Friday, 9 March 2012

Africa - Day Eight Wednesday

I must tell you about the traffic lights in Kigali’s city centre.  Both those controlling the road traffic, and the pedestrian crossings, have a big digital display.  It gives you a second-by-second countdown to the next change.  It’s a wonderful system.  Red: 72, 71, 70, etc.  Then Green 72, 71, 70... And the roundabouts and speed bumps have regular clusters of LED lights mark out the road edge.  I guess this may partly compensate for the patchy street lighting, so you can weave round unlit vehicles and bikes, and meandering pedestrians.

I risked a shower: bracing isn't quite an adequate description.  Breakfast usually includes fresh fruit: papaya, etc, and today we had passion fruit.  I leaned over to Rukundo and asked him to be gracious to Claud over last night’s mishap.  “We couldn’t tell how hard on him you were, because you spoke in Rwandan.”  “That was Chinese,” he joked.  “We use it when we don’t want English speakers to understand us.”  The tension eased.  Thereafter ’Chinese’ became a description of Rwandan, Congolese, Swahili, or whatever.

Now Rukundo was speeding around getting ready for the conference.  It reinforced the need for him to set up a local Multiply team, not to try to keep all his activities under his personal control.  We told him!  I asked, “Who have you got to do registration?”  Though very conscientious, he isn’t an administrator.   There was no sign of presentation handouts, even though first thing yesterday we’d given him them to get copied.  Then I suggested how he may wish to give out – or hang on to – the pack of resources we’d brought. 

Claud did a great job of hanging a sheet for a screen and setting up a place for our projector.   Gratifyingly, since we had no Jonny now, everything fired up first time.  After more simple worship, Wakey did the official Multiply presentation, and we took a short break.  The already good number of delegates swelled to over 120.  We were short of chairs.  Rukundo was pulling more from dark corners to extend the rows right to the back.  I started the next main session on the Two Kingdoms.  I kept a careful eye on the time, trying to recall what we’d agreed at breakfast, as there was no printed programme.

Every so often, Rukundo would dart forward with his phone to his ear and whisper, “The lunch isn’t ready”.  We collected questions to answer.  Rukundo grabbed the mic and danced around laughing with delight over the morning’s teaching.  I switched off the session audio recording at 2 hours 16 minutes.  We extended the questions and answers.  Nobody seemed to be getting restless. 

Before we’d left home, I’d seen Erika and the girls peeling a large pan of carrots.  Now I had visions of her struggling to stretch the dinner, and of the logistics of trying to serve everyone.  I was giving up hope of rescuing anything of the afternoon programme.  Then suddenly take-away packs of steaming food arrived and everyone got a bottle of pop.  (Coke, Sprite or Fanta – the monopoly brands in East Africa.)  The meal was quietly despatched and the empties cleared away.  It was 3.00pm.

We finished the official presentations.  Like a benign Father Xmas, Rukundo announced there were resources on the front table.  We were deluged, and afterwards he commented, “I saw one brother I know can’t read going with this book (Fire in our Hearts).”  He’s just passionate and generous to a fault.  About a third of the delegates stayed around chatting in small groups.  Bibles were open.  One bishop confessed he couldn’t ever remember reading about celibacy from Matthew 19.  I’d put Wakey up to offering to pray for anyone wishing to receive the gift.  A young man had responded, and others said they were going home to digest the teaching. 

Just before 7.00pm Rukundo shimmered into view, hustled us into a car, and we headed for Radio Amazing Grace’s offices.  Without any formalities, we went straight into the studio.  Rukundo and Wakey were fitted with headphones; I pulled out the video camera.  The Hallelujah Chorus announced the 40 minute live broadcast was on the air.  Wakey spoke about fathering a generation of young men.  Afterwards, Rukundo confided, “Brother, I love this.  Many times I ask where was the church? (meaning in the genocide) and how should we be now?”

We bumped into Aimable on the way home.  He’s an IT techie, and puts in long hours at work.  "Tell me," I quizzed him, "What's happened to this telecommunications revolution that's supposed to put Rwanda ahead in East Africa?  We can't get a signal."  "Come back in two years' time," he laughed.  The government has laid out a national vision of progress through to 2020.  They have succeeded remarkably in engaging average Rwandans.  Exceptional circumstances require exceptional commitment.  It bears a parallel for the church, too.  I wondered if this is why we’ve met an unprecedented appetite for sacrifices such as community and celibacy.  There will be points of conflict where the growth of the kingdom of God and the plans of the Adamic government can’t have it both ways.

As we rocked and jolted up to the house, we joked about being sent to bed without any tea again.  After dinner, Wakey tried an impersonation of Rukundo dancing with delight.  I managed to get in a quick call to Mary on Aimable’s phone.  “Yes, I guessed you were out of mobile service.  Jonny and Jason have rung the Farm.”  I apologised that there was no report for Together. 

The four school aged children had complained, “When do we get any time with our visitors?”  So they’d been allowed to stay up a little longer, snuggling up to us on the large easy chairs.  Elisha rubbed my fingers vigorously to see if the white would come off.  Wakey’s final words were, “Oh dear, I fear that I’m going to leave part of my heart here.”

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