easter weekend, part deux: we'll feel the breeze caress
Sunday my alarm didn't wake me up, so I was a little bit late to church. Not that it matters – people are regularly an hour or more late to the three-hour service. Transportation is a problem on Sunday mornings. But today the place was packed, so I was seated on the back row, with all the mothers with small babies. So I didn't get quite all of the sermon due to the fact that someone else's child was on my lap. But the sermon ended when the pastor started to sing, acapella, in French, "I'd rather have Jesus / than silver or gold / I'd rather have him than riches untold." Which means a lot when much of your congregation is undernourished and struggling to survive. I've always loved that hymn and was so glad to get to sing it on Easter Sunday, but I'm never going to hear it the same way again.
Another thing that was cute and absolutely hilarious was the youth presentation, which lasted about 45 minutes. They've just finished their first trimester of the youth ministry, which is divided into two classes: ages 3-8 and ages 9-15. At first they sang songs and it was pretty much like what you see at home when the children's choir performed. But then the teenage girls started doing slam poetry about Jesus. It was great, but they were so topped by the next "act" – a group of 4 boys and one girl, all about 8 years old. The choir sang this reggae song and the kids, one by one, rapped, mostly about the devil. Everyone laughed at the boys, but the girl brought the house down. She rocked.
After church, I headed outside to meet up with everyone for lunch. Here are some pictures from hanging out, including the church and some of the kids who live on the church grounds with their mothers, who are all recovering from being victims of sexual violence. They all know and love Mr. Florida and sometimes follow him home, which involves walking about a mile there and back. E had some candy to hand out, which of course they loved.
About the same time, I met Sam and his girlfriend Suzy, who both work in Rwanda and had come down for the holiday weekend. Suzy is a German medical student and is doing research at the DOCS training center in Rwanda. Sam is from South Carolina and runs a couple of businesses in Kigali. First thing he says to me: "Is that a Southern accent?" We of course had quite the time. The Lusis, who run DOCS, invited us all to lunch at Karibu, but we had some time to kill and therefore went back to the Lusi house, which is where Sam and Suzy are staying.
The Lusis live in paradise. Seriously. They have this amazing compound with several houses on it, where they provide hospitality to all kinds of visitors. Here's a picture of their outdoor living room where you can just hang out and watch the day go by, as Sam was doing in the hammock here. It was a perfect day in Goma – blue sky, blue lake, and nothing but sunshine, and so the one guy who has a jet ski was out on that, as was the MONUC patrol boat. (What they were patrolling is anyone's guess. It's not like anyone's going to attack Goma from the water. More likely they were working on their tans.)
Gorilla Ben lives Chez Lusi (this is the Gorilla Ben who dated their daughter, moved to Congo for her, got unceremoniously dumped at Christmas, and is still living with her parents) and eventually came down to the outdoor living room where we all just hung out for a couple of hours. It was so nice. Below is the view. Incredible. If I didn't know better, I'd've sworn we were in Italy. But no, this is Lake Kivu, with Idjwi Island in the distance.
Mrs. Lusi also has the most unbelievable garden – it's a proper English garden, smack in the middle of Goma. Gorgeous, although she apparently has trouble getting her staff to water the plants – they see no need, even in the dry season.
The Lusis treated us all (Gorilla Ben, Sam, Suzy, me, Mr. Florida, C, E, and two Americans who work in Zambia and who were also here for the weekend, Oliver and Allie) to lunch at Karibu. It was fun and nice to get to hang out with some Americans who are my age. Oliver went to Princeton and Allie went to Brown, so I got to hear lots of jokes about New Haven. Nice to know that some things transcend geography. No, they're both really cool. Allie's finishing med school but took the year off to work on an HIV/AIDS grant in Lusaka, and Oliver's doing something similar before starting med school next year.
(It's a Small World Alert: Allie apparently lived down the hall from David Pressman their freshman year at Brown (her: "tall, dark, curly hair?" Me: "uh-huh." – how is THAT for blast-from-the-past, Franklin High kids? (Remember when David played Hitler in Carl and Keith's video for history class? Did they end up calling it Goldfuhrer or Never Say Heil Again? I only remember the debate over the title, and that deep down they all knew they'd never top Aqueduct Dogs from the year before. This is not funny to the rest of you because you don't know that David was one of a very few Jewish students in our school system. Things I have not thought about in awhile!))
Anyway, Allie and Oliver are making me rethink my decision not to go see Victoria Falls on this trip. It would be such a cool way to spend my 28th birthday, no?
I'll post on the rest of Easter weekend tomorrow, with some really cool pictures of our visit to the lava fissure outside Goma.