with the flow! Because this is South Sudan--where time is not a concept, but everything always finds a way to work out. I got back to Maridi late on Friday night, and it sure is good to be back. Saturday morning I was greeted after Mass by my precious little kiddos whom I missed so much! Overall-successful week.
To top everything off, Victoria, a woman that I met one of the first days after I arrived, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on Friday. So Saturday, Cait, Grace, Ariel, and I took a little trip to visit the new baby. I got to snuggle with a newborn baby--not even 24 hours old. She is very healthy and mama is doing really well, too! It is tradition here to wait 4 days before giving the baby a name, so on Tuesday we are going back to their house for a big party and naming ceremony.
Looking back on the past month, I can't help but smile at all the incredible experiences and people who have become a part of my life. Everyday I wake up and have a reality check--I live in South Sudan. I can only hope and pray that the rest of my time here goes as well as this first month. One month down--One month of memories. One month of joy. One month of love.