Picnics, Police, and Perms
Hey y’all. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to post a blog yesterday. So today’s post will include yesterday and today.
So Friday morning, we went to a park that was up on a hillside. We got ALL the BFR kids, from both Gasharu and Gikondo villages, which is the first time they have ever gathered all in one place! First we fed them milk and this giant donut roll thing. They gobbled that stuff down, and it was so nice to be able to serve a meal to them. Then we all split up and played different games and did crafts.
My sponsor child, Belyse, took our hands and SPRINTED to the playground area. The kids were going nuts for this stuff! There was a slide, swingset, a playhouse, and some other equipment. The slide was a huge hit, but the only problem was that it was SO DANGEROUS! The dropoff at the bottom was too big for little kids so they always fell face first in the dirt, and there were these bars along the side where feet and legs would get caught and spin the kids around so the would slam their head into the metal. It was ridiculously unsafe. But they still loved it, even after head injuries and possible concussions, they’d dust themselves off, wipe the tears from their cheeks, and march back to the slide for more dangerous fun.
The above picture is of Kelly who literally slid down the slide about 9,475 times. She even had two pretty serious wipeouts that caused major crying, but she just kept on sliding! I spent a lot of time with her on this trip, and she is just the cutest little doll ever! She also loves to sing songs to Jesus which just melts any heart that’s not made of stone.
So after playing, dancing, and a friendly (yet strangely competitive) talent show, we gave out Bibles to each child in the program. That was a really cool thing. Two of our team members come from a church in North Carolina that provided the money for the Bibles, and I’m so glad we could give these kids the BEST gift we could ever give them: the Word of God.
Yesterday was fun, but it was super mild in comparison to today. Today was by far the most unique day of my entire life…
We started off at Gikondo with the BFR children there, and of course we sang and danced together. Then we went on a couple of home visits. We hopped on the bus and visited one family. Then on the way to the second, the bus stops, and Grace (a leader of BFR) hopped on and said “Kim must get off the bus and get in this car.” And we were like, “What? No she’s not.” And she said, “Yes, come now, Kim.” And thankfully, Jane (our translator) stepped in to explain that it was because they are investigating the theft of Kim’s bag, and they need her testimony at the police station. Not wanting her to go by herself, I tagged along. We crammed into the car and drove to the police station where we met Jean Claude and some guy we don’t know. Jean Claude said that he will be acting as Kim’s lawyer today (HOW COOL IS THAT? WE HAVE AN ATTORNEY). He said the other guy is a witness who saw some unusual behavior near where the bag was stolen so he would be giving his testimony also. So we walk in and sit on some benches waiting our turn. This is one time when I think being a muzungu (a white person) worked to our favor, because we went to the front of the line. Or maybe it was because Jean Claude is such a ballin’ lawyer and his reputation precedes him. So Kim and the witness gave their testimony. Then we discovered that the witness had seen two men drinking lots of beer who normally don’t have any money. And he had heard them arguing about who would get her super nice camera. So the police said that they would wait until the suspects went to work, and then they would search their homes for the items (because in Rwanda search warrants are totally not necessary). So basically, we set up a sting operation. Kim and I were nearly giddy with excitement, especially since we assumed that her stuff was gone for good with no hope of retrieval. So this was like a total bonus. Jean Claude told us that we would have to wait until the suspects went to work in the afternoon, so in the meantime we would rejoin our team.
Well, Jean Claude had to go to his house to help prepare food since he would be hosting us for lunch. And Grace and some other BFR leaders had taken the car to his house also. I wondered, can we walk back to where the team is? It seemed like a far car ride. And just as I was thinking that, Shakour (another BFR leader) asked if we would be willing to take a moto. Um YES! So he whistled for a couple of motorcycles and we donned our helmets with shaky hands. IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? Shakour told them where to go and assured us he would take care of us. I doubted that would be possible from a separate motorcycle, but I thanked him for his encouragement. We rode for about 15 minutes back to the BFR location, and I was only nearly killed once. Cars don’t exactly obey street signs and stop lights in Rwanda. They just honk and go. One car came out from a side street and nearly t-boned me. Like, I could’ve touched the hood. After it slammed on brakes and horns were honked and I was still breathing, I turned around with a wild smile to see if Kim had witnessed my awesome near death experience. Sadly she was behind other cars and did not, but I’m sure she’d have been impressed.
We rejoined the team at BFR just in time to give out sponsor gifts and play some more with the kids. It’s never fun saying goodbye, but we will know we will see many of them at Jean Claude’s wedding tomorrow!
We went to Jean Claude’s house for lunch, but soon after we arrived he said he had to leave because the suspected thief had gone to work and it was time to search the home. He said he had to go and pick up police with guns and then look in the home. He was actually gone for about 3 hours, so we all just sat and relaxed at his house. The BFR leaders were all like zombies because they had stayed up all night last night for Jean Claude’s bachelor party! Some of them (and some team members) napped in the grass while we chit chatted. I’m thankful to have a team that does not grumble and complain when things go awry. We were supposed to go shopping and have a nice break at the hotel in the afternoon. But that didn’t happen. And they just rolled with it. Finally JC returned and told us that they had found Kim’s stuff! Her money was gone (obviously), but they had located her phone and camera. They will be returned to the police station by tomorrow! Wow! Isn’t God amazing?! Kim had totally released control of what would happen to her stuff, and then miraculously it will be returned to her!
What happens next is honestly too crazy to really be able to describe well in this blog, but just know that it was crazy. When we left Jean Claude’s house, we went to the market to get our hair done for his wedding. Yes….you heard me…we would be getting our hair did. We went to the first place, and when they saw we were white, they doubled the price. So Jane refused for us to have to pay the “muzungu price” and said we would go elsewhere. Then we bought shoes for Kim and Nicole. This market was fairly nice, well lit, and enclosed. By now it was 6:30 and had gotten dark. We hopped back on the bus and went to another market…one that was not so well lit and not enclosed. It was also very, very crowded. Jane told us to where our purses and backpacks on our front so we would not be pick-pocketed (that’s always encouraging). It was probably the most stressful evening of my life. I was constantly counting and recounting everyone. The crowds were so thick, our team kept getting separated, and I would have to call out to Jane or Grace to slow down. A few times I thought I’d lost one, especially because it was so dark in there. We got to another salon, and they also wanted to charge the muzungu price, so we went to a THIRD salon which agreed to give us the normal price. By the time we arrived, it was 7:00, and they had told us it was going to take 4 hours to do all our hair. I was FREAKING. OUT. I tried to tell Grace that we couldn’t be here that late, and she said “we have no other option.” I tried to explain that muzungu hair does NOT look the same after being slept on, and that we would all look jank tomorrow. She said “no it will be the same.” All of our team members looked very nervous…especially once Nichole (the first person in the chair) got a good spray of OLIVE OIL in her hair. Clearly they do not understand muzungu hair. We kept trying to politely tell Grace that we don’t need the oil or that our hair is too fine for their really hot irons, and she just said “trust me.” I looked at Nichole who looked TERRIFIED in the chair. Eventually I convinced Jane that we could do our own hair tomorrow and there was no need to make us stay there for 4 hours. Thankfully, she explained to Grace and the hair dresser and we were able to leave after Nichole and Kim had their hair done.
So although I think the stress of the market gave me an ulcer, it was a very interesting, unforgettable day. Somehow I think the wedding tomorrow might just top it. We start our day at 6 with hair and makeup and won’t be done until late at night. Oh and we don’t actually know how to tie our wraps/dresses so that will be interesting too. Can’t wait to share about it with y’all. It’s almost midnight, and I wake up in 5 hours, so I should go to bed. Please pray that our team receives STRENGTH from God. Not getting a break today I think really hit everyone hard. This team has been having 12 and 13 hour days each day, way more than the typical team, and we are not getting enough rest. So please pray for energy and renewed strength. Pray also that Jean Claude’s wedding goes perfectly tomorrow!