I LOVED THIS DAY!!! It was one of the neatest days of my life!!! I am so excited for you to read all about it and finally meet some of these PRECIOUS orpans we got to spend so much time with.
When we arrived in the Sudan, we had a meeting with the Bishop, who is the person who started the EPC which runs the two orphanages we were going to see. The Bishop is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. Not only does he run the EPC, he practically runs all of Southern Sudan. He's very respected among the people and helps out Southern Sudan as much as possible. So it was a blessing to be able to be around him for week and soak in his wisdom.
At the meeting that first day with the Bishop, he let us know our schedule for the week.
This day he wanted to take us to the Lura Orphanage (where we would spend all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) for a tour and lunch.
That morning we took off in our cars and when I asked you guys to pray for our daily 1 1/2 hour drive to and back from the orphanage, I was not joking. This is what the roads looked like the entire drive.
The orphanage was really only 28 miles away but took that long. If you get motion sickness at all, I don't think you would have made it. Thankfully, not one of us got sick.
Our car broke down the first day, but this was the only day that this happened (until the last day when we were in Uganda), praise the Lord!
Jennifer, Corey and I taking a stroll as we waited for our car to get fixed.
But look at this amazing view we got to stare at for many hours while in the bumpy car!
The thing that happened that was SO neat and amazing was the welcoming ceremony the orphans gave us. I didn't really even think about if the orphans knew if we were coming today. I don't know why I didn't. So when we pulled up and were greeting by ALL 95 orphans and the widows that run the orphanage standing by the road already singing their welcoming song, we were all totally overcome with emotion. There was not a dry eye among us. It was a welcome beyond any welcome I've ever experienced and I'll never forget it for the rest of my! I get goosebumps all over again just thinking of how precious it was!
Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage 7-24-08 from Janelle on Vimeo.
This was our favorite song. It stayed in our head the entire week and you never knew who in our group was going to bust out with it at any moment in the day or night.
Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage Part II from Janelle on Vimeo.
Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage Part III from Janelle on Vimeo.
Are they not the sweetest things you have ever seen? It was an amazing moment for us all.
From there, the orphans went back to school because we came in the middle of their day. And the Bishop showed us around. We got to go to each class room and introduce ourselves and of course they did more singing for us, which we loved:
Sudan | Welcoming Ceremony at Lura Orphanage Part IV from Janelle on Vimeo.
After we left the school, we were able to see the rest of the orphanage. Then we ate lunch there and left.
This is the part of the orphanage that the orphans live in.
This is one of the bedrooms. The coolest thing about this is that each room has two "mothers" that also sleep in the room! Which means that the orphans always have access to their "mom" even in the middle of the night!! Isn't that SO AMAZINGLY comforting to know?!
This is the Bishop giving us our tour.
Saturday, we did a very similar thing, but at the other orphanage in Morobo, which I will write about because it was as equally an amazing welcome as this one!
On a side note: Did y'all see who carried the American flag for the U.S. last night at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies?! Lopez Lomong is from the Sudan! Sadly he was ripped away from his family at the age of 6 by warlords. He was able to escape from them and found a refuge camp for misplaced boys in similar situations in Kenya. A family from New York adopted him and now he is a U.S. citizen. Since then though, he has been reunited with his family in the Sudan!! Isn't that incredible? Obviously, this story impacted me way more now than it would have 6 months ago. I was so happy that Lopez was the one choosen to carry our flag!