I wrote this last week when Joel was in Nairobi and I was processing the possibility of our early departure from South Sudan. It has been a difficult decision but one made slightly easier if I see it as an “evacuation order”: something that needs to happen for our own wellbeing. I wasn’t sure if I needed to post this “processing blog” but do think we should tell our avid readers (all 2 of you), who have chosen to journey with us on this adventure, where we are at and our plans for the future.
In the past two years, at the back of our minds, we have been prepared for the possibility of evacuation. We knew that coming to a place that is only recently out of war would mean there would still be times when the situation could become unstable. In 2010 during the election and referendum we knew that when we left for Nairobi we might not be able to return. I don’t think this is a pessimistic view because we always left with the hope of returning and we rejoiced in celebration during those historic moments of South Sudan’s journey. But the reality is that we keep our ears tuned to insecurities in the area, we have a quick run bag packed for a hasty departure, and in case we can’t leave, we have food and water stocks in our house. This has become our reality.
Our evacuation orders have come but they are much different than I imagined they would be.
We need to leave, not (directly) because of bombs or rebel soldiers, but because our bodies and minds have told us (in more ways than one) that it is time. And professionals in Nairobi have told us that if we choose not to listen and if we try to stay we will not be able to work well and we will not be able to live well. We, ourselves, have grieved with people who could not leave (for whatever reasons) and who suffered, traumatized by their experiences. And now we grieve as we think about leaving this place that has taught us many things, given us many questions, and shaped us in ways that we do not even know yet.
After discussions, prayers, and discernment we have decided to say goodbye to Rumbek at the end of March.