There are a few things we expect when driving an hour into the mountains. Seclusion, cool air, and absolute beauty are some of the experiences that come to mind. The last few weeks of travel have really changed my mind about one of the previously mentioned expectations.
I (Ladd) was driving the Scripture Union team up a road that had two parallel paths through the red dirt, just enough for the tires to fit on. On one side were thick trees and brush and the other a majestic view of the rolling hills beyond us. After an hour, we came to our destination. I was expecting to find a little community building where about 20 or 30 local people would have come together. Instead, we were greeted by more people than I could even see, let along count. The tiny community building could not even begin to hold everyone.
I walked inside holding the hands of so many little ones. The thatched grass roof, hay floor, and mud walls were filled to the brim with people, not to mention all of the faces poking in through the doors and windows. We spent some time talking about the agricultural project that one of our partners had been doing with them, and the new, larger community building being built just outside the current one. The singing that followed was so loud from the voices coming from all directions! I stood up following the singing and introductions to begin sharing with everyone how much the One who made the universe and everything in it loves them. The very One who sustains everything and is the reason for everything. That we are given the opportunity to allow the only God to live in us and do amazing things through us by preparing good works before us. This was a message that some people in those masses know better than me and others may have not known at all.
When finished, everyone inside walked outside to talk more together, and also to watch a movie. In places this rural, few if any have electricity or running water. So we love to bring a generator and a projector to watch a movie in Kirundi together. The screen is transparent enough that people can watch from both sides. When it was dark, we turned on a film. What I thought were already thousands turned into the craziest spectacle. People poured in from every trail in every direction to see what was going on. Not only did the large field fill up, but the next hillside as well. All to enjoy a movie!
When finished, we piled back in the van and drove away. My faint headlights casting just enough light to see the little tracks that led back to the place I would later fall asleep. Although I had experienced cool air and absolute beauty, seclusion was far from the day’s description. I hope all of us can press into the adventure God has placed before us!