we’re deep in the rainy season now, april being known for the cold. it’s like a good spring in the pacific northwest. some days sit with a drizzling mist of a rain, reminding me much of home. but this is not the slow waking up from winter, this is a pause between summers.
saturdays at j.lynns and the downpours come in waves. rain and sun dancing their way around the valley. the dark clouds move on eventually, the sky opens up in a majority of places. the clouds that remain grow massive, mountainous, the kinds of clouds that awe you, that make you remember how big is the sky.
i’ve been thinking lately about being here for three months. i have surpassed the number of days i lived in rome. these days, now and henceforth, mark the longest i have lived outside of the united states. i try and think about what life looked like at the end of three months in rome; the relationships i had, the kinds of ministry we were involved in, the plans i was making for the future. it is different after three months here. i don’t think we have as many strong relationships as i felt i had after my time in rome, but we are a part of a different sort of thing now. all i had to do before was unpack my suitcase and jump in. here, there are still start-up items unchecked on a list somewhere; ministry in the early days took a backseat to, well, getting settled. we are here for a while; this is not an arrive-serve your guts out-fly home kind of trip. this is a long chapter of life, and i suppose sometimes that takes time.
joel and liz ended their time here last week, flying off to do a little traveling in turkey before heading back home to australia. two years they lived in kigali. as usual, i try and make sense of such a statement by equating it to something else. two years i lived in central illinois, got married, made a home, planned our exit, and, eventually, took it. two and a half years steph and i have been married. we dated for two years before marriage, which included a summer at firwood, a season in rome, an internship in nashville, the completion of collegiate studies. a lot can happen in two years.
and thus i think about what will and can happen in the next two years that we are here. i have been having good conversations with serge lately, planning and dreaming as well as getting to know more of his heart and vision. and after such conversations i can say again, in hope, that a lot can happen in two years.
we had a farewell shindig for joel and liz last saturday, a gathering of mostly everyone they worked with over the last couple of years. burgers were served, conversation was had, prayers were said.
as the evening was winding down, jen and serge’s four year old, beni, came out with a big tube of bubbles. and so in the green of their yard at night, i blew bubbles for the boy to pop. i spun around, the wand outstretched, and it looked like i was growing mystical lightbulbs, the swirling lights of the yard, house, and city reflected brilliantly.
i had my first bout with sickness here last week, a great three month anniversary activity. i spent a day feverish; most of the time in a haze of sleep and discomfort, sometimes on the toilet with a bucket in my hands. the day before, i had taken a long and unplanned walk from town to the bakery, a good hour and a half stroll. upon hearing of this adventure after the conclusion of my sickness, jen informed me that it was most probably not from an ill-favored bit of food as originally supposed, but from heat stroke. never had i heard that such a thing could be the case. but i suppose it makes sense. i felt pretty crappy one day after coming back from kibuye, having climbed all over those hills for a couple days. the tenuous relationship between the equatorial sun and i continues.
like advent, lent is a season i have tried to incorporate more and more into my spiritual journey. but like advent this last season, time for hanging out with lent has been minimal due to a number of things. we attended an ash wednesday service all those days ago with our friends anna and travis. this was part of the kick-off ceremonies in my head. unfortunately not much happened after that. so, reflecting on my own retroactive personal advent i had after christmas, i have started the same sort of thing with lent and easter. letting artists like john mark mcmillan and pas neos provide the background music, i watch 24-7 prayer podcasts i should have been watching earlier, read some key passages, write some things down, think about those little topics like the resurrection.
easter weekend saw us jump into leading worship without arsene and olivier, our rwandan musical pillars. so we worked out some songs in kinyarwanda with serge and a couple j.lynn’s ladies – that another guy ended up leading, thankfully – and chose the english ones based on songs we knew the people knew, throwing in a couple new ones because they were too good and seasonally appropriate to pass up. but that’s the problem. i loved the music for the songs were the kinds of things i would want to sing on good friday and easter. they meant something to me. one has that sort of power when one is picking the songs. but i felt a sense of unease as i realized that i could not thus provide that same meaning behind the songs for our rwandan co-worshippers. but, as usual in any worship setting, we hope the songs simply open up the way to something bigger. still, i am more determined than ever to buckle down and commit to memory some good songs in kinyarwanda. and, well, a lot can happen in two years.