by Katie Prudek

imageThe first day is a day of finding one’s feet. I was the last one up this morning, thanks to the sleeping pills I took for jet lag combined with basking in the pleasure of waking up under a mosquito net (which still makes me feel like I am five years old and imagining myself as a princess with a canopy bed).

We spent the morning with the Hanlons and Abrahams, enjoying a breakfast of muffins, bananas, passion fruit, and tea while Josiah, Frank, and Norah played and warmed up to these “new” folks in their midst.

The memorable point of the day for me came in the late afternoon, when I had coffee with the student I had sponsored while she was at Sonrise School. Gloria is now attending university here in Kigali. I met her for the first time last year during her week of final exams at Sonrise. I had to look twice when she walked in to make sure I recognized her with longer hair and without her school uniform. We asked about each others’ family; hers consists of one brother, whom she brought to meet me, and her mother. Last year she had explained to me that her last name means “the one who believes in God,” which she firmly followed with, “and I DO believe in God.” She is attending the School of Finance and Business, and tells me she wants to become a successful businesswoman so that she can help many people in Rwanda. I asked her if university is more or less challenging than Sonrise had been; she laughed and said definitely more. I asked her if she felt that Sonrise had prepared her for university. She paused, then answered, “Yes. Everything in my life I owe to Sonrise.”

It can be difficult being around so much need in this country – the needs are many and deep. It can be equally difficult to know how to help well. You wish that you could meet all the needs, and you can’t. I want to feel that my help has made a difference, but I realize it’s a drop in the ocean. I helped with Gloria’s tuition; I wish I could help with her housing, food, and transportation; and I wish I could do the same for many other students. It is humbling to be around so much need, but good, because it reminds me that we are limited. My prayer for us is for God to remind us that all our help and resources come from him, and that they are something with which we’ve been entrusted, not something we earned or to which we may claim any rights. And then to be able to rest in the knowledge that we are small and he is big.