"They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky"

I finished reading this book last night. I wept as I went to sleep. My mind couldn't stop.

I thought about flying over Africa in 1999. I thought about the fact that I flew 5 miles over Sudan. I didn't even think about it then.

Three boys, two brothers and a cousin, were separated when war found them in the late 80's. They escaped and traveled alone or with groups at 5 - 10 years old. I think about some of my sweet, small students and wonder, if put in the same position, how would their need to survive drive them to do unnatural things for their age. Every town they came to, though, it seemed like, was directly on the path of the next attack and they could never find a place to just stop. You wonder how anyone can survive what the people of Sudan (and numerous other countries) have survived. The capability of the human mind and body and spirit is astounding... both on good and bad levels.

I met a man a year ago at a concert of an African choir. We chatted and it was warm until I asked where he was from. it was clear from his accent that he was African in addition to the colored pattern and style of the clothes he and his family were wearing for such an occasion. His demeanor became cautious and said "Iowa". I asked "originally" and he said "Just because you look like the queen doesn't mean you are from England". Conversation done.

I was... I don't know. I'd never felt that way before. I was uncomfortable the whole concert and cautious not to say anything about the music to my students who were with me that sounded uneducated and "american" as it was something I brought them to as their teacher and the man and his family were sitting in the row in front of me.

After the concert, he touched my arm and apologized. He looked at me directly and said "I am from Rwanda" and I had to breathe deep not to cry in front of this man. I apologized too. This man just wanted to be somewhere else. He had been spit out from home and the continual sojourn of trying to find another was just stopped because once again he was reminded "You're not from here either".

I will never know. I will never be able to relate. In those moments I am speechless and awed that someone has outrun death.

Find this book. Read it.


Sherilyn said...

Jenn! check out www.abrahamsdream.com! My friends and I have been able to be apart of sending Abraham (one of the Lost Boys and pre-med student at SWU) back to his family in a refugee camp in Africa - he hasn't seen his mom since he was 6 - and he's like 25 now! We've raised over $15,000 already!!!! It's an amazing project - even if Oprah won't return my emails!

Jess said...

Sher...you're amazing. I love that youa re trying to get on Oprah.

Jenn...this book sounds awesome...do you have a copy I could borrow?

Krista Marie said...

I'm trying to think of something to type that's short and poignant, but the things that I am coming up with aren't even close. I watched The Constant Gardner and was so impacted by the children and their poverty more than the story (which wasn't bad (MN :) )) The next day I was in Galena and saw some great smelling lotion that cost $19.95 then thought the one word, "Africa." Life can be so hard here in America because of the spoiled materialistic minds we have, I don't have enough to go to the movies with my friends, I don't have any clothes that I like, my house isn't as nice as, I only have macaroni and cheese for lunch; life must be somewhat easier in Africa because they celebrate another day alive, another village not raided, food in the belly of the children one more day. You get me?

Holly said...

Heavy stuff. Big eye-opener for this mother of three who rarely leaves her house. Isn't it somewhat difficult to fathom that as we sit in our warm homes that someone,somewhere, is just trying to survive? I'm off to the library to get this book.

Dan & Angie said...

Jen, thanks for "keeping it real" like you do. Thanks for being some really authentic eyes and ears into our hurting world. I say thanks from one who can get pretty wrapped up in "selfville." God really gave you a big heart my friend.


Josh Garlow said...

A few of the boys ended up at Point Loma University, and our exec. pastor actually adopted one of them (he was 20 at the time). Another, William, works here on our maintenance staff, he say's "hello Josh" in very broken English every time I see him. It always shakes me up a bit.

Nik the Brit said...

long time no talk! Found your blog and was reading over it. This book seems fascinating, especially since i have a look for Africa. I will have to make it my next read. By the way, I am planning a trip for a month to Kenya in 2007 to do some documentary work...then planning on coming back to the states and having some excibitions and auctions and possibly put together some sort of cofee table type book...i really want to capture the heart of God in photos...

hey you wanna come with me? ;o)

Hope you are doing well.