There are some places that have grabbed my heart and not let go. Rwanda was one of them. After 4 years away, it was such a blessing to return to visit last week. Many things had changed: new buildings built, roads paved, streetlights installed, children grown…and yet it is the same too. There were still goats running across the road in front of traffic, the avocados were still huge and ridiculously cheap, and the land of a thousand hills was breathtakingly beautiful!
But the best part of all was seeing old friends.
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Corinthians 1:4
How true this verse is of my dear friends/family in Rwanda. I truly thank the Lord for them! Getting to visit reminded me of what an incredible gift my two years there was. Besides catching up, it was lovely to spend time together in the Word and in prayer and just talking about what God has done. Such a sweet time!
Rwanda isn’t the only place I visited since my last blog post. As most things shut down in South Africa during the holidays, including Thembalethu, I was able to spend Christmas through the New Year in New Zealand visiting friends and attending a Bible conference and exploring a bit.
|With Heather and Peter at Purakaunui Falls|
|That's me, standing behind Kitekite Falls|
Being in New Zealand was such a blessing of fellowship and encouragement and I returned to South Africa refreshed and very thankful for the time. The author of Hebrews really knew what he was talking about when he said, “Encourage one another daily...” ~Hebrews 3:13
I was especially thankful for the refreshment, because things here have been busy, with trainings galore. These have included putting on computer training at a local primary school, teaching tomato trellising to Thembalethu’s gardener, and tomato sauce making to Thembalethu’s cooks, hosting another all day training for preschool teachers, doing lots of math tutoring, and preparing for and facilitating training sessions for new group of Peace Corps Volunteers. (There were lots of monkeys at the Peace Corps training site, which was fun!)
Recent days have also included school uniform distribution, strategic planning for Thembalethu’s OVC program, leading a one on one Bible Study with a neighbor, and making the most of peach season with my host family, picking, pealing, canning, drying, and eating peaches from the trees that are growing in abundance all around our houses.
So, life has been busy, and I know the coming days and months will be busy too. But when I left Rwanda I kept thinking of one word, courage. I’d forgotten how often I’d heard that word (said with French pronunciation) on my daily morning runs in Kibungo. As I ran one morning, I was quickly reminded as people called out “Courage!” as I went past. It is said as an encouragement, meaning keep going, don’t give up. As I think about my remaining time in South Africa, it’s a perfect word. It echoes in my head in combination with Hebrews 12: 1 & 2 - reminding me to keep on going, to run with endurance, and to keep my eyes on Christ. These verses are life words! I’m so thankful that in the Lord, we have the greatest reason of all for courage. He is with us!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9
So, as I think about the coming months, I want to be brave, to take risks, and to accomplish goals. But most of all, I want to cling tightly to the tree-the cross of Christ, for it’s only in Him that I can accomplish anything worthwhile.