Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not Your Normal


Today No.41 is participating in a global giving day, hosted my Mercy House Global, called She Is Priceless. Don't worry, I'm not asking you for money. Yet. I wanted to tell you a story. My story about lack of comfort and convenience and her story about survival. This post is inspired by my amazing (actual writer) friend, Kristen, the founder of Mercy House Global, and her latest post here.

You have heard me moan and complain somewhat consistently on this blog, however I'll be honest and say that I've not always been totally honest. Or maybe I've just not often given you the whole story. What I mean is, I've gotten pretty good at glossing things over, or at least waiting to talk about circumstances until everything is generally fine or on it's way to that. Hindsight is 20/20, it's also much easier to swallow. Perhaps most important to note is, the privilege (and expectation) of a comfortable and convenient life because of where and how I grew up is not at all lost on me. Equally true is that pain and struggle is more often than not the disadvantage (and expectation) for so many I've come to love because of where and how they grew up.

Living in Rwanda, for me, has been far from a walk in the park. I love it, obviously, and I'm (usually) up for the challenge. I wouldn't still be here if I wasn't, but I also have reasons to stay. The purpose that I feel here far outweighs many of the struggles most encounter in the day to day life. And I won't pretend for one second that I and my family don't live here very comfortably, by Rwandan standards. I had a sweet friend in the States, trying her best to understand my life here, ask me one time, "But why is it so hard?" and, well, it's hard to explain. The best answer is, it's not normal. Not one single thing on any single day is normal, our normal. Let me be clear, as a foreigner, living in another country, I don't think it should be normal for me, but the reason I feel like I'm bumbling around so much here is because it IS normal for my friends and my family here. And it's hard. Harder than your normal could ever imagine. Maybe I'll try to talk more about that in a later post, but today isn't about me.

".... I couldn’t wait to leave her home. I didn’t feel brave at all and longed to return to my normal.
But as soon as I thought it, I heard the words thunder in my heart: This is her normal.
I closed my eyes and silent tears slid down my cheeks. My God, this is 75% of the world’s normal.
It’s a truth that’s easy to avoid: a small percentage of us have most of the world’s resources to last a life time, while a large percentage of the world don’t have enough for one day.
It’s so easy to get absorbed in our own little world that we completely miss the way the rest of the world lives.
And I can say it because that’s what I did for a very long time. But I dare you, I beg you to here this truth:
your normal isn’t the world’s normal and the greatest deception is that you believe that it is." -Kristen Welch

I've learned so much from Rwandan culture about faith, joy, contentment, forgiveness, resilience.... I could go on. They are a proud people and they have every reason to be, that's why so often I don't feel it's my place to talk about the hard, especially when it's not my own experience. But the fact that I don't talk about it, doesn't make it any less true. For many families here, some of my very best friends, it's a daily struggle to survive; to have a roof over your head, to put food on the table and have clean water to drink, to find work, to get paid for work.... It's a daily struggle for rights and for justice.... I could go on. But I would rather let my precious friend and colleague, Patrice, tell you about her life and her daughter, Isimbi.

"I love my daughter, Isimbi. She is 8 years old. I got her from violence by the boy who wanted to be my friend by force. I stayed in his house for two weeks and got Isimbi since then! It is very difficult to be a mom. Sometimes, when we did not have anything to eat, my daughter used to ask me, "We will live like this until when?" I used to cry and answer, "Some time things will be better."

My job at No.41 has helped me so much, because I no longer cry! Now, I have people to talk to, I can pay school materials for my daughter, I can pay food, the rent of my house.... It makes me very proud to help myself and other moms fighting to feed their children. This is the unbelievable thing, that a lady like Patrice can do something helpful in the community. It is only the blessing from God! It makes me strong and confident of my future! I hope in future, Isimbi will finish her studies and become helpful in our community too."

Y'all. If you don't have a knot in your throat right now, you may want to check for a heartbeat. Patrice is priceless! For the first time, she is starting to realize that for herself and she is going to be able to pass that down to her Isimbi. Patrice had no idea that by the work of her very own hands she could, not only provide for her family, but come alongside so many other hardworking mothers in her community to help them provide for their families, as well. She is doing dignified work, supporting her little families, as well as the 1000s of families she supports by providing meals to students in her community. For the record, I don't believe that any person or any job gives another person dignity. Dignity is God-given, bestowed on each one of us; however, I do believe that every person has the ability to affirm or deny the dignity of another. Patrice was denied dignity for far too long. But no more!

Today we are joining our hands around the world and raising money for 8 non-profits who exist to empower women in oppression and poverty with She Is Priceless, a Global Giving Day.

We are donning our pearls (#putonyourpearls), taking selfless selfies, giving sacrificially and standing up to say we see these injustices, these desperate women who are begging God for provision so they don’t have to make desperate decisions.

Will you give to one of the organizations we are partnering with–working in hard places, with the most vulnerable?

God doesn’t call us to a convenient life—He calls us to an important life…We aren’t meant for self-gratification, but eternal greatness…and greatness is giving our lives away. -Ann Voskamp

I'll tell you what, maybe giving your life away feels like a big ask for a Tuesday, it's ok. You have the ability to give life with just your dollars. Please don't miss the opportunity. xo

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