The journey to Rwanda began long before we left the house. Our trip this year began a few years ago when we sponsored a child through Africa New Life Ministries. Africa New Life was formed after the genocide in 2001 by Rwandans to minister to the children who had been left orphaned and homeless. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much of these programs, but my daughter had started sponsoring a child in part because her work had folks who had beeen involved in Africa New Life for awhile and we began sponsoring at her insistence. Then, she traveled to Rwanda and met her “son” and our “daughter.” She came back and started talking about all that went on – raving actually. And we began to think that it would be nice to make the trip. We had other plans and ministries that we had been involved in that prevented the trip. Then, she went again last year. And she raved about it again. We began seeking God’s will because this was something we wanted to do. We made plans to make it here and continue our other ministry. Then, the plans for the other group we work with didn’t happen and God opened the door for us to be here.
With that background, let’s get back to the mundane and discuss the trip over here. We left the house Friday morning at about 8:00 to pick up our daughter. I think part of the excitement for both of us was traveling as a family for this trip. We got to San Antonio and picked her up for our relatively uneventful trip to Houston. Houston, of course, was a mess, but we left early enough that we got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. My daughter raised a bit of a ruckus among her friends and mine by posting that her parents had been robbed….Then she added that it was because we paid airport prices for food.
I haven’t taken many international flights, but I thought it strange that I was at the same departure gate as at least two of them from previous years. One interesting thing was the presence of police and the dogs sniffing around. I didn’t think much at the time, but Corpus Christi airport had some kind of security alert that same day.
We flew Turkish Airlines which has a very good reputation. I had a difficult time on the flight because the person in front of me reclined his seat as far back as he could the moment the flight began and he only set it up once while we were eating the first meal. I really hate transatlantic flights… I don’t sleep well on planes. I was just about to fall sleep this time, though, when three adults began talking after they turned out the lights. Not quietly, but loudly. The two kids behind me that I worried about were great, the adults kept me awake. I only got a couple of hours of sleep before we arrived in Istanbul.
When we got to Istanbul the first thing we did was wave at our friend Robin. I know she didn’t see our feel it, but we did think about her and pray for her there. While we were there the cutest little black girl started talking to me. After a couple of confused attempts to communicate her mother turned to me and said, “She only speaks Italian.” That surprised me! We had fun trying to communicate. Later when I tried to talk with my wife and other teammates, she was upset that I wasn’t paying attention to her and she made a mad face at me. She made the same face at me when we lined up to board. That was a fun part of the trip.
The trip from Istanbul to Kigali, still on Turkish Airlines, was more pleasant for me. The seat was a little wider and the person in front of me didn’t recline all the way back either. I thought the food was actually better on this flight too. The last few hours I worked hard to avoid falling asleep so that I could sleep at or my soon to be home away from home.
The biggest surprise of the trip was the Kigali airport. Having traveled to international airports before, I didn’t expect it to be so sleek and modern. Suzette met us at the airport. Even though I had never met her before, she immediately made me feel like family. We traveled to the guest house and the beauty of the lights in the city was amazing. I called them ground stars. The picture you see was taken from the balcony in our room, but we saw that all the way from the airport.
One of the biggest differences in the room was the mosquito netting. I’ve never had to sleep under one before. The room itself was much nicer than expected. Here’s a pic of my wife sleeping under the net.
Thus passed the journey to Rwanda. The only thing I didn’t mention was the smell of burn in the air. They burn their trash here…and they burn farmland areas and the smell of smoke hangs on the air.