Monday, January 17, 2011

Days 3 & 4: I Believe I Can Fly

6:30 AM meeting time in the lobby of our hotel could only mean one thing - we were FINALLY heading to Africa. Since both teams were flying out on the same flight - we had to start early to shuttle all the bodies and luggage to the airport.

Yeah - we're talking something like 38 people with 2 checked bags each and 2 carry on items each. Lots of luggage. Lots of people. Too early in the morning.

But with Ethiopian Airlines there is no such thing as "too early." These guys - God Bless them - mess up flights just about every single time. So it's just standard to build in enough time to walk them through getting us on our plane - and we needed it.

After some wrangling - some bargaining - a little arguing - some showering with kindness... we all made it on the flight! Had to do a little extra work at the gate to make sure my whole team had connecting seats to Kigali - but we were here and ready to fly out.

Like how the gate said "on time."?? NOT the case - I think we took off about 1.5 hours late. Yep - hadn't even left DC yet and we were officially on African time!

We managed to grab one gigantic group shot of both teams before we boarded the plane. That's a lot of people going out to love on some orphans in God's name! I love these guys!

Being a team leader had a few perks to go along with the stress - business class seats was one of them! Yep - that's right - I was suffering for the Lord!

Not only did my first class seats have a little bit more leg room but I also had the distinct privilege of sitting directly behind R. Kelly. How funny is that? He was flying to Ethiopia to perform for the their big New Years Eve party. That's his head and his gigantic headphones that he wore pretty much the entire time.

I wanted to ask him to sing "I Believe I Can Fly" as we took off but I was chicken. For the record... he snores.

We were lucky enough to be flying on one of the airline's new 777 jets - so 12 hours later - with no stop in Rome - we touched down in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Man... it just felt like home. It's crazy how a place so far away can hold so much of your heart. But we didn't get to enjoy it for long - we were late and they were holding our connecting flight to Rwanda for us - so we hustled off the plane and off to our next gate.

After a quick 2.5 hour flight we were touching down in Kigali, Rwanda. WOW! This place was beautiful. Ethiopia - though it holds my heart very tightly - isn't the prettiest place on the planet. It's very brown. Not Rwanda! There was so much greenery, so many rolling hills, so much beauty. I think we were all loving it!

After our delay leaving DC we were already behind on our schedule. So after meeting our awesome guide, Jane, we headed straight to the guest house to check in and then piled back in the bus to head to our first ministry opportunity.

Our first stop in Rwanda was with the Best Family. This ministry is made up of guys who were orphaned during the genocide and banded together to take care of each other. They became a family to one another and have since taken in kids who have nobody else and help raise them, educate them and introduce them to God. LOVE THIS MINISTRY.

They met us at our bus when we pulled up and walked us down a beautiful trail to their main house. There they served us sodas and gave us an overview of what they were doing - how they were accomplishing it - and what needs they saw themselves having over the next weeks, months and years.

After that we all walked together down to the school that they use where the kids were all waiting for us. They gave us an awesome show of some of their skills - dancing, rapping, acting. These guys are talented!

After the talent show - we broke out some sports equipment, some face paint and other activities and just went at it! Doing what we do best - playing, loving, hugging and visiting orphans!

These kids were all awesome and we couldn't get enough of them.

It was really cool to walk around and see the team members falling right in line and doing what God had placed on their hearts from the beginning - just being Him to these kids. Loving them. Hugging them. Playing with them. My heart was smiling HUGE.

I got a short amount of time to hang out with Jean Claude - the director of the Best Family - and hear about his needs, his vision and his passion. He is an incredible guy doing some incredible work.

The sun set WAY too early for us - we wanted so much more time with these guys. That's the only downfall to these short term trips. You are in and out so quickly. So after a lot of hugs and a sad goodbye - we headed back to the bus to head out.

We were coming off of 15+ hours of travel that went straight in to ministry and we were WHOOPED. A quick dinner out (rice, beans - kinda a staple here!) wrapped up the night and we headed back to the guest house to crash.

My heart was happy. We were finally back in Africa!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Beautifull! <3

And R. Kelly? Wow, I am jealous! LoL :)