Broken Heart Fully Healed

Broken Heart Fully Healed

Something I often contemplate is, what are the actual necessities of life? According to most researchers who actually discuss this topic thoroughly: food, water, energy, shelter, and security are the human must haves. But, how much water and food does each person need? What qualifies as adequate shelter? As an American, my perception of what is absolutely necessary is often distorted by our material culture. I thank God for Rwanda and its people, because they taught me to think a little differently.

During the summer of 2014, I visited Africa for the first time. We spent 10 days on an island outside of Uganda, located on Lake Victoria. Stepping off the bus, the floodgates open and the children flock. You are greeted by many little hands that want to latch onto yours. Adults shake your hand and welcome you with utmost hospitality. Many run around without shoes, kicking water bottles in place of actual soccer balls (or, footballs). During my trip, I encountered difficult situations and realized how ungrateful I was for what awaited me back in the States. Unfortunately, after my return home, I was not drastically changed. In fact, I barely felt moved for the things my eyes had just seen.

On December 27th, 2016, I stepped out of an airplane, onto the Kigali International Airport tarmac. After two solid days of traveling to our destination, you would think that any leftover energy would be completely depleted. But, there is something about getting off an airplane, and stepping onto African soil, that immediately fills you up. I spent much of that time wondering what the next ten days would be like. My prayer leading up to this particular trip was that The Lord would move me and break my heart. Little did I know he would answer my prayer ten-fold in the beautiful land of Rwanda. It’s wonderful how He works the intricate details together.

When we finally finished with our visas and passports and stepped outside the Kigali Airport and into the African sunshine, we were greeted by a couple of men from Best Family Rwanda. Two of my teammates met them the year before, and promptly ran up to one another to hug and celebrate their return. This is the nature of friendship in Africa – once a visitor, always family.

As I expected, we arrived to the first Best Family Rwanda location and squealed with joy when we saw the children ready to say hello and express their love and gratitude for our visit. After exiting the bus, I barely had a finger available to hold just one more little hand. If only we could hold them all. Our day was filled with shenanigans – coloring with the littles, playing catch with volleyballs, and watching them eat doughnuts with a glass of milk (the milk mustaches are the cutest). At one point they performed a miniature runway show for us; strutting their stuff and striking a pose at the end.

The next two days at the two other BFR locations were similar. Regardless of where you are, visits in Africa almost always include dancing, singing and clapping, learning a couple of African words, and making a fool of yourself by singing American songs out of tune to the children. Best Family Rwanda will forever remain with me, as the chants still echo in my mind. “Best Family! (We are here!)… Best Family! (Confident hope!)

Our team of eighteen finally reached our last night in Rwanda, we were about to travel to Uganda and begin the last portion of our trip. We goofed off at the hotel, practiced saying “Murakoze” (or thank you), and sang songs to acoustic guitar.

Although the previous description of my second time in Africa seems like a just simple peek into what it was like to be back, it is so much more. Something quickly noticed in Rwanda, among similar countries, is the joy that overflows out of the people and into your soul. Have I ever sat around with friends and did a devotional? Sure. Have I ever played ball with children and colored with them? Of course. Do I usually walk away from these simple activities as a changed person? No… but Rwanda.

Fast-forward to January 7th, we are spending the next 50 hours traveling back to our respective states. The question still lingers… what do we really need? Three full meals a day? Water to drink whenever we are thirsty? If at any point I believed that was it, then I was suddenly lost. Ten days were spent with beautiful, God-loving children, who may only eat one full meal on any given day. If water was available to quench the thirst of many tonight, it would be a rare occasion.

They are alive. They are filled with joy. They praise our Jesus like nothing is missing.

What are the absolute necessities? If you would ask me now, I might think back to Rwanda, and tell you that God is enough to fulfill all of our needs. Our mouths feel dry, but our souls are quenched. Our stomach’s hunger, but our joy lacks nothing. Maybe there is a void due to a lost family member, but God says we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. The lonely ones without community, suddenly know a place they will always be welcome. Our very different burdens and struggles revealed, none greater or worse than the other, are shared.

God took me and seventeen others to Rwanda, and not by accident. The Lord took my prayer, which seemed unanswered for so long, and broke my heart for what breaks His. Yet, at the same time, it was fully healed.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes; a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. / Isaiah 61:1-3