26 November, 2008

Very Symbolic

Since this was the first dedication celebration within 20 miles of this church, many many people came from all over for the occasion and to celebrate. We arrived a little after 10am and left a little before 6pm (with a small meal provided before the ceremony and a big one after). It was a long, but pretty nice day. There was one thing that caught my attention and added to the fun of the day. Notice the cross in the pictures below. That's right, it's a Tasmanian Devil toy figure on top of it. Sweet! And there's sweets tied onto it as well. It was used for the procession of the surrounding areas local pastors and Women's Union members as well as by the first or second of six youth choirs that sang from the different surrounding communities. Not sure if the candy would be considered like holy water is or not, but hopefully the kids were able to enjoy the sweets afterwards. Also not really sure that I'll ever see a Devil on top of a cross at a church service again. But, I'm also confident that noone there new the name of this creature is a Tasmanian Devil.

Sunday Best

Thought I'd share some images from one of the first opening celebrations we had in Maridi a couple months ago. These are formal occasions, and there was a relatively new guy there who found these things unusual enough to take pictures of. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you look at it), things like this don't get a reaction from me and are normal, ordinary things that I wouldn't have thought to capture on camera.

This is a common hairstyle for ladies in this area (and apparently also just across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo). Our cook also sports this look occasionally, and looks better in it. A smile may have helped this woman also, though. I actually really like it. I just may even give it a try myself. What do you think?

08 November, 2008

Road Work

The road connecting Maridi to the state and national capitals is being worked on. Hallelujah!!! It’s not done yet, nor will it be for many months still, but it will no doubt allow vehicles and goods to travel much more easily and open up the town to more development. Unfortunately for us, we’ve already finished all the major transportation we need to in and out of town, but may be able to take advantage of it more in the future as well.

The first task that was undertaken was to clear enough room to widen the road so that it can fit two lanes of traffic. The crew has begun at the town, and they were right outside our compound a couple weeks ago. It has transformed the area as trees, some of which were about 10 feet thick have been cleared and some of the landmarks that were used to give directions are now no longer there.

Did I mention yet that even when the road is done, it will still just be a dirt road??? When hardly any of the roads in South Sudan have been worked on in decades, and it will take thousands of miles of road just to connect all the state capitals, the task of road repair is a big one. And once the rainy season hits again in another half a year, the deterioration won’t take too long, but it will be better than it is now for at least several years. And maybe in a few years there will be the possibility of putting in paved roads. For now, I’ll just rejoice in the better dirt.

Just outside our compound

View when I held the camera overtop of our fence

Side Benefits

When the road crew took out all the trees, less people have been making charcoal. There have been people outside our compound chipping away at the big trees that were felled and pushed out of the way in order to get some firewood. Cooking is all done by open fire, and near to a town, all the trees that are able to be cut up for firewood have already been, so people are forced to search farther and farther away just to be able to get wood for cooking meals. It’s as if Christmas came a little early to a lot of households, and with the size and number of trees that were brought down, I think it just may even last until Christmas. Here are a couple pictures of whole families getting involved.

Revenge of the Bees

Do you remember the story I told about getting honey from bees about a year ago? We're even.

The time the heavy machinery was just outside our base for road work, I went out to watch them taking down the trees and clear the way. One of the trees ended up being the home to a huge swarm of bees. Everybody cleared out and watched from far away. I was about a quarter mile away, but a few hundred yards closer than most people to get to see the huge swarm still around the big track hoe that they were using to clear the trees. The machine had doors and windows that must have sealed well as there were thousands and thousands of bees swarming around the thing.

A motorcyclist decided he could ride through the swarm without any problems. He was way off! I was a couple hundred yards closer than everyone else, and then I see this motorcycle coming through. I stood in amazement at first, and then as I see a small swarm of bees leave the hoe and follow the rider, I realize he’s not going to be able to continue. The driver is completely encircled, and ends up crashing the bike, and gets up and runs in my direction. Seeing the bees all around him, I turn around and start running away too. I cut down a small path thinking I’ll escape, but the guy heads right for me still, and then a few bees leave him and come after me. So I begin running too and start stripping off my shirt as at least one got caught in it and swinging it at all the bees. Eventually the buzzing all but fades and I kill the final one I hear which is caught in my hair. I escaped with only two stings, but the motorcycle driver had over 50. The result of all that poison in his blood causes him to vomit violently and we ended up taking him to the hospital as he was totally weak and lost control of some of his bodily functions. Thankfully by late evening he was ok, and no one else made the mistake of trying to travel through the swarm until after they calmed down or just found somewhere else to go.


On October 7, 2008 my monkey, Zakayo died. I’m not sure what the direct cause was, but she wasn’t eating and went downhill for the entire week beforehand. Thinking maybe if she was free that she’d improve, I ended up untying her for the last 5 or 6 days, but there was no improvement. At least she was able to roam around a little bit for a few days I guess. I tried medicating it with some antibiotics I had a couple days before death, but I think it was too late to have much effect, and I don’t know if it really would’ve helped anyway. Zakayo was a point of interest for all the visitors we had to our base, so I’ll leave everyone with a few parting shots to remember her.