|The team recovers after another afternoon |
of mixing and pouting concrete
Going through orientations and starting new clubs as a freshman, most people are asked “Where do you see yourself in four years? How do you think your life will be different? What will stay the same?”. It’s really hard to predict changes in your life because most times they come from unexpected events.
Four years ago, I would’ve said that I wanted to make new friends, find out what I want to do after high school and for the rest of my life, and try new things. Don’t get me wrong, I did all of those…Just not how I would’ve planned them.
As I started to prepare for Rwanda in 2011, Jen constantly told our team that this trip would change our lives. Honestly, whenever she said that I would just think “Yeah, okay, Jen. But I’ll probably never explain this experience to my children, or even think about it when I’m graduating.”
Boy, was I wrong.
Rwanda in 2011 changed me in ways that I can hardly explain. To this day, I seek justice. I am aware of how much water I use, and I try my hardest to reduce the amount. I am more involved in the refugee communities, so much so that I’m planning on focusing on refugees as a social worker. I am more globally aware. I get frustrated when people don’t understand the parts of the world around them. I get frustrated when I don’t understand.
In short, Rwanda 2011 changed my life.
I am struggling with even putting into words what it did to me, but my life was flipped upside down. Everything I do today is a result of me going on that trip.
Now, I’m seeing everything in Rwanda a second time. And it’s different.
Because of my first experience, I’m noticing things I missed in 2011. Today, for example, as we visited the church memorials, I felt like I was going to vomit. Not because of the skulls or bones, but because of how I pictured the churches before the genocide in 1994. As I walked in to the first church, I could hear our team singing “Mighty to Save” in the back of my mind. I imagined groups of people worshiping and praising God on Sunday mornings. As we walked through, I saw the bombed out and shattered stained glass. All I could think of was our church and how beautiful this one must’ve been before.
Having Rwanda be my first mission trip ever definitely forced me to jump right in, head first, onto concrete. My life was in pieces. I had so many questions about faith and forgiveness and just the world in general. I still don’t have answers, but I am slowly being bandaged back up into who I am going to be. It was like God needed me to change, and fast. He needed me to have this burning passion in me so I could be who I am TODAY, and not later. He has great things planned for me and all because of who I am.
Going through four years of high school definitely changes everyone. I wonder if I would’ve changed in the same ways if I hadn’t been to Rwanda in 2011? How would I be different? I have no idea, but I thank God everyday for who I am. Today, as I am in Rwanda in 2014, I feel myself changing again. I see the whole team changing. It may be in different ways, but all of us are being challenged everyday. I’m not sure what this means, but I hope that in another four years, we’ll be able to say we’re overjoyed with where God has taken us because of this trip.