Tying Up Loose Ends

The day I got back from Africa, I promised that I’d tell you certain stories and you know what? I left you hanging on a couple of them. Let me fix that today.

I was given a ring while I was in Sudan. And let me apologize now that I don’t have a picture of it. But I do have a picture of the wonderful guy that gave it to me.

This is Lacheche. He’s the keeper of the gate at our ministry compound in Kapoeta. And this jaunty salute? He does that every time we enter the compound.

Toward the end of our trip, Lacheche invited our team to visit his village. He wanted us to see where he lived and meet the people that were important to him. And we thought that was a brilliant idea, so we loaded up the trucks and went. For the first time, instead of opening the gate for us to leave, he was going out with us. And he was in the Landcruiser, next to me.

We ended up not making it to Lacheche’s village due to the enormous, truck-swallowing mudhole on his road. And so for the rest of the afternoon, we drove around the area, eventually visiting another village that wasn’t booby-trapped with mudholes.

For Lacheche, a road trip was an extraordinary experience. And it was made more so by the fact that he was sitting next to a woman. With three of us in the seat, we couldn’t help but touch and that made him very obviously uncomfortable. Every few minutes, I’d feel him sliding a little more towards the door to put space between us. He was obviously not comfortable and I knew he would be happy when our journey ended.

When we returned to the compound and hopped out of the trucks and I only took about three steps before Lacheche turned around and slipped his ring off of his finger and handed it to me. Stunned, I hollered for Gary.

“Hey, Gary, is he trying to marry me?”

Gary laughed. “No, if he was trying to marry you, he would have come to me and negotiated about how many cows to trade for you. It’s a gift. You can take it.”

I took it and smiled at Lacheche since that was the only language we had in common. And he gave me a huge smile and marched back to his post at the gate.

Back at Gary and Alesa’s tukul, they explained that the ring was brass and was made from leftover shell casings from the civil war. Knowing that it’s the exact kind of thing that my Mom loves (since she’s a history teacher and all) when I got back home, I gave it to her as a gift. And I was right—she loves it!

The other story I promised from Sudan was the story about Omar.

On Wednesday, after we finished the morning’s VBS lesson with the kids, I walked across the compound to Lauren Clinic. As soon as my shadow crossed the threshold, I was drafted. Alesa was needed in town and since I was the only other one with pharmacy experience—and since I’d appeared providentially—I was “it.”

I worked through about three or four patients and just as Alesa returned, Omar arrived. Well, that’s not quite accurate. When Lacheche had arrived at the gate that morning, he had found Omar lying on the ground, too sick and weak to even hold up his head. It had rained all night the night before. HARD. And so nobody really knows how Omar had managed to walk the miles and cross the river to get to the compound.

That morning when Lacheche found him, he and Alesa got Omar inside the clinic and called Dr. Gordon. He arrived and rendered his diagnosis—malaria—and then proceeded to inject the boy’s backside full of antibiotics. Once Omar got some antibiotics in his system, his story started coming out. He was an orphan and the sole caretaker of his little brother. And because they’d had no place to go, they’d been sleeping on the floor at the local mosque.

And so now, at lunchtime, Omar was brought back in to be checked by Dr. Gordon and get another dose of medicine. Alesa stood next to him, watching the little boy as he talked to the doctor and then she asked if he’d eaten. He shook his head no and then gulped down the small cup of water we gave him. And before he’d swallowed the water, it was decided.

“I’m going to make him two hard-boiled eggs. We’ll go to town and get his little brother. We have two little sleeping mats. They’ll stay here with us.” Alesa turned to go next door to the kitchen.

I had yet to see Omar smile.

The next day, after we’d finished our morning session with the school kids, there was some time to spare before their sorghum was ready for lunch and so we pulled out soccer balls and jump ropes for them to have recess.

I walked around with my camera, taking pictures and then letting the kids look at themselves on the little screen. Most of the kids have never even seen themselves in a mirror and so this was a huge novelty to them. They were dropping their toys and gathering around me to see. They were shouting with laughter, but as children often do, they began pushing and shoving. Without a translator, the best thing I could do was just put the camera away. And just then, one of the older boys came up to me, patted his chest and said, “Marco” then patted the head of a smaller, smiling boy next to him and said, “Omar.” I did a double take and sure enough, this happy, healthy, smiling child was the same hungry, sick orphan from the previous day!

And those are the two stories I had promised!

How has God blessed you through others lately?

About Sarah Salter


  1. Very cool ring story!

    If I had a nickel for everytime I had been proposed to, I would have some serious cash. I remember one time when a man walked up to me and said, “My daughter is requesting your hand in marriage.”

    I told him I didn’t even know her!

    He shouted at his daughter and she came over and met me.

    “Now you know her.”

    I shook my head.

    “But I want to go to America…” the girl blurted.

    Needless to say, I am not married to her, but if I ever get desperate, I will definitely move back to Africa.

  2. Great stories – I did marry my African man who gave me a ring though :)!
    It amazes how much kids go through and come out smiling – if we still lived in Malawi my house would be full! There is a tradition of taking in other relatives kids to put them through school, especially the orphans – I have already warned Ramos if we take them in they are staying forever.

  3. Great stories, Sarah.

    Glad the boy is better and that ring…what a wonderful gift!

  4. I can’t believe you gave the ring to your mom (at the risk of sounding selfish). I would have wanted to keep that treasure. Not so much for the ring, but for the story and memory that’s attached to it.

    I would have wanted to bring all the kids home with me… or you’d never have gotten me to leave.

  5. Love the missionary experience stories and hearing the impact you guys were able to share during such a short period of time.

    A little relieved that you didn’t meet someone and get engaged in a 2 week period of time!

  6. Well, you just blessed me- does that count? 🙂

    I love how you illustrate again that our sacrifice and obedience will bring the most joy to our lives. Not to mention that so many people crave adventure and want to make a difference. In your love and commitment to Jesus, you have done both, and I know you’ll continue to do more!

    Yep, you are blessing. Great stories.

  7. Catnip. That’s what you are. Poor African men didn’t stand a chance around you.

  8. What Jason said. Thanks for the stories!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks for your comments, EVERYONE! And Wendy, catnip? Really? HA!

  10. You are such a sweet and generous person. Thank you for being you.

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