Saturday, August 20, 2011

Learnings From My Third Trip to Rwanda


This trip to Rwanda was very different than my other 2. On the first two trips we did a lot of assessment. They were extremely difficult, b/c we were not sure what we were seeing. We did not understand the culture, we had trouble communicating and getting clear responses.

This trip we spent the first day and a half on the field hearing reports from pastors, trainers, and a doctor of what the PEACE Plan is already doing and what is working in the Karongi District. They were telling us everything we needed to know. Sure... we asked clarifying questions, but the guessing game was gone.

We got to see some "best practices" already in effect at the Kibuye hospital. We heard from trainers who are out teaching hygiene and cleanliness to church leaders who are teaching their congregation. We entered homes with OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) who were being helped through their church by donations. Donations that come from churches to churches, without a middle man or administration costs being taken out. Homes that are held accountable by their church to make sure that funds get spent as agreed upon. Homes that were struggling, now striving for a better and hopeful future.

We did train pastors for 2 days. What was different this time was that though the first day was full on lecture of what Purpose Driven Church is all about, the second day was group think. We broke the pastors and leaders into groups of 3-4 people and had them take practical application in their culture of the concepts from day 1. We used the structure of the 5 purposes and had pastors share ministries or programs they have as part of that purpose that works and a new thought or idea of how to bring focus on this purpose. It was beautiful to see the interaction between the groups and their ideas. Everyone was taking tons of notes!! That is always a good sign :)

Lastly... the team. We were all so different with such different backgrounds and even passions. It was so cool to see how the overall trip was not perfect for any one of us, but had elements that touched each of us. Dad got to train pastors, Ken and Laurie got to spend time with kids, and I got to sing and process much more. No one got sick and down for the count and everyone got along the whole time. We each knew our part and played it well.

I can tell you that I have grown a ton as a team leader and person since my first international mission trip in 1998 and even since my first trip to Rwanda in 2006.

Here are just a few lessons to share:
1. Having a good translator is SOO important. This can make or break a trip.
2. You have to laugh everyday. In past, I was much too serious about things. Though we are fighting a huge and serious battle for souls... people have to have a break and have fun.
3. People need clear roles established before you get on the field. Who is the "money man", who is preaching, who is teaching, who is doing music.
4. Know the SHAPE of your team and pray for opportunities for everyone. Though we all want to be in our SHAPE the whole time... it was beautiful to be able to step aside and watch others be in theirs.
5. Training is not about learning everything you can, but filling your quiver with as many arrows as possible. So that when you encounter something... you know where to go to get the information you need.
6. There is no such thing as too "prayed up". This last trip I saw so many prayer requests we never thought to ask for answered. So ask for them... and more! Ask expectantly!
7. Ask. If you see something, need something, want to do something... just ask. Those you are working with (especially in Rwanda) are willing to do it or make it happen. We did an impromptu church visit, a visit to the market, and even laundry done. We just had to ask.

If you have more questions about this trip... just email me. Tbrown@fbccoppell.org :)