...there but for the grace of God

We were chatting on Skype when she commented that we should be happy that she left South Sudan when she did. Why?  I wondered aloud.  What is happening there?

What is happening there (she went on to explain) is that violence has erupted in Juba this past week, on the eve of South Sudan's five year anniversary of independence. Hundreds of people have been killed since fighting broke out between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar.  And although a cease fire has been declared and appears to be holding, tension remains high (You can read more about it here).

Up until a few weeks ago my youngest had been stationed in Juba, working as a camp officer for ACTED, a French NGO.  It was grueling yet rewarding work and although she was thrilled when she was offered an assignment to be a child protection officer in Kurdistan, Iraq, she was sorry to be leaving the camp behind.

After she told me about the violence that had occurred I asked about her coworkers.  Were they safe?  Were they still there?

Yes, she replied, but under house lockdown and the organization was making plans for a possible evacuation.

There but for the grace of God...

After we talked I immediately gave a silent prayer of thanks that circumstances had led to Michelle's early departure from Juba.  If a grant hadn't come through for a summer program in Iraq she would have still been there, preparing to come home for a two week vacation.  And her father and I...

...as I write this, I find it hard to think about the state her father and I would have been in. The state that too many parents find themselves in these days, when war and violence is so prevalent throughout the world.

I can't wrap my mind around the thought that we came so close to hearing that our daughter was in a lockdown situation in a city where hundreds were being killed.

When Michelle decided to become a humanitarian aid worker, we were both proud and concerned.  What parent wouldn't be?  Her job brings her to some of the most dangerous places on earth; in the past 12 months she has worked at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and a camp for displaced persons in Juba, and now she is in Kurdistan, Iraq.  I have been asked how I could let her choose such a path to which I have always answered that she is an adult and who am I to stop her from pursuing her passion?  All of her life I told her to follow her dreams.  Her father and I raised her and her sisters to become strong independent young women, we nurtured them and gave them wings to fly...

...but I never dreamed she would choose to fly to such dangerous places.

And yet...

And yet she has and all we can do is support her with our love and prayers and provide a safe nest for her to return to whenever she feels the need for the comfort of home.

It scares me, that she is so far away, in such a dangerous place of the world.

{Oh mom, she is saying as she reads this, I told you, Kurdistan is very safe!}

She tells me not to worry, that she is being smart and she is safe to which I always reply, I'm allowed to worry, you'll just have to accept it.  I'm going to worry.

She tells me that she will only be in the field for a few years.

She tells me that she loves what she is doing.  And that does make me happy.

I tell her I love her, that we love her and we are here for her.  Always.

Always.

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