On Saturday we were fortunate enough to get an official invitation to the Independence Celebration! We were given seats just two rows behind the commissioner and were able to see and hear all of the speeches that were given! The celebration began with a parade into Freedom Square. The organizing committee for the event planned for the parade to last 20 minutes, but it actually took more than an hour for everyone to proudly march into the square. There were schools, churches, and many other organizations that had to walk several miles in warm Africa to be a part of the big event! The celebration included lowering the old Sudan flag and then proudly raising the flag of the new South Sudan! I wish I could describe the way the atmosphere felt- it brought tears to my eyes more than once! After the speeches had concluded and the military and parade participants cleared off, Freedom Square was then filled with many local tribes dressed in garb doing their traditional dances. We were able to experience that, as well. The people were so full of joy! Needless to say we were all exhausted by the end of the day!
On Sunday we took a six kilometer drive though bumpy, muddy roads to the church at Logobero. We had had a hard and needed rain on Saturday night- it was great for the crops, but not so great for out vehicle. We ended up stuck in the mud just a half of a mile from the church. As we sat in the Land Rover, trying to decide the best way to get ourselves out, we were greeted by the congregation of the church! They came singing and dancing to welcome us to their worship! I have never experienced anything like their worship. Not only had the people walked a couple kilometers to get there, but they then began worship by singing several “hot songs” that include not only loud, vivacious, singing, but also jumping and dancing. They spoke the truth when they named them “hot songs.” I can’t remember seeing so much excitement in any church I have ever been to. If I am honest, though, one of my favorite parts of the service was the woman who stood in the aisle with a branch. When they children started to misbehave or got a little rambunctious she would first try a stern look and if it didn’t work, she would resort to the use of her stick to get their attention. She never did use it hard, but the children definitely knew she meant business! The whole experience was unforgettable!
Tomorrow I will begin the retreat for the youth leaders. Please be in prayer for all of us!
PS I am working on getting pictures posted, but for some reason its harder to post them here than on Facebook. Please look there for pictures!