Do you ever have those moments in life when a certain thing keeps popping up out of the blue?
It might be a word, or thought, or a place, but it's a clear theme because it constantly emerges around every corner, even in the most unlikely places.
I'm having one of those times.
And it is really weird. I'll be the first to admit I have no clue what this means or what direction it might point me toward. In fact, it's just a little bit scary.
My theme is a place that keeps tugging at my heart, a place that started tugging quite a few years back but suddenly has upped the force to the point where I am getting weekly, almost daily reminders in my face about it. It is a distant, broken, beautiful place. It is Rwanda.
Years ago I became exposed to Rwanda through books. I had never heard of the country. I knew nothing of the terrible genocide that took place there in the early 90's. I read Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagzia. She survived the genocide and wrote a detailed account of it that tore at my insides and broke my heart in horror and grief. I read An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina and Tom Zoellner which told how an ordinary hotel manager saved the lives of his fellow country people in the most amazing bizarre ways in the midst of the blood-lust and savagery. I followed those books with Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak by Jean Hatzfeld. That book interviewed those that participated in the murdering of an entire group of people in hopes of understanding more about their motivations and actions. On my Amazon wish list is a book called Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron. Apparently my draw to books about Rwanda is not over because I want to read this account of a Tutsi runner who escaped the genocide and has dreams for rebuilding his country.
My connection with Rwanda didn't end with books, though. Several years later after reading The Hole in Our Gospel, I decided to sponsor a child through World Vision. (A fabulous organization, by the way.) They help children around the world, but where did I feel drawn to sponsor? You guessed it: Rwanda. There was a young girl, one year older than Ava who shared her January 30th birthday. It has been a blessing to contribute in a concrete way to Providence, her family, and their community.
A year and a half ago I met a couple that has become close friends to Cody and me. A few months into our friendship my girlfriend casually mentioned to me that she has friends who run an organization in Rwanda that helps children. I didn't pursue involvement with it at the time, but that organization came to the front of my attention at the end of 2012. I don't even remember how it happened, but Cody and I decided to donate to His Chase to help a child in Rwanda receive a year of schooling. This led to a bit of back and forth emailing with the founder of His Chase which helped me feel even more connected to this organization.
Then, this morning I get on Facebook and what is the first story I see on the page? A link to a post by a college acquaintance of mine who happens to be a missionary in Rwanda. I had no idea this guy and his family were working in Rwanda. I jumped over to his web page and read a fascinating, moving account of the work they are doing.
After that, I sat back in my chair and shivered. Why has my long smoldering interest in Rwanda suddenly jumped to the forefront of my daily life? What is going on here? Why does this place, of all places keep turning up?
I don't know what it means. But I know I need to tread carefully and keep my eyes and heart open.
*UPDATE: After writing this blog post this morning, I joined a dear friend for a work-out followed by a smoothie. She had not read my post. I had not talked to her about my crazy Rwanda-filled world. Guess what she told me out of the blue? Her entire family is going to Rwanda for Spring Break.
The plot thickens.