Breathing in Joy and Love
Hey everyone! Today we finished our first day of ministry in Rwanda! We started off at the Genocide Memorial. Even though this is my third time to visit, it never gets easier seeing those images of mutilated bodies and thinking about the unimaginable terror and lifelong grief that these survivors carry with them each day. It deepens my respect for the leaders of Best Family, Jean Claude, Emmanuel, and Salomon. They witnessed unspeakable horrors, and yet they wear constant smiles, living examples of Christ’s redemptive power and peace that transcends understanding.
Then, after lunch, we went over to Gasharu Village to visit with some of the children of Best Family Rwanda. It was SO EXCITING seeing so many faces of the children in the Kunda Sponsorship Program! It was so different from last year, because this year I walked in knowing almost everyone’s name! Blake and I have worked tirelessly on behalf of these kids in the Kunda Program for the last 8 months, and it is so wonderfully encouraging to see them thriving and growing. Kids who were quiet and shy last year were more outgoing, evidence of their growing confidence as part of the Best Family, which affirms individuals as beloved creatures of God. Those who were small and scrawny last year have filled in some, a direct result of the better nutrition they receive through the program. And the kids were also better behaved, resulting from the leadership’s commitment to discipline and teaching of values. I am so proud of Best Family Rwanda. They are such an incredible organization, and I am humbled to be a part of its growth and development.
The children welcomed us with song and dance. It’s always so sweet to hear them sing their lil hearts out! My favorite part is when they ask, “What is your vision?” and the kids take turns sharing about what they want to be/do when they grow up. Some say they want to be a doctor. Many say they want to fight for the rights of those who have no voice, or help orphans, or improve their society. Those are especially beautiful words to hear after spending a morning in the Genocide Memorial, learning of the atrocities committed in this country and the pure evil that fueled it. THIS is what redemption looks like. Children who are descendants of genocide survivors, growing up to ensure that such cruelties never happen again.
After our welcoming ceremony, we broke off to play games and have fun with the kids! It’s almost like the great joy and love could be felt in the air, like the molecules in the air were vibrating with it. Everywhere I looked was smiling, laughing, hugging, cooperation. It was so beautiful. Normally on days like this, there will be one or two children that stick out because they attached themselves to me. But today was different. I felt like I had a connection to ALL of them!
Of course, I wanted to find one of the kids I just fell in love with last year. His name is Pas, and he is now sponsored by a friend of mine. I hardly recognized him because he has grown about a foot! He is one of the reasons I love doing this whole mission trip thing again and again. His little personality opens up so much when you just focus on him and show him that you care (something many of these kids don’t get much at home). He just gives that love right back to you and is one of the sweetest little ones I’ve ever met. He has the best manners, and is so kind to his peers, even giving up his own coloring sheets to someone else who doesn’t have any. That is a picture of him above, playing with Blake. I’m looking forward to spending more time with Pas this week!
As the sun started to tip below the horizon, we made our way back to the hotel. We enjoyed some good food and then an amazing team debrief time. Being a team leader is a lot of work (and responsibility), but it’s so rewarding to hear team members talk about their day, how they saw God move, and what they learned. It’s so freeing just to get lost in worship with one another as we kneel at the feet of Jesus.
Tomorrow we have a full day at Gasharu. We will be playing, singing, dancing, coloring, jump-roping, and any other fun activities you can think of. Please pray that through all these things, we show Jesus to these children and draw them nearer to Him. Pray that we will have energy and strength for our long day. Please pray for travel safety as our team member Kim will be leaving the US tomorrow to meet us on Wednesday. It’s no fun making that long journey by yourself! Thank you again for all your prayers and support!