Africa – Rwanda

“It wasn’t what I expected, but it’s what He intended.” That’s my trip summed up in one very short sentence. It was challenging, undoing, heart-breaking, heart-warming, and full of His grace at every turn!

Here is a small glimpse into the trip…Rwanda

As we flew into Rwanda, I looked out of the window at the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” and my eyes filled with tears as I whispered, “I already love this land.” God imprinted this nation in my heart. Here’s an excerpt from my journal. “I saw such extremes today. Utter devastation…1,000,000 people killed in 100 days. The memorial was – I don’t even have the words. Where we were was a mass grave of over 200,000 people. But we also saw incredible hope and vision through this ministry…a school with children that ran to you with hugs, land for a trade school to teach the poorest of the poor. We also visited several “Mercy Homes”…homes for women with AIDS and their children. One woman weighed 56 pounds when they found her. Today she looked wonderful…healthy and all smiles. Of course the children just melt your heart. My heart doesn’t have time to process it all.”

I remember leaving the genocide memorial speechless. Back in the van, my teammate Sherry and I were asking the question, “What can we possibly say to them – people that have tasted suffering like few ever have?” Robert, one of the workers from the church who had heard our question said, “Tell us about hope and life – dreams. That’s what we need to hear.” With God’s help, that’s what we did. We talked about the hope and life that God can bring and the dreams that He can resurrect!

The people that I had the honor of meeting were incredible! I saw both incredible vision, as well as the committed efforts that are required to see that vision through. If you ever have a missions group that wants to serve through building or finances that you want to go to a “God cause,” I can put you in touch with people that wisely use finances and resources that come their way.

One of the most memorable moments for me involved seeing a gift truly being a sacrifice. There was a young woman who attended the pastors’ seminar that had been very emotional throughout the week. With the help of an interpreter, we heard a part of her story. She and her husband attended the seminar at the invitation of their pastor. This couple desperately wanted to go to Bible School, but didn’t have the finances for that schooling. At the close of the seminar, the Rwandans received an offering so that they could give us a “cultural gift” of supplying water for our journey. (This is typically done at weddings between the families of the bride and groom.) I was humbled as I saw people bringing up their gift, but none gripped my heart as the last person to give. The woman who desperately wanted to go to Bible school, but didn’t have the finances, slowly approached the basket, took the scarf from her shoulders and put it in the basket. My heart is still undone as I recall that sight. We received this humbling gift from our Rwandan friends.

Even though I ended up getting sick during this leg of the trip, I was grateful that every time I taught, He gave me enough voice to speak and He suspended the coughing, (which we found later to be pneumonia,) long enough to deliver the message that He gave me. It says in the book of Psalms that “He arms me with strength.” He definitely did!

I will never forget my time in Rwanda and hope to go back someday soon.