“Now That I Have Seen”

Well today is the day we leave for Rwanda. And as in usual fashion, a lot went wrong this week. Distractions, fears, and then yesterday Charlie’s dresser fell on top of him and a picture frame shattered behind him. Thankfully he is okay. But many people’s question to us has been…

What if something happens while you are there?

That was the first thing that was said to me when it was decided that Mike and I were both going to Rwanda. That wasn’t what I needed to hear. And I get it, it is a risk to leave your children for almost 2 weeks to go to a place where you will have little contact with them, and in a place that has a hard history.

However, for me, the fear of not following where He leads is greater than the fear of following Him.

Why are you going to Rwanda?

Truthfully the desire to return to Rwanda had been in my heart ever since my first trip 8 years ago (as you will read below). but I honestly never thought I would return. God had other plans as the desire grew when my husband decided to go, and well, long story short, I ended up on the team of 11 that will be departing shortly (like in a couple hours) for our trip.

Simply put, we want to follow where He leads. We know what His word says, and we know that as truth. We know what His word promises, and we know what it doesn’t.

But deeper than that, I have seen the depths of brokenness, and that true abundant life is on the line, and with seeing that and experiencing that, I have a responsibility as a child of God to carry that faith where He leads.

I hope that this doesn’t end up like Puerto Rico.

Are we nervous that this trip will end up like Puerto Rico? No. Maybe it is because I have been to Rwanda before, or maybe because of increased trust in God, but in a way I feel like I am just taking a trip to another state (a state that would take like 22 hours of travel to get to!).

I know for some of our family there is a concern that something will happen because of our trip to PR. So what happens if something does happen on the trip? Truthfully, so much changed in Puerto Rico. Walking through a category 5 hurricane and the aftermath of trying to get home, lead me to tell God that I wanted to walk through life like we walked through the hurricane. I had an indescribable peace, and a trust in God that I had never had before. It was because that was all we could do, and it is a trust that I need to cling to especially with a path being so unseen.

And going to Rwanda isn’t the craziest thing I have done this year. By far the craziest thing was to tell God that I would risk anything to follow Him, and then actually following through with that commitment. I can’t tell you that following Jesus has been easy after making that commitment. I haven’t always had an indescribable peace, but even in those times, His promise has been there. The promise that in this world you will have trouble but that He has overcome the world. The promise that He will never leave or forsake you. The promise that He really does make all things beautiful in His time. And those are the truths I need to cling to and remember everyday.

I have told more than one person recently that you don’t need to go to Africa to follow Jesus. Because following Jesus isn’t a trip, it is a life style. When you follow Christ, you don’t get to chose when you follow Him. I mean we always have the choice to be obedient or not, but following Him isn’t really about what you do, it is about who you are because of Him.

In that, His word says faith without deeds is dead. So, I leave you with 2 things. One, the encouragement to remember that you don’t need to go to a third world country to follow Jesus. The call is to abide in Him everyday no matter where you are. You may be at a wedding, on vacation, at the grocery store, driving in your car, or surrounded by friends and family. Abide, remember whose you are because of who He is.

The second thing I want to leave you with is a portion of what I wrote on the plane coming home from Rwanda 8 years ago. It will give you a glimpse of why my desire was so deep to go back.

I probably won’t be posting much on social media while we are away (if at all), but I will probably blog a couple times. If you would like to be notified when I post a new blog, please enter your email address below so you can read about our experience as we are living it!

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We are on our way home. Somethings I am unsure I will be able to explain because I am unsure I even understand what happened. One thing I know is that my new sneakers didn’t survive. We were planting trees with the community and I had to jump over the stream. My foot landed in the mud and my sneaker stayed in the mud when I stepped out of it. My sneaker was saturated in mud and so was my sock, and then there were the 300 Rwandans laughing at me… or with me…

My favorite part of the trip was the children. Whether it was the ones we met on the street or at the camp. They were funny. The first day we went to a church and when we would have our backs to the children they would creep up to you, and as soon as your turned around they would run away from you. Eventually they would warm up to you and then come rub your hand because we have arm hair, and they don’t.

The OVC camp was amazing. The OVC’s blew us away  and far exceeded our expectations. Some of the children opened up about their experience with the genocide for the first time since it had happened. What blew us away was the triumph in Jesus, and they joy that had despite the tragedy they had in their lives.

I have to go back to Rwanda, I am not sure when, but I have to. I feel like I am leaving a huge part of my heart there. The kids, seeing their mud covered clothes and skin because they don’t have running water, and they sleep on hay or just a mud floor.  It is heart breaking. But the hope in their eyes in a little bit of heaven.

They are just beautiful.

I felt incredibly safe there as well. When I was covered in children, or when we were planting trees and I had a machete 2 inches from my face. I feel like I should have felt fear, but I felt embraced.

Everything is so simple here. In the midst of what little they have, there is this overwhelming joy. They have close to nothing, but have an abundance of faith, love, and joy.

We visited a young woman named Esperanza. Her parents had died of “sickness”. She was 22 and cared for her young siblings , ages 10 and 13. They live in a mud hut with a tin roof that had holes in it. They slept on a little bit of hay and that was the only thing they had in the house besides a tiny table. We brought her some food, plates, a hoe (for her farming), clean water, and a blanket.

She said that getting this stuff was like a miracle because she struggles to feed her siblings.

I am not sure when, but I need to go back… and can only hope for the opportunity to do so one day…rwanda 147

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