The familiarity comes back so quickly. The misty mountains in the distance, the smoky skyline before us, the curious eyes taking us in, and the smiles that are quickly given when we smile first. This is Rwanda, our first missions home; a place that will remain close to our hearts.
The airport was a treat as Odetta and Fulgence along with a couple of the people working on the house were there to greet us as we came through security. There was laughter and hugs and a beautiful gift of a hand-made peace basket filled with Rwandan coffee! How blessed and loved we felt.
|Our first view of the house|
|Enjoying a chat|
We were out in the village just about everyday while they were finishing the cement work. We would help where we could but honestly, a lot of our time was spent playing with the kids in the area or at the children's home as we were more in the way than we were a help! As soon as we were able to put paint on the walls though we were in there!
|Bubbles were a huge hit!|
|And the pictures and videos on Dean's phone provided much entertainment!|
We started painting on a Tuesday and by the Friday we had all the furniture built and in the rooms, the glass was placed in the windows, the walls, doors and ceiling were painted, the solar lighting hung and explained. There were new sheets, blankets and pillows on all the beds and a new living room set complete with cushions as well as new "gadgets" for around the house and in the kitchen!
I had told Odetta the day we started working in the house that she was not allowed in until we were finished...she did not like that and everyday she would try to sneak past me! I explained the "Extreme Home Makeover" show to her but she wasn't having any of that! I often found her standing at the door with a paint brush in hand offering to come in and help but I was quick to shoo her out to work on the outside of the house.
Late Friday afternoon we invited Odetta into her house, it didn't take her long to get there as she had been hovering at the back door for the last hour waiting to see her bed! We could hear her talking and people giggling so we asked what she had said. Apparently we were going to get a big hug once we were finished putting the blankets on! Honestly, the best gift was to see her face as she sat on her bed. She laughed and cried and hugged us with her heart. It made us cry too.
The smiles say it all!
We finished the project with a celebration at the new house. Anyone who helped in anyway was there and everyone ate and drank fanta until they were full. We were blessed to have a lady by the name of Anjeannie attend as she played a very important role in seeing the house built. She is the sister of the Mayor to Odetta's district and she is the one responsible for obtaining the building permit. Fulgence was having a near impossible time getting approval to build a new home and he wasn't really sure about what to do next. That is when he happened to meet Anjeannie and shared with her the vision to build a new home for Odetta. It just so happens (not really, God knew all along...) that Anjeannie has a heart specifically for widows and their children and loved the plan to build this house. So, she went to her brother, and ploughed through the red tape on our behalf, and we had our permit!
Our very hard working team! Anjeannie (in the black top)
We really wanted to bless all those who labored to build Odetta's home so at our celebration we made sure there was plenty to eat and drink but we also wanted to leave everyone with something that would last longer. Having lived in the village before we have seen the water that people drink to survive. We couldn't leave there knowing that these people we had come to know and love were drinking unsafe water so we bought a case of water treatment and gave a bottle to each worker and all the extras went to Odetta's neighbors. There was even some shoes purchased and some medical needs looked after.
Operation 1:27, the name of this project, called so after James 1:27 where we are called to help the widows and the orphans in their time of distress, was a huge success and we look forward to the next project with willing hearts!
The new house behind the old one. What a contrast!
A view from the back of her house.
We were even able to give her a new toilet and shower house.
An Amazing Gift!
We had an incredible time with the children at Victory Family Home of Champions while we were in Rwanda. Isaac and Serena Tyrrell, the directors, along with their son Henry and Wiola, another missionary living there, were so good to us! We were treated to fresh coffee each morning before heading up to Odetta's, and home cooked dinners in the evenings. They gave us the freedom to visit with the children and with Joseph and Grace as much as we wanted. They made us feel so welcome and at home.
The children's home looks amazing! Isaac and Serena are doing an incredible job loving on everyone there, not to mention how they have poured not only their hearts but their entire lives into their ministry. It was such a gift to be able to go there and feel so welcomed. We went hoping to reconnect with the children and with Joseph and Grace, and we did that. But we gained something more; we gained wonderful new friends.
New Friends! Isaac, Serena and Henry
Thanks to a generous gift from someone in Calgary we were able to treat everyone to a feast and celebration at the children's home! There had to have been at least a whole cow barbecued on Isaac's amazing home-made grill and enough extras to give each person a mountain of a plate as well as the always loved fanta! The kids and mamas were great and we were treated to a show involving karate, singing and dancing, a comedy skit, and some soccer skills were shown. Bishop Joseph and his wife Liberatta were even able to come out and join us. It was our last night out there so there were lots of hugs, some pictures and letters shared and a few tears. It was a great night!
Check out this amazing grill! Never mind all the meat...
Yup, that about says it all!
Thank you so much to all of you who gave, and who prayed for our project in Rwanda. We went to be a blessing and in return we were blessed beyond measure!