The trees….

28- getting to visit our home in South Sudan
The banana tree outside our home. Taken in 2014

Today is Friday morning. I spent the early waking hours of it sitting on a bed with my nine year old. Tears streamed down her cheeks. I stroked her tangled hair and listened as she cried. The house was quiet except for the sound of her tears and her Dad’s typing in the room next door.

Just a week ago we were looking at photos online our teammates had posted. They had returned to the college campus in Melut and our children were exclaiming with joy over pictures of their “home” and excitedly discussing returning there. We have told them our return would not be anytime soon because of instabilities but they weren’t dissuaded in their excited plans for when that day finally arrived.

Today is Friday and this morning we were not looking at photos on the computer we were reading email updates from a colleague,

…Today we heard that the compound of Gideon Theological College, where our team lived and worked, has been looted and burned…

Part of traveling and on the road with kids means that when we have a quiet family moment it becomes the time to fill our kids in on what is happening, and give them a chance to ask questions and process away from others….this morning was that moment for us and I sat down and explained what had happened to the place we call home and the town we love.

The kids nodded and we discussed the safety of various people they were asking about, that we knew little details. They nodded and went back to reading their books. I put in a load of laundry when I heard the tears start…walking into the bedroom I saw my eldest… and as I stroked PJ’s hair she cried big tears over the stuffed animal that was sitting on her bed in Melut that probably wouldn’t be there when we went back, over her bedroom that may not be livable again, over her bunkbed that she wanted to sleep in again and mostly she cried over the trees.

J– had planted fruit trees and a banana tree all over campus, in loving memory of Philip and to create a beautiful place for study with shade, and nutrition. PJ and her dad had spent their time watering the trees and watching them grow together. When J— returned to campus last year he took pictures of the growing trees and she had squealed with delight and imagined what it would be like to play under their shade when we were finally able to return. The tears streamed down her cheeks and she whispered, “the trees momma the trees are probably gone.”

Today is Friday morning, we are packing up to continue on our roadtrip and we are mourning all that has happened in Upper Nile this week. We do so with tears streaming down our hearts as we grieve for a place we loved, the people that lived there, our teammates and ourselves. We do not grieve as a people without hope, but in our grief we cry out for the God of redemption to use this for His glory and we are so sad that the trees and homes and markets are probably gone.

Today we are reminded that our home is not on this earth, that our treasures are to be stored where fire cannot reach and war cannot destroy but we are sad for the trees, the work, the life that will never quite look the same.  We join South Sudan in crying, “How long, O Lord!

Will you join us in praying, praying for our beloved teammates who are processing the loss after just setting up home again, for our South Sudanese brothers and sisters from the area who are mourning the loss of their homes and city, for us and our children as we mourn anew what has happened to the place we have called home. Will you pray for God to use this recent act of violence and redeem it by using it to usher peace into the land. Will you pray a time of peace will come where trees can grow, people can live and work in peace and the Truth of God will be boldly proclaimed and praised for what He has done in bringing peace to South Sudan.


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