yesterday i returned to kigali after spending a week up in musanze with isaac, shema, and theoneste. i met these three boys when i lived in rwanda in 2011 & 2012, and have been excited to return and see how they have grown and learned and changed over the past few years.
during the week, i stayed with each of the boys for one or two nights at their families' houses. it was an amazing experience. i wanted the boys and their families to have the opportunity to be hospitable and welcoming to me as their guest, but i also wanted to be humble enough to accept whatever conditions might arise. and i was so blessed. when i arrived with my things at their houses, they showed me to my room, where they had made up a bed so neat with sheets and a blanket. i brought with me a small gift of some food for the family from the market--beans, potatoes, carrots, fruit, and it was quickly taken away to be prepared for our meal.
i had seen all of the boys' houses before, but they were so proud to show me where they live and what they do. i was invited into their lives and learned what it meant to be shema, and isaac, and theoneste for a few days.
i stayed at theoneste's house the first night. i learned that he used to feel like he had no hope. he didn't want to see his family or live at home, or even live at all really. but he met chad and kortney and began learning about Jesus and the hope that he can have with Him. and i saw the way he patiently sits with his grandmother and listens to story after story that she tells. and the way he smiles at his little sisters and helps prepare the beans for cooking. and he proudly showed me his family's field where they grow beans to feed their family. and i saw his hope.
on tuesday and wednesday, i stayed with isaac. he lives with his aunt and uncle, five cousins, and his half brother. i helped his cousins peel potatoes and they showed me how they made our lunch. isaac told me about the time he lived with a different aunt after his parents died, and that when he was six his aunt told him what his parents were like. and isaac says thank you often and loves Jesus and shares Him with many people that he meets. he grabbed my arm many times when a car drove by a little too close and he made sure my bag was always secure and he walked behind me when we were in a crowded place so that he could make sure i was okay. he is a protector.
the last night in musanze, i stayed with shema. i met his brothers and sister and mom. i asked him what he wants to do when he gets older and finishes school. he said he wants to help needy people. he also dreams of being a doctor or an engineer. shema's family doesn't have electricity, so we ate dinner by candlelight, and his mom told me how proud she is of him and how hard he works.
during the days we took walks and saw beautiful rwanda and i taught them some photography and they filled disposable cameras with images of the way they see the world. i can't wait to see the photos.
the boys came back to kigali with me on friday, and we have all been hanging out this weekend. today we went to the expo and saw a magic show and theoneste got his face painted and they rode a carnival ride (probably their first one!). later we went swimming for a bit and ended the night by watching movies.
there is so much more to say, but i'll leave it at that for now. below are some photos that i took during the week. i ended up leaving my camera in my bag more often than not, and just enjoyed experiencing life with the boys this week.