of the savannah sky, hearing the rumble of a lion, the snort of
hippos, the pop and crackle of our camp fire, and the distant bray of
elephants across the water. Four small tents circled the light of the
fire, to house us, our four kids, and three teenage Ugandan boys,
friends. We sizzled smores over the coals and took turns recalling
the best and worst of 2008. The lion's rumble became more and more
ominous as the night deepened. And the evening pictured clearly some
themes for 2009: community, beauty, and the circling threat of danger.
Community, because these boys have taken the risk to come into our
lives, to endure some teasing and ostracism from their other
colleagues. And we have taken the effort to support and encourage
them, to listen, to pray, to celebrate their success and still believe
during their failures. They represent the hope that after a short
African generation, the 15 and counting years of living in Bundibugyo
are bearing fruit. Real relationship, and real impact on lives, hard
to define but glimpsed in a camp-out. And real change for us, for our
kids, to become people whose friendships span cultures.
Beauty, because the wildness and isolation of camping in a game park
allow us to see the wonder that is Africa. The extravagance of
creatures and landscapes which exist for glory, not for profit or
practicality. The character of God.
And danger, because that community and beauty must be wrested from a
broken world, must be cultivated and protected, and exists within
earshot of death. Peter compares our Enemy to a roaring lion, and in
the dark of night I sense the aptness of that, the stalking one,
unknown and mostly unseen, hostile and powerful, but hesitant to enter
May 2009 bring fullness of relationship, awareness of beauty, and may
the danger be kept at bay.