By Kirsten Moore
Ten years ago I began to feel God tugging at my heart to go to Rwanda. Over the years I have prayed for Rwanda and been excited about what New Mercies is doing there. I have also fought with God about why Rwanda – why not South Africa? Why not Zimbabwe? I wanted to go to Rwanda because I felt God leading me there but I didn’t love Rwanda. After ten days in Rwanda that is no longer true – I truly, deeply love the country and it’s people. I have never left somewhere and not had any desire to be heading home. I desperately miss my children but part of my heart was left behind when we took off from Kigali.
A few days ago Annie led a devotional about sharing God’s love in another country. In many ways I was challenged by being in a very touchy feely country where I don’t speak the language. My strongest love language is words of affirmation and my least is physical touch. So to be in a country with a language I literally know three words of where every time you turn around someone is hugging you, presented its challenges for sure. But God uses all challenges for good. It forced me to be more intentional – and even when using an interpreter- to choose my words carefully. And God was breaking my own barriers and walls in a world that expresses their love through touch. (And is it three hugs, one hand shake? One hug, two hand handshake? Double handshake? One handshake? Do any of us really know?)
I think the hardest moment of the language barrier was visiting with Eric’s family (a little boy with Down syndrome living in deep poverty). I sat with his mother for a while. I have spent time in Minnesota with other mothers who are behind me in this special needs journey. But in Rwanda the two strengths I bring to that conversation were non-existent. I could neither use words of encouragement or understanding, nor did I have any resources of help to offer. We did spend some time looking at school options for him on the last day we were there and are getting him set up with health insurance so that he can get a medical evaluation and hopefully some help. I have always been grateful for the access we have to medical care and the resources for help for Jordan that we have, but it is in my face, heartbreaking to so desperately want to help him and not have the resources! But Leonce, The Children’s Program Director at FVA, is an amazingly compassionate and resourceful woman who will do her best, by God’s grace, to help his whole family into better circumstances then they currently face.
There are so many moments and so many people that impacted me on this trip. But one of my most precious moments with the team was the last night we were there. The electricity had gone out again so we say around the table playing cards by candle light with the other houseguest (who we became very close to) and drinking Rwandan tea. The peace and friendship of that moment was the perfect end to a trip highlighted by friendship.
Because despite the language barrier and the cultural differences, for me this trip was truly about relationships. From the men and women working on the home, to the children, to the woman I met at the market on the last day as we waited for the team to finish shopping, as well as the people I had the time and opportunity to engage with on a deeper level. I am so thankful and blessed by the friendships I formed and pray they will last a life time. God transformed my heart and my passion on this trip. I love you, Rwanda – may God send me back soon!!