Day Two in Rwanda was an incredible day. We left early and traveled three hours to villages Kageyo A and B. Many of the people on the Aspen Heights team had sponsored children to visit and I’m so glad I was able to witness the relationships that have formed through Africa New Life sponsorships. We turned into the village and drove down a very long dirt road. All along the way we passed so many homes. Children would run out to chase our van shouting “muzungu! muzungu!” They were jumping and smiling and laughing and I knew it was going to be a day to remember forever.
When we finally arrived at the school, a giant group of kids were waiting to hug us and touch us and see why we were there. We got off the bus and I immediately hugged every child in sight. Some were shy and some couldn’t contain how happy they were to see us. I got to see our team leader Blakely Bosket embrace her sponsored child who she had not seen in three years. The look on her face was pure happiness, a smile covered her entire face for the whole day as she and her child held hands, played games and learned more about one another.
After greeting everyone at the school, we were off, as we had more sponsored kids to see! We continued on the bumpy road to meet Clare Connally’s child. When we arrived at the village we had to get out of the van and walk a few blocks to her child, Emily’s, house. As we got out of the van we were immediately swarmed by kiddos eager to meet us. My hands were grabbed quickly as they started pinching my skin to make sure it was real. As we walked to our destination a huge group of kids and even adults followed us. Some pointed and laughed as I’m sure our clothes, skin, hair, and demeanor were new to them.
When we arrived at Emily’s house his entire family was there to greet us. His mom had six children and every single one was as sweet as can be. Emily hugged Clare immediately and had a smile on his face so big it brought tears to my eyes. He was shy in front of our big group but Clare started showing him the gifts she brought and talking to him about his school work and how well he was doing. We all entered his home and every child that had followed us there proceeded to stand in the doorway as we visited with Emily’s family.
We visited with Emily’s mom and learned that about her life as a single mom. She had such strength and joy. We prayed over her family and took pictures. It was an amazing reunion, and I was so touched to have been a part of it. Emily came with us to our next destination, which was another school that had an enrollment of over 1500 children. When we arrived, I was sure I had never seen so many kids in one place besides Disney World. They were all dressed in uniforms and had huge smiles on their faces. They greeted us with loud shouts and excited jumps. We met the director of the school who explained to us more than half of the students that attended were sponsored children. To hear that was uplifting.
After visiting the school, we made our way to meet Amy Burtnet’s child who she had never met before. She was so excited to finally embrace her young girl who was dressed in a beautiful dress waiting to greet the woman who had changed her life for the better. We stood in the home as we watched Amy get to know her. They asked each other questions and Amy gave her gifts that made her eyes dance. We learned about her life and prayed for her family.
After leaving her house we returned to Kageyo where had started our day and met with all the children who attended that school. We ate lunch and played games all afternoon. Your heart immediately grows when you see these children and how excited they are to have you play with them and talk to them. They are full of nothing but happiness. If you sit still too long you start to feel sad because you feel sorry for them and the life they lead with so little, but that sadness is immediately removed when one runs up to you and grabs your hand asking you to love on them. You feel joy and you know that from then on, these children will have a place in your heart for the rest of your life.
I was most excited to meet my property’s sponsored child, Godancing. I knew she was there but I could not pick her out of the crowd. We lined up all of the children sponsored by AH communities to take a photo. Each child was holding a sign that listed their name and their sponsor property. I scanned the long line of children until I saw her. She was wearing a beautiful yellow dress and the sweetest smile ever. I couldn’t help it and had to run up to her and give her a hug. From then on, she became my sidekick. She followed me everywhere, never letting go of my hand and I fell in love with her. I had a translator explain to her who I was and why I was so excited to meet her. I told her we received her letter and that we were so excited to be sponsoring her. Throughout the afternoon we played games and I showed her all the funny filters on Snapchat. She loved taking pictures with me. It was very hard to say goodbye.
Day Two was by far my favorite day and I canít wait to see what else is in store for our team. Stay tuned for more!