We finally shut the door of our new room. Our first Sunday in Kakata, September 18th, had seemingly been ruined, yet somehow it was redeemed. We no longer had our overly spacious house that we had already envisioned ourselves living in over the next year. Rather, we had a modest single room with a bathroom, a bed, a table, and our stuff cluttered all around in suitcases.
It was just Anna and I, and for a moment neither of us knew what to say. It was the first time in several hours that we were alone together, that we could catch our breathe. There was so much to process. The good, the bad, and the ugly events of the day were all at once floating down the hard-roaring rapids of my consciousness. However, the one thing that kept coming down stream over and over were vivid pictures from earlier in the day of the loving and caring people that surround us here at our school, Booker Washington Institute (BWI). The Sunday we arrived home from church to discover that our house was burglarized was the same Sunday that our BWI community became our BWI family.
The BWI community came from all directions to visit us, investigate with us, talk with us, comfort us, and lead us. 30 minutes earlier Anna and I had found our bedroom door inched open with its handle, and all its screws strewn on the floor. We stayed together, our hearts racing, while we checked the rest of the house to make sure that whoever was there, was no longer. There were things missing, but the feeling of being violated was worse than any lost material items.
The BWI community, quickly becoming our family, came in waves throughout the afternoon. In each person’s face we could see that they were genuinely concerned. They wanted us to be safe, to feel safe, and to know that this crook doesn’t represent the true identity of the Liberian people. It was decided that moving us to the guest house within the main campus boundaries and in close proximity to more people was paramount to our security. So, even more of our BWI family came to help us pack up our things and move. Throughout the process the expressions on their faces spoke to how deeply hurt and embarrassed they were for their school and community, but their actions spoke to a deeper and greater purpose for this event: all things can be used for a better purpose…for God’s purpose.
No I am not saying that “everything happens for a reason”–that is a cliche that is too often an unthoughtful, knee-jerk attempt at consoling someone who is strangling within the grip of struggle. It has been used over and over again in history, but often results in passivity and inaction on the part of the consoler.
What I really mean to say is that sometimes bad things happen and no, it’s not always built into a beautiful plan which has everything happening for a reason. Sometimes bad things really do just happen. But, ALL THINGS–bad things included–can be used for God’s Will. It’s up to us. It’s a decision we make everyday. Am I going to sulk over it; am I going to just ignore it and move on; am i going to let this be a dominating factor that affects my opinion of a new culture and defines my year of development work in Liberia; or, am I going to reflect on it, learn from it, and turn it into something almost unimaginably greater than most ever thought it could be? In the midst of our troubled times, Anna and I chose to focus on our newly found BWI family. A family so full of love that had only known us for three days, yet demonstrated to us the deeply rooted value of hospitality here in Liberia. A family revealed to us only by the events of a seemingly bad Sunday (9/18/16).
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.