By Laura Krone

We knew going into Ethiopia this time that it would likely be our last rotation among the Nuer people. It had been almost a year since the start of the conflict last December with no signs of Nasir reopening in the near future. From what we have heard, it sounds like all of Nasir has been looted, homes have been burned, and there are no civilians living in the town. As much as our hearts long to be able to return, we also know that it won’t be the same place that we left. 

I had prepared myself for this to be our last three months in Ethiopia, wrapping up relationships with our coworkers and friends, but we were surprised when we arrived in Ethiopia to find that the visa regulations had changed and we would only be able to stay for one month, until the end of December. It didn’t feel like enough time to say goodbye to people who had become like family.

When we left for Uganda in November, there was no work for the ladies who help around our compound in Ethiopia, so we asked them to plant a garden while we were gone with hopes of fresh vegetables in early 2015. They did an amazing job, and we were greeted with the sight of cornstalks taller than my head when we got back.

It was bittersweet, though, to watch ears of corn begin to grow and green tomatoes appear knowing that we wouldn’t be there to see them ripen. I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 3:5-7:

“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

We weren’t there for the planting of our garden, and we left before the harvest came. We really only took part in a few weeks of watering. In a similar way, we weren’t there when the gospel was planted among the Nuer people over 100 years ago, and I don’t believe that we’ve seen the fullness of the harvest yet, but it has been a privilege to journey with our Nuer friends this past year. I am a different person from having known them, and I pray that somehow through our interactions they felt nourished and strengthened in the love of Christ.