Monday, June 28, 2010

Why not me?

One of the books that was recommended to me over and over again after Bob's death is called a Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser, written by a man who lost his wife, mother, and daughter in a car accident, in which he and his other three children survived. While I found this book difficult to read in the first few weeks, since then I have read it several times and have found it very helpful. One of the chapters is entitled, Why not me?

Too often, when something bad happens, we wonder, "why me?" I have certainly spent some time there, wondering why Bob was taken. However, as I have alluded to in several blog entries, living in Africa doesn't allow me to stay in that place very long. "Why not me?" seems to be a more much appropriate question. With all the suffering in the world, with all the wars and killings, natural disasters, accidents, not to mention sickness, divorce, unemployment, and so many other tragedies and difficulties, who am I to think that I can go through life without loss?

The fact that I lost Bob unexpectedly at a young age (although he certainly met or exceeded the life expectancy of people in most West African countries) hardly qualifies me for coming to know a side of life that the most people around the world know far better. I still have a life of relative comfort. My children are healthy, will finish high school and go to college. I am still American, white, employed, well loved, and part of a community that has lavished me with support.

What I like about this chapter is that the author goes on to state that he wasn't so sure that he deserved having those loved ones in the first place. He says, "Perhaps I didn't deserve their death; but I did not deserve their presence in my life either. On the face of it, living in a perfectly fair world appeals to me. But deeper reflection makes me wonder. In such a world I might never experience tragedy; but neither would I experience grace, especially as the grace God gave me in the form of the three wonderful people whom I lost...The problem of expecting to live in a perfectly fair world is that there is no grace in that world, for grace is grace only when it is undeserved" (pg. 126-127). A fair world is a scary thought. Who would dare to want to live there, knowing their sinful selves?

Thank God for mercy (not getting what we deserve). Thank God for grace (getting what we don't deserve).

I know that at the age of 21, when we got married, I didn't know who I was, who God was, and certainly not who Bob was. The fact that we had a good marriage, were able to have two healthy children, were united in following multiple calls from God to do radical things like moving with two small children to the inner-city, losing a solid job to send our children to a closing school, moving to Liberia, then to Ghana...cannot be attributed to my good sense. What a cause for celebration!!

Now, don't get me wrong. I still feel sorry for myself and get angry and wonder how I'll go on. But deep inside I know there is this truth.

I am now in Liberia and will be traveling to Cote d'Ivoire on Wednesday. The day I left Ghana we celebrated the first SME graduation with Hopeline Institute. The picture of the group is below. I was also able to watch the game between Ghana and the US on Saturday and celebrated with West Africa (and actually all of Africa) the success of the Black Stars into the Quarter Finals of the Fifa World Cup. Go Ghana!


On Thursday, we traveled to a new county office in Grand Cape Mount County - we are now in six counties! This is a picture of the building as well as the new jeep that LEAD was given by USADF. We thank God for His provision and the partners that allow for this progress to take place.

The purpose of the trip was to get some uninterrupted meeting time with Allen (in white), the National Director for LEAD and Moses, the Finance Officer (in yellow), as well as to deliver a new safe to this county office. In this picture, the Education Coordinator is being given the passcode, while the Program Manager has the key. Many safety nets are put in place when working with money.
After the training on how to use the safe, the Grand Cape Mount staff present Allen with a gift of a chicken. Yum!

1 comment:

Elizabeth Jansen van Vuuren said...

Dear Renita

I've thought of longer and more detailed responses to several of your recent blogs, but didn't manage to get them down. So,a brief summary. I very much appreciate your (and your children's) postings about your life and work and often find them a source of valuable perspectives.

How very true that we (me, you, most of your readers probably) are blessed in many ways which we don't get around to being grateful enough for. Your 'manifesto' as to why you choose to live in Africa gave me a much better understanding of you, and you express the value of a people-connected life, dealing with the big issues of existence, so well. Finally your explanation of LEAD's work, and how you link spirituality and business was fascinating and some solid food for thought. All the best with your many challenges, may there be many joys along the way.
Elizabeth