A letter from Kay Day in Rwanda
Dear Family and Friends,
Over a hundred people were packed into the tarp-covered courtyard when the traditional herdsman entered. He was tall and lean, clothed in a tribal wrap around his waist, a separate wrap draped under his right arm and tied on his left shoulder. He leaned on the thin staff used to direct his cattle. He stopped in the center of the crowd gathered for the celebration of Jeremy’s oldest son’s confirmation and he began to recite his poem, the poem of a cow given in friendship. He had come to present such a cow to Jeremy. In traditional Rwandan culture, the giving of a cow seals a union, like a marriage or is a bond of friendship. In this case, it was a bond of friendship. The two families had been friends for years. Jeremy and Charles had grown up together. Charles’ wife had introduced Jeremy to her friend, and they were soon married. The two couples’ children were now growing up together. Charles’ family gave the cow to signify the depth of their commitment to the friendship. This is an extravagant gift, a sacrificial gift. Those of us gathered for the confirmation celebration listened to the poem with quiet respect and then erupted in cheers at its conclusion. We were part of this commitment to friendship.
Those who sat near me explained that this is a deeply rooted tradition that goes back to the days before paper money, when material possessions were the currency of exchange. A cow represented a family’s wealth and its financial security. It could buy a great deal. To give a cow was a great sacrifice. This expression of friendship has humbled me. What value this puts on the friendship! Then I thought of the sacrificial love of Christ for us, who gave, not a cow but his own precious life for us. Then he called his disciples (you and me) to love one another as he loved us. How much do I sacrifice, do I commit to the friendships God had brought into my life? I don’t have a cow to give to deepen a friendship but I have other things that may mean even more to my friend. I need to be willing to commit to the friendship enough to give sacrificially for it. That is my prayer as I build friendships here in Rwanda, as I try to do ministry God’s way.
I praise God for you and for the friendships that are growing between us. Thank you for your continued support of prayers and finances. I know that many of you are giving sacrificially for me to be here. Thank you for that deep expression of friendship. I am humbled by it.
This month with the students on break has been a time for me to work on relationships with staff as well as prepare for the new semester. I am thankful for this quieter time, for the opportunity to attend celebrations like Jeremy’s, to have friends to my home, to do some writing and lesson preparation and to work on my Kinyarwanda. Continue to pray with me about language building, for me and for the staff I have been meeting with three times a week for them to learn English. This has become relationship building as much as language learning. I praise God for that. As school resumes here later this month, pray for the safe return of the students and for finances for some of them to be able to return. That is always an issue. And I will be praying for you as you enter into your busy Fall schedules. I pray God provides friendship building opportunities for you too.
In Christ’s love,
Kay (Cathie to the family)