So many more blogs before this one… but this is the only one completed. And one of the most recent. Thank you for prayers and support – both financially and in your heart.
Sitting down at the Catholic Guest house tonight to eat dinner. I am the only guest here and have been for the past three nights. Totally alone in the building. Going to bed each night to the sounds of the Lake Kivu’s waves and the singing fisherman in their boats. But tonight the singing is different. I begin praying right before I start eating, I hear the priests over head. It’s Sunday and they are in worship. A bit startled at first becuase I thought I was there alone. But being started by such song is refreshing. It quickly gave way to a wave of peace just listening to them singing together in soft French rhythm. The only word I can make out is “Halleluiah.” But it’s the only word I need to make out. Beautiful how that translates in any language.
I start to stare out the window and think back to a man. A man….. He is standing up. Bleeding. Huge swelling goose-egg on his forehead. He lifts his shirt and pats his stomach. Fingers to his mouth. I stand there in shock. He is telling me he is hungry. He is telling me that’s the reason he stole my phone. Everyone is standing there now and time stands still. Someone pushes him again. One more kicks him. And he walks away.
It all happened so fast. I am greeting the former child soldiers we will be working with later in the week.
“My name is Shadrach”
“My name is Augustine”
“My name is Innocent”
“My name is Love”
And then… the commotion. The chaos. The yelling. A man had reached in the car and stolen my phone from the seat. The boys immediately took off and a crowd gathered all around us.
“They are chasing the thief!"
Not being able to see what was going on and not wanting to leave Christian and her baby in the car alone. I feel helpless. In a forever three minutes they had found him and drug him back around the corner. All I could see was kicking and hitting and stamping his head in the rock and more kicking and hitting.
“Stop! Make them stop! It’s enough. You have to stop!”
About that time, there was a man who came around the corner with a hand saw. I froze. He looked at me. I later found out that he had come to saw off the hands of the thief. Yes, indeed.
“Let him go.. just let him go” I said as calmly as I could.
The thief stood up and looked at me. It was then that he told me, in his own way… “I am hungry”. Bleeding. Wounded. “I am. Hungry.”
Head spinning. I was rushed back to the car, and we left. The boys followed on foot to make sure I got to my destination safely. Later being told that they might not have stopped if I wouldn’t have stopped them. They were protecting me. They are not trained to stop. They are trained to kill.
I have been thinking of them all day. The man. The boys. Thinking of how quickly the former child soldiers went back into defense mode when triggered. Wondering if I wouldn’t have done the same. If my family was hungry. If I needed to feed my baby. Would I? Would I steal? If I were trained to fight at such a young age. Would I? Would I kill? Thinking of the irony in the fact that one of the main causes of conflict in Congo is the fighting over minerals: Gold. Copper. Coltan.
Coltan. In every cell phone and every laptop. Every cell phone. Like the one that was stolen from the car.
And so it comes – full circle.
Father God, I keep coming back to praying for that man. That he finds food tonight. That somehow this is used to bring him closer to you. I am mindful of the boys and how they do not have a mother. Use my words and our time with them to teach them Peace, Love, Healing, Hope. As they sleep tonight, help them to feel you closely. Settle their spirits. Settle my own. “Here’s my heart. Take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.”
I am surrendered. I am,