By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
What a blessing to be part of the recent Mission Trip to Rwanda. We have read so much about Rwanda, but it is another thing to actually be there.
After some initial confusion at the Kigali airport, we took a taxi to the Kigali Cathedral where we were greeted by Pastor Samuel (left), Dean of St Etienne’s Anglican Cathedral and his staff.
My wife Janice and I visited the Kigali Cathedral, the home of so many remarkable times of ministry with Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and the new Rwandan Primate, Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje.
St Etienne’s Anglican Cathedral has been the context for many key ordinations and consecrations over the years.
As well as the seats in the Cathedral, they have an outside speaker system for overflow crowds.
Coming to Rwanda was a dream come true.
Looking out on the St Etienne’s Anglican Cathedral grounds.
Looking out on the diocesan offices.
Kigali Diocesan staff and clergy.
Touring the Milles Colline Hotel, made famous by the inaccurate ‘Hotel Rwanda’ movie.
Peace the Director of the Mothers’ Union at the Kigali Cathedral complex.
It was great to be welcomed to the Diocese of Kigali by Bishop Louis Muvunyi
On the first night in Rwanda, we stayed at the Kigali Cathedral Guest House. Being deeply jetlagged, our time clock was way out of wack, waking up at all times of the day/night.
The meals provided were very tasty. We were very careful to not eat any uncooked vegetables. I did not need a repeat of the food poisoning that I had experienced on the last day of being in Hawaii.
Pastor Samuel, the Dean of Kigali Cathedral, took us on a brief tour of Kigali City, and moved us from the more ‘rustic’ guest house on the upper Cathedral grounds to the much nicer guest house on the lower Cathedral grounds. The Cathedral grounds were relatively expansive, covering both sides of a busy University area road.
This is not an attack from an octopus from outer space, just our first mosquito net at the Kigali Cathedral guest house. As it is hotter in Kigali, I had to kill 6 buzzing mosquitoes that night just to sleep. In Kigeme,being of a higher altitude, there were many less mosquitoes.
I had a very strong sense from God that we were to purchase a guitar, then use it in the music workshops that Janice would teach, before donating it to the Kigali Cathedral. The problem was that we already had way too much luggage, including a massive duffle bag of baby clothes. The solution was to purchase it in Kigali just before we went on a ‘sardine-packed’ bus to Kigeme. A man working at the Kigali Station agreed to take me five blocks so that I could purchase this guitar for 70,000 Francs (around $105 Canadian/US). Unfortunately I forgot to purchase extra strings which I did later in Kikongoro many days later, after breaking a string on my first day in Kigeme! I was also pleased to see the Cathedral’s other guitar which had been donated by the Rev Barclay Mayo on their Mission Trip six years ago. Sadly the E-string was totally dead. But after new strings, Barclay’s guitar was in fine form. In the workshop, we taught the participants how to tune a guitar. It is amazing the difference between a guitar in tune or almost in tune.
The Cathedral had a third guitar but it was literally in three pieces. All in all, this felt as if we had obeyed the promptings of God’s still small voice. It is sometimes hard to tell whether it is God or just us.
Given the tragic genocide in Rwanda 17 years ago, it was wonderful to see how peaceful the country has become, how it is being rebuilt, and how much reconciliation has happened among people who have suffered so deeply and lost so many family and friends. It inspires me to keep short accounts with others, as we are so easily offended as Canadians, and not that good at forgiving even petty offences. “…as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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