Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saturday, May 16th

     My Dad's birthday is today.  Got to be a good day!

     We got word this morning that we were actually leaving for Rwanda with a security escort at 1:30pm.  We are exited to be taking action to depart Bujumbura.

     Update:  The incident that involved the police breaking into the Bumerec Hospital actually involved more than one patient.  There were 3 wounded soldiers in the emergency room when the police broke in and started firing.  They hunted down men who had been fighting on the side of the coup and shot them in their beds.  They also wounded several other people in the hospital.  Those soldiers who were patients were then dragged out, leaving trails of blood on the floor as they went.  This is the hospital where Gary was given tests and where we took several missionaries for treatment.

     We took off for Rwanda at 1:30pm, following our security escort.  This is the Van Wagoner's exiting the hotel.  The security vehicle is pictured in front.

 Here we are following the security vehicle down the road as we are driving through the city on our way out.  One of the rare times we actually followed the vehicle.  For any of you familiar with Gary's driving, you'll know what I mean!
 This is a photo of a small group of soldiers we passed on our way out.

After about 30 minutes on the road, the phone rang.  It was the US Embassy wanting to know if we wanted to be part of an Embassy evacuation flight that was leaving the next morning.  We told them we were already on the way to Rwanda, but it felt good to know that they were checking up on us.  

The 7 hour ride took us through beautiful countryside, through little villages with women carrying baskets and produce on their heads.  God must love these people because he has given them such a wonderful place to live---green, lush landscape, fertile soil that will grow about anything, and a mild climate where the sun shines, the rain falls, the skies are full of magnificent cloud formations and colors.  Our ride to Kigali was peaceful except for Gary's occasional white knuckle driving!

  We drove non-stop except for the required stop at the border.  When we arrived there, there was a double line waiting to enter Rwanda.  We were standing at the end of the line when a border crossing employee approached us saying, "You appear to be quite old so please come to the front of the line!"
Excuse me???  Thank-you, I think!  One of the very few perks that comes with getting old!

We enjoyed a squat toilet and then were on our way again.  As we approached Kigali, Gary allowed the security people to take the lead, as we had no idea where we were going.  We arrived at the hotel about 8:30pm.  This hotel was old, well-used, bare-bones, but clean.  I was just happy for a soft place to land.  Enjoyed a nice shower and some peaceful sleep.

I feel great sadness when I think about leaving Bujumbura.  I remember the glorious sky with its ever- changing clouds, the pastel colors of dawn and sunset, the welcome rains that watered our lawn and plants.  There are no sprinkling systems in Burundi.

Sunday, May 17th

This Sabbath morning we went to Church at a branch almost next door to the hotel.  
That is the branch you see below us.

 One of the 3 LDS branches in Kigali.
 Some photos of Kigali.  It is built on a series of hills, beautiful green hills.

     Kim's son Emmy came to visit us at the hotel following church.  It was fun to see him!  At about noon, a Church humanitarian missionary couple named Terry Liebel and Peggy Toro took us to their home for dinner.  They have just lost their MLS couple and would very much love to have us stay in Rwanda and be that MLS couple.  It's actually very appealing.  We would be close enough to Bujumbura that we could keep our fingers in the affairs over there while working with the branches in Kigali.  And living in Rwanda looks like it would be even more civilized than what we have become used to.  The difference between Rwanda and Burundi is incredible.  Burundi is like stepping back in time----terrible infrastructure, dirt roads, potholes big enough to swallow semis, unreliable power, shortages of gas, etc.  Kagami has been president for less time in Rwanda than Nkurunziza has been president in Burundi, and yet he has led his country forward, encouraging development, trying to improve things for his people, trying to unify them, trying to stamp out corruption.  Kigali is a bustling, clean,  modern city.  Amazing what good leaders can do for a country!

Tonight we left for Johannesburg at 6:45pm.  By the tine we got to our hotel, it was after midnight.


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