Meeting friends old and new

Thursday, April 05, 2018
Kigali City, Rwanda
This morning I continued my work, until mid-morning, when Mr. Mundeli arrived at the hotel with Madame Burumé from the city of Bukavu just over the border in eastern Congo. She lost her husband two years ago, and since their family is alone in the church in that region, the holy day periods are especially difficult for her to observe alone. She asked Mr. Mundeli for some help to come spend the spring holy days with the church in Rwanda. He agreed.
We caught up on the news and discussed our plan of action for this visit. Mrs. Burumé is thankful for the assistance the Church has provided so she can keep her children in school. She is concerned by the dilapidated state of her house. He husband built the wooden structure on their lot, intending it to be temporary, until he could raise the funds to build one in concrete. She said the house could fall at any time. The problem is the inflated prices in eastern Congo where the mineral reserves, foreign mining interests and actions of various warlords have caused prices to rise to astronomical levels. To build even a small house would cost close to the price of a small house in parts of the United States, many times the assistance we have given anyone else in Africa. So we are trying to find a solution that balances need, reasonableness, fairness, and what we have available. We’ve been discussing this for quite a while and still haven’t found a good solution.
Toward lunch time, Mr. Mundeli said he had some errands to run, he and Mrs. Burumé would run errands and grab a bite and be back at 2:30 when a group of members who are interested in coming to our association would arrive to meet me and have a discussion. They left and Marjolaine and I went back to the room. I continued my work, while she went for a swim. But almost immediately I receive a call that the new little group was at the reception desk.
I called Mr. Mundeli to ask him to return to the hotel as soon as he could, and wrapped up my work for the moment. By the time I was able to go to the lobby, Mr. Mundeli was arriving too. We met a longtime member named Jack, whom Mr. Mundeli knew from years back. Jack and family members were coming from another church association and had been cared for by an older friend of ours. We had served in the ministry in Europe at the same time in the 1980s. This pastor friend speaks French and English (among several other languages), but some of the new people coming along spoke neither, only Kinyarwanda and it would becoming difficult to the point of impossibility to serve them, since he didn’t have a good translator. So he called me and ask if we’d be willing to serve them. That was the point of this contact: would we be able to work together?
The initial meeting went well. We chatted briefly and then Mr. Mundeli suggested they go have a bite to eat and come back at 2:30 as initially planned.
When they returned, we talked about old times, about Mr. Bernard Andrist, a Swiss pastor, who was my predecessor working in Rwanda for the Church. We talked about our history and our individual stories, and about our plans for the future. We invited them, a group of five, to our service on the last holy day tomorrow, and arranged transport for them.
Finally in the middle of the afternoon we parted ways and said until tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a big day and very full. The government, in an effort to crack down on home-grown and sometimes extreme or ignorant religious groups has passed a law making it illegal to hold a church service anywhere but in a church hall. So we can’t rent the lovely site in Muhazi, but must go all the way to mountain-top Giti, which during the rainy season can be quite an adventure.
To celebrate the start of the last holy day, Marjolaine and I had dinner in the top floor restaurant at the hotel. It has a beautiful plunging view on the hills of Rwanda. The climate in the country is such that the restaurant is open to the air all year round. It’s not possible to close it all completely. Sometimes a sweater or jacket is required, but no more than that; dining here is a very pleasant experience. The food is excellent and the menu surprisingly affordable. We’ll be back.

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Cecil Maranville

It is encouraging to see that we are able to work together for the sake of serving those whom God is calling!