You may have noticed that our local Isanti/Chisago County Star newspaper just featured the Our Response trip to Rwanda. If you didn’t catch this wonderful front page article, you can enjoy it here.
Today’s post features reflections and highlights from the point of view of Michelle Lundeen, a trip team member who travelled to Kivuruga with her husband, Clint.
Michelle’s Favorite Memories and Lessons Learned
One of my most treasured moments on this trip was walking with Clint and Kelli to the home of Kelli’s sponsored child, Erik.
We walked about six kilometers (or approximately four miles) on trails that the locals use, up and down the mountain side. It was so beautiful. The countryside is like a patchwork quilt with gardens and terraced farmland.
We saw sweet little houses on the side of the hills, children running around giggling and talking, and goats grazing.
When we got to Erik’s we were greeted by children singing. He and his grandparents visited with us and gave us some marital advice. It was such a sweet time. Their house was clean and simple. They decorated it for us with corncob clusters hanging from the ceiling.
We then walked to Syldio’s house…
…and got to visit with him and his brothers and their families. We crammed a whole bunch of us and their neighbors into their house, and they sang and danced for us.
We learned that they start associations for their house building projects. One family and the members of the association will build a home, and then they will help another family in the association build their home. They are able to build the homes right from the clay found in their own soil. They had kilns for the bricks throughout the countryside.
Another great moment for me was when we went to the cultural center and I asked the tour guide if he had ever heard of World Vision. He looked at us, took a moment, and then told us how much World Vision had done for their community and country, and how much he appreciated World Vision. This man was not affiliated with World Vision in any way and was outside the Kivuruga area. It was a wonderful confirmation of the great work that World Vision is doing in Rwanda.
Many people told us that this would be a life-changing trip, so we went with our hearts and minds open to whatever God would have for us. Both of us left feeling that this wasn’t a life-changing trip, but a life-confirming trip. We feel confident that God has us where we are in life to work hard and to use our finances and time as He directs, to keep sponsoring children, and to keep giving. We are in awe of how God is able to use $35 a month—which is all that it takes to sponsor a child—and how this money impacts the child, his family, the community, and, ultimately, a country. There are still 1,000 children in Kivuruga who are registered with World Vision and waiting to be sponsored.
We were able to meet both of our sponsored children. Syldio is 11 years old and Patience is 12.
They are such a blessing to us. Both of them were so shy at first, but the smiles soon came and we could see that they are so full of joy and love. We spent a number of hours with them just visiting, eating lunch together, meeting one of each of their family members, opening gifts and kicking soccer balls around with them.
One of my favorite moments of meeting our sponsored children was getting the mother of Patience out to kick the soccer ball with us. She is so beautiful and was all dressed up, yet so willing to “play” for a little while.
I also enjoyed meeting one of the translators who had translated a letter Syldio wrote to us months ago. We saw firsthand that our correspondence with our sponsor children is “real”. These are real kids and real communities who need us to rise up and give.
I had such a beautiful experience in Rwanda. I am so grateful for the love and support that our church and our community is providing to the people of Kivuruga, and for the support that Clint and I received personally. Thank you!