Hiking

We have a thing in our marriage. It’s kind of recurring problem, called Hiking. We do it on every vacation, and I’m not sure why. I always think I’m going to love it. It sounds so good in theory. And I’m often proud of myself when I’m finished. But overall, I don’t think I actually like it. I spend a good 80% of the time complaining so I’m not sure why BB keeps inviting me.

Although, to be quite honest, I spend a good 80% of my normal life complaining as well so at least on a hike he gets exercise and a nice view.

See, I’m a bit of a Debbie Downer. I’m not just a glass half-empty person. I’m a glass half-empty of spoiled milk person. When my youngest sister was born, we have video footage of when I first met her in the hospital. My eight-year old response to meeting this little precious thing, said with a huff of reality: “Now we have to go through chicken pox again.” I want everyone to be clear that there are bad parts of everything. Don’t get too swept away in the moment people!

I just find it’s important to keep our expectations low. So while I’m hiking, I can’t think of the present moment of beauty. I can only think about how long it’s going to take, bug bites, my need to pee, the temperature, how if I can’t do this simple hike, then I will never amount to anything in life…you know, the normal thought process of a human.

So this vacation’s hike in Nyungwe Forest was no different. Except that when we got to the valley, there were hundreds of monkeys! Almost made it worth the pain.

We started the vacation with a trip to the beach with some friends. Freddy loves swimming/eating sand.

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Then we drove to the rainforest. The lodge was set among the gorgeous tea plantations.

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On the hike, we saw chimpanzee nests.

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And monkeys!

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It was beautiful. But not painless!

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Lake Kivu

In case you aren’t tired of BB anecdotes, this weekend at Lake Kivu, BB said the weather was “perfect swimming weather.”  It was about 65 degrees and raining.  I think there was thunder in the distance.  Seriously, give that man a lemon, and he will make a gourmet lemon custard.

Here he is…swimming to Congo.

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Despite the rain, we had a lovely weekend.  In fact, the rain was welcome after the hot, dry summer.  We stayed at a lovely resort right on the water and enjoyed good food, a king size bed (for sleeping! Get your head out of the gutter!), hot water with strong pressure, and TV!  We watched about 5 hours of Al Jezeera and another 3 hours of soccer.  It was glorious!

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Freddy enjoyed his first dip in the fresh water of a lake and even though he’s never actually seen a television remote control before this weekend, he knew that it was all the toy he ever wanted.  BB swam, ran and drove through the mountains like a champ.  I read books, sang every song I could think of for over an hour of the car ride to keep Freddy from screaming, and ate a lot of crepes.  We even took a boat ride!  Everyone was happy.

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Boat ride!  Don’t you love his leggings?

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We had a bit of an audience when we stopped so I could nurse Fred.IMG_3157

Yesterday morning I attended my first court hearing.  Unlike Cook County, everyone was wearing shoes, and the lawyers didn’t call each other names (from what I could tell).

In Rwanda, prisoners wear pink one-piece capri-style jumpsuits and slip-on shoes with no socks.  As Westerns, we think the pink is particularly humiliating because it’s a “girl” color, but that doesn’t actually translate culturally.  For instance, every single time I meet a Rwandan with Fred, they ask if he’s a boy or girl.  The clothes he’s wearing do not indicate his sex.  I love things like that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about cultural context lately and the ways we try to translate things like life philosophies and Christian living.  A few weeks ago, I heard a story about a presentation at an urban church where presenters indicated that a mother working outside the home was in direct disobedience to God’s word.  Putting aside the 100,000 reasons why that idea is utterly ludicrous, I thought about all the mothers I come in contact with here who have no choice but to work outside the home – most doing back-breaking labor for pennies.

I think of Mama Rebecca (here, we refer to mothers as “Mama [First-born child’s name]”, so I am often called Mama Fred).  When she’s not working part-time at our house cleaning outside, watching our house, and gardening, she can be found working as a street sweeper.

I think of the single moms of kids in Chicago, who work as teachers, nurses, receptionists, lawyers.

I think of the women at my office at IJM who work as social workers, helping children who’ve been abused.

I think of the powerful women who worked their whole lives to make the world a better place – running orphanages, caring for the sick, protecting wildlife, discovering cures for disease, holding political office.

Part of what I love about living in Rwanda is that my eyes are slowly opening to the world around me. This process began when we started the adoption, and I continue to learn more each day.  The world is so much bigger than Chicago, America, my life.

The challenge is that I have to stretch my understanding of who this God is that I love.  He has to be big enough for this whole world.  His provision has to be wide enough to encompass the deepest needs, his redemption great enough to rescue the most oppressed.  I must resist the temptation to limit him. If something I believe about him isn’t true for every one of his children, then I must take the time to discern whether it’s really true.  He is the God of the President of the USA, the farmer in Germany, the schoolteacher in Rwanda, the executive in Japan, the street child in Brazil, and the sex slave in India.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.