A long one but well worth the read …
This morning started like most mornings this trip, waking up to the wonder of being in this beautiful country, having an amazing breakfast and then heading out to meet some wonderful people. Loading everyone up in the trucks and getting out onto the road lined on both sides with people on foot and on peddle bike, always in wonder that everything could run so smoothly and without incident. Unfortunately for one man this wasn’t the case this morning. As our caravan of trucks came up the hill, one Rwandan was coming down on the other side of the road on his peddle bike loaded high with his morning delivery of goods at an amazing speed, and although some of us watched it happen, we’re still not entirely sure what went wrong. Before we knew it he was laying on the side of the road beside his bike, in need of help. As we all jumped out to see if he was OK, I was relieved to see him awake and moving, and led by Kurtis our team came together and did everything we could to help get him to the local hospital. At first I felt as though we saved this man, and wondered what he would have done without us, but in no time at all the many Rwandans on their morning commute rallied around this man and the cargo he likely makes a living with and once again I was in wonder at how well this community supports each other and cares for its people. I was honored that God would use us here this morning to help this man, but humbled by the reminder that He can do it all without us.
We did make it to our meeting, and I think even on time? On our schedule this morning was a meeting with the Church Network Committee, which is made up of a group of local pastors and staff that represent the community of individual churches in the area. They explained to us how World Relief has taught them the scriptural importance of shedding their ideas that they are individual churches each more important to God then the next, and instead come together as one body under Christ. And through a great time of conversation, they explained to us how much their churches and communities have benefited and grown in so many ways, spiritually, financially, socially and more simply by putting aside their petty differences and realize they all serve the same God who loves each and every one of them equally and unconditionally. Once again, I find myself feeling like I learnt more from them then they did from us.
Our next stop was at a local church where some members of a great initiative known as “Savings For Life Group” where running a sewing machine and what appeared to be a loom (so I was told, not sure I know much about either!). It was so inspiring hearing their story about how World Relief taught them to look into their own resources and share together to be able to grow their finances as a team. Now these women and men are able to make and sell beautiful clothing and dresses at the local market, putting funds into the group, their own homes, and even able to tithe back to the church. This from a group that felt lost and alone only a short time ago.
Once we had our time of visiting with them, and time for the women put in their order for dresses (and a shirt for me, of course), we made our way outside. At this point, with a fairly open afternoon and on such a beautiful day (no different from every other day so far, really) we opted out of getting back in our trucks and asked them to wait for us up the road a ways (on the other side of town, you might say, if this town actually had another side). So for the next 45 minutes or so we spent walking (running, dancing, playing, floating) up the road with what seemed like every kid in town not in school, being greeted by the all the people we passed on the way, and enjoying every second of it. I know for me, the joy that spilled out of these people filled me so full my eyes may have leaked a little. The only bad part was it seemed like no time at all before we reached or vehicles at the top of the hill, and had to wave goodbye as we headed back to our Rwandan homes.
For the rest of the day not spent in the dining hall, we had the opportunity to happen across a group of local fishermen while enjoying a lakeside walk, and as they prepared their meal and their boats in what I assume is typical fishermen fashion (not always for the easily offended), we stopped for a time of prayer and I realized that it was likely from a similar group of these rough, tough, intimidating men that Jesus recruited some of his closest companions.
May the Lord be with the cyclist from this morning, that he may be healed and that any setbacks be minimal, may he bless the leaders of the churches so that they can work together without unnecessary disagreement so the entire community can come together under Christ, may he touch the machines making clothes so that they work efficiently and effectively for those people using them to sell their clothing at the market, may he continue to fill the people of that town with joy and love for each other and every person who comes up their road, may his presence be felt tonight amidst the men fishing the lake, may he bless our group with a good sleep and a refreshing start to tomorrow, and may he instill knowledge and obedience to the staff at World Relief who are leading us along our journey in Rwanda. Hope this finds you well!
PS: Kurtis got doo-doo’d on by a ceiling-dwelling lizard.