Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…over and over again the word was repeated with the beautiful African rhythm I long to hear every day. It’s been three and a half weeks since I’ve returned from Rwanda and I have entered into a transitory season where each day is a new corner full of new discoveries, joys and struggles. There is the transition into a world of options where one kind of toothpaste is not enough and we must instead have an entire section dedicated to different shapes, sizes, colors and strengths. There is a transition into a new home where I see the belongings of eleven people crammed into the living room and I question how it’s possible that we really need it all. Then there is the biggest transition of all for me: the transition back into school. School…life as I know it.
I am the coordinator of a weekly worship service called “group.” The fact that I am in this role has made me look at myself and ask myself how exactly I got here. It’s quite similar, really, to the way I found myself in Rwanda. It was about God equipping me to step into a certain calling and my reluctant acknowledgement that it was the right thing to do pushed me through the door. So I walked through a door called “responsibility.” I know what I’ve been called to do and I am here to do it.
But I am afraid. I am excited. I am overwhelmed. I am heartbroken.
As the rhythm of the song beat with rhythm of my heart, I realized my heart is not here. I closed my eyes, I stretched my arms wide and my feet started to dance. I was in Rwanda, on the mud floor of Grace Church and there were children all around me. One of them looked me in the eyes and I got out of my seat to dance with her. The cool mountain air breathes through the windows where children peer in. I feel the breath of Rwanda on my cheek and I feel the love of a child in the way she holds my hand. These are the moments that are impossible to forget. These are the moments that break my heart because they are now nothing but a memory.
As I step into this new role of group coordinator, I have begun to ask myself everyday how I can be wholly present. I cannot be two places at once, but my heart is so clearly in Rwanda and I don’t know what to do about it. How can I be a leader here when I want to be living there? How can I tie these worlds together? These worlds that feel so different from one another, yet at the same time so similar, these are the worlds where I find passion. And they are all part of God’s plan. When God made the world, He made each part distinct for a reason. I strive to bring this diversity to the table as group staff begins to teach the book of Joshua to the students at Seattle Pacific.
I have been terrified since the moment I found out I would teach Joshua and I still am. After spending the summer in Rwanda, I feel as though God has played a mean trick on me asking me to teach Joshua to the school. Joshua is a book of the Bible that is full of one God-commanded genocide after another. Millions of people dead. It is also the book about the journey of God’s chosen people. The fact that these two things are in the same book of the Bible makes me question what exactly I am to take away from the book of Joshua and what message I am trying to get across to the students. There is one thing that is very clear to me through it all, though: I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Even though my heart is very broken to be apart from the world that I love so much, I continue to tell myself that I’m in the right place. As my brilliant mother told me while I was feeling homesick for Seattle, “be present.” Right where I am, I must be present. Even though I miss Rwanda like crazy- the World Relief staff, the children walking home from school, the song, the dance and the dusty red roads- it is still in my heart, there is no doubt about it. It’s hardest for me to find God in the transitions, but that is exactly when I need Him most. As I enter into this season of transitions, I ask you to pray for me as I walk each day with the beauty of Rwanda in my heart and the confusing feeling of what it means to be present right here, right now.