Thoughts on Africa

So we have arrived at the bus station and it is pitch black due to the power failure which we were to become very aware happens on a regular basis in Kigali. We grab our bags and take the nearest taxi to us, praying all the while that he is not going to take us to a dark alley and kill us!! remember that we are a little shaken by our bus journey still!!

Thankfully he was a nice man and took us to our hotel! However the story does not stop there… so we are taken to our room, which is not in the hotel but across the mud street, through a broken wooden door, past a little man sitting on a stool cooking his dinner over an open fire, through a drain and into another courtyard off which were some doors. I am getting a little over it by now especially when i had to use my torch to help the man find the keyhole!!!

So we walk into what seems like a lounge room – well if you can call a small room with a single light bulb and a ripped up sofa a lounge room! our bedroom was one of the rooms off that and although we were assured that no one else would be sleeping in the other rooms that did not really encourage me! However our door had a lock so i guess that was something! The light seemed to work as well which was positive however the candles on the floor should have made me nervous!

We decided that we could stick it out for one night so we sat down and started to eat our peanut butter and bread which we had taken on the bus but couldn’t eat because of the swerving!! as we sat down the lights went out… now… kigali was already in a blackout so outside there was no light – so this was pitch black!! catherine by this time is panicking!! GET ME OUT OF HERE NOW!!! I think Dave was pretty sure what i meant as he searched everywhere for our torch and the candles which came in handy!

So we grabbed our bags, walked back out of the room, through the drain, across the road and into the hotel and demanded another room… i actually didn’t care what we paid for it now… i just wanted to leave africa!!! dave managed to persuade the man that i was not going to kill him and they gave us another room… this one was actually connected to the generator, which as we discovered, did not mean uninterrupted power, but it did meant that the lights went on again when they went off!

Our first couple of days consisted of dave foraging for food while i slept in our hotel. I had caught some african flu virus and pretty much didn’t leave bed for the first two days! Then we had arranged to spend 3 days with compassion visiting our sponsor children so i coughed my way through three days of visiting villages in remote parts of rwanda, will discuss this later!

We had then planned to visit the gorillas, see kigali, maybe do some more travelling to the country but unfortunately the cough got the better of me and we saw lots of our hotel room ceiling! dave and i can whip anyone at cards now!! I also missed out on seeing the gorillas which is a very sore point – apparently the gorillas are very sensitive souls and you can’t go and see them when you are sick… despite the fact that you have spent thousands of dollars and flown around the world to see them and the fact that you have african flu anyway and they are probably more immune than you!!!!

Thankfully the monotony was ended by Dad arriving! He was coming as a part of a team preparing for a project called HOPE Rwanda which is happening next year. What was really nice about this, apart from seeing dad of course, was that we got to hang out in his hotel which had a few more stars next to its name than ours, probably about 5 more!! We had a great time with dad – we ate lots of food, went to church, caught up on all the news from home – for those of you who haven’t been telling us everything in your emails. we now know what you have been up to &#x1F60A

We went to some really cool churches as well to hear dad preach!i have really missed that!!! one of the churches they danced with chairs held above their heads, one guy actually grabbed a vase of flowers and danced with that… it was very cool – and a bit strange at the same time!!

Then it was time for us to leave Africa and move on to India – via nairobi, johannesburg, hongkong and bangkok of course.. but that is a story for another day!

Africa is a really confronting place in a lot of ways. I went very aware of the stats, I know the information and so I was interested to see it for myself.Rwanda just takes that confrontation just one step further. The genocide has just changed the way that you view the country and people so it takes a few days just to start to get into it! If you haven’t seen Hotel Rwanda then i highly recommend it… it is heartrending but hopeful at the same time.

On the other hand Rwanda is one of the most beautiful countries that i have ever been to. It is literally a country of a 1000 hills – but unlike some countries where the hills remain uncultivated, every square inch of the land is being farmed. Farms on 45 degree angles and worse, with people hoeing the ground on a 60 degree angle 1000 feet up. It is a really surreal sight but very necessary when the country is so populated.

One of the reasons that we were in Rwanda was to visit our sponsor children, all of whom live in Rwanda. I was expecting to be shocked by the conditions that they live in but i think more than anything we were overwhelmed by their generosity and the dignity that they have despite their circumstances. It was a very hard thing to sit in a mud hut in the middle of nowhere and be given a gift by a family that obviously by our standards has nothing, but it was an incredible privilege to be allowed into their homes and into their lives.

One of the girls that we sponsor is called Beatrice, she is 12 years old and we have been sponsoring her for 5 years. She is a beautiful girl with a stunning smile. What is more important is that she has a hope. She plans to become a doctor, she would be the first person in her family to reach secondary school let alone university and her future in turn gives her family a future. When she prayed for us at the end of our visit, it was incredibly special and i think that i will always have that picture of her in my mind. She has many choices to make but our sponsorship gives her a chance to make those choices. We are honored that we have a chance to make a difference in this family and ultimately in this country.

Now I know … I sound all serious!! but in fact I think that our trip to Africa was serious, it really set in concrete some of the things that we have been thinking about as a couple and the things that God has been speaking to us about so I guess that as our friends reading this, we wanted to convey some of that to you! and for those travellers who are reading this hoping for some travel info, we have none… but it is a stunning continent and somehow i know that our hearts are tied there in more ways than i can describe.

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