So, i guess i'm not jet-lag-invincible.
After playing "Brick-Breaker" for the past hour on my phone, I figure it's time to do something productive with my awake hours.
In our hotel room. Tommy's trying to sleep (at about 5am, i caught him online looking at finger charts for a concertina, an obscure, accordion-like instrument, which he has yet to get his hands on). I'm trying not to type too loudly.
It's funny, at home, I don't have time to write, pray, think, blog... but in Rwanda, everything changes. The important things you couldn't fit in become priorities and everything else sort of fades away.
As long as I am in this Hotel, I won't feel like I'm in Rwanda. We're getting the red carpet treatment for the week because I'm here with a bunch of potential investors. The Rwanda they see (driving around in SUVs, eating at the best Indian restaurants, helicopter rides, gorillas...) is almost comical. It's great, but not the Rwanda I know and love. This afternoon I head back to the village where I lived and worked 4 years ago, which has since then changed it's name. It will always be Ruhengeri to me. I've been told it has changed significantly. Go figure. That stupid line "the only thing constant in this world is change" is haunting me. Sure, relationships are still there, the sun still rises and it still rains 20 minutes a day, but I am older, we are older. I don't have the same wide-eyed youth I came with last time. I am thinking about my life in a different way now, and that changes everything. I wonder why I am here this time. Who sent me? Or do I just think I was sent? Who's running this show anyways?
Not to get all existential on you... :)
Yesterday, for the day's activity, I set out to find my old friend, Justin. Justin is from Little Rock and was here the last time I was in Rwanda. We were each other's company for those few months at Sonrise. Suffice to say he is a dear friend. I knew he was back in Rwanda, but since I didn't want him to know I was coming, I tried to stealthily find out his coordinates over facebook messages. No luck. All I had was a phone number (which I couldn't call, because I love surprises) and a rough area of town. So, optimistic Maggie jumped in a taxi with a piece of paper with a few scribbled words on it, and 5000 francs (equivalent of about $10). I thought we could just, you know, drive over to that area of town and keep our eyes out for Living Water International (the org. that justin is working with). No such luck. About a half an hour later, after driving up and down all the main roads in Kigali, I finally asked the taxi driver to call Justin on my phone and ask where he was. The taxi driver agreed. But when the call went through, he simply said "he" and thrust the phone into my hands. Unwilling, at this point, to give up the game, I hung up. I asked if there was any type of operator or 411 number to call. He just looked confused. Stupid question, Maggie. They don't even have phonebooks. I saw a sign for a guest house "near-by" so I said "let's try going there and see if someone can help us". The guest house turned out to be 2 miles away on a treacherously bumpy road. Like, 2 foot ravines running through the dirt. We finally arrived and I went in. There was a sweet man behind the desk who agreed to call Justin. I found out later that he made up some story in Kinerwandan about wanting to come for a meeting about water. Very clever, very kind. We were back on the road with the name of the building. After another 10 minutes of driving, we came to the "Ministry of Infrastructure". This must be it. I ran up the steps only to find a totally deserted first floor. "Does anyone know where Living Water International is?" No, they didn't. The security guard didn't, the 7 people milling around by the side door didn't, and all the doors were locked. Great. But then came a woman in high heels carrying a brief case... she looked promising. Sure enough, she knew how to get up to the second floor. I went up to the second floor. Again, does anyone know where LWI is. Nope. I asked a woman behind a desk for someone who spoke better english. "Yes" she said, but didn't move. "Can you go get her?" I asked. "Yes" she said "Wait". 5 Minutes later, a woman comes out. I ask again. Sure enough, she knows that there is a white man called Justin who works one floor up. Stupid me, this whole time I was asking for Living Water International when I could have just been looking for Justin. So, I go up the stairs and, sure enough, there's Justin, talking on his cell-phone with his endearing southern drawl. If only I could have bottled his face. Suffice to say, he was surprised. It was well worth the pains.
Woah, sorry, that took a little longer than most stories, but, hopefully, it will give you an idea of how things work around here. That episode is an everyday occurrence here. So, when the questions arise about what exactly I'm doing here, I will smile, say something about the Archbishop and, in my mind, refer to this anecdote. Who am I kidding to make plans? As westerners like to say "TIA" (This is Africa). "Plans", in the western sense, don't really fly here.
I could say something now about our meetings with Bishop John and the Archbishop and where I plan to live and work etc., but I don't know much at this point and I'm afraid I've written too much already. If I keep up this pace, you'll all lose interest. Suffice to say, I am embarking on an adventure which (quite literally) only God knows about. It's a wonderful and terrifying place to be. Before leaving, I was prayed over by two trusted friends who both said they had a strong sense I would benefit greatly from God's word during this time and that this would be new season of experiencing God in a way I never have before. Please pray for me, if you want. There is much to be revealed...
and more writing to come...
ps. Thomas is now playing his banjo in the corner chair. i hope the room next to us can't hear.
if there's one thing certain about this year, it's Thomas' music :)