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Umuganda

October 7, 2010

It is the fourth Saturday of every month.  One representative from each household gathers in an area of the neighborhood and they all work together for a few hours.  We try and attend as often as possible.  On the last Saturday in September, I was able to go.  So, I laced up my boots, threw on jeans and an ATN t-shirt (not in that order) and headed out the door with my long handled hoe draped over my shoulder.  I got the deluxe model.  It weighs about twelve pounds or so.  The Rwandans ooh and aah when they see it, probably because of its shiny and clean condition, thinking to themselves what a shame that an American would have such a hoe.  Makes it worse that I bought it in the big retail store at the only mall in Rwanda, instead of the local market, it happens to be an imported Kenyan model.  I always feel a bit conspicuous as I walk down the road looking for the work detail.  This last month they were in front of Brian Robinson, my teammates, house.  Lucky stiff, he walked out of his gate and there they were.  You never quite know which tool to bring to these occasions, hoe, machete for trees, machete for grass, rake, etc…  This time we were cutting brush from a vacant lot.  It is always important to try and not look like you’ve never worked, which is what everyone assumes.  Lucky Brian had his machete taken away from him after about five minutes.  Myself, I chopped brush with a hoe for almost two hours, none came near.  Some work, most direct traffic, but there we were, all households accounted for, working together on a Saturday morning.  Pretty cool.

After the work, we pick a hillside and the neighborhood leader gets up to make announcements and say a few words of inspiration.  The day happened to be Peace in Africa day.  Ironic, as Africa tends to not be such a peaceful place.  He brought it down to the grass roots level though, the home.  He stated that peaceful homes make peaceful neighborhoods and peaceful neighborhoods make …  You get the picture.  It immediately hit me that the enemy of a heart at peace was fear.  What a challenge to overcome, isn’t it.  Not necessarily the big fears either as most survivors of Rwandan genocide have.  Many times it is the little fears and anxieties that weigh us down.  We could all make the list of fears that dash through our minds at the speed of light.  Paul gave us advice about this in Philippians 4.  He just told us to pray about EVERYTHING.  That would cover it!  If we only would, how nice it would be to live in a house at peace.

That is our hope for Rwanda, peace.  The perfect peace that comes from being able to take every need smallest to largest and placing it at our Papa’s feet, because he is our Papa and he cares for his kiddos.

John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have trouble, but take heart; I have overcome the world.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mildred Mayfield permalink
    October 7, 2010 8:35 pm

    This is so true. It really made me do some thinking. Thank you. I wish peace for you also.
    Mildred

  2. Anna Mitchell permalink
    October 8, 2010 1:47 pm

    Thank you Koonce Family for sharing a piece of your life with me. I think of your work often- Have your sweet families picture on my fridge so you guys are always on the fore front of my families’ minds. I often imagine what a day in your life must be like… maybe a hint of jealousy to experience a bit of it for myself. So your description in this post of your work in the community appealed to me greatly. God bless the work of your hands & hearts.

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