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This Is My Rwanda

We arrived in Bugasera on Monday afternoon and nothing could have actually readied us for all we would experience that first night at camp. The most beautiful faces peeked around the corners of buildings hoping to catch glimpses of the team that had come to love and serve them. They all wore the red and blue flip-flops provided by the guesthouse – they had taken showers after traveling long distances as many had walked miles just to join us. We began setting up, eagerly distributing games and crafts to various locations, trying to grasp how we would accomplish all He had purposed for the week ahead. And then, they told us they were ready for us to join them in the food hall to meet the campers. We had seen their pictures and read their names but it was a holy and sacred moment to behold them all in one place. One by one they introduced themselves and then it was our honor to serve them dinner – the African buffet. They ate hastily, heaping their plates with what looked like entirely too much food, but they finished it with ease. With dinner complete, they invited us to join them in African song and dance. Before we even realized what was happening, the room erupted into worship. The floor began to shake as their feet stomped and their voices echoed off the brick walls. It was a taste of heaven, an expression of rejoicing I will never forget. A little hand grabbed mine and beckoned me to come and dance – and with a smile that I could not contain and laughter that burst forth, I followed William into the crowd of campers where I danced for Jesus like never before.

In the days to come, I would learn each of their names. I would take their faces in my hands and look deeply into their eyes as I heard stories of unimaginable loss and sorrow. I would get to tell them that God is for them, that He has not forgotten them, that He has a plan and a purpose for every single one of them. I would get to pray a blessing over them. All too soon, we would say goodbye. Those faces are forever inscribed on my heart and I carry those campers with me, praying that our good and faithful God is ever near to them. That is my Rwanda.

Shelly Swope

Shelly is passionate about sharing the gospel. She has led several short-term mission teams and is leading the Rwanda team this summer.

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