God specifically put Rwanda on our hearts in January of 2018.
If I’m being honest, back then, we though we would be there by early 2019.
But again, God has different plans, better plans. His plans are always better than ours even when waiting isn’t fun.
God has been using this time, this waiting, for so much good.
Everyday, our hearts are aligning more closely with His.
We are growing and trusting Him in ways we haven’t had to before. We are letting go of our plans, of our desires, and trusting in His timing, His promise, and His will for our lives.
We know that He is faithful and His promises are as true as His presence. We are continually shown that time and time again.
So in the mean time, we will be here.
Growing into the people He is calling us to be.
We are becoming more vulnerable, in the best of ways.
We are learning to see the abundance of beauty where He has us now.
We are striving to seek Him relentlessly with every corner of our hearts.
He is so gracious and kind to us.
He is good, so so good + we are so undeserving.
It’s Kathryn here!!
I’m bringing y’all the most words.
This story is so near and dear to my heart, I pray that I can give God glory in my jumble and inability to put words to His goodness.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to go on my first trip to Rwanda.
We visited Nkombo Island, to open a church, so a sponsorship program could be started on the island. There were children running around everywhere, with distended bellies, and white bacteria growing on their heads, leaving them unable to grow hair. They flocked us in a way that seemed like they had never seen Americans. Everywhere we went, groups of children surrounded us, always hoping to get close enough to hold our hands. They would pet my arm hair with such curiosity, almost as if I were an alien, and to them, I am sure I was.
There was one little girl, Florence, who stuck to me in a way the others didn’t. Everyday, she would be the first to greet me as I got off the boat and the last to let go of my hand before leaving.
At the conclusion of my time on the island, I had the opportunity to go to her house and meet her mother. I told them I would continually pray for them and be back to see them again. We said our farewells but Florence did not want to let go of me. I handed her to her mother and I started walking towards the boat. All of the sudden, I heard screaming and crying behind me, and I turned around to see that it was Florence, longing to follow me home. The man who was translating for me said, “How beautiful it is to be a mother without ever giving birth”.
Upon my arrival back to the states, I knew I wanted to sponsor Florence, but was told only one child, from the 200 poorest families in the area, would be chosen. I received a call that the children’s packets had arrived and could sift through them to see if she was one of the lucky ones. I picked up a stack and began my hunt. Within the first ten packets, I saw her face. I knew it was her. People were shocked that I could pick her out so quickly and that she had even been chosen to be a part of the program.
God had planned it. Normally, someone would show up to church to pick a random cute kid to sponsor, but that wasn’t His plan. Florence got to pick me, all on her own, on her island.
Fast forward to summer of 2018.
My husband and I jumped on to a trip to Rwanda with a local church, to visit our soon to be home, without knowing we would be visiting Cyangugu and the island again. When we got the itinerary, I was thrilled, knowing that I had the opportunity to potentially see Florence again.
I did not contact the sponsor program to set up a meeting with her because I just knew I would see her.
We arrived on the island but kids were not there to greet us. The children were in school. Their distended bellies now looked normal and they no longer had have the bacteria growing on their heads anymore. They looked healthy. The sponsorship program was helping.
We went to the school to see the feeding program and I knew I would be able to search for her. Classroom after classroom, every kid in the same uniform, every kid with the same haircut, I became concerned that I would not recognize her. We were running low on time so the team split up and went into different classrooms, all while the fear of not finding her was building up in my heart.
I walked into the next class room and there she was. I pointed her out to Jake and he asked if I was sure. I was. I told our translator that she was my sponsor child so she went to ask for her name, and indeed, it was her.
She looked terrified. It had been 4 years. She definitely did not remember me the way I had remembered her.
We went to her house and her mother greeted me with the biggest smile and hug I had ever received. Our friend, Odel, was there to translate for us. I had not yet told him the story of my last visit.
Her mom began telling Odel the story of meeting me, four years prior.
I did not know what she was saying until she wrapped her arms around herself and that’s when I knew, she remembered too. She went into another room and brought their only photo album, of all of their family photos. She turned a few pages, and there was the picture of me and Florence from the first time we met.
Her father came into the house, barefoot and covered in dirt, he had been working, as a latrine digger. He digs holes a meter wide, dozens of feet deep, where light cannot reach the bottom and oxygen is low, and creates stairs up the side that are just small enough for his toes to hang on to while stepping up onto the next step.
He began to tell the same story, the story his wife had told him four years ago, from when she had met me. He wrapped his arms around himself in the same way, and I knew that he remembered also.
Odel said it was a true miracle. It was a miracle that Florence had bonded with me so much the first trip, that I had the opportunity to meet her mother, that she was chosen for the program, that her mother remembered me, and that I could find her in a crowd after not seeing her for several years.
It indeed was a miracle.
Orchestrated since before time began.
All for His glory, and our good.
We spent time with Florence for the rest of the day, and I think maybe, just maybe, she started to remember me too.
But here’s the the sweetest thing.
In the near future, I will be learning her language, living in her culture, learning how to love her better, and I will only live a short boat ride away from her.
Y’all, that makes my heart soar.
I know that was a mouthful, but I also know that I needed to share, share of His kindness, His depth in knowledge of my heart, of her heart, and His immense care for each and every detail in our lives.
God is too good friends!! He continues to align our hearts more closely to His, so we’ve got some sweet news.
In the beginning of our journey, after talking to friends in Rwanda, we had ministry opportunities waiting for us in the capital city, Kigali, but God has some different plans for us.
When we got our itinerary for our trip in June, we saw that our first few days would be spent in Cyangugu. Jacob was not looking forward to this. In his mind, we were flying across the world to spend time in the place we would one day call home, not some small town on the other side of the country.
But y’all, God changes hearts, truly, in the blink of an eye.
Within a few hours of landing in Cyangugu, I saw a side of my husband I had never seen before. I saw him flourish in a new way. Everything he is, everything God made him to be, was truly thriving. In that moment, I knew. I knew that this is what he was he was made to do, to love these people. I knew Cyangugu would be our new home. God was aligning our hearts with His plan for our lives. He was breaking down walls, putting us in a place of life to the full, in a love without boarders, living according to His plan.
That my friends, that is where joy abounds,
& there’s nothing like it.
This evening, Jacob and I ate dinner on our back porch, overlooking the only town we’ve ever known as home. And in less than a week, we will be over looking our future home. It’s hard to express the excitement, the joy, and the odd sense of security in the current unknown, that will one day become our lives.
As we sat there, overlooking our town, our home, I couldn’t help but think about the day that we will be able to look out over Rwanda, and see it as our home.
In the mean time, we’ll be here.
Praying about how the Lord is going to rock our worlds, and our hearts, on this visit.
It was truly a day from heaven. After a week of rain, the sun finally made an appearance. It turned out to be pretty hot but it was altogether perfect.
(Shout out to all our peeps who made the trip to be there, we are forever grateful.)
As you know, we are planning on moving to Rwanda, so instead of asking for toasters and plates and lamps, we asked for people to help send us to visit our future home.
& let’s be honest here.
Flying half way across the world is EXPENSIVE.
And as newly weds, we don’t really have the ability to drop a few thousand dollars, on a twelve day trip.
So here we sit, on a furnished couch, in our little, short term leased apartment, with just over a week of marriage under our belt, holding a stack of cards we received as gifts, praying that the Lord would somehow provide $3798, for us to be able to visit this place He’s called us to.
Reading card after card, with an accumulating pile of checks, cash, and cards, we looked up at each other and continued to pray that it would be enough.
At the end of our counting, we looked up at each other, added each of our sums, and came to the grand total of $3865.09! The Lord provided, just above our goal, and we knew, even more, that this is exactly what He is calling us to.
We love y’all deeply.
We are forever thankful for all your love and support,
Kathryn + Jacob