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Day 1

 

 

 

hello friends, we are writing this from a cafe in Kigali, have some Rwandan coffee and tea. I think we have adjusted to the new time zone after our crazy plane rides.

micheal and theo, who work for Rwanda partners, have been taking us around. tomorrow is a catholic holiday, so our official itinerary starts on Thursday. thanks for all the thoughts and prayers,

-Zach

hello Madre, Padre, Sisher, and all other wonderful followers, we are here, safe and so excited! I can’t stop smiling -I am so happy to be here with our wonderful hosts and this team, although it feels so surreal. more later. love you all! -maddie

hola, compadres! wait. wrong language… sorry. we’re just getting brunch and it is soooo good! I’m excited that we’re finally here. Rwanda is beautiful and I can’t wait to see more of the country and meet more people. for now, I’m just gonna enjoy my food and the good company   :). -katie

Hey friends and family, after 20+ hours of travel, we finally arrived in Rwanda. It was nice to finally get some rest, and now we are all enjoying some breakfast with our awesome hosts. I can’t wait to see more of Rwanda, it is such a beautiful country.

-Mark

hey everyone!! we’re finally here after traveling for 31 hours. it’s so nice to be sippin on this coffee. already love it here and excited to see more in the weeks to come! 🙂

-Jessica ❤

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They’ve arrived!

Hello friends!

This just in from the team. We’ll look for more of an update after they’ve had some time to rest. Right now it’s 3:45 am in Kigali.

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We have arrived in Kigali after 2 transfers and 30+ hours of travelling. Micheal and Theo just picked us up!

Mark and Maddie departure photo

Here’s a departure photo from Mark and Maddie. I’ll keep you updated when we hear the team has reached Kigali.

Owen.

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They’re off!

This morning Katie, Jessica and Zach flew from Seattle; Maddie and Mark flew from San Francisco. The entire team will connect in Frankfurt, Germany.

Over the next three weeks the team will learn and serve with Rwanda Partners, participating in reconciliation workshops, sharing stories with genocide survivors an visiting the basket-making and other local enterprises through which Rwanda Partners helps employ widows and others impacted by the 1994 genocide.

We’ll keep you updated through this blog. In the meantime if you have questions, please contact me at owen@spu.edu or (206) 427-1296.

Thanks for your support of these students!

Owen Sallee
SPRINT Advisor

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Here we go!

Today, The five us leave for Africa, here are some things I (I believe I speak for us all actually) want to leave you with.

 

Rwanda was a place torn apart by ethnic genocide in 1994, that is very recent history. These killings were done by neighbors killing neighbors in close proximity (most of the murders were done with machetes). This is a very real part of the culture, however, Rwanda is now a safe and stable place.

God works in mysterious ways, and his hand is very much in Rwanda, there are stories of hope and reconciliation amidst the horror.

 

While 18 years is not a long time, it is also important to remember it is a fair amount of time, and the country has moved past the genocide in many ways, socially and economically at least. It is a beautiful country and I expect we will find a lot of life to be very normal there. I have been told by several people what a beautiful place Rwanda is.

 

As I have posted before, a lot of the focus of our trip is to go and learn and build relationships. Don’t expect us to have stories of building houses for 3 weeks.

 

Here are some things you can be praying for:

Open minds and open hearts to God. As far as I’m concerned, this is the biggest thing. God has everything under control and I think we just have to not fight him and go along for the ride.

Willingness to engage, help each of us be pushed in this trip to really learn and experience new and different things.

-Processing: Colliding with another culture can be stressful and confusing, Rwanda as a very specific and difficult culture on top of that, and so we hope that God will guide our debriefing process, both while we are in country and once we return.

-Team Dynamic: so that the five of us will coexist successfully

Health/ Travel/ Safety

-The little things : All the little details that can get lost amidst the hoopla of a big trip

Peace: For Parents who are sending us, and for us going, we hope that the peace and assurance of God will be ever present.

 

Thank you for your commitment to Pray and support us! The texts, emails, calls and letters that I personally have received have meant a lot.  

 

-Zach (and Maddie, Mark, Jessica and Katie)

What SPRINT’s all about

Hello, friends!

For just a few hours tomorrow afternoon we’ll have only two SPRINT students outside the United States, marking today as a mid-point in SPRINT’s summer.  (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).

 

I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief.  Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.

 

University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years.  Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.

 

Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.

 

It’s important for us to connect students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions.  To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.

 

Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application.  Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation.  However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.

 

To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home.  The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application.  You might find this sample article interesting:  In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.

 

Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer.  If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or owen@spu.edu.

 

Owen Sallee

SPRINT Advisor

Why “What did you do?” is the wrong question to ask.

One of the fundamentals of acting is being able to ask yourself (in character), “Why am I doing this now?” Acting is all about verbs, its about doing, it is about action; oddly enough, life is filled with actions and choices as well. So the question that we as soon-to-be world travellers should be asking ourselves is, “why are we doing this trip now?”

I hope to bring to light a few of the misconceptions about short term missions and how I personally will be approaching the trip (these are sentiments that have been shared with me teammates, and though I assume they mostly would concur, I will not speak for them).

Clearly, as I just mentioned, all of life is filled with choices for how we act. Unfortunately too often these choices are ‘checking out’ or ‘zoning out to Facebook’ or otherwise neglecting our higher cerebral functions for the newest shenanigans of the Kardashians. I am not pointing a finger here; in fact I have probably checked Facebook about ten times today, though I can proudly say I am only slightly interested in how Kanye and Kim are doing.

Well, I hope I can take a little pride in saying that we have chosen to take the first step in engaging with a different culture by choosing to commit, fundraise and eventually go on a SPRINT trip, ours specifically being to Rwanda. I would say this is a good first step. The question then becomes, what choices do we make when we get there? And, even more importantly, what choices are we going to make when we return?

 

Everyone I have spoken to is really excited to ask what I will be doing in Rwanda, and my answer is always somewhat vague, partly because I don’t know exactly what I will be doing. I think we will be somewhat involved in taking and then administering a reconciliation workshop. But, then I feel the overwhelming urge to defend the validity of the trip when I say we hope to go and talk to people and learn and grow in our global-cultural understanding.

Those are not things that make nice stories.  I think people want to hear I will be building a house, or digging a well. These make better stories.

 

I want to challenge you to go deeper with us.

This is a trip that many of you have invested time and money into, and making us reduce this to experiences that simply happened, or something that can be fit into a single sentence (“it was… good”) strips away much of the reason behind why we are giving up weeks to go halfway around the world.

Here I repeat my acting question: “Why am I (are we) doing this now?”

 

Here is my answer: because we want to enter more fully into God’s kingdom!

This means we get to see how another culture sees God, how they grieve, how they love, how they worship, how they reconcile.  THEN we get to bring back some of that and share it with you, our friends and family and churches in our everyday lives.

 

I argue that while building houses or wells provides a sense of immediate satisfaction (not to mention material manifestation- Americans love seeing the physical), it quickly becomes a story, or a memory. This isn’t to complete neglect the importance of stories. But we could get stories from a book, when we are there, we are alive and I want to be bringing back a LIVING change. I want to bring back and be the bridge that is a relationship between YOU in Seattle to the Rwandans we will meet.

 

“What did you do” is a finite question, it has some sort of limited answer.

Try asking us:

“What did you learn?

“What was one of the most striking things about the trip?”

Or simply, “Tell me about your trip.”

 

I encourage you to take us out for tea, or let us take you out for coffee! I hope that we can engage in conversation not just trade a little one-liner about what Africa was like.

This is just a little slice of the pie; God has huge reasons for sending us out next August 12th. What is going to make the difference is how we savor what he is giving us, and how we share it with you.

 

 

As always, I encourage feedback- please post comments and questions. Follow our blog and see what happens. 

-Zach