I have always said that if I could live in any time period, it would be “Little House on the Prairie” times. Yesterday I just basked in the glory that living in the village in a third world country is a lot like living in America 100 or 200 years ago. Here’s my journal entry from yesterday:
It’s Umuganda, the one day a month where everyone in the country does physical labor in the morning to better their community. There is a never ending line of people flooding a village path currently a few feet wide but destined to be a full fledged road in a matter of hours. The rhythmic sound of plow crashing into soil and the hands of experienced, barefoot African diggers rings in the air. Today I refuse to feel embarrassed about my lack of skill with a hoe, or my quick to blister white privileged hands. Instead, I let these people teach me and assist me and in doing so, give them the dignity they deserve. We have different knowledges, and that’s ok.
I return to wash my clothes in the hot sun that reminds me so much of a Texas summer day. The smell of the sunscreen I lathered on my face before umuganda aids in the feelings of nostalgia. I soak in the smell and the easy breeze while enjoying washing my clothes in cold rain water, splashing some on myself, daydreaming of swimming pools and water parks and actually looking forward to a nice cold bucket shower later. Treading through tall grasses reminiscent of the scene in the credits of Little House on the Prairie, I take my bucket of clothes to the line hung between two trees with a clear view of the valley and hills far away.
After lunch I take the bicycle to the main road to buy some little things. After five months of being only a passenger in any vehicle, riding the bicycle has transformed me to driver of my own vessel, captain of my own ship, controller of my own destiny. I fly down the dirt path to the shop and greet the owners I know so well. A busted tire threatens to ruin the easy laziness of the day, until I am directed to a man’s house in the village who can fix it for me. I find myself enjoying watching his hands works expertly with such utensils as a rock and razor blade. Women nearby are washing cassava crops and young children. The man fiddles with the bicycle in an impressive display of expertise and gives it back to me in better condition than it began. Knowing he is capable of doing things I most certainly cannot humbles me. We have different knowledges, and that’s ok.
Upon my return the school I see children playing volleyball. I kick off my shoes and let the feel of the soil on my toes stimulate my senses and connect me to just how beautiful the earth God created is if only I remove the barriers that keep me from noticing. After hours of play, I grow tired and retreat under a tree reading in the shade for an hour or two, and listening the sound of birds singing and frogs croacking. As the day closes, I write in my journal by candlelight until I drift to sleep.
Yesterday was a much needed break. Many days end in frustration, sickness, crying, disgust, distrust, or stress. But that’s what makes days like yesterday all the more beautiful. I don’t know how long I’ll be in Rwanda, or at this school. Only God knows. So for now, I’ll soak up every minute for better or for worse.