Rwanda Recollections

By Natasha.

This is REAL!

Tickets have been purchased, boxes are being packed, and goodbye parties are planned.

Sometimes the move feels surreal. Are we really moving across the world in a matter of weeks? What will it be like to live in Rwanda? These questions keep running through my mind. I did thankfully get the chance to visit Rwanda for the first time in March. Although my time there was limited, I did get a very small taste of what it will be like for us in the coming months and years.

Rwanda is unlike any country I’ve ever visited. It’s a beautiful place and very different from the US and Europe  (Captain Obvious here, but it’s true!). Sometimes when you become so accustomed to a certain type of landscape, vastly different locations almost seem unreal at first.

As the plane was landing, I was greeted by lush green, rolling hills…and heat! Even though it was 1am when I arrived, there was a nice warm breeze. Rwanda is right on the equator but Kigali’s higher elevation keeps the temperature pretty reasonable. I’m told it’s usually around 80 degrees most days.

Our friend Dan picked me up from the airport (Ethan and I flew on different flights since I was only able to come at the last minute). The first thing I noticed when we drove out of the airport were all of the motorcycles (motos) weaving in and out of the traffic and the seemingly endless number of roundabouts. The main roads are paved in the city but many of the side roads are not. Driving a 4×4 vehicle seems pretty helpful, especially if you ever want to drive out of the city.

Monkey

The MONKEYS!

After a couple of days visiting with our friends in Kigali, we (Ethan, our pastor Jay, and Dan) drove north to the city of Musanze. On our way we saw a troop a monkeys (definitely a highlight of my day!) and we drove past villages and lots of people. I was  surprised to see people actually carrying items on their heads walking down the road! I do not know why, but for some reason I didn’t think this was a normal activity, but it turns out that it is. We even saw a man carrying a large wooden desk on his head! I would really like to know how a person goes about developing this skill. Maybe moving boxes will be an easier feat for me in the future.

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Coffee with Kari

Based on a small amount of observations, it seems like life for us in Kigali will be pretty different than if we lived in a place like Musanze. For the most part, Kigali feels fairly modern. The city is really clean, there are coffee shops to visit, and restaurants (although there aren’t any American chains, not even KFC, which randomly seems to be in every other country I’ve ever been to). But…the electricity goes out for short periods many times a day, internet can be sketchy, water is limited and it is possible that you might run out of it if you do not ration it well enough (or the city might just turn off the water too).

Living in Rwanda is bound to fill our lives with joy, new stresses, and a whole mix of other emotions. Moving is hard. No one likes leaving behind their friends and having to pretty much start over with new people. Certainly moving to a culture that is vastly different from our home culture will present it’s own set of challenge, and I hope we are ready to face them.

How can anyone ever really be ready to walk into something so unknown? I don’t know if it’s possible to truly be ready, but I believe that taking this risk worthwhile and that God is leading us in this. I know that God will sustain us through everything we are about to face, but I am also praying for the grace to finish well, here at home, even as we are looking toward our new horizon.