“Keep your eyes open for ways you can know support,” my counselor concluded our Skype session. We had been talking about the big and little challenges of life and work here in Beni, where days are long, needs are many, and resources are short. “Keep your eyes open.” And so I did.
On Saturday, during coffee and crepes, a young friend encouraged me to reach out to another friend who, two years ago, had been a source of encouragement.
On Sunday, UCBC alumni visited graduating student Pascal, whose parents had died within hours of each other just four days before. They joined him to pray with and comfort him. They also went with a gift: a substantial collection of their own money to pay for his final tuition and fees at UCBC.
On Monday I laughed and cried with a friend from my US church, All Saints Episcopal (New Albany, OH) during a WhatsApp/Skype combo call. We updated each other on life and family and exchanged prayer requests. She shared news of the church and news of a large financial gift to help me buy a car here in Beni.
On Tuesday, our cat Edith greeted me at the gate with a look of, “Well, it’s good to see you!” As I walked to the house, I looked up into the tree in our front yard to discover it laden with Marie, a tart, pear-shaped fruit of lovely, rose color. We will be enjoying this treat for the next couple of weeks.
Wednesday, a FaceTime call with one of my daughters started the day and brought a smile to my face.
Thursday morning, a brief conversation with a UCBC teacher sent a shiver of joy through me as we talked about his love of teaching. Later that day I sat with teachers from the Theology faculty and a group of their students during an “orientation” session for their May courses. The pilot is a first step, and exciting step of needed change in course scheduling.
Friday, I walked into chapel near the end to see students listening intently to a small panel of alumni. The topic: experiences of grace at UCBC.
Sure, there were plenty of disappointments and heartaches last week. A colleague’s wife lost a family member—the third death in her family in two months. A dear friend received disappointing news from a Masters program to which she applied. Friday’s work schedule was completely upended, swallowing the four hours I had planned for strategic planning. News of misguided and potentially harmful care of another colleague’s newborn and wife worried me. But then life here is shortwave. Joy and suffering, life and death race each other in tight circles, barely giving one time to savor the delights or fully grieve the losses. All the more reason to “keep your eyes open.”