Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 1

I have the very best of husbands. It’s true. Six months ago I said I wanted to join a group of women (strangers even!) who were traveling to Rwanda. His response was a resounding, encouraging yes! He has been my biggest encourager in this adventure of learning and travel I am embarking upon.

This is a different kind of travel for me, and my suitcase reflects that. My suitcase is one-third full with my own belongings and bulging with gifts I am taking from my Boise friends to their families in Rwanda. I love this! I love this connection I have between two continents.

This week has brought me a steady stream of visitors and messages and phone calls - of prayers and love as I set off. My girlfriends came over to pray for me, taking time from their busy lives to trek over to the east side of Boise. At church last week I brought a map of Rwanda and poured over it with my African friends as they each pointed out where they were from, where their families still live, and could I visit them? Would I be going there? I want so badly to visit them all but time constraints mean I can visit only a few. It was hard saying no.

Yesterday evening Kevin and I went to sit with friends whose oldest brother died suddenly over the weekend in the refugee camp where he lived with his wife and two children in Rwanda. It’s hard to confront pain, for what could we do except say we’re so sorry and here we are, your friends, sharing your pain. We stayed over an hour visiting and laughter followed. We talked about how our cultures are different and shared some funny differences. Our friends from Africa cannot comprehend why our children (ages 26 and 21) don’t still live at home with us. This brought confusion and laughter and great conversation about different ways of living.

Afterwards, we popped into a nearby apartment to say goodbye to more friends. The home was filled with children who attend our weekly bible study, and I spent the entire time holding one of two twin girls who are three years old and the cutest ever! They fought over me and who doesn’t like that!

And so it was that I returned home later than I wanted and cranky and stressed about finishing my packing. Kevin was a saint and did all the right things to help me, even suggesting we go to bed and watch a travel documentary guaranteed to put me right to sleep. . . it did.

This morning I woke to a FaceTime goodbye from my sweet daughter and texts from friends and family who are praying me along. I wrote in my prayer journal for the millionth time, “God, you are so good to me.”

If you would like to be a part of my adventure, please join me in the following prayers:
  • Safety in travel as we will be driving long distances every day.
  • For good health.
  • Protection and courage as I visit the Nyamata Church Memorial. So many of my friends experienced the Rwandan genocide in unspeakable ways. Some of them hid in churches and found safety there. I'm afraid it will be hard for me to see these horrors up close.
  • That I will be a blessing to those I meet - especially as I teach a Bible study class at Africa New Life Ministry’s Dream Center in Kigali. That my words will not be mine, but only God’s.
  • That I will bring blessings to my friends and family in Boise on my return.
  • Protection from pride and arrogance - from a “know it all attitude.” Humility!

Humility. Why is it so hard? Pride remains an always constant threat. These past few months I have been studying the life of Jesus as written in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus says over and over and over that the last will be first and the first last. Humility, humility, humility! It is vital if I want to follow Jesus for real. Yet we don’t hear much about humility in our world - in our “me" culture. We are easily offended and seem to find comfort in hating entire groups of people. We use words like “them” and “us” and we love to place blame, but humility asks of us something else. Humility says we are all the same. Humility says your needs are as important as mine. Humility says the God in you is the same as the God in me.

I lead a privileged life. Most of us do if we live in the United States. It’s important to own that. The Reverend Traci Blackmon said, "Privilege is an othering of people that is supported institutionally in such a way that has become the norm. Privilege is saying that the God in you is less than the God in me. Because if you are Christian, you must believe that God resides in each and every one of us.” What we do with our privilege will shape our lives.

Let’s be okay with being last. Let’s be okay with letting that homeless person be first. That mother on welfare. That family in a refugee camp. Let’s do what Jesus asked and see ourselves as all the same. Beloved children of God.

“Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

"So if the Bible is not mainly a rule book or a manual for Christian living, what is it? It's about God and God's glory. It's about God freeing us to live as we were intended to live in the story of all creation being made new. The scriptures are meant to draw me to the authority of Jesus in my life first and foremost." Serving With Eyes Wide Open, Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence by David A. Livermore

"Rest in God alone my soul for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold. I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5-6

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 2

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