playing along.

[robbie]

since i started playing the guitar, the longest stretch of time i have gone without leading worship in some capacity was our eight months in washington last year. steph as well has a similar story. and in coming to rwanda, as has been stated earlier, we started attending the little house community church where jen and serge are a part of the leadership. while we are more often than not the only mzungus other than jen, we feel we are becoming a part of that community. there is always sound teaching, even if we are sometimes hearing a translator’s summary, and we have thus had the opportunity to help with worship again.

we are a part of the worship here, but not necessarily the key leaders. we already have brothers arsene and olivier leading and we all know they do a great job. but they lead at three other services on sunday and we feel their desire to let steph and i start taking on a little more.

we practice with the brothers when we can, usually on a friday. and usually just arsene and i with our guitars. speaking of which, did we mention the purchase of a guitar in our early months here? well, though i love my ukulele, i realized quite quickly that it does not replace the versatility of the guitar, so we bought a little acoustic six string that i jam on often.

the other week we had arsene, olivier, and their friend benjamin over to our place for practice and dinner. and, man, what a night. it was an incredible thing to hear five blending voices soaring, filling our home with beautiful songs of praise.

after eating, we drove them down the hill near their place. on the way benjamin told a humorous and depressing joke about how rwanda is a very clean country; clean streets….clean wallets, clean stomachs. this quip exists in and alludes to a country of which we hear much in the west of their great developmental strides. there is a lot of hope about rwanda. but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot of need. we look forward to a stronger economy here, more people coming out of poverty, etc, and are trying to work towards these goals, too. there is undoubtedly much growth in rwanda, but the fact that there needs to be growth means we need to grow from something.

driving home, after a good day’s work at j.lynn’s, steph and i didn’t turn onto our street, but instead continued driving up the hill. and over the hill, down the other side, into a wide and beautiful river valley, and up hills again before turning back. the sun was setting behind the ridge that hid kigali city from us, rays of light being cut to stunning ribbons by the tree-lined hilltops. the thought struck me again that compared to many other major cities in africa, kigali is a big village. if i didn’t know any better driving up from the river, i would never have thought there was a city of over two million just over the next hill. when one is out of the city, one is really out of the city.

theo and i were tasked the other week with procuring bookcases for storage at j.lynn’s. on the backs of motos, at the light-less left turn of impossibility on the way to town we saw the strangest sight. my moto driver was about to make a break for it as the oncoming cars turned right, when from behind the lead car appears a man, well dressed in grey pinstripe pants and vest, tie and shiny purple shirt, literally gliding down the street. this crazy young man, nonchalantly adjusting the buttons on his sleeves, was on roller blades. and as the driver finally took the left turn there he went, powering up the road, dodging cars. i was simply amazed.

the kigali international community school, or kics, put on a production of charlie and the chocolate factory and j.lynn’s had the honor of supplying the treats for sale during the intermissions. steph and jen had been planning for this explosion of sugar for months. the week before the show we were all crazy busy getting everything ready, on top of the regular activities of the bakery. and when i say ‘we’ i mainly mean ‘steph and jen.’ i just helped sometimes. we had sugar cookies, cupcakes, colored popcorn, donut pops, fondue fruit skewers, and (the surprise bestseller) chocolate milk. so friday night and twice on saturday we were out at kics setting up and selling loads of stuff. after the three performances everything was pretty much gone.

between shows on saturday, at the kamari’s, the bright, still day was interrupted by an increasingly heavy breath of wind. looking around i saw the hills to the east being sat upon my hazy masses of a beastly dark grey. and rising up before the advancing wall of cloud came a red-orange haze; the wind ripping down every side street and taking with it all loose dust and dirt. when the wind really struck the house the grit in the air made being outside unbearable and the hills across the valleys were lost in the orange fog. i rolled up the car windows just in time and walked back to the house catching dust in my mouth and eyes and ears. and soon after came the rain, a crushing, constant blanketing of water. an easy ten degrees celsius was dropped. yet within a half an hour the dark moves on and the sun pulls itself out of the clouds again; the earth instantly begins to dry, the sun being great in its forgiveness of the weather’s stormy sins.

getting caught up in the activity and work i sometimes have to step back and take a big picture look at what is actually going on. yes we spent a fair amount of time last week making sugary snacks and selling them. but all that money was made so that the women of j.lynn’s can have jobs and support their families, so that the work of international teams rwanda can continue. and we hope that someday soon the j.lynn’s ladies will be doing all this themselves. so there are a few steps in there, but they are necessary steps, i believe. and i realized years ago that my happy place is working behind the scenes so that many good things can function well. and if that means helping the bakery continue functioning, then so be it, because there is a good purpose behind it. recently this has taken the form of planning for the playground we hope to build on the overgrown lot next to j.lynn’s. i have been climbing trees and through bushes and drawing things. so here’s to happy places, i guess.

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