29 July, 2009

The Home is Full of People!

Oh my. So much time has gone by. I apologize - I was journaling this AM and realized there was so much I had forgotten to write down! It's weird, time goes so slowly here and yet the day gets away from you. I woke up today thinking - is it Thursday? Tuesday? Wednesday? I had to count the days from church - so on Monday my friends went to Kigali and we got estimates for window screens. Tuesday Deo left for a few days and we did a village visit. So, yes, today in Wednesday!

Last weekend found six additional people in Nyagatare from the U.S.! A member of my DC church plus three friends, along with a DC friend in Kigali and her roommate, came up to see Deo and spent time with the other 2 Rez members here and myself. Needless to say Deo's house was overflowing! While they stayed at the local guest house, we took most of our meals in Deo's home. There was a lot of laughter and encouragement. One of the girls who came has been with Peace Corps in Ethiopia for a year and half. I got to speak with her briefly with her about the challenges of adjusting to Africa life as a single woman.

So today, I thought I would spend some time telling you about who I am living with.

Deo is the Archdecon of Nyagatare - meaning he has five churches under him. The primary is located in the city of Nyagatare. The rest are located in the Nyagatare district. Deo is very dark, while most people in Rwanda has cocoa colored skin, Deo's is like oil. His skin only makes his beauitful smile more pronounced. Deo loves to laugh and to joke and is always smiling. He also loves to talk! And can preach a sermon on a moments notice. He loves discipleship and thinks it should be a two way street. He keeps telling me I am here to teach him things as well. He has caught onto a phrase I didn't realized I used as much as I do: Sounds good. Now everything "Sounds Good" to Deo. His son misunderstood and says, "Seems Good." I might have to incorperate that into my vocab.

Deo's family left Rwanda in 1959 and became refugees in Brundi where he lived for the next 35 years. In 1994, after the genocide, Rwanda called all its displaced people home so Deo and his family moved to Nyagatare. It's amazing, after living in another country for 35 years Deo and his wife both considered Rwanda home. I assume there was a large Rwanda community in Brundi because all of the displaced Rwandans kept a very strong sense of their culture. Deo became the pastor of the Nyagatare church in 2000 (I think) and is a sought after member of the community. People come to his home all the time for conversation and consultation. Deo loves people in a truly Christ like way. It appears to come naturally to him. He also loves God. Deo will pray before going out and thank God upon returning home. His faith is simple yet so deep and intimate. It is so large where as I struggle to find a mustard seed of faith. 

Deo's wife is Beatrice - also called Bea or Darling. Deo and Bea refer to each other as darling, "When Darling gets home we can eat." "I heard from Darling today..." It is very sweet! Bea is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She is striking - where Deo is one of the darkest Africans I have met, Bea has light chocolate skin. She is also always smiling, especially when Deo is teasing her about something. She is very joyful, very happy, and loves to laugh. Bea is currently getting her MA in Counseling and so spends the first part of the week in Kigali doing her practicum. She is currently learning English, so we have some good conversations. I told her if she'd help me with my French, I'd help her with her English. Her beauty comes from the inside out, while she is physically lovely, she is radiant because of her joy - her Christ centered joy. She finds her worth in her God and her the legacy she is leaving in her children. What an amazing example for her daughters that she is pursuing a MA now. Bea loves to say "Oohh la la" when something is beautiful or someone looks smart (put together, well dressed). She gave me a dress last week and when I tried it on she exclaimed, "Oohh la la!"  I am doing a poor job of capturing Bea - but let me say that I feel like one of her children, I could go to her when I am lonely, or sad, and she would comfort me like one of her own.

Deo and Bea have 5 children - 2 sons and then 3 daughters. The oldest is studying IT in India. The next two oldest children are in secondary school and the last two are in primary. Only the youngest daughter still lives at home. The rest are at boarding schools - a very common occurance in Rwanda. All secondary schools are boarding, and some primary are as well. I don't know if it's because of distance from home, but most kids are in boarding schools. All of the kids (minus the one in India) have been at home since I've been here on holiday. It has been a joy getting to know the kids - they are incredible. They speak English better than they think they do. If you can get them talking you are able to have some good conversations. All schools are being taught in English, so most children in Rwanda speak some English. Though you would think it was limited to, "How are you? I am fine." if you walked down the street.

It is nice to see the family interact. The house is definitely more lively when Bea is home - she gathers her children around her, and it's not long until the laughter starts. Deo and Bea love their children and encourage them in the different strengths they all have. But, they definitely know how to tease each other! There has been more than one night I have stopped what I was doing to listen to the sisters giggle together. I don't know what they are saying, but occassionally a roar of girlish laughter will fill the home, then they will go back to talking.  Just another indicator that while there are so many things different at our core people really are the same.