Rwanda | Days 14 & 15

Before I start, I need to say that this is probably my longest post ever. It’s extremely picture heavy but there was really just no good way to break it down into two posts. BUT it’s a really good one. Our last days in Rwanda are always great ones.

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You guys, this is the hardest part of our trip to recap. The last day with the kids and the last day in Rwanda are always so bittersweet. It’s such a special time with the kids and teachers in Nyabihu and saying goodbye to them is always just a big bag of tears and raw emotions, but somehow we always look back on the last days as some of our most favorite. There is something about the way you savor your time when you know it’s limited, trying to cling to every memory and experience like trying to hold the flavor of the last bite of dessert.

Friday | September 25th

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Our very last breakfast together! With all my pregnancy fruit cravings, I would literally travel back to Rwanda just for some passion fruit and tree tomatoes.

And to see all my Rwandan family, of course.

But tree tomatoes first.

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This is probably one of my favorite videos I got because it’s just who Cory is. It’s kind of shaky because I was giggling the whole time–watching this little girl try to play it cool and not look is just priceless!

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Y’all, I just can’t…her praying with the sucker in her mouth. Kills me. In case you don’t know, this is Harriette, the little girl that Cory and I sponsor. We fell in love with her last year and signed up to be her sponsors the minute we got home. She’s full of so much personality and attitude…on second thought, probably too much attitude. She’s the mean kid! #thatsmygirl

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All these little hands are the children who said they wanted to live for Christ! Such an incredible sight, after the week we had. We spent the evenings feeling discouraged that they either weren’t understanding what we were trying to teach or were bored by our lessons, but to get such a confirmation like this that they were listening and that they did care about what we had to say was a blessing that I can’t describe. God is good, and this is proof.

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On our last day of Bible school, we gave out Gospel bracelets for the children to look at and remember what they had learned about Christ. These bracelets were all made by the youth group at our church before we left–we told the pastor we needed 200 bracelets and he gathered the youth with a bag of beads on a Wednesday night and through the power of slave labor God they got them all done and prayed over them before sending them with us.

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These trips are much easier knowing that our church family {from multiple churches} support Barnabas X and our mission.

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I swear I had a blue sucker too but my tongue didn’t turn!

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Before the children left for the day, we had the privilege of serving them bread. And not just any bread…GIANT AFRICAN LOAVES. We asked Gaudence and Onesme to run up to the village center and buy a couple buckets of the little fried buns that the guys had fed the kids a couple weeks earlier…they came back with huge sacks of these giant loaves that were as big as the kids’ heads! And most of them still ate the whole thing. Cory said he was just waiting for the parent complaints about sick kids with tummy aches!

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Kenny asked if anyone would share their bread, and all these sweet children were offering their bread to him. Talk about humbling generosity!

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We also passed out toothbrushes that had been donated by Global Grins.

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We had enough toothbrushes left over to share with some of the kids from the neighborhood and from the Red Cross refugee camp next to the school and they came running to get them!

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And once we were done for the day, it was PHOTO OVERLOAD TIME.

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Our sweet girl!

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And the master of the stinkeye.

What did I say about attitude? Proof.

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Saying goodbyes to the children is the hardest part. This was Jessica’s first trip, and her first experience at making a connection with a child. You always end up having a child {or ten} that you really make friends with and they’re the hardest ones to let go. From all the way in America, no matter how bad you may want to, you can’t watch over them, you can’t protect them from all the dangers and misfortunes they have to struggle with every day. It’s so hard to go home and sit on your comfy couch with all of your conveniences and remember your special child, remember their home, remember their shabby little shoes and dusty feet, remember their little hand grasping for yours as you walked around their neighborhood. It’s impossible not to feel a little heartbreak when you leave them, especially for the first time. Once you have friends, family, and children you love in a place like Rwanda, that distance seems further every time you think of their face.

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Standing there watching them leave for the last time…all crying our eyes out.

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A little sugar cane to make us feel better and sunglasses to cover our teary eyes!

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Rwanda Team Omega!

If you recall, we were the second team of this trip. Cory had already been there a month at this point, having first arrived with Team Alpha {Cory came up with these names…not me}, the all-guys’ team.

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We pretty much consider Kenny part of our group family since he was with us the whole time, and had gotten so close to some of us, especially Cory. Such a sweet, sweet time.

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It wouldn’t be a Last Day photo without getting the teachers {plus Gaudence} in the shot!

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Kenny and his girls!

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Going a mission trip with these ladies was such a blessing. You can’t help but to get close to your team under the circumstances of international missions–the emotional rollercoasters, the culture shock, the close quarters and sleeping arrangements, the strange illnesses that are inevitable when traveling internationally, the spiritual growth–it all adds together into a mishmash of sisterhood that doesn’t come any other way.

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My boy. How did I get so lucky to travel the world and share God’s majesty and grace with this fella?

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See what I’m talking about?

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Makes my heart want to explode.

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Cory met Divine his first year and she holds a special place in his heart.

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I have tried to come up with the adequate words for this picture but the right ones just don’t come to mind. After saying goodbye to the children, Cory told me he need a minute and this is where I found him. He absolutely broke down in sobbing tears, having said his goodbyes to the kids and facing leaving after a month. He told me later that he had tried to avoid the boys in his Posse {as he calls them} so that he wouldn’t have to tell them goodbye, but one of the boys named Jean Pierre that doesn’t even speak English ran to him across the field and told Cory that he loved him {in English} and it was just too much.

It brings tears to my eyes just trying to explain how close you get to the people of Rwanda in such a short time. I know I’ve said it before but Cory would leave everything and move there tomorrow, no questions asked. He waits because he knows that in God’s time and will, we will end up there in some capacity at the appointed time. There are so many different parts and emotions to international missions and it’s tiring and hard but at the end of the trip, you’d do it all over again just to have another week {or month, in Cory’s case}.

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What makes is it easier though? Your friends. Your friends that will wrap their arms around you, lay their hands on you and pray for you, cry with you.

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There was probably an intense 30 minutes of us all crying, hugging and praying together. It’s emotional but was much needed to just get it all out.

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After we cried all our tears, we headed back to the hotel, loaded up our stuff and started the long 3-hour drive back to Kigali. While Cory pumped gas, I made friends with these friendly guys who wanted to practice their English.

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And we were able to see monkeys! We saw them last year but weren’t able to get pictures. Cory calls them Rwanda Possums because they’re always all in the road.

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Of course, we had to stop for roasted potatoes and our goat brochettes, the meal we go to Rwanda to get!

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When we got back to Kigali, there was a huge traffic jam. I’ve never seen traffic just stopped every single direction. Friday afternoon traffic is no joke there!

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That night, Ben and Jo were hosting prayers {like a small group} with her family but we had a few errands we needed to run first, like exchanging our money back and last minute shopping like coffee. Gaudence told us she would take us to get coffee at Rwanda Trading Company but what we didn’t know was that they were closed. Somehow, {we don’t ask questions} she used her “ways” and the security guard let us in. We were seriously the only people in there and the security guard sold us coffee out of a basement.

Shady? Oh yeah. But there’s not much I wouldn’t do for Rwandan coffee.

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One last view from the road going to Ben and Jo’s house.

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Celebrating birthdays with Jo’s family!

Saturday | September 26th

Our very last day in Rwanda. A big ol’ sigh. I’m really missing this place about now.

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Cory and Ben spent the morning running a few last minute errands and the girls {plus Kenny} stayed home and packed. We said goodbye to Hope, David and Micaiah, loaded up both vehicles and headed to the airport.

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Next to saying goodbye to the children in Nyabihu, the airport is the second-hardest part. Saying goodbye to Ben, Jo, Jed, and Kenny is really rough, for them as well as us. Plus, there are all these other travelers at the airport looking at you like you’re crazy for being so upset to leave. But we aren’t leaving a vacation or a business trip, we are leaving part of our family there.

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Not only are you leaving a piece of your heart there, you know you have the dadgum longest flights ahead of you and no way to get out of it.

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This is about the time the tears really start flowing for me and I spend the next hour crying to myself. The thought of leaving is that bad, y’all.

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One good thing about Qatar Airlines is the food they serve is pretty decent and they’re constantly bringing you something, like every two hours or so!

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We had an hour layover in Uganda before starting the six hour flight to Qatar. Luckily, we didn’t have to get off the plane.

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Qatar is beautiful at night. Funny story about Qatar. When we went through Qatar the first time, it was mystifyingly hot. Like I don’t understand, can’t even kind of hot. Like when you open the oven after you’ve been baking something and the heat sort of burns your face and the hot humid air takes your breath away? That was every breath, every second.

But, I thought it was that hot because it was midday when we landed on the way to Rwanda. When we stepped off the plane after dark, it was just as hot as it was at midday! I’m from the south, I know heat. Or at least I thought I did.

Qatar is hot.

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We texted Kenny this photo to tell him how much we missed him. We really did try to convince him to come with us. If only it was that easy.

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And we started our long journey home. Poor Cory couldn’t sleep at all.

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The girls? Didn’t really have that problem, but I probably only got 4-5 hours of sleep.

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Can you read that? It says 13 hours since departure. Told you it was a long flight.

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Customs in Philadelphia…which you aren’t supposed to take pictures in. I learned the hard way.

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And our first meal back in the states? None other than Chipotle at 8:30 in the morning.

Hey, it was 2:30 to us…

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See the sisterhood that formed?

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I think Jessica missed Dave…?

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And it was time for the last Barnabas X Rwanda Team Omega picture back at good ‘ole GSP.

Even though we were physically home, we left our hearts back in Rwanda and it takes a few weeks (months? years?) to acclimate to life at home again. It may sound silly to feel that way when the trip was only two weeks, but it’s such an intense, focused two weeks in which so many things happen and so many things change in your heart and mind that it changes everything when you get home. These posts aren’t just for you guys to read–they’re my way of coping, of getting it all out and preserving the memories, of honoring the children and family we have over there, and of letting people know who I am as a result of these trips.

If you made it all the way through, thanks! I know it was a long one, as these Rwanda posts tend to be, and I appreciate you guys that are so supportive of what we do in Rwanda. It means so much!

Wanna catch up on Rwanda 2015?

Getting There, Days 1 & 2
Days 3 & 4
Days 5 & 6
Days 7 & 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
A Glimpse Into Our Trip

You can see our Rwanda 2014 trip recaps here and Rwanda 2013 trip recap here.

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  • Oh my gosh – I needed warning about that picture of Cory. I honestly started crying – I have a hard time seeing a man cry anyways, but I could FEEL the heartache in that picture for him. Oh gosh… that’s powerful.

    But first, I was so laughing at the video. That poor sweet baby… wondering who was tapping.She probably thought it was Jesus :) I love your giggle busted out at the end :)

    & your tongue probably didnt turn blue because your body was getting you ready for GIRL BABY POWER!!!! :)

  • The picture of Harriette with the sucker while she’s praying… oh so precious!

    And the shot of Cory crying… oh my goodness. I’m all teary eyed now! What an emotion-filled moment. I love how passionate you guys are about Rwanda. What a blessing you guys are to those kids!

  • Julie Joy

    It may be the pregnancy Hormones but i got choked up reading this post. Those sweet babes faces just is enough to
    Make your heart melt. The bread! Holy hannah it was bigger than their heads! Lol. Sweet henrIette is just so funny! Her attitude is priceless. Ive said it before And ill say it again, The work your group does for these kiddos is amazing. Bless your hearts!