Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I am waiting to hear that the books I sent to my son in Afghanistan arrived in good shape. He had emailed us that his first shirt was thinking of starting a book drive for the unit since so many guys had come without something to read. For me, asking for books is like waving raw meat in front of a rottweiler. In minutes I was out the door to the Goodwill outlet and a variety of other thrift stores and a bookstore and checking my bookshelves. I spent ahem dollars on books and ahem!!!! dollars on shipping. I thanked my husband for not complaining at me about the expense and said I wouldn't buy any more and he nodded excessively happily. I sent thrillers and adventure and history and sports and military and a few sf and religious and misc, hoping there would be something for everybody there.

One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is the opportunity to have started 11 libraries in primary schools in Rwanda. I also helped start a small seminary library in Burundi, and added to the libraries of the National University of Rwanda and to www.comeandseeafrica.org  And a lot of poor kids were handed a book. How long the poor kid was able to keep the book before it was sold for something else the family needed, I have no idea. I would like to think that in a bookless society I made some kind of impact. I had so much fun looking for books that were not American-centric, that featured blacks in leading roles, and that carried interesting information in accessible language. It was a challenge to find picture books about Jesus that showed him at least light brown. Oh, I found the neatest nativity story with black angels and a black Jesus, and gave it to a man (for his little girl) who protested that Jesus was not a black! We had an interesting conversation about identification and European depictions of Christ and other culture's pictures of Christ.

I grew up walking downhill two miles to the public library in Kelso, WA and walking uphill home, arms laden with as many books as I could carry at least once a week. My dad told me that the library was the poor man's university. I grew up with perhaps an unholy reverence for libraries and books. Every birthday and Christmas I could count on at least one kid saying, "Oh, look, Mom got me a book. Who would have guessed?"

I'm also happy that I was able to introduce one new crop to Rwanda that was a success, golden grain amaranth. May its use spread. And I gave pictures of myself gardening to a number of diggers and told them that God honored them and their work. Sadly, this was a new thought for them.

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