We spent much of today bonding as a group and experiencing more of the Rwandan culture by seeing their wildlife. We got up very early and were greeted by our wonderful driver Sayeda. He gave us hugs and we piled into what I can only descfribe as part of the Rwandan experience. Crammed together in a 4 wheel safari like vehicle we headed down the street for a nice 3 hour drive to Akagera National Park. After some small confusion getting everything together we started on our way. An eagle was out first attraction followed by an elephant hiding in the water and some baboons. The last animal I was able to see was some Zebra’s. They would often link necks in order to watch in every direction in case of predators. The male of the group would always walk in the back to protect the rest. As we sat in the car many horse flies would make their way in and bite. Dang, those things hurt. When we would swing our hat at them the guide would just say, “that’s part of the experience.”
My group had to leave a bit early in order to get Mike to the airport on time. The last thing you want to do after being gone for almost 2 weeks is rush to the plane. It was sad to see him go. Definitely not as planned saying good bye at a random stop in order to wait for the rest of the group. I am incredibly thankful for his presence here. Not just in helping with the group, although that was a big part, but for his insight into the coffee world, his passion for the people of Rwanda, his love of Christ and doing the right thing, his wisdom and experience in life. Now I have about 5 more days with the group without him.
When I first thought about going to a national park on this trip I didn’t really think it fit. Then I thought that if we are going to get to know Rwanda and their culture than this definitely has a spot in that pursuit. While we waited for the group I got to spend a lot more time with Manu. I’m continually amazed at his ability to multitask and not get overwhelmed. Right now not only is he basically our greatest asset here on the ground here with the group but is also coordinating our half container of coffee to be milled and shipped while managing 4 other full time employees at the washing station. His spirit and love are infectious as a symbol and representation of all the Rwandan people. Manu has such love for others and wants so badly for the group to leave with positive memories. As he said today, “money we can get back, but confidence is lost forever.” He desperately wants Rwanda to be known as a place of peace, love, and coffee. He is doing his part!
Seeing Mike go brought mixed emotions. Not just at his leaving but realizing I will be joining him in departing soon. A few more days and we’re no longer be traveling coffee fields, eating cherries talking with Rwandans or being confused by conversations in Kinyarwanda. Soon I will be back hugging my wife and snuggling with my pug. But now, these moments can’t be forgotten, I don’t want to forget them, I can’t forget them. My life can’t be the same after seeing and doing these things. Now that I know these things about the world, the question becomes what am I going to do about it?
Tomorrow we are back at Church in Kiyramo and hearing stories shared from some members. I’m very excited to see Pastor Illdephonse again and know his heart and passion more.