Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts

April 21st – Long day

Last night was a good night of sleep. It didn’t start out hot and didn’t get too cold. I even had to cover up with a top sheet ☺ (JP, you’ll be delighted to know that for awhile once we return, even I will be freezing anytime the temp goes below 75 degrees. Amazing how cold 75 feels when the daytime temps hit over 120!).

I was feeling a bit melancholy this morning, meditating on the verses in Luke 8, but especially verse 1, where it says, “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.” (NIV) I was trying to imagine what it would be like to do that here in southern Sudan. Everything about life here in Sudan is hard – even for the Sudanese. Late this morning, I had a conversation with John Kuol (compound manager), who commented on how hard life is here in Werkok. Today, we don’t have a working vehicle except two motorcycles, one of which is less than reliable, meaning that we’ll likely have to walk the 25 km to the airport. We don’t have consistent communication except for a satellite phone, which is expensive and gets prepaid minutes added from Grand Rapids, Michigan (though telephone and internet through the VSAT is supposed to be up and working any time now). We’ve been virtually without outside communication since our arrival here on March 21st, a month ago today.

The day after a hard rain, you can’t imagine the bugs. You lift the “toilet” seat and hold your breath so you don’t breathe in one of the hundreds of newly hatched flies that rush you, celebrating their new metamorphosis from maggot to bomber. As I sit typing, I have to constantly be shooing these little black beetles off my screen. I’m being dive-bombed by crickets and flies and flying ants. I’ve picked at least 30 beetles or ants out of my hair and another 15 or 20 from the back of my neck or inside my shirt – all within the past hour or two. All afternoon, we fight horseflies, which bite. I mean BITE! To the point that they actually draw blood; and snakes, and scorpions and 2-inch-long cockroaches . . . During rainy season, you can’t sit outside past dusk because of the clouds of mosquitoes – and if you’re in a tukul, you climb into your mosquito net early, trying to at least postpone the inevitable malaria.

And Luke talks about Jesus “traveling about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news . . .” The times I’ve read these verses from my home in southern California, I never realized how differently they’d look, when reading them through the lens of East Africa. I have a new appreciation and deep respect for missionaries here, because “traveling from one village to another” is unbelievably hard and uncomfortable work! God Bless you Dave and Joy, Ian, Forrest and Cameron!