Kigali Love

Luke 4:16-30 “When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?‘ He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.‘ And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.‘ When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

I had to be a day removed from all of the traveling in order to feel like I could write this. I don’t know why, but I felt like all of the business and distractions might not help my mindset when writing.

This past week, I was on my final retreat in Kigali and we began where things started. We were at the same guest house that we had been at when we arrived many months ago. I had the same room. Life had seem to come full circle.

We took time to process and to think about the future, which was helpful, but the true transition was more difficult than I could have imagined. I think you should know some of my struggles in transitioning. I don’t want you to handle me or try and fix me. I just want you to read and understand however you can.

1) Menus/drive throughesq ordering signs are often overwhelming due to all of the options I have and the descriptions that are given for each item.

2) Stores with lots of noises, aisles, and departments are draining and tire me out a lot.

3) People are at times more entitled than I’m used to and I don’t get why.

4) I keep catching myself starting conversations in Kinyarwanda.

5) People asking how I’m doing is leading me to not reply for some time. It’s difficult to explain this year in a text.

6) Drinking water from the tap is something I have to remind myself is okay.

7) The prices of things throws me. Sometimes I do a general conversation and think, “yeah that’s about the same as it is in Rwanda.” Or “that’s so much more here.” And also, “we have that so cheap here.”

8) I have one phone and so do most people. I don’t have to buy airtime or data bundles. I don’t have to turn my hotspot on from another phone so I can use my current phone. I’ve caught myself frequently thinking I’ve lost my other phone, only to realize that it’s back in Rwanda

9) Seeing a pile of notifications for messages, Facebook, WhatsApp, and various other services is overwhelming. I see the notifications increase and try to find a time to reply all at once, so that I can get it out of the way. It isn’t because I don’t want to talk to people, but rather, it’s because I’m not used to having this much access to ways people could connect to me.

10) Not walking everywhere is weird for me to experience. I find myself misjudging distances and being confused why we just don’t walk. In my head, I know that this city is bigger than Huye and that walking would take hours, but I naturally fall back into the pattern of walking everywhere.

This transition is still going on and I’ll continue to adjust, but I wanted to give you a sense of what I struggle with. There are many more things that I miss, like hearing choirs sing at all hours of the day and watching the sun over Huye mountain, but I know those things are still with me.

I’ve been asked by a few people if I’ll continue to write. Some really want me to, but I think I’m going to stop for now. I might pick it back up in the future, but I’ll need time to readjust, focus, and connect to those around me in an intentional way.

I’d like to thank all who joined me during this journey through reading my blogs. You’ve gotten a small taste of my life in Rwanda. I hope you enjoyed. I’d like to leave you with something if a gift. A lot of my titles of my blogs have been references to songs. Music is a huge part of Rwandan culture. Drums, chanting and signing are heard all over the country.

I wanted to give you a taste of the music that was on my mind throughout this year. It’s part of what I have called “My Story in Rwanda”. It gives you insight into my music tastes but also into the emotions I have been feeling throughout this year. Now, I give that playlist to you.

1) Calling All Angels by The Wailing Jennys

2) Name by The Goo Goo Dolls

3) Love by Nancy Adams

4) Return to Innocence by Enigma

5) Jesus is on the Wire by Peter, Paul and Mary

6) Far From the Home I Love by Michele Marsh and Chaim Topol

7) Only and Ocean Away by Sarah Brightman

8) I’m Still Here by John Rzeznik

9) Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds

10) Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins

11) The Call by Regina Specktor

12) Ego by Beyoncé

13) The Least Complicate by The Indigo Girls

14) Feed the Birds by Julie Andrews

15) Not in a Hurry by Will Reagan & United Pursuit

16) The Steward of Gondor by Billy Boyd

17) This is America by Childish Gambino

18) Where Does the Time Go by A Great Big World

19) Take a Walk by Passion Pit

20) Little Wonders by Rob Thomas

21) Kigali Love by The Urban Boys

God has been doing some amazing things in my life this year and is definitely doing great things in Rwanda. I don’t know necessarily what my “plan” for life is from this point, but I’m taking it day by day. I hope to connect with you at some point, if you have any questions, or simply want to talk. If not, thank for joining this part of my journey and maybe our paths will cross again in the future.

(This is my bedroom at the guest house. I took this on the day I left. All of my bags were packed and I was just making sure nothing was left behind. I love this room for all of the memories that are held inside. It signifies so much more than a resting space for me. It’s part of this journey’s beginning and its end.)

One thought on “Kigali Love

  1. Thank you, Stephen, for sharing this year with us. You have been so open and honest in your writings about the world in which you have been immersed, your reactions to it, and how it has changed you. As with all profound experiences in life, it will take a long time (perhaps even a lifetime) to process what you have experienced. Take your time; let your body and mind readjust; know that you have been changed forever; appreciate your life but know that others love and appreciate theirs in ways different than we do; be grateful for the material things we have in abundance which make our lives easier but know how unnecessary those things are to our well-being and happiness; know the importance of taking time to watch the sunrise/set, to listen to the birds, to enjoy the details you only see on a walk, to value the smiles and friendship offered to you by both those you know and strangers; remember the welcome and kindnesses you experienced as a stranger in a strange land and go and do likewise. I am eager to see what the future holds for you. I love you.

    PS – I love your music list.


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