Category Archives: Rwanda

The Plan

Ever since my return from Rwanda, I have wanted to take a year off from school. I was sick off the classroom and learning in such a controlled environment. Idid not know, at the time, what this year would look like. Many options were available to me. I could go to another country and work with a missionary who had been there for years. I could do a gap year program with an organization I love very much and travel all over the world. Or I could do something by myself without a set organization or group or even plan.

Through God’s prompting, this last option is what I have decided on. As of now, I am in Maryland on vacation with my family. The day after I get back home, I am headed up to Colorado to work at Camp Kivu for the rest of the summer. I am super excited about that because God always does wonderful things there. This is where I will be doing a lot of mental/spiritual preparation for my trip. I will arrive back home in the middle of August and from then until the beginning of September I will be getting ready for the trip and spending time with friends and family.

So, to the trip itself. On whatever day I leave, I will fly to somewhere in the U.S. (not sure where yet) with a back pack and whatever gear it can hold. Wherever I land, I will begin walking and from there I will see where God takes me. The trip will last the entire school year. That is as far as the planning has gone and I do not anticipate it getting much father along that it already has. I am flexible, in the extreme, in terms of planning this thing.

Though I love writing stories, I know this one is not for me to write. Besides, God is a much better author than I am. He has not shown me any of the actual text yet but He has made it clear that the theme of this story is TRUST. This journey is about trusting Him. Trusting Him to provide health, and shelter, and warmth, and food, and to open up doors to places I have never seen, and to create relationships, and to teach me things about life.

I know I have not written much on here for awhile. I wanted to focus on my last days of high school and boy were they great. Thank You Father! Hopefully, I can put a few more posts on here before I leave. I do not plan on writing much on here during the trip but I will not rule it out if that oppurtunity becomes available. I do plan on keeping a journal during the trip. I hope to share whatever happens to me with whoever wants to hear about it. I am very excited, nervous, and scared. I am almost ready.

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Late Night with Random Thoughts (#2)

It’s 12:34. I can’t fall asleep. My body is exhausted but my mind is in midday stride. I have a test tomorrow that I need to study for but I can’t concentrate on the material so I find myself delivering my thoughts to you.

Just finished reading a book called Tribes by Seth Godin. It’s all about leadership and it’s importance in today’s world of movements and tribes (groups united by a single vision/motive/product). Really enjoyed it and got a lot from it. Need another good read now.

Sometimes I get behind on stuff and it overwhelmes me. It happens with schoolwork. Today, it happened with my room. I was supposed to clean it (we just moved into a new house and are in the process of unpacking boxes) but I didn’t know where to put anything so I just didn’t do anything for awhile. After some time of doing nothing, I felt behind and overwhelmed. My mom gave me some practical/obvious tips and You gave me some much needed encouragement. I was able to get a lot done. I hate being immobilized.

Regarding the new home, it is quite amazing and fits our needs perfectly. It is a lot smaller than our previous behemoth of a house but I like that very much. It forces us to be closer as a family. We can no longer all go into separate corners of the house (all the kids rooms are about five feet away from each other). We have a huge (by East Valley, Arizona standards) backyard with a pool and patio with fireplace. And we have numerous parks and fields in our neighborhood. I love it. Thank You so much!

When someone encourages me, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. I want to give other people that feeling.

Sometime soon, I need to apply to college.

Packers. Ouch! Losing to the previously winless Bucs? They only had to go about ten yards everytime they touched the ball. Our offensive line is stinky.

I’ve been listening to Switchfoot’s new album Hello Hurricane and it is really good. Sound is rocking, anthemic, and ambient. Lyrics are full of hope in the hard times. Really, really like this album!

Wondering, if I had the chance to go back to either Morocco or Rwanda, where would I choose?

Goodnight. I hope I dream about freedom.

This is Rwanda

My friend Joe is really good at making movies. He’s the videographer at K-Colorado and this is one of the videos he made about Rwanda.

What Breaks Your Heart?

I have not been able to write for some time. It was not because I had nothing to write about. Actually, I probably had about ten topics bouncing around in my head that I wanted to be fleshed out on this blog. But every time I tried to write it was like my brain went dead; just shut off on me. I was getting pretty frustrated because I knew I had stuff to say but for some reason the words could not leave my thoughts. I wanted to write about how I felt God was calling me for something big but unknown. I wanted to write about Muslims, Christians, and Jesus. It’s a book by Carl Medearis, a good friend of my Dad and a truly earnest follower of Jesus. I wanted to write about BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker’s latest book. I wanted to write about taking pictures (a newfound hobby of mine), creating things, the end of the school year and many other things. But I just could not get the words out.

Today, I was looking through the different blogs I read regularly and I found an article entitled Turning the Pages to a New Chapter by Luke Parrot. In the article is a really cool speech he wrote. And in his speech he asks a question that that kind of hit me upside the soul. 

What breaks your heart?

brokenheart

The things that break your heart are the very things that feed your passions. What are the things that keep you up at night?  What are the things that disturb you the most?  What do you get most passionate about?  What makes you pound the table?  What puts you on the edge of your seat?” – Luke

So I’ve been thinking about it. What breaks my heart?

When I went to Rwanda and saw so many orphans who would more than likely never know what it feels like to be loved by a father and a mother. That broke my heart. 

Knowing that there are about 150 million orphans in the world I live in. That breaks my heart.

Knowing that something around 25 thousand kids die everyday because of dumb stuff like not having clean drinking water or enough food or clothing or shoes to protect their bodies. That breaks my heart.

I cannot even begin to understand suffering. Oh my gosh!!! I cannot stand being comfortable. It does not bring me joy or intimacy or faith. It provides an escape from the harsh reality that cultivates real, gritty good. Living in comfort breaks my heart.

When kids are treated like dirt because they are poor. That breaks my heart.

When kids are brainwashed and made to kill. That breaks my heart.

When kids are torn away from their innocence and sold into prostitution. That breaks my heart.

When the church is focused on pushing a piece of legislature that will further their agenda rather than focusing on loving the people they are trying to fight. When teenagers are looked at as nothing more than a nuisance. When family members bicker and fight over stupid stuff. When I do not understand how much God loves me. At the end of movies when they pop the big question and it is “Do you want to move in together?” instead of “Will you marry me?”. When I drive onto the freeway exit and the homeless guy is standing there and I want to talk to him but I cannot because I am too busy and scared. These things break my heart.

“Allow Him to break your heart for the things that break His heart.  And in that brokenness you will find your way.  You will find your path.” – Luke

I hope the things that break my heart are not just “me” things but that they have been put there by God. I think the ultimate thing in life is being a part of what God is doing and I think He has given me the passions that I have so that I can be a part of something that He is doing or is going to do. I just don’t know what it is yet. Maybe it is happening right now!

*official rwanda trip documentary*

way to go joe!

…lingering thoughts

Two overwhelmingly vast thoughts have been lingering in my head for the past year or two. They have been convicting me, seemingly calling me out at the most peculiar times. I am pretty sure that God has strategically placed them in my head so that I might carry out His will, that which is good, pleasing, and perfect. And yet I have been reluctant, timid, and downright scared to go through or even commit to going through with either idea. They’re kind of big.

Rwanda (coupled with two books I’m reading) was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

waterjug

Jug used to carry water in Rwanda.

The first idea stemmed from a conversation that occurred in Institute (something unique to K-Colorado, ask me about it sometime) but also has roots in a well-known Bible story. It’s the story of the rich young ruler. You know the tale? The one where the rich young ruler approaches Jesus and asks what he can do in order to obtain everlasting life. Jesus tells him to obey the commandments and the rich young ruler says that he has. He then wants to know what else he can do. To this, Jesus replies “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

All I remember from the conversation was Andy Braner (Director of K-Colorado) telling a story of a kamper who gave away all his clothes except some jeans and a couple t-shirts. That is all I remember. I do not even know if the miniscule detail that is still lodged in my mind is correct. The kid gave away his clothes. That stuck with me.

These two stories have caused me to question why more people who claim to be followers of Jesus and/or call themselves Christian do not actually follow His teachings literally. Lots of people give to the poor. Lots of people give 10% of their money to God. Lots of people want to be complete but are not willing to give themselves up to reach that goal.

Ever since hearing Andy’s story, I’ve thought to myself “Wow! That would be so cool to live like that. I would not be wrapped up in all my stuff. I would be able to feel God’s arms holding me tight. I would be able to focus all my attention on Him.” I’m sure my actual thoughts were much simpler than that. But the point is that I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to follow Jesus’ teachings but was too scared that I might miss out on something.

The second lingering thought is also deeply rooted in the Bible. It comes from the passage where Jesus sends out the disciples.

He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. “Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of just walking somewhere, not anywhere in particular, with nothing and seeing what kind of predicaments God would put me in. Doesn’t that sound so awesome? I would not have to worry about being comfortable or even providing anything. I would be forced to rely on God for everything. How great would that be? Can you imagine the kind of relation you could have with your Father if you were in that situation?

Most of the time, when an American goes to a third-world country, he returns with a sense of gratefulness. He realizes how much he takes for granted everyday and he becomes thoroughly thankful for all the blessings he has been given by God. He understands how lucky he is to have running water, hot water, drinkable water, a huge house, a nice neighborhood, a good school, more than enough food, an iPod, a computer. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this. It is good to be thankful for sure. But that was not the feeling I was given by Rwanda.

Most of the Rwandan people we encountered had very little in the way of worldly possessions and it did not matter in the slightest. That is just how they live. They have not learned to live without because they never lived with. Their lives are simple and their community is close-knit. They do not have to worry about impressing their neighbors or whether or not they look cool. They just live their lives with one another.

On the way back, I began to realize how meaningless all my so-called “blessings” really are. Whether or not I have enough food or an iPod has absolutely no bearing on whether or not I have an intimate relationship with my Father or the people he has surrounded me with. In fact, I think all my stuff actually hinders my relationships. Instead of having a real, intimate relationship with someone, I settle for a shallow one because it is easier (Facebook anyone?). I spend too much time worrying about how I look or what to eat or what would be easier or quicker. My stuff consumes my mind and gets in the way. I think, logically going along with what Jesus said, the more stuff you give away the more complete you become. Who does not want to be complete? Who is willing to give all their stuff away?

The two books I’m reading are very much relevant and pivotal to the formulation of my two ideas. The first The Places in Between by Rory Stewart is about his trek across Afghanistan. He set off by himself to cross the country, stopping in the villages and relying on the hospitality of the people he encountered. It is a remarkable account. The second book The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne is about “What if people took Jesus’ teachings seriously?” “What if we lived like the disciples of old?” Through his unconventional and very appealing life, he covers a vast array of topics and it might just be my favorite book ever. On the plane ride back someone gave it to me. It is especially relevant after visiting Rwanda. I wish I could do it justice in a description but I cannot. I would definitely recommend both books to anyone.

Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne

Rory Stewart

Rory Stewart

The actual ideas I’ve been talking about were formulated on the plane ride back and some forgotten time afterwards, respectively. the first is this. When my family moves houses, I will give up almost all my stuff. The main stuff being clothing but other stuff will definitely be tossed. I think I’ll keep one days worth of school clothes (khakis and collared shirt), a couple t-shirts, a pair of shorts, a pair of pants, the shoes/equipment needed for sports, and the necessary undergarments. Besides clothing I have no idea what will stay and what will go but I’m pretty sure most of it will go. The point is that I do not need all my stuff. It is just in the way of where I want to be.

The second idea is a bit more radical in my opinion. At some point in time, right now I’m thinking after I graduate (a little over a year), I want to go on a yearlong journey. I, along with three (tentative number) other followers of Jesus will head out on foot with nothing (maybe some stuff to document, maybe not) and we’ll just see what happens. We’ll stay with those who will house us. We’ll eat with those who will feed us. We will rely on God’s provision through other people at times and through supernatural miracles at others. We will literally be in His hands. We will be a walking testimony of the love offered by our Father. We will have no route other than however the Holy Spirit decides to guide us. How great would that be? What an adventure! It would be hard and uncomfortable but that is exactly the point. Following Jesus is the hardest and most rewarding occupation in the world.

These two thoughts have been consuming my mind since I arrived back from Rwanda. I am so glad that God is so good. He provides love and that is what it is all about. If you are at all interested in what I’m doing/thinking or more excitingly want to be a part of it please pray about it please tell me. This is so exciting. This is big.

 

photos from Friend

here are some photos of the trip taken by nate friend. if you want to see more of his work check out his blog. he’s a great photographer. way to go nate! 

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