Wednesday, November 26, 2014

With Gratitude

With gratitude, I live this life in Rwanda, surrounded by beautiful faces, interesting trees, strange birds, searching hearts.
With gratitude, and a side of grumpiness, I open my eyes too early in the morning to inspect a child's coloring or to give permission to get a banana.
With gratitude, I scan my Facebook feed, seeing the faces of friends near and far - both of which feel like a miracle to me.
With gratitude, I review my kids' progress reports, noting their achievements and gains.
With gratitude, I think of their teachers - present and past - who have with love and patience inspired these.
With gratitude, I miss my family and football games that I don't watch and strawberry pretzel "salad."
With gratitude, I hug my husband who has made us dinner reservations tonight. With gratitude, I don't plan or shop or save or cook this year's feast.
With gratitude, I brush my hair, which has grown back from the assault it suffered to chemicals and high-energy waves.
With gratitude, I let Annie go to bed without making her change into her pajamas, because who cares.
With gratitude, I take hot showers, flush toilets, and drink water that doesn't make me ill.
With gratitude, I remember doctors, nurses, sonographers, therapists and mri techs.
With gratitude, I order Christmas presents for my kids and make plans for their 7,104-mile journey.
With gratitude, I pack for a Thanksgiving getaway with dear friends.
With gratitude, I reflect on the power Jesus has to soften hard things, to add flesh to dry bones, to offer healing and forgiveness.
With gratitude, I think of 20 students who I (I!) have had the privilege to teach for a short time.
With gratitude, I celebrate a friend's birthday in person and a brother's birthday from afar.
With gratitude, I host friends who traveled 24 hours on a bus from Kenya just to hang out with us this week.
With gratitude, after my worst nightmare comes true and I bump another car with my massive beast on a rain-slicked dirt road, I drive away after she tells me it's ok.
With gratitude, I try out the few Kinyarwanda words and phrases I know and breathe grace since we quit our lessons.
With gratitude, I hang out with missionary friends who have long and faithfully been here, gleaning from them all I can about culture, gracious living, and joy.
With gratitude, I type words into a thing called the internet and know someone will read them.
With gratitude, I think of the hundreds of people who give out of their abundance or out of their own need to fund our ministry.
With gratitude, I continue to repeat Ephesians out loud until I know it. Thanksgiving was my goal, but I still have two chapters to go.
With gratitude, I remember you in my prayers.
With gratitude, I grieve with my passport country, which is the home of grieving people this week.
With gratitude, I think of every person I know who has been affected by racism and prejudice, but has shared their life and story with me, so I (someone who has known privilege) can learn and change and understand.
With gratitude, I think of one of our best friends who is a white American law officer, who is brave and loyal and honest, who, just by knowing him, keeps me from being quick to assign blame.
With gratitude, I am eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rescuing Annie

Three days a week, when I'm teaching, Annie stays home with Grace for a couple of hours. Grace gets her dressed, feeds her breakfast, does her hair adorably and plays with her. It's like having a stay-at-home-mom only better. Yesterday, I was surprised to get a call from Grace because not much can go wrong between 7-10 am. But, my growing girl had locked herself into our bedroom. In America, that's an easy thing to do because babies love to push buttons. It's also an easy thing to fix because you grab a bobby pin off the top of the door frame and pop, baby is freed.
In Rwanda, it's actually a bit of an achievement for a small child to lock themselves in, which is why I've never worried about it. It involves turning a key and what two year old has the attention span for that?
So Grace called and said "Annie locked herself in your room." So, ok, I'm coming home. I have a key to my bedroom. But then, I remembered that we leave keys to the rooms somewhere else (not gonna tell you where :)!!!!!!), so I called her back and told her where the key was. Grace (who is more Rwanda-experienced than I am) reminded me that as long as Annie has a key in her side, no one can unlock the door from the outside. Crap.
Theophile, one of our maintenance staff at KICS came home with me to rescue her. Of course, Annie had no idea she needed rescuing. She was chatting through the window to Grace who was outside keeping an eye on her. I'm so glad Annie didn't head to electric outlets, because there was exactly nothing Grace could have done from outside the bars except scream at her.
While Eddie was hatching a scheme to squeeze Annie through the bars (impossible), Theophile disassembled the lock and Annie was rescued. I mean, I had a feeling like I was pulling up a starving Chilean miner, but of course, Annie had no idea she was stuck.
Despite a whole day of reciting, "Annie no keys"and  "No doors Annie," I found her stabbing our door with a key last night. Gladly, the locking mechanism had been removed.

Grace babysitting from the window

It wasn't until my arrival that Annie realized she couldn't get out. 

Can I squeeze through those bars?