The idea of Africa fascinated me. I memorized every country -- their names and where they lived on the map. I traced my fingers against the round, colourful surface as the globe spun in my hands.
I was eighteen years old when I decided it was time for me to go. I packed two bags and stepped onto two planes. I got four shots on my left arm, and took my malaria medicine. I brought three notebooks and clutched my passport so tight my knuckles were white and achy. I was anxious, but not scared. I had to prove to myself that I could travel across the ocean, and I could do it alone, and I could be okay.
So I went to Rwanda for sixty days, and I encountered Jesus in ways I'd never seen him before. I saw him there -- in deep, dark, ebony eyes that I could've drowned in. I remember being on a boat, riding across a lake, and the wind encased my cheek like it was caressing me. It was Jesus, I knew it was him. I felt him so strongly in the wind that surrounded me.
When I came home, I never wanted to go back to the way I saw Jesus before I saw him in Rwanda.
So many people asked me: weren't you scared going to Africa by yourself? Just an eighteen year old girl?
No, I told them. It was something I had to do.
I never would've thought I was brave to go. What I said was true: going to Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills, the heart of Africa, was something I had to do.
I'm unendingly grateful I did it. And somehow, without realizing, I chose something brave.