The devotion was led by Margit from Mark 5:24-34. It was a story of great faith, displayed by a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. In the midst of a large crowd, she believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she would be healed. With all of the crowds pressing upon Him, Jesus felt virtue flow out of Him and asked, “who touched me?” He knew who had touched Him, because He felt he faith. In response, He called her ‘daughter’ and told her that her faith has made her well.
Today, David, Stuart, Deng Alier, Deng Jong Kuch, Christi, Paula and I were like that woman with the issue of blood. We drove to Bor Town, crammed in a truck without brakes (the only one we had). We were on a mission to meet with the Government of Jonglei State to solve some of the many issues facing MCH. We had no appointment, but in faith we believed that not only would the Governor and County Commissioner see us, but we believed they would offer us tangible solutions and deliver on their promises. The road there was rocky, windy and unpaved, but we arrived safely to the gated Government headquarters. Armed soldiers stood on every side and United Nations trucks patrolled the area.
We tread confidently to the Governors office. His office representative, Manyang and his security guard welcomed us to sit, inquiring about the purpose of our visit. David told him of MCH and the insecurity of the Werkok area due to tribal attacks by the Merles. Many have fled the area and our patient numbers are being affected. Fear is trying to creep into the village. We requested security, but none had come. Additionally, we need vehicles to transport patients. The needs are great. Manyang empathized with our concerns. He shared that his uncle was cared for in MCH when Bor Hospital was unable to treat his Tuberculosis. He told us that MCH means a lot to him. He himself is one of the Lost Boys who was sent to Nashville, TN for a better life during the war and genocide. He was there for twenty-two years. Finding favor with him was God’s hand at work. He sent a messenger to the Governor and the Commissioner, who were tied up in meetings. Although it seemed they would be unable to meet us, we knew God would make a way.
Just as we left the office and were getting into the truck, Manyang stood in the courtyard with the Governor and some of his cabinet members, The Minister of Small Government and the Minister of Law to name a few. He motioned for us to return. We spent the next fourty-five minutes sitting with the Governor and the Minister of Small Government, telling him of the young mother and newborn baby who’s lives MCH saved by performing and emergency C-Section when Bor Hospital could not. We told him of the other 3-month old baby who’s life was spared after suffering from malnourishment and neglect. She had a yeast infection that would not allow her urine to be released. Unable to find a catheterizing tool small enough to fit her, the MCH staff had to send her back to home untreated. The staff later thought of a solution and Deng Jong Kuch had to drive around at night, in our truck with no brakes, from house to house until he found the mother and her baby. He brought them back to the hospital and Dr. Guy had to suck .5 liters of urine from the baby using a syringe. She could hardly move before being treated, but is now recovering well.
The Governors eyes welled up, he fought back tears. When he spoke, his voice filled with compassion and frustration. He wants to help us and so many. There are countless demands on him. He told us of the difficulties South Sudan has of running a country with no money. The North-South oil controversy has devastated the potential of the South Sudanese economy. There are insurmountable obstacles and not enough resources or people to help. I could feel his betrayal as he told us of the Lost Boys that he sent off to America with hopes that they would return and help their country. However, many of them have gone to school, gotten good jobs, made money and spent it on big houses, fancy cars and expensive clothes, but have not given back anything to their homeland. He spoke like a father whose prodigal son had spent all he had on wordly goods, but if that son would just return home, he would welcome him with open arms.
He showed kindness to us and told us he would pay to have the brakes fixed on our truck. He also ordered the County Commissioner to return to Werkok permanently and provide security to be stationed at MCH. This will bring the people peace of mind. David introduced each of us. The Governor said he would give letters of recommendation for the grants we weill be writing to bring aid and development to MCH, including USAID funding. I told him of the small business and sewing project we are starting with the women. He said it was very good and would support our efforts. We showed him the new site plan for MCH, with plans of a year round airstrip, the Growth Center, expanded housing quarters, a soccer field and the memorial garden. He was impressed and excited for this future 5-10 year expansion.
When the commissioner arrived, the Governor gave an overview of our plans and needs, telling him of his role to be sure that we are taken care of. We showed him the site plan and planned a time for him to visit us next week. We shook hands and proceeded outside for a group photo.
With much accomplished, all spirits were high! We took a drive past the Nile River and then went to the Bor market to refresh ourselves at the best juice bar in town. I got the lemon and pineapple mix. It was so good, fresh squeezed. The ladies went out shopping with Stuart as our chaperone, while the guys found some items for the compound. In my search for the perfect dress, I came across several women sewing designer Sudanese outfits. They were each sitting at a black sewing machine. African fabric of various prints draped the back wooden wall partition. The women were so lovely and sweet. One of them spoke English and told me they were in a sewing program. I told her I was from New York, visiting Werkok. She knew the area. I asked her if she would come to teach the women how to sew. She smiled brightly and said, “Yes, I will come.” I was so happy, I asked if I could take a picture. They all smiled and I snapped my camera. They liked the photo and laughed aloud, commenting on their images on the screen. I want the women of Werkok to see this photo and know that they too can make beautiful garments like these women. I hated to leave so quickly, but we had to get back to MCH and I still had not found a dress.
I returned to a shop I visited before, where I found a beautiful canary yellow dress with an adorning beaded necklace attached. Costing 65ssp, I bought it. Christie got a creatively dyed yellow lawa.
We met up with the guys, got a new volleyball:) and began our drive back. We stopped to visit Pastor Stevens at the Mission Garden of Christ, marveling at his developing property. He now has a school. After sitting with him a while, we went by the radio station to ask about announcing the doctors coming next week. At 300ssp, it was too expensive. The Government sent out letters announcing the news, so we trust God will do the rest in bringing the people.
The only noteworthy event on our drive home was when the two Dengs’ jumped out of the truck and chased a family of Baboons into the bush They resurfaced with a dead and bloody baby goat that had been killed by the baboons. They were just dragging it away when the Dengs’ went to retrieve it. We drove up to the closest house and returned it to the mother there. She knew who’s family it belonged to. Such a tight-nit community, the Dinka’s believe in working together. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Driving back into Werkok, I saw a tukel colorfully painted with a pale pink stripe going all around it. Zig zags of color outlined it and the greeting said, “Welcom to New Yerk.” I laughed at the irony and humor. Surely, this place is no place like home, but it sure is growing on me:)