Right now I am sitting in the Washington DC airport. Our journey home began at 7 am on Saturday morning. We took a 3 hour bus ride from Gisenyi to Kigali, ate lunch, and went to the airport. We had to say goodbye to 6 of our team members that morning. They were all staying behind to see sponsored children or making an additional trip to Turkey. We all hated having to say goodbye to our new family. Please continue to pray for them as they stay in Africa for another few days or weeks. We are already missing them!
Once in the airport, it took nearly 2 hours to get past the ticket counter in Kigali. If you ever wonder why most African countries struggle to get out of poverty, look no further than the incompetency at the airport. It pretty much summarizes it. Anyways, after that long wait to get a boarding pass printed, we boarded our plane. We made a surprise stop in Uganda, which was pretty cool, then jetted on up to Ethiopia. We laid over a couple hours there before the 16 hour flight to DC. Thankfully, we slept a lot on the way.
After landing and going through customs, we had to say goodbye to 4 more team members who were renting a car and driving home to North Carolina. These were hard goodbyes, especially because these 4 people were on our team last year, so we are truly connected through Africa. Those people have been family to us for a year now, and it was hard to stop hugging them.
After our prolonged goodbyes, we went through security for the 4th time in 2 days. Then ate a DELICIOUS bacon cheeseburger from Fuddrucker’s, even though it was 9 in the morning. We certainly missed our good ol’ American food! The really irritating part about today is our layovers. We are on hour 7 of an 8 hour layover in DC. Then after a quick flight to Charlotte, we’ll sit there for another 5 hours. So all in all, our travel time is about 45 hours.
Before we board our plane to Charlotte, we have one more goodbye to make to a team member traveling to Dallas. She boards her plane soon, and it will be another tough goodbye. She was also on our team last year and has also been like family to us. She was also my seat-mate for most bus rides and plane rides so it’ll be weird traveling on without her!
We are really looking forward to seeing our family and our sweet Jazzy girl tonight! It will also be nice to sleep in a soft bed and not need a mosquito net. Even though it’s nice to enjoy the comforts of home, there is always a tinge of guilt after having seen the conditions in which people live in Rwanda. It’s really not fair that my birthplace in the land of the free, home of the brave entitles me to so much more luxury and comfort than their birthplace. This is the point where our mission trip takes on a new purpose. We have to take what we’ve seen and experienced and mold it into purpose. We are advocates for the fatherless, and we must fight against injustice. This year’s experience was less shocking and heartbreaking than last year, but it is still full with just as much purpose. Sometimes short term mission trips get a bad rap (and sometimes they deserve it), but if people come back from their 12 day trip with a determination to serve others and love others more deeply, then it was well worth it. I pray that our team will please the Lord in how we use our experience for His glory. I pray that our actions will honor the orphans we met and loved so deeply in such a short time.