Bishop Emmanuel has kindly provided his car for the duration of our stay in Byumba and so at 8am we headed off, destination, Marengo Church in Tumba Parish. This church is relatively small and quite narrow, it needs to be, it is perched on a ledge on the side of the hill. The space is so small that the diocese faced challenges obtaining permission to renovate it, but eventually it was obtained. The renovations have included turning the vestry into part of the church, so the vestry is now tarpaulin stretched over poles at the rear of the church.
The enthusiasm of the congregation was amazing as they sang and danced throughout the almost 4 hour service, of course, having the Bishop and 5 muzungu visit is not an everyday occurrence, particularly in the small sub parishes. It is humbling to be part of this work which is only possible through the donations received from our supporters.
The service was followed by a meal where we were delighted to have the opportunity to serve the congregation who waited patiently as plates were washed and refilled, there simply were not enough to go around. The food however, seemed to stretch and everyone was eventually fed.
Next stop Tumba Parish Church, where CHI has provided a water tank and guttering for the church as well as sheep for the community. The local government have been so impressed with the development in Tumba Parish that they have provided funds for roofing sheets, doors and windows for a small nursery. The community have provided the mud bricks, cement and labour. This is a huge step forward for this remote parish who are also seeing congregation numbers growing.
Then on to Buyoga Sub Parish to see the reopened church, also renovated with funds from CHI, where goats have been provided for the community. Sitting just behind the larger and relatively more affluent Catholic Church, they too have been delighted to see numbers growing and many being baptised.
Home in time for a quick trip to the shop for water, and a battle with the technology before Robert arrived back to join us for dinner and advise us of the plan for the next couple of days.
We have been delighted to learn that Saide, the young street boy we met on our last visit has been sponsored (not by CHI) and is now in a boarding school some distance away to ensure he is not further distracted by the street kids he used to hang out with. From a Muslim family he has now asked to be baptised and chosen the name Robert, after our field assistant who saved him from the streets.
Robert also told us his motorcycle is broken beyond repair and the one he has been borrowing must be returned very soon. We will continue to pray on this.