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  • Writer's pictureAdam Koelling

10 Things We've Learned in Our First 3 Weeks

It's 11:10pm as I begin writing this post. It was almost exactly this time 3 weeks ago that Emily, Abbott, Hannah, and I were arriving here at our new home in Kigali. It's hard to believe that we have already been here 21 days! Such a short time yet so much has happened. Setting up cell phones, opening bank accounts, buying a car, painting our house, hosting a missions team, just to name a few. The last year, and certainly the last few months, have been a whirlwind. But to actually be here after all of the praying, excitement, anticipation, and planning is surreal. We've learned a lot in our short time here in Rwanda and so much more is coming, but in the meantime I thought I'd share 10 things that have been entertaining, a little bizarre, and very insightful for us to experience so far.

1. Hurry Up and Wait... Everyone here moves fast, but no-one really seems to be in a hurry. And it's a good thing, because pretty much everything takes longer here. I don't know exactly what it is, the culture is just different here and relationships almost always trump schedules. Being in a bank for an hour and a half to make a withdrawal almost caused my hurried American sense of entitlement rage to the surface... until I looked down and saw Colossians 2:6 "Walk In Him" on my wrist and remembered where I was and why I'm here.

2. Everyone is Pretty Laid Back... From the locals to all the missionaries and expats we've met, everyone is chill. I guess that's a good thing in a city of almost a million people where everything moves very fast, but everything happens very slow.

3. ASA and TIA are Real! On all the mission trips to Africa over the years, there's always been a running joke that it's never a matter of if something will go wrong, but when, and when it does we say ASA or "Africa Strikes Again". Additionally, when something happens that isn't necessarily wrong, but is uniquely characteristic of Africa we say TIA or "This Is Africa". For example, when you're in a hurry (but not really) and you pop into the bank to withdraw some cash and it takes an hour and a half but not because of a line... ASA. But when you're driving down the road and you see a guy hanging on the back of a truck because, you know, why not? TIA.

4. Keep Your Head On a Swivel! As I've already mentioned, everything moves fast here, especially traffic. And the conventional rules, laws, signs, and lights that we're so used to, they're more like suggestions. Traffic is nutty and it's pretty much get in when and where you can.

5. Driving Isn't as Scary as it Seems... Despite #4, driving isn't as bad as you'd think. Turns out get in when and where you can works pretty well.

6. It is Rude to Eat in Public... Pretty straightforward. I commented one morning that I'd give anything for a drive through coffee shop and was informed that it would never happen because it's rude to eat in public. No big deal, and easy enough to respect, but it would have been nice to know before I hopped on the mission bus with a big slice of banana bread! Eleven mission trips prior to moving here and never managed to get that heads up.

7. We Have a Water Park! Seriously... 30 minutes down the road in Bugesera there is a new water park. It's pretty great and super cheap, even has a wave pool!

8. There's Incredible Community... For a city that's as busy and crowded as this one, there is a great sense of community. Everyone smiles and everyone engages. This is a highly relational culture and there is also a large missionary community that has been so welcoming to us. We're so grateful to have made friends so quickly and can only imagine what it would have been like to move here and be completely alone.

9. Oh, the Things We Take for Granted... Clean water. Stable electricity. Emissions regulations. A vehicle. Low gas prices (trust me, you just think $3/gallon is high). Language (the ability to understand and be understood with little or no effort). You don't realize how important and crucial these things are to day-to-day living until they are no longer a part of day-to-day living.

10. God Has Been and Continues to Be Faithful. He has been our provider, our comforter, our confidence, and our sustainer for as far back as we can see. He has carried us through life storms, He has blessed us with so much joy, He has affirmed and reaffirmed His calling on our life time and time again. In the months leading up to our departure and in the 3 weeks that we've been here, the people, the opportunities, the support, and the prayer that He has placed in our path have been the greatest evidence and reassurance that He is a trustworthy Father who loves us and takes care of us.

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

- Zephaniah 3:17

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

- Philippians 4:19

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