Rwandans gather to watch as the author and others install a rain harvest system on a Kibuye church.
  • Rwandans gather to watch as the author and others install a rain harvest system on a Kibuye church.
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I could write for hours, but I am toast.

The Kibuye stadium is being torn down; the walls are gone and only a portion of the stands remain.

It is best that the horrible place be replaced as it is, with a hospital. A thousand or so feet from the stadium – where some 10,000 were executed over the course of two days – is yet another Catholic church where yet another congregation was butchered. There are gutted structures of churches that we see pretty frequently. I don’t care to imagine the horrors that those walls witnessed.

In Rwanda the Tutsis were about 10% of the population, but here in Kibuye they were about 20%. The beautiful lake that my room overlooks still has (according to Larry) the bones of unknown thousands that were killed and tossed into the water.

Today we started the gutter installation (left) on our first location. It went well enough.

The local workers are in a mixture of rags, dirty clothes and failing coveralls with flip-flops or leather dress shoes. Some have rubber rain boots and I can only imagine what their feet must feel like after wearing them all day.

The electrical panel is open, sawdust is a foot thick on the ground in places and the machines are at least as old as I am. I guess that tarp-covered workshop is home to four different businesses. They make attractive furniture that will be exported to the Congo 25 miles across the lake. I negotiated a price for 80 feet of 1'x6' hardwood and eight pieces of rafter material, cut to our specs, planed smooth and delivered for the equal of $37 U.S. dollars.

Every step watched carefully.

Every step watched carefully.

A curious group watched us work all day. We had to break to get one of our “ladders" welded. It was hard dirty work. The pastor showed up and despite what we were expecting, he was grateful for what we were doing, however we were doing it.

At first he had said, “I have a metal roof, I want metal gutters and two tanks, and gutters on both sides of the building.” Larry, the consummate negotiator and diplomat, fixed that, and we asked the pastor enough questions that he felt like we were respecting his church and opinions, then he left.

We finished the day at the Hotel Bethanie sipping coffee and chatting with our various families via Skype. Now I am in the dining room awaiting the dreaded sambasa dinner. Sambasa are little sardine-sized fish that you eat whole with the head, tail, guts and all.

The sunset was spectacular, and once again electrical storms light the sky over the Congo.

(P.S., the sambasa were great. They’re deep-fried and tasted like sweet French fries.)


Kibuye eatery

Kibuye eatery

I sit in a restaurant in downtown Kibuye with the workers that are helping us install the rain harvest system on the first church.

The food is served buffet-style, and there was some excitement when we pulled up as our driver knocked over a motorcycle trying to park. The owner ran up to the window and I had a brief moment of terror, not knowing if I was about witness a battle or what.

This is my first time away from the team and on my own. I got sent with the crew to get them lunch and buy some more water. Our friend Jados looks over my shoulder as I type, watching every word. This is such a strange experience. Aside from one Chinese person I am the only non-African around.

Jados is on staff at Saddleback as the in-country staff person, but I guess he only gets paid when there’s a clean water team in Rwanda, so he is very happy to see us.


It was a long day.

We got the first system pretty much done. We went into town to purchase another ladder today. The ladders we have to use are the most ridiculous things you could imagine.

I had a nice chat at the Hotel Bethanie with a man from Burundi, a nutritional specialist who has been working here since the genocide. His job is to go into the refugee camps and deal with the rampant malnutrition and get the former Rwandans to repatriate.

The author with a group of young Rwandan soldiers.

The author with a group of young Rwandan soldiers.

I guess many of the perpetrators of the genocide fled and they are in limbo in camps along the borders surrounding this country. They may face trial and prison time if they return, but the penalty might be as little as ten years – even for those who may have killed hundreds. The main goal is reconciliation.

My friend from Burundi (I couldn’t pronounce and will not even attempt to spell his name) says that something like the genocide could happen again if healing efforts don’t continue. He says that in perhaps fifty years, the memory will have faded enough that it might finally be over.

We took a motorcycle taxi through downtown Kibuye (#27 on the list of things I never imagined I would do) and went to the Congo market. The scene probably hasn't changed much in two thousand years, except now the oarsmen are required to wear life vests. Bananas and plantains are brought to the shore of Lake Kivu, where they’re traded for avocados and other miscellaneous locally grown produce.

I saw children balancing bundled firewood on their heads to be traded. On the other side of the road, hundreds of pigs, goats, cattle and chickens were gathered, waiting for the end of the day when they’re herded onto the boats and taken back to the Congo.

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