I’ll be Home For Christmas

I slept in my own bed last night, at the end of a long journey.  I had a wonderful time in Rotterdam and Kigali.  I was able to spend time with friends, make new friends, learn about amazing investments of human effort and time into the work of restoration and reconciliation and learned through patience and self reflection.

A quick summary of my learning, a) the diversity in God’s kingdom is something to be recognized and celebrated, b) waiting is a term that is over-used or mis-used in the West, c) basic Africa food is nutritious and tasty, d) worship is a commitment, an attitude, an investment and an opportunity for growth, e) laughter sounds great in any language, and f) there’s no place like home.

Diversity

The way I see it, our Creator God loves diversity.  From the intricate design of the myriad of microbes, to the varied hues of green of the forest canopy, the diverse songs and sounds of birds and the colors of human skin, it seems apparent that differences are part of the grand design and an aspect of life to be celebrated.  The achievements, styles, tastes and art of mankind indicates our own vast and diverse ways of living, loving, serving and celebrating.  My time on this recent trip to Rotterdam and Rwanda has been a wonderful opportunity for me to recognize the diversity of God’s creation and of human experience.  I am personally convinced that there is strength and beauty in diversity.  The diversity of human artistic and cultural expression is also an opportunity for learning and celebration.  I am learning to love and appreciate diversity myself.

Waiting

To wait: “To remain or rest in expectation”.  A basic difference in life that I noticed between Rwanda and the US is how time is categorized.  Rwandans spend a lot of time doing what Americans call “waiting”.  Typical days in Kigali involved waiting for people to show up for scheduled appointments, waiting for transportation, waiting for events to occur.  Although, it seems that Rwandans don’t consider this to be waiting as Americans do.  Several times while I was in Kigali, I had Rwandan friends apologize to me for being late to appointments.  At the same time I let them know that there was no problem, I also realized that they expected an American to be impatient with their being tardy.  I am unsure if Rwandans apologize to one another for being late.  One observation I had though, is that Rwandans didn’t seem to carry an impatient attitude nor did they seem to mind waiting.  Spending over seven hours in the Nairobi airport waiting for my plane was a challenging time for me, as I was expecting something else to happen (being on a plane).  So, could it be that sitting in an airport is any less of a life occurrence than sitting on a plane?  The very act of being, of sitting in a chair in an airport or on a plane is life, is it not?  How was I, who was I and what was I doing during these times?  Was I waiting for something else to happen, or to do, or was I living?

African food

I admit that I can’t real judge the nutrition value of the typical Rwandan diet.  Though, the several realistically typical Rwandan meals I had were quite a bit different than a typical American meal.  Fresh fruits and vegetables were in abundance.  Rice and beans were served.  Meat was on the menu, but in very small quantities.  There were no bread products.  The food was either baked, boiled or broiled.  The food was tasty and filling.  I lost several pounds during my three week trip.  My judgment is that the diet was pretty good.

Worship

I have come to recognize that worship as a concept and activity is rather broad.  At a point earlier in my life, I saw worship as singing or praying, or thinking about God with an attitude of awe or appreciation.  I believe that worship is actually the expression of my recognition of the character and commitment of God toward me and my willingness to put myself in a position to recognize and acknowledge God in my words and actions regardless of my location. That is, worship occurs in the heart and comes out in various ways.  The way worship comes out might be influenced by my surroundings, including my culture and my location and my daily activities.  I note that Friends in Rwanda during a church service worship in different ways than Friends in Newberg.  Yet, I am thinking that the condition of the heart is the same.

Laughter

Laughing and smiling and even crying seem to be acts of the heart that mean the same in any language.  In Kigali, I observed a man in deep sorrow at the Genocide Memorial.  As he wept, I experienced the same grief.  In a back street of Remera, a young child saw me, shouted, “Mazunga”, laughed, came over and gave me a hug.  I knew what he felt, I felt happy and blessed to get a hug, too.  Imanuelli and I returned to the car after visiting the church at Ntarama which had been the sight of a major massacre of Tutsi’s in 1994.  As we sat there, he told me, “now, we pray”.  He prayed in Kinyarwandan, and then I prayed in English.  Afterwords, I knew how he felt, as I felt blessed to be experiencing the horror of man’s inhumanity to man with another brother, with whom I could pray, even if I did not understand the words he used in his prayer.

Home

Dorothy said it best, “There’s no place like home”.  Yes, I was tired and a bit sick, and the journey was long.  Yet I was so pleased to be back home, to familiar routines, sounds and people.  The noise of children playing is comforting to me, as I know I am in a place that I can be tired, or a bit sick, and people will let me be.  We celebrated Ruth’s birthday and Abby’s birthday.  It is a blessing to have people to honor, to celebrate, to have fun with, and to love.  There is no place like home.

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