(Editor’s Note: As our IAC team and Kibali community in Rwanda were ending their day with the Run for Rwanda, the IAC family and Colorado Springs community were starting their day with the same run. We have included a few photos of the Colorado run, alongside the Kibali run, so you can see what was happening both places! Rwanda photos by Michelle Weed unless otherwise noted. Colorado photos by Tim Askew.)

Friday and Saturday, Days 12-13

What a joy filled eventful day it was here in Kibali! We were all eager to finally arrive Friday and greet our family here. Pastor Justin and Bishop Emmanuel both came out to the guest house to give us a warm welcome. Before dark we got a chance to walk to town and deliver three large suitcases of donated wedding dresses to a small shop run by the mother’s union. It is a valuable work as it provides free wedding dress rentals to orphaned women who would not otherwise have been able to have a church wedding.

Being welcomed to Kibali by Pastor Justin.

Heading down the street with suitcases full of wedding dresses!

Greeting one of the women of the mothers’ union that provides free wedding dress rentals to orphaned young women.

Greeting a child on the streets of Kibali.

Women and children of Kibali.

It was an early start Saturday morning and we were off to our sister parish to participate in the Youth Conference, see the Health Clinic, and of course be part of the much anticipated Run for Rwanda! It was a real joy to be part of the Youth Conference. Shannon and I were able to share with the youth a lesson from the Word and Allison led us in song. We provided materials for a craft, and even the adults in the room worked diligently on it.

The beautiful dancing of the youth at their conference.

The youth work on a craft at their conference. (Photos by Madeline Nunnally)

After leaving the youth, we were taken on a thorough tour of the clinic buildings and given information on the services and programs being offered there. The health clinic has been built almost entirely by funds raised through IAC. Steve Flannery saw the need for the clinic ten years ago, and the Run for Rwanda was born. The clinic services over 10,000 people and provides laboratory and pharmaceutical services; pre- and postnatal care; education in family planning, disease prevention, health screenings and more. What a tremendous blessing to see what the Lord had done here in this beautiful partnership.

Women sit outside a wing of the beautiful health clinic in Kibali! The funds raised by the Run for Rwanda over the past 10 years have paid for this clinic to be built.

After a hearty lunch it was time to finish the race preparations. Student Emmanuel and many others worked carefully to assure the big race went smoothly, and they did a great job. We were all able to help out and many of our team joined in to run the race. The whole community seemed to come out to run or to cheer.

The race begins in Kibali, Rwanda!

Simultaneously, the race also begins in Colorado Springs, Colorado!

An additional special connection this year was that some members of the Rwandan International Cycling Team were on hand for the race in Colorado Springs.

A runner is all smiles as the tab is collected from her race bib at the finish line.

I will never forget how hard they pushed themselves — dripping with sweat, many needing to be helped from the finish line. The festivities were not over after the last runner crossed the line, though. We all gathered for awards and speeches — and of course lots of dancing. I think we all love that part the best.

Saturday was very special for Allison and Rebekah Flannery, Steve’s wife and daughter, as they were able to witness in a very real way what has taken such hold of Steve’s heart these last 10 years.

Rebekah Flannery, whose father Steve originally birthed the idea of the Run for Rwanda, completes the race in Kibali — with some new friends.

Meanwhile, Rebekah’s sister Abbie (#271) ran the race in Colorado!

Archbishop Rwaje (left) and Bishop Emmanuel ceremonially cross the finish line in Kibali.

And it was a dream come true for Kevin Werner to be in Rwanda for the 10th anniversary of the run — and a beautiful way to end his season as race coordinator at IAC. We are so thankful for these and many, many others who have made it possible to not only raise financial support for our brothers and sisters, but also to create a bond between us that has unspeakably deep roots.

Kevin Werner (celebrating with his wife Alisa) has been race director for the past 5 years. He finally got to run the race (barefoot!) IN Rwanda!

Everyone gathers against a beautiful sunset for speeches and awards in Kibali. No Rwandan celebration is complete without Fanta! (Photo by Kevin Werner)

One of the greatest things about Saturday was the connection we felt with you all back home. It really did help us to realize how much this race brings our families and our hearts together. We have been praying for the race on your side of the world, and look forward to hearing about it when we return. Thank you to all who were involved on any level to make this day a success. Praise God!