We arrived in Rwanda late last night (around midnight, local time) after 30 exhausting hours of travel. Following an extended wait at the Kigali International Airport as a result of the passport control computer system going offline, we were finally able to make it through customs and meet up with Fred around 1:00 a.m.
A short, 10-minute drive brought us from the airport to Fred and Trizah’s lovely Kigali home, where we would be staying for the next three weeks. Naturally, by this time we were ready for a good night’s sleep in a proper bed. Fortunately, our guest room came equipped with a well-working fan, and as we laid our heads down on our pillows last night, we couldn’t have been more thankful.
Waking up this morning after a refreshing sleep was another breath of fresh air. Not only that, but since we hadn’t been able to see much on our way from the airport to the house in the dark last night, we looked forward to being able to get up and look around.
Fred and Trizah live in a lovely home on a large rented compound, a blessing which they attribute to the miraculous provision of God. For a couple who does not take a salary for their work, they really have no choice but to trust that God will provide… and He certainly has. This morning we heard story after story of how God has inexplicably met so many of their needs, including providing (free of cost) just about every piece of furniture in their home, as well as a vehicle for them to drive.
Around noon, Ryan and I joined Fred at the home where they feed lunch to the 60-70 children in their program every day. Many of these children were only getting one meal a day, and the Hagari Rwanda team recognized that this was massively affecting their ability to concentrate and learn in school. As a result, they started the feeding ministry in hopes that the children would then be able to respond better to their education. Met with an enthusiastic greeting from almost every single child in attendance, Ryan and I immediately felt at home among these beautiful kids and look forward to seeing them often over the next few weeks.
This afternoon, we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. It was shocking, and terrible, and moving. If you have seen the movie Hotel Rwanda, you will already be somewhat familiar with the horrific events that took place in this country just over 20 years ago. You may have wondered if any of the events depicted in the movie were heightened or exaggerated for the sake of Hollywood. All I can say after today’s experience is that the movie was tame compared to the reality of what actually took place.
And yet it is astounding to see the change and healing that has taken place in this nation in the past 20 years. Certainly, things are not perfect here. But when you consider how much has been restored over such a short period of time, it fills your heart with a glimmer of hope.
It’s been a profound first day here in Rwanda. I am exhausted and could feel the jet lag catching up with me shortly after supper, but I am also just so thankful. I am thankful for the opportunity to visit and experience this beautiful city. I am thankful for my amazing friends for taking us in and allowing us to be a part of their daily lives for the next three weeks. And I am thankful to God for the amazing gift of life that He has given me—a gift that after today, I know I must never take for granted.