Gustavus Trip Participant
God always continues to exceed all of my expectations and my own plans. He forever keeps me on my toes and relying on Him for guidance and support. Monday, the whole team went to Pefa to do a deep cleaning. I thought I would spend my day washing clothes or possibly breaking out windows. However, God had other plans.
From the start God had his way. I was left to take the second vehicle to Pefa which gave our group time to pray about the day. We prayed that God’s will be done in every way. When we arrived at Pefa I began by teaching a few members of the City Hill Team how to wash clothes by hand. Then I was called away to go buy towels. This was an unexpected experience.
Immanuel (one of the guys that works in the garden) led Jackie (our translator) and I down the dirt road to a place where we could bargain for towels. We walked past the tin manufacturer and the house selling flip-flops. Many people would shout out, “Muzungu!” (White person!) Jackie and Immanuel would just laugh and mimic their actions. I was beginning to wish that I could speak the language even more, so that I could communicate with them. Once again, the Lord answered my silent prayers.
We saw Louise and Kitan (one of the Mamas and little girls) coming from the clinic. When they stopped to talk an old man came up to me. He wore olive green corduroy button-up shirt, tan pants, with worn black shoes like my Grandpa Okerman wears. (I think they were pretty much identical to his favorite pair.) Atop his head rested a floppy, dirt coated gray hat. His face is deeply ingrained in my mind. His skin was rough and wrinkled from many years of hard labor. He had curly black scruff on his face and hazel eyes that sparkled. He took my hand in a firm grip and said, “Mwaramutse” (Good morning). When I replied back, “Mwaramutse, amakuru?” (Good morning, how are you?), his face lit up. He clearly had not expected that I would understand him. He smiled, showing his slightly crooked yellowing teeth. He replied, “Ne meza inshuti! Ah murakoze cyane, murakoze cyane. Mwaramutse inshuti. Imana aguhe umugisha.” (Good my friend! Thank you very much, thank you very much! Good morning friend. God bless you.) Who knew two simple words could bring someone so much joy?!
A ways past the shoe store we turned onto a dirt path, just wide enough to walk in a single file line. The path tilted up steeply, and now I was not the only one being called to. Jackie stood out in her “city attire”. We walked through a school yard and onto a dirt road. Many of the people stared at me, apparently not too many muzungus travel in this part of town. We reached an open air market similar to ones that I have been to in Juarez, Mexico. If we had been looking for a chandelier, we would have found one. No luck with towels though. We continued walking. Suddenly the dirt turned into rock shear. Before me was a beautiful market unlike any that I have seen. The little shops and booths were set into the rock face. The smell of iron, veggies, and many people hung in the air. The path was slick with water and barely wide enough to squeeze by. There was a man without legs begging at the front. Still no luck with towels.
We moved on. After some time we came upon a paved road and there lay our golden ticket. We walked into a tiny warehouse supply store no bigger than 5 feet by 5 feet. Inside I bargained for towels, 1,000 francs each (about $2). On the way home we took the back way to avoid the main roads. Jackie asked me all about my home and thought it was crazy that I would go hiking for fun! She just kept saying, “I don’t understand you girl.” This gave me a good laugh, I like talking about my home. We went through alleyways behind homes, again very narrow and steep. The alleys were devoted with streams of drainage as this was their main gutter system. We did our best to bypass the slippery goop. I saw people playing checkers with Fanta caps, and children wrestling in the dirt. Behind each gated home you could hear the sounds of work and play. I distinctly remember behind a corrugated metal sheet fence the sound of singing. The smell was a mixture of sewage, wet dirt, metal, and wild tree flowers. In a way almost sweet.
When we arrived back at Pefa, the Lord surprised me still. Instead of washing clothes as I had expected, I worked on cleaning out the bug infested rooms. On my hands and knees I scrubbed floors, moved beds and mattresses. All the while I thought how great it will be to have the rooms clean for the kids. I am thankful that God was able to use me in this way. At the end of the day when the children were napping I was going to help teach the Mamas English. This is always a fun time to spend with them. However, Florence came and sat next to me and I taught her how to play matching. She caught on quickly and diligently practiced the English words for each animal while I tried out my Kinyrwandan. She giggled as I stumbled over the syllables of inyamaswa (animals). She would beam and give me a thumbs up when I actually got something right.
I am so thankful that God has the reins and things don’t go just as I have planed. Today, and every day is better in His hands. His will be done.