Some of my favorite things about living in Musanze, lately:
1. Lively conversations with Tate (TAH tay), the umukecuru (old woman), who also lives in our compound. She doesn’t speak English, but she teaches me something everyday and I cook her potatoes to eat and the mutual affection runs deep.
2. Hot showers! Thanks to the handy plumber-type, electrician-ing filmmaker I married.
3. Dark nights spent eating dinner and playing card games by candlelight when the power goes out
4. The soft pattering whispers of the wind blowing through the broad leaves of the banana trees… it’s like music.
On my less-than-favorite things list:
1. The menacing buzz of a mosquito somewhere inside your net- even though you hunted them thoroughly before you got in bed and turned out the lights. Where do they come from???
2. The roosters nearby that are eager to start the day. ‘round 4am.
3. The tragic absence of chips and salsa. In nearly four months I haven’t driven a car, taken a bath nor eaten chips and salsa. Guess which one I miss the most.
Maybe you’re wondering, “So what are you doing with all the time that you’re not eating chips and salsa?” Here’s a little snapshot of daily life in Musanze for the Stehlik crew…
A typical day here begins around 5:00, give or take. We shuffle to the kitchen to boil water and set the coffee to press, first getting a chair and climbing up to jiggle the kitchen light overhead to get it to come on…. because the switch will turn it off but not on for no other reason than to mystify us.
Then after Paul and I have had some time praying and reading the Word, the boys begin to wake. We bust out something like hardboiled eggs or yogurt for breakfast, put our game faces on, and get started with our business:
Paul’s language helper, Theo (TAY-oh) arrives at 8:00. He sits on the front porch with Paul for two hours, teaching and quizzing him in Kinyarwanda while Paul interestingly recalls more Spanish than he ever knew he had. They part ways at 10:00, Theo to go about the rest of his day, and Paul to resist the fetal position and study language… or some workable combination of the two.
Meanwhile the abana (children) and I are also busy come 8:00, me urging them to begin school and them defying all reason with their unbelievable procrastination. But sooner than later I win, and we actually do begin school. We perform a well-organized circus, alternating between one-on-one math lessons, independent assignments and group reading through the fall of the Roman Empire and the function of the human nervous system.
Next thing we know, it’s 12:00, and thank the Lord, that means lunch. Fortunately for us, we have the greatest gal ever in the history of gals helping us in our home- Angelique. And, as if by magic, there will be something ready for us to eat, like beans and rice or cassava.
After lunch comes the great switch whereby Paul takes over the boys for the first half of the afternoon. They have their daily Bible reading together- recently finishing the gospel of John, they are on to Acts now. Pure gold, this time. Then often they do some language work together, find some neighboring children to play soccer with or just go for a walk around the community.
Meanwhile I am doing my Kinyarwanda studies with my language helper, Alice. She will try to help me understand the inexplicable reason why some nouns take an adjective with this prefix instead of that one, and I will amuse her with tidbits of American life- like the concept of a dishwashing machine or a clothes dryer.
Somewhere around 4:00, Paul releases the three musketeers back into my care and turns to media work, home maintenance, adventures to town or solving whatever “how do we do this in Africa” mystery that may arise that week. And the boys and I wrap up the afternoon together, making sure we hit the showers while there’s water and electricity to be had.
Then it’s dinner, family games or read aloud, visiting with neighbors, prepping for the next day’s school and language learning, boiling the milk that gets delivered, filtering a supply of drinking water and so forth.
Go to bed, press repeat.
It is in this manner that the weeks have flown by since we arrived in Musanze almost three months ago. And as anxious as we are to do the work we ultimately came here to do, we see all the time the wisdom in having this season of learning, acclimation and preparation. And we see the Lord at work often with the many who come in and out of our home on a regular basis these months.
And over all the things that need to be done each day, we find life in the one thing…
Nuko rero ukundishe Uwiteka Imana yawe umutima wawe wose, n’ubwugingo bwawe bwose, n’ubwenge bwawe bwose n’imbaraga zawe zose… Mariko 12:30
Therefore, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Mark 12:30