Friday, 9 March 2012

Africa - Day Six Monday

“Do you want to use the shower first?” I mumbled to Jason.  This was the day we were finally going our separate ways.  He and Jonny were due to start the journey up country to Kimilili a couple hours before Wakey and I headed for the airport and Rwanda.  Breakfast over, I paid up our accommodation with Faith.  Then the tedious mechanics of packing.  Wet things and what may leak isolated into plastic bags;, a perfunctionary attempt to keep shirts tidily folded; and padding out any breakables (including the Marmite jar) with a towel or something similar.  I should have taught Jason this routine to offset the earlier results of his glue canisters splitting.

Gregory hummed his way into the lounge.  We were nowhere near ready.  Jaon was in the shower (and forgot his gell, which I then enjoyed for the rest of the trip).  Finally the Kimilili contingent all climbed into the car about 10 o’clock.  Wakey settled back with his Kindle, while I made a rough job of trimming my beard.  Then I realised that one of my plastic case handles was split and likely to rip somebody’s hand.  So out again came the contents, while I patched up the handle with parcel tape.  The day wasn’t going too well.  I rang Rukundo to confirm our arrival time in Kigali.  Then I got to speak to Mary.  My final words: “I’ll give you a quick ring when we’ve landed, to let you know we’re okay.”

When our lift was 15 minutes overdue, Wakey muttered, “I’ll give Carlson a ring; I’ve already texted him.”  “Let’s get the stuff down to the car-park,” I tried to sound relaxed.  Carlson arrived distressed and apologetic.  He’d knocked a cyclist off his bike, and broken a wing mirror in the process.  His agitation didn’t subside on the journey, but we blessed him as we parted.  Jonny texted us to say, “Haven’t left Nairobi yet, but Jason had found a shop.”  Boarding at Jomo Kenyatta was uneventful, and Wakey got a window seat.  The plane taxied out early, with all the safety checks done in Swahili.  The captain announced an hour and twenty minute flight, but not to Kigali.  And our scheduled fight time was over two hours.  I anxiously quizzed a steward, who explained there was a flight stopover at Bujumbura. 

Wakey and I chatted animatedly about the perils and joys of senior leadership.  We didn’t know what awaited us in Rukundo’s community, and we wrestled with what may put fire back into ours.  “I’ve changed,” Wakey confided.  “Before we came I’d have been straight into those airport gift shops, but not now”.  He’d been kindly slipped some personal spending money, and was now embarrassed by the thought of treating himself.  “Even wanting to be generous to Carlson, I realised all I’ve got is Western consumer goods.”  I pointed out that the values of economising, and deferring spending, that I'd grown up with, are completely absent in his generation.  As a result, community struggles to take hold.  The same with sexualisation and celibacy.  Wakey would like to bring the whole Farm out here.

For reference, Bujumbura is the capital Burundi.  Under an hour after our exchange of passengers, we were banking over the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika and heading for Kigali.  We waited outside the modern airport frontage.  And waited.  “Kigali’s rated as one of the top telecoms centres,” I confirmed.  But neither of us could get a mobile signal - to contact Rukundo, or find out how Jason and Jonny were doing.  So we waited.  Rukundo did turn up, with apologies and Pastor Godfrey.  Soon we were swaying and bumping along the rutted mud road that winds round the local residences.  Standing in the lounge, we were introduced to the house family and various others who’d turned up to greet us.  “Welcome home to the Multiply team” was posted on our bedroom door.  This was a much-anticipated visit, and Ian and I were humbled.

I was left a little confused by some names, as most were French in origin.  Rwanda only made English the official language in the last three years.  They drive on the right, too.  Erika served our meal: sweet potatoes, avocado, cooked banana and beef stew.  Godfrey and I were pursuing a criticism that had genuinely pained him.  “English church leaders say that unless we stop speaking against the law that is being proposed here for gay marriages, we’ve got closed minds.  Brother, I’ve preached the gospel for 25 years, I have planted churches, I have run an orphanage, and trained leaders.  I am troubled that I should have a closed mind.”  Godfrey also advises government officials, businessmen and church leaders on what constitutes healthy social life based on biblical principles like servant leadership.  We found agreement that the gospel is transformational, but education is reformational.  He was offended, too, that our government should be insisting developing nations introduce liberal-agenda civil rights policies as a precondition to any aid or trade agreements.

Yet again, I’m apologising for what comes from the Christian West that developing nations’ church leaders must not accept uncritically.  “Ah, in the West,” He continued, “You have schedules and programmes.  But here in Africa we say ‘God will provide’.”  It was a shrewd two-edged observation that Gregory had also voiced. 
We’d gone through an hour’s time zone change, and I was noticeably tired when Rukundo outlined where he would like us to help his community.  “Brother, there is plenty of time”, he smiled, topping up my glass with home-made fruit squash.  Clearly there was also plenty to do!

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