Meetings and remembrances in Kigali

Trip Start Apr 02, 2014
Trip End May 07, 2014

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Where I stayed
Hotel Chez Lando Kigali
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Rwanda  , Kigali,
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Today was mostly an office work day. I woke early and worked on my laptop until breakfast. I noticed water on the floor in the bathroom and notified the hotel staff who sent two workers to have a look in mid-morning. One thought the toilette was leaking, the other thought it was the water heater; the latter of which I believe is accurate. It's a manageable leak for the moment, so we’ll see what they do.

Mr. Mundeli arrived about 9:30. We exchanged greetings and news of our families, and that sat down to catch up on other news and plan for upcoming events. We’ll be here for this coming Sabbath, for the Passover and for the 1st day of Unleavened Bread. We discussed venues and meal arrangements among other things.

We also discussed the situation in the two congregations in Rwanda, how the members are doing. What’s going well and also the challenges they face. Of course poverty presents periodic challenges that most Rwandans must face pretty regularly.

He asked news of the Church’s work and I was happy to be able to give a positive, encouraging report about the workings of our headquarters office, the work of our board of directors, the situation in local congregations in the US and around the world. I also gave an update on how things are progressing in other parts of French Africa.

He was very happy to receive a copy of the latest issue of Discerner, the French version of Discern magazine. The copies we print for church members arrived at the office just before I left on the trip, so I was able to tuck ten copies in my suitcase for advance distribution. There has been a great deal of excitement about the publishing of our new magazine. The print quality and the subject matter have been impressive so far which is most encouraging. The issue I handed Mr. Mundeli has two articles in it which I wrote about Rwanda, so there was an added element of interest for this region.

Shortly before lunchtime, Mr. Mundeli left to run some errands and make arrangements for the next few days. We agreed that the next day I would drive up to his village of Kayenzi to have a look at the small church hall there and the meet with the church brethren there.

At lunch time I walked the half-mile down the hill to Sol e luna, an Italian restaurant that makes good pizzas. The front door was inexplicably locked; there was no note to explain the unscheduled closing. So I walked back up the hill, and had a brochette for lunch, I worked on various projects in my room and did some research about upcoming events having to do with the 20th anniversary commemoration of the genocide. Newspapers are covering the events and Chez Lando is and was one of the hotels hosting official visitors to the ceremonies. It’s been full of Kenyan delegates for the last few days; the western delegates stay at the more expensive hotels near the convention center in town.

The afternoon was spent on more office work, translations, writing and so on. Since Kigali is 5000 feet hig (1500 m) the temperatures and pleasant, and the view from my second floor room down on the gardens is restful. It’s a good place to work.

I looked at some Rwandan papers to see their stories on the commemoration. One article in particular was sad. Faced with the genocidal violence, some priests and pastors resisted and paid with their lives, attempting to protect their parishioners. But many other Christians had been drawn into the violence; including notably some high officials, out of fear or some other motivation. Understandably, the reputations of various denominations, and perhaps Christianity as a whole, have yet to fully recover. It is thought-provoking and frightening to try to imagine one’s self placed before such choices of life or death, suffering for right, or compromise to escape.

When dinnertime rolled around, I walked down to the restaurant where it’s less noisy that the barbecue pit, and had an avocado and a bowl of mushroom soup for dinner.

What I didn’t have for dinner was the brochette of beef intestines. The waiter assured me they were delicious. Maybe if they run out of other parts of the beef….

After dinner, I was able to have a Skype conversation with Marjolaine back home. We caught up on all our news, and commented on how things have changed that we can talk to each other from different continents, essentially for free. When I began traveling to Africa, we had to count the time of our phone conversations since calls could cost as much as $5.00 a minute. Now there’s no extra charge beyond the Internet access we pay for, and at Chez Lando it’s included in the price of the room.

Since I’m still waking up early in the morning, I also ready to head for bed earlier, which I will do again tonight. Tomorrow a driver should be here to pick me up at 08:30 for the 90 minute drive to Kanyenzi.
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mary on

Thank you, Joel, for keeping us informed with the additional pictures from the news. It's hard to imagine the suffering that will be recounted at the memorial observances. As the news headline stated, a cloud of agony that will not go away. The garden view is lovely, and we pray that your next few days there will be peaceful and productive.

Tess Washington on

Thank you Mr. Meeker! Good to hear more about Mr. Mundeli and the 2 congregations! The Discerner magazine is a superb publication...good that we have a French version of it. 20th anniversary of an evil event...very sad...

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