The rain comes on suddenly here and you can usually hear it coming . I have been soaked once out on an early walk before the day gets busy and the funny stares (other than the usual ones) crazy mzungu (white person)- out walking in the rain! The other day a group of young children came running toward me shouting mzungu mzungu and giving me a high fives and a welcome, some things are just that way!
My early morning walk or my ½ hour walk to the centre (when it is not too hot or pouring rain) most often travels by the woman who sweeps the streets along the road – and it has been nice to connect now with a friendly ‘good morning’ or ‘mwaramutse’ in Kinyarwandan.
All the streets are swept everyday here in Rwanda – and the last Saturday of every month is a day for everyone to participate in a community clean up called Umuganda. This past umuganda at around 6:30 am there were trucks going by with loud speakers and sirens calling everyone out to do their part – that was a little unnerving. But the programs put into place here are quite remarkable and as Rwanda is working to redefine itself apart from the genocide, tourism is on the rise as this tiny country is perhaps the safest in all of Africa.
There is still however, a large divide between the very rich and the very poor, and it is always hard to see the poverty and circumstances of disempowerment especially among the children. You can see in the background of the picture below the congested housing situation in the heart of Kigali.
Many of the churches seem quite legalistic and you can understand why after such a horrific event as the genocide that rules were important. But at least from the young Rwandans that I am meeting and working with, there seems a desire for more than just the legalistic rule that gave them a foundation for faith but has left them with a yearning for more. They are not abandoning their faith but are wrestling forward seeking out what it really means to be Christian. There really is a depth and a desire in the younger generation to tackle the big questions of life. One young man who I have met on each of my trips has a remarkable story of surviving the genocide, although losing most of his family and being orphaned– attached is a video of one of the songs you may recognize but sung in Kinyarwandan from the worship service in the ministry he has founded. Again I found it so very moving – I hope you get a chance to view and listen to it.
Since I have never done a longer term mission before – I am finding it quite different from the shorter term missions as I adjust to more of an everyday Rwandan rhythm here which gives you quite a different perspective. Hospitality and relationship are very important among friends and there are often extra plates set for dinner for unexpected guests. Kelly and Celo are often giving out bananas or clothes for refugees at the gate or to children sent out by their parents to beg for money. At the Anglican church service I attended recently those same children came for Sunday school and porridge.
Teaching, counseling and spiritual direction are going well and I have kept a full case load with more waiting. There are a number of international counselors working at the centre from Belgium, the US, Canada, Uganda and even Scotland as well as local Rwandanese. It has been great to meet and consult with them in supervision meetings. It is so nice to be able to volunteer for this ministry that is making such a difference in the hearts and minds of those seeking it. And as their story unfolds and gets a little deeper – I too am changed by the witness of their experiences.
Please click on the video below which captures the view as we drive through a highly populated area here in Kigali. On another note, apparently you need a permit to take photos here – so I am sending what I can for now – hope you enjoy!
I hope everyone is well. I am so grateful for your continued prayers.