Driving back to the forgiveness school today there was a lot of excitement in the car. We call it the Forgiveness School because of the way in which reconciliation has been promoted and achieved in the area. We helped to build this new school along with some other things on the property. Several of the girls on this trip really wanted to play with the kids here. This was definitely going to be there chance. The drive was as interesting as I remember but soon we arrived and were greeted by one of the finest welcomes I’ve ever experienced. Children sang and danced while we were able to watch and even participate a little bit. After, the children ran back into their classrooms and waited for us to come and teach. Yes we were teaching the kids and we decided on a subject that we know a lot about (at least comparatively) geography of the US. For the younger kids in first and second grade we would teach them english songs and play some random games.
Education is incredibly important in Rwanda. Each time we talk to a farmer about what they will do with their income they speak about making sure they can pay for their school fees. Land of a Thousand Hills through our Do Good Initiative helped to build the school and an orphan dorm housing 7 kids. We also take care of those orphans with their school fees and other expenses. This is something I can definitely say the people in the US take for granted. Primary and Secondary school are free and a lot of the time people are trying to get out of going to school or at least not doing any homework. Yet the kids here understand that education is essential to a bright future they are working towards. Rwandan’s are incredibly hard working, they work until it’s done. I’ve seen Manu manage to juggle trying to guide us around while working to get our latest shipment of parchment milled and ready to be exported. Even as we finished with our lessons in the afternoon the children continued to work on their studies as well as go and fetch water.
When we did finish in the classroom we took to the outside to have a little fun. We busted out soccer balls and since we have a college volleyball player we got one of those too. A few days ago Manu explained to us one of the reason it’s important we visit the school is because it will help the students to understand that “Mzungu’s (white people)” are not so different. He explained how they would shake our hands and touch us and be able to see that differences in skin color don’t matter in the heart. When he explained this I had no idea I would be experiencing what I did. Once we were released to play there was a group of students who took an interest in my tattoo I have on my right arm. One person began rubbing it so I lifted up my sleeve and the onslaught began. They grabbed and rubbed both arms smiling as they did it. I wasn’t the only one experiencing such things. Soon we learned that they will basically imitate anything that we do. This includes jumping up and down, giving baseball signs, and if you hold up your fingers they will add the number and tell you in english how many you are showing.
One of my favorite moments of the day was teaching them what a high five was. I consider high fives to be a love language of mine. I feel like the excitement of a good high five can get me excited for the rest of the day. I didn’t think it would be possible to give too many high fives, today I might have reached my limit. They never wanted it to stop. It’s the joy that they had that matched mine. The pure joy of learning wasn’t lost on them. The fact that this was important to receive visitors wasn’t lost on them. It seems to feel like each Rwandan feels an obligation of making sure that visitors have a good time while they are here. Walking the streets people tell us welcome and that they are happy we’re here just for the mere fact that we’re not Rwandans but want to experience their culture.
Before I left I went to the alter in the empty church. They take out all of the furniture during the week since there are no doors or locks, yet the small stone steps where the alter is placed on during a service made for a holy moment of silence. Praying for this church, people back home, and for the people I have met so far. This has obviously been a special place for me. Making new friends and cherishing the people is the purpose of our being there. We have found that coffee can produce more than just a delicious cherry. Coffee has made us available to the people of Rwanda to see how we can love them. Being able to share these holy moments with the group has been incredibly meaningful for me. There are people and places parts of me want to hold to myself, to have it all and not let others steal it away. Yet it is also the most significant moments like these that must be shared in order to expand the joy associated with them. For me it is in the country of Rwanda, going back home in a few days and having the courage to take these stories and not hold them in. To take the opportunity to share with my customers the story of these great people. To serve these people by serving others with great joy.