24 July, 2009

Rwanda Rainstorm

We had rain in Nyagatare today! It lasted for three minutes! I
remember growing up in CO and being on a horseback ride - it would
start to rain. All of the guest would reach for their ponchos and
about the time they all got them on the rain would stop. It was weird,
by the thunder I could tell if it was going to be a bad rain or a
short one. I am actually excited for the rainy season to come. A good
rain would be a welcomed gift right now, the muzungu might just go
dance outside if it happens!

We did a home visit last night for a member of the church. It was nice
to be received into someone's home. He is a member of the church, he
and his wife have five kids. The decorations in the homes intrigues
me. There was a 4x6 picture frame with the stock American girl still
smiling back at us. And on the wall was a poster of two American kids
kissing - another stock poster that we would buy at CoachHouse. I have
noticed in other homes we've gone into that they usually have some
decoration of white people. There was a poster last night that
included a very white, blue eyed, blonde haired Jesus. The other home
had a poster of President Kagame.

There are no personal effects on the wall. No wedding or baby photos,
no medals or diplomas. They aren't hung in a logical manner, but
semi-haphazardly. It's as if they are importing decorations from
American movies - but they don't mean anything to them. Last night
there was a stalled clock on the wall - again more for show than use.
But we do the same thing don't we? Have you ever watched MTV Cribs?
You can always tell who lives in their homes vs. who had someone
decorate it. The homes that are lived in have practical things and
mementos that mean something, whereas the others ones are covered in
themed ideas and things that are "nice."

Deo's living room is maxed out for usability. There is a calendar on
the wall that someone he met is in, and above the table there is a
poster of a garden scene. Those are the only decorations on the wall.
All Rwandan homes have some kind of cabinet in the living room - where
they keep their cookware and china. There are no dining rooms, and no
dining room tables. Meals are eaten sitting on the couch, and, if
needed, a coffee table can be pulled up. There are linens on
everything, on the tables, on the backs of chairs, over TV sets - on
any available surface. When it's time for dinner the fancy linen is
removed and replaced with a table cloth - something less ornate and
easier to clean. The dishes are placed on a table at the end of the
room, and everyone serves themselves. In Deo's home, when Bea is here,
if you did not take enough she will come and serve you more chips
(french fries), veggie stew, beans or cassava. You are to be well fed
in Africa. It keeps getting explained to me that "healthy" women are
appreciated in Africa, therefore I should eat up.

They are simple homes with bare walls, but they are warm and
receptive, welcoming and full of love. They are unencumbered with
stuff and distractions, and maybe that frees them up to worry about
what really matters – the relationships that happen inside them.