Servant Team Update from Valeria!

Valeria is currently serving in Kigali, Rwanda alongside our ministry partners at Rebuilding Rwanda. Originally from Venezuela, Valeria’s experiences at the recent Christmas gift distribution party for the Lahash sponsored kids made a big impression on her.

When I was a child, Christmas was all about the gifts. I would spend the whole year telling my parents what I wanted for Christmas. When I entered my teen years it became more about spending time with family and friends and enjoying good food together. In my culture, Christmas is a big deal and we enjoy celebrating it. However, we often focus only on family, gifts, and food. We lose sight of the real reason for the season, Jesus.

When our Servant Team was preparing to come to Rwanda, we were told that we would be helping with the gift distribution and Christmas celebration. I was confused. A Christmas celebration in mid-February? What? It made no sense to me. When we arrived here, I could see that it takes a lot of time for the donations people give at Christmas to be used by the Rebuilding Rwanda staff to purchase all the gifts for all the kids and make all the preparations. So they have their Christmas in February.

As we started preparing for the celebration, I realized Christmas looks a lot different here than what I was used to, especially for these kids. Growing up, I always wanted the best toy or the newest Nintendo as a Christmas gift. I never had to worry about getting a bed, clothes, or food for Christmas because all those needs were already covered. However, these are the type of things these kids ask for. This challenged me and made me think about what Christmas actually means.

On the morning of the Christmas celebration day, I was so excited and full of expectations. I really enjoy normal program days, but I knew this day was going to be even more fun. As a Servant Team, we decorated before the kids arrived, and set up a table with juice and snacks so they could start their day with some food. A DJ played music as the kids arrived and ate their snacks together. After they ate, the fun started. We had “Spiderman” hosting the event and providing games for the kids, such as musical chairs, an obstacle course, and tug-of-war. The kids loved it, and to be honest, so did I! Watching the kids playing and dancing all around, and also being able to join them, made my heart really happy.

The culmination of this celebration was the gift distribution. Lahash and the Rebuilding Rwanda staff always make sure every kid in the program gets a gift, even the ones who are not yet sponsored. After lunch, the children’s parents or caregivers arrived to help the kids pick up their gifts. The whole process took a long time and was not easy. But once it was done, all the hard work we had put into it made it feel so rewarding. So many beds, mattresses, goats, bags of food, clothes, and shoes were distributed to the kids and their families. I cannot even explain with words the happiness shown in their faces.

This Christmas celebration had games, friends, food, and gifts, yet it was more than that. In these kids’ faces I could see not only genuine happiness and gratitude, I could see Jesus. And that’s when I realized that this celebration truly was all because of Jesus. Jesus is the reason for the season; he is the reason people gave these gifts.

It struck me, too, that Jesus was present throughout the celebration, and also present as the kids returned home. Jesus cares about them, and he blesses them with more than just a bed, mattress, food, clothes, or a goat. These kids are loved by their caregivers, the Lahash and Rebuilding Rwanda staff, and their sponsors. Most importantly, they are loved by their Savior. Jesus blesses each of them every day with his unconditional and unending love.

To follow the Servant Team’s journey and see more photos from their time in Rwanda, visit the Servant Teams page on Facebook.

Jen Johnson