This blog is two days late and is being written from Blakeney! We’re safely back after an excellent journey. Thursday, our last ‘working day’ in Kamembe was so busy , I just didn’t have the time to write anything. Friday we were travelling up to Kihgali to catch an overnight flight to Amsterdam and onto Norwich. And here we are!
On Thursday, as we approached Denise’s house, it started to rain. The red soil got muddy and then it poured – really poured. Our shoes got clogged with mud and our clothes got splattered with red splashes. We couldn’t perfotm the ceremony outside and so 50 people crammed themselves into the brand new house. The mud walls were very damp – it will take some time to dry out. The noise of the rain on the tin roof was deafening. But it eventually abated and we had various speeches – the Rwandans love their speeches! They began with a short homily from the local pastor followed by other contributions from representatives of the Mothers Union including the Bishop’s wife who is their President, Avega, the Genocide Widows organisation, and myself.
We then went outside for the formal handing over of the keys from Zachary the foreman – fortunately, the rain had stopped by now! It is a simple but very moving little ceremony. Then the formal opening of the front door to present Denise with the keys to her own house (see photo). Denise then made her speech. In a very dignified way, she told us her story and said how much this house meant to her and her family. All 5 of them were there and the eldest made a speech in English which he had learned off by heart, to thank us. He presented us with a gift – see photo.
But we hadn’t finished. We had 60 pairs of shoes to present to the local children! This took some time to manage. Some put them on straightaway, but others clearly didn’t want to dirty them with the muddy soil! Here’s a photo of a little one just pondering over his gift!
That’s just the morning! In the afternoon, after a quick turn-around lunch, we went to St Matthews School and ‘performed’ our Easter Story drama. About 300 children were there. We repeated it with children taking our parts – they loved it! See photos.
In evening we had our farewell dinner, with Bishop Nathan and his wife Esther as our principal guests (but there were others, too). More speeches, of course! The bishop made an excellent speech putting into context the significance of our visit to them. Our physical presence there clearly means as much to them as the gifts and the other contributions we had made. He used the phrase ‘Sacramental Presence’ to sum itup. We think this ‘says it all’.
He also told us that the Diocese had 22 new catechists (trainee pastors) and, (looking at me) that they would need training……’you must come back next year, and the year after that….’
This has been a most memorable visit. Thank you all for your support, interest and prayers. We return humbled and uplifted.