Stepping Out...

Posted by Sarah Caughey on Tue, 09 Aug 2011 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

Recently returned CMS Ireland STEP volunteer Hazel White shares about her experience working alongside our Global Partners in Shyogwe Diocese, Rwanda

Hidden away in the small town of Shyogwe just under two hours from the capital Kigali is a Rwandan diocese doing extrodinary things. A health centre, a specialist secondary school, a youth at risk programme, a Bible development school, a pineapple jam and juice factory…this small community is not afraid to dream big and to trust God to fulfil His plans. It was here nestled in the south of the “land of a thousand hills” that I spent the 5 weeks of my Short Term Experience Placement (STEP) working alongside staff and students teaching English, French and first aid.

Having already been to Uganda a couple of times with Abaana, I was curious to see what the experience would be like without a team. If long term mission is something that God is calling me to, it will undoubtably be a very different experience to a three or four week adventure with others. Although being on a team is great and provides a lot of support (as well as the comfort of your own culture) you don’t really get to experience Africa as it is if you’re surrounded by other “mzungus”. So being either incredibly brave and trusting or fairly stupid, I decided to head out on a CMSI STEP by myself.

If there’s one thing that stood out to me (other than the lack of running water, the early morning starts and being followed by small children!) it’s the hospitality of the people I met out there. Not having a team with me meant that I got to know my Rwandan neighbours and colleagues so much better. As I lived within the school grounds, most of my evenings were spent at the school with other staff members, laughing. It didn’t matter to these people that I hardly spoke their language or that I found the weather extremely warm. They welcomed me as their sister.

They say that in Jewish culture, the ultimate act of friendship is inviting somebody to share a meal with you. It seems to be pretty similar in Rwandan culture too. I was invited to so many beautiful evenings where we shared food and fellowship together as part of the same family of God. The people of Rwanda know how to live in community, and even though I was only living amongst them for a short time, they openly welcomed me into their hearts. For a country recovering from the scars of the Genocide this was incredibly challenging to witness.

Fellowship is not limited by culture or heritage or language. God created us all to be part of one family. The Bible tells us that it doesn’t matter if we’re “Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free… for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28. It doesn’t matter if we’re Rwanda or Mzungu, young or old, Protestant or Catholic. We are all outrageously loved by God.

Besides, when you go on a adventure just with Jesus, you accumulate many funny stories. When else would you carry a sofa on your head, go to a cow giving ceremony or learn to call somebody a sweet potato in another language?

Rwanda is wonderful. It is beautiful, organised, and developping. If you get the chance to go on a team, go. But if you get the chance to go by yourself and really experience this community life of love, fellowship and laughter, do. You won’t regret it.

If you would like to know more about short-term placements with CMS Ireland, click here or contact us.

GOING GLOBAL is an event organised by CMS Ireland to help you consider how to take your engagement in God’s
mission to a deeper level. It is aimed at those who are thinking about their part in God’s mission and are asking ‘What next?’. Our next Going Global is 15-16 October in Kilcronaghan Activity Centre, Tobermore. For more information and a booking form, click here.

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