It is Thursday morning and we are back in Kigali. Today is our last full day in Rwanda. We will do some shopping this morning and meet with church leaders from the Lutheran Church in Rwanda this afternoon. Tomorrow we pack and leave for the airport in the early afternoon. I cannot believe that our time is drawing to a close. Last night one of the youth said that so much has happened and he needs a little time and space to process all he has experienced. I agree with him and know that this experience will be with me for a long time...even in small ways. Until I came to Africa I didn't think of window screens as a luxury item. We saw them on only one building, a hotel we stayed in that is brand new. I will see my life in America with new eyes.
We began our countryside adventure with a trip to Mumeya. It is in the SE part of Rwanda and they joined as a community to build a medical clinic for their community (and the road to reach it). The closest medical care used to be 30K or more away but now people can reach the clinic in reasonable time in an emergency as well as receive ongoing care for pregnancy and illnesses. Pr John, the General Secretary of LCR has been trained in community organizing in Oakland, through the PICO system. He brought those skills to the people of Mumeya, where they have a local organizing committee, and have conducted over 2,000 one-on-ones! The next project they are going to take on is a well for water.
From Mumeya we traveled south to the Tanzanian border to view the waterfalls. Because the soil here is red, the waterfalls ran orange! It was very beautiful, even in the dry season when the river is not as high as in the rainy season.
We spent the night in Kibungo, and the next morning departed for our visits to sister parishes. Three sister parish relationships were present in our group, so those were visited along with four more. Most were able to stay in homes and experience home life in rural Rwanda. I traveled to Matimba with Dylan (from Advent) and Dominique and Amanda (from Oakland). We stayed in the home of Pastor Ruhinda and were welcomed warmly. Dylan and I are the first people from Advent to travel to Matimba so we were a big deal. After lunch at Pr Ruhinda's home we walked to the church where we were met by many people - three choirs, chuch leaders and dancers. It was 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, so it was very unexpected and amazing. They sang and danced, we exchanged gifts and we heard about the plans for the church. The immediate desire is for a keyboard for worship, so more modern music can be used in worship. We were able to contribute $300 toward this effort. They are growing crops on the church property to sell to raise money foe the keyboard - a different take on the bake sale! After they buy the keyboard, they will focus on building a permanent chuch building and beginning a nursery school. Pr Ruhinda is passionate about early childhood issues of education and health - in order to lay a strong foundation for growth. After the program at the church we visited people in their homes, shared food and drink and heard their stories. It was amazing to be so warmly welcomed into strangers homes.
Wednesday we went on Safari! We met up with the other groups in Kyonza and boarded four Land Cruisers, and drove to Akagera National Park. If was amazing. We saw many African animals and birds, including zebra, waterbucks, a warthog, and giraffe! I will post pics when I get back to the US.
I am on my iPhone, and my thumbs are tired, so I hope there aren't too many typos. I have over two hours before the shopping adventure so I'm going to enjoy a lazy morning and read a little. A true luxury, as there hasn't been time for lazing or reading much at all on this trip.