Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Into Rwanda

We left Uganda about a week after getting there. I was very excited to get to Rwanda because Jason had really fallen for the country and had made a lot of friends that he was excited for us to meet. Rwanda is a beautiful country. There are many mountains and the country is very green and tropical. The farmland was like patchwork fields of tea, coffee, and rice. There are littering laws in Rwanda, so there is no trash along the streets. The people seem to care about the environment and try to build gardens where they can.
Patchwork fields

Mountain top view

City in the trees

City street

Jason trekking for chimps

In Butare we stayed in a nice house that is called CASA House (Come and See Africa). CASA is the organization that brought us to the area. All of Jason's initial contacts were made with people in this organization. CASA's goal is to support students from the University of Rwanda in their spiritual lives. It is a place for teaching faith-based classes and a place for University students to gather and to serve. The house itself had three bedrooms, a nice sized living/dinning area, an office, a kitchen and a bath. It was located about a 20-30 minute walk from the center of town in a neighborhood called Mukoni.

View of the CASA House from the street

CASA House

View from CASA's backyard

There was a wonderful girl named Rose who cooked us 3 meals a day, cleaned the house, and did our laundry. She spoiled us. She was very sweet and a little shy. There was also a great guy named Jack who was the guard. He was friendly always smiling. Many of the homes in Rwanda have a wall or fence around them and often families hired guards to watch their homes. Jason really loved Jack and Rose because they were there from the start of his trip. When he was very sick they took care of him. They were special to him.

Jason with Rose

Sweet Rose doing our laundry

Rose lived in the house with Robina, you heard about Robina from Jason's emails. She is the "manager" of the CASA house. She was a "fire cracker". She was always on top of things and always busy meeting and greeting. She was a lady who could get things done; a true business woman. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was a lot of fun to hang out with.

Robina with a neighborhood family

Robina leading a morning devotional

Frank was also an employee of CASA. He lived with his wife and two young girls. He was Jason's interpreter and friend during the entire trip. He was one of those people that Jason was very anxious for us to meet. Frank was always smiling and laughing. He was great at telling funny stories and had a lot of friends.

Frank, making a joke as usual


Pastor David made a huge impression on me. He was a member of the CASA board. He was Anglican priest who quit his job to start a community service that catered to children and others in his surrounding neighborhood. He runs an after school program for children. He also has a program to teach sewing (tailoring) to women, so that they learn a skill in order to get a job. He has built this wonderful set of buildings that he uses to serve others in the community. I think the thing that impressed me the most was how wise and understanding he was. He seemed to understand our silly "American" ways. He respected everyone. He had a sense of quiet service that touched people. He, his wife and family were a true blessing to me.

Pastor David with children

Pastor David's garden

Outside the sewing class

Pastor David's neighbors

Pastor David's wife let me borrow traditional dress

Say cheese!

The other Americans on our team where Chris Foreman (the director of CASA) and Mark Shin another confused American like us. Mark was in his early 20s and just wanting to see and do something different when he decided to come on this trip. He was a lot of fun. Always positive and kinda quirky, he was a great friend and we really enjoyed him. Chris was a great guy, as well. He was busy doing his own mission work, so he was very understanding of us doing our own thing. He was funny and laid-back. We really enjoyed our entire "team".

Mark Shin, Mark Singleton, Chris Foreman, me, and Johnson (McCoy0)

Three amigos

Mark playing for the kids

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