Our first Sunday in Rwanda always seems like when we finally really get started. The first couple of days are spent adjusting to the time change, gather the necessary supplies for the Pastors to take notes and such, and just generally settling in. But when first Sunday comes it always is quite a rush.
As we approach the church building one of the first things my eyes settle on are the two trees that sit atop the slope leading down to the building. They were planted by our Harvest Christian Church friends in honor of my parents who passed away. I was struck by how large they have become…a visible reminder how long they have been gone. My parents supported my first few trips to Rwanda financially before they graduated on to heaven and the concurrent growth of the trees and the Pastors is a testimony to their support.
The worship in this congregation could not be more different than what we experience in America. The services are very loud. They are very long. They have several hours of music, complete with robust dancing. These Rwandans seem incapable of displaying joy without moving. I hope they never change. I know I haven’t changed in that I still can’t dance, even when a young girl leads me out to be a part of the group that is dancing before the Lord. As this is my at least my 10th trip to Rwanda, you finally begin to pick up on things. What I noticed this time was that one of the main theme of the songs the choirs sing is that of persevering through hardship…a very appropriate them in a country full of hard living. But also full of joy.
During an afternoon walk, we happened to pass by the house where the Pastors will be staying. There will be approximately 50 of them staying in 4 rooms, sleeping on foam mattresses on the floor, sharing one bathroom. My first impression is “wow”, that’s roughing it. But then I recall most of them come from homes that consist of one room shared by families of 6, 7, 8 individuals, with a dirt floor and they all share one foam pad on the ground and utilizing an outdoor latrine. So perhaps sleeping on a tile floor with your own mattress using a indoor bathroom with plumbing is an upgrade? At a minimum I can quickly tell they are glad to be in the capital and to be together. The blessing of friendship transcends any circumstance.
Monday the real work begins. John and Neal will introduce Hebrews and perhaps push through the opening verses. This will give Joel Gray, our missionary to Niger time to get a feel for where the Pastors are before he brings his 30 plus years of experience in Africa to bear on them regarding leadership in the African context. Should be interesting. Keep us in your prayers. So far we are all healthy and functioning.