Friday, September 26, 2014

Highlight, Lowlight

Highlight Lowlight is a tradition/game/conversation we try to have daily as a family. We each go around and share the best and worst part of our day. For the kids, it usually sounds like this, "My highlight is I was line leader. My lowlight was someone laughed at me."

Today I'll give you my overall Rwandan Adventure highlight and lowlight, which both happened within the past 24 hours.

Last night was my lowlight when, driving home from a friend's house with Talya in the backseat, I was sideswiped by another (bigger) vehicle. We were both fine and the damage to the car was minimal, but it was just an overwhelming moment of NOW WHAT DO I DO? I've never been in an accident before, much less in a country where I am a foreigner and in a car that I don't own, and in a situation where I am likely to be blamed just by reason of my appearance (Mzungu), and can't communicate with the authorities because of language difficulties.

It got additionally confusing and comical when the police informed me that the other car was a government car ("His Excellency's"). My response was, "The government should drive better, no?" I thought this was hilarious, and the police officer giggled. Looking back, that is a very unwise thing to say in a country that offers no freedom of speech. Yet, God protected me from another driver, a system I didn't understand, and my own foolish words. I came home and the car is at the shop to get the fender put back in place. Where is Van Eck Automotive when you need them?

And then I had my highlight today. I believe I've mentioned chapel groups. Each week at chapel, we break up into discussion groups to chat about the morning's lesson. We keep the same groups, so it is a great opportunity to get to know four of my sixth grade girls. I've been amazed at the opportunities to talk about the gospel both in class and in chapel groups. These kids know the salvation gospel - Jesus died for your sins - but what a privilege to be able to talk about how each of them can be confident in God's love for them and what that means in their 6th grade lives, and in my life.

The last week of the month is set aside for chapel groups to spend more time together. The school provides sodas to set the tone and we planned today at lunch as our time to chat. So fun! Ineza, Laura, Elise and Nicole joined me over cafeteria food and Fanta and I told them we could talk about whatever they wanted. The questions started with what percentage of the world is Christian, which I googled and we discussed what that might mean. That led to their experiences with people of other faiths and Catholocism, which is predominant in Rwanda. It was fun to explore the richness of Catholic theology and a few practices which differ from what we teach at KICS. Then they asked how I met Mr Thomas, which is always a great story to tell to pre-dating adolescents.

It is a highlight to share our life with students - that is why we're here and I'm thankful God is providing opportunities for both me and Ben.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Keep Singing Oceans

Oh my gosh, I'm about to be a brat. But, today is Sunday and it's been a great day of worshiping in a church, eating with friends, resting at home, and getting to know new people.

And, earlier this week, I saw this post on Facebook called Stop Singing Oceans. And I skimmed it. So, let's be honest. I SKIMMED it. I didn't finish it and I didn't study it. What I read got me all fired up; it felt judgmental and critical and I started crafting a fine blog critique of blog criticism. And then I called myself a hypocrite and put the thing to bed.

But then, as I walked into church this morning (late), we started singing Oceans. So, of course, it all came back. What I took to be the author's point was that we shouldn't ask God to lead us to place with no borders if we don't mean it. Again, all fairness: maybe that wasn't her point. Maybe in my judgmental high, I missed some irony or a deeper point.

But what washed over me this morning as I re-wrestled with these ideas was thanksgiving. Because, every Sunday morning, I am invited to loudly and with spirit sing songs full of words that are impossible to fully mean. As a wretch, a sinner, at war with my flesh, I am unable to worship God with complete purity of heart. But, we gather together anyway and do it. And I am so thankful that we can do that. That we can enter into a place with God where we can say/sing/pray/recite/responsively read deep words of affirmation of our faith - a faith that I don't always feel, and I don't always mean, and I am terrified of where it will lead, and I still know is Truth.

I can do it with transparency before God because he knows my heart. He knows the things I am holding back. He knows the borders I'm hoping He will let me keep erected. He sees those things and invites me to worship Him anyway. He invites me to sing Amazing Grace even on the mornings when I'm sure I'm less of a wretch than you. He has allowed the great hymns and the contemporary tunes to be authored by sinners and sung by the masses. He asks for our my whole heart, but promises that where my worship is incomplete, insufficient, and inattentive, He intercedes for me with the Father.

So, I can sing Oceans or the Doxology or Holy, Holy, Holy to the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. And on the Sunday mornings when I do it as a hypocrite (about 4 times a month), He sees what I'm holding back, accepts what I offer and calls me His.

One of the songs that I kinda hate, but still holds so much meaning for me is "Here I am to worship." The tune kind of gets to me, but the sentence, "Here I am to say that you're my God," feels like exactly what worship should be. Me saying that over and over again. Sometimes I don't have a lot to bring, but I can always say that with confidence and joy.

So, we have found a church that we are enjoying. It's called Christian Life Assembly. It's a fairly diverse congregation, but *feels* mostly African, which is something we were desiring. Today's sermon was a beautiful, truthful, deep, artful exploration of the gospel (Galatians 3:3) throughout Scripture. We are hoping to join a neighborhood cell group soon and get to know some more people. We just had a great dinner with one of the pastors and his family.

Disclaimer: Ben hasn't read this post and the opinions expressed herein are mine alone. (Susie)

Friday, September 12, 2014

A brain update and a pretty picture (not of my brain)

I had a brain MRI last week and it has yet to have been reviewed by my dr in the states but a few docs here have peeked at it and have given us the thumbs up. So, we pray thanks, breathe faith, and take another step into the future. 

Also, we are on a staff retreat right now in a beautiful place called Kibuye. I mean, these forested hills overlooking a lake look more like my lake George than my preconceived notions of Africa. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Baby, Baby

In no particular order, here is my firstborn through the years:

Gosh, I love him. He gets better every day. He's smart and funny and interesting. He loves to learn and read and ask questions. He is kind to others, and helpful to me. He has weathered this change with courage. He's nine and the older he gets, the less I find myself hoping it slows down, and the more eager I am to see who he's becoming. Happy birthday Simon - use your powers for good!