HOPE. IT CONQUERS:
It's a simple word. But broken down, digested, truly meditated on ..... it's actually a pretty big word. Full of meaning.
If there's one word that could sum up the different places I've seen while on this trip, it's just that. Hope.
the spirit of Hope.
the motivation of Hope.
the lack of Hope.
the pressure of Hope.
the POWER of Hope.
Our team of 11, from all over the country, have so amazingly united as a big happy, qwarky family, walking out the mission of James 1:27 as one body... nothing short of astounding to watch happen. Everything I've witnessed, watched, and experienced thus far with each of them has given me the true value of word Hope.
We had the opportunity to start the trip at the Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali before we even visited any orphanages. This is where I hesitate to write about, on my first update of our trip, because I honestly haven't put two words together about the experience since I left. In all honesty, I've put it to the back of my mind so I could even continue going about my day to day.
The History. Pictures. Testimonies. Gravesites. A wall of names. Stories from survivors, friends, family....children. Millions of innocent people just massacred because they simply: existed.
Children. There were enough children murdered to prepare an entire room for their memory. Children.
Each child. 11. 4. 15. 8. With a story. Who they were. How old. Their hobbies. Likes. ....and how they were taken from us.
"Two Girls. Age 7. "DADDY'S GIRLS"........ taken by an explosive grenade in their shower."
I'm a Daddy's girl...
I always have been.
A country, so rich and prosperous completely torn to shreds by this destructive and massive wipeout. Gone.
And what continues to just blow my mind.... it didn't happen but only 18 years ago.
Our mission is to actively live out being the hands and feet of Jesus, so as a team we had to continue. So on we went. We were blessed with an overage of donations, so before we stopped on our first orphanage visit, we stocked our bus full of rice, and beans, flower, oil, salt, .... about $800 worth of food that would feed the 80 kids for almost 2 weeks. We we were making a difference. We were all smiles. We were feeling good...
And it wasn't 20 minutes later that reality hit.
Kimisagra sits on top a hill. Ya know, your everyday hill made of rock, sand, trenches, potholes, mudslides...and, naturally, inclined almost vertically. So we hiked. And we climbed. Trudged, walked, and crawled. And when we finally reached the top, it hit me--HARD--that this is what those kids have to do every day. Carrying their water. Carrying their food. Anything they wanted or needed from the city, they had to carry....And my feelings of hope started to fade.
And only continued to fade as we explored around the facility. Empty concrete bedrooms. 3 large cauldrons for their 'kitchen', where the smoke pipes were broken and the place filled with smothering smoke every time a meal was prepared. Bathrooms...well, where they could find an open area near the corners. About 9 bunks short, so about 18...or 36... kids making cozy on their floors. Not your typical slumber party if you ask me.
And what hit us all the most was there wasn't a piece of food around. A tiny bag of rice sitting on the counter. The only food they had was what we brought. What if we weren't able to come? We weren't supposed to come. It wasn't in our agenda at first... but God knew. He knew we needed to be there.
So collectively as a team, we swallowed our inside pain and just dove in. Hugged kiddos, held babies, played with lil guys, danced with big kids, shared with olders, laughed with young'ins. Their situation didn't phase them. They laughed and sang and smiled and giggled....
And as we had to load up for the day, leaving them to again fend for themselves, all I could think about was how being a Daddy's Girl was what got me through most anything in life today.
The way my family has supported me, encouraged me, laughed with me...and AT me, smiled with me, provided for me and just truly loved me... it was material things that made it easier... but it was their LOVE that made it possible.
Their love that gave me hope.
These children don't have that here. They don't have someone constantly reminding them that they can BE somebody. That the boy who could belt a tune could use that for a career. That they were special. That scholarships for soccer to go the 'University' were possible. That they had a purpose. That they were loved and cared for and protected.....
A team member described it best when he said he just felt....Defeated.
I left feeling.... empty. I selfishly prayed that the visits to come would lift me up, give me hope. I mean, if ANYone was going to be able to make a difference, it'd have to be someone who could be there internally. For the long haul. Reaching to the depths of their hearts, committed to reminding these precious children that they mean something. That they're cared for. Supported. Encouraged. Protected. Loved.
Someone who could give them eternal Hope..
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.