Old Friends, New Friends

Tuesday in Kigali was a treat. I got to drive around Kigali with Tom and Linda as Immanueli took them to the Genocide Memorial. We did a little off road driving as the main road was closed for construction and we had to go over some steep terrain to get to where we were going. From there, we went to Kicukiro. He dropped me off at the central market. I have been in a few markets in my time, but this was a market. I was in awe the whole time I was there. Anything and everything for home use was there. The vendors were grouped according to products. The butchers were in the back, and I stood and listened as the large blades came down with force, hacking larger pieces of beef into smaller pieces. The banana vendors were in the front, and there were many of them, along with ladies selling onions, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, squash and several root crops I did not recognize. Past the produce, there were men at little hardware booths, with washers and wire, tools and rope.

I saw clothes and kitchen supplies, pots and pans and handbags. One fellow was selling cds and he seemed to be doing a brisk business. At about 11:30, I left the market and several minutes later, as I waited in front, my friend Mariette came walking up, from across the street.  We had agreed to meet for lunch.  We took a taxi from the market back up to Remera, the neighborhood I am staying in.  There, we ate in the same place where I had joined Jacqueline, Mariette and Michael when I was here in December.  We had a nice buffet lunch while Mariette told me about her work with Umaseke, the NGO that does peace and reconciliation education work with Rwandan teachers and primary students.  She is a little more optimistic about her employment situation than she was the last time we met.  I invited her and Jacqueline to attend Linda’s lecture on Women in Leadership, to be delivered at The Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) tomorrow.  I want to introduce these two women to Shirley Randell, the director of the gender studies center at KIE.

After lunch, I walked to the bookstore, in hopes of finding a book for a colleague.  The shopkeeper did not have the book and suggested another bookstore downtown.  From there, I walked to the stadium, in hopes of seeing my friend, Vianney, who had shown so much kindness to me on my last visit.  Vianney is the President of Le Rapid, a bicycling club for children and his office is at the stadium.  He was not in.  I walked into the stadium proper and took a seat.  I watched several men prepare the field.  Shortly thereafter a young woman came up and greeted me.  Her name was Umuhoza. She wanted to practice her conversational English and spotted me from the other side of the stadium.  I had a long conversation with this woman.  We talked about the limited opportunities for young Rwandans who did not make the cut score for entry into the university.  We talked about the need for English and her drive to become fluent.  We talked about hope and faith and the kingdom of God.  I shared my belief that God’s kingdom was ever present and that she could live in it daily if she had the willingness and commitment to do so.  She shared with me her perspective that young children were close to God and I affirmed this by sharing several stories about Jesus and his teaching in regards to becoming childlike.  I invited Umuhoza to attend Linda’s lecture and offered to walk with her to KIE.

At dinner, we visited with four of the student-interns that are staying with Aryn at the guesthouse.  They shared stories of their work and of their concerns about going home soon.  Morgan shared her concern that she and her friends would have nothing to talk about, as her life has diverged substantially from where it was prior to her departure last year.  Rob spoke about how easy it was for him to get involved in the ex-patriot scene in Kigali, which was a barrier to him getting immersed in Rwandan culture.  I reflected on my own experiences in Africa as these students shared about theirs.

After dinner, Tom and Linda joined Jay and me in a conversation about our learning over the last several days.  It seems like we have had much experience in the short time we have been in Kigali.  Tomorrow is Linda’s lecture and I know that she will do well.  I also know that God will be present and that lives will be touched for good.

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