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Tragedy in a Place I Love

Disclaimer: the description of the town may not be quite accurate because I don't know exactly what's going on in the streets if Ganthier this week. And you may read this and think I'm being overdramatic, I don't know. I don't think I am.

In the streets of the town I called home for one year, in the bustling busy streets where everywhere you went you were met with a cheerful "Bonswa", there is somewhat of an eerie silence. The boys and girls are not traipsing to school in their gingham uniforms and snazzy hairbows. I wonder if the lady along the road is still frying pates every morning? If she is, I'm sure the conversation of the people waiting for their food is much more serious... I can just hear them getting all fired up about the state their country is in... telling each other about their family's problems and predicting dire futures. I'm sure by now the ladies that sit along the street are running low on vegetables and fruits to sell. There is no crowd sitting under the little shelter waiting for a tap tap to Kwa de Bouke market. There are no young guys sitting on motos, waiting for someone to carry, doubled over laughing at each other's jokes; because, where would they buy gas for their motos? More important, where would they take anyone? The road we traveled so many times by tap tap... our only concern being that we didn't have to perch on some young man's lap... is blocked off by trees and rocks. "Vagabons", bandits, or gang members, refuse to let anyone through. They will take your vehicle at gun or knife point, or if you are a woman, worse.

I know in times like these we think of our missionaries and the fear and uncertainty they face, trapped in a country that is teetering on the brink of disaster. But remember they have freezers full of groceries, probably extra gas for their generators and extra bottles of propane for their stoves. They know they are going home to their luxurious American lifestyle in three years. So pray for them. But even more, pray for the ones that were born into this life. By fate or chance, they were born into a country where they will make do with less than we would dream of settling for. They have been through political uncertainty and endured it before. They scrimp and save to send their children to school for years, all the while knowing that there are so few jobs that most likely their children won't ever use this education. While we buy cars at sixteen, many of them will get around using public transportation their whole lives. While many Mennonite Americans own a house by twenty three and a business by thirty five, they struggle to get jobs and keep them and are thankful for any source of income. They are not lazy. They are willing to work. But unlike us, they cannot just "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" and get ahead.

So pray for the lady who has just lost her husband to another woman, quit her job, and is trying to make her living sewing for others. She needs to get to that Kwa de Bouke market to get supplies, and if she had electricity, maybe she could get an electric sewing machine.

Pray for the guy who works for a butcher... Almost refusing to stay at home even though things are bad. People like him are keeping the country in food. Sneaking around to avoid the vagabonds... Going to their hideout to bargain with them and get back the truck they stole from the business.

Another man took moto Sunday afternoon thru the blocked off road to Ganthier just to get to work for this week. His aunt, probably in her 50s, did the same. They can usually get thru on tap tap for 15 gourdes, or under a dollar. This time they paid 1,000 gourdes to a driver who knows gang members and he paid to get them thru. Now, he and another brother need to get across the same road for a meeting at his new job in Kwa de Bouke tomorrow.

A family is facing sickness... The wife watched her husband become paralyzed by a stroke a month ago. He was making progress with therapy, but now the therapist can't get to their house.

So many ministers Sunday gathered as many of their people together as could come, and tried to give courage to their congregations. A boy of fifteen was baptized... Probably one of the few beautiful things that happened that day.

These are people I know... real situations, not just a struggling nation of strangers. And they are different than us. They aren't obsessed with the future... of making more and more. Yes, they want a better life, but even now when you talk to them, they are thankful for God's protection. They say, "This is my country, and God will take care of me." Sometimes to me it seems like God has forgotten them. If only I could take one vehicle away from every American that has five. If I could gather up the electricity and water we waste in one day, or the food that a restaurant wastes throws away... Dear God, why can't you even things up a bit? Make the world just a tiny bit more fair? There are no answers I know. But please, take a little time to think of them today. Don't forget to pray for them, and don't forget to thank God for what he's given you.

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