Monday, September 21, 2015

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 12

It was hard saying goodbye to Rwanda. So hard. Already I miss the steep hills and closely built houses and the streets teaming with cars, buses, motos and people. Oh the people. I miss them. I want to go back and visit longer with Tate. Oh how I want to go back and spend the whole day with Umulisa and learn all about her life and her hopes and dreams. I've already made Kevin promise we will return next year. And we have lots more family friends to visit!

Still, I felt a bit like I was cheating, because while my travel companions returned to an Africa-free world in the United States, I cannot wait to get home to my Africa-filled world. Lucy’s new baby girl is waiting for me to hold her! I need to hug Beatrice and kiss David’s dimpled cheeks and find out what Simbi learned in school while I was gone. And I missed hearing the children singing at church last week!
Baby Dorcas and her
big brother
And I really, really, really cannot wait to hug and kiss on Kevin and Rebecca (Caleb too but he will have to get his homecoming love via telephone).

I took the long way home, stopping over for one night in Haarlem, a biggish Dutch village near the Amsterdam airport. I could not face the prospect of getting off one ten hour plane ride and immediately jumping into another ten hour plane ride. We call the ability to make these sorts of choices - privilege. I know.

Everywhere you look in Haarlem there is a photo op. It’s canals and cobblestoned streets and families riding bicycles together. It is completely charming. It was Sunday and quiet as I walked towards the main square. By noon shops had opened and families were cycling by as I sat at an outdoor cafe.
Charming Everywhere - Haarlem, Netherlands
Haarlem was good for my soul. I needed the quiet. I needed to be alone in my thoughts. It was good not to go straight from the poverty of the developing world into my upscale American - there’s a golf course behind my house - neighborhood. Haarlem is slightly more similar to Rwanda than the United States simply because they are not car-oriented. Pedestrian streets rule, meaning rather than buzzing passed each other with a quick wave from the car window, they stop on the sidewalk for a kiss on the check. Three times I saw moms on bicycles riding alongside very young children through the crowded streets. As they rode side by side, mom always had her hand on her child’s shoulder, guiding him/her along. They are connected physically in a way we are not in the land where cars rule.

If we choose to, we can live in a world of aloneness, but we weren’t meant for this. We were created to be in relationship.

“Connection is why we're here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Let’s love each other better. Let's choose to live with purpose and meaning. Let’s choose to be connected to the people in our cities, to our neighbors, and to the people in the bigger world. We were meant to share our lives. We were meant to take care of one another. Let’s do a better job of it.

“Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” Galatians 6:2, The Message 

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth.” 1 John 3:16-19

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 13

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