I'm doing a paper for my Lit. class on the works of Elie Wiesel. I'm reading his Night trilogy (yeah, i didn't know it was a trilogy, either). We have to read/write on something that reflects the theme of the class: violence and grace. Dr. De Rosset told me that it is really hard to find the grace in Night. So I did some research and found out he wrote two others: Dawn and Day. Interesting titles, eh? I thought so. Anyway, the project keeps getting a little longer but I am very interested in the subject matter. I finished Night. It was my second read. It affected me a lot more this time through. A lot.
The main reason behind reading Night was stuff that i experienced in Africa. Obviously I didn't experience the suffering but I saw kids that had. There was such a deadness in their eyes. I distinctly remember two little brothers (not older than 6 and 8) that hung around. I didn't see them smile once. Holding them, playing, talking...never any emotion. Just stone. Sometimes I feel haunted by their faces: hollow eyes that didn't want to hope anymore. Spirits that were tired of believing in a better future. I remember two sisters: 12 and 14, i think. They lived alone. The older raising the younger. The big sister had seen too much of life. She hated it. She had resigned...tattered faith. The little one still had spunk, still believed in something...was at least trying to. They had each other, that was it.
When I read night I cry because I can see their faces. Wiesel writes of corpses...shadows...dried-up children. I see their faces and I want to scream. Then I read of 70,000 child soldiers in Burma and my skin crawls. A boy in Kenya who found his mother chopped up by a machette. Little corpses. Hollow eyes. The death of faith. Lost hope.
Sometimes its all I can do to keep myself from screaming...and then getting on a plane to go. "What the hell am I doing here?"
There is something that happens when a child experiences such tremendous suffering. There is a loss of innocence. Can it ever be regained? Can it be restored?
I continue to hold onto Lamentations 3:19-25. I don't have any easy answers. Actually, I have a lot more questions. I'm learning not to as "IF God is good, why is this happening?" but rather "BECAUSE God is good, why is this happening." God is teaching me things deep down in my soul. In my impatience I want to know the full of it NOW. He doesn't work that way. And, for whatever reason, He wants me over here right now.
Something happened today. I had to put my South African rand bill in the offering plate at Church. This is where God wants me right now. Investing in school (preparing, training, learning, challenging myself and others, loving...) and in Church (we're moving to Logan Square, one of the roughest parts of Chicago. This is where God is putting is. What's my part in it?). I've been carrying that rand bill around with me since I got back. Always in my wallet. It was somehow a security or a comfort. As long as I had it I knew I could go back...or that I would go back. I had to let it go.
God needs me to be here for this time. I still don't really know what all it entails. I know a little bit. He reveals it as we go along. Faith shows itself best when we are walking in it, not sitting in it. Faith is active. I am learning this...its kinda hard sometimes.
The accountant will be weirded out when he finds African money with all the rest. Somehow I know that God will take me back there. He isn't saying give up your dream or desire to return--but give it to ME. I have to trust that He'll get me overseas. He will. He told me that before I left Africa. But He reminded me of it today...strong. I needed to be reminded. It puts my heart at rest.
I'm in Chicago. I love my Church. I want to get more involved. I don't know how yet. I want to pray more. I want to pray for the world--so that I don't forget about it.
I start tutoring next week. Mariah and I are tutoring a 31 yr. old Burmese woman. We had orientation the other day with World Relief to learn about the process of becoming a refugee, etc. BEFORE 9/11 the U.S. was taking in approx. 70,00-120,000 refugees annualy. This was ONLY 1% of all the refugees that apply for entrance into an asylum country. 1%. Think about that.
I am so super excited to do this tutoring. I don't think I can even BEGIN to express it. This tutoring with World Relief is going to change my life, I can tell. I am blessed for the opportunity. AND, i'll be here this summer so I will get to keep it going all year long!
You know, there is a huge importance in staying here and preparing myself for a life overseas. It isn't even about the "classroom learning," its about everything else: building a good relationship with a Church and getting INVOLVED in a local Church; this tutoring program; living with a global perspective right here in Chicago (so many opportunities!); learning to let go of the American dream/desire for a "perfect home." God's got a lot of work to do to get me ready--more than I even know, I think. So...even though it is HARD, I can say that it is good. I really can. Not through gritted teath! YOU GUYS! God is SO good. Aren't you simply astounded? Ah. I can't even believe it. His very Son, in all His power, takes over our lives...His Spirit dwells within us. What power. What glory. We die to ourselves....gladly! :)
Man oh man. This is long. Just had a lot to get out, I guess. I've sort of been a hermit for the past few days. It's been a bit of a rough week. Still trying to work through thoughts, feelings, emotions.
I'm reading Henri Nouwen's book "The Wounded Healer." It's incredible. It's one of those books that, read at JUST the right time, speaks right to your soul. I decided I wanted to go to church early today--to read at Starbucks before-hand and then go early to meet people and move out of my comfort zone. I read at a corner startbucks somewhere in Chicago (i'm still bad with directions)...i found it! It's right near church. When I left, a toothless homeless man smiled and said "have a nice day. Thank you for coming." I said "Thank you, you to and you're welcome" and then kicked myself for saying "you're welcome" because it made absolutely no sense.
It's only 8:15 but I think I might go to bed. Hm. sounds nice. This is going to be a nice week. No classes after tomorrow, only lectures everyday. No homework really...
I don't really know what to end with. I feel like I have written on so many different things in this post. Wow. I guess I do have something to say. I have been so burdened by the need to be affected. It's something we need to fight for because we grow so desensitized. My challenge is this: adopt a country. Do it for at least a month, longer if you want. Study a little of its history...read current events...pray...I've found that BBC is a great site for this. Then, once you've prayed for a month--you can choose a new one.
"Break our hearts for the things that break Yours."