Beginnings are full of introductions. And in this context, there is a certain formality involved in those introductions beyond what is typical in the US - left hand on the right arm while shaking hands as a sign of respect, inquiring about family, etc. Thankfully that’s one of the first things we learned in Kirundi class and have practiced quite a bit. My brain still gets confused though as to which language to use - today I began introducing myself in French and then inadvertently switched to Kirundi and then got stuck and went back to French! One of the joys of pursuing this as a team is that it’s not quite so intimidating so stand up as a group as it would be as individuals. Plus then we get to learn from what other French or Kirundi phrases teammates have picked up along the way for greetings, etc. Everyone has received us so graciously and eagerly. And they seem to understand us for the most part - even with our halting words and grammatical mistakes! And they have as much trouble with pronouncing our names as we do theirs so we have the opportunity to extend grace to each other! It’s a blessing to begin our service here in the learner position, to accept the help of many eager language helpers, and to seek advice for figuring out how to accomplish basic tasks like purchasing milk and eggs. As we pursue careers here as teachers, it’s encouraging to remember that we are first learners and students ourselves.
We enjoyed our first church service here on Sunday including many beautiful choirs. My favorite was the choir of young girls - you can see them in the center of this picture with their white bandanas. They had impressive motions with each song. The church service was longer than we are used to, but we appreciated the opportunity to practice Kirundi, and to experience the joy the church members expressed for worshipping our Savior. We look forward to worshipping with them more fully as we understand more of the words sung and preached. As a team, we've been reading a book together called "Keeping the Sabbath Wholly" and I was reminded & convicted during the church service of the values of ceasing and resting on the Sabbath. Remembering that made me more content to embrace the opportunity to worship with the local community no matter the length of the service as I was free to do so without any other obligations for the day.
There was only one welcome that wasn't well received thus far. The kids were introduced to their new schoolroom yesterday and were greeted by swarms of pincer ants! We'll seek help from our "teachers" here as to how to fix that problem! In the meantime, the kids are learning how to avoid said "bad guys", as the little ones call them.