Reflections on a Season Well Spent
“How are you?” have become obnoxious words to me, but “Muzungu” (usually repeated: “Muzungu, Muzungu, Muzungu”) tops them.
It is my first time to live in East Africa as opposed to visiting for 2 weeks to 2 months at a time and I underestimated how draining it can be to constantly stand out in the crowd – especially as an introvert. I recently read a quote by Brad Pitt on being a celebrity that can sum up what it’s like to be white in East Africa: “Fame makes you feel permanently like a girl walking past construction workers.”
It is understandable that I draw attention when such a large portion of the population is black, but the way I am yelled at, spoken to, or spoken about, in public as a result of being white can make me feel like a zoo animal. I have had to discover new ways to introvert, since walking used to be my preferred method; although, head phones work quite well and (after South Africa) I am grateful that I can walk safely with my phone displayed.
However, in sharp contrast to sometimes feeling like a circus act, I have also gained a deep sense of belonging in this place; the Land of One Thousand Hills, as Rwanda is known (and for good reason).
In the people here at the YWAM base, I have found good men who treat me as a beloved sister to cherish and protect as well as beautiful women who help me to flourish as a daughter of the King. They are family.
And, if my fellow YWAMers are my immediate family, then the teachers (of the YWAM ministry school “Arise and Shine”), as well as the guards, groundsmen and kitchen staff have become extended family members and friends. They are warm-hearted, quick to smile in greeting, and willing to serve.
I must also note that I have made friends with quite a few people along our street who love that I can speak some limited Kinyarwanda with them and who treat me as an individual, not just another “muzungu”. In addition, the majority of people here are very friendly on the street – its just the ones, like in every country, who think it is cool to be obnoxious that can make you feel like an animal in a cage that’s being laughed at.
I am blessed to have found in this beautiful section of Kigali (in little Samuduha) so many fellow believers who welcome me as I am and also desire to see God’s Kingdom built here on earth.
With a grateful heart, I thank God for their presence in my life (even the obnoxious because they challenge my heart to love, rather than react – I’m still growing in this area so you can pray for me!).