Feeling like I was Christmas Morning! Nyabikiri, Rwanda

We had traveled a long way (a 30-hour plane ride) to finally be on the dirt road that lead to the village of Nyabikiri, Rwanda. We had been planning for this moment for months and here it was unfolding in front of us. Needless to say, I was filled with excitement, anticipation and hope. I didn’t know what to expect and it really didn’t matter – I was ready for this experience to sink into my bones.

The van rumbled along, on what looked like a back country road that you would see miles and miles out of town, with the nine of us packed in and so ready to get to Nyabikiri. As we got closer to the village, young children began running out of their homes and coming to the edge or the road – waving… not just a one-handed traditional wave, but a two-handed wave filled with all the energy a person could muster up and with such light in their eyes. I have never been greeted with such enthusiasm…and then… we made a final left hand turn into the area where the school buildings stood. Before I could truly comprehend what was happening – hundreds and I mean HUNDREDS of school children poured out of the classrooms running towards the van. It was a chorus of “Hi-eeee!!” “Hi-eeeee!!” “Hi-eeee!!” and shreks of joy! I felt like I was Christmas morning!

All the children wanted to touch you, be near you, talk to you. “What is your name?” “How old are you?” “Hi-eeee! Hi-eeee!!!” was heard in every direction. An amazing moment filled with more love than I truly think your heart can take. Then it dawned on me…a humbling moment. I realized that this love they were so unconditionally pouring out on me was meant for those who had traveled to Nyabikiri before me.

The village of Nyabikiri is only 16 years old. The Rwandan government re-allocated game park land and gave it to the Rwandan people after the genocide in 1994 – so that refugees returning to Rwanda would have a place to resettle. The village is now home to 6,000 people on 36 square miles. There is no electricity and no running water. No commerce beyond a weekly market. It is a community of farmers. Four years ago, Pathways Church (the church I attend in Denver) and Food for the Hungry partnered together with Nyabikiri and have, in those years, been the only Americans, and “white people” for that matter, to come to this very remote village. (So, as you can imagine, we were pretty recognizable with our pale skin!) They have made 5 trips in 4 years and I was a part of the 6th trip.

So, there I was – a generic face, that was triggering memories in these children- and receiving this amazing welcome for all the others that have visited before me. What an honor. I thought “They must have loved the people of Nyabikiri with such real depth that throughout these years this reception is still so truly genuine.” What a responsibility to follow in those shoes. But when someone opens their hearts so unconditionally towards you, it was the easiest thing in the world to instantly invite them into your heart forever and love right back.

I just hope that when the next group goes to Nyabikiri in June, 2011 – I hear about their welcome into the village – and I can smile knowing I did my part to continue the chain of love.


AmySeptember 2, 2010 - 4:40 pm

Kate, you are super special!!!! :-)Amy

Katie ThurmesAugust 31, 2010 - 5:27 pm

Kate- YOU are amazing. Thank you for sharing your incredible perspective with us – the lens through which you see the world is nothing short of a gift to each of us.


Susie GradeAugust 28, 2010 - 8:06 pm

Wow, what a perfect lens, “continuing the chain of love” – so true! Love the way you said it and the pictures are amazing! So moving to read the post, thanks for posting this!

Cindy LeeAugust 28, 2010 - 7:45 pm

Wow, all the thrilling emotions…felt like I was there with you guys, what an experience. Thanks for sharing.

Becca MahoneyAugust 28, 2010 - 6:16 pm

Beautiful entry, Kate. xo

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