By Josh Knutson
One thing I’ve noticed while we’re driving around Rwanda is that there are people everywhere! It doesn’t seem to matter whether we’re in the city or drive further out into the country. On the road, our SUV is passing trucks hauling mattresses, motorcycle taxis, and bicycles, all traveling at their own speeds and in their own directions. Off on the side of the road, there are more bicycles, people walking, kids playing, and others herding their goats. Everyone keeps their eyes open and goes with the flow, and people are generally pretty cooperative to keep things flowing and let people get where they’re going.
It’s amazing to see how creative Rwandans are at finding ways to transport things. I’ve seen motorcycles and bicycles loaded up with five or more large water jugs, people balancing enormous loads on their heads, and bicyclists catching a tow up the hill by grabbing the back of a passing truck. Water is definitely king. Water stops on the side of the road are always packed, and we’ve seen children, the elderly, and everyone in between carrying water jugs back home. We can definitely learn to be grateful that we’re blessed with clean water to drink in our homes, rather than having to go pump it and carry it home.
We had our first day with the kids at Faith Village today. The kids are sweet and are thrilled to have us here. They’re always curious to ask our names, or why our arms have hair, or what sunblock is, between wanting to hold our hands or give us hugs. The kids were excited to participate in songs, stories, and a memory verse with us. It was nice to see things come together, despite some last minute changes and surprises with the schedule.
We worked with Jared, the children’s coordinator with Faith Victory Association, and had our translator/volunteer coordinator Sonia for most of the as well to help us translate. Sonia is amazing- she translated our song into Kinyarwanda during the car ride here, and it actually really worked out with the tune. On another car ride, she shared a version of Happy (Pharell Williams) with lyrics about finding our joy in Jesus instead. She used to perform with a touring group that shared the gospel using the music from popular songs, and really has some talent as an entertainer and singer.
We had lunch family-style with the FVA staff, which gave us time to get to know them a little better. The staff actually shares lunch together every day, which sounds like a great way to keep the team connected. Before heading back out to play with the kids, we also shared some powerful prayer time as a group.
We all had more time to play with the kids after lunch, since our planned meeting with the mothers’ group at FVA was running on “African time”. The kids had fun dancing to the music, and especially Jessi and Katie did a great job of joining in and dancing with them. Other kids have really enjoyed soccer, “Gwino/Hagarera” (Come/Stop, our version of Red Light/Green Light), and teaching us a relay running game that ends when one team catches up to the runner from the other team and touches them with a stick. I’ve got a few extra grass stains to wash out of my pants after that game!
We were all pretty beat after our long day, but it was nice that we were also able to sit and reflect on the way God has used our talents to reach out to the kids, and pray and look forward to the way he’ll continue to work in us and through us for the rest of the trip. I think everyone on the team has stepped up in their own way, whether it’s sharing with a group on short notice (or no notice), sharing in ways that we wouldn’t normally be comfortable with, or just loving the kids that God has brought us to. Thank you for all your prayers!