Sudan has completely broken me.
it was a rough night for me here. things are just .. getting too real and too big. im so terrified and aware of the fact that i WONT be able to explain the sight of thousands of huts just covering hills for miles, i know i wont be able to tell these stories the way their mouths do. i know … i just know the pain and struggle that is to come upon my arrival home and im just dreading it.
the past few days have been rough, and unfortunately today was not any easier. today my heart was broken and i cried for the one of the first and only times here in africa. this morning i was scheduled to take photos with my students on their
school compound (which is a special privilege; the school grounds is shared with the military and several of their school buildings are used to store ammunition. imagine multiple buildings with metal boxes filled with bullets, stacked to the ceiling, just joined with your classroom. the same bullets that killed half of their parents) so today the military commander gave me permission to take photos for the purpose of bringing their faces back to america in hopes that lives would thereby be touched and inspired. the overlook behind the school is unimaginable and beautiful. its up on a sort of hill/mountain. you can see for days and days. just trees and grass and rocks. oh and i forgot to mention, it overlooks the Nile River. so i spent a number of hours with a group of students moving around from cliff to cliff taking pictures under tress on rocks; we even walked down to the banks of the nile and my heart was stopped by the fact that i was actually at the river nile. after taking some beautiful photos, one of my closest students, mario, approached me and told me that he had some information to give me. i figured it would be some plans for counseling appointments or something like it normally is. but this time it was
Mario then fought with his words to eventually tell me that this morning, his father had died. ………….. this morning.
suddenly i was overcome with tears and my face became hot. his jaws were clenching and face down as he fought tears. we sat down in the tall grass of this african prairie looking up into the hills and talked for hours.
i myself cried a lot. he however didn’t cry once.
his father died only hours before.
i mean… is this hitting you like it hit me? his father died! and hes sitting here with me. and not only that but hes been here taking photos with me, smiling in all of them, directing and leading all of the other students… and all the while, his father has dies only 3 hours before….his father had been in the hospital for about a week. that was the last time he had seen his dad; before he had gone to the hospital. i asked him how in the world, and WHY in the world he had come to school…. and
with a short pause, he then answered ‘…. today you are taking the photos… the photos to take to america to try to find me help….suppose i had not come… then my photo would not be sent?’ he then said, ‘ when someone is sacrificing their time to give you aid, and when we need it this bad…. if i had not come, you might have misunderstood it or wondered where i was on the photo day…’
i started bawling. this student… this student who i had already grown to love in our numerous counseling sessions, somehow managed to think about ME in the midst of JUST losing his father. at 6 his father died and hes standing with the dead body, and at 7 hes at school with me? and taking photos to be sent to america to POSSIBLY find help and support for life needs, was high enough on his priority list that he CAME TO SCHOOL on the very day that his father died….
this work im doing is just becoming to real.
you know i tell these children that i will TRY to find them help but that i make no promises. and i read the letters they write and think ‘oh gosh what a sad story’, but this is LIFE to them. me finding them help is LIFE to them. its not little thing. its life. mario left his mourning mother for it.
i had read in marios letter that his father was sick. but to me, when my students tell me a parent is sick or disabled, i hardheartedly think ‘ well at least you have parents- most of your classmates have no one’ and essentially i blow off the sickness of their parents, BUT MARIOS DAD DIED. marios dad is gone. and i didnt take it seriously. i balled again as i realized all of the other letters that i had probably blown off just the same.
man i balled all morning.
i spoke with mario about needing to rely on God to pick up his broken pieces at a time like this. and the two of us prayed and shared our beliefs about God being a rock to rely on. i trust that mario will stick with the Lord during this time. apparently his fathers last conversation with mario was, his father giving him his bible and making him promise to
make this bible his friend, his father, his everything… and i pray that mario does.
so you can tell today was rough.
after school i went to another students house who had been shot by the LRA
rebels. he has a wound on his legs and i went to take photos of it. when i
arrived i found he lives alone. he’d built his own hut with his own two hands, and sleeps on a
mattress. that was all. a mattress. the pictures i took of him and his
wound in his simple little empty house were quite profound, i cant wait to
show them to you.
but for now, im going to … take a walk. maybe pray some of this sadness away. im finding that’s often the only answer.
till next time.