Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Expat Aussies and Embassy staff at the Kigali Serena

We left La Palisse yesterday at around noon. We were expecting our lift at 9.00, but T.I.A!

The extra time was actually a blessing as we got to spend around an hour chatting with Native American activist ,theologian and gathering speaker Richard Twiss. Richard is of the Sioux/Lakota tribe and plays a role in preserving his culture. On the last night of the conference he sang a traditional song for us to the beat of a hand held drum. The song predated whitemans occupation of North America and spoke of the existence of a supreme being to whom prayers should be offered. His point was God was with the American Indian people long before white man.

He spoke of the attrocities the whites enacted against the native Americans. Of small pox infected blankets sent out to the tribes (biological warfare), of "battles" in which the US Army wantonly killed men, women and children in order to dominate and erradicate the Indian people.

There were many analogies to our own colonial treatment of the Australian Aboriginal people. A people who also had God with them long before the white man set foot on Australian soil.

I remember a story told to me by an old Walpiri elder at Willowra in the Tanami Desert - he said the creator God was known by his people and worshipped, but his name and true identity had been lost in the passing of time. His said he was thankful for the missionary who came and reintroduced his people to God.

We chatted with Richard about his church in Seatle and about the ways in which it was finding a place among the marginalised of the city. The addicts and dealers and homeless. He said his job was to help keep the leaderships feet on the ground, not succoming to the church growth circus. Although he said there was interest in his church fom those wanting to capture what they are doing and turn it into a formula, including from one of Perth's own mega-church leaders!

He gave us some contact details for friends who are involved in a similar demographic to ours, although they are 15 years into it. Hopefully we can connect and learn something from them as we continue our work with the marginalised in Bunbury.

Last night we spent a pleasant evening at Kigali's only 5 star hotel - the Serena. We saw an ad in the East African paper at the start of the week for a gathering for Aussies in Rwanda and thought we would rock up.

We found an interesting bunch of expat Aussies. Nurses, a World Vision project manager, teachers and an agricultural consultant and a lady involved in the development of rugby in Rwanda - as well as a representative of the Australian Embassy in Kenya.

We had a nice African BBQ meal (goat and chicken and salad) and drinks, all on the Australian government - not something we were expecting when we arrived last week. I tried the local beer, Primus, and was pleasantly surprised.

Of the group only one was a bloke, the rest were women, mostly single women. One lady had lived in Kigali with her Rwandese husband for 9 years.

Today we have had a quiet morning browsing the tourist stores, buying presents for family and friends.

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