I have been in Rwanda for five weeks now. At times it is hard to believe that I’ve already been here that long and at other times I ask myself if I can really stand to be here for five more weeks. Though happy here, it becomes exhausting to see brokenness everyday. I have to pinch myself at the moments I begin to accept the nightmares of the poor as reality. I should not consider people “rich,” just because their mud hut has glass windows instead of wooden shutters. I should not have to be beyond thrilled when I see Esther in a school uniform because that means that she is lucky enough to go to primary school. Windows and going to school should not be things that determine the outcome of your life, yet that is exactly how it is here. I was reading A Grief Observed a couple nights ago and Lewis put my thoughts so perfectly on the page:
Will there come a time when I no longer ask why the world is like a mean street, because I shall take the squalor as normal?
I fear that such a time will come in my life. I fear that such a time has already come in so many lives. We cannot merely accept the circumstances as they are. The circumstances are unbearable, yet the world has grown to see them as bearable. This has become a large issue in the developing world. Many people living in poverty have grown to accept their circumstances: living in mud huts, working in fields from dawn until dusk, not having access to improved water or sanitation, dying of AIDS, suffering from malnutrition…do I really need to make the list go on? Do we not suffer from a similar problem, though? We live in a world where we think it is good to be entirely self sufficient and independent, never in need of community. We think that having a well paying job where we can buy a new car or a downtown condominium with a good view is the ultimate goal. We have come to accept these goals and this life as normal and we do not see the alternative as an option. Just like those living in poverty do not think that having clean water or enough food to eat will ever be a possibility, in the West we have come to a point where asking your neighbor for a cup of flour is an embarrassing and completely inconvenient thing to do.
It is certainly a struggle not to simply accept the circumstances as they are. It would be much easier to sit on my couch with a book and cup of hot cocoa without thinking twice about the world outside my window. The problems are too huge, the world is too broken and I am only one person. But one person out of how many? We should all be concerning ourselves with wanting to be a voice for the voiceless in our world. Don’t take the present circumstances as they are, instead realize that the world needs to change and we can no longer sit around and wait for it to happen. If you are reading this blog, chances are there is something you can do to change the world. God created each and every person and thing in this world and He begs us all to bear fruit. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…” Bear fruit! Are you a teacher? Teach! Are you an artist? Paint! Are you an excellent barista? Share some joy with the person you serve coffee to! We have all been equipped in unique ways to change the world and it is up to you to discover those gifts and use them in a way that will glorify God.
I remember two years ago the world seemed to daunting to handle. I knew that there was a plan for my life, but I had no idea what it was. Now I find myself trying to learn a language I didn’t even know existed six months ago and holding hands with a cute little Rwandan girl when I walk home from work. This was not the life that I planned for myself, but it is phenomenal. It is a life that required taking a leap of faith into a world unknown. But as my brilliant sister pointed out to me today: Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). I think that what Rwanda is teaching me is that you must look at the individual stories. The grand scheme of the world, even just the country, is too much to fully comprehend and too often highlights the brokenness. It is when I hear the individual stories of hope that I am reminded we can all play a role in the mending of this world. Please continue to walk with me through the next five weeks as I continue to try and open your eyes to the hope that Rwanda holds.