Expedition to Giti

Trip Start Mar 26, 2012
Trip End Apr 29, 2012

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Where I stayed
Chez Lando

Flag of Rwanda  , Northern Province,
Friday, April 13, 2012

Last night just before I went to bed, Mr. Mundeli called: change of plans. Since Friday was the closing day of the week of commemoration of the genocide, local authorities around Muhazi had commandeered the location at the last minute for a ceremony. So it would not be available to us for our service and actitivies. So we would go going all the way to Giti. Since it's the rainy season and the road to Giti is rough and slick in places, I asked Mr. Mundeli to arrange a 4WD vehicle, not everyone could ride in it, some members would be in a van, but the 4WD would be available to pull other vehicles if necessary and would help ensure we could be in Giti on time, and make it back down the mountain whatever the weather might do.

So this morning we had an early breakfast and were ready to go at 07:15 as planned. James arrived a few minutes before we needed to leave so he could ride with us. A driver and 4WD vehicle chosen by Samuel arrived right on time. We climbed in and started out toward Giti. We stopped first on the outskirts of Kigali, near the "bus station" to pick up more people. The Burumés with their 8 children had arrived from Bukavu in the Congo. They were waiting in the parking long of a gas station. We got out and greeted them all, being introduced to all the children who were very smartly dressed. We took five of them in the farthest back seats of the WD and Mrs. Burumé got into the middle seats with James and me, and as a light rain began to fall we started out again toward Giti.

On the way I talked with Mrs. Burumé about the situation in the Kivu, where she said there is no real government at the moment. Kinshasa has no control over the region which is so rich in rare minerals that it is always a much sought-after prize among regional warlords. I commented that riches can sometimes become a curse and she strongly agreed “the riches of Kivu have become a curse for the people living there” she said.

Soon it was raining heavily which is not uncommon for the season. Samuel drove in front to show the way with his taxi full of people and behind us came a van full driven by another trusted driver named Pierre. We drove half an hour on the paved road and then turned off onto dirt roads for the 90 minutes further it would take to get to Giti. The ride was not comfortable. A 4WD can pull through tough spots better, but the suspension is harder as well so one feels each rut and rock. After a bone-jarring ride up the mountain side we finally arrived in Giti at our church hall. It was still raining steadily and hard. We waited about 20 minutes for the van to catch up, they had fallen behind in the rain and we hadn’t noticed with the poor visibility.

The hall was organized as we shook hands all around and greeted old and new friends and getting set for services. It was at this point I noticed that the Burumés youngest son had sores all over his head. I asked about them. “He has chicken pox” was the reply. Hmm. Jim and I tried to recall what the incubation period was and if one is still contagious if once the sores break out….

We began about 10:30 under a driving rain that pounded on the tin roof; sometimes so hard it was hard to hear anyone speak. We sang hymns and the deacon Mr. Sobobugingo gave a sermonette about why the Feast lasts 7 days. He had to stop for 5 minutes in the middle because the rain came so hard we couldn’t hear him even when he raised his voice. After 5 minutes the rain lightened enough that he could start again. I know we were praying silently that God would cause the rain to stop or at least slacken so that we could understand the speaking.I gave some news and announcements, and talked briefly about the offering we would give, and Mr. Franks gave greetings and commented briefly on his trip thus far. We had some lovely, colorful and rhythmic special music, and then the offering basket was passed. They have the custom of here of listening to a tape from years ago as offertory music (on a battery powered tape player). It is a recording of the old chorale from Geneva Switzerland from the late 1980s or early 1990s. I recognize some of the voices. And I’m always amazed that the tape has not worn out after all these years. But it’s part of a custom they very much enjoy so it will no doubt continue until the tape finally fails.

We were all thankful to note that as the time for the sermon approached, the rain slackened and then as Jim Franks was introduced for the sermon, the rain stopped altogether. There was no more rain for the remainder of the day, and in fact the skies cleared and we had bright sunshine.

Mr. Franks spoke on the meaning of the annual festivals as steps in the master plan of salvation for humanity. People listened attentively and took many notes as he spoke. James translated the sermon phrase by phrase. Sometimes he would be stumped either to understand an expression or to find the right translation. He has only recently learned English and it more proficient in French as are all the church members who speak a European language.  In those times, Patrick could suggest other Kinyarwanda translations and I could add a phrase in French to clarify what was meant, which allowed Mr. Mundeli to give a better Kinyarwanda translation. It was a group effort at translation which required patience and extra concentration from Mr. Franks, who had to maintain his train of thought as he waited for the translation process.

After the service, we took a group portrait, and then the ladies began preparing for a light meal. Such meals must be transportable, and prepared without refrigeration or electricity. This time it was avocado, bananas, peanuts (for protein), unleavened drop bread, and a soda. In honor of Mr. Franks visit, there was some beef and chicken and a little cheese as well. I passed around some taffies at the end for dessert, even such a small treat is appreciated by the members here who are mostly subsistence farmers.

By the time everyone had eaten it was time to start cleaning up and preparing for the trip home (for those who didn’t live in Giti). We drove out about 3:30. It took about two hours to get back to Kigali, on the rough road, so the sun was near the horizon when we arrived back. We dropped Mrs. Burumé and the children at the Christian hostel where they’re staying and then continued back to Chez Lando.

Jim and discussed the day’s events for half an hour or so and then went to have dinner at the Mille Collines, the hotel, I mentioned before, made famous by the film Hotel Rwanda. It has a very nice French-style restaurant on the top (fourth) floor which is open on one side, since the climate allows such an arrangement. We had a pleasant dinner, contemplating the view of the night lights of Kigali, and all the things that had occurred here in this small remote corner of Africa.

Then we headed back to our hotel for the night. We will have another long, no doubt interesting  day tomorrow.
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Bernard on

Hi Joel,

Good to hear everything went well. You are a real trooper in those parts of the world. Inspiring to read your blog. Amazing the rain stopped falling when Jim was ready to speak. It must have been important for them to hear. All the best for the end of your trip. The Francois have been through a lot since the Feast, but were encouraged yesterday. I'll keep you posted. Take care

With Brotherly Love to Jim and you and all the members


Evelyn Adkins on

Brings back some wonderful memories. The road looks as rough as we remember it. Maybe not as slick!!!

Linda Morgan on

Love their commitment to God as the travel on Sabbath is something to get to where ever they have to be. Love their Sabbath wear. Thanks for the updates, we appreciate them. Our love and continual prayers for our brethren.. and pastors of course :)

Tess Washington on

Good to see you and Mr. Franks! Love looking at all the pictures of the brethrens! It is encouraging to see their faithfulness and dedication to this way of life!

Emily Stoner on

I feel like I am reading another book in the Bible about God's ministers traveling to the remote churches of the world. You are both lights to God's children. :--)

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