|Emily, swarmed by kids in Kiziba|
When asked by both of the Jens how I felt about the end of the trip, the word that came to mind was "bittersweet". Obviously bitter because of how much Rwanda means to me now and how much I will miss being there everyday. We joked about how the guesthouse was our home, but in these past two weeks I think that was really true. Though after being challenged, emotionally, spiritually and physically, it's time to come home to Glen Ellyn. As soon as I began to feel the end of the trip closing in, I was finding it hard to accept when we were leaving. I now understand that in these two weeks we have done so much and it's time to bring everything we learned back home to us. It would be amazing to stay in Rwanda forever, but if we don't bring anything back home, nothing will ever change.
I think I've finally understood the saying, "every end is just a new beginning". Though our time physically in Rwanda ended just hours ago, we still share strong ties with the people, the culture and the country that can't really be broken. When I get home, I definitely want to make a few changes in my life, both for my self and for the service of others. One of the major things I learned in Africa is to be "in the moment". At home, things get so overwhelming and stressful, it's difficult to see what God is doing right in front of us. This is a major cultural difference between American and Rwandan life. Instead of being so time oriented, the people of Rwanda are event oriented. This only helps see the beauty of God and life so much clearer and without any distractions. I've also realized how truly blessed I am to have the life I have. What ever problems I have with family, friends or school can't hold a candle to what many Rwandan experience everyday just for survival. In terms of service to others, I think that we, as a youth group, need to take on the role of advocates for Rwandans. I think an especially realistic idea would to be to sponser a child to go to school through International Teams. This could be done either through our families or the church. Interestingly enough, building a water pump for a community in Rwanda costs around $20,000. This is right around the amount of money we ended up raising to go on the trip. While very different, if we could do it once we could definitely strive for that same goal again, or even partner with other churches or organizations to reach that goal. The issue of water is definitely close to our hearts after the crazy water walk we did last week.
I think we as a youth were blessed with this experience at such a young age. Going into my senior year, I'm making a lot of big decisions for college and my career paths. This trip has really guided me and has given me a lot to consider in this respect in terms of what I really want to do. Rwanda has been completely eye opening for me. I was able to see a whole new part of the world and was able to learn about life and faith from those we met there. When people would tell me that this experience would change my life, I didn't really know what to expect. Now, without a doubt I see that my whole view of the world and life in America has been changed. I feel like I'm going to be looking at my life with a whole new set of eyes from here on out.
I wrote in my blog post the other day that part of our hearts would be in Rwanda. When writing it, it sounded incredibly cheesy but looking back at our trip on our way home, there is no other way I could have phrased it because it's so true.
See you later, Rwanda!