Saturday, June 18, 2011
This is Bob. He has a lesser-used given name (which we didn’t learn until our very last day together), beautiful and befitting the spirit of God that travels with him. But Bob, as in Marley, was our minibus driver for most of our trip around the stunning countryside of Rwanda.
He even drove his minibus on our safari.
During our time together, Bob was a steady and quiet blessing. He took us everywhere we needed and wanted to go.
But what made our time with Bob sweet was his interest in the people we were visiting. Everywhere we went Bob joined in. He attended the meetings with widows and reconciliation ambassadors. He danced with the weavers and the women at Speak, I’m Listening. He picked up my camera and got some good shots when I was otherwise occupied. He played with the kids. He swam with us when we were at Akagera Game Lodge.
(Bob is near the right, smiling and eating corn on the cob.)
(This is Bob with a little boy we met named Bob. Of course we took a picture.)
Bob reminded me so much of my (not so) little brother. The resemblance was striking, which I told Bob through an interpreter: “You remind me of my little brother. Smart. Strong. Very Caring and easy to be around.” He responded via an interpreter, “Your husband is also very strong.” Needless to say, I stopped talking to Bob for a few days since all that is lost in translation seemed to be further muddled by gender.
Near the end of the trip Bob came to eat with us at the home of an Anglican minister and schoolmaster. I had snuck to the table for seconds. Bob hollered, “Anna! Coca.” My heart smiled as I popped off the bottle cap and handed him a Coke. Whatever formalities had been appropriately adhered to early in the week dissipated into more comfortable, familial give-and-take.
We never heard Bob’s story. He is clearly old enough to have been around for the genocide, but he did not offer those private details and we did not ask. So many other Rwandese people exposed their souls to us, which was humbling and beautiful. But Bob chose not to, which, in some important ways, is also touching. He did not feel that his relationship with us warranted or required those details and he was right. Part of healing, I think, includes developing some relationships that are not tethered to pain.
On our last day Bob said some nice things to us about being included and inspired to get to know his God again. We had the chance to say a few true things back to him and gather around him in prayer. We thanked God, like the Philippians, for Bob’s life and for the good work begun in him that will be carried on to completion. We thanked Bob for shepherding us so carefully here and there and everywhere around his beautiful country. We hugged. But we did not promise to keep in touch. Bob does not have e-mail, so all these pictures we have of him will find there way back by snail mail and then friends of friends. But in the meantime, back at home in the quiet of naptime on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, I say a little prayer for this brother.
Bless Bob, dear God. Bless him good.