Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rwanda: Part 1

I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe from the beginning…

We left Houston around noon on Friday, got on a 3.5 hour flight to Newark, sat for 1 hour, got on a 7.5 hour flight to Brussels, sat for 4 hours, got on our 8 hour flight to Kigali, and this is where we stopped. That’s 24 hours people. Woah.
Roommate Love!
And we're off!!!
GUYS...That's NYC. I LOVE window seats!
When in Belgium...Eat a waffle. There's icing INSIDE!
Amanda and Grace like waffles too.
This guy was CRAY. He would FALL into his seat which almost pushed the seat into my forehead EVERY SINGLE TIME. 8 hours of this guy + super tired = Lincee and I laughing A LOT!
They brought us ice cream. Best surprise EVER after traveling for 23 hours. Good job Brussels Air!

Needless to say we were majorly exhausted when arriving, and our internal clocks were very messed up.  *weirdest feeling ever* BUT we made it safe and sound with no delayed or canceled flights. Thank you Jesus!

We ate some delicious food and climbed into the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in (or maybe I was just tired…). BTW 8 full hours of uninterrupted sleep is magic.

This morning we went to the English service at New Life Bible Church. NLFB is pastored by Charles Mugisha who is the president and founder of Africa New Life. Unfortunately, he is elsewhere in Rwanda, so we didn’t have the privilege of meeting him yet. BUT his brother Pastor Fred brought the Word this morning about restoring the actions and attitudes we had when we first fell in love with Jesus.

Some great things from the day:
  • The music was absolutely beautiful at the English service.
  • Pastor Fred brought the kids up to the front and had them say their memory verse for the week. About 15 kids had memorized something, and it was so great to hear children quoting the Word of God.
  • We stayed for the Kinyarwandan service, and we sang Bless the Lord. So moving.
  • We had delicious brunch at a restaurant called Heaven, and I went shopping at the gift shop (surprise, surprise).
  • We drove past the president’s house (that I’m not allowed to take a picture of…it’s against the LAW. Oh and you cant take pictures of the military either.), the US Embassy, lots of other embassies, and Hotel Des Mille Collines (the hotel from Hotel Rwanda).
  • We met some of the Africa New Life staff.  Eugene Mogisha is the Programs Director, John is our driver, and Yvonne is the Missions Director.
  • Eugene and his family told us about the different ministries that Africa New Life has started. I’m excited to see some of them this week!
  • Yvonne is a special woman. She is a graduate of the Esther home. She was 1 of 15 chosen out of 100 applicants to receive a scholarship to go to college and live in the Esther Home. The Esther Home is their home while they are in college and there is a strict house mother who makes sure they are staying on top of their studies. Now Yvonne works for ANL and gets to hang with us all week.
  • John also has a cool story. His family left to Uganda when he was young to get away from the genocide happening in Rwanda, and he returned to join the military when he was 14 years old. Brings some perspective to us in the US who have never been in such desperate times where they will let anyone willing to fight to restore your home country.
Loved worshipping together
Me, Amanda, Lura Jane, Ann, Yvonne, McKenzie
Grace, Lincee, Natalie and Jude
Hotel Rwanda, where many were saved during the genocide 20 years ago
The Egyptian Consulate

The Kigali Genocide Memorial was definitely the toughest activity of the day.  It was very important for us to see the history before we serve and interact with the people this week. Seeing the hatred, political corruption, and destructive propaganda that lead to horrible atrocities broke my spirit. Seeing the mass graves  (basically 8-10 giant concrete covers), that they continue to add to as they find more bodies, brought uncontrollable sobbing. One of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know how people cope with things like this if they don’t know the true healing and redemptive power found through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Even though this afternoon was tough, I’m excited to continue to see how the Lord has brought restoration to a country that had been destroyed.

Important and tough
To end a little happier… There are teams staying with us from Little Rock and Los Angeles that are doing medical missions in Kayonza. Natalie is our trip leader and she has an adopted son, Jude, who is one and gets to hang out with us while we are here too. PRECIOUS!!

PS. To those of you who care, my blood sugars have been good, and I carry snacks everywhere. Just in case.

Random fact of the day: $1 = 680 francs or $10 = 6,800 francs or $100 = 68,000 francs
We might be doing some math problems in class with this when I return. You know...for funzies. #mathteacherprobs

Seriously. This was the view at the guest house.

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