Songs of praise to God fill the air as I walk to church in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sunday morning. God has really blessed Africans with beautiful voices.
Going to church is always one of my favorite experiences during my visits to Rwanda. The joy of being in God’s presence as the community of God’s people, regardless of nationality, is evident in the singing and dancing around me. This joy is contagious. I can’t help but notice that I swing along with the rhythm of the congregation.
The day before, someone invited a friend and me to visit an orphanage that same Sunday, but I declined. Even though I’ve worked in development for many years, seeing children suffer is still just too overwhelming for me. As I connect with my friend after his visit, I can tell it was a moving experience for him. Honestly, I’m glad I did not go.
Walking through the streets in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, I can’t escape the realities that the people of this beautiful country experienced through genocide and war over 15 years ago, maybe in the same streets where I’m walking. There have been many improvements, but the scars are still visible. Still, I think about those hopeful voices coming from the church. A vibrancy and hope for a better tomorrow is in the air. Today, Rwandans know that they have opportunities to build a future with their own hands, and there’s a pride that comes with that. That lifts my spirit.
During this visit to Kigali, I spend my time connecting with program leaders, participating in business meetings, and focusing on “the big picture” to help HOPE and HOPE’s partners equip Rwandans to escape physical and spiritual poverty. Once the meetings are over, I focus on getting home to my family, but my thoughts turn also to what I’ve seen. Sitting in the airport in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, on my layover back to Washington, D.C., I reflect on my time in Rwanda and the busyness of the daily routine that awaits me once I land. Witnessing the resilience of the Rwandan people in the face of so much adversity gives me perspective for the challenges in my life.