I'm sitting in a bright red chair, looking down fondly at my cafe' latte, trying ever so carefully not to devour it like an over zealous 8 yr old ripping into birthday cake. Patience Jess, no one is plotting to steal your coffee. An opportunity arose for our team to get a few days rest in neighboring Rwanda. Transportation from DRC to Kigali is cheap and easy, so we decided it was a precious gift from Jesus and hopped on a bus with plans to intentionally rest before we gear up for another trip into the red zone next week. Kigali isn't DRC and it hit me like a ton of bricks about 2.5 seconds after I stepped into a shower with hot water flowing out of something I think I remember is called a shower head. (I'm only sure of this because I had a discussion with my teammate on the appropriate noun to use, funny the things you forget after 2 months of bucket showers)
As I left this morning to rest, Kim, our dear team leader and possibly one of the purest hearts in the entire world, politely asked, "Jess spend time taking care of your heart today."
So here we are back to the beginning, a hot cup of coffee in hand, journal and pen ready for writing, worship music soothing my Spirit through my head phones, and I'm working my way through the realities of the condition of my heart.
Congo has been eye opening, life changing, inspiring, tragic, and about a thousand other adjectives I honestly just don't feel like listing at this moment. Some of these adjectives are in such direct contrast to each other it's not shocking that JRI requires trauma counseling upon reentry into the developed world. How do you explain that you've felt God more closely, heard Him more clearly, and seen Him work more mightily than ever before during the same span of time that you've seen, heard, and experienced the greatest tragedy, trauma, and heartache?
My heart is excited, passionate, ablaze, madly in love, overwhelmed with joy and so grateful. In DRC I wake up everyday with a big smile on my face beyond thankful. Thankful for another day to do what Jesus did. A day to love the hurting, pray for the sick, cast out demons, have faith that justice will rise and war will end. Sometimes I'm just thankful to be alive to see another day after a night of gunshots and screams piercing through the sleep that my body so often is begging for. Even on those mornings I arise with praises with the words our team is so fond of... "I love my life". No matter the circumstances of the day, in life or death, in peace or war, in highs or lows, being persecuted or being honored, seeing tragedy or seeing miracles, I really really love my life.
Perhaps I should remind you that I still have moments where I stop and think, WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING? Usually that comes about five minutes after some insane craziness. Maybe it's after we had the discussion about going to minister to a tribe that may decide to kill us, or after the immigration officer interrogated me with a look in his eyes that sent a chill down my spine, or the time kim decided we should go to the house of the man who a few hours earlier was yelling death threats while preparing to stone us,... Maybe one of those moments or the hundred others that when I reflect upon them my flesh yells, "WHAT ABOUT ME?" I'm reminded then of what Heidi Baker said to Kim as God was calling her to Congo, "Kim your flesh will never want to live in a war zone".
So maybe that's just it. There are days my flesh is screaming for normalcy. Hot showers, coffee, peaceful nights, a day without watching your back, or hearing every third person yell, "MIZUNGOOOO!" Times my heart is so broken and so moved to compassion by the child that is way too young to experience the trauma they're enduring that no person should ever have to endure. Times when I want to sit next to a good friend, sip coffee, and cry. But the truth is the majority of the time Holy Spirit is winning the battle of my emotions even though it doesn't make sense to my head. My heart though moved and stirred says, "this is the great commission, this is love, you were made for this"
So how's my heart? It's exploring evident contradictions in adjectives, but it's smiling. It's smiling big.
Thank you for being patient with me on keeping you updated, it will be easier once I return. I've spent some time trying to respond to emails, questions, and admin tasks. As I look at the next few months my heart is FULL OF JOY. I am thrilled as I look at doors God is opening for me personally and for Rural-Awakening. So humbled by invitations to do some speaking in the states and can't wait to get those completely scheduled, eager for upcoming trips with our team to Haiti, Slovakia, possibly returning to DRC, and a few other potentials, and couldn't be more pumped to have RA partner with JRI to accomplish some projects in DRC and Kenya. God has great things in store, life with Him is never dull. I will be taking a few days rest upon my return to allow my body to be rejuvenated, enjoy time with friends, process my heart with Jesus, and then be back in full force! Be blessed, J. Tate
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