Monday, September 30, 2013

The Road to Rwanda

A few weeks ago, a professor from Villanova University (who happens to be married to the Pastor at my church) gave a presentation on his work in the Nibakure Children’s Village in Rwanda.

Coming from a Methodist background (but currently attending a Lutheran Church- which  when you are Protestant, it is not uncommon to find the church that fits you, rather than the denomination), I was raised with mission work as part of the fabric of my upbringing.  Let me be clear, I don’t mean going into the world and converting people to believe what I believe - I mean going into the world and helping where there is a need. Regardless of religion, culture or geographical location.  So when we saw a notice that this professor was going to present on his experiences in Rwanda, we took a front row seat.

Though his studies of genocide, the professor began organizing trips for the students to visit Rwanda. Through these visits, he ended up in a working relationship with the Nibakure Children’s Village that houses 19 now-former orphans. The professor now integrates the Children’s Village into his students’ trips as part of their experience in Rwanda.  Rather than repeating the story of the Nibakure Children’s Village, I recommend clicking the link above and reading about their amazing story for yourself!

The professor’s presentation centered on the history and spirit of the Children’s village, as well as the amazing work that is being done to create a sustainable resources and income to support the Village.  During the presentation, we Skyped live with the children. Though it was not intended to be a religion-centric conversation, the topic of church came up and the woman who runs the Village shared that the children went to church that day and sang to their congregation. We asked that they sing a bit of the song to us and they proceeded to sing a well-known Christian ‘pop’ song. Astonished that this song carried across lifestyles, oceans, and cultures, we listened in amazement and then, one-by-one, started to sing along ourselves. Quietly at first, and then with building spirit until both sides were signing the song in unison. In that moment the connection was tangible and the tears were flowing. My mother looked at me and said “You go, I’ll stay with Grace.”  I knew in that moment that I was called to go to Rwanda.

The first meeting on the road to Rwanda took place yesterday. I was overjoyed to see that 15 other people felt moved to go to this Village, as I had.  We discussed the realities of the situation - even “isn't it more practical to send money for someone local to do the work instead of spending it to go ourselves?"  As the only person who has been on a mission trip before, I responded that the trip is about going in the spirit of God/Love, and selfishly, it is about your experience, it becomes part of the fabric of who you are and permanently changes your view of the world around you. It is a holistic experience, not merely about getting finances and ables bodies to a place in need but about making a human connection.  The group agreed that we want to make this happen, we assigned next steps and off we go!  We are applying for a grant from a local church that we would take with us to fund a project that we would work on to help build resources for the Village. We will have to fund-raise the travel expenses.

I can feel in my bones that this is a milestone.  It is a concrete connection that is awakening who I was before, defining who I am now and shaping who I am going to be.

Have you felt the call to get involved?  Have you had a moment where you knew your life was going to pivot and the path lit up before you?

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