“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150: 6)
What an honor it was to be back in Bwende’s church today. My heart is filled every time that Bwende introduces me because he has adopted me as his daughter in his beautiful home, Musanze, and he calls me the guest of honor. I am humbled to be considered a guest of honor, and I mean no disrespect when I say this, but I do not feel like a guest of honor. No, I feel far too comfortable and far too at home to feel a guest in this place. To be able to stand in front of a church in rural Rwanda and tell them it is good to be back and I am happy to see their faces and hear their voices once again…well, it has filled me with immense gratitude. And, like yesterday, it has made me certain (or at the very least, hopeful) that this is not my last trip to Rwanda.
I remember two years ago sitting in the exact same place, heart filling to similarly extreme levels, and listening to the voice of one girl in the choir wearing a green satin shirt. She is still there, same green satin shirt, singing like an angel. God bless her and her beautiful voice as it soars above the others and pierces me in the heart. I wish you could experience church in this place because it is an experience unlike any other. The singing, the dancing, the joy and the hope are all so beyond anything we ever experience at our churches in America. There is something incredibly humbling when you watch the smiles on their faces as they sing to God about the fact that even though it feels like everything is going wrong, there is still much to be thankful for. The people we joined in worship with today have every reason to complain; yet instead of complaining they come to church every Sunday praising the Lord for the way He provides.
This day marks our beyond halfway point in the trip and that is hard to believe. Though there is a part of me that desperately desires to be home (the lack of running water and exhaustion after a very long bus ride on a winding road all the way to Uganda today have not helped the situation), it is increasingly important to be here. Being in Bwende’s church today reassured me that leading this trip was the right thing to do and I would have it no other way. I originally came to Rwanda to help foster a relationship between Bethany Community Church and World Relief Rwanda, so never showing my face in the country again would make the original trip all for naught. Watching all of the hands of the congregation member waving to me as they said, “Come back and bring more of your visitors,” it filled me with emotions that I have not had the time to feel yet on this trip. Emotions that make me remember why I love this place as much as I do and make me realize that building relationships takes time and effort, but it is worth every moment.
The team has moved on to Uganda today to help foster our relationship with another organization, Living Water International. Similar to what we have been doing with World Relief, we will be learning about their WASH programs (Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene) in a small town called Ntungamo. Our bus ride to get here was an adventure, to say the least, but we praise the Lord we have made it here safely and in (mostly) good health. I have been feeling exhausted lately even though I have been sleeping plenty, mostly because I have not been able to give myself space to feel the emotions I need to feel as I find myself back in Rwanda, my home. Therefore, a six-hour bus ride through winding hills looking more beautiful at every turn has given me plenty of space to begin processing many many different feelings and emotions. Please pray for me and the rest of the team as we already must begin to think about leaving while still remaining present in our time here. It is a blessing to be here, but it does not come with no cost. Our hearts have quickly been captured by the smiles, the warmth and the hope that is Rwanda and the thought of leaving is painful. Yet this is all part of the process and I pray we can navigate the pain of leaving with honesty, allowing ourselves to feel whatever emotions might be bubbling beneath the surface. I thank God I have people to process with this time around and in the end it is good to realize that we are all connected through Christ, even if we are halfway around the world.