CAUTION: This post has joy and sorrow in it, continue with prayer and praise ready. Well, yes people, the wedding was awesome. It was the type of event you wish we had in the states. Not that we don’t have weddings, but we don’t spend as much time celebrating them. It was interesting to see how honor was bestowed to individuals, whether it is missionaries, relatives, the bride, the groom, parents, friends, employers, or even some young white people from America. The food was pretty dang good. Of course I was quite distant from the fish, but the peanut butter was scrumptious atop the waffle. The beef was tough but still tasty (nothing like Nebraska beef). The bread stuff that was fried tasted just like Indian fry bread, the stuff at the bottom of an Indian Taco, and made me think of Raymond and Matt and a basketball tournament we played in. Overall the actual wedding ceremony lasted 4 hours, but it didn’t seem too long for me. There were 4 choirs (though one might have been forgotten in a previous post, lol) that sang multiple times about the blessing of children, to praise and worship, to funny songs talking to the groom. Weddings are a serious occasion anywhere, and here that was very evident. The seriousness was apparent on the stoic faces of the bride and groom. This remained true until Ed said we wouldn’t leave the place till the two of them smiled (which they irresistibly did right then). It was an awesome celebration and we were glad to have been invited.
The church services were so tight. They had like 5 different choirs sing and let me tell you, these people can SING! They lift their voices up to God with such power it makes me wish I could offer such praise as well. The irresistible dancing by the children was contagious to the adults as well, so that eventually about a quarter of the church was breakin it down before God on one of the children’s numbers.
Oh and don’t worry people, I didn’t go to a wedding or church over here without cutting the power beard off. I did, however, take some ridiculous pictures with different designs as it was being cut, so expect to see those in the future.
Taxi’s here are a blast. Driving/riding here is a blast. There is always action. If you are not watching the driver barrel at a motorcycle, then you are astonished as a car inches through an ultra-narrow gap. If that isn’t fun enough, then just look at all the people walking around and see what they are doing. Some might be carrying a coffee table on their head, some might be heading goats, some might be selling phone time, while still others walk about their business. The culture here is so rich, and the dress is so diverse that is interesting to just be out and about. Though we have not just been partying and driving about. We have had our share of sickness and distress. There has been some “slap in the face” moments for sure. The first that comes to mind is from yesterday…
We have had some of the Tracy’s Heart ladies stop by throughout our stay thus far. Tracy’s Heart is a ministry that Ed and Brenda Buell started and Brenda now directs. They shelter, council, rehabilitate, and train rape victims for employment. Brenda described the situation to us…
Rape is a horrible thing, no matter where you are. It is a bit different here than I the states, however. Here it is not just a lust from the sensual, it is a lust from hate as well. People live in the outer villages near the rebel populations. The Hutu rebels will come into and raid these villages killing many of the people. If a family is not killed, there are a few dire situations they face. The husband is ordered to rape his wife in front of the whole village; when he refuses he is shot. The children (if not kept for sex slaves) have been killed using garden hoes while the mother watches. The mother can then be killed or taken to the rebel camp at the whim of the rebels. If taken to the camp, they face a future of daily rape and abuse. One of the women trying to get into the Tracy’s Heart program was able to escape from a rebel camp after six months of this horrible life. Once free she was then caught by a different rebel group with the same intentions for the next six months. After a year of this treatment and one failed escape, she made another escape. While in the bush (jungle) she was at the edge of a clearing searching for her family. She looked over to have her heart sink; there was a wild dog not 10 yards away from her. Knowing the power of these animals and the state she was in it was a most horrible situation, only made odd by what the dog was doing. The wild dog was carrying a pineapple in its mouth, which it would have to drop when attacking the woman, but instead of attacking, the dog opened its mouth, dropped the pineapple and walked away. The woman later praised God for sending this dog with the fruit because it gave her enough energy to find her remaining children and escape to the city.
As I said, rape is not done for merely pleasure, it is done out of hate. The men raping the women hate them. They not only want to scar the women, but also commit genocide. So they use sticks, guns, and any other ravaging objects in the raping process to prevent future childbearing. Rape is a horrible thing anywhere; it is just different here in Congo.
This is plight of some of the women who are served at Tracy’s Heart. Not all have this story, some have worse, and some just different. But all… horrible. It is hard to be detached from these horrors when it is right in front of you. Brenda translated for us as a woman told how she doesn’t belong anywhere. She was chased from Rwanda when the Genocide began. ALL OF HER FAMILY WAS KILLED; mother, father, brothers, sisters, husband, everyone. She has no one to turn to with her two children and nowhere to call home. To add to this, she too was raped more recently when Hutu rebels caught her. She now cares for her 3 children (one of them from the raping) on the streets trying to survive. It is 75 dollars to put one of these women up in Tracy’s heart building for a month, and I spend that on entertainment in the U.S. It is hard to be detached. When Brenda told this woman sitting in front of us that she was trying to get sponsors for her to get her into Tracy’s Heart, she immediately dropped to her knees and praised God. Looking at her life, and assuming I was in a similar one, would I do the same? Aside from my convictions, it was amazing to see.
Brenda went inside to get her some money to help her get by, she, unable to communicate because of language barrier, repeatedly pointed upwards and gave a thumbs up with tears in her eyes. It is hard to be detached. There is great work to be done, but the limits are frustrating, because they deal with money. If you want to help or feel God’s leading then by all means here is the info. If you decide to give and think that is enough, it isn’t true, we all must pray, for it is our contact with our greatest ally.
Tracy’s Heart 619 Washington Avenue Terre Haute, IN 47802 I constantly think of how much could be done here. Skilled people, in ministry or just trades, coming here to offer themselves as servants to God and his people… Youth centers that offer a place for kids to hang out and learn (skills, education, music, etc.), A security company to train and resource night watchmen, people to help offer other classes at the Bible institute, counselors dedicated to working at Tracy’s heart, someone to put on basketball camps (and thus reach the upper class with the Gospel), Soccer camps, a chiropractic clinic, English training, and so on and so on… I cannot help but see ways that so many people I know could be INSTANTLY plugged in. I see my ministry possibilities as well, but cannot help but desire a larger kingdom impact with more friends/family involved.I have praised God for all of you many times, and continue to do so. But I wanted to thank you all for the support you have given us all along the way “THANK YOU.”
There is a lot I am thinking of and conversing with God about, so if you could pray for guidance, that would be tight. If you could pray for wisdom that would be sweet. If you could pray for health, that would be nice. If you could pray, that would be essential.
A Soldier for Thee, God,