Seriously? What another amazing day (I know it sounds like I’m over-using that word), but you ain’t here. This afternoon, three people said independently that after yesterday they thought nothing could be better only to have it rivaled today.
After breakfast we drove to the Anglican Church in Kivuruga where we were received like royalty as we walked through a beautifully dressed choir and dancing children. The entire service was amazing filled with singing, dancing, and even some of our sponsored children joining us where we were sitting. Both Mark & Joel had a chance to preach through a translator even though they were not told about this until we were leaving after breakfast. They did a wonderful job and were very well received.
After the service we were hanging out around the church with hundreds upon hundreds of children clamoring to meet us and shake our hands. Many of them would just grab our hands and hang on. Two of our sponsored children, Jean de la Croix and Gerome walked out of the church with me and didn’t leave my side the entire time we were greeting the other children. It was an unbelievable experience.
We then headed back to our hotel where we had lunch followed by a meeting with the representatives of the Inter-Church Committee which is comprised of all 7 churches within Kivuruga. The ICC is dedicated to working together to promote child welfare. The representatives in attendance were from the Muslim church as well as Christian churches including the Gospel Church, 7th Day Baptist Church, Anglican Church, and the Catholic Church. Two other churches were unable to send representatives, but serve on the ICC; they are the Pentecostal Church and the 7th Day Adventist Church. The main goal of the ICC is to take care of children by understanding their life, health, and spiritual growth and helping them improve on each. How this happens is based on the religious organization, but helping children is the common goal. I have much more notes on the comments of the individual gentlemen, but for the sake of time, cannot type them here. Suffice it to say, they all love World Vision and have seen fantastic things happen through World Vision and their generosity.
After our meeting, we had a couple of hours free and decided to drive north about 30 minutes to the border of Rwanda with Uganda near the volcanoes (in fact, I found some volcanic rock I will be bringing home for Ryan). The drive was breath-taking including amazing views of the volcanoes and volcanic lakes. We hung out at the border for a while. Trent and I thought we were very brave by waiting for the guards to turn away and then touching our toes over the line of dirt that we thought was the official border into Uganda… turns out it was the start of a garden (we are so brave). As the sun started to set, we made our way back to the hotel and concluded the night with dinner (including Rwandan pizza; nothing to write home about!).
As another night fades away, we look forward to tomorrow when we will get to visit the schools to get an update on the Education project, visit a mushroom project as part of the multi-sector Transformational Program, and visit the base of the volcanoes on an educational and leisure activity to see how the government has transformed former poachers into entertainers for the tourism industry.
I know y’all want to see pictures, but I just don’t have many to upload. First, because we have so many fantastic photographers on the trip, I have very little to add in that way. Secondly, because internet is so sporadic and weak, uploading photos will be tough. Trust me, there will be a billion photos for everyone… but you’ll have to be patient! They don’t do the experience justice anyway.
Thanks again to all of you who have made this trip possible as well as all of you who have captured this vision and are sponsoring children or otherwise supporting the effort. Nicole talked about yesterday meeting their sponsored child as “the day a picture became a boy.” Also, sometimes we face doubts that these kids are actually real; it was interested that in our ICC meeting today, one of the pastors said that meeting us will help dispel the myth that some of his parishoners have that these white people who are sending money don’t really exist. What Our Response is doing in partnership with World Vision is seen to many Rwandans as “too good to be true.” Although we see the trip on such a personal level, our visit is encouraging the WV staff, pastors, community leaders, and residents even more than they will ever be able to tell us.
Thanks to all of you!