I scrolled down the list of Facebook friends and wondered who to invite. It’s simply a facebook event called “Holly is Going to Rwanda,” but it has somehow meant the world to me to be able to share my excitement and fears with everyone in my life. Old youth leaders, my friends’ parents, teachers, classmates, old floor mates, Upward Bounders, co-workers, neighbors…they’re all part of my life and they all deserve to know where I am going and why I am doing it. I have realized that all of these people, these fragments of my past and present, are supporting me as I step into an unknown future.
What I keep hearing from people who have been to Rwanda is that I will come back a changed person. I think this takes a different form in different people, but it is an understandable statement. Stepping into a country that is so far removed from your own takes courage, but more than that it requires a certain kind of moldability. That is to say, I am not going to Rwanda with high hopes of changing the world single-handedly. I firmly believe that in order to do ministry right, you must go into the setting with a heart open to being changed. I am not there to help, I am there to learn. Often learning is the most any of us can do. If I go to Rwanda and refuse to learn and refuse to change, I go to Rwanda in vain.
The purpose of my journey is not just to gain internship credit, it is to gain perspective. I met with one of the World Relief directors yesterday to discuss the church partnership program just a little bit more. I wasn’t certain that there would be enough work for me to do in Rwanda regarding development and that it would be much more of a mission trip. Though mission trips are excellent in their own right, that is not what I desire to do. As I spoke with Craig, I found myself using words like dependency and program implementation. I sometimes shock myself when I realize that there is a reason I am in school and that the pain my brain seems to experience at this point in the quarter is actually worth it. I asked Craig how best to connect my church with the church in Rwanda and then I got very excited to discuss Bethany.
Bethany Community Church is my home. I have been there for the last fifteen years and to share the story of its growth was a pleasure. In the past few years I have seen a change in Bethany similar to the one I have seen in myself. There is a call to go and a desire to do. When I asked what I can do that will make this trip most valuable for Bethany, Craig said, “Bring Rwanda to Seattle.” As important as the church partnership is, I have been told to encourage the congregation to see the potential that each person has in this city. Sometimes it’s harder to step out your front door and serve the homeless man on the street than it is to hop on a plane and go to Rwanda. The point is that we are all able to serve in our own capacity. God has enabled each of us with our own gifts and what we need to do is listen for that calling and learn how to use those gifts.
Rwanda will be a place where I can use some of the gifts that I have been given. I will have the opportunity to get to know the people in Musanze and the Rwandan staff in the World Relief office. I will hear their stories and share them with you. Not simply what they do and where they live, but the things that break their heart and the things that bring them joy. I desire to know the people there and do my best to represent them to you when I return. I know my personality and I have no doubt that part of my heart will stay in Rwanda when I leave, but I will bring back more than I can even imagine right now.