Friday, September 18, 2009

Just another day,... like no other

I am frequently asked: “What is a typical day for you, a former California lawyer now permanently residing in Rwanda?” I am delighted to explain that there is no such thing. Each day is a different adventure filled with unplanned surprises, and even the most challenging “surprises” are welcomed reminders that I am not in control. Some days are spent playing and dinning with billionaires, each of whom I have found to be very interesting and not at all as I might have presumed if I were to have foolishly indulged generalizations and stereotyping.

But in this post I share another kind of day,… my favorite kind of day,… the kind of day that anchors me in Africa.

Gathering children on the bank of a beautiful (and very remote) lake, and pulling out flash cards, and teaching English and simple math,… single digit addition and subtraction, and some multiplication. (This session was quickly concluded when one of the older children asked: “Teacher Tom, What is the square root of 125?” (and the smart aleck apparently knew the answer).
“Well, we are out of time for today. We must go now.”

Departing in a boat. No, not this one. It was taking on too much water.

Going out to a remote island with my friend, Awesome Anna Reed, a Speech Pathologist from Arkansas, who recently became certificated in TOEFL (ESL) and moved to Rwanda to teach at Sonrise School.

Entering into a dirt-floored home, no larger than a walk-in closet, filled with love and hope (and nothing more),… having a good visit out of the sun,… and being required by our host to pray a blessing upon his household before we departed.

Hiking up and over this remote island, and coming upon a mud and sticks school,… no electricity,… no water,… no resources,… no nothing, except mud, sticks, a blackboard, and an exhausted, beleaguered teacher who was delighted to surrender his class to me.

Teaching some very surprised (astonished) students.

Saying “goodbye” to our new friends.

Gathering an endless trail of followers, as long as the eye can see, as we hike out of the remote area.

Reflecting upon another inexpressibly wonder-filled, exhausting day. I strongly believe that we should live “intentionally”, and not simply “sleepwalk” through life. HOWEVER, I also believe that if we squeeze life too hard, insisting upon every last drop, we can choke it to death. Life is very good. The best of my life here in Rwanda is VERY simple. I feel very privileged and blessed.