Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Shows of Hospitality and a Garden

One of the best words to describe my time in Rwanda thus far is "hospitality.The Rwandans and the ex-patriots I know are so hospitable towards me and Rita.  Here is what the past week looked like when it came to hospitality:
  • Tuesday: dinner with the religious sisters who live next door to us.  I
    Just 5 of 9 kids at the ex-patriot dinners
    told them they killed the fatted calf for us because they had baked fish (probably not common, at least not for Rita and me), potatoes, vegetables, and cake.  We joined them at 7 pm and didn't leave until close to 10 pm. 
  • Thursday: the weekly dinner with the French Fidesco family, an Australian family, and an American family.  This time it was at the American family's home and the mom, Christine, made vegetarian chili, cornbread, and cookies.  Yum!  Sometimes we ate by candle and flashlight because there was a lightening storm and the power kept going out.
  • Friday: an amazing dinner at the French family's house.  They had invited another ex-patriot, a British name named Nick, and Rita and I to dinner.  Nick brought Camembert cheese and wine, Segolene and Ronan brought out French pate and fish for dinner, and then it was all followed with candied praline cookies and Ile Flottante, a French dessert that translates into "Floating Island."  Everything was delicious and the conversation was good too.  We spoke about gardening and what seeds or foods are available in Rwanda and where we can find lentils and garbanzo beans (in Kigali, 2 1/4 hours away).
  • Saturday: I was invited over to the formation house for the Misioneros de las Corazones Sagradas (Missionaries of
    Three of the four kids in the French family:
    Louisia, Thibaut, and Vianney
    the Sacred Hearts), which is across the street from the school, to talk to Fr. Andre.  I didn't know what for, but it turns out he wants me to teach the novices (men who are in their second and third year of pursuing the priesthood) English about one time a week.  No problem.  Since I was there close to dinner time, he invited me to stay for dinner and said I could invite Rita.  So we joined the two priests and ~ 16 novices for dinner.  There was a lot of laughter among the novices as they egged each other to speak English, which wasn't an easy feat since there were Cameroonians, Congolese, and Rwandans.  Fr. Andre brought out Spanish cheese and chocolate and candy.  They also killed the fatted calf.  Afterwards, one of the novices showed us how to make yogurt.
  • Today (Sunday): after a morning Mass, the head mistress, Sr. Goretti, invited Rita and me over for lunch.  We got to eat meat (yay!), cassava for the first time (not my favorite), and banana beer (better than normal beer in my opinion, almost like wine and juice mixed together).  Afterwards Sr. Goretti, Rita, and I faced off in two games of Uno.
 As this week illustrates, the Rwandan people and the foreigners who band together love welcoming people into their homes.  This is a very social country and since I'm a social person who loves quality time with others, my love and energy tanks are often filled up.

Now switch to the garden.  Rita and I were busy bees yesterday and we succeeded in forming rows and  planting almost all of the seeds we plan to put into the ground.  Because we only had a hand spade and no shovel, I dug the trenches between the rows with my hands (the ground had been broken up and aerated the week before by men from the school) and Rita used the spade to move the cow fertilizer around into the trenches.  Once the rows were made, we got to work planting red onions, carrots, lettuce, parsley, cucumber, and cabbage.  I didn't take a picture of it yet, but I will soon.  We still have to plant corn, zucchini, and cilantro.

It's harder than it looks!  Notice the red clay soil.
I'm sure it was quite an experience for the girls who saw us working in the garden because it's not so normal for white people to do it when there are people who will do the work for only $1.  One of the teachers told me earlier in the week that we could pay a man to plant the seeds for us, but when I told him that we wanted to do it, he asked why we would do it when there are men who will do the work for hardly anything.  I wanted the satisfaction of doing the work with my own hands and it was a good amount of work. It took more than two hours of work and I have some pink skin to show for it, but it felt good to work in the garden.  I even transported water to our plot by putting a big bucket of water on my head like the African women.  I'm sure the girls who saw that thought I was crazy, but when in Rwanda, do as the Rwandans do, right? 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Heather what an adventure! I know you're there to do the Lord's work, so the delicious meals and fellowship with families are just some of the perks, right?! Since you're just now planting a garden, does that mean it's summer there? All the gardens here are dying off and becoming dormant. :(