Sun, Rain, Airplanes and Orphans

Sunday, July 3
Angie and I carried our own chairs to church. It’s a ten-minute walk, and the chairs are plastic. If we don’t bring chairs, someone gives theirs up for us, and then they parade us to the front of the church where we sit with the elders facing the congregation. We were able to slip in the back without causing a stir.

It was another 100-degree day without a cloud in the sky, so we spent the afternoon in the shade at the compound. Around five, as it started to cool, Dau showed up to take us to the central area of the village to meet two more guardians and girls for our program. This was the first opportunity I’ve had on my four trips to Duk, to wander through the maze of family compounds. The families we visited before were in outlying areas, with great distances of grass between them. A rural setting. In the main area of the village, there’s a wide road through the center, lined with a few shops and the Duk Payuel Business Group along the road and fences made of heavy thatching material, offering privacy and protection from roaming cattle and goats to the households within.

We had partial luck. At one home both the guardian and the girl were out cultivating their garden. At another, the guardian was gone, though we spoke with the girl and her blind grandmother. We have eight of our ten orphan girls confirmed.

Monday, July 4
Rain, rain, rain. We could feel it in the air when we woke up. After two full-sun days, rain was inevitable this time of year. We battened down the hatches of the tent, learning the best ways to ensure our belongings stayed dry—as long as the wind wasn’t too strong. With a strong wind, there’s no way to avoid it.

I was worried because my daughter Gina was scheduled to arrive on AIM Air around 1 pm. Joh Deng, the clinic manager, and I walked to the airstrip. He carried an umbrella, and I wore a yellow rain poncho and rolled up my pants. We walked the airstrip—it must be about a kilometer or more in length, trying to determine if WE thought AIM Air could land. The AIM pilots are pretty familiar with this landing strip, unlike MAF who circled and didn’t land a week ago. So, though there was standing water in several places, we thought they’d chance it.

We walked back to the clinic. Learned that AIM had left Loki at 11. We got in the JDF car and returned to the strip with Lual, the driver. Walked the entire strip again, as if we could magically dry the water. Meanwhile, the rain has been steady, though not pouring, all morning. As we pondered whether to go back to the clinic or wait, we heard the plane.

Pilot Jerry landed on the sandy but squishy airstrip without a problem, and we welcomed Gina and some medical supplies for the clinic.

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