After almost three full days of traveling, I finally arrived at my new home in Maridi, South Sudan. The journey to get here was not the easiest, but I am so thankful to be here and be able to make this place my home. I traveled to South Sudan with my site partner, Ariel, and two other SLMs who are placed in Juba, S. Sudan- Mike and Pat. Ariel and I stayed the night with the Salesian community in Juba, and started our long trip to Maridi the next morning. The trip took just about 9 hours, but we only traveled 180 miles. Yes, it was a slow and bumpy ride. The "road" was filled with pot-holes and rain had washed out other parts of the path. We truly were driving on the road less traveled. We finally turned onto the road where our compound is contained, and I immediately felt at peace and at home. I was warmly greeted by hundreds of small hands and wide eyes--and I immediately fell in love with those sweet smiles and voices shouting, "Hi Sister, How are you?" At that moment, I knew this is exactly where I am meant to be.
|The clinic where I will be working|
The past week has been an absolute whirl-wind of overwhelming excitement, little sleep, many laughs and smiles, lots of playing, and even more love. I have hit the ground running here and jumped right into the daily routine. There are two Salesian Lay Missioners here, Grace and Cait, who volunteered last year and are staying until December. They have truly been such lifesavers-answering hundreds of questions each day, sharing their experiences, and showing Ariel and me the ropes. They have helped make this transition so much easier. This week has been mostly for getting to know the kids and spending time with them. I have been going to the clinic each day with Grace who is showing me how things run there. I am excited to be there and to be able to get back into a nursing role. The clinic is fairly new, and I am excited for all the possibilities and growth that can happen there during my time here. Patients usually are finished by early afternoon, and so after I am done at the clinic I will be teaching at the school. Going into mission, I knew of the possibility that I would be teaching, although I was secretly praying that I wouldn't have to! But sure enough, the first day here, I was assigned to teach science and handwriting to third graders. It will be a very different experience, but I know the school needs more teachers and I am more than happy to help out as best as I can! I just wish I would've paid a bit more attention to the "How to Teach" lesson during orientation! Luckily, the entire student body knows varying degrees of English. So far, language hasn't been as much of a barrier as I expected. I'm sure that may change soon. The tribal language spoken here is Zande. The kids teach me Zande during lunch and after school. I have mastered the basic greetings and a few other words. For the clinic I am also learning Arabic. Most of the population that we serve there speaks Arabic, so Grace kindly gave me a little Arabic medical dictionary that she made up for me. Slowly by slowly I am studying and learning those words as well.
|Ariel, Cait, Me, and Grace|
Overall, I am so incredibly excited for the next year and all that is in store. The community here is overflowing with joy and love. There is so much energy and positivity that the kids emit daily. It will still take a while to get all settled in, but the transition has been much easier than expected. As things start to progress with my daily duties, I will report back to you all and keep you updated as best as possible!
|The road to Maridi|
Although the road to get here seemed like it is less traveled, I know there have been thousands and thousands of footprints that have made lasting impressions on the ground. Not just any footprints, but Christ's footprints. It is so easy to see Christ's presence at work in the people here--in their smiles and words, in their love for each other, in their selflessness. It is my hope and prayer that I will be able to leave only a small footprint, a small impression on the kids' paths throughout my time in this amazing place.