Friday, 9 March 2012

Africa - Day Nine Thursday

After last night’s warm interaction, I got up early to see the children leaving for school.  Blessing, with her cropped hair and shorts, was barely distinguishable from her three brothers.  I was glad I hadn’t stumbled in to confusing her with Joshua, next to her in the family.  Toddler Grace just screams and screams whenever we appear, and baby Benjamin’s usually asleep, tied round somebody’s back.

At breakfast, Rukundo was anxious.  He was planning to stay on at Dar es Salaam after we depart.  He had two radio programmes to get recorded; had promised to take us to the second community house today; and urgently had to meet with a group of Congolese brothers while they were still around.  We were going to have to do his evening bible study at the church.  The number of delegates meant the conference expenses had been well above his budget.  “Please can you get me some more dollars?”  He very reasonably requested.  But we couldn’t contact the Multiply office and – with an unknown situation in Tanzania ahead – had only limited spending money with us.  In addition to Rukundo’s immediate burdens, I would just have been content if he’d make some phone contact about Dar es Salaam.  But he was preoccupied.

Walking down to the taxi rank, he opened up; “There are many things I need to ask you about our community.  We have another family who want to join, but we have no room, and cannot afford to rent.  I know from our conversation yesterday that I need to find someone to pastor things, and I need a good administrator.  But we have no resources.  The brothers cannot get jobs.  We have tried a business with the sisters selling second hand clothes, and some food at a table in the market.  But we cannot afford to buy in things.  What can I do?”  Later, I tried to explain about our Multiply Trust.  He had made an application, but heard nothing back.  I knew our administration needs to improve.

“Now we take a taxi.” Rukundo beamed.  By this he meant a Tigo motorbike, the normal transport in Kigali.  Wakey looked doubtful as his driver passed him the passenger crash helmet, and he sighed, “Oh Greatheart, I don’t think I’m going to cope with this.”  I climbed on my machine, with my knees sticking out, and we roared round into a U turn to catch up with Rukundo.  On the smooth road I thought it was worth trying to catch a photo on my phone.  At this point, Wakey confessed he’d been hanging on like grim death.  He thought I was mad when he figured out my intention.  Rukundo, meanwhile, was sitting back relaxed.  When we all dismounted, we simply burst into laughter.   The three drivers were mad with Rukundo for fixing a local low price, which denied them the premium they charge for tourists.  They were arguing in ‘Chinese’.

Threading up the mud track past hillside chickens and banana palms, Rukundo explained that Claud was disapproved by his family for moving into New Humanity.  For extended families, wealth is corporately owned, and to give your income to non-relatives amounts to betrayal.  We reached the second common purse community house.  It was just a small affair, but a dozen or more adults and children streamed out for introductions.  The small living room we squeezed into reminded me of the Slovakian Romanies’ homes.  And in similar manner, an extravagant lunch soon arrived, and random numbers of children hovered around to obverse.  Wakey palmed me off with half his liver (and my subsequent tummy rumbles suggest it was a cute move).

Rukundo translated my description of our community’s per person per week budgeting, and probationary membership arrangements.  “What happens when my children get married?  Do I give them back the share of what I gave to the community?”  “We have the son of a friend who is part of our family and he isn’t Christian: what do we do?”  “Why do you allow for people to take out money when they leave: isn’t that lack of faith that they will stay true?”  Rukundo looked pained at the mention of budgets.  I patiently explained that for the scene to grow, people, resources and organisation must all develop in step, or else things topple over.  The huge black void of not knowing what step to take is Rukundo’s trial of faith.  He needs everyone to own and embrace it, else they will only be over-dependent. 

Wakey had slipped outside with a couple of the guys hanging around, Fabrice and Obed.  They laughed animatedly, trying to overcome the difficulties of communication.  Rukundo was impressed how easily they’d engaged.  It gave him a perspective on taking people to your heart.

We walked down to the church in bright sunshine.  The case with our kit hadn’t come from home, and we were going to have to fire from the hip.  Chatting around, I started “Jesus, we are here”, then “Jesus, nous sommes ici”.   Claud spontaneously translated into Rwandan, and everyone clapped and sang with delight.  “We’ll teach this to Pastor,” they agreed.  

Left to run the evening meeting, Wakey and I decided it was time to get practical.  I explained about congregation Sharings (or Needs and Givings).  Claud went round all the 40 or so folks writing down their responses.  The atmosphere was gripping.    On the other “I have time to do some cooking”.  Claud frowned, “The Needs are more than the Givings.”  “Don’t worry,” I reassured, “It’s always like that.”  We'd moved the church forward in 'Jesus economics'.

Rukundo gathered his Congolese brothers together while I watched the lizards running across the concrete ceiling in the very dim illumination.

On the way home I wondered why this leg of our trip had been so absorbing: you’ll see it in the length of the day-by-day reports.  First, we were staying in the community, which created much more interaction with Rukundo, etc.  Second, it was my first time in Rwanda, whereas I’ve been to Kenya before.  Third, it’s been very special.  We’ve sensed we’ve engaged with the spiritual atmosphere.  In Kenya, it was more with the saints (or bishops) and their ways. 
Here it’s been like the strong spirit of humanitarian progress has been challenged by the only real answer- God’s Kingdom. I've heard it in the back of my mind: "How dare you speak of this Lord Jesus, with His new humanity.  We have all the solution they need."

The evening ended with a special farewell meal of beans, fish, sweet potatoes and ugali (maize meal), followed by fresh papaya.  I've noted you don't see any tubby Rwandans.

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