We got bogged today. Again. And in Blacktown. But this led to a wonderful invitation to a friendly local’s house.

It’s been raining. All week. And when the grass gets wet and the ground gets soggy, our truck tends to stick. We know this from experience, and yet we somehow forgot.

So when we started up the truck and tried to drive away from our spot in a grassy lot near the town centre, we didn’t get far. We weren’t terribly stuck, but we either needed the ground to dry out or a helping 4WD to tow us out.

The constant rain means that we have started tracking mud into the truck and trailer, and it’s difficult to get clothes, shoes and umbrellas to drive out. Camping is not so pleasant in the rain, and in the last fifteen months we’ve managed to miss most of the rain by visiting friends.

Looking for things to do in the rain is not so fun, so we bunkered down in the library, where we stayed for most of the day. A friendly local overheard our conversation about being bogged and tried to organise someone to tow us out, but it didn’t amount to anything. This, however, was enough to boost our spirits as we tried to remain optimistic.

So we read books to the girls and tried not to think about the future. The present moment was good, and so we tried to focus on that. Nothing was wrong, however dire our mind wanted to make the circumstances appear.

Lauren reading books to the girls, February 2012
The girls love little more than a captive reader, and that's what I was today.

And then we made another friend. Hakima — a Sudanese Dinka woman — was sitting close to us, and we started chatting. We told Hakima about our quest to find our Sudanese friend Deng and also about David’s trips into southern Sudan in 2004.

Hakima with Elijah and Calista, February 2012
Elijah is a good ice-breaker — he makes friends easily (like Calista!).

Hakima reading books in the library, February 2012
Hakima soon wins over our other children by reading stories to them.

Hakima was spending time in the library, waiting to pick up her children from after-school tutoring. She hadn’t spoken any English when she arrived in Australia eight years ago and although she is fluent in spoken English now, she doesn’t feel confident about helping her children with their homework.

When Hakima left to pick up her children, Brioni was upset because she wanted to meet Hakima’s children. I apologised to Brioni, explaining that Hakima was heading in a different direction to us, and we needed to keep moving because of the rain.

However, we did end up seeing Hakima again. We stopped to talk to someone in a nearby carpark, and ran into Hakima with two of her children at an intersection. We crossed the road together and she got to see where we were parking.

Hakima insisted that we follow her home so that we could stay in her house instead of in the truck. We gratefully accepted her invitation to get away from our wet set-up and, making use of multiple umbrellas, we walked the extra kilometre to her house.

At Hakima’s home, we were greeted by her husband William and met her other children. Everyone is so welcoming and lovely to us — we’re so happy to be here!

At Hakima's house, February 2012
This wet evening, we're thankful to be in a warm, dry house with kind hosts.

In the morning, we look forward to getting to know our hosts better, and we also look forward to seeing our friend Deng again. Hakima has already said that her mother has “Mading” in her name, so they are distantly related, and the kinship bond — however tenuous — is a powerful force in Dinkan society.