Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rubavu: Visiting Our Sponsored Kids

On our trip to Rwanda, our itinerary was fairly stacked each day.  Our time was divided between Africa New Life (ANL-a child sponsorship program that provides schooling, clothing and food) as well as spending time with our friends Joel and Annie’s ministry, Divine Destiny (which focuses on multiplying Christ followers who can lead churches around their country).  Each day we had something wonderful planned from meeting with Divine Destiny’s media team (discussing ways to connect Westerners to DD through social media) to seeing all the church plants and pastors that Divine Destiny has influenced throughout the country to spending time with Africa New Life in their Dream Center as well as their up and coming brand new hospital that will be opening this Fall.  All of these are truly amazing parts of these two ministries but the day that I was looking forward to the most was having our kids meet their child sponsors and their families, getting to see their homes and what life in Rubavu, Rwanda looks like.  This day of our trip was so emotional, humbing and wonderful all at the same time.

Our morning started out bright and early allowing us the enjoyment of this beautiful Rwandan sun rise.
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The driver backed in through the gate and the twelve of us loaded up at 6:00 am dressed and fed which is a miracle all in itself.  As we boarded the bus John mentioned that the window had a sticker on it saying something about 60 KM being its max speed, meaning our bus had a governor on it that only allowed it to go about 36 mph. Yikes!  Thankfully we came prepared with all kinds of devices and chargers to keep our little people at bay for the 4-5 hour drive from Kigali to Rubavu where our sponsored kids live (along with all the kids Fellowship families sponsored from last September).
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Peace and Frieda are sisters who were both ANL sponsored kids who are now adults working as a Pharmacist for the new ANL medical facility and as an Administrative Assistant to one of the physicians at ANL!  These precious women were our helpers and translators all day long.
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As we drove down the dirt road to the ANL sponsorship office children and adults began following our bus. When we came to a stop it’s safe to say we were quite the attention getters.  As we walked up to the office, there were women and children sitting out on the porch and it was OUR kids; we recognized them from their sponsorship pictures!!  Once inside the small office, we were introduced to Samuel, the Africa New Life director for Rubavu who gave us a brief back ground on the center and what it does for the children.  Last September they started the program in this town and were overwhelmed by the fact that a church called Fellowship Bible Church had sponsored 500 children in Rubavu all from one Sunday morning!  How awesome it was to say with joy, "that’s our home church”!  We are those sponsor families!  What an overwhelming joy for both parties.
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We were introduced to Emmanuel Irasubiza and Jasmin Uwase and their moms and then headed off to deliver food, visit, pray and hug on our kids.  The day was perfect, not in the way that all our kids acted perfectly and without incident or whining, but perfect in the sense that we finally got to meet the children and families whom we’d been praying for so very much.  Getting to hear a little bit of their stories, getting to put my arms around these momma's necks and hug these precious kids who live half a world away, was a treasure, a gift I will hold in my heart always!
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Seeing our kids interact with Emmanuel and Jasmin was really amazing.  Hearing them ask questions like “what’s your favorite animal that’s found around your home” and “what’s your favorite sport” helped them realize, that there ARE things they have in common with one another even though their worlds are so different.  Jasmin said her favorite animal was a chicken (which Peyton said was his favorite too) and when Lawson asked Emmanuel what his favorite sport was, he responded “futbol” and Emerson was holding a “futbol” that we’d brought to give him….it was one of those perfectly magical moments….we couldn’t have planned a better segway to giving our gifts to him!  After our kids showed Emmanuel and Jasmin how to use their new toys and bubbles we took a moment to pray over the kids and their families.  It was awesome to hear our prayers being prayed in Kenyan-Rwandan and knowing that they could understand our hearts and what we were trying to communicate to them.   It was all a tad overwhelming and Carol and John also have two sponsored kids so we met their kids and their families next, and again, it was overwhelming to watch and observe all that we’d just experienced with our own sponsored kids.  For me, I was reminded that though our worlds are so starkly different, polar opposites really, their windows are made of cardboard and their front doors are cotton bed sheets, yet there are still so many things that are similar with these parents we had just met.  We all want our kids to be educated, fed, healthy, happy and successful additions to the societies they live in.  We want them to know God and to worship Him, to pray and to believe that there is a God and that He loves each of us so much that He gave His one and only Son so that who ever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.  Three of the four families we met are believers and it was evident from their disposition, prayers and demeanor.  What a blessing to hear them pray in their native tongue as they asked for Gods continued blessing and favor, what a holy moment that was.
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(Emmanuel's home)
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To be sure, this day was hard, seeing the absolute poverty, the muddy water in bottles that the children were DRINKING, the homes that were about 10x10, not more then a literal dirt floor (in the above pictures, you can see our group of sixteen or so people completely maxed out the entirety of the small huts), there was one or two wood chairs, a sofa and tiny coffee table and yet their excitement to see strangers, to welcome new people, to engage and be hospitable was phenomenal.  It’s my understanding that usually that furniture isn’t even in their homes, it was more for staging so that we might have a place to sit as we visited together.  As I began processing all that we were seeing, and I've known that situations like this exist, but when you see it with your own eyes, there can no longer be any excuse for a lack of concern or care.  There are real children drinking muddy water, living in poverty who's families have the same hopes and dreams that we have for our four children.  My youth pastor always quoted the scripture, "to whom much is given, much is required."  We certainly feel this way and are grateful to be here and to be experiencing all of this first hand!  If you have a desire to learn more about Africa New Life and how you might also partner with them, please visit their website and sign up to sponsor a child today!  It's a phenomenal organization, one that we are proud to partner with.
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