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one month state side.

28 Jun

it has been one month since i was celebrating my 20th birthday in rwanda. it was our last full day before two days of traveling and i can’t believe it’s even been that long since we’ve been back. being back in america has gotten easier as the time goes by. my heart aches a little less each time i look at the pictures and think about all that happened. time processing has just opened my eyes to how much i actually learned and experienced. and every time i look at the pictures, i always spend a couple extra seconds on the one i put above. i think it’s my favorite picture of the whole trip. just look at the joy on his face. the innocence. the love. those two weeks in rwanda were so full of joy and seeing a nation be redeemed. a nation destroyed and divided is now a country of love and community. joy and restored innocence. this picture just wraps up rwanda in my mind. i knew i would love rwanda, but i never know the depths of that love. or the depths of the love for the people i was with. i had no idea that in two short weeks these would become some of my favorite people in the world. no one else can fully understand the experiences we went through like these thirteen people can.
being back has been busy. i had a 20 page paper to write and a job to play catch up with. it’s been good though. i love summer. and especially not being in school. i get to read and hang out with people i normally wouldn’t have. i get to soak up time with Jesus and experience new levels of freedom with him. it’s been good. i love waco and the people here. there are just some days when my heart longs to be back in the heart of africa.

muzungu.

3 Jun

it has been quite the transition back from rwanda. i got off the bus and went straight to a staff meeting and spent most of monday and tuesday doing work stuff. as much of a change of pace and information it was, i was grateful that i was kept so busy. i’m not sure how my heart would have done just sitting and being thinking about all that i was missing. yesterday was my first down day and it was full of laundry, unpacking and decorating my room, but it still felt more chill and my mind wandered to all of the great times I had just had so often. It gets sad thinking about such great memories coming to a close.

i figured it was about time to finish up writing about my trip. The rest of Tuesday, where I left off, we just hung out. It rained and I was glad I decided to blog and not go play football on the dirt field. We had dinner at an awesome indian restaurant.
Wednesday morning was spent at the US Ambassador Symington’s residence. He was a pretty cool guy and had the whole discussion based around what each one of us had learned in our time in Rwanda. It was great to hear his say on the things that we had picked up. He also asked Bosco, our driver, and Fred, our tour guide, what they hoped we would get from Rwanda. It was good to see his focus on really embracing what we had learned and implementing it. We went to Cards from Africa in the afternoon and saw how they made the paper and individually cut out all the shapes to go on each card. seeing all of these processes has made me appreciate it all so much more. cards, coffee, it’s incredible how easily we take these things for granted when people work so hard on them. We went back to the market and had a final tour of Kigali with Fred. He drove us past President Paul Kagame’s house.. Well all we could see was 2 different gates for entrance, nothing of the house. And other random places around the city. We went to Heaven for dinner and it was so good. The most relaxing atmosphere, looking out on the city, with the most comfortable chairs and the best guacamole I think I’ve ever had. It was such a great place to end such a great trip.
Thursday we took the 2 1/2 hour drive to Musanze and it was beautiful. water falls, mountains, hills, just gorgeous. We got to Sonrise school, a boarding school, and got to hang out there. We got a tour, walked around, saw what the engineers had been doing for the past week. They had spent their time making a solar powered water purifier. We went back to the hotel, which was absolutely bliss. Little cottages, giant trees, cascades of mountains, 3 volcanoes. It was all so breathtaking. There was a big field right outside my cottage that we played frisbee on. Life was good, ha. We saw more intore dancers and they pulled us with them and got to dance with them. we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant with the engineers and then went out on the field to look at the stars.
My birthday was the most memorable birthday I have ever had. Campbell, Emilie and I woke up at 5:15 and went and looked at the sunrise. It wasn’t as pretty as the sunset the night before, but it was the prettiest color pink I have ever seen. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I just had quiet time looking at the mountains nice and early. It was so peaceful. We had breakfast and then went over the cultural village. This place is worked by ex-poachers who are now seeking to get their income by a more sustainable means, tourism. They show you what life in the village is like, the King’s palace, witch doctors, blacksmith, bow and arrows, dancing, singing, drumming, everything. They have someone in the group be the King, the Queen, and the Advisor. We had decided Tuesday when we heard about this place from Martha that Parker was going to be our King. You know, the reserved guy, you always make them do these sort of things. So that was an easy decision. We didn’t know there would be a queen though, and when they asked for one, everyone said me since it was my birthday. So, I was an African Queen on my 20th birthday. Don’t think many people can say that. it was so much fun. We had another afternoon to play frisbee in the field and then went to a “team meeting” aka surprise rwandan birthday cake from ms. coldwell and dr.wu! it was awesome! and i got sang happy birthday in 7 different languages. We watched the sunset and hung out on the balcany looking at the mountains and had an awesome dinner at the hotel again. Our group last minute decided to just hang out around the fire. Emilie said we should go around and say something about kelcy for her birthday! and they did. I was so blessed. we decided to go around and encourage everyone and it was really cool just to see how much everyone had bonded. We had become a family and it was great to see everyone go past the little annoyances we had seen over the past two weeks and just list off the things we loved about each other. it was a great birthday.
Saturday morning we drove back to kigali, waited in kigali airport forever, our flight was delayed. we got out of kigali, went to kenya. flew out of kenya to paris. didn’t sleep that whole time. hung out in paris airport, flew 10 hours to dallas. longest. flight. ever. and then got to dallas to find out 12 of us didn’t have bags! woo got to love that. drove back to waco and that is where I’ve been since.
I feel so blessed to have been able to go to Rwanda. It was life changing, and hopefully I’ll be able to process and blog more about the heart stuff, but that is what I was up to while on the great continent of Africa. 🙂

Rwanda. Week 1.

25 May

I have been in Kigali for a week now but it seems like it’s been a good month. Every day is so packed that I can’t believe all that we’ve done in such a short period of time. I am aboslutely loving it though, as expected. I would be quite disappointed if I didn’t, but the people are great, the view is incredible. Every day we ride around on our bus with huge windows and atleast a couple of people say something like “there is not a bad view here” or “the view is gorgeous”. Even though we see it everyday it doesn’t get old. The people on the trip with me are pretty great, too. Overall this trip has just been incredible.

We left Waco at 3:30 Sunday afternoon after a not too great morning for me, but I was just overwhelmed and ready to go. We flew out of Dallas at 9 pm and flew to London throughout the night. When we flew into London we had 8 hours so we broke up into 2 groups and explored. My group went on the Heathrow Express and the Underground to Paddington station. We also went to Kensington Palace and had afternoon tea. It was so cool walking around London and being there. We flew out Monday night and traveled through the next night to Nairobi, Kenya. I decided while on both very long plane rides that God had someone create airplanes so we could see His beauty in a new way. There were some moments when I didn’t want to look away from the window, it was just breathtaking. Nothing like connecting with Jesus and His beauty on a very long, very new experience like an international plane ride. When we got into Nairobi we were there for 20 so minutes and then flew into Kigali. I got a nice nap when we got back since I didn’t sleep well on the airplanes and then we went to the genocide museum. It was very well put together. Very professional, very factual, while still not losing the tragedy of the event. The hardest part of the place was the children’s section titled Wasted Lives. I just had a hard time coping with it as it was just a bunch of pictures with the child’s interests listed and then at the bottom how they were killed. It was very hard to get through, but the Lord is gracious and gave my heart a lot of peace. It was sweet because i was reminded that my God is a God who does not leave or forsake His children. They were not alone. And their lives were not wasted. He had a plan, purpose and impact for their short years.

The next day we visited two trust groups through Urwego Opportunity bank. They were very welcoming and informing. In the afternoon we went to Rwanda Trading Company which is a coffee producing company. It was insane seeing the process it takes to go from the bean on the tree to what we drink. It made me appreciate coffee so much more.

Thursday we went to two church memorial sites. They were very emotionally draining as you could imagine. So many innocent people killed at such a holy place. It’s incredible how fast someone can go from trusting a place to being betrayed by the same people. We also went to Rafiki Village that day which is an incredible orphanage in Kigali. It is ran so well and the children are so polite. It is a christian environment with a school on site. It blew us all away at how effective it was. It was an incredible place I would love to learn more about. We also went to the market for the first time this day. It was so busy and every single person was selling the same thing as everyone else. It was pretty amusing. We also saw 10+ salvations out side of the market. Some guys on my team had brought tracts and were bold men of God who just shared freely Jesus. It was an awesome place to be. Cool fact of thursday: we drove past Paul Kagame! Yeah that’s right.. 10 feet from the president!

Friday was more laid back and we had a couple meetings. One with Hope International and one with people from Bridge2Rwanda and Rwanda Development Board. We went to a different market this day and it was more touristy and quieter. We spent the night at the supermarket, sounds funny to say but it was very amusing and such a fun place to be. It was at a mall type setting.

Saturday was pretty legit. We went to Amahoro Ava Hejuru which is a sewing place for women to learn how to sew and have community. We then went to Rwanda’s South African Ambassador’s residence for a food fair. It was really cool. Live band, blow ups, booths from a ton of different countries with all sorts of food. They had the World Cup mascot there and the Ambassador even introduced himself to us and asked us if we were enjoying our self. It was a lot of fun. On our way back from his house we drove past the football stadium and decided to go check out the game. We made it halfway through Rayon, a Rwandan team, playing the team from Tanzania and then got to stay for the other Rwandan team, APR, to play Congo. It was going good for awhile until about 40 minutes into it and one of the Congo players got upset for not getting a penalty kick and then yelled at the ref so the ref gave him a red card so he may or sort of ran after the ref and drop kicked him. The team flooded to the field and all of the Rwandan police. It was exciting to say the least.

Sunday we tried to get to church but they were having a marathon that day and when we finally arrived we were told that they were having church at their house cells that morning because the church was blocked by the marathon. Of course. It was good team time though and we got to have mini church together. We went to Bourbon cafe for lunch, a very popular coffee shop in Kigali and supposively there are 2 in the US. A couple of us then went down to a field down the hill and played football with the street kids. There were so many of them there.

Yesterday we went to a devotional at Urwego Opportunity Bank and then to an orphange. This orphanage was interesting in it’s set up but seemed to be working as best as it could. They did Intore drumming for us and we just got to hang out and eat lunch there. We taught them rock, paper, scissors and some hand trick. The things you can do when you don’t have much. It was a hard place to be at, you could tell they were struggling, but everyone seemed so joyful and so grateful for what they did have. We went back to the women’s sewing place and they danced and sang for us and told us their testamony. A couple of us went back to the football field again and there were only a couple of kids, but we played with who was there.

Today we met a business man from America who moved his family over here to do something completely new. We then went to one of his clients, a travel agent and got to hear her story. It was so interesting. It is currently 2 pm right now and we’re about to have a devotional. I’m not 100% sure what we’re doing the rest of the day.

that is a really quick run down of the things we’ve been up to, but the internet has been spotty and I didn’t bring a computer so it’s been hard to communicate! I just wanted you to know I am alive and very, very happy. I am so sad that we only have a couple of days left. Tomorrow we’re meeting with America’s ambassador here in Rwanda and we leave Thursday morning for Musanze, up in Northwest Rwanda. We will be there through Friday (my birthday!) and then we fly out Saturday morning and make it back to the states by Sunday afternoon, thanks to the time difference.

Thanks for praying for me! The Lord has blessed our time here so abundantly!