YAGM – Hannah Sackett from Celebration Lutheran in Sartell.
Forewarning that this will be a hefty newsletter – since I last wrote in March, life has really zipped away from me, as it is wont to do when everything is finally falling into place. Sometimes I felt like I was in control, although usually life took off without my say in the matter, foot-in-stirrups style… luckily, I’m learning to enjoy the ride when this happens (going limp and flying along is just so much better than struggling). It all began when we gathered with the cohort to celebrate boss lady Janelle’s birthday… the ginger cake was clearly an omen for the deliciously rich month ahead.
Shortly thereafter, the YAGM cohort traveled to the mountainous northwest where we held our spring retreat and studied the concept of Liberation in Praxis – how our life centered in the Gospel calls us to elevate and follow marginalized and oppressed voices, reconsider “histories” that we’ve been taught, and constantly recognize/name/leverage our many privileges as white/cis-gender/college-educated/able-bodied, etc. US citizens. The retreat closed with immediate and long-term goal-making towards liberation in the spaces we’ll return to in a mere TWO months… we also softened this doozy of a topic with many many packaged cookies, as is our tradition.
Here are some resources that we studied over our time together – for your own liberation justice starter pack, just open up some Chips Ahoy and dig into these!
– A Love Letter to Cis White Feminism
– In Praise of Tender Masculinity, the New Non-Toxic Way to Be a Man
– Bryan Stevenson’s Remarkable Speech On How To Change The World
– The Painful and Liberating Practice of Facing My Own Racism
– I Need An Accomplice, Not An Ally
Pasika Nziza // Happy Easter!
The night that Tessa departed back home, I also bussed home late at night in order to make it home for Easter! Easter was a celebration I had long been anticipating in the YAGM year – how would it compare to the familiar rhythms of Easter back home? Would it even be Easter without lilies and a deafening organ and Grammy’s jello and Dad collapsing into a nap-coma post-church? Will our church even remain open on Easter morning? (Read more about this*) Unsurprisingly, Jesus’ resurrection still resulted in a zealous church service, massive afternoon meal, and cheerfully forced family pictures! And while I look forward to a sermon preached in English next year (although who knows?!), hallelujah to all of the above.
Above: Literally our only semi-successful full family picture, a shockingly similar experience to family photos at home. Easter was one of the few days of our year we would spend all together as a family – bittersweet, but mostly sweet on the day.
Below: Again, we struggle to take nice pictures.
Kwibuka24 // To Remember
Easter fell on April 1st – Jesus cheating death in the greatest April Fool’s yet. However, it also began the month in which the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis started 24 years ago. March 7th commemorates the beginning of the 100 days of mass killing, and Kwibuka24 took place countrywide for a week – a unified effort to remember, unite, and renew through community meetings, testimonies, and vigils to honor lives lost and reconcile Rwandans as one people.
Walking this week with my family and friends was a challenge. It required great sensitivity towards their scars, as well as reflection on both my ancestor’s role in the divisive horrors wreaked on Rwanda for decades prior to the genocide, and the complicity and silence of my own country during the 1994 genocide. For them to allow and welcome my presence among them during the week was a privilege and honor. To read Kwibuka reflections written by some of my host brothers, follow the link!
The remembrance week brought deep grief and weight with it, a great challenge in accompaniment. However, it also brought great joy in the form of my favorite young people home on school break (particularly my host siblings Simba, Derrick, and Delman). If anybody ever doubted Rwanda’s ability to move forward, I would lock them in a room with that group — they would leave with the same great hope I have in both the future of the country and the world after spending copious amounts of time with my beloved humans. They are budding feminists, poets, musicians, historians, scientists; humans whose dream afternoon would be watching Black Panther, eating chips, and playing basketball; they possess superhuman levels of patience, inclusion, and empathy; and they dance like Afro-pop royalty. But most importantly, they are so unabashedly loving, dreaming about their futures as civil servants, parents, and leaders. Did I think a few teenage boys would be my partners in liberation, accompaniment, and identity formation this year? Absolutely not. But usually we don’t quite know what we need until it “gwara-gwaras” into our lives.