Rwanda at last. I’ve been anticipating studying abroad in Eastern Africa since my junior year of high school, and four years later I’ve finally arrived. I landed yesterday in Kigali, Rwanda with fourteen other college students to study and immerse ourselves in the culture for the next four months. During our time here we will take four classes; Context for Community Development, Issues of Peace-building (starting tomorrow through September), Post Colonial African Lit and Traditional African Religions (November – early December). For the month of October our group will be in pairs living in different communities throughout Uganda serving in practicum positions that fit our majors. To finish the semester with a bang, my mom and I will climb to the rooftop of Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, from December 10-19th.
Already I am being charmed by Kigali’s beautiful hills, great weather, friendly and welcoming people, striking cleanliness and contagious energy. I believe that God has prepared this group to grow and expand our understanding of our Creator’s heart and Kingdom in a unique way during this time. I look forward with eager expectation to how I will be different in four months and the stories and adventures that will bring me there.
I want to begin this blog with a poem that my mom and dad tucked in my suitcase for me to find upon arrival. I pray this blessing on each of us as we journey with the Lord to unknown places…
To Bless the Space Between Us
By: John O’Donohue (emphasis mine)
Every time you leave home / Another road takes you / Into a world you were never in.
New strangers and companions on the other paths await. / New places that have never seen you / Will startle a little at your entry. / Old places that you know well / Will pretend nothing / Changed since your last visit.
As you adventure, you find yourself / Alone in a different way / More attentive now / To the self you bring along / Your more subtle eye watching you abroad / and how what meets you / Touches the part of the heart / That lies low at home:
How you unexpectedly attune / To the timbre in some voice / Opening a conversation / You want to take in / To where your longing / Has pressed hard enough / Inward, in some unsaid dark / To create a crystal of insight / You could not have known / You needed to illuminate your way.
As you adventure / A new silence goes with you / And if you listen, you will hear what your heart would / Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing: / Make sure as you go, to take the time / To bless your going forth / To free your heart of ballast / So the compass of your soul / Might direct you toward the territories of spirit / Where you will discover / More of your hidden life / And the urgencies that deserve to claim you. / May you travel in an awakened way / Gathered wisely into your inner ground; / That you may not waste the invitations / Which await along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrived refreshed, / And live your time away to the fullest; / Return home more enriched, and free / To balance the gift of days which call you.