Sunday, January 9, 2011

Family and Church Get-togethers

Here's the picture I promised with Dave and Rachel Bucura.

Friday evening after returning to the house, was the Christmas holidays family reunion for Rachel's side of the family.  About four couples showed up in two cars, with a few teenagers and kids.  Rachel, her daughters, and her domestic employee had cooked up a feast including ugali, a corn dish that is halfway between cream-of-wheat and Lao sticky rice.

Sitting in a ring of sofas and chairs, there was extensive discussion about culture, economics, and everything else.  Just like with my uncles and aunts in the States... except 100% in Kinyarwanda.  This is really motivating me to hit the books.  Everyone spoke English or French, though, so sometimes when they told a particularly funny joke, it would get translated.  Rachel's brother Fidéle talked about how fresh and tasty the food is in Africa - and why I should really stay here.  Fresh avocados, mangoes, berries - you can just pick
 the corn right off the plant.  He is true.  (A lot of people say "you are true" instead of "that's right.")

Much of this family is in the NGO-related fields.  Habat is in college studying "development studies" and he talked with me for quite a while, with perfect French and very good English.  His language story is amazing although relatively typical: he started college in Uganda without speaking a word of English.  Many classmates complained that he was faking it and actually spoke English.  However, he straightforwardly told them that he was really struggling and asked them to only speak English to him, even if he couldn't understand anything.  And he clearly eventually succeeded.

Habat also did an internship with AGLI mentoring and helping about 20 young at-risk elementary and middle-school boys stay in school.  Although some of them showed significant improvement over the three months, others were harder to reach.  Habat was incredibly open with me, telling stories about tracking down the students defiantly playing hooky and worse.  Despite its emotional difficulty at times, Habat loves this kind of work because he loves to get out of the office and work with people.

Saturday, Jan 8.  Yves and I went back to the city center.  I purchased a cellular modem for $37, and a power cable for the computer.  I also made large-size map prints of the Kigali city.  (1994-vintage declassified "For Military and Humanitarian Use only")  Even with the map, it will be impossible to navigate the buses around Kigali without speaking Kinyarwanda.  Yves estimated cab trips at US $9 for a 20min trip.  I haven't tried that yet.

Returing to the house, I got to participate in a fellowship celebration with the elders of Dave Bucura's Gasharu Church.  They are a young congregation, mostly couples in their 20s and 30s.  As Dave was the first headmaster of a Friends' primary school in Kigali, many of this congregation remember him from when they were students during that time.  In-between, Dave has worked for AGLI doing AVP and HROC, and received a Masters in Theology and Management at Nairobi International School of Theology.  He has also spent much time at many meetings in the USA.  (Look out for my next post on Dave's memories of a conference in Hawaii!)

One of the church song leaders named Baptiste translated me through the five-hour afternoon.  This proved to be key, as Rachel had organized various pick-a-paper-out-of-the-hat icebreaker games, with about 3o people present.

When my turn came to pick a slip of paper out of a hat, I picked the most-feared question of all: to dance.  Actually this wasn't half as difficult as some of the other questions like, "tell us your personal testimony in 5 min," which a young woman had done very gracefully.  Instead of dancing, I sang a song I had learned during the plane flight.  It is part of the audio lessons on SpeakRwanda.com.  Here are the

lyrics:
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Njye nzahora mpimbaza uwiteka / Umwami wange, Imana yange
Njye nzahora mpimbaza uwiteka / Umwami wange, Imana yange

Mugitondo - wo! / Karecyane - wo! / Nzaririmba: hallelujah.
Ndimurugo - wo! / Cyangwa ndyamye - wo! / Nzaririmba: hallelujah.
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I will always praise the Everlasting / My Lord, my God.
I will always praise the Everlasting / My Lord, my God.

In the morning - wo! / Very early - wo! / I will sing: hallelujah
At home - wo! / Even while sleeping - wo! / I will sing: hallelujah
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So that went over quite well, as it turned out to be one of the congregation's frequent hymms.

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