21 years ago (said with a slight shudder, sensing my own life hasn't really even begun yet), a new youth pastor and his wife started on at the local Alliance church my family was a part of. Bruce and Rhonda Draper went on to be 'formative apparitions' in my life – formative, because they existed in my core reality (whether they know it to this day or not), and apparitions because as people outside my created world, I couldn't fully connect as desparately as I wanted to be able to (pardon the Aspie mini-moment). After beginning their ministry at our church, much happened to them… around them… life-altering moments that I will leave to them to tell at their own time and space.
Rhonda eventually became my piano teacher for a few years. Like a lot of students my age, the desire to practice waned; my interest level floundered. However, in my defense, sudden changes due to moves of both my family and the moves of piano teachers did not assist me in transitioning from teacher to teacher, community to community. I just couldn't handle all the change – a weakness I berated myeslf upon constantly, but that's another story. However, I will always remember Rhonda's "Circle of 5ths" and do think of them almost immediately whenever a sit near a piano. I haven't taken up the piano since, but I much prefer sitting near any musician, closing my eyes, experiencing the inevitable onslaught of 3-dimensional images bound to come, and then writing out of the music — not notation per se, but rather story that always comes with music.
Eventually, Bruce and Rhonda moved away. Today, she is a Canadian-renowed educator, music specialist, and tender-hearted advocate for children in need. In a world where voices clamour to be heard, she offers something that few others tend to think on: a way for voices needing to be heard.
Let me explain.
Too often, we activitists and advocates declare "we are voices for the voiceless!"… forgetting those considered "voiceless" actually have wondrous, sonorous voices singing out from the underground… the slums… the shelters… the transient camps… the forgotten places in the world — the places where God dwells. They are incredible voices, with stories and songs to share that could shape our own lives forever. Remember the old Swahili greeting Ubuntu? I am, because you are. Those young and old we consider voiceless are not voiceless at all, but rather resounding souls that help create our existence together. A little heady for you? It seems so… yet when Rhonda shares in her TedX talk about weeping when welcomed by a local Ugandan schoolmistress, how many of us can relate to that humility? How many of us discover true life in the midst of poverty, where we once thought we could 'bring it all' to those we think are most in need? How many of us go to developing nations intending to save all because we know all, only to find the reverse – we are saved, and know nothing.
Instead of being a voice for the voiceless, Rhonda created a way for the those most unheard to be heard.
Here is her TedX Talk: "Change? But I Don't Have Any Change!" Do check out iTunes for the melody you will hear towards the end of the talk. Help her movement reach 100,000 folks.