April 11, 2014

Real Life Adventure in Africa

Serving others is a high value for our friends and our family. In this report, a good friend shares her experiences as she teaches and serves in Rwanda. Just a note: the "Mr. Taft" mentioned is not me but my father. Thanks, Dad, for giving of your resources so freely to help others.

It's not Disney's Animal Kingdom, but instead the real life Africa. Much more exciting and life-changing...


My friend, Sydney, and I were packing our bags to travel to the Kamate Parent Primary School.  After a two-week missions stint in Rwanda in 2010, the rest of our Hearts for the World International team returned to the U.S., but Sydney and I had been asked long before we left to stay on an extra week to teach English to the 1st through 4th graders.* At the last minute I decided to throw in my miniscule, personal first-aid kit consisting of four Band-Aids™ and antiseptic lotion. I also had the always-needed-everywhere wipes in my bag.

During the second day of our teaching, a request went out for someone to administer first aid to a student who had fallen and split her knee open.  It was apparent I would be that person.  Calling on my very basic medical knowledge and prayer, of course, I cleaned the bleeding wound and covered it with two Band-Aids™.  One of the teachers interpreted my further instructions to the student of keeping the wound clean and dry and to see me the next day.  Most importantly, we prayed that she would have no infection and that the wound would heal.  Over the next couple of days, I redressed the wound and continued to pray for healing.  On the day we were to leave, her wound no longer required a bandage or ointment.  I had had just enough in my first aid kit to aid her, but, most importantly, there was always prayer. 
This was a wake-up call for our Hearts for the World ministry.  There was absolutely nothing in Kamate, or at the First Generation tailoring school in ZaZa, to take care of basic wounds.  

When our team returned the following year, we brought in two 50-pound suitcases of a wide variety of supplies, thanks to Mr. Taft, a very generous donor, who has a large heart for children in need. That led to a clinic being held every time I returned to Kamate and for one of the teachers, who had watched carefully each time I was administering first aid and helped me as needed,  and whose English was very good, to become the one who continued assisting children.

The generosity of Mr. Taft has had a large ripple effect.  Each time a team or I return, we replenish the supplies, and the community has been resourceful, as well.  So many benefits to the Kamate community come to mind, including parents who now come for aid, as well, but two encounters, in particular, stand out.
 In 2012 at the end of the clinic time, a young girl brought her friend to see me.  This young lady was quite unkempt, downcast if not depressed, with a very dejected demeanor.  She showed me some ulcers on her legs, some of which were oozing and were obviously infected.  

As always, I started praying for God’s wisdom to enable me to treat her appropriately and for his healing of her wounds, and we ended with prayer, as well.  I cleaned each ulcer and bandaged it and after ten minutes, each time I thought we were done, there was another sore she pointed out to me on her feet and on her thighs, as well as her legs.  I lost track of how many Band-Aids™ and gauze pads were needed and ultimately I wrapped each leg entirely in gauze to make sure the bandages stayed in place.  She left with instructions to keep her bandages clean and dry and to return the next day.  Throughout the rest of the day and evening I continued praying that God would continue to heal her wounds and make her skin as beautiful as the skin of all of her fellow students.  When she returned the next day, healing was well underway, there were no more suppurating wounds, and we repeated the same treatment and instructions.

*The fifth and sixth grades were added in subsequent years and in 2013 the very first class of 6th graders graduated from Kamate Parent School.

When she came to see me the third day, which was the day I was departing, her bandages and legs were filthy and her healing wounds had re-opened.  One of the teachers knew her difficult family situation and made a decision with the others to intervene with the family.  Over the weeks and months that I was gone I continued to pray that she would have fully-healed and beautiful skin. 

I returned in the fall of 2012 and at the end of clinic one day, a young girl brought her friend to see me.  Her friend was tall, very stately, and beautiful.  “Don’t you recognize her?” she asked.  “No,” I answered honestly. “Should I?”  “Yes,” she said.  She was the girl who had had the horrible ulcerative sores.  Her life was changed. She was doing very well in her classes and was a leader in the school, and her family situation had improved considerably.  God had answered our prayers abundantly.

During the same stay, I had been informed that one of the workers who were installing a water collection system at the Parent Primary School had injured his foot.  Of the several workers there, he was the one who never smiled when I waved or said “Mwaramutse” (good morning) and appeared to be the most mystified, even foreboding, and likely suspicious about why I, an Anglo, was at the school.  As God had planned, he was the one who was hurt. 

His was a quite a superficial wound, which he had bound with a very dirty rag.  As I gently washed his foot, I found myself thinking about Jesus, who knelt to wash the feet of his disciples.  I then applied ointment and a Band-Aid™, as I prayed for healing.  From the cap he wore on his head, I believe the worker was a Muslim. To be touched in this way by a woman and a white woman, in particular, undoubtedly stretched his cultural boundaries.  Yet, this encounter changed him, and each time we had an opportunity to greet one another, he waved and smiled.  Only God knows what seeds were planted, but I continue to pray for him, that he will come to know Jesus as his savior and his hope for eternity and that others come into his life to water this seed.

Well, what are the “take-aways” for me and perhaps for you?  First and foremost, prayer to a loving God, in whom I have put my faith and have come to love and trust implicitly, avails much. (Proverbs 15:8; I Peter 3:12). Second, being willing to use my little bit enables God to increase that little bit abundantly in ways that I would never have imagined and in ways I have no way of knowing on this side of heaven. (I John 2:5, Ephesians 3:20), and third, when I follow the call God has on my life, and my desire is that my life glorify his, my joy, peace, and gratitude have no bounds (Galatians 5:22).  I am changed and I am blessed mightily when I give my life to God and walk with him where he leads me.
Hope you enjoyed this post on serving in Rwanda. If you'd like to read the first report, go here. Of course, to see more about Hearts for the World International, a child sponsorship organization with incredibly low overhead and a small monthly fee to help a child, go here.

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