April 14, Maundy Thursday. St. Andrews Cathedral, Bor South Sudan
It was a full day of prayer, preaching, teaching, washing of feet and celebration of Holy Eucharist.
6:30 am Morning Prayer with my community at St. Andrews Compound.
9:00 am Meeting with Nick Greener who traveled from South Africa to Juba and from there traveled to Bor, South Sudan. Nick heads WATER FOR LIFE organization all over Africa. He was with us only for one day as he shall travel tomorrow morning back to Juba and then fly to Cape Town, South Africa to be with his family for Easter. We discussed with a contractor to provide clean water for 3000 primary and high school students and community living inside St. Andrews Church Compound. St. Andrews school shall open on May 2. At present there are 130 senior high School students who are boarders here. They shall sit for national exam in two weeks week graduate from High School. Student leaders told us that they have no water to drink or wash in school. They have to collect water from a hand pump outside their school. Local people resist there collecting water as lines are long. Two students leaders shared that they eat one meal a day and for the last two months it is always rice and beans. Most of their parents have no income and more than half of the students are orphans. They need help in four areas:
Help to purchase food.
Several of them need medical care. For some Malaria and typhoid effects their ability to sit for exam. They need preventative medicine.
They need computers for their study. There are only two laptop computers which I brought to them in June 2019.
Two class rooms needs to be completed and classroom desk and chairs needs to be purchased. I have already helped with $5000.00 to purchase furniture for three class rooms. $1000 was provided this morning to these students to purchase medicines, bags of rice, beans, oil. I promised on April 17 on Easter Day we shall all eat together and cook a festive lunch to celebrate Easter. I find these students are very bright and have great hunger to learn and to be successful. Martha, a young high school student delivered such passionate speech that we were moved by her words. I immediately responded to her plea, and said, “Martha, you are such fine speaker. I see you in future member of parliament in South Sudan.” On Monday we are starting construction project to build two class rooms for St. Andrews Primary School children. Cost to build two class rooms will be close to $20,000.
At 12:00 noon Nick Greener, three priests and myself eat lunch of rice and red beans in my room.
At 1:00 p.m. we processed to begin Maundy Thursday liturgy inside St. Andrews Cathedral church. It was such a hot day wit temperature close to 40 Celsius or 110 degree F. There were more than three hundred faithful gathered inside St. Andrews Cathedral. The Gospel reading was from John 13 about Jesus Washing the feet of his disciples and institution of Holy Eucharist. After the Gospel reading the Rector washed my feet and then I was asked as their Bishop to wash feet of congregation. While I served in parishes in USA I wash the first two three people’s feet and then others will join me in washing of feet. This time it was unique experience. I am told that I washed feet of 120 people. I had tears in my eyes and thanked the Lord for such an honor and privilege. It reminded me that in February 1996, I came from USA to visit Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where close to 100,000 South Sudanese mostly from Bor area were living. We charted a small 12 passenger plane. It dropped us in a field in Bor, South Sudan. For the next 18 days we walked on foot to visit Christian community caught in active war zone area. One day we walked under scorching Sun heat for many hours to a place known as Wunigar (place of cattle camp). We arrived on banks of river Niles. Wr crossed river in a dugout boat. Bishop Nathaniel Garang, Bishop of Bor and Rev. Marc Nikkel along (American Episcopal Missionary) with dozens of people took us to Wunigar. We were welcomed by local community. At our arrival members of Mother’s Union washed our hands and feet. Thirty years ago I wrote in my dairy, “Lord, make me an instrument to be service to our brothers and sisters in Bor area. Please give me an opportunity to wash their feet too. My prayer was answered to be engaged with this community since 30 years and now physically washed feet of 120 people of Bor community.
After washing of feet I preached on text of Gospel of John chapter 13.
This was a service of full three hours including celebration of Holy Eucharist. After service as I returned to my room I found my Episcopal vestments and my purple shirt was so wet from constant perspiration in a 110 degree F that it seemed as somebody had poured buckets of water on me. I was so dehydrated that I almost drank a 1.5 liter of water.
I washed myself and had a change of clothes.
3:30 pm Dr. Anil Cherian came to pick me up to speak to 43 medical students. Dr. Anil and his wife Dr. Shalini Cherian are medical doctors from India. They have built medical training center to train students for three years to gain medical diploma. I was asked to share with them events and readings from Bible about Holy Week. It is a Christian medical training center and students are given their own Bibles to study. After I spoke I had dozen and half male and female students who asked me questions and we had great time of sharing for two hours. By 5:30 pm I was simply so exhausted that as I came back to my room I hardly could walk or talk. My room inside was so hot but I needed to lie down. I did not care for hot room without electricity. The moment I lied down on my bed in few minutes I went to sleep and woke up at 7:00 pm. I had a shower and a change of clothes. Rev. Jacob Akout took me to Park Palace hotel to say goodbye to Nick Greener.
It was as full day of ministry to serve Jesus our Lord and my faith community here in Bor. Praise God. Alleluia!