By Nick Seaton
My time spent in Rwanda, Africa has been very humbling. The trip far exceeded my expectations in so many ways. Going into the trip it was not clear to me what we were going to be doing, meaning we did not have a set schedule of activities for each day, but that was ok. Our trip began with several team meetings months before we actually left. It was a time for our team to get to know each other and to learn about Rwanda. I can’t say enough for how well our team worked together.
The first day we were in Rwanda we went to the Genocide Memorial. I can’t even imagine what the people went through. After being there for a while it got hard for me to even read or watch the videos because I was so emotional about what had taken place. It made me feel sick to my stomach. It was a good thing though, because it helped me to understand what the people of Rwanda are still living and dealing with today.
Every morning our team would get up and have breakfast together. Than we would have morning devotions and worship time. During this time we prayed for anything that we needed for our team. We prayed for healing for a few of our team members and they were healed. What an awesome God we serve! This was also a time that our team grew closer to one another.
The first job that we had at the FVA site was to plant grass. I thought this would be a simple task. Wow was I wrong! I thought we would just spread grass seed, water it, and then be done. Instead we spread manure by hand and mixed it into the soil. There were no bags of grass seed. We dug up existing grass and used the roots of the grass and planted them. Then we watered the grass. We carried many buckets of water to do this.
There were a few times that our team got to share a message with the groups that we were with. One of my most memorable experiences on the trip was the day that we went to church. We had the opportunity to worship and minister to the people for healing. Praying with people was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to do this. What an awesome experience to see the power of God working through us and healing people!
One thing that I learned is that we take so many things for granted in the US. For example, if we were going to dig a new water line in the ground we would use a backhoe to dig the trench. In Rwanda they use hand tools – pick axes, hoes, and shovels. They also dug a hole for the toilet that we were working on. The whole was 30 ft. deep and they dug it by hand! Another big difference that I saw was the farming. Here we have equipment to get everything done. In Rwanda it is all done by hand. They plant the fields by hand, then use hoes to weed the fields, and finally harvest the field by hand. They do all this work usually with a smile on their faces.
One of our main jobs while we were at the FVA site was to help build a new bathroom and kitchen for a woman who works at the site. When we arrived at her place her existing kitchen was a canopy built out of sticks on the back side of her house. Her toilet was four walls approximately 5 ft. tall with no roof. We helped level the ground where the new outhouse would go and then carried the materials needed to build down to the site. It was our job to get the bricks to the site. They were 25-30 pound mud bricks and there were 750 of them! I carried one at a time then felt like I wasn’t doing enough because the women of the village would carry two at a time on their heads. Our group worked all day long and only got half the bricks to the site. Local people and skilled workers were then hired to finish carrying the materials and to construct the bathroom and kitchen. It felt good to work hard ourselves and also contribute to the economy by paying the wages of a local work crew.
The people of Rwanda have also made a huge impact on my heart. They all just have so much love for one another. Working with the kids at the FVA site was amazing! When I first met the kids they circled around me and told me to dance. It was a little awkward, but I danced. Than we formed a big circle and everyone got the opportunity to dance while the kids sang. There were always smiles on their faces.
In closing, this trip will forever impact my life, from the people I met to the many cultural differences. The Lord has showed me many thing on this trip. I learned some of my strengths and He also showed me some of my weaknesses. I’ve been asked many times since coming home if I would go back and my answer is definitely yes. I would like to say thank you to New Mercies Ministries, Faith Victory Association, and everyone who helped to make this trip possible.