Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

Secure within the Secureness of our Security?

February 21, 2014

Heading home…

Psalm 35: 4-5
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.

The driver took the back roads, moving through the countryside at a pretty good clip. We passed at least three settlements. In the darkness, the settlements looked like military installations, with their bright spotlights shining on the tall chain link fences, topped with barbed wire. While traveling in the West Bank, the major highways may not be the best choice. My passport, safely resting within my front pocket, providing me with a sense of security that my driver could not have.

Arriving at the airport, we parted ways. I paid my guide, my friend and thanked him for the ride. He gave me a refrigerator magnet of a Christian icon. I moved closer to home in the lobby of Ben Gurion Airport. The security agent was professional and courteous. The questioning went on for quite some time. She would ask a question, walk away (I assumed to confer with a superior), and then come back to ask more questions. Ultimately, she thanked me for my patience and passed me through from her station to the next, the XRay machine. The XRay technician passed me on to a hand-search area. At this counter, the agent asked me a few questions and chose not to open my bag. I did see a number of other bags being searched carefully. Again, this agent was professional and courteous, and even gave me a smile and a “Have a safe journey” after he was done with his questioning.

On and on, through Tel Aviv, through Newark, through Seattle. Through scanners and questions and bag checks and XRays, through bag checks and ticket checks and credential checks.  Through, “take off your shoes, your belt, your jacket”.  Through security…

Security: the state of being protected or safe from harm (Merriam Webster). Security is becoming more sophisticated and comprehensive. The opportunity and means to threaten security is also becoming more pervasive and sophisticated. A glance at a newspaper, news website or a popular magazine reveals a number of types of security:

  • Homeland Security
  • Food Security
  • Social Security
  • National Security
  • Financial Security
  • Data Security
  • School Security
  • Emotional Security
  • Job Security

Can we have security, is it our ultimate need and desire? Perhaps . If so, I need to work on accepting and trusting the Creator of the universe.  Situations are not in my control, people are not in my control.  Whom I choose to trust is.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35,37 NIV

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Basic Assumptions

February 10, 2014

While sitting at breakfast this morning at the CINFOP Guest House, I composed a list of basic assumptions about staying in hotels that one should not make while traveling to Musanze Rwanda. For those of you who are used to staying in hotels in the United States, please slow down and read this list carefully if you are considering a trip to Musanze, or for that matter, many cities in Africa.

  1. Animals will not be in your room.  This is not a good assumption to make.  I have found birds and reptiles in my room and there are always lots of insects.
  2. Strangers will not approach you for conversation.  I know it is rare that strangers will approach you in an American hotel.  If you are a Mzungu in an African hotel, be prepared for all kinds of people to converse with you!
  3. You will check in and be asked to register and you will know the financial terms of your lodging at check in.  This is not a safe assumption.  Please be proactive at the beginning so that you are not surprised at the end.
  4. You will have hot water on demand.  Ha!  You may have hot water, at some time during your stay.
  5. You will have water at all.  You may have some water, at some point during your stay.
  6. The water from the tap is safe to drink.  Please know that while many assumptions on this list will cause you inconvenience, this one could cause you distress.  Be prepared to bring your own bottled water.
  7. When you shower, your bathroom floor won’t be flooded with water.  Please be careful on those wet bathroom floors.
  8. Your toilet will flush.  Hey, there is some water in there, isn’t there?
  9. You will have toilet paper, soap and shampoo in your room.  Don’t wait until you sit down to determine whether there is paper in the bathroom.
  10. Your room will be cleaned or tidied daily.  You literally may have the only room key. Be thankful that housekeeping staff finds you when you are around so that you can let them in to tidy up.
  11. You will have electricity.  While you expect this as a basic feature available at an American hotel, I can assure you that electricity can be an occasional luxury in Musanze.
  12. You will be able to read in your room at night.  While you have electricity, there is no guarantee that the light will be sufficient for reading.  Bring a headlamp or mini-flashlight to be sure.
  13. You will have free, uninterrupted access to the Internet.  You may have access to a local newspaper somewhere in the neighborhood.
  14. When you order a meal, you will be served within 90-120 minutes of placing your order.  Be prepared to hear “soon” when asking how long it will be before the food arrives.  If you hear a chicken shrieking at some point after placing your order, at least you know that progress is being made on your dinner.
  15. You recognize the food you are being served.  It’s an adventure, and usually a pleasant one, but please don’t get hung up on actually knowing what you are eating.
  16. You will be able to communicate effectively with hotel and restaurant staff.  Please don’t assume that if someone smiles and says yes that he has understood you and is complying with your request.

At least its not the Hotel California.  I found that I could leave after I checked out.  And regardless of how challenging it seems, I would not trade the memories of our stay at the CINFOP Guest House for anything! The grounds were amazingly beautiful, the people were lovely, the price was right and it was just a short walk to the place where we were working.Scot and Friends