A day on Lake Muhazi
Trip Start Sep 08, 2013
13Trip End Oct 04, 2013
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Patrick arrived at the same time as the vehicle, so the four of us set out toward Muhazi which is about an hour away, most of the drive on good blacktopped roads. As we talked, the language change happening in Rwanda became very apparent. This used to be a French-speaking nation (as far the European languages go – of course Kinyarwanda is the first language), but as of a few years ago the government decreed they were going to switch to English. Rwanda (and Burundi) joined the East African Community in 2007, the other members of which are English-speaking: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. When I first met Patrick and James they spoke French, now they are equally at ease, perhaps more so in English. Increasingly I find educated Rwandans who speak little or no French, but English instead. This is quite a cultural shift.
So as we talked, we wandered back and forth from English to French depending on the subject and the vocabulary they wished to use. We talked about learning new languages, and the challenges of keeping them separate. We discussed the relative value of European languages, and which ones would be most useful to Africans. They were curious about which languages are most widely spoken, and how useful Spanish might be, as opposed to other languages.
They asked what Texas was like (where my wife and I have just moved), and were shocked when I told them it is often over 40° C (104° F) during the summer. They told me the hottest temperatures in Rwanda are only around 28° C (83 F). They wanted to know about snow. Patrick did an internship with BBC in London a year or so ago and was very disappointed when it did not snow in the winter; he still wants to experience it some time.
They ask about the political situation in the US and if I thought the US would somehow attack Syria. Patrick said he thought Rwandan opinion was not favorable to a strike. He also said that public opinion has soured on President Obama in spite of their related origins.
The time passed quickly with these fellows who I’ve had the privilege to watch grow up into very fine young men.
We arrived at Lake Muhazi around 9:30. Mrs. Mundeli was there with the small congregation from Kayenzi. It was a joy to catch up with their family news, although we were all sad that Mr. Mundeli was sick at home.
Following the service we had a short break and then reconvened for the blessing of the little children. There were six to be blessed from four families. Their names are Dorcas, Acsa, Laetitia, Japheth (an interesting name for Africa…), Eric and Alexis. They ranged in age from one to eight years of age. Eight is a little older than usual for this service since the example of Jesus is to take the children in one’s arms to ask the blessing, but Alexis’ father picked him up easily, so everything went well.
Following this ceremony, I changed into my water clothes and had the privilege of baptizing Matthias and Grace in Lake Muhazi. They speak no French or English so everything had to be translated, including directions on how the baptism itself would be conducted. This isn’t always as simple as it might seem since the Greek word translated baptism means
This was a very joyous occasion and as is there custom here, the congregation sang a special song about the meaning of baptism after the event, and many members congratulated our new brother and sister in the faith.
James and I rode back together talking all the way about many and varied things: the challenges of being a single Christian when the prospects of finding a Christian bride seem remote, faith, what is our part to play and what is God’s part in such situations, how baptism enters the equation, and so on. James has thought deeply about these things and we had a very interesting discussion.
As I walked down to Chez Lando’s famous barbecue pit, I saw probably 50 westerners, dressed for some occasion, coming to the restaurant. I never used to see so many white people at the same time in Rwanda; this is becoming much more of a tourist destination now, and one sees ever larger tour andr volunteer groups. There is much more change and progress apparent in Rwanda than in any other African country I visit.
Tomorrow will be my last day in Rwanda, and in the middle of tomorrow night I’ll start the long journey to Togo via Ethiopia.