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Building on Faith

by | Aug 5, 2014 | Africa, Mission Trips | 2 comments

Hey everybody! Thank you so much for your prayers these past couple days while I have been sick. Just to give you an update, I am definitely better than I was on Sunday at the wedding. However, I still have no appetite and haven’t really eaten anything since Saturday afternoon so I’m feeling pretty weak. But weak is better than puking. So that’s good! Too bad they don’t have Gatorade in Rwanda to replenish my electrolytes and help me hydrate. But Blake is taking good care of me.

So in this post, I’ll share about what we did on Monday and Tuesday. Monday was a whole new experience for us because we went to a new community we had never seen before. In fact, we were only the second mission team to visit this village, so they had rarely ever seen white people. This village is made up of the Twa people, who make up only 1% of Rwanda’s population. They’re known as the “woods people” because they live far away from town and they know only one profession — making pots. It is a very impoverished community, in fact more impoverished than we were expecting. Apparently, people are no longer buying their pots because there is a more modern version that is taking over the market. Because they live on their own, they also grow their own food, mainly cassava, which is a root like a potato. However, Rwanda is currently in the dry season and they do not have enough food.

These people are struggling to survive as their way of life becomes obsolete. For years no one in this village was able to attend school because they could not afford school fees. And without any education, the people have no way of adapting to new ways. However, thanks to God’s amazing grace, it is now becoming a possibility. I’ve mentioned Jane, our guide, several times before. Well her husband Peter is a pastor of a church. At this church was a man named Phillip who felt God’s call to care for the Twa community. He has planted a church in this village and even started a school for them! Pastor Phillip is a man of great faith. He left his own community to move to this village. He found two people who agreed to volunteer as teachers at the school. I can’t even imagine volunteering to do such a difficult job like that full time. But the children LOVE those teachers, and its easy to see that the teachers love them too.

We spent the morning coloring, playing soccer, jumping rope, blowing bubbles, and just having fun. I really enjoyed seeing the adults’ faces when we started blowing bubbles. They literally jumped back at the sight! They had never seen bubbles before! The kids were shrieking with laughter as they chased bubbles and the parents just stared in wonder. I can’t imagine not ever seeing bubbles before.

There was also some singing and dancing (because this is Rwanda after all)…

Pastor Phillip told us that the Rwandan government knows how dire the situation is for the Twa community. So they actually gave them a piece of land for them to build a school. The catch is that they have to start building on the land in 6 months or they take it back. Pastor Phillip said that this land is a gift from God. And even though they have no way of paying for the building yet, he is not worried because he has faith to move mountains! We prayed over the land, for the future school building, and for the children that would be able to get an education there thanks to God’s provision. It was really powerful to hear Phillip speak with such faith and assurance in God’s promises.

After lunch we went on home visits. I sadly had to hang out in the bus because I was feeling too weak to walk that much. But Blake filled me in on what I missed. He said that the poverty was really overwhelming, more than what we had seen before in Rwanda. But more than that, it was each family’s situation that really touched him. They visited about 5 homes, and each family seemed more desperate than the last. They met with a mother whose husband had just recently been imprisoned, and then another whose husband had just died last week, and another woman who was deaf. Each woman had this huge obstacle in caring for her children. The signs of malnutrition were rampant in this village. It’s easy to see that no one is really getting enough to eat.

As a team, we decided this is where God wanted us to give our extra ministry money. We were so glad to be able to bless that community through the church that Phillip has planted. Another positive thing we learned is that the church has doubled in size since the first team of muzungus (white people) came a few weeks ago. Although people may be coming only because they’re looking for gifts or looking for money that while people often bring, they will be coming to the house of God, welcomed by the people of God, and hearing the Word of God. So no matter their motive, we are thrilled that more people are being drawn to the Church for hope and support.

So that was Monday. Tuesday has been much less eventful. The majority of the team had to leave to return to America today. So we just spent the morning relaxing and packing at the hotel. Then we had a quick shopping trip followed by lunch at Jane’s house. Afterwards, we drove to the airport and dropped off the team and said our sad goodbyes. Jean Claude, Emmanuel, and Salomon were there to say goodbye also because they are so sweet like that! I hate saying goodbye to team members! I wish we could all live in one state! After the airport, the rest of us came back to the hotel to REST. Because we surely need it.

Tomorrow we will begin our time with the BFR leaders. Our goal is to improve procedures and communication, get updates on certain students and families whom we have helped, induct the 20 new children from Nyarungunga into BFR, and discuss many other plans/goals for BFR. It will be very different without a guide or a bus. We’ll be kind of winging it, using public transportation and relying on JC for translation (which his English is not as good as Jane’s). Please pray that we are able to be productive in our time together. Pray that language is not a barrier. Pray that we are all open to different ideas and suggestions, and that we are always making decisions in the best interest of the children. And as always, pray for strength and energy, especially for me since I still can’t eat anything. Thanks so much for your prayers!