Kiwewe is a very small congregation that spent a lot of time meeting in hiding—when the war was at its height, most of the residents were off living in the bush in hiding. And I do mean the bush—whatever wilderness you’re envisioning when I say “bush”—you’re probably not far off. Very little food, no clean water, no shelter. So this community, while living out in the bush, decided to meet as a church while in hiding garnered a lot of notice from other people who were also hiding, not all of it happy (people did not want the fledgling church to draw the attention of the rebels).
Now that they are meeting as a “church-proper”, their building still consists of some timbers holding up a thatch roof. This community absolutely stole my heart—such a small congregation, a small group of devoted women (9 or 10), and such a strong devotion to community, God, and improving the future. It reminded me a lot of my own wacky, unconventional, small-but-strong church-home at home—Lockerbie Central UMC. As I listened to their stories, I felt that a piece of me will always stay with Kiwewe, “the little church that could”.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to spread your “compassion”, both in Africa and as a therapist back in America. You hear so many stories and see so many needs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and fatigued with your own smallness. The only solution I have found for this is to trust your gut (or your heart/soul, whatever you want to call it), and when you feel that pull of a need or a patient or a community that is speaking to you—hold fast to it. We are only human and we cannot do everything. Feeling as if we should do everything often leaves us paralyzed into doing nothing. (Terror management theory, anyone?) So while I have seen so much while being here, certain things have touched me in a way that I must hold fast to, lest I lose my own hope for change. One of these things will always be the community of Kiwewe.