Tonight I’m writing myself a letter. A letter so I can remember all the moments that wove this trip into the tailspin, up-and-down, haunting, exceptional adventure it’s been.Here it goes.
Aliza Naomi Latta,
Do not be one of those people who go away and come home changed without really being changed. Africa has changed you. Canada now seems selfish and arrogant and appealing and wonderful. Do not go home and go back to the same judgmental girl you were before. Take shorter showers. Talk kinder. Love deeper. Invest in your relationships. Listen. I mean, really listen. Remember the times in the day camp when you wanted to scream because no one understood what you were trying to say? Be thankful that communication will come easy.
Treasure your amazing friends, your incredible family and your support system. Where your treasure is there your heart lies also.
Remember how you saw Jesus in everything, everywhere you went. Find him in Canada. Find him in the beauty. Find him in the destruction. Find him in the excitement. Find him in the normal, boring, average, every day things. Don’t go home to Canada and get submerged in all the things you haven’t had here that are sure to distract you. You get distracted very easily, Aliza. Keep your eyes on Jesus. It was easy to keep focused on him here because he seemed to be everywhere. It’s harder to see him in Canada because there is so much stuff keeping him away. Push that all away, Aliza, and keep focused on the One who is, the One who was, and the One who is to come. He will never leave you. He has and will continue to give you strength. He has supplied you with patience. (Though you should probably ask him for more since you seem to be lacking it recently.)
Don’t ever forget the passion, zeal and anger you felt while in the refugee camp. This passion stems into action. Don’t allow feeling foolish to keep you from doing the bold thing, the right thing. Remember how you learned that the right thing sometimes seems foolish to those around you, but to keep doing the right thing because God has made it clear to you that it is the only thing to do.
Your faith may waver in Canada. Remember the children from the day camp - the kids who praised Jesus with every ounce of their skinny bodies. Remember how you prayed for even a portion of the faith that they have. Pursue this faith. Trust and know that the Bible is 100% truth, and that miracles are powerful and true and real, even when it feels stupid and unrealistic when surrounded by this overwhelming world.
Tell your stories to the world. It’s now your responsibility to tell people what you saw and heard and experienced. You are not allowed to keep quiet. You must tell people, because if they are never told, how are they supposed to help with the change? Make it clear to people that they are a huge part of this change, even if they make one small step. Aliza, you yourself realized that if everyone makes one small step, something will have been changed. Even a small change is a change, and it will be much better then it was before.
Don’t ever sugarcoat anything ever again. You will be tempted to only remember the good times, the easy times, the high’s that made you feel like you could spin around in a field with daisies in your hair. Stop it. Remember the hard times. Remember the times you felt as though anger was literally surging through your veins because electricity wasn’t in the refugee camp. Or in town when people were yelling “muzungu” at you and all you wanted was just to blend in. Or how sad you felt when you were walking up the steep, rocky mountain in the village with the children to get their water. Remember how blessed you felt when the pastor prayed and said how he felt as though he was entertaining angels. Remember feeling Jesus kneeling beside you as you painted the nails of the ubuzima women. Remember the victorious feeling you felt when you directed your moto driver where you wanted to go for the first time. Or when you negotiated your way in the artisan shops and got a fantastic deal. (Or at least what you thought was a fantastic deal.) Remember how frustrated you felt when the wedding was not starting anywhere near on time. Remember the snuggles you had with baby Kezzy and baby Erica. Remember the hands of Appolonaire, Nshuti, Valance, Democracy, and Jean Claude. Remember the eyes of Nathalie. Remember listening to Sincere harmonize. Remember Mama Deborah’s smile. Remember Malita’s and Francine’s and Judith’s and Consulate’s hugs. Remember Noella’s story and incredible, strong spirit.
Remember feeling like you have the power to make a difference, because you do.
This is just a glimpse of what the past two months have been for you. Aliza, do not forget even one moment. Read your journal, go through your photos. And don’t forget to love. Because if you only remember one thing from Rwanda, remember to simply love..