“I Won a Mission Trip”
by Sarah Snell
Long story short, God had been laying on my heart to go and serve in Africa, but I didn't know in what capacity or where. I prayed that if God wanted me to go to Africa, that He would get me there...….. and the rest is history!I have been journaling since I started this journey, and I plan on blogging once I return to sweet home Alabama. But until then, I wanted to share a few moments with you from today that really confirmed to me WHY I am here.I knew God had a plan in bringing me here to Rwanda, but I didn't really grasp how you could fall in love with a place and its people on a short-term mission trip. Back home, I have been ministering in the inner city and have been building relationships with, and serving the homeless, for about a year. God has really been breaking my heart for what breaks His over the past two years and constantly opening doors, putting people in my path that need not only their physical needs met, but also their spiritual needs. I serve the poor and the orphans and the widows not because I think it earns salvation...…. I do it because it is overflowing out of me because of my love for my Heavenly Father.Many people question why I would go on an international mission trip since I am already so active in my community. But I believe in reaching the lost and the hurting with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of compassion in my hometown AND in other parts of the world. In Acts 1:8, the last thing Jesus told His disciples before ascending to heaven was, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea And Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."Before I came to Rwanda, everyone told me I would never be the same again. I knew seeing the orphanages would effect me, but I thought, "I see poverty everyday back home, surely I will be able to hold my emotions together while I am there. I do not have blinders on like a lot of America. I see the kids that don't have food in the inner city; the single moms that love their children but can't provide for them due to poverty; the young girls that struggle with addiction problems so they turn to the street to satisfy their cravings; the men and women who don't have the option of staying in a shelter and sleep under the bridge...….. I see all of this in my hometown and I try, through Christ, to help meet their physical needs so I can build up trust and a relationship, and then, along the way and more importantly, help meet those spiritual needs."… One of the orphanages here that we have been serving at is Noel. It is a Catholic orphanage that has 150+ babies and toddlers, all the way up to 18 years old. There are 600+ children total. The first day we went to Noel was to get a tour. When we took the tour of the babies' room, I immediately starting swelling up with tears and had to walk about and pull myself together. For those of you that know Ryan and I, the doctors have told us that we won't be able to conceive a child of our own. We plan on adopting, but of course, we still believe that God is bigger and He opens the womb, so we are not losing hope. We know that God has a perfect plan already for us. But seeing these babies with their cribs stacked back to back, crying because they are hungry and need someone to hold them...….. and Rwanda doesn't allow adoption from the U.S...…. I just felt helpless and hopeless and I honestly thought I would not be able to go back in those two rooms the rest of our time at Noel…But today I prayed all morning that God would lead my steps at Noel, and speak through me, and give me peace to be able to step up and love on these babies that need to be held, and He would take care of everything else. When I came back to Noel this morning, the first thing I did was go to the baby room. They immediately handed me a baby and a bottle……
"Feed," they said.
As I was holding little Angelica in my arms, my heart melted and I don't think I stopped smiling the rest of the day. God helped me overcome my fears. The workers then tied her onto my back and I toted her around with me wherever I went. To see her little feet sticking out beside my waist...…. I just can't even describe it.
|Photos courtesy of Billy Pope Photography|
I was wrong. God broke me in Rwanda even more than I was already broken. In the U.S., most have a fighting chance. They have access to clean water and bathrooms and can walk to the downtown library and have access to free Internet. There are many ministries that try to give them a bed to sleep in, give them a nice hot meal, access to showers and wash their clothes, and will try to help them find jobs. Compared to the people I am seeing in Rwanda, they are rich! I have never seen this level of poverty. Kids are just piled up on a concrete floor sleeping because they don't have enough beds. They wear ripped up clothing because they only have two outfits per child, and you can't give them any more clothing because they have no means to wash another outfit when some orphanages have 500+ kids. They have no toys. They make toys from our leftover water bottles and broken jump ropes.I didn’t think the trip would change me in the way it has...
There are no words to describe it......….. you just have to come. It will change you.
(You can read my “Before I Went” testimony here! http://www.visitingorphans.org/connect/blog/all/65)