October 17, 2011
Monday morning dawns bright and beautiful. By 9 am we are traveling the one mile to the border with Rwanda. At the border we have DRC officials stamp our passports with exit stamps and walk the thirty yards or so to the Rwandan border guard stations. There, they look in our bags for contraband and plastic bags (banned from the country). Once through the border, we board a private bus and begin the 3 hour trip to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The drive is beautiful. Immediately, you notice that the roads are paved, smooth, and the properties neat and tidy. We climb steeply among verdant hills covered with terraced gardens. Low hanging clouds sweep by and leave a misty residue. We see waterfalls as we climb higher. As I look at the beauty I keep imagining what it must have been like for nearly 2 million Rwandans fleeing to Goma to escape the violence back in 1994 and then again in 1996 when many were repatriated under pressure.
As always, Rwanda travel gives you many vistas as we make switchback turns. Around lunchtime we stop in Musanze area to eat at the Ishema Anglican hotel. This area is near where tourists come to plunk down $500 to go see silverback gorillas in the wild. This picture is off their website and is pretty much like the view we had in the restaurant, looking into a quiet interior garden. No windows or doors marking the room from the garden. Beautiful.
We traveled the rest of the way to the capitol without problems, said goodbye to the other members of the DRC trip (Bagu, Harriet, Margaret, and John), and moved on to Solace Ministries, a guesthouse and conference center in Kigali and our home for the next 5 days. As we traversed the city, familiar sights of places came into view. However, changes are quite obvious too. Several locations that held shanty towns in 2009 were green spaces now. I wonder what has become of those who lived there in abject poverty.
Entering the main building of Solace, we were greeted by our Rwanda trip partners, Josh Straub (AACC) and Carol King (Langberg & Associates colleague). They had arrived the previous Saturday and were in a meeting with some other trauma recovery counselors. We sat down and commenced 3 hours of meetings without hardly a breath. Later, our friends told us we looked rather haggard. I guess the DRC will do that to you. I remember having a hard time putting my thoughts together for Bishop Alexis in talking about possible next steps in our counselor training efforts. We ended the evening with a wonderful, 3 course meal. The cook at Solace provided incredible meals for us. We never ate better. Simple, delicate foods with an African touch. If you ever want to stay somewhere in Rwanda, I highly recommend Solace.