photo of puzzle piece
5 November, 2000

Dear Friend,

. . . Recently I found the missing piece of a puzzle.
. . . There, laying on the sidewalk outside the post office, face up, was a small green and yellow piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I had found the missing piece! But where was the puzzle?
. . . This isn't the way things usually happen. Usually we have the puzzle and are missing the piece. We look in the box, thinking the missing piece may be there. Then we look on the floor and in the cracks between the cushions of the couch.
. . . When, even then, we haven't found the missing piece, our hope of a quick search is replaced by something else -- determination. We become detectives, asking questions of everyone who may have passed through the room or accidentally touched the puzzle.
. . . Then we look in the trash. We sift through the contents of the vacuum cleaner. We start reading the "found" classified ads in the newspaper. We staple posters to telephone poles around the neighborhood and offer a reward. We pray and ask others to pray. We go to the post office and check the sidewalk outside, hoping to find the missing piece there.
. . . We become suspicious, even paranoid. Have we suppressed a memory? Could someone have taken the puzzle piece on purpose, to thwart us? Is God against us? Such thoughts assail us. We lose our minds. We lose our friends. We lose our faith.
. . . We've all been through this, right? It doesn't last long. We wake up with the sun shining and are content again. Our friends forgive us and we forgive God. This is a scenario familiar to everyone. But what do you do when you find the piece and are missing the puzzle?
. . . One way of dealing with this situation is a way seldom used in our culture -- to interpret the incident as a portent or sign. Perhaps it's God's way of telling me I'm missing the big picture. Other interpretations suggest themselves. It's as questionable as interpreting a dream.
. . . Like most Americans, I'm more comfortable treating such incidents in a practical manner, not as a sign but as a fact. At the top of this page, you'll find a picture of the puzzle piece I found. If it's one of yours, let me know. Tell your friends. Perhaps they are missing a piece. If they're missing their marbles or they are a few cards short of a full deck, I can't help.
. . . Another practical step is to look in the Philadelphia Inquirer's "lost and found" classifieds. There I find someone offering one thousand dollars for the return of their golden retriever. Someone else left their briefcase in the trunk of a taxi. In it are "items of priceless sentiment." Someone else has lost their police identification card -- badge #2647. No one is advertising a lost puzzle piece.
. . . On the front page of the paper is a different story, by Monica Rohr. 3,600 "lost boys" are coming to America. Fifty are being hosted by Lutheran Children and Family Services in Philadelphia --
photo of Dinka child
. . . The short story is that the boys were orphaned in Sudan's civil war, survived starvation conditions and traveled south to refugee camps, in Kenya, where some have lived for as long as seven years. Most are from the Dinka and Neur ethnic groups, which are predominantly Christian.
. . . Nearly two million people have lost their lives and five million have lost their homes in the civil war in Sudan, Africa's largest country. If that doesn't spark your interest, don't feel guilty. There's nothing interesting or unusual about so many losing their homes or lives, not in this century.
. . . The remarkable part of the story is that Lutheran Services is trying to preserve the makeshift family units the boys made in the camps; that is, instead of separating the boys by placing them in foster homes as individuals, most will be placed in group home settings. That way they won't lose their friends in the transition, at least not immediately.
. . . If you'd like to read the full story by Ms. Rohr, I'll e-mail it to you. Do you have the 1995 Book of Days desk calendar I published? In it you'll find the photo I've reproduced above of a Dinka child. At the back of the book, among the other photographers' comments, Betty Press tells the story behind the photo.
. . . I wonder if Betty Press is still loving in Kenya? I wonder where the boy is now? I wonder how we all fit together? We're a puzzle.
. . . When you pray for peace, pray for the pieces.

ReliefWeb's site for Sudan.
One of the best pages I found.

Southern Sudan special projects page
with links to several other pages concerning Southern Sudan. Sponsored by the World Bank, the United Nations and ReliefWeb.
An extensive website for all things pertaining to Sudan. Can't tell who sponsors it.

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Text and photos copyright 2000 Danny Nelson Schweers