Somehow, as I write this, I have found myself on a charter bus traveling from Kampala, Uganda to Kigali, Rwanda. It is hot and it is sticky. The man next to me speaks very little Kinyarwanda, and he certainly does not speak English. Although I have many emotions and many thoughts, per usual, the main thing I am thinking is get me back to Rwanda.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had a wonderful time in Uganda. I was blessed by some short term missionaries with the opportunity to go white water rafting on the Nile. Not only is this just awesome in and of itself, but it also happens to be an item on my bucket list. For those of you that know me, you know I take my bucket list very seriously.
So I went. I rafted the Nile River. I did it in style. I laughed and I screamed and I cried. But mostly I laughed. I experienced the beauty of the Nile. More importantly, I experienced that feeling of pure success. I was able to overcome my fears and walk away victorious. It was a beautiful experience.
But it wasn’t Rwanda.
Africa is in my blood. I love the land. I love the people. I love the food. I honestly think that God could drop me anywhere on the continent and I would somehow thrive, and at the end of the day, I would remain full of joy.
They say Rwanda is the heart of Africa.
I believe it.
Africa may be in my blood, through and through, but Rwanda is the heart that pumps it there. It gives me strength and keeps me alive.
There is something about this place that absolutely captivates me. Even on my worst day, when I am annoyed at moto drivers or frustrated with how slow everything is, I still find myself in awe of the beauty of Rwanda.
The interesting thing is, Rwanda is not easy. For the average person, Rwanda feels very fresh and very alive when they visit. The people are friendly and welcoming, and simply altogether lovely. If you love beans and rice, the food is quite nice as well. On the surface, there is not much to despise about this nation.
Living here, however, provides an entirely different perspective.
From that place, I can say Rwanda is not easy.
The spirits of religion and legalism have dug their way deep into the soil of this nation. Freedom has been placed on the shelf and labeled do not touch. Creativity has been banned, for fear of the unknown. Rules and regulations have taken over and declared authority. Being compelled by love is not an option unless, of course, the act of love aligns with the rules and regulations.
I know what you are thinking. At least, I think I do.
“If it is that hard, why do you love it so much?”
If you are reading this and you know me, you know that all of these things are very challenging for me.
I hate the spirit of religion and I hate rules and regulations, unless they are given straight from the Father’s mouth. I absolutely love freedom- in every way, and I need creativity and uniqueness. I feel as if I am dying without it.
And for me, being compelled by love is a requirement.
So what is it about this place that has captivated me in such a mysterious way?
God literally took His heart for this nation, and implanted it in me. I can’t escape His love for these people, despite every challenge.
Anyone can live in Rwanda, but I believe it takes a special heart to truly love the nation and thrive in all that it has to offer- both good and bad.
For some reason, the Lord chose me to love these people unconditionally. At first, I would have said I did not understand it at all, but the truth is, I am not one bit surprised that the Lord would place me in a nation where I am challenged by all of the things I struggle with the most, but somehow can’t stop falling more and more in love.
I don’t know much, but one thing of which I am certain is this:
Love endures all.
And at some, enduring is no longer a challenge, but a privelege and an honor.
Oh, how I love Rwanda.