Rwanda Day 11 - August 23, 2019

It's hard to believe that our time in Rwanda has come to an end! Every day was filled to the brim with unforgetable experiences.

The team was a wonderful mix of experienced people who have so much love for the people and places we visited and the newly called to serve who found that same love in their chosen mission field of Rwanda.

The trip was early mornings and late nights, dusty roads and bumpy rides, trying to remember the difference between "muraho" (hello) and "murakoze" (thanks), African tea and fresh fruit.

It was water filters and Bibles and our friends leading their new goats home on a rope. It was the craftsmanship of handmade baskets and handsewn skirts. It was beans and rice and don't-tell-Stacy-we-are-eating-goat.

It was children's voices raised in song, women's voices raised in praise, pastor's voices raised in prayer. It was playing with children, holding babies and hugs from people of all ages.
And it was too short.

But most of all this trip was about love. It was about living out Jesus's instructions as recorded in Matthew: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22: 37-39, NIV)

- Patricia

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Rwanda Day 10 - August 22 2019

Muraho!

Today is our last day in this beautiful country, the land of a thousand hills that we have all grown to love.

We started out a little later and were able to sleep in until 7am. After breakfast several members of the team were able to meet their Compassion Children face to face for the very first time. As the ban pulled into the parking area and the doors opened we all were able to experience the Joy that comes from sharing your life with a Compassion Child.

Then off we went to market to purchase gifts from the local craftsmen for our supporters back home.  The local coffee shop smelled like heaven.

Next we experienced kimikonao-yes that’s right, the outdoor open market. Here we learned the art of negotiation with the help of our amazing interpreters.

We were then given the honor and privilege of visiting with Josie’s Church and the Mission Life in Partnership with Africa Hope Initiative's Child Hope Center. Here many dreams and hopes are becoming reality. The school was filled with the voices of beautiful children who now have an opportunity to receive an education. 

The Women of Josie’s Church shared the challenges and prayers of their hearts. They worship at Harvest Christian Church. Their church was in a tent near by and one year ago it had to shut down due to the government regulations for church building standards. Many efforts are being undertaken to raise the funds to reopen their church.

Great encouragement hope and prayer was given. We were reminded of Matthew 5:14...You are the light of the world a city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Please pray for this church and the Child Hope Center. A property is being looked at 1 block away. Mission Life’s vision states “Change one life, change the World.” We saw so many lives changed today by the love of Christ and the mission of His church.

So on to packing then a celebration dinner for all He has done through this team.

I leave you with this verse from the bible.

1 Peter 4:10-11 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised.

It has been an honor to serve on this team. Our heart will forever be reminded of the love of Rwanda.

Goodbye Rwanda-Murabeho

God Bless you-Imana aguhe umugisha

Love,
Michelle Brien

Rwanda Day 9 - August 21, 2019

This morning we said our goodbyes to Kayonza and our Silent Hill Hotel accommodation to head to the village of Gasarabwyi, about an hour away. This village holds a special place in MCCs heart as the first of our villages our teams have served, and regularly go back to visit. 

We were again welcomed by numerous children enthusiastically waving along the side of the road, happily shouting “muzoongu, muzoongu!!” We then received more warm hugs and welcoming from the village adults. 

Donota, who is a wonderful 24 year old girl from this village who has become a special part of Patrick’s life, came along for the ride as we delivered her to her home village from her boarding school.

We were welcomed with singing and worship in the church. The singing and dancing continues to be contagious, and we are all always eager to get up and try to learn some new moves.

Elisa gave a sermon on the concept of darkness versus light in the world. Our world is not strictly one or the other, as there are moments that can be light and some that can dark. As Christians we choose to walk in the light, and invite others to walk along with us together in Christ. The world can be full of good and bad moments, but we must continue to be the light so we can light the way for others, to help them emerge from their darkness.

Another day, another lap full of friendly children. We very much enjoyed a new batch of children to love and cuddle with during church. We watch them eyeball us from across the room, and some are brave enough to walk over on their other, while others need a little gesture of invitation to come sit on our laps. A mom in the choir was struggling with her crying infant on her back, probably about 2-3 months old. She was walking out of the church to soothe him when our interpreter Angel offered to hold him so mom could sing. Little baby boy was then passed ALL around our group, and as we cooed at him and bounced him to make him smile. 

Our team then toured the toilet/sanitation project spearheaded by Bruce in his many visits to this village. The men of the village appear to take much pride in continuing this project in Bruce’s absence. They were eager to demonstrate the bathroom set up for us, and explain the process of sanitation. The amount of times Bruce’s name came up today was too many to count, and the pastor even specially requested to send him greetings and love on our trip home.

We also visited the local Compassion office today, which functions as a major component of the program to pair children in villages in counties all over the world with sponsors around the world. We have several team members who have compassion children in Rwanda who they support throughout the year (and these team members are SO eager to meet those kiddos tomorrow morning, by the way!) For those of who don’t already have compassion, boy have we been won over by all these cuties. Who WOULDNT want to help support these adorable smiling faces in these tiny rural communities in Rwanda?! It’s like sending love and hugs in a envelope regularly throughout the year. And the children take the letters and photos back to their little crowded clay homes to keep for their very own.  On the note of children, I think I can speak for everyone on the team when I say I LOVE when children come up and hug or hold hands or simply offer a smile. The language barrier is no longer an issue, since no language is necessary to give and receive this kind of love and happiness. These children make our hearts burst! Many of us had one child holding each of our hands, though some skilled team members were seen managing to hold 3 little hands at once! These babies followed us around, hand in hand, throughout the village tour, and even returned after lunch to again feel the love in the short time before we had to say goodbyes. 

An easy 1.5 hour drive then took us back to the city of Kigali (thankfully free of traffic). We now have time for a couple of hours of R&R before dinner, which is so appreciated as some of our immune systems are starting to wear down a bit as our trip is coming to an end. We continue to value each and every day here. The villages have been an amazing experience, but we are ready to do a little shopping for our supporters tomorrow in Kigali (after we visit the Child Hope Center) with plans for lots of gifts to bring back to New Hampshire. 

-Amy Knissel

Rwanda Day 8 - August 20, 2019

Muzungoo (Traveler)

Today was nothing short of amazing. We started this morning with devotion and prayer about walking with God. Among other things, In Psalm 148:7 & 10, the Bible teaches us to Praise the Lord from the earth, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds. So we set out today on a safari in Akagera National Park in appreciation of God’s creations. We learned so much about the park and their residents.

To see these animals walking, romping, playing and even fighting in their natural habitat is simply breathtaking. This park has over 100 elephants, 35 lions, 20 giraffes, hippos, black rhinos, baboons and vervet monkeys are commonplace. There are over 480 species of birds found in the park. Some birds are a beautiful blue and others multi-colored or a simple white color.

The peak of our day was when we got to see two male lions resting under a shady tree. Everyone was so excited to see them. We also saw baby zebras and baby hippos too. The most beautiful part of the day was seeing the African plains with all the different creatures living in harmony together.

It was so moving to See God’s work through the people in Rwanda by caring for their natural habitat and wild animals as well as bringing back near extinct species such as the black rhino. There was even a couple getting communion in the park while we were there. It really brought why we were there today to center.

God’s creatures, great and small includes all of God’s creatures. May we always care for the people and the creatures that God placed in our care.

Sarah Glenfield

Rwanda Day 7 - August 19, 2019

Today I am so grateful that we won’t need interpreters in heaven. As we said goodbye to our Rwandan family in Nasho, I took comfort knowing that I’ll see them again someday! This was another incredible day. We were able to spend most of the day together as a team, worshipping at church, purchasing clothes, baskets and woven goods from the sweet women’s cooperative and playing with tons of kids.

Today we also saw the results of some of our projects! We gave away Bibles to many of the Christians in Nasho and surrounding villages. The Word is so powerful and our neighbors here know it well; many of the Rwandan women were teaching us as we had Bible study a few days ago. Now, they were so excited to have Bibles of their own.

We were also thrilled to see that all 25 water filters worked! They were made here in Rwanda and several of the men from the village learned how to make them. Hopefully this can bring better health to the community.

This afternoon, a little girl crawled into my lap and after about ten minutes, she was out like a light! My arm fell asleep quickly too but I could’ve stayed there for hours. They say it takes a village, and the children here sure grow up with one. They are loved and cared for in so many important ways. Getting to spend time with them this week has been such a gift.

Now we’ve made it to Akagera National Park, and I think we’re all excited for a little rest and relaxation tonight. After everything we’ve done and experienced this past week, my heart feels both full and worn out but I can’t wait for all that the rest of this trip will bring.

-Elisa Johnson

Rwanda Day 6 - August 18, 2019

Our day started early today.  Our trip to Nasho has taken longer than expected each day due to road construction.  Today, we didn’t want to be late for church  😊.   So, 6:30 we met and Linda shared from the Psalms and challenged our team to step out of our comfort zone as we worship and serve today.  We grabbed a quick breakfast, the vans were loaded and we were on road shortly after 7:30.  We have a big day ahead with the church service, a children’s program and an afternoon of women’s outreach.  

The ride to Nasho is beautiful.   We travel through hills and valleys and see banana plantations, rice paddy fields, newly planted crops of corn, beets and peas.   A majority of the ride is on dirt roads.  We share the road with bicycles, motor bikes and people walking (for water, to the fields or to town).  Yes, there is a lot of dust but we see the homes, families and villages we see along the way.  Children always run up to the road with big smiles and wave.   We love seeing how life works every day in Rwanda along this road.

We arrived at Harvest Christian Church just in time.  The children celebrated our arrival and lined the streets and were singing and dancing.  Our vans pulled up and we had a huge welcome from the many generations at the church.  Hugs, smiles and laughter abounded.  

The church service began (it was a full house) with adult and youth choirs singing, dancing and praising God.   We were also prepared to sing to them.  1 song actually means singing 2 songs here.  So we sang the traditional hymn, Amazing Grace, which they knew well.  We also sang Cornerstone from Hillsong Worship.  At the end of our songs our translator share the lyrics with them in Kinyarwandan (their language).  

I was asked to prepare the message for today and it was based on Paul’s Prayer to the Ephesian Church (Ephesians 3:14-21).  It’s applicable today for us and our friends at Harvest Christian Church.  Paul’s prayer is that they would be ‘…rooted and established in love and may have the power together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpassed knowledge – that they would be filled to the measure of the all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3: 17b-19).  We spoke about his prayer is 1) a desire for each person to genuinely know and experience the love of God and 2) that they would share that love with their neighbors.  We concluded our time with a prayer of blessing for their church as they serve with their neighbors and their community. 

I would also like to give a special shout out to Angel, she did a great job translating and helping the congregation understand the teachings of Ephesians.   This is not an easy assignment.  Our translators have been amazing this week and we are certainly blessed to have them by our side each day.

I will close with a quote that we shared today with our friends in Nasho.  “Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do?  The answer is yes – all the time!  It must be that way, for God’s glory and kingdom.  If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory;  if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory.  He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world.”  Henry Blackaby, Experiencing the Spirit;  The Power of Pentecost Every Day

It was a great start to the day. 

-Mike Perkins


Children’s Day Blog:

Gods love has the ability to shine the brightest through the innocent eyes and smile of a child. Today, in the village of Nasho, after a beautiful Sunday service with an amazing sermon given from MCC’s own Mike Perkins, I had the pleasure of leading a special afternoon prepared for only the children of the village. The pastor asked the parents of the congregation to leave the children with us for a couple hours

Over 400 children of the village gathered together in the church. Imagine 400 children in one place with no parents! However this group of beautiful Rwandan children sat in their seats or in a group on the floor and waited patiently for our program to begin. They were so eager and excited to see what we had planned for them.

First, team member Alissa, read the children’s version of David and Goliath while one of our amazing interpreters, Miriam translated the story in Kinyarwanda. Myself and team member Linda, walked around each side of the church with large pictures of the story that I had blown up to poster size. This was one of my most favorite parts of the afternoon because of the precious wide eyes looking at the pictures and listening to the story intently. The children all cheered and clapped when they heard the ending of the story.

After the story, our team handed out a coloring page from the story of David and Goliath and a package of crayons so each of the children could color. While they were busy coloring, I had the pleasure of telling the children that we had some Pray for One bracelets to give them and explaining a simple version of what Pray for One means. Miriam had all the children say “PRAY FOR ONE” in English together as a group which was such a special experience to hear a group of children across the world in Africa saying the words I pray everyday!

Once the children finished their coloring pages, they proudly showed them to all of us. Then we had a special treat for them. Our team contributed single serve drink mixes and we gave them a demonstration on how to open the packets and add them to a water bottle. As soon as they saw the water changing color as we shook the bottle, they cheered excitedly. We handed out the packets with water bottles as well as bags of popcorn that some of our team members put together with a few of the women in the village.

But wait, there’s even more fun! After the children enjoyed their popcorn and flavored water, we invited the youth choir who have sung beautifully for us each day in the village, up to the front of the church. We handed each one of them a bottle of bubbles and demonstrated how to blow bubbles. The children laughed when they saw the bubbles and the youth choir caught on quickly to how to get the most bubbles by blowing gently.

The youth choir each took their bubbles outside of the church and we let the rest of the children follow them out so they could enjoy popping the bubbles that the choir was blowing.

For the remainder of our time in the village, the children played outside with the bubbles and were given large ropes to jump rope with. Some of our team members went out and played jump rope as well as volleyball with them. From all around the church, you could hear the laughter and excitement of these children.

For my first global mission trip (and definitely not my last!), I am honored that I was allowed to lead this special and amazing children’s day. Words can’t express the love that I feel towards these children and the love I feel from all of them. They are all true gifts of God and their expressions of excitement and gratitude warm my heart. In this experience and many many others on this trip, I feel like I truly understand how to look at people through the eyes of Jesus.

-Tina Gregoire

Rwanda Day 5 - August 17, 2019

On the ride to Nasho today, our bus ride consisted of beautiful singing, team bonding and enjoying Patrick’s dance moves!

God is good! Yesterday and today we had the honor and blessing of being welcomed into 5 different homes! We got to meet these women and men on a more personal level. They have endured so much and God is helping them endure it. It is amazing to think how much God does EVERYWHERE. These women are such an inspiration!

Getting to know the women more during these visits helped us understand more of their daily lives. We got the opportunity to share how we study the Bible back home, how we get together to do study groups. The women have already started their own study groups to create a community out of it and spread the word of Jesus, we just gifted them some tools such as a devotional my group and I put together, a bible, notebook, pens and pencils! These items will help them be able to help others understand the word and be able to share it with others!

We got the honor of visiting our beloved Suzzane’s home, and Isaac’s home as well.

We got back in time to play with the kids after our home visits, we sang them, taught them some new songs, and played games with them. Today was a great day full of laughter and smiles.

Again, we were so blessed and grateful to be welcomed into their home and see more of their lives! These were the first home visits MCC has ever done, although they won’t be the last!

-Allie Damon

Rwanda Day 4 - August 16, 2019

When we first arrived in the village today we were greeted by an elder by the name of Isaac. He told us how grateful he was for everyone at MCC for making such an impact on their lives. Our interpreter, Meriam, went on to tell us how 600 churches have been closed recently for not meeting standards and how their church in Nasho would have been closed if recent projects hadn't been completed. This was a inspiring way to start our day!

Later that day, we had originally planned on distributing the goats that had been donated to the different families, but in Rwanda plans change on the drop of a dime! In this case, it was a change for the better. The families had already received their goats and were willing to make the 1+ hour long treck each way to meet us and take pictures to share. One man even packed his goat up in a basket and put it on his bike just to come back to see us! What a blessing this was!

Since we ended up having much more time than we had originally planned, Stacy and the two of us got to spend hours playing and laughing with the children of the village. Communication was limited, but the smiles were not! We went for a long walk holding hands and skipping, taught them songs and dances such as Father Abraham and Baby Shark (by far their favorite... do do do do do do), played games like soccer and London Bridge is Falling Down, and taught them activities such as fist bumping and patty cake!

All in all it was an amazing day full of joy, love, and laughter! We can't wait to see what tomorrow holds in store for us.

-Katie and Steve Breininger

Rwanda Day 3 - August 15, 2019

THE POWER OF A SMILE (Seka)

Driving into the village today through the beautiful rolling hills of Rwanda down a bumpy red clay road lined with banana trees, we saw people working in fields and children sitting around or playing. They would look as the caravan of 3 white buses we were in were approaching. When we waved at them their faces lit up! They would smile so wide with excitement and wave as fast as their little arms and hands could move!

We came to a road block where construction was being done in the road. There were 3 little girls probably 4, 7, and 10 years old if I had to guess. They were adorable! I waved and they smiled and waved back. I yelled "Seka" which means smile.... Well then they really lit up! They got excited and started to come closer. I reached out my hand and each little girl reached their arm out to hold my hand. Then they caught a glimpse of my shiny red painted fingernails. They touched and rubbed them in amazement. They seemed excited and were giggling. Then I decided to make a funny face at them. They just cracked up laughing. This continued and a few other people in the van joined in the fun. We were all in hysterics. Then I covered my face with my hands and quickly took my hands away to play peek-a-boo with them. They were laughing so hard. I don't know if they've seen this game which is such a common staple in raising our own babies.

Since we were still stopped in the road I took advantage of the time with these little sweetie pies. I didn't know how to say "want to sing a song" in their language so I started clapping, hoping they would join in. And in an instant they were all laughing and clapping and swaying as they clapped. They started singing a song quietly. Now I was the excited one listening and watching their little performance. I started singing a few songs to them and they loved it. I loved the fact that they were so happy and excited to listen to me sing (even though I have a horrible voice) even though they didn't know what the words I were singing meant. The van started moving and we waved goodbye. About 100 feet ahead the van stopped again. All sorts of children then appeared at the van. They were so excited to come say hello to us. Then my little girlfriends reappeared. I held hands with them again, blew them kisses and they returned the kisses. I caught those kisses and tucked them in my heart where they will stay forever. Those little girls gave me one of the best experiences and memories of my life and they have no idea of that. In the 2.5 hour drive to the village I saw more huge smiles than I have ever seen in my life from people that were complete strangers.

When we approached the church in Nasho the children were lined in the road anxiously waiting for us. When we drove by them the van slowed down so we could listen to them greet us by all singing a cheerful upbeat song to welcome us. Then we approached another group of people of all ages and they performed a welcome song for us as we drove in. When the vans parked and we got out we were swarmed by everyone of all ages hugging us. What was shocking to me was the strength of the hugs of the elderly woman. They would grab ahold of me with both their hands on both of my arms so tightly it felt like a football player from the NE Patriots was going to tackle me and take me down. The strength of these little old woman approximately 5'3 and 135 pounds was truly unbelievable! They would hold onto you, look you straight into your eyes and pull you in with such force and strength to hug you. They all did this. You could feel their gratitude and love. Every child and adult were pushing their way through to get to me to hug me. The children had absolutely no problem whatsoever wrapping their arms around your waist and looking right up into your face so lovingly.

We met Pastors of nearby Harvest Christian Churches and prayed with the Pastor of Nasho.

We watched as several choirs sang and danced on stage for us. It was hard to stay in your seat. I wanted to get up and dance. Thankfully when they were finished we all got to dance with them.

Patrick gave a beautiful speech letting the village know we were able to donate 240 bibles to the village. After lunch the Pastor thanked us so graciously and sent us on our way so we can rest up and return tomorrow. This experience is like nothing I could have ever imagined.

Alissa Cunningham

Rwanda Day 2 - August 14, 2019

The Bible commands us to love our neighbor, but what does this really mean? Do we truly live this way as Christians in our daily lives? 

Today the “first timers” in our group (those on our first mission trip to Rwanda) visited the Kigali Genocide Museum. It was an experience I will never forget, and it taught me what it truly means to love thy neighbor, even in the most difficult of circumstances. 

At the genocide museum, we read about the history of Rwanda and the events that led up to the genocide, which began on April 7, 1994. We read about the 100 days when over 1,000,000 Tutsis were killed by the Hutus. Many victims were killed by their own friends, just because they were Tutsi. Over 350,000 were orphaned, over 85,000 children were now the head of their household and thousands became widows. The Rwandan people had a choice to make… would they cultivate love in their heart and forgive or would they cultivate hate in their heart? 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the genocide. At the museum we read about incredible stories of forgiveness and hope. Victims’ families were forgiving those that had killed their families. They were living as neighbors, healing and moving forward. We saw the phrase “Kwibuka 25” – remember, unite renew. Rwanda is a shining example of forgiveness that we can all learn from. 

Linda Hamel

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Rwanda Day 1 - August 13, 2019

It’s the day we’ve been waiting for and we are all excited to head to Rwanda. We have a few hours layover in Turkey and then on to Kigali. As I sit writing this at the airport, I love seeing the excitement and hearing the conversations and questions the first timers are asking those who have been before. Being a leader of this team is a privilege and we knew this team was special from our first meeting. Over the past nine months we have spent time together learning, planning, discussing and bonding and we are excited to see all of this come to fruition. 

After a few hours overnight in Kigali, we will hit the ground running with many things planned. These include a visit to the Genocide Museum, shopping for needed supplies, home visits with some of the villagers, giving a Sunday message, meeting with the Women’s Cooperative to discuss their ongoing needs and holding a children’s event day. Thanks to everyone’s hard work fundraising and the generosity of our supporters, we will also be able to do multiple projects in the village of Nasho, including building and training on water filtration systems, The Ihene Project and supplying bibles for the church attendees. We hope you join us in this journey over the next 10 days to see how God is working through every one of us. Thank you for your support and continued prayers. 

Stacy McIntire

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Rwanda Day 11 - July 20, 2019

Rwanda- Amsterdam - Home

Today we landed in Amsterdam and took 3 hours to tour downtown and eat some yummy Dutch pancakes and and see the incredible local architecture.  I am writing this blog on the airplane and am excited about what we have done but also excited to return home and share our encouragement with others.  But I wanted to share something I have been thinking of this whole week while being in our New Farming Village called Nyagatar.

Planting seeds.  I am not a farmer but I understand the process. Dig, plant, water, harvest, repeat!  Farmers never stop this process. Over and over and over again! 

This week we planting truth, encouragement and the hope of Jesus Christ.  We as Christians are all called to scatter seed “Zara”, believing that what we have sown will produce a harvest. A harvest so fruitful that it expands the Kingdom.   Jesus gives a parable about mustard seed, the smallest of seeds with the greatest results.  Matthew 13:31. We are praying the Holy Spirit will continue to pour out on Pastor Marcel, Bishop Theo and all the people of Rwanda.

We left Rwanda  and our new farming village both happy and sad.  Happy because of the incredible partnership and relationships we have made that will continue to last for generations.  We are also happy to be reunited with our loved ones back home.  The sadness comes from leaving behind those new relationships and those kids faces waving goodbye to us. That was tough!!!! But the Joy of the Lord is our strength and we continue to Dig, plant, water, harvest, repeat! 

Our Team

God placed every person on our team!  I believe this with all my heart.  We laughed and encouraged, played many silly games and had no drama!  We worked hard together and gave an incredible representation of MCC and most importantly, Jesus Christ.  Love you guys.

To the King!

Jrose

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Rwanda Day 10 - July 19, 2019

Waking up at 5:30, to sit on the deck looking for wild animals & watching an unbelievable sunrise. This morning was beautiful.

Last night we stayed at Ruzizi Tented Lodge. It was the best experience i have ever had. It’s located in Akagera National Park. It was such a treat and a perfect end to the week... We sat out on the deck for a lovely breakfast. African Tea has become everyone’s favorite drink. It’s delicious. There were lots of velvet monkeys throughout the lodge area. We even heard them on our tents. At 11o’clock we were picked up by our drivers, John & Alex. We then took the 4 hour ride back to Kigali. For about an hour and a half we were on the dirt bumpy road... I have been told about these roads but could never truly grasp how long, dusty & bumpy they truly are. We had the widows closed and still we were covered in red dust. Even the landscape on that road looked different. Trees, flowers, bushes, & even houses had thick layers of red dust/clay over them. We were very grateful to get back on the paved road.

As we were driving back to Kigali I looked and the landscape we were surrounded by. It is beautiful here in Rwanda. Everything is... the people work so hard to just live a simple life. Walking to collect water for the day, or carrying everything on top of their heads. It’s amazing. Women have things stacked on top of their head while carrying a baby in their back. Every where we go eyes are on us. The people just stare and the kids smile & wave with all the emotion they have inside. To think that they are able to be filled with so much joy just by seeing us. It’s beyond humbling. The people here are beautiful. They may have struggles & some still are filling the pain of the Genocide that happened 25 years ago... but, you can tell that this country is full of hope. And, that hope is Jesus. And, they recognize that.

J has been sick the last two days. So, the drive was pretty tough for him. We are sitting in the airport waiting to board. Please pray for our safety & for J to fill his best soon. We have a long layover tomorrow in Amsterdam. We are planning to see some of the sights. As we leave this place we know that the village we went to will always be in our hearts. Every single person there impacted each person in our team... Oh, saying goodbye to our drivers was pretty hard to do too. They became our family even though they didn’t know English. We didn’t let the language be a barrier.

~Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s Grace in its various forms. 1Peter 4:10

Blessings, Chrissy

Rwanda Day 9 - July 18, 2019

We started our day early, 3:30 am. The reason why we woke up this early is because we went to a safari that was 4 hours away. Halfway there, our safari guides came to pick us up to bring us the rest of the way, because the rest of the roads were all dirt and bumpy . We parted ways with our translators, Angel and Miriam. It was sad to say bye to our new friends. They were such a key part to the team and such a fun part. Anyways, the team separated into two different safari vehicles and we were off to the safari. We were 15 mins into the drive something unpredictable happened. The safari vehicle, I was in, one of the wheels flew completely off when we hit a bump . None of us new what happened immediately, but then we investigated and found out what happened. Out of no where these workers came and started to put on a new tire on for us. Within 20 mins we were back up and running. Even though it was an unfortunate experience we were still laughing and joking with the safari guide. We finally made it to the safari 2 hours later. We were welcomed by giraffes walking across the road. The whole safari was an amazing experience. We saw baboons, antelope, hippos, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles , and a lot of zebras. One lucky thing that happened to the other safari vehicle was that an elephant came within 5 feet of them . I talked to them after and they thought it was the coolest thing ever. The safari ended up being 6 hours long. We stopped for lunch by a ton of hippos & some crocodiles. Bri thought the hippos were rocks at first . When we finished the safari we had to drive 2 hours back to our drivers, Alex and John, who had all our luggage . After that, we had to drive another 2 hours to our tented lodge that we are staying the night at. When we got there, we had a warm welcome from all of the staff, they were lined up to greet us and served us all passionfruit juice. We then had dinner out on a deck that was over looking the lake, by candle light. Everything was decorated amazingly and there was even a fire going in the middle of the deck. Straight after dinner everyone went to bed due to the long, but good day we had .

Sincerely, Josiah

Rwanda Day 8 - July 17, 2019

Our time in the village of Ruhuha ( In the district of Nayagatare) has come to an end. These last 4 days have been amazing, the people in this village are bursting at the seams with Gods love and it’s been heart warming to fellowship and worship with them this week. While in the village today, we learned more about the struggles that this villages faces so that we can go home and set a plan in motion to support this village in the coming years as they learn to sustain themselves. After worshipping together this morning, the pastor of the church, Marcel, presented us each with a gift as a thank you and we shared a meal with the Pastor and other church officials- this meal ended in a dance party with some American Classics like YMCA, Cupid shuffle, cha cha slide and Africa. After lunch we had the opportunity to visit 2 homes in the village, we got to see a glimpse of the living conditions as well as learn about the goat co-op that the women of this church have begun. They are hoping to purchase 70 more for the remaining women. 1 goat costs about $50usd, they buy the goats to resell to the capital city of Kigali once mature enough. It was a nice experience to learn more about how they’re starting these businesses.

At dinner, we had an opportunity to celebrate one of our translators birthdays with a cake made of biscuits and paper crowns! We’re so thankful for our translators and bus drivers- without them, we would not have been able to make news friends with the village of Ruhuha. Thank you for your continued prayers!

- Meg Dumont

Rwanda Day 7 - July 16, 2019

It was such an amazing visit in the village today. We met at the church and talked more in depth about their co-ops. It’s very sad they have so many road blocks that they come up against BUT we did a ton of brainstorming and we came up with some great ideas that will hopefully help them build their businesses. It’s definitely not going to happen overnight but we have taken the first step with them. With the right planning this can all be possible for them. We talked about farm land and agriculture but unfortunately there isn’t a water source close enough to them to even dig a well. They have to walk 2 hours one way to get water. They depend on the rain to grow their crops. We talked with them about purchasing goats, cows, making jewelry and baskets. They are such amazing people, extremely intelligent, hard working and eager to learn. One of my favorite parts is driving through the villages to get to the one we are visiting with. People just light up when you drive by smile and wave at them. Especially the kids!!! Oh my gosh they get so excited!!!! Their smiles are contagious!! They dance, jump up and down and chase the van. It’s seriously the best thing ever. The children are so incredibly beautiful.

- Brieanne Walser

Rwanda Day 6 - July 15, 2019

Today was such an amazing day! We started off having breakfast at the hotel. Then we headed to go to the village! As we were driving, there were so many families waving to us as we drove by. Many of the kids were running behind our van to catch up with us. When we arrived at the village, many kids and women greeted us as we got out of our vehicle.

We taught the women how to keep a good hygiene by teaching them how to wash their hands and brush their teeth. Afterwards, we gave them soap, tooth brushes, and toothpaste for them to use. Josiah and Wilson played soccer with all of the older kids. Brian and Jason were teaching all of the younger kids a bunch of camp songs. Right after the sessions and soccer, we ate lunch with the church. Right after lunch, we headed out to go visit a pig co-op. It was so amazing to learn about how the pigs provides for their families. it’s a group of ten men who own the pigs. And, they are kept in the back of a family’s house.

Everyone in the village works and lives off the land. Regardless of their age. It’s amazing to see little two year olds sit with their family to harvest the corn. The corn is off of the cob and they dry out the kernels to make corn flour.

There is also bricks being made with water and clay/mud. They get the water for the bricks from the streets after the rain. It takes the people a two hour walk one way to get water for eating & drinking.

Throughout the drive we see men, women & children carrying everything from sticks, bananas, pineapples, sugar cane, water, on bikes or on their heads. these people are such hard workers and yet their souls are as happy as ever. Every place we drive, young & old wave and the young repeat “Abazungu”, which means white people. It’s the sweetest thing ever!

We headed back to the hotel and settled down for a bit. Before we ate dinner together, we all played a couple games of telephone. Then, after dinner, we all played charades with our two interpreters and our two bus drivers. Our bus drivers do not speak english but we have built such an awesome relationship with them both! It was such an amazing day & I love to see how God is working in these peoples lives.

~Never be lacking in Zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11

Blessings, Grace

Rwanda Day 5 - July 14, 2019

Today was an amazing day. Our first day in the village and something we will never forget. When we arrived we received an indescribable welcome from a crowd we estimated to possibly be 600 or more. They were clapping and singing and praising God that we were there. All were so friendly and joyful and we were moved by the love that flowed so freely. Each one was anxious to hug us and the children were all reaching to hold our hands. As we walked some of them threw flowers on us. Upon arriving at the church we were given seats together near the front and the building was filled to overflowing for the service. Pastor Marcel and Bishop Theo welcomed us as did the women's and children's choirs. Brian shared a message on encouragement from Romans and each team member had the opportunity to share with the church a little about themselves and the reason they felt God had led them to Rwanda. As the worship ended the adults were dismissed and the children remained and were led by Stacey in Simon Says while Jay, Will, Josiah and Grace prepared to share. They acted out the story of David and Goliath and told the story of the birth of Jesus. The children were given coloring sheets and crayons related to the stories. During this time Brian and Meg were outside showing the woman how to make popcorn. They quickly learned how and we filled bags to pass out to the children. While we had estimated about 150, there were close to 400 children there. It was a crazy, busy scene, but the children all received the popcorn they were so excited for. As the crowds left, we shared a great lunch that had been prepared for us. The love continued as we made our way back to the vans with lots more hugging and waving. As we talked about the day, we found our feelings almost impossible to describe. We agreed that Joy was the overwhelming sentiment. To be so welcomed and to share such a heartfelt worship with our new Rawandan friends was a blessing that we will never forget. We are all excited to return tomorrow to continue to share Gods love and learn more about our new friends

- Dianne Schlegel

Rwanda Day 4 - July 13, 2019

Today was our travel day. We left our hotel Iris to UTC which is a mall to get food, coffee, and supplies for the villages. We then left the UTC to go to our next hotel, it was three hours away. The whole time it was pouring rain. While driving we passed farmland and saw a lot of cows and farmers working in the fields. When we arrived at our new hotel we ate lunch. After lunch, we prepared for activities in the morning for the new village. Then we went outside and played soccer with some of the locals before dinner. Keep praying for us as we share Gods love to people here in Rwanda.

-Wilson Rose

Rwanda Day 3 - July 12, 2019

I first want to thank everyone that has been praying for us! Your prayers are important to all of us.

Yesterday after revisiting the Genocide Memorial (sobering that we can visit this land in its 25 years of healing), there is a huge prayer request in that I was made aware that in only two short years, most of the perpetrators involved in the mass murder, which have not repented will be released at the end of their sentence. Please pray for these individuals and Rwanda itself, as they discern and decide how best to handle/reintegrate these people back into the general society.

As for today, wow, what a jammed packed day. The bulk of the team went to the marketplace, where they had a true Rwandan experience in trying traditional Rwandan food and the women getting individual shirts made on the spot. As for me, I stayed at our guest house, where I was greeted by two children that Lisa and I sponsor, named Murisa and Shallon. We truly had a special time in getting to know one and other. It is so special to be able to physically hug them, have real-time conversations, play games – and yes, we played go-fish, and I have to say, I won! Also, we spent time traveling around the city of Kigali, taking in some special sites, sharing a lunch as well as praying for each of them, their families, their studies, etc.

After rejoining with the team, we continued to Josie’s church and the Child Hope Center, where we spent some quality time intermingling with ~40 students as part of their afterschool program. We assisted in feeding them, taking tons of videos and pictures and praying for them. I’m personally charged, and I’m sure that the broader team is as well, to be strong advocates for these special kids, where they can be sponsored and where the program can continue to grow and flourish. Also, we briefly chatted with the ladies (mostly mothers of these kids), which happen to be former prostitutes that are now creating/doing small businesses to support their families by selling 2 nd hand shoes/clothing, vegetables, etc.

Off to Nyagatare District tomorrow, we cannot wait!!!

Blessings!

Brian