Monday, January 16, 2012

We love because he first loved us.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.

And, I believe it.

It’s what leaves me standing in bewilderment when people hear or see cruelty, injustice, and wrong in the world and aren’t stirred to action.

Last month I visited the Kigali Memorial Centre in Rwanda. It not only presents a memorial for the atrocities committed during the Rwandan Genocide, but for many others committed over the last century also.

Genocide is intentional. It’s never been an accident. And, not every act of genocidal violence results in genocide itself (Stanton).

Scary. And, inexcusable.

Genocide (as defined by the United Nations Convention1948) means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
  • Killing members of the group
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
  • Deliberately inflicting conditions calculated to bring about its physical destruction
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  • Forcibly transferring children of this group to another group

While it is nearly impossible for me to explain the causes of all of the genocides listed in the memorial or explain the impact the knowledge learned had on me, I want to give you a little preview:

Rwandan Genocide 1994

In 100 days, more than 1,000,000 people were murdered.

“But the genocidaires did not kill a million people.

They killed one, then another, then another.
Day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute.
Every minute of the day, someone, somewhere, was being murdered, screaming for mercy.
And receiving none 
("Kigali Memorial Centre").”

"This chapter is a bitter part of our lives, but one we must remember for those we lost and for the sake of the future."  

 The Hereros Genocide 1904-1905 (Namibia)

  • Sixty-five thousand (65,000) Herero people were killed, equaling 80 percent of the population.
  • Ten thousand (10,000) Nama were murdered, which was 50 percent of the Nama population.
  • Today only approximately eight percent of Namibia’s population are Herero (Smith).

“He [the colonist] introduces laws… which are entirely impossible, untenable, unbelievable, unbearable, unmerciful and unfeeling. He punishes our people… and has already beaten people to death for debt. He thinks we are stupid and unintelligent people, but we have never yet punished people in the cruel and improper way that he does,”
Nama chief, Hendrik Witbooi, in a letter to Major Leutwin informing him that the local people would no longer tolerate the behavior of the invading German forces and settlers.

Armenia 1915-1918
  • In 1914 there were 2,000,000 Armenians in the Ottoman Empire; however, 1.5 million Armenians were murdered, which was 75 percent of the Armenian population. 
  • Eighty thousand (80,000) Armenians were burnt to death in stables and haylofts. 
  • Fifty thousand (50,000) Armenians were drowned in the river Euphrates and its tributaries.
  • Eight-hundred thousand (800,000) were killed in the course of deportations.
  • An unknown number of soldiers and officers were murdered by fellow military.
  • Many missing orphans, young girls and women were forcibly converted to Islam.
  • Women were pressed into sexual slavery.

The majority of Turks were ignorant of the genocide as it was happening, and still are (Smith).

“I don’t know why the Turks can’t admit it, express sorrow and go on… 
You do all these things to the victim and then you say it never happened. 
That is killing them twice.
Thomas Bergenthal, Holocaust survivor

The Holocaust 1939-1945
  • Six million (6,000,000) Jews were murdered, including 1.5 million children. 
  • Ten million (10,000,000) people were forced into slave labor.

Cambodia 1975-1979
  • Approximately 1.7 million people lost their lives (21% of the country's population).

The Balkans 1990s
  • An estimated minimum of 200,000 Bosnian Muslims, 10,000 Kosovar Albanians and thousands of Croatians were murdered.
  • Two million two hundred thousand (2,200,000) people were displaced from their homes by the end of the Bosnian crisis in 1995.

It's still happening, and continues to threaten countries all over the world. It's because of ignorance and neutrality that these atrocities continue to occur today. Have the courage to make a difference where you can. 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Love must me sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 
Live in harmony with one another. 
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior. 
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 
If it is possible, as far is it depends on you, live at peace with everyone..." 
Romans 12:9-18

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

"Genocide." Kigali Memorial Centre. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan 2012.

Stanton, Gregory H.. "What is Genocide." Genocide Watch. N.p., 2002. Web. 16 Jan 2012.      

Smith, Dr. Steven. "Wasted Lives." Aegis: Preventing Crimes Against Humanity. Aegis Trust, 2012. Web. 
            16 Jan 2012. <>.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012! Thanks for being so great so far.

What a weekend. Goodbye 2011, and Hellooooo 2012.

I am feeling beyond blessed as I sit and reflect on all of the lessons learned and memories made last year, and as I dream about the unknown future of this year. So far, 2012 has been great.

This New Year’s Eve was one for the history books. I’m so thankful for a group of friends and teammates whose company I thoroughly enjoy. To bring in the New Year, Carolyn, Martha, and I invited our teammates over to our house to celebrate. Little did we know what all the night would have in store. After a round of snacks and games, we all decided to head down to Lakeview Hotel to watch the amazing fireworks show and enjoy the live entertainment that had been boasted about by locals and teammates for days leading up to the event.

We were not disappointed. The group of us all walked in and stood awkwardly at the back of the crowd looking for some chairs to sit in. Unfortunately, we didn't blend in very well. Within the first 5 minutes of standing there, the performer on stage came walking out into the crowd, grabbed Carolyn by the hand and attempted to drag her on stage with him as he continued to sing his song. She managed to dodge getting pulled up, but then the young man went for me. Knowing there was no way Carolyn was going up there, I grabbed her hand. She pulled me back to safety.

The excitement and attention didn’t stop there. Some of us happened to know the emcee of the event which made for the perfect opportunity to prank someone by having him called up onto the stage. After we found a place to sit and settled into our seats, we heard the emcee announce that he had a friend he wanted to bring up on stage to share a message with the crowd. I wish you all could’ve seen the look on Seb’s face as he heard his name being called to go up. Playing it cool, he walked up to the stage and immediately invited Connor (the instigator of the setup) to come up, too. With all eyes looking toward him, Connor didn’t have much of a choice. After singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and giving a short message, the guys escaped the limelight. But not without many laughs and some raw footage of the whole experience. At midnight, the fireworks show began. About a minute later they had finished so we all hugged each other, wished one another a happy new year, and waited for the dance floor to open up. It didn't take long for the party to resume, and as soon as the crowd was entirely consumed with dancing, we joined in. Our sweet moves were pathetic in comparison to our Ugandan brothers and sisters who have rhythm flowing in their bones. I'm still praying it will rub off.

The excitement of the new year didn’t end there. Today was a day of firsts and of many deeply treasured memories. Our dear friend and brother Justus generously brought us home a rooster for Christmas! The big bird has been making its home on our compound for the last week and serving as an early morning alarm clock. After today's events, I think we just might be sleeping in tomorrow.

This morning we all went to church and enjoyed lunch with friends. But, when we returned home we began preparing to turn our Christmas present into our New Year’s Day feast. Keep in mind that whether you buy it in a grocery store or prepare it yourself, it all comes from the same animal.

The murder scene

I wouldn't have had the courage to do any of this without Martha's encouragement and Justus' support.
Thank you Lord for the wonderful people you've shared with me!

 The accused, his accomplice, and the victim

 Part of the action... and truly only part of it. I've saved you from some of the more gruesome pictures.

 Fifteen minutes before, that rooster was clucking around.

 I hold his heart in my hand. 

 The finished product

So to celebrate the new year we took our Christmas present and turned into a feast. We invited our dear friends and neighbors, Dorcas and Willis and their family. Together we shared, laughed,enjoyed, and kicked off the new year. 

I am such a lucky girl and am beyond blessed by the people God has so graciously gifted to me as friends. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude that I've been called to such a place as this that I not only get to grow in my relationship with my Lord and experience Him in ways that I never have before, but that I also get to rejoice with such loved friends and share in memories and laughter that will forever remain in my heart.   Praise God.

"Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name." Psalm 103:1

I pray that no matter where you are in the world, no matter what your circumstances are this day, that you would praise the Lord and rejoice anyway.

Happy New Year to you!