Saturday, May 06, 2006

Oops--I accidentally erased this one that I posted while in Rwanda :)
They really love Shakira here...she's playing again! And Her hips don't lie.
I'm in Uganda now. I left Dr. Lynn's ministry, or rather, was asked to leave due to false accusations she made against me. Ha, guess you either love me or you hate me, butI honestly feel relieved. Wasn't sure if I could handle her for another 3 weeks :) But I feel such a peace that I am exactly where God wants me to don't worry, I'm not on the street or anything. Staying with a lovely couple and will mostly likely go to Jinja (the source of the Nile...super cool) for a few days to a retreat house. So I may be outta computer comission. Appreciate your prayers as I seek God for my next steps. My girl Steph sent me this Rwandan proverb which I just thought was really cool, and well timely--so thanks steph--shout out :)
"When a mountain is in your path do not sit down at its foot and cry. Get up and climb it"
ps--I don't know if you can tell in that mom couldn't, but I got braids :) Such a hippie.
Oh--use my old uganda number to call me (256) 0782265525

Ukuri guca muziko uti ntigushya

“The truth passes through fire and never burns”

This is a saying in KinyaRwanda, the language spoken here by Rwandans. They use it to express the power truth has to heal some survivors of genocide and rape, and the importance of truth in the justice process. In some ways I feel like I have been through fire myself. The last week was very hard and exhausting. Mostly I think we were so tired because of the emotional energy expended to find our place, help others, and sometimes face discouragement and division. We started days at 6:30 AM and didn’t get to bed until around midnight every night. Part of that was because a few of us were trying to interview survivors to get their stories after we ended our counseling sessions.
Because we too believe that truth has power.

I think of 27 year old Grace, who at the age of 14 was gang raped by killers of her family. Not once, but several times. I think of her flashbacks where she cradled her ankle and kept wrapping it over and over as though to stop the bleeding she was seeing in her head. I think of the way she screamed and writhed to get away from us, who in her mind’s eye she saw as her killers. She is tortured by supernatural things, things too dark for us to even see. When she comes out of her catatonic state she can be the most endearing, most beautiful woman, whose emotions often ride the wire of extremes. But somehow she finds in herself the drive to take care of 9 orphans, while stifling with her own pain. Most of what happened in this land, is gruesome, but it needs to be said. Needs to be said because people have no idea of the amount of suffering experienced in Rwanda, or of how it still permeates a society struggling to get ahead. The land of a thousand hills, as they call it, is majestic and full of green, lush leaves but in this ground is the spilled blood of innocents who still cry out for justice and help for their surviving family members. For us, we heard of the genocide but were just glad it was over, but what has been left in the aftermath is a crippled nation that clings to the past and needs the truth and hope of God to move forward. God and His people.

I learned this past week that it is estimated almost ALL the victims of genocide were brutally raped. This being very close to my heart and my calling, I felt overwhelmed to hear that not only were women raped by the killers but also by some of the RPF soldiers who were to protect them. As if rape were not bad enough, countless numbers of them now have HIV, and some of them, children.

We love people. These people loved people too. And saw them murdered before their eyes, and still, and still, somewhere in themselves, or in God, or in the magnificence of the human desire to survive, kept going. But it is not good enough simply to survive. We want to see these people thrive. And it’s going to take the love and resources of people like us.

On the other side, and there is always another side, Rwandans are some of the most hospitable, giving, forgiving people I have ever met. From dawn til dusk they serve us with a toothy grin. My heart was taken by one of our cooks, Pendo. She would get up early to help cook us breakfast and then go to class, but still always looking for ways to help. She is 28 or so but looks like she is 16. There is a love and a grace on her that compels one to tears. Even moreso when one thinks of how her father would beat her with sticks and cut her with knives. How at 12 she could run away in the dark seeking a safe place, but found none. She cried in my arms and I wondered at how such a little body could shake with such grief. Wounds here go deeper, and are locked farther away than anything I have ever seen. But when they break open, they flood the world.

Where is the hope in all of this? We were sent here to be bringers of hope and yet what could we offer them?

I realized soon after getting here that God had really sent us here, that long before he put the burden on our hearts to go, he had been crying from the murders inflicted on and committed by his children. We were simply the conduits for His grace, and the words he wanted to say to them. I literally felt inadequate the entire time. But still God used us.

The testimonies of the women and men during the training were incredible. I think it was because we brought the holy spirit and not just an agenda. Everything we did we did because God told us to. This first training was more about pouring into them as leaders and helping them process their pain then it was counseling skills but now they have the freedom to do so.

I was blessed to have the chance to pray for a few women, including Pendo, and even our young driver Emire, who is such a sweetheart, rededicated his life to God. I think the most amazing thing that happened was at the end we had every person write down a list of their problems, people they are trying to forgive, things they want God to forgive them for and take them to a makeshift cross we made. Then we burned them outside. Everyone started dancing and rejoicing. You could honestly see freedom on their faces. It was one of the most beautiful, unburdened things I have ever seen.

Some of the words spoken by the people were:

By Francis, a man I interviewed who was an RPF (Tutsi) soldier who rescued the people of Rwanda. He said they had to clean up the dead bodies on the streets and shoot dogs who were trying to eat the flesh of victims. He said: “I have not been happy for the last 16 years. But when you came I could see on your faces joy. I have never been to anything like this, but I am happy again. Bring more of you back.”

I am in Rwanda for another 2 weeks working with Rwanda women’s network. Please pray for guidance for me because I am wondering if I should stay with them because today they didn’t have anything for me to do and where we had talked about my working with their program with women and children (they have a village for survivors who were raped, widowed, and have HIV) they are now saying they want me to do data entry. So I am frustrated!

Ps—right now they are playing Shakira at the internet place, which I find funny

I’d like to end with perhaps one of the sweetest things said to me was by our translator Birasa. He gave me an African name which I can’t pronounce and said it means innocence and kindness. That I shine. I carry that with me in the middle of hard times when the things I thought I came to do fall through, when I feel as though I am not making a difference. We just never know who we touch.

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