It’s been a long time since we’ve written on our blog – our apologies for the silence…. It’s been a crazy couple months. It started in April with some security assessments that consumed a lot of Chris’s time and was followed by Chris taking a two week trip to Thailand. (I had a lot of respect for single parents and military families before that trip, but after that trip, I am filled with even more awe for them!) A week after he returned from Thailand, Grandpa and Grandma came for a visit. We had a great time, but the house feels really empty and quiet without them here. Scattered throughout these last couple months have also been three retreats, some difficult farewells and a couple other events, making things here hectic and nonstop since April. And we thought life in Africa was going to be calmer and more laidback!
…So now we are readjusting to “normal” life – whatever that means… though it seems more and more that “normal” here in Jos and Nigeria as a whole is becoming a cause for concern for many of you. Several of you have written asking if we are okay since the latest attack – this past Sunday – at a church in Jos. We are thankfully fine and doing well, and we appreciate the concern and prayers of so many of you.
Things had been quite quiet in Jos for some time, and in many ways I felt myself becoming much more relaxed about things here. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; in some ways I feel like I became, have become, almost removed from things going on here. I have, for the most part, felt pretty safe here. The things that are at the forefront of my mind, the things that cause me the most stress, aren’t about whether a bomb will go off next to me but about how we can help Judah to not scream… the price of cheese… what on earth are we going to have for dinner when I don’t feel like cooking… why the power and internet aren’t working AGAIN… being a better follower of Christ, wife, parent, daughter, friend….
It’s not to say that the violence here doesn’t concern me; it does, and admitting so publically that I don’t think about it tons (unless we hear a truck backfire in a way that too closely resembles an explosion, especially when it echoes off the mountain-like hill next to our home, causing us to suspect that maybe these things affect our psyche more than we have realized) seems, well, almost shallow.
Especially when it so closely impacts the people and country that we have grown to love. Sometimes it’s just easier to slide along, though, and not think about the fact that a bomb went off in a church we once visited. It’s easier not to dwell on the number of people who have lost their lives in a senseless attack, not to think about the innocent children that have been caught in the midst of the violence. It’s survival.
But neither is it the call on our lives of a Savior who beckons us to carry one another’s burdens, to love our enemies, to lay down our lives and pick up the cross to follow Him.
The most recent attack took place close to the home of one of our colleagues. (Warning: This paragraph has some descriptions that, though, not vividly described, I still feel like I should provide some warning that it gives some details of the scene so you can skip over it if you choose.) He went to visit his dad that day and was greeted with bodies and body parts in the street, including those of children. Another co-worker was at the scene of the attack and took pictures (perhaps not advisable or wise), which he showed to Chris. Chris was unaware of what the pictures were and almost threw up as he was confronted with pictures of charred bodies. Please know that I don’t share this to raise alarm or to be sensational; I share it because I am processing this and confronting my own turtle-shell reaction to some of the events here.
But how can I retreat when the city around me is hurting, divided? How can I just go along with my day as if nothing has happened when our friend has witnessed things that will surely haunt his mind for some time? Isn’t there something more than my presence in this nation and surviving parenting toddlers that I should be offering?
I am struggling to answer these questions – and honestly, sometimes, often, not struggling enough. A guy I used to go to church with in the States wrote a worship song, the refrain of which echoes in my mind: “Break my heart with the things that break Yours. Break my heart and make it like Yours….”
I know that the violence in this city breaks the heart of God; maybe it’s time that I allow it to break my heart, too, instead of being so bent on protecting it. We would covet your prayers for us – and for this nation – as we grapple with these questions and more, as we try to strike that balance (Is there such a thing??) between living in a culture, being incarnational, yet not becoming so heavy laden that we become frozen, immoblizied, ineffective to serve our own family (Does that make sense?).
Thank you for “listening” and letting us share some of the things that aren’t always so pretty to confront – and we will try not to be silent for so long!