Monday, July 03, 2017


We came to Rwanda for many reasons, and one of them that was very exciting to us was to meet the children that we sponsor through Africa New Life.  I came to Rwanda with Africa New Life back in September and fell in love with the organization and the Rwandan people.  We had begun sponsoring two girls before that trip, but it was impossible to make that part of our schedule in September.  So, when we set out making our itinerary, we made sure to plan a day for this.

We sponsor two girls, Lilian and Diane, and the Heads sponsor two children as well, Jasmin and Emmanuel.  They all live in the city of Rubavu, which is on the western border of the country.  This journey took about 4 hours each way from where we are staying, so it made for a very, very long day, that was absolutely worth every bit.


This day was so full, and our time here has already been so packed, that I am going to focus only on visiting with Lilian and Diane in this post.  I could write pages, but I don't have the time or the internet bandwidth to support that, so this will be fairly brief.

We were picked up at 6 am with kids who were very excited to head out.  The bus we took was comfortable, but it was a long ride, and we had 8 kids, so there were good and bad moments. 🤣 But, we got to take in the Rwandan countryside, which is stunning.  We drove by mountains and rivers and lakes and even saw some monkeys in trees, and it is just amazing to see how many people are out all the time.


We arrived in Rubavu and took a brief tour of the Africa New Life sponsorship offices.  Their project in Rubavu is relatively new, but there are already 641 children sponsored there - many by our home church.  We met Lilian and Diane and their mothers at the offices for a brief introduction.  In all honesty, there was a lot to take in.  We had our party of 12, and then we added four more children and mothers to the mix as well as ANL staff.  A lot was happening at all times.


We all went to Jasmin and Emmanuel's homes first, and then our group of 12 was dropped off to eat lunch at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the lake. (Which was a whole other experience!)



After lunch, we got to go to Lilian and Diane's homes, and they happen to be practically neighbors.  When I was choosing children to sponsor, I specifically looked for girls whose birthdays were close to Lily and Bella's to give them a connecting point.  Lilian was born the same month as our Lily, and Diane was actually born the same week as Bella.

As we stepped into their homes, it was clear they had prepared for our visits and were so pleased to welcome us.  It was so humbling and overwhelming to be greeted so graciously.  We got to speak with Lilian's mother and father and meet her older sister.  We prayed with their family and let Lily unpack the bag of gifts that she had helped pick out at home.  After John prayed, Lilian's mother prayed over us, and even now, I can't stop the tears as I think of it.  She's my sister in Christ and motherhood and though our lives are so different, I felt so much kinship with her.  She prayed blessings over our family that I will be forever grateful for.  I wish we had had hours instead of minutes, because it was such a treasure.


In Diane's home, we met her father and mother and one of her three siblings.  The entire neighborhood was gathered around each house for every visit we did and trailing us everywhere we walked or drove.  As you might imagine, we were a spectacle and then some.  Diane's parents are also believers, and our time was so sweet.  Lest you get the wrong impression, each visit included some sort of meltdown from one of our own children, because we were well into the afternoon at this point, and it was a wild day.  But, on the whole, our kids did really well.  Bella was so pleased to present Diane with the gifts and show her how to use things.  Seeing my big girls rise to the occasion was one of the day's many gifts.


We had really been looking forward to this experience, and it was everything we had hoped and more.  We have been praying for Lilian and Diane, and to get to see where they live and meet their families put so much into perspective.  Of course, it is easy to see that they have less materially than we do.  But, it was also clear that both Lilian and Diane have parents who love them and love the Lord.  We can help their families with school fees and materials, and they will remind us that our joy does not come from things.  It comes from the Lord.  He is our hope and our salvation, and while our families are worlds apart on earth, we are brothers and sisters who all need Christ and grace and love.

It's all been so humbling and refreshing and joy filled.  Let me be perfectly clear - getting here was hard, and the whole experience has cost a lot - financially, spiritually, and physically.  But it is more than worth it.  Lily and Bella will remember it and are connected to girls like them who happen to live in Rwanda.  William and Violet might have some recall and will definitely have a bazillion pictures to look back to.  Rwanda is changing our family for the better, and we are so thrilled to be here.


Many thanks to Africa New Life who so graciously worked with our group to make this possible!  We love the work they are doing and are so thankful to be partnered with them in this venture.