Nuer/Nuur and my sisters, Mary and Martha

Just in case you ever wonder, my little sister is amazing.  She kayaks over waterfalls and climbed Manchu Picchu over the summer.  We’re almost twelve years apart, but, as she grows up, it is more and more fun to hang out with her, talk with her, and dream with her.  I love her very much.

My sister-in-law, Justin’s sister, is also awesome.  She’s one of those people whom I can call just because…and calling her just because is one of the things I miss most while living in Cairo.  She’s one of my dearest friends, and also, mother to my #1 nephew.  I love her very much.

One of the neat things about being a woman is that, over time, if we’re lucky (and I have been) we amass a whole crew of sisters.  Women with whom we share hopes, dreams, secrets, frustrations.  Women with whom we laugh and cry.  Women with and for whom we pray.  Women of all ages who become like sisters to us.  I count myself blessed to have a rock-star biological sister, incredible sister-in-law, and many sister-friends who are much older and a few who are younger.  You know who you are and I am thankful that you are in my life.

Today, my circle of sisters grew by six Nuer women.  All named either Mary or Martha.  Their English is limited.  My Arabic is bad; my Nuer is worse.  The sanctuary was double booked, my time was double booked, and the Bible with all of my notes for Bible study was sitting on the kitchen table.  With limited time, John, one of my brother pastors and a very patient interpreter, introduced me to Mary, Mary, Mary, Martha, Martha, and Mary.  I don’t know much about their stories yet, but let me say these women are beautiful, courageous, and brave.  Women of valor, if you will.  I noticed the drum sitting next to one of the Marys when I walked in and I asked them if they could teach me a song.  They proceeded to sing a song about Jesus, the light of the world, that was absolutely gorgeous.  I watched their faces and fought to hold back tears.  Their voices strong and proud, their faces full of emotion and passion.  This was not just another song, but a proclamation of Gospel that carries them, and me, in this place.  Jesus, the light of the world indeed.

I’m learning about this and other South Sudanese tribes, but, as these six Nuer women sang in thanks and praise to Jesus the light of the world, it was not lost on me that, in Arabic, the word for light is “noor.”  They’re pronounced almost exactly the same.  They may or may not be etymologically related, but in the double-booked, dusty sanctuary with the creaking floors this afternoon they were practically one-in-the-same.  These six Nuer women proclaimed with their voices, their emotions, their beautiful faces that Jesus is the light of the world.  The noor of the world.

God gave me six new sisters today.  As we said good-bye, I was embraced by six beautiful women.  Six amazing sisters whose stories are now intertwined with mine.  Six new sisters, and already,  I love them very much.



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