Due to the continuing conflict in South Sudan, part of our Nasir team has been temporarily reassigned to Western Ethiopia, which has a large Nuer population that frequently travels back and forth to South Sudan.
We landed in Ethiopia Monday morning and set out to find housing. We ended up visiting several guest houses, but due to the influx of refugees from South Sudan, options were limited. We finally found a place with several rooms and a small fenced area for the children to play.
Unfortunately, we realized that what seemed like a quiet restaurant/hotel by day turns into a nightclub in the evening, complete with a subwoofer and strobe lights. We also discovered that the bathroom fixtures are mostly for show – the water is not connected. The hotel provides buckets of water to take cup baths, wash dishes, and do laundry. The first few days we received brown water that clearly came straight from the river until we negotiated a higher price for well water.
While parts of Ethiopia are much more developed than South Sudan, clean water continues to be a challenge. Every time we walk by the river we see people hauling water, bathing, washing cars, and watering cattle, side by side. This experience has given me a renewed passion for bringing clean water to communities in South Sudan.
After a few days I found myself readjusting to the heat (110°F in the shade) and life without running water, but the biggest challenge has been experiencing the culture shock of moving to a new country for the third time in 6 months. By the time I left Nasir it felt like home – I knew my way around and ran into friends every time I went to the market. Now it feels like I am starting over.
Thankfully I am blessed to be in a place that puts the American South to shame when it comes to hospitality. People have literally walked the extra mile to help us find our way around. And amazingly we have already run into people here that we had met in Nasir. The Pierce children especially were local celebrities, and people from Nasir remember them.
We desire to return to South Sudan soon, to be reunited with our friends and colleagues there. Please pray with us for peace to come quickly to South Sudan and for those affected by the conflict.