Today we headed out to a remote region of Kibungo, to the edge of the Akagera National Park. It is fair to say that while some of the roads have improved, the improvements have not yet reached these two remote parishes. An hour and a half of dancing roads saw us arrive at Gasabo, a sub parish of Rushenyi Parish where the church had been built and Bibles provided with support from CHI, goats have also been provided in the parish.
It quickly became apparent that we had broken yet another car (this time the Bishop’s) and a puncture posed a challenge this far from a town, it appears we were not carrying a spare wheel!!!
As we entered the church to the now familiar song and dance our initial reaction was WOW. It was clean, tidy and beautifully decorated (although we think they might now be suffering from a toilet roll shortage!). It was also full. There were Christians from Gasabo and two other sub parishes seated on benches around the church. Having taken our seats of honour at the front the choir sung and danced for us, the joy and enthusiasm was contagious and we were soon all clapping and foot tapping along with them. After a time of prayer and the presentations, we heard how the church had grown from a congregation of 30 to 74 since it had been completed, the plan for the next year is to reach 100. We also heard encouraging testimonies from those who had received Bibles, and learned how the gift of a goat had enabled school fees to be paid, homes to be renovated and lives to be improved.
After further song and dance the Bishop explained how the church needed to acquire a further strip of land to the side to comply with the government regulations on the minimum size of a plot of land for a church. The government here are very good at setting requirements, unfortunately they do not provide the funds to meet them. The gentleman who owned the plot was a member of the congregation and agreed to sell it. After a ‘sermon’ from the Bishop he asked everyone who would pledge a days wages (approx. £1 for a casual worker) to stand up, nearly all of those present leapt to their feet, there by followed a bizzare period of taking names and pledges, together with cash from those who had it. By the end approx £240 had been pledged or received, a huge amount for this small sub parish to find. They have a long way to go but this is how it works here, they start small and pray.
By God’s grace the puncture delayed us by 2 hours and we were able to spend time chatting, having our skin and hair touched to see if we all felt the same, and having endless photos taken. We asked if they received many bazungu visitors, they looked surprised at the question, you are the first we were told, what about before Covid we asked, no, only you. We were so blessed to spend time with this wonderful community and pray we will be able to assist them further.
Wheel changed and it was on to Cyambwe Parish, where we had been expected at 12.30pm to distribute 60 goats to individuals within the parish, and then for lunch with the pastor. In the event it was lunch first whilst those waiting to receive their goats were forced to wait a little longer, we were uncomfortable about this but we have to comply with what is expected of us. Despite their wait they greeted us warmly and we were made welcome for the usual formalities before heading outside to officially hand over the goats. More photos and ‘conversations’ and it was time to leave to ensure we arrived home before dark. Joff seemed to think there may be a safer method of transport on the dancing roads, but the welfare of the animals must come first.