Rwanda #6: Welcomed with Open Arms and a Full Plate
by Kendall Posey, for the team
We were treated to a nice morning of sleeping in after a wonderful welcoming dinner at the Kicukiro church the previous night. Our breakfast consisted of fruit, eggs, and our newfound favorite, African Donuts! What a delight! Decked in scrubs and a childlike excitement, our day began!
We traveled to a mother and son's home next to the ITETERO School. There, we learned to dust with homemade brooms, till the dirt, and plant beans alongside members of the Kanombe and Kicukiro congregations. The planting was a meaningful experience for the group. We haphazardly threw the beans into the soil, hoping that it would sprout into something good. When we finished, the group gathered inside the family's home and the mother shared her story. The woman's son was diagnosed with schizophrenia 9 years ago and the mother struggles to provide. She told us that she never thought that so many people would show up and care for her. Our work in her yard seemed to be a small feat, and gratitude simply for our presence there was a touching reminder for what being a brother or sister in Christ truly means. We must reach out and make connections in our community and beyond, showing everyone the love and grace that Christ extends to them.
We then met in the worship center to pray, eat a snack, and exchange ideas on how to improve the youth program in the church. We were intrigued to see that the churches in Rwanda face similar problems to ours in the US. They shared that the youth seems to be distracted from their pursuit of a Godly lifestyle by social media and that their choir groups have become exclusive. The leaders of the youth openly asked for help to get the youth more involved. Erika, Tinsley, and Parish told the church about the mentorship between youth and children that occurs at FPC Nashville. The youth get more engaged in the community and the children gain a Christ-filled leader to look up to. The leaders appreciated our input and we had some great takeaways as well!
Next, we had lunch at the beautiful home of Chantelle, one of the church officials. She provided a delicious meal and welcomed us so graciously. We sang some songs and had conversations with Peter, one of the youth leaders. He has a true talent of caring for children, and it certainly showed when he played with Ada and Parish! He serves his church well and we will pray for his youth community to grow in number and in faith. After finishing our meal, Pastor Dennis presented us with gifts. Ada and Parish were given dresses and the rest of us were given shirts. These lovely garments were handmade by a teacher at the ITETERO special needs school. She has a spirit full of giving and we were blessed to receive her gifts. We have been struck by the abundance of generosity in Rwanda. Each person that we meet welcomes us with open arms and a full plate!
After a full day, we were thankful for an unexpected evening of rest. We played cards and blew bubbles while some went on a run. After dinner, we sat down for our nightly family time to debrief the day and explore our journaling prompt. Delving into the hidden parts of our hearts with God-loving women is such a valuable experience; hearing the wisdom of the moms and the wonder of the children displays the beautiful path that God leads us on in our faith journey. The opportunity to create a closer community within our group was a fun and needed time.
Day 4 of the Rwanda mission trip was a joy! We have been blessed by the past days and are excited for the days to come!