by Andi Clinard

Someone asked me the other day what my best moment was in my life among the Lopit, an animistic people group clustered in the mountains of Sudan South, where I’ve worked for a year and a half.

One best moment?

Perhaps it was the other day when Ellen, our sweet little two-year-old neighbor, peaked in my room where I was shaking off a rough day, and crawled up in bed with me for a nap, nestling her head against my shoulder.

But then there are those few small moments that wouldn’t mean much to anyone else. When our neighbor Ibiong asked me to take in her laundry if it rained. Or when she dropped off her kids for us to watch while she fetched water. Or when two of the neighbor kids sought refuge at our house when their parents were fighting.

And, then again, there are those moments, under a twilight sky, as the day is leaving and the night is falling dark on the smoking thatched roofs and simple swept compounds, when I’m simply sitting together with my roommates and my neighbors. Maybe we’re talking about their children and the crazy tricks they pulled that day. Maybe we’re telling a story from our homes, in a world entirely unfamiliar to our friends. Maybe they’re laughing at me as I stumble through the language. Or maybe we’re cracking peanuts in silence, gazing thoughtfully off into the valley or watching the children dip into sleep.

Whatever the case, in those moments, we’re simply being together.

And I enjoy those moments more and more.

God has put a love in us for these people. It has been a process.

The crowding shadows of faces that bombarded us when we first came to Lopit have become our friends. The squealing, swollen-bellied children, our playmates. The village struggles and joys, our own.

I’m happy here, and I ache for the day when Christ claims his first among my group of friends.

So maybe these are the best moments. Moments like now, when I can reflect upon where we once were and where we are now. When I can honestly say, I love these people. When I can fight off hopelessness, and hope in God, that He’ll use our living witness to His glory in these far-off mountains of Lopitland.