Thursday, April 22, 2010

Char's favorite fruit and vegetable stand

Sorry to have been so long without a blog entry.

The rains are returning, a welcome relief from the months of dryness and the days and nights of sweltering heat that builds prior to the arrival of the rainy season. The fields are usually full of farmers at this time, out working together to prepare for planting as the rains begin. It is a truly beautiful sight to wonder at as huge expanses take on the texture of orderly rows of freshly mounded earth, all done by hand, weaving around jumbles of boulders and lone trees left for a bit of shelter.

But this year the ongoing tension and violence in the area have many afraid to leave the security of the villages. In January another major crisis hit Jos and surrounding villages, soon followed by another major episode of violence in a nearby village. There have been ongoing flares of violence continuing through to the present, with victims frequently brought to the hospital and the villages near where we work feeling very much at risk.

As members of a peace church it feels like there is something we should be able to say or do to help respond to what is happening. In the face of the anguish being experienced around us, any small encouragements we might make for peace seem at best puny and inadequate in the face of these complex forces at play, and at worst the disrespectful intrusion of an outsider. We can only pray for safety and peace alongside our friends and colleagues, listen to their stories, and always rejoice with them when we hear stories of hope, believing that we are all a part of God’s creation and that most want the same peace for their families to thrive. Although this conflict is playing out along religious lines, it is really a conflict based in poverty and the difficulties involved in uniting a country with over 250 ethnic groups while still recognizing the strength of diversity that exists in Nigeria. It is our fervent prayer that in our global communities, religion will realize its potential as a vehicle for God’s power of peace and reconciliation, rather than as a tool for human’s power over each other.

We enjoy many aspects of our life here, particularly our friendships, work, and work colleagues that nourish us and form the foundation of our being here. The ongoing conflict and safety concerns have made it difficult for us as a family to focus on the reasons that brought us here, even though we strive to not let these factors define our understanding and experience of the rich and varied life we lead here in Nigeria. For the past month we have been trying to discern what is best for our family in these circumstances, wanting to also honour the relationships and work commitments to those we live alongside. Although we had tried to work out a way for our family to continue here longer in some modified way, we were not able to come to a mutually acceptable solution with our mission organization. So we have made the very difficult decision that our family will return to Canada this summer, earlier than our planned return of the following summer.

We are hoping to spend the following weeks working towards as healthy a closure as we can achieve with work responsibilities and relationships, focusing on the positive aspects of our time here as well as preparing for our transition back to life in Winnipeg. We are thankful for the opportunity to have come here to learn and share alongside the many wonderful friends and colleagues we have been privileged to meet. We are also thankful for the health and safety of our family through our time here.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this transition.