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.
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.