After the first two training sessions in Kigali in September of 2009, the group of twenty trainees, asked me to start a federation for Taekwondo in Rwanda. I quickly informed them that I had no idea how to do that. They replied that Uganda had a federation and that maybe I should go and speak with them.
So, on the 30th of October, 2009, after locating the federation training center in Kampala, Uganda via the Web, I boarded a bus. It probably wasn’t that simple and if I had written this eight years ago, I am sure that a very colorful commentary of this journey could be given. Now it is just a blur. I think, in looking back, I was hoping for someone on my team or maybe my wife to pull the plug. It seemed very ludicrous to board a bus, barely knowing where you are going, into an unfamiliar country, to meet with people who not only don’t know you but that don’t even know you are coming. Nevertheless, I went.
After a restless night in a hotel, that I promptly checked out of the next day (a different blog – maybe a how not to travel in Africa post), I took a long walk in search of the training center for Uganda Taekwondo. I found it and happened to be the second one in the gym that day. I was a bit early and the other person there was a professional kick boxer. He didn’t think too much about me being there, so I dressed out in my uniform and waited and waited and waited. I do wonder often if that was why God brought me to Africa, to teach me to wait. After about two hours some children showed up along with four Taekwondo masters, Peter Kamau, Judith Aujo, Andrew Mugisha, and Badru. They had just returned from the world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was in awe. They welcomed me and, to expedite matters, asked why I was there. I quickly caught them up and informed them that I came so they could teach me how to start a national Taekwondo federation. As well, I asked if they would let me work out with them, as I was suspicious that the Taekwondo I had learned in Togo might not be of the highest quality and up to world standards. They had me warm up with the kiddos and I was admittedly ashamed of the quality of my kicks; and then I worked with Peter Kamau for four hours (yes, four hours) on all the forms of Taekwondo! We had a meal together in the afternoon and they shared with me all they had known about the processes of a national federation, including their statutes.
My mind was blown. It was classic African hospitality. Knowing me not, they trained me, hosted me, fed me, befriended me, and educated me. It became reciprocal as I began having them come to Rwanda and help me to train our athletes. In many ways, I have since found out that this is inherent to the Taekwondo culture. Yet, looking back, I also realize that this was extreme and unique. The only way, I can explain it, is that God made them favorable towards me, not for me, mind you, but for Rwanda. I had not taken this trip on my own behalf and it was the first of many sacrifices I was to make in this sport development for discipleship journey. Yet, God affirming the journey by numerous unmerited graces, or as I like to put it, favor; has been and continues to be a constant that prompts me to take that next step of faith into the unknown.
Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Well, all of this was very unknown, but it was with a lot of encouragement and now I had help from those I find myself eternally grateful to: my friends Peter, Judith, Andrew and Badru. Looking back, I also realize that all we have done in Rwanda could not have occurred had they not taken me in.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers …