Sunday, Rwanda: Last Day

Today is our last day in the beautiful country of Rwanda, and I know that we will all miss it and its people a lot.

We started today with attending Church and listening to a sermon with Pastor Charles. Aftweward, we went to a market for last minute souvenirs and then to go get coffee at a coffee shop called Question Coffee. Question Coffee is a coffee house that is serviced by over 30,000 Rwandan Female Farmers. They provide jobs and finances to these women, and in the process, they have ended up earning various awards for the quality of their coffee. We went to get lunch at the Guest House, before picking up all of the things we had made at the Africa New Life Sewing Center. At the request of some of our team, we were able to go tour the Africa New Life Hospital! It was besutiful and for only 50 US dollars, a person could stay the night, get treatment and meals.

We went back to the Guest House to pack up and get ready to leave!

 

Below are some highlights of the week:

 

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Saturday, Rwanda: Safari Day!!

Although we were sad that our service was done, we were estatic at the opportunity to go on an African Safari.

We saw so many various types of animals, including:

Impala

Baboon

Nile Crocodile

Hippopotamus 

Velvet monkey 

Smallest antelope  (leaf springer)

Herd of Elephants (including babies)

Cape Buffalo

Monitor lizard (predator to the crocodile)

Zebras

Giraffe

White browed coucou 

Pumba 

Gray crowned crane (Uganda’s national bird)

Medium antelope 

Egyptian goose

Goliath heron

Gray headedheron

Black headed heron 

African fish eagle 

Guinea fowl

 

The highlight of the day for many of us was being surrounded by a herd of elephants at a very close range! It was something that I know many of us thought we’d never get the opportunity to see!

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Friday, Rwanda: Sponser Day

We started the day off with an early morning, leaving the Guest House around 5:30 in the morning. We drove to Kageyo and picked up all of our sponsor kids. They rode onthe bus with us around the communties, and individually we got off to visit each of their homes and meet with their families.

While each person visited with their sponsor kid’s home, the rest of us played with the street kids. They especially loved playing scoccer.

Visiting our sponsor kid’s homes was emotional for all of us, but overall, it was a fantastic experience.

After we dropped our sponsor kids off at school again, we drove to Akagera National Park, where we stayed at their lodge for the night. IMG_3582.jpegIMG_3616.jpeg

Thursday, Rwanda

We started out the day with driving to Bugesera to visit the Nyamata Memorial. The Nyamata Memorial was a Church that many of the Tutsi found refuge in during the genocide. One day, the Hutu perpertrators broke into the church, using grenades, rifles, and machetes. They killed every single person out of the 10,000 that were hidden there.

Inside the memorial, the pews are littlered with the blood-stained clothes of the people who were killed that day. From the shawls of older women to the smallest baby onsies, the sight was shell shocking.

We were led down a set of tile stairs to a crypt, where a glass case held some of the skulls and bones of those murdered that day. Some of the skulls were shattered from what we could only assume was the blunt force of a machete. Others had the remnants of gunshots.

After we visited this crypt, we walked outside to the mass graves for everyone in the church, as well as those who died in the surrounding areas. The remains of about 50,000 people were burried in these mass graves.

The Memorial is a gritty rememberance of the brutal killings, but also a physical display of how far Rwanda has come as a nation in twenty short years. As a nation, Rwanda has united again. They have done what many of us have thought to be impossible: forgiving those who wronged them and their loved ones in one of the worst ways possible.

After we left the memorial, we drove to one of Africa New Life’s schools, so we could run a VBS-type camp for the primary (elementary) aged kids. We started by serving lunch to the kids and playing with them on the field.

We played tag, catch, and other various fun games. The “Bannana Song” and “Waka Waka” by Shakira were two favorites amongst the schoolyard.

After lunch and playtime, we started a series of stations for the kids, including playdough, coloring, and outdoor games. We played with the kids for about two hours and then we headed back to The Guest House.

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Rwanda, 03.13.19: Azizi Life

Today we left the house promptly at 7:00 am, and drove about an hour and a half out to the Rwandan Mountians, to a small village where we were greeted by several women. They were part of a partnership with a company called Azizi Life, who allowed people to experience a day in the life of a Rwandan Villager.

The women invited us into their homes and taught each of us how to peel and cook a root called Cassava. Cassava is an essential part to a typical Rwandan meal. From there, the women took us to the fields, and they gave us the tools we needed to turn up the soil and cultivate the plants.

After our hard work in the feilds, we cut some grass for the womens’ cows and we fed them. We washed our hands and went inside their homes for lunch. There, we were able to ask many questions and talk to the women about their lifes and how it compared to our own. Many of the women had questions for us as well, which we were happy to answer.

After lunch, we took the water jugs and walked for twenty minutes down to the spring. We were shocked to see that many of the children were carrying jugs twice the size we were carrying, and yet, they didn’t seem to experience the same fatigue that we did.

We finished our day with the Rwandan women by learning how to make bracelets from the fibers of a local plant and singing and dancing.

We got back to the Guest House with about an hour before dinner, and many of us cleaned up and rested during that time.

Dinner was fantastic, and afterward, we celebrated Bailey’s birthday with cake and affirmations. IMG_0150.jpgIMG_0295.jpgIMG_0180.jpgIMG_0179.jpgIMG_0164.jpg

Rwanda, Wednesday, 03.12.19: Home Visits and Dream Kids

Today we took the fabric that we’d bought at the market to the Africa New Life sewing center to have stuff made. Some of us made shirts, some made skirts, others made dresses.

Afterwards we talked to some of the college kids about their work and how their college experience has been. Many of them told us about their majors and the jobs they hope to obtain one day.

When we were done talking to the college kids, we met with this one Rwandan woman named Jeane, who told us her testimony and how her life was changed by the Africa New Life Sewing program. Many of us were extremely touched by this.

After a teary-eyed goodbye to Jeane, we got back onto the van to go to Georgia’s Sponsor Child Home Visit, while Jill and Mrs. Turner went to visit Mrs. Turner’s Sponsor Child.

We had a great time playing with the comminuty children while Georgia met and talked to her sponsor child, and his family. We played scoccer, blew bubbles, and some of us were even blessed enough to be able to hold some of the babies.

It was an emotional goodbye, but we all knew that it was worth it, and we were excited to hear from Mrs. Turner and Jill about their visit. We met them at a restaurant similar to Chipotle, called Mezefresh, and we all caught up and talked over lunch.

After lunch, we went to the Africa New Life center to run a camp for The “Dream Kids.” The “Dream Kids” are the kids who are in the process of trying to get onto the Sponsorship List. They are required to attend school at certian times and have good behavior. If they do these things, as well as a few other things, they can become able to gain a sponsor.

We set up stations for the Dream Kids, including playdough, bingo, coloring and watercoloring, bracelet making, as well as outdoor games. We taught them how to play red light/green light, as well as races, sharks and minnows, and jumprope. We all had a blast, and by the end of the afternoon, almost all the kids came outside to play.

We closed the day’s activities with going to another market for souviner shopping. IMG_0103.jpgIMG_0113.jpgIMG_0138.jpg

Kigali and Kayonza, Rwanda: Day Two. 7:50 pm

IMG_0002.jpgYesterday, we started off our day with church at the Africa New Life Church. Pastor Charles, the head pastor and founder of Africa New Life Missions, led an AMAZING service.

Afterward, we drove to the Heaven restaurant for lunch. Many of us had amazing meals that lived up to the restaurant’s name.

Following lunch, we drove to the Rwanda Genocide Memorial. It was a heartbreaking and eye opening experience. We were able to learn a lot about Rwanda and it’s history. The Memorial included information about Rwanda’s culture before, after, and during The Genocide, as well as items that were found during The Genocide. For many Rwandans, The Memorial serves as a place of remembrance, honor, and the final resting place for many of their friends and family. (The Memorial includes mass graves for 250,000 unnamed Rwandans who were found afterwards.)

Soon after we all finished at the memorial, we were on our way to the Kigali Markets, where we all bought fabric that we plan to send to a seamstress for her to sew and create various items out of it. (Some of these items include, dresses, pants, shirts, bags, etc.)

We returned to the Guest House, awaiting a surprise. None of us knew what to expect, but whatever any of us expected, it couldn’t compare to what we discovered.

The Africa New Life Children’s Choir were waiting for us! They greeted us with open arms, inviting us to sit and enjoy a special presentation that they’d prepared for us. Their presentation was about an hour of song and dance, which we all enjoyed thoroughly.

The choir stayed with us for dinner, and we all got to sit and talk to them for a while before they had to leave. We took the time to get to know them and take many pictures with them.

We all went to bed that night, very happy and content, albeit, exhausted. 

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Today, we woke up and had a meeting with Pastor Charles’s brother, Fred, who is another pastor who works with Africa New Life. He explained many things about Rwandan Culture to us as well as what our work would be like.

Afterwards, we loaded the bus and drove an hour to Kayonza, where the Africa New Life School is located. There, we toured the school and visited many classes. When it was lunch time, we walked over to the dining hall and prepared to serve the kids their lunch.

The kids were very sweet and they enjoyed talking and hanging out with us after they ate. We ended up in the courtyard after lunch, playing soccer, racing, and dancing.

When the kids had to go back to class, it was our turn to eat lunch. We had packed lunch back at The Guest House, and we went to the school’s library to meet and eat with the class representatives from the 12th grade.Â

After lunch there, we got back on the bus and drove to get a type of African Flatbread called Chapati. Many of our team members who had gone to Uganda in previous years had raved to us about how delicious Chapati was, so we were very excited to try it. I believe that it lived up to many of our expectations. 

Once we got back to Kigali, we met up with the Young Life group in Rwanda. We played games, sang songs, and talked to the kids for hours. It was sad to leave so soon after feeling like we had made many good friends, but we had to go back to The Guest House for dinner and devo.

Over all, our day was amazing, and I know we’re looking forward to tomorrow!

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Kigali, Rwanda: Day One, 9:00 am

We landed in Kigali at around 7:00 pm last night. There were no problems getting through customs or with collecting our luggage, and within thirty minutes, we had met the reps from Africa New Life and on our way to The Guest House.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted with glasses of sweet passion fruit juice. After getting our room assignments and setting down our luggage, we met up on the balcony for dinner. During dinner, one of the pastors from another team staying at The Guest House came over to introduce himself and ask us a bit about our trip. After a while, he asked if it’d be okay to show us a few of the card tricks he knows. For the remaining portion of our meal, we were captivated by his displays of slight of hand card magic.

Later that night, we dispersed back to our rooms for showers, pjs, and bed. Some stayed up on the balcony just to hang out and talk, and others went straight to sleep.

This morning, we woke to a beautiful sunrise and a wholesome breakfast. Afterwards, we began to get ready for church and for the rest of our day.

 

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On Our Way

Team Rwanda met yestrday morning around 7:00 am at the CLC! We organized and loaded up the luggage, took a quick Team Photo, and started the drive up to Houston.

Once we got to Houston, everyone grabbed food and drinks before loading the plane. The flight went well, and about eight hours later, we landed in Amsterdam. Now that we have the time to stretch our legs, many of us went to one of the cafes for breakfast and coffee. Our flight to Rwanda is due to board in a few minutes, and we are due to land in Kigali around 7:00 pm.

We are all very excited to get there and start our work! IMG_2963IMG_2964.jpegIMG_2966.jpeg

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Rwanda: Ready To Go

IMG_2905Team Rwanda has been counting down the days to GoWeek since our very first meeting, and it’s hard to believe that we’re finally leaving! Yesterday, we video called a representaive from Africa New Life, asking any last minute questions. Many of us have already packed, and some of us are still gathering some of the final items we need! (Let’s hope no one forgets anything!)

For the families staying back home in Austin, please pray for safe travels, as well as health for all of our team members.