Sunday, July 13, 2014

I will never forget

On the morning of our 2nd day in Rwanda, we visited the Genocide Museum.  This year marks the 20th year of the genocide in Rwanda.  From April to July, 1994 more than 800,000 Rwandans were massacred.  Hutu extremists tried to completely wipe out the entire Tutsi tribe and anyone trying to save or help them.  To learn more about the genocide go here: The Rwandan Genocide.  And if you haven't seen the movie Hotel Rwanda, you really should.

Journal Entry: Day 2: 12pm 
On the bus, pulling away from the genocide museum. Words can't really express the devastation that occurred here 20 years ago.  Our hearts are heavy and I keep thinking, what if that happened to me?  How does life go on after something like that…I don't know how, but they're doing it somehow.  Feeling so thankful for my family today and overwhelmed with sadness for those who lost theirs in such a horrible way.  We participated in a social media project that a group of Rwandan students were doing to prevent something like this from ever happening again.  

Later that day we went on home visits.  The home visits were to the homes of families in Jane & Peter's community who were in very difficult situations. We brought food to each of their homes, talked with them, listened to their story, and prayed with them, with Jane translating of course. One of the most valuable things I learned on this trip was from our leaders Ben and Kassie.  They talked a lot about the importance of empowering and not enabling.  They talked to us about how certain types of helping can actually hurt.  Ben and Kassie have a heart to help Rwandans and see long-term results rather than temporary fixes.  A book that was recommended to me is called When Helping Hurts.  So with that frame of mind, I liked how we delivered the food on these home visits.  We delivered the food we bought to these families as if it were from Jane and Peter's church and not from us, "the Americans here on a short term mission trip."  Our hope was that in giving food from the church, it would have a longer term affect as it may encourage these families to come and be involved in Jane and Peter's church and in turn hear the message of the gospel, be encouraged, feel loved by their local church and be empowered.

Journal Entry Day 2: 11pm 
After today's home visits it's difficult to put into words what I'm thinking and feeling. The words that come to mind are overwhelmed, impacted, changed, amazed…What to do from here?  How will my life look & be different after what I saw today?  I was trying to process these thoughts out loud with my roommates Beth & Carla and Beth brought up a really good point.  She said " I would suggest not feeling guilty or ashamed of the fact that you have a car and a home with running water & air conditioning…but instead, I would suggest focusing on how you can do more to help others in need and ask yourself, what will I do as a result of what I saw?"  

Observations from the home visits:  The soil was red, the children were beautiful, their clothes were torn, their feet were dirty, their eyes…captivating, their smiles griped my soul, their laughs were contagious and their pure and innocent. Their homes, a mud plaster like material, no doors but a sheet hanging, so small..the 5 of us could barely duck in and all squeeze inside..about the size of my closet but much lower ceilings and not much inside but some blanket pallets for beds and a few things lying around, no running water or electricity, spotted 2 rats crawling up the wall.  The food we brought: flour, maize, sugar, rice, potatoes.  Other things we brought: charcoal and laundry soap.
The women: AntoniettaMarie Rose Josephine.  I feel so honored that these women invited us into their homes and shared with us their stories…I will continue to pray for them. 
 There was one moment after the first home visit that really impacted me.  As we were leaving and getting on the bus, I had a half empty bottle of juice in the side pocket of my back pack.  It had been there all day and was warm and I forgot it was even there.  Some of the kids noticed it and about 10 of them started following me to the bus grabbing my hand and tugging on my shirt and looked up at me with those big brown eyes saying "juice, juice, juice?!" My first reaction was to give it to them of course, but Jane advised me not to as there wasn't enough juice for them all to share so they would be tempted to fight over it and overall, such a small thing would just cause more harm than good.  So I had to say "no, I'm sorry" :( turn away, and leave them there just looking at me with their little frowns.  I got on the bus and started talking to Carla,  re-capping how this half empty bottle of hot juice has no value to me but was like gold to them...and in the middle of my sentence something, not sure what exactly, hit me hard…and in the middle of my sentence I couldn't finish it, because I was choking back tears and the tears just wouldn't stop.  What I saw today, I will never forget.  


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