We worked, we sweated and we struggled. Building keyhole gardens of this size is hard work.  Honestly, harder than we imagined. We dug and filled 1.5 tons (about 75 bags from your local hardware store) of dirt for each garden and hauled wheelbarrows for miles filled with manure from the local livestock. We sewed and hammered and sweated with our new Rwandan friends.  We left having accomplished 10 gardens, funding and hiring the workforce for at least 70 more, and created a new process and prototype for future gardens.

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We had fun.  As expected with a group of  men, we were relentless in making fun and pranking each other. In the mornings we worshipped God with Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, etc, but our nightly van rides home from garden building included artists such as Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, and Usher. Our singing and dancing renditions of  The Cupid Shuffle and Call Me Maybe were really something…thank goodness there were no videos taken.

We experienced God.  The character and the image of God was evident in so many ways I hesitate to give examples but I will give a few anyways.

  • The pain and forgiveness of the genocide.  As the UN commander on the ground during the genocide said, “I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God.”  We witnessed God through the forgiveness and redemption of the Rwandan people.  It’s impossible to describe how much healing has occurred in just 20 years.  I believe it is a strong testimony to God.
  • His providence – Frequently we were amazed at how God was working ahead of our plans. Providing leaders in a community at just the right time. Funding miracles. Chance meetings that blossomed into an awesome result. God is so good!
  • Community – Many Rwandans live out the gospel community fervently everyday. They love, look out for each other, and interact in a way that we found ourselves yearning for in our own communities.
  • Gratitude– Most of the folks of Kageyo gave thanks to the Lord exactly as God intends. I saw exponential improvement in one of the toughest places on earth and God was praised beautifully. His glory, his praise, and his thanks abounded in incredibly tough circumstances. It was both humbling and awesome.
  • New believers – One of the men in Kageyo that did not know the Lord, made the decision that he wanted to follow the God that brought his family a garden. He committed his life to Christ and will be baptized in the very near future. It was a Wow moment for sure!

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We loved others in a new and completely foreign way. We hugged too many to count. We held hands with kids and men. We prayed, fought back tears (a few were even shed), and felt the heartache of  so many. We laughed and celebrated in the new hope created by both newfound food security and child sponsorship.  In truth, we are just beginning to understand how to follow this commandant from Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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Was our mission accomplished? Yes and No. We certainly feel like God’s will was accomplished through us, but we know our journey has just begun.  There is peace and joy in what we’ve done, but excitement and readiness for God’s future plans and our role in them.  As God wills, we plan to persevere, continue on, and add to our current team for future work in Rwanda.

Please pray for the future of the Kageyo Gardens Project. Please pray for our team. Please pray for the people of Kageyo and Rwanda.

Lastly, I want to  personally thank the other 8 members of our Austin team, our Rwandan colleagues Pastor Sam, Theo, Jean Bosco, Jean Baptiste, JeJe, Eugene, and Jean Claude, and our Canadian friends Eddie and Lerryn DeJong. I have never been a part of a finer team. Each of you made a tremendous impact and it was an honor to serve alongside all.  It was a blessing to have each of you on board with this project.

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Written by Craig Haley, KGP Team Leader