Rwanda: World Relief Recap #2

February 23, 2009 at 3:51 pm (Rwanda)

Myself and Natalie Burns, another member of our team, started monday morning very early because we decided that we wanted to run while we were in Africa.  We’re both training for the Marine Coprs Historic Half marathon in May so we knew we had to keep training while we were away.  I have to say, that my early morning runs became one of my most favorite parts of the trip.  Kigali sits well above 5000 ft so you feel it in the lungs, but running through the city as it wakes up with a beautiful sunrise in the background was such a breath-taking experience (no pun intended).  I also felt like i was in “Cool Runnings” part 2 :).

Monday’s task was to spend the day at World Relief where they taught us about the organization, our partnership, the logistics of church mobilization, culture demographics, the micro-finance programs, and many other things.  They branded it as “World Relief University” and taught it like a college class which was actually kind of fun.  It might have been even more fun for them to pretend that they were professors and deans, which didn’t bother me at all cause i could see in their faces how different and fun it was for them to conduct.  Throughout the day of “classes” i could feel my perspectives on missions and understanding culture turning completely around.  We asked some tough questions in regards to Transformational development and the challenges within, what cross-cultural Christianity looks like, how to balance descriptions versus interpretations of cultures, how to work with volunteers in community ministry, and many more!  I’m really thankful for that day and the things that I learned.  It was also the first day i got to hang out with my World Relief “buddy” which i will write a whole post on him soon.

Tuesday was a day for us to spend out in the field with some of the field projects WR was overseeing.  My group traveled about 45 min outside of town to a small rural village called Masaka where WR was building large bio-level water filters for families that needed clean water.  We spent the morning separating fine-grain sand and small rocks, and cleaning them.  Once we had separated all the materials and bagged them up, we would load up into the land cruisers and install a filter in someone’s home.  I got to help install one filter in a home and it was so filling to see the family light up with joy at the thought of clean water finally being part of daily life.  Below is a picture of Jillian, our MBC liason to World Relief, helping to install the filter in the home.

masaka_filter

Once we were finished with filters, we had a little down time until the land cruisers were to pick us up so we walked around and took some pictures AND encountered one of the craziest things i’ve ever been a part of.  Here’s a good story. On our walk, we crossed a large open field and noticed 4 little kids playing soccer with a beat up old ball.  There were three of us at the time and we thought the kids would think it was super cool if the strange white people stopped and played soccer with them.  So we did and had fun for about 3 minutes or so.  I forgot to mention that this field was right next to a large rural school building.  At that three minute mark, i looked over at the school, just in time to see the huge entry gates swing open and see about 300+ kids sprinting out to play with us.  Talk about a rush.  It instantly became a game keep away from the Muzungu’s (Rwandan term for white people) and it was a blast.  Allan even kicked the ball right into one kids face, which knocked him off his feet and the kid got right back up like nothing happened so he could keep playing!  I wish we would’ve gotten a picture of it all, but it happened so fast, what could we do.  Anyway, you’ll just have to take our word for it. Soon the Land Cruisers showed up and rescued us form the mass of kids (which was super hard to navigate as you can imagine).  We drove back to town for our evening debrief and prayer time and rested up from a day of manual labor.  Thus ends day 4.

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Rwanda: World Relief Recap #1

February 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm (Rwanda)

When people have been asking me about this trip the first thing that I tell them is that it was a very different kind of mission trip.  In fact, it felt more like a business trip in nature.  Thats not a bad thing because the point of the trip was to travel out to World Relief’s Rwanda Headquarters to conduct several staff trainings, receive training from their staff as well, and to serve and encourage the workers who have a very tough job to conduct in a country that is still amid reconciliation.  World Relief is committed to building up and empowering the local church in order to reach those who do not yet know Christ (the country claims it is 90-95% christian) and those who are still working through reconstruction, economic trouble, and health related issues (most of the population).  It’s an amazing organization with an incredible staff comprised of both Americans and native Rwandans.  Many of which are genocide survivors with incredible and heart-wrenching stories of escape and loss.  Here is their Rwanda Home page.  So that was our mission and expectation and we received well more then that.  Here is our/their story from the past 2 weeks:

We (14 team members) met at MBC at 6:00 AM EST Friday morning to head to Dulles Airport.  Surrounded by TONS of people who came out to send us off, we prayed for our travel and trip and were well on our way.  The flights were long as to be expected and we experienced 2 interesting things on the way.  1.) my hardest landing EVER (which was kind of fun) and my first aborted landing (there was a cow on the runway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; one of our connecting points).  I’ve never been thrown back into my seat like that before.  We arrived in Kigali, Rwanda on Saturday afternoon at about 12:30 PM.  We were picked up by 3 large Land Rovers from World relief which would serve as our transportation for the trip.  Those trucks are huge and super cool because the exhaust has a snorkel to the roof so that it can tread deep water…sweet!

We were taken to the guest house we were going to stay and eat in for the trip, which was a christian mission called Moucecore.  We paired up for rooms which had two small beds in them and 2 bathrooms for everyone to share; I shared a room with my friend Scott Clattenburg of Frontline Arlington.  The bathrooms consisted of a small sink, a small toilet, and a shower that sometimes worked and rarely had heated water…not complaining, just sharing :).  We were all very tired and jet lagged due to the 7 hour time difference but still had a briefing session that night, in which we were all guilty of bobbing heads and slipping in and out of consciesness.  Some how we made it through and got to bed early that night.

In the morning, we were split up into three groups to visit three local churchs to see what church in Rwanda was like.  Every group had a different experience.  My group attended a church that seemed very similar to the church we have in America.  There was a full worship team (with a young kid behind the drum-set who was pretty awesome!) a choir, pastors and an organized service order, alog with about 600 in attendace.  It was all done in Kiyarwandan (Rwanda’s native language) so we were each provided with a translator for the entire service….which was 4 hours long.  Before the service we got to sit down with the pastor and hear how the church was reaching out to all genreations and even other religions in the area.  The service was really great too.  The preaching was right on and it just seemed like the church “got it”.  They preached the word and peoples need for the gospel and we saw about 30 people get saved throughout the multiple alter calls during the service.  The music was cool and they even did a Kinyarwandan version of “Trading my Sorrows”…complete with the dance :).  They also had banner wavers which was new for me. There was also a section of about 150 kids and they were so well behaved for the entire service…this is evidence of the community, which will be discussed in a later post.

After church, we met for a late lunch (i’ll tell you about the food later) and visited World Reliefs headquarters, which was a 15 minute walk from our guest house.  The evening was spent finalizing some the next few days training sessions and getting a little more rest as we we’re all still very tired and still adjusting…the going out was SO much harder then the coming back.  That takes us to the end of Day 2 and this post. Check back for more soon as there is TONS more to be shared!

-nate

**I promise that there was so much more in these days that i’m writting about, this blog would just explode if i hit them all, and you probably wouldn’t want to read it either 🙂

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