In my travels, I’ve had some great times indeed. I’ve slept in Bedouin tents in the Sahara, in hammocks in Central America, but there’s just no place like Africa for an adventure. Leopards eating zebra legs, crocodiles eating Wildebeests, Masai warriors escorting us to dinner with their spears to fight off any would-be Munson-eater along the trail. It’s simply amazing and that’s why we’re taking people back with us this summer. We’re taking 30 of our employees, friends and family on the adventure of a lifetime deep into the heart of Africa and maybe we’ll ask you to come along with us on a later trip.
There are all kinds of mind-blowing adventures to be had there, but this trip will be a different kind of adventure. It’s the kind that isn’t just about having a great time, but it’ll be the best trip you’ve ever had. It’s not all about you, yet it’ll affect you for life. This is the kind of adventure that changes the mind and heart and plans and priorities of life. I’m talking about the adventure of spending time with the people of Rwanda, Africa.
Seeing the sheet music for Pachelbel’s Canon is different from hearing it. And reading about sugar is different from tasting it. In the summer of 2010, we heard and tasted some great things on our family trip to Rwanda. Before going, we had seen the pictures and were supportive of the needs there, but when we experienced it, our focus became sharper. And that’s why we’re taking people back with us. We want others to hear the beautiful music and taste of the sweetness in Africa.
So you may ask, “Dave, why are you taking people there? If you really want to help the people in Rwanda, then why don’t you just send over the $90K (30 people X $3000) instead of going?” I’ve asked myself that question and it’s a good one. And here are our reasons.
- Love – The orphans who scavenge desperately for food are rarely ever touched and don’t feel that anyone in the world would miss them if they committed suicide later that night. What if you died and your kids were left wandering the streets looking for food? Would you want someone to sacrifice their time and money to wrap their arms around your kid’s neck and help them get out of poverty (not just giving them material things)? Would you want someone to show them that they matter and give them hope and a future? Or would you prefer that someone just send a check? There’s a HUGE difference between writing, “I love you” on the bottom of a check and demonstrating to someone that they’re loved.
- Inspiration – Those who go often come back more inspired to donate of their natural gifts, talents, understandingand abilities to affect more people than $3000 ever could. But they may never see or feel the need to do that until they’ve tasted and experienced the need.
- Change – People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. By flying in to work with the locals, we actively show them through sacrifice, hugs and projects that the whole African/Foreign team cares about them. They are then more and more open to local Rwandans helping them understand why they are in poverty and how to get out of it. All because they know that they care about them.
- Growth – For each of us to grow to be a more compassionate person in other areas of our lives, and therefore have more desire to build relationships with people in need in our own communities.
- Multiplication – When people get home, they often make their circle of influence more aware of the needs they experienced in Rwanda. And as a result, even more people will come alongside the orphans, widows and prostitutes to help them out of their horrible situations.
There are a lot of effective organizations alleviating poverty and changing lives in Africa, but Africa New Life www.africanewlife.org is the one hosting our Saddleback trip. We’ve been highly impressed by them. They voluntarily submit their books for forensic auditing through . Only 9% of donations go to salaries and admin expenses while 91% goes directly to empathy, compassion and education. They aren’t just giving handouts so the poor develop a sense of inferiority and entitlement, but are instead training and developing them. And, it’s a Rwandan founded and led organization with a wise U.S./African board of directors to help guide and structure their services. We trust them implicitly.
ANLM reaches out to people with two hands. One hand reaches out to address the physical needs through relief, rehabilitation and development and the other hand works on the spiritual side giving them hope and joy through a personal relationship with God. ANLM feeds the helpless street kids, provides an excellent education in their schools, and gives vocational training for single mothers, prostitutes, former slave girls and older street boys. Currently, they facilitate sponsorship for over 3,300 children and provide more than ½ million meals to those who are starving to death. It’s a very effective ministry in breaking the chain of poverty and changing Africa one town at a time.
Our team will be in Rwanda July 9th – 20th. During that time, you can follow the trip at Facebook.com/SaddlebackLeather.
Now, you don’t even have to leave your city to find need. Here are some ideas to put yourself in another context and show love and change lives where you are:
- Regularly visit old folks homes and wander room to room asking questions and giving hugs and listening to stories. Some people live the last decade of their lives without human interaction. Bring your dog when possible.
- Volunteer at a Salvation Army or Goodwill www.goodwill.org sorting through donations or folding clothes.
- Spend time as a mentor once a week with a fatherless boy or girl.
- Contact a non-profit that you care about and volunteer your services in the areas in which you are talented/knowledgeable. Are you a programmer? Good with little kids or with mentally challenged adults? Are you an artist who could contribute to making the non-profit’s website not look so stupid? Are you a marketer who can help them communicate their purpose better or drive more traffic to their site? Do you have an audience to make people more aware of that organization?
Obviously, we don’t need to travel to the heart of Africa to find need. It’s all around us. But learning about more extreme need and traveling to experience it was life changing for us. As St. Augustine so wisely said, “The World is a book, and those who don’t travel only read a page”. I’d have to agree. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the second greatest book ever written that can change a life just by “reading” it.