I've been home from Rwanda for just barely over a month now, though William and Violet are still saying, "I miss you while you gone." And William will add, "You in Rwanda? You go on rocket ship?" Bless him. It is so sweet to be with my people, and I don't ever want to take for granted these moments of shared joy in togetherness.
Our fall has been in full force, and we've faced the normal barrage of life with difficulties at work and at home. We live in a fallen world, and there will always, always, always be challenging things in our lives - especially if we are trying to live out a life that God has for us.
That said, after returning from Rwanda, I've been able to see my life with fresh eyes. I live in the land of comfort. I can always drink the water that comes out of my tap, and it is a rare occasion when I don't have electricity (and my attitude is not great when I don't 😁). I can go to any number of stores to get just about anything I could possibly dream of and quite a bit more, and when I don't feel like leaving my house, I can whip out my phone and order from Amazon and have it delivered to my home in a mere two days time. So easy.
Life in Rwanda and many other developing nations is significantly harder day to day. They do not share the same conveniences, and there is not a safety net to catch the poorest of the poor. Our worlds are so very different, and I've thought a lot about it since coming home.
One story specifically has stuck with me. While in Rwanda, I spent one day with my dear Rwandan friend, Annie, who I got to know when she lived in America for a year. I love Annie and seeing her in her own culture was a gift after getting to know her in mine. While she was in the States, she got to see and experience all of our seasons, and she regularly marveled at how we changed out decorations every couple of months. I remember when it became fall, and Annie commented on how there seemed to be pumpkins EVERYWHERE.
While driving through a rural market last month in Rwanda, she drew our attention to a few mostly green pumpkins sitting on a tarp, waiting to be sold. She joked with me, "Those are our pumpkins, and they will get eaten."
We both laughed, because the dry humor of that moment was not lost on either of us. Our societies could not be more different, for better and for worse. Our culture is driven by commercialization and a constant need to consume, and in Rwanda, so many people are just trying to survive the day. And then the next day.
The days keep coming in a steady stream with a steady stream of needs that cannot be met. I saw some desperate situations there, and my heart broke. Life seems so incredibly unfair. How do I have so much? Why do they have so little? As an adult, I finally understand that me giving up everything I have could not fix their needs - the problems are bigger and more deeply rooted than that.
We are born into lives that God has for us, and while it is absolutely our responsibility to do the most with what we have been given, we have to trust that God put each of us where we are for a reason.
But, I've been wondering if I've had it all wrong all along. What if life is really unfair and all of the "blessings" I have only serve as distractions from the better, lasting eternal things? What if when we get to heaven, those believers who lived incredibly hard lives in Rwanda would look at my earthly existence and think - life was unfair. She had blessings on earth, but those don't translate real well to eternity. Based on the upside down economy of the Lord, I could see this being a possibility. True eternal blessings seem to lie at the bottom of the barrel with those who are suffering and those who mourn. And while I am not in a hurry to go that direction, I pray that God moves my heart more and more that way. Even when it is hard. Even when it costs.
There are so many questions I will have for God, and ultimately, I have to trust him with how he divvied stuff up here and fight for justice and mercy and love in the places that I can.
Those are my weekend musings that have been wandering around my heart since I got home. I keep seeing all of our pumpkins all over, many of which will end up rotten, and I hope and pray that the same doesn't happen to our hearts.
On a less dramatic note, I got together with the friends I traveled with to take a few pics wearing our Rwandan skirts - we love the way they turned out!