Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wrecking my Life, Part Two

Sometime around 2005, Dan and I watched "Hotel Rwanda".  I sat on our couch and viewed a lot of the scenes through my fingers- I would alternate covering my eyes and having to watch.  I was horrified by the genocide that occurred while I was living it up my senior year in high school.  And I had no idea.  Granted, some part of being a self-centered high school senior is to be expected... but come on, people... we were riveted to the TV to see what was going on with OJ Simpson... and we missed a mass murder of over 800,000 people.  Disgusting.

In this film, Don Cheadle does an excellent job of putting you right in the middle of the horror.  The same horror came back to me as took at tour of the Genocide Memorial in Kigali.

I was familiar with "the feeling"... I'd had a similar experience in 1988 when I toured the concentration camp at Dachau.  I had a repeat of that feeling when I went with Dan to the Holocaust Museum in DC.  Just this sick, disgusted, heart hurting feeling of "how in the world did we let this happen"... something my brain cannot reconcile.

If you are not familiar with the Rwandan Genocide, I am not well equipped to share that story with you.  I recommend that you read one of the many books about it, or at least begin by watching the movie.  But I will tell you this: people were murdered in ways that were horrific.  Those who weren't murdered on this spot were "injured" by watching their friends and family killed... or even were required to do the killing themselves.

And some women were raped by soldiers who were HIV positive in the hopes that AIDS would kill them, and would be passed on to the next generation, as well.

Just... sick.

While we were in Rwanda, we had been told very specifically that we were not to speak of the genocide.  If someone brought it up to us, we could only ask about their experience- nothing about the genocide itself.  In fact, at one point someone referred to it as "the war"... so amazing to think of the freedom of speech we in America have versus the control others still experience.  (Side note: I talked at length with an American living in Rwanda about that very topic.  He told me that if anyone spoke of their government or president like so many of us do- flippantly, disparagingly, whatever- they would "disappear" and never be heard of again.  Don't joke around with our freedoms, people.)

I had a chance to meet some Genocide Survivors... in the form of some women at Fidele's church. 

The widows.

Who make the pens.

That Tuesday night at dinner, when Fidele asked if I liked pens, he explained that there is a group of women at his church who have just began meeting together to make handicrafts to support their families.  Primarily, they make beaded pens on lanyards, but they also make beaded drums, crocheted bags, baskets, and magazine bead necklaces.  They have been praying about someone being able to help sell them... the amount they are charging for these items will help provide food and clothing for their families, school fees for their kids, and medicine for them... because they all are HIV positive.  He asked if we would like to see the pens, then followed up later by asking if I would meet the women on Sunday morning at church.

I cannot yet put words around those moments.  The first moment when he spoke words of prophecy into my life.  The second moment when he asked if I would be interested in helping a ministry of PENS. (Seriously, as someone who has a way unhealthy addiction to office supplies, it's a bit ironic that God would use that for His good in Africa.)  The third moment when he explained their situation... then when I saw the pens... then when I met the women... y'all, it was a glorious, heart wrenching, life changing deal.

"The Rwandan Genocide" was not just a movie on Netflix, or a book from the library, or a memorial museum... it was now in the faces of Beatrice, and Ann Marie, and even baby Mary.

Life. Changing.

(Part Three- and a chance for you to buy some pens- coming soon)


LaVenture's Adventures said...

The movie really had a big impact on me, too. I took DCCC students to see Paul Rusesabagina at WFU a few years ago. He's certainly a hero, but it's pretty depressing that so few people are willing to stand up and do what's right in the face of evil. So cool that God is allowing you to work with those women! Let me know when I can buy pens!!

Sarah said...

Charles Dickens has NOTHING on you when it comes to cliffhangers!! I'm so incredibly thrilled for you and eager to hear more about how God is working through you!!