Saturday, June 13, 2009


Have you ever had a day were everything just blesses your socks off? I had one of those the other day (a month ago now...) ...

It was rather wonderful right from the start. I emerged from my tent in Gasmala (after a huge thunder and lightening storm from the night before) to find Tia (one of my favorite ladies) and her little grandson, Babylon, greeting me from not too far away :) Babylon said "Kawaja, I niini?" (which is, in english, 'White person, did you sleep?') and Tia corrected him, for the 20th time that weekend, "her name is Kata..." so then he just smiled and said, "Kata, i niini?" To which I replied that I did indeed sleep well :) Then he trotted over to share with me a plum which he pulled from a little pile he had tucked away in his grubby little hand :)

The morning continued with enjoyable interactions while I 'packed up camp' and prepared for the bike ride back to Doro... the morning entertainment for everyone was to discover that the ground was in fact DRY and the weird "On Kata" (Kata's house... my tent) DID keep the rain out... it was quite a marvel to everyone, especially Pastor Hurun's wife who was convinced that come morning I would have been afloat :)

So I said my goodbyes and headed off on my bike with a travel buddy named Peter, who was also heading into Bunj (the town just past Doro) on his bike. It was one of those rides that went by especially slowly - Peter's bike isn't exactly what you'd call 'bush worthy' - but was very enjoyable... because I was biking so slowly I got to just look around and SEE all the amazing things along the way and have my breath taken away yet again by a God who loves me so much as to grant me the desires of my heart... down to the very last detail. As I drove my little bike through the dirt and mud of this 'road' in the middle of the bush, on such a sunny-and-perfect-cloud-day, I just couldn't get the smile off my face :)

So I arrived back to Doro to find that the Congdon family and Justin (the rest of his family were to follow next week) had arrived safely the day before... it's always exciting to see friends and have new faces around...

Then, after a little visit with Nancy it was time to check email... my inbox was overflowing with love from home, in response to the news letter I had sent out just hours before leaving for Gasmala days ago. It was rather amazing how many people wrote back addressing the email to "Kata" :D Again... just couldn't stop smiling. Thanks for the emails you guys... I just can't tell you how GREAT is to hear from you. REALLY.

The next thing was probably the 'cherry on top' for my day... Pastor James (my 'dad' from Gasmala) was bringing the village 'crazy man' for Dr.Rob to assess. Some of you may know that I just have a heart for the psychological aspects of what these people have gone through, and it has been my prayer to somehow be used by the Lord in this area of people's lives... So, I asked Dr.Rob if I could sit in on his assessment (I wanted to learn and hear what questions he would ask, among other reasons). There was little I knew about this man prior to our meeting that day... I knew that he was feared in the village, really had no friends other then pastor James who would visit him, and that he talked to himself. When James arrived with him I was looking for an excuse to go out to where he was waiting to interact with him. "Would he like some water? - it's a long walk here..." "yes, kata, bring him water." Perfect :) So I approached this beautiful old man, who had seen so much in his life, and was a broken shell of someone he'd once been... his eyes looked uncertain, and his hands trembled slightly. He sat with his legs crossed, wearing a baby blue shirt (pants too of course, but his shirt just stuck out to me) and a crocheted barrett, holding a walking stick. I come over, stuck out my hand to greet him and said "I niini?" His eyebrows shot up as he realized the Kawaja had just spoken Mabaan and returned the greeting with a smile. I gave him the water, and we were friends. This 65 year old man had won my heart, and I was done for :) James asked him if he wanted more water and he said "no, but when I do, I will ask her for it." ... :)

This man, about 15 years ago, had burned his house to the ground in the middle of the night - I think all his family escaped alive, however, left him shortly after. This was the start of his mental illness from what we can tell... If you are doing the mental math, this started DURING the time of the war, when he was still living/hiding in the bush near Gasmala (I've been told that Gasmala was quite a battle zone). After this, he went to a Refugee camp in Ethiopia, called Sherkole, where he stayed until a year ago, returning on the back of a Lory (truck) like thousands of others. Since then he's been largely ignored my most villagers who are scared he will kill them, and, as he told us, sometimes goes for up to four days with no food. He told us about the voices he hears in his head, that sometimes he sees people others can't see, and other struggles he's had along the way. Dr.Rob did a thorough assessment with mental, spiritual, and physical aspects, coming to the conclusion that this man has a genuine mental illness (rather then a solely spiritual problem) or a physical problem/illness that is manifesting with these psychological symptoms.

I just sat and watched throughout the meeting, and couldn't keep myself from smiling at this beautiful man, desperately loved by God, who has seen more trauma then I can imagine, who had a slight smile on his face because he had no idea what Dr.Rob was doing... prodding and poking and listening and asking him to balance with his eyes closed and his arms outstretched :) And I just had this heart-conversation with Jesus that went something like this... "Lord, I just love people who are hurting like this... rejected castaways that have yet to discover just how much YOU love them..." "Chris, I'm reminding you of why I brought you here, remember... to tell people about MY FREEDOM... I make beauty from these ashes..." "Lord, would You just use me... can I be a part of it?" ...

I was thankful that Dr.Rob didn't ask me to pray when we were finishing up, because I wouldn't have managed through it... as it was I sat there with tears running down my face because I was breathing deeply of a Life Worth Living... THIS is what it is about... not medications and treatments, though those can be wonderful... but just loving on people who need to know that there is Water they can drink, and NEVER be thirsty again. Jesus has not abandoned them, Jesus is not afraid of them, Jesus has made them - down to every molecule... and loves them enough to have died, even if only for them.

Before we stood to part ways, this man looked over at me, put his fingers to his mouth and said in Mabaan, "Drink"... I said, "Do you want to drink water?" He smiled and nodded, looking shy yet pleased that we were communicating. I smiled and started off... Never before have I gone on such a joyful errand. When I presented him with a very full cup, he drank it all, then stood up with his walking stick and started off home...

You guys, can you pray for this man? His name is Yiiga. Pray that the church in Gasmala would really reach out to him - follow the example of their pastor and love on this man that the world has rejected. Pray that he will KNOW of the Love of Jesus and be forever changed by the Living Water. Pray with me, that if the Lord see's fit, this man would be spared from further struggles with mental illness, that the medications we gave him would make a difference, and that he would one day give testimony of our miraculous Lord. I hope and pray that I am within ear shot one day when this beautiful man says "yes" to the question, "Do you want to drink Living Water?"