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