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An Opportunity to Give Back

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
(Written 29 October 2007...)

I am in the air somewhere over middle America as I type this, flying back to Denver from Boston. When this trip ends, United tells me that I have 80,000 "Elite Qualifying Miles" (EQM) for the year. I didn't fly all of those miles, but pretty close.

Thursday, I leave for another conference, this time in St. Louis. After a brief visit to Peoria following that event, I return home early Tuesday morning. On Thursday morning I am on another flight at 10:20am from Denver, bound to Dulles. I connect with a 6pm flight to Zurich. I have a 90 minute layover there before jumping on a Swiss Air flight to Nairobi. After a too-brief overnight in Kenya, I will be on an 8am flight to Kigali, Rwanda.

In a 90-day period in 1994, 800,000 to 1,000,000 people were murdered in the most horrendous genocide of our lifetimes. The genocide was so rapid and wide-ranging, that the numbers are both staggering and impossible to know accurately. The ultimate result of a colonial plan for Africa put in place decades before, it pitted neighbor against neighbor in ways that they cannot explain now. I believe that it is the most obvious display of the reality of evil's power that we have experienced during our lives. The murderer tried to destroy a people and a country.

Grace has overcome evil in that country.

But the damage is not yet repaired. Their economy has been all but destroyed. Trust between neighbors is lost. Reconciliation requires Love's touch.

So, we are going. We will be meeting with select business, government, and church leaders. We will be giving them a seminar on business development and leadership. We will be meeting with those working to develop various business opportunities, including a cybercafe, a t- shirt business, and perhaps others. We will also meet with those who may be able to help us develop a capital infrastructure to capitalize entrepreneurial business.

The country's leaders are true leaders, not simply politicians. Members of previous teams have met with cabinet members. We are joining with them to believe that special grace will shine on the hurting land of Rwanda.

My role is to preach (Sunday the 11th), teach (Wednesday the 14th), and advise various leaders during the course of my stay there (arrive the 10th, depart the 16th). Please send your prayers and/or best thoughts and energy my way as I prepare and go.

Also, since the trip is funded only by special contributions, I would ask for your financial support, as well. If you would like to be part of this historical
rebuilding, you can contribute a tax-deductable amount directly via Vinelife: http://www.vinelife.com/ (denote "Rwanda, ssh" on the PayPal link).

Please pray for and with me.

On the 16th, I retrace my steps, arriving home late on the 17th. 100,000 miles. I ski at Copper on the 20th and 21st. Then, family. Thanksgiving. And hopefully a lasting impact on some people who live half-way around the world. That is my hope and my prayer. I may even get to go back...

Thank you for letting me share my journeys with you...

God bless you...

Stephen Sven Hultquist

PS Feel free to pass this on to friends. Many people don't realize that there is still so much to do in Rwanda. Thanks.
post #2 of 24
Evil knows no boundaries while grace comes with responsibilities. I wish those that are in need and your efforts the best of support.
Maybe some can share the burden of those that that have lost so much.

Good luck Steve. Take good care of yourself also.
post #3 of 24
Blessings+ prayers go out to you!
post #4 of 24
My thoughts are with you Steve. Enjoy your trip of mercy.

post #5 of 24
The regeneration in Rwanda is truly amazing. I was fortunate enough to meet President Kagame when he was in Denver a few years back, and I recently heard John Rucyahana, the Rwandan Bishop, speak here in Colorado, too. So Rwanda has a little place in my heart. I look forward to your report when you return!
post #6 of 24
Travel safely, Steve. Greg and I send our best to you, your family, and all those who are part of this amazing mission.
post #7 of 24
Thank you for the opportunity to join you in spirit, Steve.
post #8 of 24
Safe travels Steve..
post #9 of 24
My thoughts and prayers are with you and the people you seek to serve. Good luck in your endeavor and stay safe.
post #10 of 24
Positive thoughts for your positive work Steve. Safe travels and see you on the hill.
post #11 of 24
I was away as you prepared to leave so was unaware of this mission. Good luck and safe return.
post #12 of 24
Very nice! God bless and keep you safe on your journey.
post #13 of 24
About ten or so years ago, I worked with a guy that had escaped Rowanda. I remember him telling me, in a very matter of fact way that he would most likley never get to see his family again...
post #14 of 24
Its always good to give back, when you have the opportunity. I wouldn't expect any less from you ssh.
My thoughts and prayers are with you on this journey.
post #15 of 24
All the best wishes for a successful, safe trip! What an amazing opportunity for all involved....thank you for sharing it with us. As TC says, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers and look forward to hearing of your safe return!
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much to all of you. To those who have taken the time and made the sacrifice to contribute, please accept my deepest gratitude. I will bring back stories and (hopefully!) some photos for you.

My friend Joe Des Georges (a great skier and former pro patroller at Aspen) took a few during an earlier trip. Here are a couple of my favorites from his portfolio:

For these, I don't have the story details. For the next ones I post, I will.

Thank you, again... And I'll drop in here when I can!
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Greetings, friends...

I am just completing my third day here in Rwanda as most of you are finishing lunch (Rwanda is CET, 9 hours ahead of MST). On the first day, I visited three memorial sites from the genocide, two of them churches where thousands of people were killed, the third a hillside where people had been promised safe harbor by the former government and were then slaughtered.

It was a very difficult day, as you can imagine, and it gave a backdrop for the reconciliation that is ongoing here. We are here with a film team from the CU Film School. They are creating a film on the reconciliation, and are having some amazing opportunities. Today, they met with the Minister of Youth, Culture, and Sport. Tomorrow, they meet with the mayor of Kigali and there is a reasonable chance that they will meet with President Kagame while they are here.

Yesterday, I preached at a local church of about 500 people held under a tent as they raise funds to complete their church building. It was an amazing experience to encourage the gentle, welcoming people there.

Today, together with another member of our team, I visited two orphanages and two homes of the poor families represented there. The children were very well-behaved, with 100 at each orphanage. We took pictures of many of them that we hope to use as part of a fund-raising activity. The homes are mud huts, rented for the families by the Association that runs the orphanages. The Association helps them learn to create crafts and they are working to find an active market for the products.

Tomorrow, we will visit one of the AIDS/HIV villages to minister to the people there. So many here are afraid to touch these villages, and the last team from Vinelife who visited blessed the people by being willing to touch and hug them. We hope to do the same tomorrow.

Thank you again for your thoughts, prayers, and financial support. I appreciate it more than I can communicate.

(from half a world away)

...until next time...
post #18 of 24
Does this mean the iPhone works in Rwanda?

Glad to see you have arrived safely and have communications on your mission. Thanks for thinking of us. Looks like its approaching midnight your time, so I guess, its Good Luck and Good Night! until next time. Keep us posted.
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
Cirque, the iPhone works just fine here, but I only use the data functions from a hot spot... the roaming charges are extreme ($0.50 for SMS, $2.99/min for calls, $0.195/kb for data).

Thanks for the good wishes, and I'll drop some pictures in here as soon as I get enough bandwidth to upload them...
post #20 of 24
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Cirque, the iPhone works just fine here, but I only use the data functions from a hot spot... the roaming charges are extreme ($0.50 for SMS, $2.99/min for calls, $0.195/kb for data).

Thanks for the good wishes, and I'll drop some pictures in here as soon as I get enough bandwidth to upload them...
Well, a few years ago I think it would have been fair to call Rwanda a "Hot Spot". Again, glad its a bit cooler today.
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
You're right, Cirque. 1994 was a challenging year here. The sights memorializing those events are sobering.

I've posted some pictures of today's Rwanda on my Picasa web album here:

post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well, I am half-way home. I'm sitting in the Zurich airport having flown in from Nairobi this morning. I'll be off to Denver via Washington Dulles in just a couple of hours... and then be skiing Tuesday! :

I have had an incredible experience working with the people of Rwanda. They are eager to improve their place in the world, and, indeed, to be an example to Africa of how a country can prosper by applying principles to their business activities. We made a number of starts, including the creation of a cooperative that will help provide capital at more affordable terms than is currently possible. Our team will also be back multiple times over the next year, and I may be with them (provided we can continue to support the expenses through donations).

Thank you again to those of you who partnered with me for this trip. Check out the Rwanda album on my Picasa site for photos of the seminar as well as a few others. If you are interested in being involved at any level with what is going on there, feel free to drop an e-mail or PM and let me know. There is a lot to do, but the momentum is building.

Thanks, again!
post #23 of 24
Bump -- for anyone interested, Bishop Rucyahana is in Denver this coming week. I'm sure he has a few speaking engagements, but the one I know of is on Sunday morning, 2/24, at Greenwood Community Church in Greenwood Village ... 8, 9:30, and 11 services.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, segbrown, he is an amazing soul with a vitally important story to tell.
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