Greetings from Mbyo – ‘Muraho’ in Rwandese. We have had a hard time finding an internet connection so I apologize for not writing earlier. We have had a whirlwind time so far in Rwanda. We arrived safe and sound on Wednesday night and were welcomed warmly by Winnie Muvunyi and our driver for the week, Vincent. We spent the night in Kigali’s Diocese Guest House, had breakfast with Bishop Louis and members of his staff and then made our way to Compassion International’s office in Kigali and spent a wonderful time with the children Kim, Rob, Debra and I sponsor. Everybody was moved by the time (and we have some great pictures of kids learning to throw a frisbee for the first time. It brought back childhood memories). We then went out for lunch – probably the only time in the lives of these children that they would have that chance and then made our way to Mbyo and the Catholic Guest House and had a good time reconnecting with Father Immanuel and his staff.
Friday began with our meeting the children in Compassion project in Mbyo which was a great time. We have tried to take sufficient pictures to capture the time and are eager to share them when we get home. We then spent 2 hours playing with over 400 children in the fields outside the school. Imagine a mass of humanity throwing frizbees, playing soccer, volleyball, and upteen other Rwandese group games. Overwhelming yet a lot of fun.
We then met with the Parish Council and heard about the developments over the past three years. They are devastated by the loss of the cows and expressed deep sadness and guilt. We assured them of our love and told them that we do not hold them responsible for something out of their control. We then addressed some concerns they had about our agricultural project – that we were not coming in to tell them how to do what they do, but rather to learn from them what it is they do, and how we might be able to help them in this. We ended the session with a visit to a large casava field they own and farm as a community and learned about the possibilities of development in this area.
Saturday we were back with Compassion making bricks for their new building. Imagine stomping in mud mixed with straw and then rolling it into balls and taking it in a factory line to people filling wood frames shaped like bricks. It was fun beyond compare and the interaction with the kids and staff at Compassion was priceless. Again, we have pictures and stories to show and tell when we return. Amazing stuff.
Then this afternoon we visited two of the 28 cell groups in Mbyo parish and heard from them the issues they confront and some of the hopes and dreams they have for their future. I am humbled by the depth of Christian community they already enjoy and the development they have already acheived despite the most overwhelming difficulties. These are truly amazing people who so need each other to survive let alone thrive, but are thriving nonetheless by the grace of God. Again, we will have much more to share on this next Sunday.
Tomorrow we gather to worship. I will be asked to preach and everyone to give a greeting. Pray for us as we continue to pray for you. All of us are being changed by the time and, amazingly, are making an impact on the people here just by our presence. They truly love us and appreciate our partnership in the gospel. More later Lord willing and internet able.