Unexpected Valleys

It was a beautiful sunny day. I had already driven Moses and 5 other missionary kids to school in the morning, and I was on a walk with a friend. We decided to take the “country” path, down a dirt road, that was nonetheless highly populated. I was looking forward to our time together, and was about to ask her advice about one of our children when I felt a hand in my pocket, and I turned in time to see a young man running off with my phone, descending down a twisty path. As Caleb reminded me later, “it’s only a phone” (and a pretty old one at that), but my adrenaline kicked in. I ran down the path after him, shouting “robber” in Kinyarwanda, but was unable to catch up. I spoke with people in the neighborhood and they were sympathetic, but the situation seemed pretty hopeless. My friend and I walked back to her house, and with the FindmyiPhone website managed to do exactly that: find my iPhone. Caleb came, and with some help from some eager security guards, we tracked down the phone, first in a small house, and then it seemed it was turned off. The signal came back again and the phone was found buried in a hole, presumably to be retrieved later. In the meantime, we had asked many people to pray for us; we also remembered two important guidelines for getting something done in Rwanda-never lose your cool, but don’t leave the situation. Once we found the phone, we had a moment of prayer and thanksgiving with the many bystanders and everyone was relieved, including the local community leader. The thief was never identified; hopefully they found the incident discouraging, at least. One day perhaps he will be found. We always try to remember that Rwandans are victims of theft far more often than are foreigners, and they have fewer resources with which to recover.

The suddenness of this incident reminded me of a sermon I once read by Rick Warren, entitled “God’s Antidote to the Valleys”. He lists five characteristics of Dark Valleys-Inevitable, Temporary, Purposeful, Impartial, and…Unpredictable. It was the unpredictability of the theft that took me by surprise. One moment I was having an important conversation with a friend, the next I felt violated, afraid, and angry. We have had a couple of unfortunate incidents in the missionary community recently: a teacher who was hit by a car and had multiple facial fractures, requiring evacuation and surgery in the UK; another teacher, pregnant, who developed pre-eclampsia, and made it back to the US, but her baby, born prematurely, died shortly after birth. These were all sudden incidents, that leave one asking Why? This subject has been tackled by many books, and also is dealt with well by Rick Warren in the aforementioned sermon. Rick Warren’s  point I most appreciated was that there is no Shadow without Light. The challenge is to focus on the Light of the World, instead of the Shadow.

On a lighter note, these 2 cuties found me in Musanze recently, walking home from school. They are both orphans, whom we send to one of the better schools in Musanze. Thanks to all who make it possible for us to sponsor them.

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