"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


pilgrim through this barren land

It's my last day in Goma. So strange to be leaving. I've been running around nonstop for the last two days, and today won't be terribly different. The Other Diplomat got on a plane this afternoon and the gang is all going out for fondue at Doga tonight and tomorrow I will cross the border and that will be it. My original plan was to go straight to Kigali tomorrow morning, but Human Rights Nick offered me a ride early Sunday and since that's free, I'm crossing to Gisenyi tomorrow, staying there overnight, and riding up to Kig on Sunday. Then it's a few good-byes in town and a trip to Amahoro ava Hejuru and off to Kampala Monday night. Then Tuesday rafting the source of the Nile, Wednesday shopping in Kampala, and conducting the last interview on Thursday. By this time next Friday I'll be in London.

I'm so ready to go, and yet it's sad to say good-bye. That's most of what The Other Diplomat and I have been doing - she wanted to meet my contacts and I needed to tell them all good-bye, so we've made the rounds at DOCS and with the Baptists and the NGO's and the grocery stores and the market and the dressmakers'. DOCS was the saddest -- Dr. L. told me that I have become part of their family, that I am Congolese -- but somehow I know I'll be back. Probably many times.

When I first arrived in Goma, I talked with a pastor from Minnesota about his interest in and commitment to Africa. His eighteen-year-old daughter is spending this year in the Kibera slums of Nairobi. He talked about her experiences, how hard it is, and yet how happy she is to be living there with people who suffer, learning from and with them, and helping to make things better. He said, you know, there's something that World Vision says in some of their stuff: "Let your heart be broken by the things that break God's heart."

Dr. Doug asked The Other Diplomat and I the other night if things will ever really change here. I'm not sure what kind of answer he wanted, but I told him that when you look at it all, it's so terrible, but that you ultimately have the choice to despair or to hope. Despair is the easier choice, and frankly it's probably more realistic. The Congo is beyond fixing. Too many people don't want peace. I don't believe that the elections are going to change anything. And deep down I know that most people back home don't give a flip about the suffering of 56 million people who live in the hell that is central Africa.

But if your heart is broken like Lyn's is broken, and like C and E's are broken, and like the Baptists' are broken, and like Dr. Amman's is broken, and like my heart is broken at the utter awfulness of it all, what choice do you have? What it all comes down to is that you have to hope. You have to. You have to believe that God has not forgotten these people despite what often looks like overwhelming evidence to the contrary. You have to believe that the people around you can learn to solve their own problems. You have to believe in yourself and your capacity to use your gifts to serve, to help, and to live. You have to believe, as Paul Tillich put it, that love is stronger than death, that hope is stronger than despair, and that it is worth the sacrifice of your security and your time and your ability to ignore it all to live among the suffering, to let your heart be broken, and to find a way for the truth of the eastern Congo to set you free.


Blogger SpookyRach said...

Another beautiful post. Hope is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 9:32:00 AM


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