Slowly, people are starting to get used to us. Most days, Mike goes over to the YWAM land to work on the garden project. He is gone before it is fully light so that they can take advantage of working in the cooler hours. (Started before 6 am every day, yikes.) I usually go over a few hours later and take him a nutrition-packed smoothie for breakfast.
Its about 20-30 minute walk, one way. Its a good excuse for me to get out into the community, interact with people on a non-threatening level, and to pray for the people and situations I observe.
And of course, everyone wants to greet me. The more I learn of the language, the more I realize that when people call me “foreigner,” its really not an offensive thing – for example, in Kinyarwanda, I could just greet someone “girl” or “woman” or “hello, old man.” (I can’t bring myself to say the last one, it feels rude to me.)
The kids get especially excited and shout “MZUNGU! MZUNGU!” so of course, all their friends come running. Then they shout at me, in a sing song way “HOWAREYOU!” or my favourite, “Good morning sir.” They all want to touch my hand, partly in greeting but also because they expect that my skin feels different from theirs, so they want to touch it.
So I have taken to giving “lectures” to the ones that shout the loudest, the ones I see everyday, with my limited Kinyarwanda. translated back into English, I think it goes something like this: “Kids, come here. Listen: I don’t like hear ‘MZUNGU.’ (here I imitate their shouting) I don’t like. If you want talk to me… come, say, Hello, or how are you, or good morning. Stop say ‘MZUNGU.’ Understand?” Then they all nod solemnly I greet them all, and smile my friendliest smile.
At least, that’s what I think I am saying. It seems to be working. In general, the adults think its great fun that I can have small conversations with them, and I have been able to have a few really great conversations with people.