The journey for me started not on the day I left Houston, TX for the country of Rwanda but it started before that. It started when over the summer I sent in my application and waited for a response. Part of me was wondering if I would get picked, mostly because if I looked at someone’s medical history and saw their problems..the status of mine would flag concern and honestly I would probably put that one of the low-end of the decline pile.
I did not know how the process would go but I finally got that email – I was wait listed (alternate). I did not even bother to call about it because I felt that it was a lost cause. I did not expect to be one of the first alternates and certainly not someone who would get a chance to go to Rwanda of all places. Lo and behold, the acceptance letter came in just two days after I was notified I was waitlisted.
Now I know that over 750 people applied for this trip! 750 students sent in their applications, letters etc. and only 19 students went on the trip! You may not be a believer in God, but I know that those 19 people were handpicked for a reason! They didn’t just fall into the trip! There is no way for anyone to select the “special” 19 people whose lives were going to change because they saw what is going on in Rwanda.
The journey began on the day I got my acceptance, I had to go for all the painful shots and work with my doctors to get my body “healthy” enough to make the travel! And finally the day came that I needed to fly to Washington D.C. to meet with my team. I left Houston early after noon on Wednesday, November 9th. The trip was the first one I had taken in a while, especially alone. I was luckily selected to go through the full body scanner! WOHOO! I can mark that one-off my list!
My plane was late to the Houston gate, which meant when I was airborne for Charlotte, NC. I was going over and over in my mind how I was going to run across two terminals. I asked the flight attendant if there was anyone the plane from Charlotte, NC to Washington D.C. could be held for me. She said she would make an announcement.
For the first time, the flight attendant asked that when we were at the gate, anyone who had a flight leaving within 15 minutes of that time (I had 10 minutes) to please let them out so they could “attempt” to make their connecting flights. I was able to escape the plane and run (yes run) across two terminals and make it with 3 minutes before the plane was leaving (not boarding).
BUT WAIT! There was a huge crowd of people at my Washington D.C. gate! Yup my Charlotte plane was grounded for maintenance. I ended up sitting on the floor for 45 minutes for that to get fixed! By the time I got to Washington D.C., I was two hours late for my team meeting!
When I finally got to the hotel the team meeting was already in progress. It was great to put faces to a new. I had a wonderful roommate (whom I ended up rooming with in Kigali). She was so sweet and had the heart of a true giver. The breakdown of the team was 3 of us had finished, 5 were under-grads going into counseling and the rest either 1st or 2nd year counseling students.
The first night and the next day were spent training (what we were going to do) and getting to build team relationships. You do not realize how critical that is to a successful team, when no one has met the next person..it is good to spend at least a day letting that happen prior to when you are on the field.
You could see such a range of people, for some this was the first time they had been overseas since high school and for other this was the first time they had been overseas period. I was able to share my experiences with travel and with being a missionary kid. I could see some people they would truly grow from this experience! I was excited to get on my transatlantic flight and most importantly to see Africa with my own eyes for the first time.