We are well-traveled; we have never traveled over seas before. We are nervous; we are excited. We have studied the Rwandan culture; we are going in with no expectations or previous knowledge. We are all coming from different backgrounds; with two similarities. We want to make an impact, and we have been able to do so because of Aspen Heights in Africa.
As we spent our last hours in Frankfurt Germany, we cuddled up warmly in our down comforters, enjoyed the warmth of the shower water heating our whole bodies, and filled our stomachs. We have all come to expect that each day we will awake with the luxuries that we think are normal. It is nothing to us to have a large meal, be able to call up our family just to check in, and to have a scalding shower, because warm is not hot enough.
It has not been until this journey that we have started taking notice of all of these things that we are blessed with everyday and started to realize that, in fact, they are luxuries. My expectations for this trip differ from that of everyone else traveling, as do theirs from the rest.
In order to prepare myself for this journey, I read the book As We Forgive which speaks of the trials that everyone in Rwanda has gone through and been affected by. It talks of the strides that Rwanda has taken as a country, just from the power of forgiveness. It has changed my way of thinking; how can I not forgive people in my every day life or ask for forgiveness, when the people of Rwanda can plead for and give forgiveness after experiencing murder of almost a whole tribe? This book is causing me to go into Rwanda with the understanding of how amazing these people are and how much they have all been affected. Most of all, I have been amazed and am excited to see how far the country has come without the aid of other countries, including ours, who seem to always be the go-to.
I think there is much to be learned from the people of Rwanda; about the things that we do not need, about the fact that happiness can be found without a hot shower, without riches, without aid from wealthy countries, but simply by the power of forgiveness. Having prepared myself through prayer, advice from those who have been, and studying the culture I expect to see a type of people who are filled with joy, despite all of their hardships, who welcome us with open arms. I expect this trip to be difficult, I expect to shed tears, feel anger to all that I was unable to stop, and to be changed into someone who appreciates all that I have, and most of all into someone who can forgive without question.
I have heard many similar expectations from those traveling with me; many just excited to be there and ready to make any impact that they can. Others are going into this experience without any expectations at all; a beautiful mindset, wanting to go in with no judgements, no expectations, ready to love, ready to hurt, and ready to be changed. None of us have any doubts that we will be moved and changed by this experience. We have been prepared for the worst. We will see orphans who we can not adopt, we will visit schools where we can not stay, we will visit the companies sponsor children who we cannot guarantee a lifetime of education, we will see the memorials of the genocide without being able to go back in time, and we will see people whose story we long to know, but will not be able to do so.
At the same time, we have been prepared for the best. We will help prepare commercials for orphans hoping that someone else is touched by their story, we will play games with school children who will never forget, we will see children who have provided an education and food through AH in Africa, and we will see memorials and forgive. No matter what expectations we have, we are all ready.
Ready to love, ready to give, and ready to see the impact that Aspen Heights in Africa is making.