I was so SOO hoping that Aunt Ella would share about her visit to the cattle camps. She returned home with so many stories and I listened wide eyed… Stories about these nomadic people and how their life revolves around their cows. The cow provides everything- including a place for games (young men jump over the cows) And the fact that these people weren’t used to the clean soap smell and covered their nose whenever they caught a whiff of these Americans… Am I remembering correctly? 🙂 Anyhow… I’m still fascinated… Bless you and your family for the sacrifices you’ve made to reach people in all different walks of life! Love you!!
Rhonda had shared many stories about the cattle camps in Sudan, but nothing prepared us for what we experienced.
After making our own trail thru the brush, with our vehicle, and wondering if we were on the right path, we finally broke thru into a clearing. This was the cattle camp: as we disembarked and surveyed the area, all we saw was an open field and a pond of water off in the distance, where the cows were wading to cool off from the 100 degree temps. We were warmly greeted, but there was no house to invite us into, no chairs to offer us, so our host set off walking, to show us a glimpse of life in their world.
A few of the children had on some rags, but most of them were completely naked. They would look at us with curious glances and shy smiles and then quickly return to the task at hand. We soon realized the only source of water for them was what the cows were standing in.
Our minds were having trouble absorbing all we were seeing.
After our tour, we spread a blanket under a tree and continued to observe life here. Some of the ladies were busily working over a fire, preparing the evening meal. A few pieces of clothing were hanging on the branches of some nearby trees. They have no closets, or cabinets, but they do not need them, because their possessions are minimal, only the basics. However, this makes it easier for the nomadic life, as they move from place to place to try to find water for their cattle.
There was smoke coming from piles of ashes around the camp, and a small naked child was entertaining herself by playing in the ashes, with no one showing concern.
As the sun was beginning to set, you could hear the cow bells as they came in from the distant fields. Stakes were driven into the ground, where the cows were roped for the night. They seemed to know where they were to go, and without much coaxing from the one leading them, they stopped obediently by their assigned stake.
Rhonda & a co-worker had quickly erected a tent like structure for us to sleep in for the night. It was approximately 2.5’wide by 5’long. This was for 2 of us. Needless to say, we had to lay on our sides to make it work.
It was quite dark by the time the evening meal was served. Rhonda encouraged us not to eat any of the food. Those of our team who were accustomed to food from this culture ate enough so that our host did not know we had not eaten.
We showed the Jesus film, powered by a generator, on a makeshift screen; a sheet hanging on the side of our van. Everyone gathered around sitting or lying on the ground. Our team was the only ones with the luxury of having a mat. It was quite a surreal experience, to see hands raised in response to the invitation to come to Jesus, here in the open field under the light of the stars.
With our hearts full of the love of God for every people, every tribe, & every nation, we crawled into our tent for the night.
Sounds now fill the camp; men singing to their cows, babies crying, mothers giving directions to children.
I do not know how much we slept that night, but the peace of God was our rest.
The camp was stirring early in the morning; the cow dung that had been spread out to dry in the sun, was now gathered into piles, to be burned, by a young lady, on her hands and knees. Ashes from yesterday’s fires were rubbed on the cows and over the faces of those tending them. This helps keep the bugs away.
A lady with a bucket caught a cow’s urine. This was used to wash the cooking pots. Now it made perfect sense why we were encouraged not to eat the food.
With day light upon us, and no toilets, we asked Rhonda for advice. She laughingly reminded us that is why we wore wide skirts. The only semi-private place was behind the van we had driven. However, when we went there, the van driver mistakenly thought we wanted into the locked van, and he came running to unlock it for us.
Our lives are forever changed by this experience.
Who would have ever imagined that when I started praying Ps 2:8, years before, that I would actually get to experience a small part of that world; “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations as Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession.”
-Harold and Ella Horst