11 August, 2009

Congo Thoughts

It's hard for me to capture what it's like in Congo - Rwanda is not Africa, let me put it that way, it is super safe, super clean, super regulated (aka controlled). Westerners are almost immune from harassment because the penalty for it is so harsh, Rwandans fear the police, there is a huge culture of not talking about anything, especially politics, and the Congo and the genocide (really) - you just change a couple words and expect that to heal wounds. And while that might take back some of the steps of genocide (the us and them mentality, the blame of the "other") it does little to heal people's hearts.

Congo is almost the opposite. It is much closer to Ecuador - the streets are lined with trash, people are rushing to make a living, people look at you and expect you to give them something. I have been asked for money maybe three times in RW. The first time I encountered a child begging it threw me for a loop. It just doesn't happen. In the villages we are treated more like a freak show than someone you can get money from. Here you make eye contact and the people reach their hand out for a hand out. The staff said the police stop you and demand and bribe or food. And you learn to say no. It is so different. The background is the same - dust, the lake, greenness, but the people look different, behave different, are different. I went from a government that is tearing down shanties and building houses, is drilling wells, is building colleges, is there for its people - to a government that doesn't exist, has no reach outside of its capitol and is fighting a war hours away.

But I am safe. I don't feel unsafe here. The girls here have been really open with me. If there is any indication something may happen they evacuate. We are less than 10 minutes from the border, which was chaos at its best, they actually didn't let one of the staff (a Congolese) through, so he had it wait until we got back. So far Congo has been incredible.

So, can I see myself here? Yes and no? I have to, HAVE TO learn French. It's not just a cultural thing, and adjustment thing, but a safety thing. To not be able to community here is a liability, to not tell a policeman no in French only means the bribe is going to go up. Not knowing Kinyarwandan in RW, while annoying, is ok. The people will barter with you, they will play charades with you, if you are firm they will give in to bartering. I don't get that here.

There are lots of thoughts in my head. We went to the feeding center and I have a whole other post about that. I just need a lot of prayer for discernment on what to do, what to get involved in, what to allow myself to become connected with. It will all work out in His timing, but lots of thoughts in my head.

miss you much!