rotating header

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Broken for you

This is the week we remember the way of the cross.  Redemption carries with it a physicality that we are told not to forget, not to over-spiritualize or gloss over.  The body flogged and pierced, the blood poured, with a purpose of sustenance and salvation for others.  For us.

On Sunday night we returned from a 17-day odyssey.  And Monday morning we plunged right back into the world of sick patients, inadequate resources, tragedies and small victories and hard work.  And it strikes me that those days of travel (and these days of early mornings and late nights) are a physical journey that jolts and drains and breaks, because the way of the cross is not something that only occurs on the level of thoughts or beliefs.  So we trust that even in the simple concrete act of spending our energy on the road, God brings His redemption to others.

So here are a smattering of physical facts, numbers that give a glimpse of an epic trip we are very grateful to have made.  Because redemption comes, through the lives poured out in this place, and it is our privilege to support that process as Area Directors for our mission.

  • 3631 kilometers of East African roadway.  83 hours in the Landrover.  

  • 21 relatively intense conversations leading to prayer, as we met with individuals and couples along the way to listen (mostly) and counsel (occasionally) and pray (always).   Beautiful glimpses into lives, opened to us by nature of being older now, or just because we were temporarily there, or our job now gives us the inroad to ask questions.

  • 6 border crossings, well 7 if you count walking over the new bridge over the Lamia river from Bundibugyo into Congo.  Each one bristling with the tension of officialdom, the uncertainty of procedures, filling out forms, stamping passports, questions, hawkers, backlogs of trucks.  Rwanda/Burundi at two different crossings were by far the most organized, clean, straightforward.  And the last crossing from Uganda back to Kenya the worst, a long line from a bus of people, Maasai in blankets from Tanzania uncertain with the forms, dingy and dark, then the officials motioning me back into their office and fishing for a bribe claiming our kids' immigration stamps were expired.  They weren't, I waited patiently explaining over and over, and finally they decided to clear us through.  Not fun.

  • 6 days of teaching, 3 in Uganda and 3 in Burundi, based on a wonderful little article by Henri Nouwen called "From Solitude to Community to Minsitry".  We used the image of a tree, which must be rooted in personal quiet and meeting with God, supported by the strong trunk of community built through forgiveness and celebration, in order to produce the fruit of ministry, with an emphasis on suffering that bears goodness for others.  In Uganda we pulled the Bundibugyo and Fort Portal team(s) out for a retreat and added material on understanding culture; in Burundi we blended into the new team's life on site. (This tree at sunset in Fort Portal looking west to the Rwenzoris).
  • 12 follow-ups of kids we sponsor in school, most of whom we have been surrogate foster-parents to since they were small, daily at our house, supervising their play and leading them in Bible study and providing for their needs.  Now they are young men (and one young woman), moving out in the world.  We stopped at schools, met for meals, visited homes.  They are a huge part of what keeps our hearts grounded here.

  • 20 years of remembrance, we crossed into Rwanda on the anniversary of the genocide.  Memories of listening to the radio as we heard the horror unfold only a couple hundred kilometers south of us back in 1994.  The immense privilege of staying with a Rwandan family (friend of Jack's through RVA) and hearing the mother spend a couple of hours unfolding her story of fear, escape, grief, loss, return, and the slow deliberate process of forgiveness and redemption.  In the end she went back to the village of people who killed her father and started a program to help the children develop.  Though her testimony convicted the ringleader responsible for her dad's death to jail, she now pays the school fees for his killer's children.  The Rwandan people are truly remarkable in walking through the worst and struggling to heal.

  • 5 hospital visits.  Yes, we love seeing hospital work in other countries.  Bundibugyo hosptial, with Dr. Jonah's grave.  Nyahuka health center, greeting old friends and mourning the struggle against corruption and apathy.  Kibuye hospital where our team has begun the heroic effort to upgrade, to teach, to equip. Hope Africa University and hospital where our Bujumbura team has begun to teach in the medical school.  And Kibogora hospital in Rwanda visiting our friends the Bergs, a surprisingly pleasant and well-equipped small place being stretched to grow and serve.

  • 2 days in Bundibugyo, too short for reunions with old friends.  Scott spoke to the CSB students (alive with worship, and as orderly and respectful as we have ever seen them) and to the staff, we visited and greeted and walked and prayed and rejoiced to be home. We are thankful for the hospitality of Isingoma and Christine who hosted us there.

  • 3 nights just-for-fun-and-memories along the way, stopovers at places we have often stayed, waypoints on the journey.  The green cabin at Sunrise Acres, an missionary-retreat farm in western Kenya, where we often broke the 23-hour journey from Bundibugyo to RVA when Luke and Caleb were boarding students.  Camping at campsite 2 in Queen Elizabeth National park (no lions this time, rain and peace and elephants along the way).  And our final night at the Kingfisher in Jinja.  

  • 5 Great Lakes:  Albert, Edward, Kivu, Tangyanika, and Victoria.  This region of Africa is known as the Great Lakes Region and we saw/stayed by/ate fish from all five.

  • TNTC, that's medicalese for too numerous to count:  moments of grace.  Our safety on the road, the beauty of connecting with people whom we love, the pouring out of teaching and prayer, the spectacular beauty of East Africa.  And then the unexpected wave of grief in leaving all over again, the deep ache of loss that is part of the way of the cross for us that led from our 17 years in Uganda to now over 3 here in Kenya.  A few last scenes along the way to say goodbye.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Welcome Home!