Thanksgiving is pretty much just like any other day in Sudan, but it was a most extraordinary day for me. It started out with the slaughter of the Thanksgiving goat, which was a little out of the routine for the compound–and the honor was given to Rachel, who is apparently only the 3rd American woman to have done it here. Thanks to the expert skills of Suzy and the staff, dinner was pretty much a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with the goat substituting for turkey–it was DELICIOUS!
The dinner was a somewhat anticlimactic end to an extraordinary day. Tom and I and part of the clinic team were driven out to the village of Malone for the weekly medical outreach clinic run by In Deed and Truth. It is very hard to really describe this experience–It was very much like time travel. The trip started out with a not quite 1 hour drive down a fairly well graded dirt road at about 60-70 mph (honest), which changed abruptly when the driver slowed down almost to a stop in the middle of nowhere, took a hard left across the road, and ran down the embankment and off into the bush. The attached photo is from a little later when the “road” was at least kind of recognizable.
Malone consists of a couple of huts, and the container used by the clinic to store the larger items of the operation including tables and chairs. Most of the families live in huts scattered around the area–all are cattle farmers. The actual clinic consists of 3 tables and the box of supplies brought by us from Tonj–all set up in the shade of a giant tree. The morning is usually slow, as it takes a couple of hours for word to filter out that the clinic is there, and the concept that the clinic is there every Thursday (during the dry season,) is apparently not an easily grasped concept in this culture. Once word was out, though, the people started arriving in large numbers–all on foot, many of the men carrying spears, and rarely wearing anything resembling Western clothing. They are dignified, friendly people who live with next to nothing. I saw many patients who could have felt much better had they simply access to running water and the cool shower I was looking forward to at the end of the day. We did not see many seriously ill patients–most of them (often children with malaria,) had already made or started the journey to the Tonj clinic. (The Malone outreach often sees 60-70 patients.) It was one of the most memorable experiences I have had in all my travels.
Today (Friday) was a fairly “normal” day at the Tonj clinic. Rob in the meantime continues to “Wow” the pastors with his unique teaching, but I will leave that part of the story to him. Tomorrow we are off to the Leper colony.
God Bless You all, and thank you so much for your prayers.