Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sadness, Ishema, Adventure

After having extended his stay more than a month, Nathan finally boarded a plane tonight to make his way back to California. The resulting void is too great to describe. But I certainly am proud of him. Ishema. (Please review my previous blog post dated September 21, 2008.) Nathan said “Yes”. He served the poor with humility. He made a lasting difference in the lives of scores of people. Well done, good and faithful servant. Ishema.

I have been greatly inspired, corrected, and blessed by Nathan during his stay and work here in Rwanda. I now must again share him with you who are in California. My heart pleads with you to "Please take very good care of him", but my mind knows that he will care for you. May you be as inspired, corrected, and blessed as I,... and many others in Rwanda.

Nathan and I made some unforgetable memories while he was here. I have already written about our Gorilla Trekking experiences.

Last week we hiked in the Nyngwe Forest, a 1000+ square kilometer rain forest. We flirted with disaster more times than I can recount, and delighted in every "near miss",... like:
When we were departing Kigali, thinking we knew the directions, but did not, and we almost ended up spending three days in Burundi....
And when we finally arrived long after dark, we disconered that there was no place to stay. (We had failed to make a reservation.) But a kind man made arrangements for us to bunk at the tea factory.
We arose at 4 am to go Chimp Trekking, after which we returned to our Land Rover in the middle of NOWHERE and discovered that it would not start. We enlisted the assistance of a few locals (who miraculously appeared from the nowhere of which we were in the middle) and our cooperative effort finally got it jumped started (which took about an hour of very strenuous work).

We told our new friends to hop in and we would take them and their heavy loads (which they were carring upon their heads) to wherever they were going. One guy's load was two huge jerry cans of home brewed banana beer. The road (if you can call it that) was quite bad, and the ride quite rough. The home brew got quite a shaking, and blew holes in the plastic jerry cans and sprayed all over the car,... and it ain't very good smellin' stuff. Nathan's response was to start drinking what he endearingly referred to as "pond scum". I would not be outdone and joined in. The initial taste is indescribably horrid. But the aftertaste is actually quite nice,... after about a liter.

We bid our new friends (rescuers) farewell and proceeded down the road, the very slippery clay road. Now I already told you that the road was very bad, …hardly a road… and now I am adding that it was very wet, slippery clay. Well, the car slid off the so-called road into a ditch and stalled. Nathan corrected me and kindly pointed out: “Dad, you drove the car into the ditch. You would not want me to take away from this unforgettable experience that ‘The car slid itself into a ditch’, now would you?” Remember, we got the car started by jump starting it with the help of a small crew. Now the car was “dead in a ditch”, we had lost our crew, and 100 guys would not be able to push it out to again jump start it. Nathan observed: “Dad, we simply have to figure out how to get the car started.” He was right. So, great experienced auto mechanic that I am, I opened the hood, prayed silently, jiggled the battery cable, started the car (IT ACTUALLY STARTED!), put it in 4-Wheel drive, and drove it out of the ditch. The moron was now lookin’ like a genius! (Oh, the power of prayer.)

Later that day, Nathan and I decided to go see the Colobus monkeys. It was raining cats and dogs and Colobus monkeys. We got stuck “axel high” in really deep, soft mud and faced another insurmountable challenge. Surely our luck (sorry, Lord) had run out. At one point during the torrential downpour, with thunder clapping, both of us a muddy mess, and me with little hope, Nathan looks up into the dark sky and says: “Dad, I think its clearing up”. ONLY Nathan Allen could have made such an absurd statement. Only Nathan Allen thinks like that. He has irrepressible optimism. EVERYTHING is ALWAYS just great! Well, the rain did not clear up, but much more importantly, Nathan did get us dug out so I am here to tell you about him.

So much more to tell, but it is now 2:15 am and I'm beat. Good night.

Imagine the size of the trout I could catch with a worm this big!

Click on any photo to enlarge.