Sunday, June 19, 2011

Land of a Thousand Surprises

Darby and Ryan play volleyball with some street kids

by Darby Janss

So sorry there was no blog post about our EXTREMELY busy day yesterday.  We got home around 10:30 PM and were all completely exhausted.  Because of that, we decided to wait one more day until someone was actually awake to write on the blog.

It was 7 AM and we all woke up to a surprise.  Doug woke us up this morning!  I know it doesn't seem that exciting, but when Jen is the one who comes to wake us up every morning, it's pleasant surprises like this that make the day start on a good note.  We all went to breakfast to eat what we usually do: eggs, bread, and coffee/tea.  After breakfast, Jen and Serge came over to talk to us about the street "kids" (Ages 14-22) we were going to be with that day.  They told us that the majority of them were homeless because of poverty or they were orphans.

Our team piled into the van, heading towards the church.  When we arrived, there were boys playing volleyball and soccer.  We asked why their weren't any girls there.  Jen said that it was easier for girls to find a job inside a house than boys.  When we got out of the car, all of the kids stared at us, shocked to see 12 Mzungu get out near the church.  Seeing a Mzungu, white person, is rare here in Rwanda.  All of us immediately jumped into the volleyball game.  It was great to see God give us the courage to engage with them.  It was the youth from Faith vs. the street kids.  Ryan and I thought that we would interact more if we joined the other team, so we did just that.  The game was very official for a volleyball game played on dirt.  Someone traced end lines and two ten foot lines, and another person stood on a trash can to be a referee and keep score.  Eventually the teams ended up being Jill, Bryce, Lindsey and three other Rwandans.  My team consisted of five street kids and me, the only girl and only Mzungu.  At first I was worried that I would make a complete fool of myself, but when I made a mistake, my team said it was okay and that we could still win.  Even though they spoke little English and I could kind of speak French, we were still a team.  There were some other boys that wanted to play, so we ended up playing a 'tournament.'  Whoever got to ten first would win and played the next team that came on the court.

After a few games of volleyball, Serge called us all into the church, including the street kids.  Everyone went around saying their name and Jen introduced our group.  Some of the kids had questions about American culture that we were willing to answer.  Some of the questions were about tattoos, music, and Osama Bin Laden.  There were plenty of questions asked, and once we were done, we ate lunch.

The food consisted of beans, rice, potatoes, and bananas.  We didn't have silverware, so we had to eat with our fingers.  This was a gift to the boys because it's very difficult for them to find food.  Once all of our stomachs were full, we had a surprise for the street kids.  You know the underwear and socks Faith collected?  Well we handed some out for everyone there.  They were so grateful to have brand new clean clothes.  I could totally see God in the way they smiled when they received these gifts.

Doug and a group of kids laugh at the camera

Street kids general see one new pair of underwear a year
Loading back into the van, we headed towards an artisan market for shopping.  For most of us, this was our first experience with bartering for goods.  Some of us were really good at it, and some of us not so much.  But at the end of the whole shopping adventure, we ended up with everything little thing we needed, which was great.

For dinner, Jen K. was planning on taking us out to a restaurant called Cactus.  She informed us that it was fancier than where we've been so our team dressed up.  After a long car ride, another surprise showed up.  It turns out that Cactus was booked for a private party.  But there was barely any problem because we came to an agreement that eating Chinese food in Rwanda was the best idea.  The restaurant was delicious and there was an obvious leap between lunch and dinner.  Who would've thought we would eat rice with our hands at noon and chicken with chopsticks at six?

Every little surprise on this trip has made the experience 1000x better.

Your Mzungu friend,


  1. What an excellent day! I can feel the love and joy throughout your stories. These will be the days you look back upon and remember what can be done when you and God are working together.

    Love to all of you,

    P.S. -- Darbs - how many of the people are laughing at the Mzungu with the white bug sunglasses?

  2. Glad you are back online!
    Sharing God's love and seeing it come back at you is a really neat thing.

    Love and prayers to you all.
    Deb T.

  3. Darby, what a wonderful detailed description of your guys have filled our eyes with tears of wonderment with all of your extra-ordinary experiences. Keep up the good work and know that we are praying for you and your new found friends. We will miss you tomorrow in church. See you next week. Kent and Carla Aufdengarten

  4. Was it a bit interesting, strange, different interacting with people your own age? And good for you that you stuck with your team, in spite of it being potentially awkward! Hope you found some fabulous trinkets at the market! You are doing great work!

  5. Wow! What a day! Each day seems to be a learning experience for you and for us through you! God is doing amazing work through you. Not sure you are receiving my e-mails each day, because I don't see them "posted" with the others, but I keep sending them along with our thanks and prayers each day!! Ginny Meyers

  6. Very exciting!!! All of u come home safe and sound! We miss u Bryce! hugs...Mrs. L

  7. @Ginny,
    Your posts are coming through just fine!

  8. God is truely at work. Your words just leap off the page and into my heart. Sometimes reading the blogs I even need my tissue box - well, more often than not. Good for you Darby - jumping right in there - girl mzungu and all. Remember - even Jesus laughed. My love to you all - Mom/Grandma in VA

  9. Darby, the description of your day made me laugh! sounds like a great day!

    I love the pictures, too. I know I'm happy when I get new underwear, and I get more than one pair a year!