Saturday, February 25, 2017


Elder Phelps and I really LOVE Rwanda.  Flying in we could see beautiful terraced covered hills and more hills are covered in lush green.  There is much farm land here.  Kigali is the Capital of Rwanda and it is a very beautiful city!   It is VERY clean unlike Uganda.  On the last Saturday of the month there is something called Umuganda.  The people shut down their shops and there is no driving for the morning hours.  This gives people a chance to clean around their areas of living and business.  Of course, they do this on a daily basis as well but we were so impressed with the overall cleanliness of this very large city.

Another thing that we loved about Kigali in particular is the driving.  It is all very orderly.  No crowding of cars, no motorcycles or people weaving in and out of traffic, unlike Uganda.  They have beautiful landscaped roadways and I did not see ONE pothole.....again unlike Uganda, especially compared to where we live in Mbale that is filled with holes, holes and more holes.  

It is a very beautiful city and I can see why Elder and sister Gillette love serving here.  They spent 6 months of their mission in Jinja so they know what living in Uganda is like.  They say that while the living conditions are better here.  The people are great in BOTH places.  Many wonderful things are happening in BOTH places.  They have been helping with the three branches here in Kigali and stay busy with that.  They have met MANY wonderful people and have done much good here in Rwanda! Their mission ends just shortly after ours in April.

We were blessed to stay at the newly built Kigali Marriott.  It. Was. So. Nice.  They upgraded us to a beautiful suite and it was so luxurious!  I can't begin to describe it so I won't but I will tell you that it was heaven sleeping in a soft bed with soft pillows:)  And we were there for THREE whole nights!

This was our view of Kigali overlooking the Marriott's beautiful pool.

On Friday morning we met up with the Harlines and the Gillettes for a day of seeing the city.  We were able to go inside the Hotel des Mille Collines.  It is the hotel in which the movie 'Hotel Rwanda' is named after.  The hotel manager was able to harbor around 1,000 people including his family during the genocide in the spring of 1994.  He was a very influential man and was able to keep the Hutu militia at bay during the nearly 100 days of killing.

This is the swimming pool that the people were able to have clean water to drink from during that time.

Next we stopped at the Kigali Genocide Memorial where approximately 250,000 people are interred. In total there were close to one million men, women and children killed in 100 days.  It was a very sobering experience walking through the museum and learning about this country's horrible past.  Very sobering.  Much like my experience walking through a concentration camp in Germany.

At the end I walked in three different rooms that told of some of the children killed.  I can't describe the feelings that I had as I looked into their life size pictures, reading of their likes and dislikes and then learning of how they were brutally killed.  Some hacked with a machete, some shot, and a little infant thrown into a wall.  I could not help but cry for these poor children who's lives ended far to soon at the hands of wicked men.  I cried for so many others who lived to tell the tale of their experiences left as orphans and scarred with images of their loved ones dying.  Truly sickening.  

The memorial is a beautiful place of remembrance.  It gives many of the victims a final resting place and a place for survivors to come mourn their family.  It is also a place to learn of a past that we can never let happen again.

The Rwandan people are learning to forgive and be forgiven.  Those left live together side by side trying to live a life of love and trust.


After our time at the Memorial we had a wonderful experience going to a hill overlooking the city.  In Elder Phelps' words this is what took place.....

 "We had a wonderful experience.  This picture shows us standing on the hill where Elder Holland dedicated the country of Rwanda for the spreading of the gospel (missionary work).  Here, on August 27th, 2009  Elder Holland came with other leaders and a few Rwandans who were already members and gave a very beautiful dedicatory prayer.  It was recorded, and Elder Gillett (the senior missionary living here) read it to us on the hilltop.  Twice in the prayer a blessing was pronounced on the people of Rwanda, that 'their memories would be purged' of the terrible events that occurred here.  The effects of that blessing are seen here.  The people use no class distinction any more. They are not Tutsi or Hutu, they consider themselves 'Rwandans'.  As you can imagine there are still many difficulties, but they are trying their best to forgive each other and live together in peace.  Missionaries began teaching here in 2013."

One of the things I noticed in the prayer was that he said that thousands and tens of thousands would come into the church.  It is evident to us that, in time this will happen.  In just our short time in Kigali we had a few opportunities wherein people saw our badges and approached us to learn more.  This is common here in Rwanda.  Just like in Uganda they just show up at the church on Sunday just to see what it's like:)  These are golden opportunities for missionaries!

Here's another experience in R
ick's words.....

"We also visited a member of the Church in her sewing shop.  Here name is Grace.  She lost her mother, father, and 8 siblings in the genocide of 1994.  Her husband was in the military, and in 1998 he was killed while Grace was expecting their 5th child.  She told us, "When my husband died I lost my hope.  I did not know how I could go on.  Then I found the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Now I have hope.  I find myself smiling".   She was taught to sew, and in 2000 she began a sewing business and taught other women, especially young women, to sew and gave them jobs in an attempt to help them move forward in life.  She is very sweet.  We all purchased a few things from her."

That evening we met up with President and Sister Collings to have dinner at Heaven Restaurant.  They are here for the weekend for zone conference and interviews.  They are super busy people!!  I look up to them both so much.  They are giving so much in their service to the Lord as Mission President and wife.  We all had a good time visiting with one another:)  This is the the last time Rick and I will see either the Gillettes or the Harlines before we leave.  It sure has been good getting to know wonderful couples who give of their time to serve the Lord.  They each are serving for 18 months!

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