After being here in Rwanda for a week, you can't help but to have your perspective changed. Mine definitely has.
I take so many things for granted living in the US that so many others around the world don't even have. Things I don't even think about, that just seem like normal life, are non-existent for most people here in Rwanda. Everyday items like clean water, electricity, toilets, heating, air conditioning, sanitary bathrooms, showers, toothpaste, deodorant, shoes, q-tips, internet, cars, computer, cell phone, tv, and so many other things.
I've gotten so used to these things being available to me and part of normal life that I don't even realize how much of a blessing they are. What's interesting is that most Rwandans living outside of Kigali don't miss these things because they've never had them. We've had a move in the US over the last several years to combat consumerism, which I agree with wholeheartedly. But here in Rwanda, that's not even on the radar screen. Simple lifestyle; incredibly powerful faith.
Another thought from my time here is the essence of community. Because there are relatively few of the items mentioned above in most communities throughout Rwanda, "living in community" looks very different from what I am used to. Everyone walks to get somewhere, the Church and school is the center of community life, and the water well serves as a gathering place. Music is an incredibly important part of the culture here, and most celebrations and gatherings involve singing and dancing. People work together and collaborate because they HAVE To- their very existence depends on it. Subsistent farming communities are intertwined because people rely on each other- everyone has to contribute in order to survive. You can't "just exist" in a community, you have to be an integral part of it.
What does this mean for our realities of community? Not sure yet, but I know that when a community has to work together on something, it enhances "doing life together."
Check out Jeff Shinabarger's blog from earlier today on "Could you live here?," regarding Rwanda. I share the same sentiments.