The Land of a Thousand Hills, Over the Sea From Me

There are 16 days until I head to the land of a thousand hills for the first time.When I was asked to consider going to Rwanda with my church last April, my first thought was that it was only that: an exciting thought that was for someone else and not me, due to our season in life.  I said I would pray and think about it…but I really thought I knew that my answer would be a no.  That evening, I told the husband about it over the phone in our usual he’s-heading-home-from-work-while-i’m-cooking-dinner-and-at my-wits-end-because-it’s-5:30pm-and-the-boys-are-running-in circles-around-the-house-or-fighting-phone-conversation, fully expecting him to say it was too crazy for us right now. After all, he is the one grounded in reality and I am the one with my head in the clouds.  Instead, he simply said, “You should go.”  Jaw-drop.  I am pretty sure I relayed the details again, just in case he couldn’t hear me due to his electric-guitar-damaged-ears and the Pteranadon-level-screaming my boys are capable of during play and sibling fighting:  Africa.  Me going.  In a few months. We have no one to watch the kids.  He said the same thing again, and added, “We can figure out the details. It sounds too good to miss.”

Too good to miss.  The hubby is realistic, yes, but his reality is not only grounded in the hard and tangible facts, it is also grounded in not missing the ultimate fact that God does amazing things in and beyond our current reality, and these things are things you don’t want to miss.  I am so thankful for his faith.

So, we said yes.

In 2003, I was spending the week on the Spanish coast with the ministry team I was doing campus ministry with in Germany that year.  We were in Spain for a week mid-year conference for encouragement and training with teams that were serving all over Europe.  On an afternoon off, my  teammates and I went to the Rock of Gibraltar and at one point before heading back up the coast to our conference site, we stood and looked at the sea. In the distance, we could see Africa.  I can’t describe the feeling I had then, but I remember wondering and sensing that there was yet much of God to see and know in that continent that had always seemed so far away before.   I wondered if I would ever get to go there.

And now, more than 12 years later, with 16 days to go, I will be standing on that continent for the first time.  And while I don’t have a clue what it will be like there, my heart is expectant to see God in the people there.  I don’t love travel only because it is exciting.  Like Mark Twain, I agree that to a degree, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”  I have needed it sorely on those accounts in my own life.  But it’s more than mere travel.  It’s seeing the One who made the lands and people so different from our own, and understanding that we are connected and meant to be connected because of Him.  It’s traveling and seeing more of the places and people God’s heart beats for, and allowing our own hearts to grow and beat with his for the same, not just in theory but up-close and personally.  I believe that travel can deepen the fear of God in our lives and directly combats against our natural fears of all that seems so “other” to us.

While in Rwanda, our team will be working with ALARM and specifically with women leaders.  We will helping to put on a conference for around 40 women from all over the country.  These are women who have influence where they live and the conference will serve to encourage and equip them in their leadership.  Would you pray alongside of us for these strong, precious women who will be traveling to learn about the bible and about leadership from all over Rwanda?  And would you pray for our team as we prepare to travel and for our upcoming travel and all of the last minute details?

I am almost finished reading Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven, co-authored by L. Gregory Jones and by Celestin Musekura, the founder of ALARM.  If you haven’t read this book, you should.  Not only does it shed light on the history of Rwanda, it is powerful in it’s message of forgiveness and I have been so moved by Celestin Musekura’s story, vision and ministry.  I think we, as the global church, can learn so much from the message of forgiveness through our Rwandan brothers and sisters who have modeled this and continue to do so, in such amazing ways.

There’s more to come.  I hope you will join me here, and travel with us in the days ahead…


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