Wednesday started with a great breakfast and discussion. The worship and prayer from Tuesday night was an encouragement to us all. The pastor’s conference is going better. I think we are all getting used to how the Sudanese learn, the best ways to teach, and are figuring out to most effective methods for teaching here. For example, sarcasm does not exist here. They just don’t get it. Also, it may be that we are not as funny as we think we are, but the differences in humor are vast. And I kind of like that, because I cannot think of many examples of sarcasm that are God-glorifying. I am praying that God would take my sarcasm away and replace it with quietness and wisdom. Also, we are learning that the adults and the children LOVE stories, and they learn more and pay more attention when stories are told to get across the main ideas. I think it is more of an Eastern learning method and mentality. We westerners use the Socratic method of linear logic, questions and answers, and one point leading to the next point. But the Sudanese don’t like that very much, so we are trying to fight our own Western mentality and thought process in order to meet the needs of the folks here.
Wednesday’s main points were that Jesus is God’s Son, and therefore is fully God. Because of this, Jesus has complete control over everything, and this leads to great hope and trust in Jesus. When we are afraid, we can trust Jesus, because He is in control of EVERYTHING. So we started by talking about how God is a good Creator, and everything He created is good. But humanity disobeyed God in the Garden and chose their own way, and thus evil and sin entered the world, but because God is a good Creator who loves his creation, He made a way to fix all that was broken by sending His Son Jesus. We then told the story of Jesus crossing the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, and He falls asleep. A huge storm comes and the disciples are afraid. Then I asked the children if they have ever been afraid of anything, and decided to break the ice by telling them something that I am afraid of. I told them I am afraid of spiders. I hate spiders. I don’t care how big or small, I am afraid of them. So I wrote “Spiders” on the board. Then I asked the children to name something they were afraid of. The first boy said “Lions”. Immediately I felt like a moron for being afraid of spiders. The second student said “Snakes.” The third student said she was afraid of “Elephants”. It dawned on me that because of their proximity to the jungle, these children have much bigger fears and much more reason to be afraid than I do. By the way, after class I asked the teachers if there were lions in the area of the orphanage, and they simply said, “Yes.” Then I had to remember that when I am afraid, I can trust Jesus. We told the children how the disciples were afraid, and the first thing they did was run to Jesus and ask for help and Jesus stopped the storm. This shows us that Jesus has control over everything, and when we are afraid we need to do what the disciples did and run to Jesus. I asked the children if we could pray for them, and one boy said, “Will you ask God to love us?” This was the first time a child asked for prayer! I told the class that fortunately this was something that we did not have to ask God for, because He already does love them! So I stressed this point, and then told them we would pray that God would show the children His love this week through the teaching, lessons, and their experiences. God is good, and He hears the prayers of His children.
After the morning teaching, all of us went to lunch. But on the way I heard some music, and I saw a boy playing something under a tree by the classrooms. I walked over to him and saw him playing on a homemade instrument. It was a mix between a tiny guitar and a Chinese Erhu. It was incredible. This boy had made an instrument that played music and sounded pretty good. The incorporation of a Coke can is particularly amazing. Take a look.
The children eat lunch outside under the shade of the trees, the mothers get all of the food and water ready for them, and they ring a bell when everything is ready. It reminded me of when I was a kid playing at my grandmother’s house. She always rang a bell when lunch was ready. They typically have rice and water, sometimes vegetables, and occasionally they get fish, goat meat, or beef. They have chickens there as well, so they have eggs in the morning for breakfast.
After lunch, the children go to the water pump and clean up. One child will pump the water out, and 5 or 6 children will wash their hands, faces, and feet all at the same time.
Some of the kids started playing soccer after lunch, and I decided to join them. I was better prepared this time by bringing my hiking pants that you could zip the legs off of to make shorts. So I got out there and played. It really was humbling to have my New Balance shoes on playing soccer with them while they were all barefoot or just wearing sandals.
I was watching these boys run barefoot as we played run over rocks, sticks, and into the woods without shoes. My first instinct was to think about how I could get them all shoes. Then I realized that it is one thing to have good intentions when helping orphans, and it is another thing to do what is best for them. If war breaks out again, these children may not have shoes in order to run away and disappear into the jungle. And even if they did, they would have to trade them for food. And if we try to make them like us by giving them tennis shoes, filtered water, and American food, that might be the worst thing for them if they have to survive in the jungle. It could be deadly. Bishop Taban showed us this, and it was a huge lesson for me. There can be a big difference between what I think people need and what they actually need to survive and thrive. My instincts and Western mentality are the exceptions, but very rarely the standard. God has made these people resilient, hard, and strong in order to help them survive in this country.
After a few plays, I decided to slip into my sandals to be respectful and on a level playing field with them. It was so much fun, and these boys are very strong, fast, and talented on the soccer field. My feet did not like me very much, and it showed.
Carissa taught the younger children, and we headed back to the EPC compound. After a cold shower and some good discussion, we went to bed and slept very deeply. I think the fatigue, time change, and schedule are starting to tire us out. But the Lord is good and He has been gracious to sustain us.