David and Lucy Li are making their first trip to Rwanda. Here are their first impressions after a few days in country…
This is Lucy and I’s first time in Rwanda and first time in Africa. While we have had a number of cross-cultural experiences (inner-city Philadelphia, Russia, China), we knew Rwanda would be completely different. When we landed in Kigali on the last flight of the day, it was in the 70s Fahrenheit, which is such a welcome change from cold, cold, Massachusetts.
A lot of what we’ve seen in Rwanda reminds us of China, including the architectural style of the buildings, the interior decoration fixtures in the houses, store after store of small shops that runs along the sides of roads, and people walking, riding mopeds, and driving cars in one big mess in busy areas of town. But the biggest difference between Rwanda and China as developing countries is Rwanda is extremely clean. You hardly see any trash in public.
Our first Rwanda worship experience on Sunday was incredible! As soon as we walked in, so many children came running to us and hugged us. It made us feel so welcome. We noticed children in Rwanda are not shy about contact with adults. They don’t hesitate to say hi, wave, shake hands, and give hugs, whereas in the US so many kids are shy around adults.
Both my teaching sessions in the book of Philippians were today (Monday). I enjoyed it tremendously; and the pastors had great questions during our Q&A. Why can suffering be a blessing? What does it mean practically when the Apostle Paul says we should not grumble or dispute. It was incredibly humbling to see the pastors taking notes so intensely on what I was saying.
After a successful journey from Boston to Istanbul and Istanbul to Kigali, I (Lucy) arrived at our guest house early morning Sunday. It has been such an eye-opening experience. As David described, our Sunday morning worship experience was like nothing I had ever experienced before. We were ushered to the front of the room and had a front row view of the dancing and jubilee that went for 2+ hours! If you ask the right people, you might even be able to find a video of Pastor Shane, David, and I dancing with members of the congregation.
In the afternoon, Christina and Peggy brought me along to teach the women of the church. We met with 27 women in the church to share and pray. Christina taught on Titus 2—the training of younger women in Spirit-filled living. Peggy spoke to the women in Kinyarwandan, the local language, and the crowd loved it! I got to utilize my medical knowledge and teach some basic female anatomy as we introduced the concept of menstrual cups to the women. Although quite a shock in the beginning, many expressed interest in trying this new, cost-effective way of managing menstruation. We listened to their testimonies, celebrated their joys, and came together in prayer to lift their challenges to our Sovereign God. It was a full and blessed day, filled with laughs, warm embraces, and new friendships.
Day 2 has been just as busy as day 1. Our hosts brought the ladies to the marketplace early this morning to have a dress made for each of us. My eyes were astounded by the array of colorful fabric that lined every inch of the corner of the marketplace where the seamstresses were. From floor to ceiling, all you could see were rows and rows of bright orange, green, blue, yellow.
As soon as we stepped out of the marketplace, Christina and Peggy rushed off to meet with another group of women and Pastor Neil, John, and I headed to our first clinic. I was instantly attracted to the clinic’s open courtyard. Built about 20 years ago, this clinic had everything you could need from a radiology room to a surgical theater. We got a personal tour of their orthopedics lab, where they made their own prosthetic legs. John very effectively shared why we were visiting and introduced them to a newly developed prosthetic technology he had brought from the United States that was created for its low cost and high utility, designed to be distributed in India. They were very receptive! We pray that God will utilize this newly developed technology to bless people here in Rwanda with more affordable and comfortable prosthetic legs!
During the evening, I had the opportunity to watch Shane and David teach through Philippians 1 and part of chapter 2. They were long, theology packed sessions but the pastors were eager to learn and hungry for the Word.
As our day is coming to an end, the group of us are talking through plans for the upcoming marriage retreat. Please pray for us as we prepare and plan, and for the couples who will be attending! Pray for effective teaching, meaningful conversations, and strengthened marriages!