"They left us without an answer". Sat in briefly as John led a group of community leaders today in a discussion of improved agriculture techniques, after the dozen or so had toured our demonstration garden. John's point and purpose was openness, cooperation, sharing of ideas and information. The group was all for that. Information, in this culture, is power. Give away your food, but don't give out knowledge! So our agriculture group's effort today was counter-cultural in the best way. Interestingly, one of the men mentioned that last week in the build-up to the WFP anti-hunger campaign, someone came and met with their village (he thought it was a woman but seemed unsure). She asked the parents why they think their kids are stunted. People gave many ideas . . . but she never told them the answer. I'm sure this woman left with a good sense of community discussion and mobilization and inclusion, and the reality is that stunting is a complicated endpoint reflective of many problems. However her audience was left with the assumption that SHE knew why their kids were stunted, but she wasn't telling them!
"Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate". Last night we initiated our CSB staff Bible Study for 2010. We had surveyed the teachers to see if there was interest, and what time would be most convenient for them. Even when people express verbally or on a survey that they want a Bible Study, one never knows who will show up at 8 pm after a long day of work. However, almost ALL of them did! I think there were 25 of us, which is an unwieldy size, but they wanted to meet together rather than in smaller groups. We are attempting Bonhoffer's book called Life Together, which is a study of Christian community. All of the basics of a Christian life are there, but in the context of living in community (which we do) and in the context of Bonhoffer's opposition to political evil and personal suffering (which is a pretty African context, too). Chapter 1 emphasizes grace: our community may not match our mental ideal, which frustrates us and tempts us to demand that others change . . better to realize that we live in a real place of God's placement and choosing and look for ways to be thankful. I was convicted of my own complaining heart, and long for the real love Bonhoffer describes which brings freedom to others as we long for Christ's best in them rather than OUR ideas for them. Praying this study bonds us, missionaries and school staff, in a common goal.
"You number my wanderings . . " Psalm 56 was our theme for early prayer meeting this morning. It perfectly mirrors our vacillation between that desperate sense of being swallowed up by too much work, un-solvable problems, evil and corrupt people . . and then the flip side that God is our refuge, that He is FOR us. I particularly appreciate the fact that God knows all 17 beds the Johnsons have slept in in 2010 as they wandered this way, and knows where the rest of our paths will pass this year. He does not promise to avoid tears, but He does save them up in His bottle. Sorrow and sojourn come, but He notices, and only allows what has purpose. Clinging to that.
"At least you can stay for life". This is my favorite. Yesterday afternoon Scott was working with our new calf (he and Jack and Julia put up a fence!). An acquaintance came zipping in on his motorcycle, having just heard the rumor which circulates every few months that we're pulling out of Bundibugyo. He was relieved to find that we were still home. Then he said to Scott . . "Doctor, I know this is a hard place to live, but at LEAST you can stay for . . . . (we're expecting something like one more year . . .) .. .LIFE." Hmmm. I guess compared to "at most you can stay for eternity", life is a short "at least".