Melanie’s African Adventure – Part 2

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RWANDA

Kenya and Rwanda are two different worlds. Kenya is dirty and not very often do you see something beautiful to look at. Rwanda, on the other hand, is extremely clean and very beautiful.
Everywhere you look there are lush green crops, trees, and foliage.
Today we drove quite a distance in rural areas to the Buhoro location and I loved seeing the countryside. It’s the land of 1000 hills, and every hill has a thousand goats. Ok, maybe not a thousand but I definitely saw more goats today than ever in my life. There are always people on the sides of the road and the children break into big grins when you wave at them.

We began the day at one of the Home of Hope homes where I met my grandmother’s sponsor child Blessing, and my mom’s sponsor child Obedi. Taking a picture of a child and showing it to them opens the door to connecting with them and it is a joy to spend time with them. They are thankful to be sponsored and talked about what they like to do for fun and that they would like to meet their sponsors some day.

It was very light-hearted and enjoyable.

We walked from there to meet with about 12 women who are pastors or pastor’s wives and found ourselves being introduced to Charlotte, the violated woman whose story we told at the women’s conference in October (The Tumaini Project) and I felt like my chest was being crushed as I greeted her and she became a real, living person.
I very much feel like my time here has been an emotional roller coaster.
My heart is rejoicing one moment over the fact that a life has been rescued and then is plummeting to incredible sorrow as the reality of the devastation people have endured hits home.We continued the day with a women’s conference with several hundred women in attendance. The women here dress very beautifully and would be very bored with my black and white wardrobe. Karissa and I spoke, along with Jane, one of the main leaders here. Karissa preaches as though she does it on a regular basis and I am very proud of her. We finished the day with a lovely buffet dinner where I saw the hugest avocados I have ever seen. They were also the best I have ever tasted.

Today began with a long and scenic drive to Buhoro. Ryan (one of the businessmen on the trip) had a “dance off” with one of the Rwandan men and a man from Congo. It was awesome! We had a great church service – Garrick (my son) did a testimony, which was great, and Karissa took the offering. What a privilege to do a service with my kids.

After the service, we helped with the feeding program and handed out meals to all the kids. They are beautiful children who love to be noticed and want to touch you and high five you and have their picture taken endlessly. One three year old little girl named Sonya never let us out of her sight and was continually posing for another picture.

I was quite unprepared for what came next. There are only three sponsored children in this area and we took a few minutes at the end to meet them and get pictures with them for their sponsors. Two of them are brothers named Desire and Jeremy. The younger one, Jeremy (8) seemed very sad. The Rwandans began questioning him and as they did I noticed Desire’s eyes fill up with tears. He is 12. They began to tell us that their mother had murdered the father in front of Desire, and she was now in jail. The brothers were split up and live in separate homes quite a distance from each other. This poor boy was in so much pain and carrying such a huge burden. He began to heave great sobs as though his heart were going to explode. As he began to sob, some of the Rwandan pastors who were translating for me went to pieces and could not continue. I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to take him through a prayer to forgive his mom. It was a very difficult thing to say to him. In my head it felt so wrong but in my heart I knew it was the right thing. I was able to pray for healing and deliverance for him from the trauma and God healed him. It was a divine appointment. There was such victory, but it is so difficult to see the hell people have experienced. It is a challenge to process at times.

 

It’s another amazing day in Africa and I’ve gotten used to a morning routine. The music from the nearby clubs stops just before dawn, at about 5 a.m. The happy birds begin singing shortly thereafter. The angry birds get going around 5:30 and begin their day with an energetic 5 k run on the roof of the motel, which is tin from the sounds of it. They complain loudly as they go. Of course, it may be that they are not running at all, but mating instead. At 6 am, a group of people somewhere begins to sing for some reason, and that goes on for about half an hour. Choir practice perhaps? Still, an improvement over the 5am call to prayer in Turkey. Roosters crow intermittently in the distance, unaware that someone has already beat them to the task of announcing the dawning of a new day. A haze from the garbage that is burned during the night covers the city each morning. As the sun rises, it is cloaked by smoke, making the otherwise green hills obscure in the distance.

On Monday afternoon, we visited the Genocide Memorial. I’ve read some of the books on the Genocide and watched Hotel Rwanda (where we had dinner last night), but the facts had faded over time. The storyboards brought it all back, both the horrors and the heroes. I found it very disturbing to see the displays of skulls and bones of many victims displayed in cases. I didn’t want to hear the stories of the children and what their last words were or how they were murdered, but had to listen patiently out of respect for the girl who was giving us a guided tour and taking the time to tell each one’s story. Her name is Melissa and she is 19 years old. She has travelled with our team quite a bit since we arrived and is an outstanding young woman. When I was ministering to the young boys on Sunday whose Mom had murdered their dad, two of the leaders who were translating for me went to pieces, and Melissa stepped in and worked with me while most of the others in the room just wept. Melissa’s Mom was pregnant with Melissa when the genocide happened. Melissa’s uncle turned on his own family, murdering three of his brothers and raping Melissa’s Mom and infecting her with HIV. Melissa was born with HIV. Her Mom infected her dad with HIV and by the time Melissa was 4, both of her parents were dead. At the memorial, she showed us a picture of her grandma who was also murdered. She told us that up until a few years ago, she wanted to die, and lived a lifestyle seeking death. She was prayed for and today is whole and using her life in a very productive way. Of course that does not cancel out the harsh reality that she is HIV infected. We prayed for her while we were at the Memorial and believe for the same kind of miracle in her body as she has experienced in her heart. This is a heavy story to share with you, and yet there is glory. I am so inspired by Melissa and what God is doing through her. I want to be able to encourage her and mentor her, and strengthen her to be a healer in her nation without being overwhelmed by the vast need. She is destined to be a world changer; she has changed me.


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