Grind, not GrandeurRich Stigall
Some Americans romanticize caring for orphans. Like a Christian version of The Nutcracker, visions of saving children dance in their heads and carry them off to far-away lands. Too often, the raw realities, overwhelming need, canyon-esque culture and communication gaps and other day-to-day difficulties of the Third World, chew these well-meaning people up and spit them out. While others, like Dr. Alison Barfoot our GO Africa Field Director, seem to eat the challenge for breakfast and come back for seconds.
Here are some highlights of a recent road trip Alison and team took to Southern Sudan (yes, you read that correctly – Southern Sudan) to launch a new GO Project partnership for a children’s village in Torit.
“We were planning for a 13-hour trip and hoping to make it to Torit in one day. ‘Twas not to be.”
“They (border patrol) required a copy of my GO Africa Identity Card…which, of course, I don’t have. So, I sat in the car and designed one on my computer…then, because I didn’t have a printer with me, we went to a local shop to print. But, their printer was not installed on any of their computers (how do you run a business that way?). In the end, we finally got all the documents stamped that needed to be stamped, and all the money paid that needed to be paid…in all, it took us three hours to cross the border.”
“Four hours later, after bumping on a really bad road (which has gotten worse), we arrived in Torit… There was a very heavy rain storm all afternoon on Thursday …We slept in the Bishop’s personal residence that he is still finishing, but is finished enough for people to stay in.”
“Friday morning, we printed out the partnership agreement under a tree, using a generator to power the printer. (We presented) a scaled down budget to work with…this part of the process is always a little testy, but it will all work out…somehow.”
“The committee asked for some (agricultural) training, so we are planning to send Jimmy back next week for two days. He will take the bus, which he is very keen to do. He even found other Acholi there who speak his language!”
“We agreed to start with 20 children in this location and then evaluate. The Cathedral congregation is still small because it was bombed during the war…”
“…the Bishop learned that the reason the boy had stolen some of our equipment was because he was hungry and wanted to eat! So, the Bishop was not going to do anything to (punish) him. When the other boys who found it (the stolen property) came to the house, the Bishop was able to share God’s Word with them and to encourage them in what they had done to help recover what had been lost. There was lots of singing and rejoicing…and, the Bishop now has a relationship with these boys. “
“So, all in all, it was a very positive trip. The vision is grasped, but, it gets worked out in details. We will keep at it.”
No, Sudan doesn’t have a sugar-plum fairy, but it does have children who need family, plenty of them. We’re grateful for servants, like Alison Barfoot and Rose, who set aside visions of grandeur to take on the daily grind to help the local church care for children in Jesus name.