Monday, September 28, 2009

The DTS team has made it to the Lugot!!

Here are some photos of the Discipleship Training School team that left 2 weeks ago on their 3-month outreach to the Lugot people in Isore, southern Sudan.

For background info about the Lugot people and the plans to help open a road to reach this isolated place, see the stories: The Tragic Reality of the Lugot of Sudan and Following God back to the Lugot.

It took 2 trucks to move the DTS outreach team into the mountains of Upper Talanga in southern Sudan.

The final destination, Isore, is a 5-hour walk from the nearest road, and the plan of the outreach team is to help the Lugot people re-open a road originally built by King George.

Due to the remoteness and isolation of Isore, the team had to carry all of their food, bedding, cooking equipment, etc. to meet their needs over the next 3 months.

The roads became narrower and more overgrown as the journey progressed...

...until they were little more than foot paths
through the forest.

At the end of the passable road, the team unloaded the trucks and prepared to make camp here for the start of the outreach.

After dropping off the DTS team, Yolam and John made the slow, mud-bogged journey back home.

The Isore mountains where our team will minister the love of God to the Lugot people.

Please continue to pray for our DTS team and the Lugot people:

That they will be able to build relationships as they work together to reopen the road.

That God will work in the hearts of the Lugot and make Himself known to them.

That the students and staff will see God work in new and wonderful ways that will build their faith and draw them closer to Him.

That they will be protected from disease and accidents throughout their stay in Isore.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Following God back to the Lugot

In February of this year, a team of YWAMers from Arua, Uganda and Yei, Southern Sudan set out on a journey to find the Lugot…the ‘People of the Mountain’. This isolated group lives in a cluster of seven villages in a place called Isore, in Upper Talanga, Southern Sudan near the border of Uganda.

Our team drove to the end of the nearest road, parked the car, and hiked for 5 hours to reach Isore. What they found there broke their hearts.

With an estimated population of 6,850 people, there is not one pit latrine. There are no hospitals, no clinics; not even a little shop selling soap or sugar. The Lugot people walk 12 hours to the nearest town to buy salt.

The lack of pit latrines means that every time it rains, feces is washed downhill to pollute the river where the Lugot collect water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing. Instead of using the beautiful, fertile ground to grow food crops, it is used mainly for growing cassava and sorghum that are harvested, fermented and made into a local brew. Alcoholism is rampant. The locals live on wild greens, honey and bush meat. (For the full story, see The Tragic Reality of the Lugot of Sudan)

Our team returned from that initial visit with intestinal diseases and a heavy burden to do something to help these people. Through prayer, it was decided that this year’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) would use their 3-month outreach to go back to Isore and help the community reopen an access road originally built by King George.

To set things up, two of our DTS staff went back to Isore last month (August 09) and men with the Lugot Chief to discuss the possibility of our DTS team coming to work with them. This time, what they found made their spirits soar.

Where before there had been a spirit of despair and hopelessness, now there seemed to be a new attitude of optimism and possibility. Evidence of this was the building of

Isore’s first classroom,

a simple structure of poles and grass, but a structure nevertheless.

Previously there were no classrooms.

Not only that, but the land was covered with tall, strong maize stalks that the people will enjoy for many months.

YWAMer Mario walks through the maize 'forest'

When our DTS staff members met with the Chief (Patrick Olweny), they were amazed by his warm reception and positive attitude. His words give us many insights into the World View and ideas of these people:

“Isore has been highly favored by God,” Olweny said, “because ever since the time of our ancestors, when King George lived here and built a road for us, we have continued to see his favor to date. We would have all been dead by now because the LRA were very active here, and neither the UPDF (the Ugandan army) nor the SPLA (South Sudanese army) could manage them, but God, through these young men here, managed to flush them out. You see, we don’t even have any health facility here and we are drinking dirty water from the stream, yet God has provided our people with such immunity that none of them die easily. Our women are not like yours in Uganda; ours deliver like goats without any complications at all.

“We are so grateful for your coming because it has opened the eyes of our people,” Olweny continued. “Now we have no threat of famine like they do in the neighboring villages. Our people were able to cultivate maize and, thank God, rain has never disappointed us ever since your coming. And now that you are coming again we can totally remain assured of God’s love for us. You are like his angel whom he sends to open the eyes of those he loves.”

Roasting maize (Mario on the right)

Though the living conditions may seem quite acceptable to them, there are great needs in this place: the need for safe drinking water, primary health care, education (including adult literacy), proper farming practices and, of course, evangelism. But at the moment the greatest need is for an access road where vehicles could reach at least one of the seven villages in Isore.

Please pray for the DTS outreach team and the Lugot people as they work together to reopen the road and practically demonstrate the love of God.

The DTS team left for Isore on the 14th of September. Stay posted for more photos and updates of their outreach! Also, look for this story on YWAM’s international website: in the next couple of weeks.