The halls have never seemed louder than during the past few weeks as our students have resumed school. With more than 800 people on campus every day, there is a lot of energy! Prayers of gratitude and songs of joy are flooding our campus halls once again.
One year ago, on March 13th, 2020, schools in Rwanda were locked down. We shifted our focus to providing urgent emergency aid and wondered how long this lockdown would last. By God’s grace we were able to help thousands of people with distributions of food, soap, charcoal, etc. During this pandemic season we have also continued distributing mattresses to families sleeping on dirt floors.
While various grade levels have been able to return to class off and on, we are thrilled to share that all of our students are back in the classroom!
It has been hard for these students to be at home. Some live in tiny homes without power, water or enough food. They love coming to school at Hope Haven for many reasons. Hanging out with friends and teachers who love them, while also getting two solid meals per day, is at the top of the list for many of our students.
Even though we are experiencing blizzard-like conditions in Colorado this week, we know little of the desperate conditions vulnerable Rwandans face each day. Most Americans have enough food, warm shelter in the storm and many other amenities that we take for granted. That is not “normal” in our Rwandan community.
To keep building these bridges of relationship and understanding, my family and I had a virtual meeting with our Rwandan team this week. We love and miss so many of them who have become dear friends over the years. As we greeted them virtually, I began by personally expressing my gratitude for their fortitude throughout the first year of the pandemic. They have creatively pivoted from their “normal” activities. They have helped with distributions, created work-at-home packets, completed training, and visited many students and families at home.
During our online meeting, their smiles said it all! By God’s grace, we were not forced to lay off any of our Rwandan staff during the pandemic. We worked with them to make sure we met the needs of their families and assured them that campus operations would return to normal soon as possible. Now they know what we mean when we say that they are part of the “Hope Haven Family.”
Many of us have experienced new bonds during this difficult season. Relationships have been developed and deepened, even though we have been forced to “social distance.” Now, as the students resume their in-person studies on campus full-time, the joy is overflowing!
1 Chronicles 16:33 says, “Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD.”
God is with us.
We may “feel” His presence most during times of trial, but He is always there. When things return to “normal” in your life, will you proclaim the goodness of God to your family? Let’s glorify Him together by “singing for joy before the LORD!”