Home / Creekbank Blog / “E’s Sat Phone” Chapter 12 from Trampled Grass

“E’s Sat Phone” Chapter 12 from Trampled Grass

Ronald on E's Satellite Phone
Ronald on E’s Satellite Phone

INTRO   A word from Curt

Communication.

It’s a good word and part of all of our daily lives.  I believe you’ll enjoy the story below about communicating on the Continent of Africa.

Daily, we’re posting chapters from our new ebook,  Trampled Grass.

If you enjoy the stories, please pass them on.

You can download the entire book as a PDF at www.creekbank.net or as a Snippet App for easy reading on your tablet or phone.

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Blessings on your journey.

Curt Iles

 

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Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.24.33 AM

(Above)  A traditional Murle hut.

E’S PHONE

Connecting across the Atlantic

The crowd at Boroli Camp was growing and they weren’t happy.

Ethan Bossier and I were the only whites within twenty kilometers and their initial hope at seeing us was cooled by our explanation that we had nothing to give.

The Camp Chairman explained, through a young interpreter, that Boroli Camp had several thousand residents from twelve tribes in South Sudan. Most of the refugees, including him, were Murle from Jonglei State.

As you learned in the previous chapter, the Murle have a unique reputation among the South Sudanese.

All of my dealings with Murle had been good up to this point. Up to this point.
But this crowd is suspicious.
There is an edge to this crowd.

Our appearance has been akin to a red cape flapped in front of a bull. The chairman’s name is Daniel.
His interpreter, Ronald, is the camp youth chairman.

Mr. Chairman continues to inform us that the Murle feel marginalized. “The other majority tribes have been favored. They have more boreholes, larger food rations, and better shelter supplies.”

Joseph, a local Madi pastor, is with us. I can tell he’s getting nervous. When an African gets jumpy, it’s time for the Mzungu to pay attention.

I slip out of the crowd and retreat to a nearby tree.
We need something to break the tension that is building.
I say a short Nehemiah-like “Flare Prayer” as in “Lord, help us.”
I believe God answers in the form of a simple reminder. Get out your satellite phone.

In the outlying camps as well as rural roads we travel, cell phone reception is poor or non-existent. I’m used to it: I come from the Bermuda Triangle of cell phone reception: Dry Creek, Louisiana.

We recently purchased a satellite phone for situations in the Bush where we need to make contact but have no cell service.

We used funds from a special friend who has chosen to support Open Hands Africa since we’ve been here.

That’s why I call our satellite phone “E’s Phone.”

E’s real name is Elizabeth or Beth. She is a dear friend who shares a mutual love with me: a place called Dry Creek Baptist Camp.

Our satellite phone is a new model called a Sat Sleeve. I insert my iPhone into a slot on the larger phone and now I’ve connected to three satellites hovering over Africa. I can now call most of the world from the spot I’m standing.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.24.45 AM

 

Our Thuraya Sat Sleeve Satellite phone

 

I motion Ronald, the youth chair, out of the crowd. As I dial John’s number, I tell him, “Ronald, I have a Murle friend on the line. I’d like you to talk with him.”

I pray for John to answer.
John is a new friend who is a Murle church planter. He’s started churches in Pibor, Bor, and Juba. Each time fighting has forced him to evacuate.

He is currently living between our town of Entebbe and Juba, the capital of South Sudan. John has a heart as big as Nairobi and a desire to see his people know Jesus Christ.

Murle John with refugees in Jonglei State
Murle John with refugees in Jonglei State

 

“Hello. Who is this?”

I explain who I am, trying every alias and description I have: “This is Mzee Curt . . . Mzungu in Entebbe . . . met you at Calvary Chapel Church . . .”

Thankfully our game of charades ends with him connecting who I am. He’s in Juba and we have a clear signal.

“John, I want . . . I need . . . you to talk to one of my Murle friends.”

I hand Beth’s Phone to him.

I can only hear one end and its in staccato Murle, but Ronald’s smile tells me much. I glance back at the crowd and can easily hear the chairman’s strident voice.

Ronald hands me the phone and I wade through the crowd to the Chairman. I hand him the phone. “My friend John, who is a Murle, is on the line.”

The camp chairman takes the phone and within half a minute, I realise several things: He knows my friend John and he is smiling.

When the call ends, the chairman’s entire attitude has changed.

We’ve been stood for. It’s a common term in Africa.

It’s nearly a legal or ethical statement. “I know this man or woman and will stand good for them.”

It’s like a legal bail: I’m standing for him and will take responsibility for him.

Murle John has vouched for us.

And he has saved the day.

It has opened a relationship door for us with Boroli Camp.

A door that we strive to continue to walk through in wisdom and compassion.

And I’m convinced the door opener was Beth’s phone.

We purchased it for our vehicle and long trips: breakdowns, getting hopelessly stuck, having two flats at once.

However, the first time it was used was a different type of emergency: a relationship builder in an atmosphere of muted hostility.

 

Thank you Lord for how you can use anything for your glory.

Including a Thuraya Sat Sleeve Satellite Phone aka “E’s Phone.”

Thank you Lord that you choose to use simple folks like us.


Like DeDe and I.

We are privileged to be on this journey at this season of our lives. And thank you Lord for praying friends like Beth


Who faithfully hold the rope back home.
Thank you Lord.

Amen.

 

 

As I stated in yesterday’s blog, the Murle are a fascinating South Sudanese tribe.

Parting Question:  Have you ever met a South Sudanese?  Where? When? What tribe?  Comment below.

 

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Our Thuraya Sat Sleeve Satellite phone

 

 

I motion Ronald, the youth chair, out of the crowd. As I dial John’s number, I tell him, “Ronald, I have a Murle friend on the line. I’d like you to talk with him.”

I pray for John to answer.
John is a new friend who is a Murle church planter. He’s started churches in Pibor, Bor, and Juba. Each time fighting has forced him to evacuate.

He is currently living between our town of Entebbe and Juba, the capital of South Sudan. John has a heart as big as Nairobi and a desire to see his people know Jesus Christ.

Murle John in Jonglei State, SS

“Hello. Who is this?”

I explain who I am, trying every alias and description I have: “This is Mzee Curt . . . Mzungu in Entebbe . . . met you at Calvary Chapel Church . . .”

Thankfully our game of charades ends with him connecting who I am. He’s in Juba and we have a clear signal.

“John, I want . . . I need . . . you to talk to one of my Murle friends.”

I hand Beth’s Phone to him.

I can only hear one end and its in staccato Murle, but Ronald’s smile tells me much. I glance back at the crowd and can easily hear the chairman’s strident voice.

Ronald hands me the phone and I wade through the crowd to the Chairman. I hand him the phone. “My friend John, who is a Murle, is on the line.”

The camp chairman takes the phone and within half a minute, I realise several things: He knows my friend John and he is smiling.

When the call ends, the chairman’s entire attitude has changed.

We’ve been stood for. It’s a common term in Africa.

It’s nearly a legal or ethical statement. “I know this man or woman and will

stand good for them.”

It’s like a legal bail: I’m standing for him and will take responsibility for him.

Murle John has vouched for us.

And he has saved the day.

It has opened a relationship door for us with Boroli Camp.

A door that we strive to continue to walk through in wisdom and compassion.

And I’m convinced the door opener was Beth’s phone.

We purchased it for our vehicle and long trips: breakdowns, getting hopelessly stuck, having two flats at once.

However, the first time it was used was a different type of emergency: a relationship builder in an atmosphere of muted hostility.

Thank you Lord for how you can use anything for your glory. Including a Thuraya Sat Sleeve Satellite Phone aka “E’s Phone.” Thank you Lord that you choose to use simple folks like us.
Like DeDe and I.

We are privileged to be on this journey at this season of our lives. And thank you Lord for praying friends like Beth
Who faithfully hold the rope back home.
Thank you Lord.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E’S PHONE

Connecting across the Atlantic

 

Header above: Traditional Murle tukul (hut) at Boroli.

The crowd at Boroli Camp was growing and they weren’t happy.

Ethan Bossier and I were the only whites within twenty kilometers and their initial hope at seeing us was cooled by our explanation that we had nothing to give.

The Camp Chairman explained, through a young interpreter, that Boroli Camp had several thousand residents from twelve tribes in South Sudan. Most of the refugees, including him, were Murle from Jonglei State.

As you learned in the previous chapter, the Murle have a unique reputation among the South Sudanese.

All of my dealings with Murle had been good up to this point. Up to this point.
But this crowd is suspicious.
There is an edge to this crowd.

Our appearance has been akin to a red cape flapped in front of a bull. The chairman’s name is Daniel.
His interpreter, Ronald, is the camp youth chairman.

Mr. Chairman continues to inform us that the Murle feel marginalized. “The other majority tribes have been favored. They have more boreholes, larger food rations, and better shelter supplies.”

Joseph, a local Madi pastor, is with us. I can tell he’s getting nervous. When an African gets jumpy, it’s time for the Mzungu to pay attention.

I slip out of the crowd and retreat to a nearby tree.
We need something to break the tension that is building.
I say a short Nehemiah-like “Flare Prayer” as in “Lord, help us.”
I believe God answers in the form of a simple reminder. Get out your satellite phone.

In the outlying camps as well as rural roads we travel, cell phone reception is poor or non-existent. I’m used to it: I come from the Bermuda Triangle of cell phone reception: Dry Creek, Louisiana.

We recently purchased a satellite phone for situations in the Bush where we need to make contact but have no cell service.

We used funds from a special friend who has chosen to support Open Hands Africa since we’ve been here.

That’s why I call our satellite phone “E’s Phone.”

E’s real name is Elizabeth or Beth. She is a dear friend who shares a mutual love with me: a place called Dry Creek Baptist Camp (http://www.drycreek.net ).

Our satellite phone is a new model called a Sat Sleeve. I insert my iPhone into a slot on the larger phone and now I’ve connected to three satellites hovering over Africa. I can now call most of the world from the spot I’m standing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Thuraya Sat Sleeve Satellite phone

 

 

I motion Ronald, the youth chair, out of the crowd. As I dial John’s number, I tell him, “Ronald, I have a Murle friend on the line. I’d like you to talk with him.”

I pray for John to answer.
John is a new friend who is a Murle church planter. He’s started churches in Pibor, Bor, and Juba. Each time fighting has forced him to evacuate.

He is currently living between our town of Entebbe and Juba, the capital of South Sudan. John has a heart as big as Nairobi and a desire to see his people know Jesus Christ.

Murle John in Jonglei State, SS

“Hello. Who is this?”

I explain who I am, trying every alias and description I have: “This is Mzee Curt . . . Mzungu in Entebbe . . . met you at Calvary Chapel Church . . .”

Thankfully our game of charades ends with him connecting who I am. He’s in Juba and we have a clear signal.

“John, I want . . . I need . . . you to talk to one of my Murle friends.”

I hand Beth’s Phone to him.

I can only hear one end and its in staccato Murle, but Ronald’s smile tells me much. I glance back at the crowd and can easily hear the chairman’s strident voice.

Ronald hands me the phone and I wade through the crowd to the Chairman. I hand him the phone. “My friend John, who is a Murle, is on the line.”

The camp chairman takes the phone and within half a minute, I realise several things: He knows my friend John and he is smiling.

When the call ends, the chairman’s entire attitude has changed.

We’ve been stood for. It’s a common term in Africa.

It’s nearly a legal or ethical statement. “I know this man or woman and will

stand good for them.”

It’s like a legal bail: I’m standing for him and will take responsibility for him.

Murle John has vouched for us.

And he has saved the day.

It has opened a relationship door for us with Boroli Camp.

A door that we strive to continue to walk through in wisdom and compassion.

And I’m convinced the door opener was Beth’s phone.

We purchased it for our vehicle and long trips: breakdowns, getting hopelessly stuck, having two flats at once.

However, the first time it was used was a different type of emergency: a relationship builder in an atmosphere of muted hostility.

Thank you Lord for how you can use anything for your glory. Including a Thuraya Sat Sleeve Satellite Phone aka “E’s Phone.” Thank you Lord that you choose to use simple folks like us.
Like DeDe and I.

We are privileged to be on this journey at this season of our lives. And thank you Lord for praying friends like Beth
Who faithfully hold the rope back home.
Thank you Lord.

Amen.

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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2 comments

  1. Hi Curt,
    I taught John Monychhol at Kenya Baptist Theological Seminary and visited him in a refugee camp in Northern Kenya. Please greet him for me. I think of him often.
    We pray for you guys.

    Herb

    • Herb,

      That really makes me smile.
      We’re grown to love and respect John.

      Your name comes up often here. Bob and David and wives speak so highly of you. Your footprints are all over East Africa.

      Bob and Nancy are moving to Little Rock with an IMB Development Position. His mother’s health is declining.

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