The Raw Version

There are two sides to every story. For me, there’s the “pre-processing and the post-processing” side. Usually I write in the middle and then tweak at the end of my emotional “journey”. So the stuff you read in the blog is usually pretty tamed. Well, this last bush trip I wrote little notes the whole time on my iPhone. Reading over them at the end I decided- it’s a war zone, let’s be real people. Probably one of the hardest atmosphere’s I’ve ever been to, it’s not always pretty and doesn’t always feel nice.

So let’s experiment…. iPhone cliff notes turned blog, unedited…kinda//

The Ramblings of a Blonde Missionary in a Rebel Held Village:

I feel like my emotions are a petty yo-yo game. Up and down, up and down. “Jesus is transforming this place!!” I giggle and laugh and kiss a baby’s cheeks. And then I hear a war story and another and another. “Blows to the head, blood pouring down… They stole our money, their food, her purity!”

Talking to so many people, family and dear friends, they think this is normal. “What can I do, isn’t this just how life is?” They think the whole world has war. Runs for their lives every couple weeks and counts the days they aren’t raped as “blessed days”. “Blessed days” where the joy comes easy. Joy here is so often a choice. Though the moment it takes you over, very few things can compare and those moments- they override any graphic story. No matter how painful. Up and down… up and down.

On the road we cross from “rebel territory” to “rebel held territory” two very different feelings. No more than 30 seconds and we’re stopped by soldiers and asked for money. For cigarettes. I smile and my emotions play this silly game again. Refusing to partner with fear I choose heaven’s joy and ask the rebels their names and rather than stealing from us, how about we’ll give you some prayer instead?

They find me amusing but time wasting and let us pass.

We arrive in the village but things are different, rather than our usual greeting and everyone rushing the car screaming “Sandra, Sandra!” It’s quiet. I’ve heard people say "The loudest sound of war is the silence"

I would agree.

Sometimes it’s the silence of 1/3 of a village that’s fled to the bush to hide another attack.

Other times it’s the break from the guns. The hush of anticipation in the unknown of what to come.

And sometimes, it’s the silence of the 1st world. Hearing about another child soldier or raped girl and agreeing with the mindset that “That’s normal. What can I do?”

Here, silence speaks.

War is such a reality in front of us. It’s not a BBC story but it’s Bahati’s story. It’s Maria’s. And passivity means another generation not knowing peace. Another people group accepting rape as a part of a culture.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a dear Pastor in northern California- “Safety is not found in the absence of danger, but in the presence of Jesus” (Bill Johnson- course) Well, from a meeting with a war lord- I attest to that.

An army general came to our house today demanding answers. Who are we and what are we doing!? Probably more surprised to see us than anything. Suddenly we’re guests in our own home. He demands money for our safety. “You never know what could happen in the night…”

This sounds more like a threat than a cautionary warning. He explains his case: “Some people call us rebels. But we are not rebels, we are liberators. And me- I am not a soldier. But a politician.”

Haha. Looking at this man’s eyes, I ask papa a question I’ve asked him many times before: “How do see this ‘politician’? What do you say about who he is?” I can’t tell you how much this helped the situation. And because it’s not my first time going over God’s opinions of “liberators” it didn’t seem like the odd situation it probably was. Sitting there on a wooden bench I couldn’t help but smile. I smile that I’m a daughter. That I’m sitting with my papa and hearing him whisper how he wants this man as his son. Though my life lay open for negotiations, I feel like I’ve won. As we wrap up the impromptu “meeting”, we pray for the general and his men and I feel like the luckiest girl. Not only that we’re alive, but I bet he hasn’t had someone sit and pray over him and call out who he was created to be in a while! When they leave our house my staff and I burst into awkward laughter. So… haha. As great as that was, let’s try to avoid that in the future? Not the meetings with rebels part- but the negotiations I can live without.

I’m put under house arrest for the rest of the afternoon, as it’s something- though a small thing, that I think makes the men on my team feel more in control.

Sometimes I feel frustrated. Frustrated I can’t convey the reality of life here properly. Of how real war is and how horrible little boys with rocket launchers look or the emotions lost in the deep pools of a little girl’s eyes who lives as a sex slave for a soldier.

I know the 3rd world sob stories. And that’s not what I want to do.

I want to be a voice for my friends here. And take you on a journey of what it looks like to enter a war zone and dream for transformation. From deep behind the lines, where most people fear to tread, and show papa’s goodness even among some of the worst horror stories you can imagine.

Because no matter what happens, I’ve seen it and lived it and He's still good. And still loves. And still wins.