Office work in Kigali

Trip Start Feb 13, 2011
Trip End Mar 14, 2011

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Flag of Rwanda  ,
Friday, February 25, 2011

I thought I'd be out on Friday, to visit the Mundelis in their family house but another snafu occurred. I was ready to roll at 08:00. The taxi driver who was to come drive me was a relative of the Mundelis who would know exactly where to take me. Since I would be alone, it was advisable to have a driver we knew, and who knew exactly where he was going. I was given a slip of paper with his name on it and his cell phone number. He had an interesting first name: Jean de Dieu (translation: John of God). I couldn’t very well go wrong with a well-connected driver like that!

Around 08:30 a driver showed up, but not Jean de Dieu. He explained in fractured French that Jean de Dieu had had a car accident on the road (not very auspicious) and so he had been sent to drive me instead. I asked if he knew where to take me and he gave a vague answer that didn’t inspire much confidence. I thought for moment about the advisability of heading out into the "bush" with a driver I didn’t know and that the Mundelis apparently didn’t know, and who didn’t really seem to know clearly where I needed to go. I didn’t even know exactly where I needed to go either, so I wouldn’t be any help.

I tried calling the Mundelis several times to discuss the situation with them, but they must not have good cell service where they are. I was unable to get a call through, though I tried for 20 minutes.

Finally I decided to put off the visit, until there was more clarity. I should have time on Sunday before my flight to Bujumbura to make the trip out.

So I thanked the driver and informed him of my change of plans. He smiles and said “no problem” and drove off. A few hours later I received a call from Mr. Mundeli and we discussed the situation. It probably wouldn’t have been dangerous to go, I wasn’t really worried about getting robbed, or disappearing, but something just didn’t feel right about the situation. Mr. Mundeli understood and agreed, and said Sunday would work fine.

For the Sabbath we’ll have to leave early. It’s the last Saturday of the month which means it’s a civic work day. All Rwandans are expected to work all morning on some civic improvement work project: clearing roadside shoulders of weeds, clearing drainage ditches, filling potholes with dirt; manual chores of this nature. If citizens are caught traveling, they are deemed to be shirking, so they can be stopped at police checkpoints which are set up everywhere for this purpose, and impressed into duty on the spot. So we need to try to get to Giti before they set up the checkpoints.

I once had a drunk policeman try to impress me into a work crew as I was on my way to a church service in Giti. In a flash I had a vision of me in my suit and tie wielding a hoe in a ditch somewhere. I was very aware that he was carrying a gun, thoughhe made no threat of using it. Fortunately we were able to talk him out of it, by dropping the name of a sympathetic mayor we would see later in the day (and by silent but energetic prayer). Anyway we’ll plan to leave early tomorrow.

The rest of the day was spent on electronic paperwork: my weekly news update for our French-speaking members and other documents that needed attention.
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Rosie Seltzer on

Praying for your safe arrival to Giti on the Sabbath.

Herve Irion on

As I write this message it is 6:56 AM in Kigali, Texas time plus 8 hours. I hope you will escape all checkpoints and will soon pray for you and the brethren. This Civic Work Day must be a chalenge for the ones keeping the Day of Rest. We are looking to reading from you soon. Que tout ailles bien!

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