seasoned with salt.

Let your conversations always be full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:6

Salt is good but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

Mark 9:50.

I have tended to think of Rwanda as this small (yet powerfully robust) country that because of its size, acts as an inevitable magnet for crazy coincidences. I smirked when on an 8-hour leg plane ride from New Jersey to Belgium that the one, African-garb weaing Rwandan on the plane of course sat next to me. Marie was her name and we enjoyed the company like two old friends in a confluence of Kinyarwanda and English. We flew on to Kigali together and only split ways when I had a diverging line for those of foreign visitor status. Of course, this would happen, right. It’s so Rwanda.

Was it ‘so Rwanda’ too when on our first day of business errands as a team around town I immediately found an old friend from my work at the microfinance bank last summer? Or when ‘busing it’ back home from a country-wide entrepreneurship competition, I happened to meet a friend-of-a-friend from her old Peace Corps village?

Or more dramatically, when standing in line at one of the city’s service centers, after 45 minutes of waiting (because that’s the deal) in line, I just knew I had to say something to the young gentleman to the left of me.

“I know you.”

He slid his eyes to the side in convincing skepticism. Assuming he was a Kigali contact, we discussed our city locations and professions with no connection to be found. I paused and muttered, “I must be crazy.” But, I wasn’t. I couldn’t help but ask again,

“So…no visits to the U.S.?”

He scoffed and laughed at once.

“Only if that would include Arkansas…but I doubt it…”

Lights, ideas, and realization hit my brain like a 50-pound anvil.

“Wait, you know Arkansas?”

He started to turn towards me, as if he understood that really I wasn’t a lunatic, “Did you go to Hendrix?”

My enthusiastic triumph showed and I exclaimed, “YES!”

Ah-ha. And there’s more. Jean Pierre, in the random que at one of many phone centers in Kigali, and I both graduated in the class of 2011. He had come on a Presidential Scholarship and though 5 years had passed, it all rushed back to both of us like long lost pals.

I shouldn’t have been at the phone store – I only had gone there because my formerly functioning phone fell from the stowaway luggage during flight turbulence en route to East Africa. Yes, yes. My phone luck is one of the worst in the world – I believe that to be true.

These aren’t namely random, weird, misplaced run-ins. These are God-type movements, reminding us that though our lives are small, they certainly aren’t small enough for intersections or weavings together at the right times. When ‘God things’ become more and more recognizable, conversation begins from a point of grace and gets a heck of a lot more salty.

Like with a beautifully poached egg with hot sauce, salt adds flavoring, aroma, and sensation. That’s what salt is relationally speaking, and it’s exactly what both Paul and Jesus are talking about respectively in the above biblical references. Salt is the grace we have in conversation and getting to know one another; we realize that we aren’t perfect, they aren’t perfect, but that for whatever reason, your lives are together – even if just for a moment – and that can be enough.

On motos (motorcycle transport) throughout the week, I have enjoyed conversations about fear, unbelief, and the Holy Spirit. Peter, my driver to eat Indian food at an olf missionary friends’ house, talked about his life as a Kingdom Laborer, spreading the gospel on his motor bike. He proclaims the name of Jesus because it’s changed his life for the better – even as him and his wife wait (and wait) for a child yet to come. They continue to believe and he continues to share because he has been called to do so. He told me that he is rich (umukire) not because of any financial standing, but because of the truth he holds in his heart. From that point of richness, he realizes he must be ‘salty’ and have compassion on those he brings around town on bike.

On the bus, my travel partner mapped out Kinayrwanda meanings of ‘grace’: that is, kwifurizanya (to speak ways of Gods’ freedom) or simply imbabazi (withholding what we really may deserve). Doors open (and are opening) all over the place.

Even as we have been around town, out and about, and traveling to our bakery project in Tanzania, small “weird” things keep happening. I choose instead to see them a bit differently; a bit salty and it makes it all the more interesting.

When we are open like this, we can see this kind of stuff. It’s not a Rwandan, or even a ‘small world’ thing. It has got God written all over it. I learned a lot about life as a Kingdom Laborer this summer. It’s pretty sweet when we have eyes to see it. And, when we have a heart to appreciate it. That’s awesome. Thank you, God.

As we prepare for our Women’s Bakery training, collaboration, determining our organization’s direction, and expanding our bread, reach, and projects, I cannot help but be excited about who or how we meet people will play out. If this week is any indication, it will be ‘salty’ and it will bring peace, joy, and growth. Cheers and salt from Rwanda, my friends.


View from our home-office for The Women’s Bakery in Kigali
Welcome to the neighborhood.
Travels to sites in Tanzania – near gorgeous Lake Victoria

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Heather Newell Oglesby

Hi! I'm Heather. I am a writer and counselor in-training. I share stories so we can keep the magic of being human alive. I spend a great deal of time going on long walks with my wife, rollerblading, learning, and traveling to find new adventures. By day, I work as an Education and Employment Specialist for Jefferson Center for Mental Health, working with adolescents who have experienced their first episode of psychosis. A Colorado native, I love dark-roasted coffee, sunshine, and succulents. Enthusiasm, passion, and possibility: that's me at my best.

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