Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blessing My House

I know that Liz and I have written about this topic before, but it is still something I am trying to learn from and it is still something that on occasion blows my mind. On Monday of this week our headmaster, Marwa Lucas invited us to his house. We have never been there before and he and his wife have never hosted us. In his words, he wanted us to come for a dinner or celebration to see his home for the first time, not to only come when there is a problem to discuss. The understanding here is that to have visitors at your house means that your house is blessed. It is an amazing understanding of having company that the harried, hurried hosts I “occasionally” see in American can learn from. The understanding that having company means there are people that care about you and that having an unexpected guest show up is something to fix with an extra chair, not exclamations. It is a breath easy approach to things that I hope to learn from and keep with me the rest of my life.

The night went exceptionally well, the food was good, there was plenty of soda, and the group spoke an interesting mixture of English, Swahili, and Kuria (the tribal language), a mix that made the long, weaving discussion on religion all that more interesting. Unfortunately for our host, the part of the evening that most stands out in my mind was not planned and did not happen at his house. We called a taxi to get to Lucas’ house because of the rain, and because none of us were exactly sure where his house was. On the way there we had our taxi driver call Lucas to get directions. We pulled up to the house and were warmly greeted by the lady of the house. We spent a little time haggling with our taxi driver over the price (always an interesting conversation these days thanks to gas prices) and then entered the house. Our host offered us seats and warm tea, freshly prepared. It appeared as if we were the first ones to show up, only slightly odd considering we were late. We then started looking around the house as our host went to get the family to make introductions. It was while she was gone that we started looking at the family pictures on the wall. When she returned we asked her, out of growing curiosity, who owned the house. It is not an easy name to pronounce, but more importantly it was not our headmaster.

You would think that she would have asked why these strangers had randomly shown up at her house when we pulled up. Surely she would not have welcomed random strangers into the house, offered them tea, and then introduced them to her family, but that is what she did. Surely she would have asked us to leave, or allowed us to leave when we learned of our mistake, but she did not. She wanted us to stay, finish our tea, and then her husband drove us to our headmaster’s house (the guy that was actually expecting us). She knew that we were not supposed to be there, but (as she explained) our job as Christians is to host those that come seeking hospitality, it is up to God to figure out why they are there. Amen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Other Side of the Coin

There is nothing more special than sharing your life with those whom you love the most. A month ago, my father, Rev. Bill Buchanan, and brother, Matt Buchanan, arrived in Tarime to experience with me what God has been tugging at my heart to do for many years. For the past 24 years, my brother and I have lovingly and supportively stood by my father as he followed wherever God led him to be. It led our family first to New Orleans where he received his Masters of Divinity. Then, we moved to Tironza and then to Parkin as he served churches and took more seminary classes. From there we moved to Perryville, Arkansas where we experienced eight happy and sad years together among a church family where we grew to love and follow Christ more closely. Perryville is where my brother and I learned to ride bicycles and later drive cars. My brother graduated high school and I learned the value of friendship with not only people but animals and the rest of the world through our involvement with Heifer International. Perryville is also where my mother lost her battle with cancer. Our journey, both physically and spiritually did not end there for our family. My father and I moved to Conway where I graduated high school. After high school, we all kind of went our separate ways. My brother got married, my father got married, then I got married! Through everything, we have been a family and will always be a family. I will always cherish the Christmas Eve family parties and the Summer birthday bash, even though I will not be attending either this year.

For the first time in all of our lives, we came together to experience life in a new way. My father and brother travelled here, 8,000 miles away from their wives, children, jobs…everything. They were finally able to share in my ministry as I had shared in my dad’s ministry and my brother’s life. There was some part of me that needed my father and my brother to accept and approve of what Eric and I are doing. I needed them to be at peace with us not living in America with them.
They and the team accomplished many things while they were here. First thing on Sunday morning, my father, along with Eric, baptized over 45 children and adults. It was a site to see and experience! Mark Schnarr, dad, and Matt were able to finish all four walls of a hostel that we will use for the school. Then, they donated the rest of the funds to finish it! Betsy Hayes, Mary Newhart, and Kristine Schnarr loved on and played with 15 kindergarteners every morning teaching them “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” The kids are still asking about when they are coming back to teach them more songs. In the afternoons, the team would go out to Angel House and help tutor the kids that are unfortunately falling behind in their studies. They made flash cards and taught them fun games about learning. Among many of the things they accomplished was the simple love that they shared with so many people. They spread the love of Christ among children, youth, and adults. Most of all, they experienced life in a new way. They experienced Christ as the one who gives Life.  

All of us here at Angel House and Angel Secondary thank these six wonderful people for coming to experience Christ in a new way. I thank my father and brother for coming here to experience my life, my family, and my calling into the ministry. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Odd Things We Take For Granted

There are things in America that we take for granted and we do not even realize it until they are no longer available. Plain white socks are some of those items. They are needed on a daily basis because every school requires students to wear them as part of the uniform. The quality of socks in Tarime compared to those found in America is like comparing the knockoff brand of your favorite food with the real, organic, fresh flavor of the name brand.

Last summer my step mother, Linda, organized a sock drive in the office where she works. They were able to collect over 200 pairs of white socks for our kids. Over the past eight months, we have carefully spread them out amongst the 50 children to make sure they last. Each child has been given two pairs of socks every so often to keep their wardrobe stocked.

We would like to say thank you to Linda and her coworkers for collecting so many pairs of socks that they have been able to last these past eight months. The children are grateful and our budget is grateful.