Mother, Son Mission Rewards

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Robert and Crystal Sperber traveled to Africa in July as part of a mission trip. This photo was taken while they were doing home visit's in Rwanda.

Robert and Crystal Sperber traveled to Africa in July as part of a mission trip. This photo was taken while they were doing home visit’s in Rwanda.

Crystal and Robert Sperber hope there is another mission trip in their future.

The mother and son traveled to Rwanda, Africa for 10 days in July. And they are already planning to do it again.

“We would like to take a team this next spring,” Mrs. Sperber said. “So if there is anyone who might be interested they can contact me.”

The mission trip in July was the first for Mrs. Sperber and her son. Robert convinced his mother to go with because he was not old enough to go without a parent. At her son’s request, Mrs. Sperber decided to go.

The couple went with Asante, an organization that works to organize and assist with children’s summer camps similar to Vacation Bible School in the United States.

“Things were very different,” she said, “but the people were very open to visitors and very friendly. Everyone always waved and smiled.”

Mrs. Sperber said the country was “very safe.”

“Most people don’t expect that because they know about the genocide or other things happening in Africa, but we felt safe.”

During their trip, the Sperbers helped to clear a field where a church and some homes will eventually be built. They also helped with day camps at the schools.

“We worked with about 400 children,” Mrs. Sperber said. “They were in pre-K through sixth grade. But some were as old as 14 or 15 years old. They go to school when they have the money; it’s not based on age.”

Mrs. Sperber said the children were very interactive and “laughed a lot.” She said children would surround them even when they were walking through the streets. She added people were very respectful toward the mission group.

“When we helped clear the field, they came to work in their Sunday best while we were in work clothes,” she recalled. “They did that because we were considered honored visitors.”

She said the homes they visited did not have running water or electricity yet when a 17-year-old boy learned it was Robert’s birthday on the day they were visiting he gave Robert a bracelet for a gift.

Robert said he really enjoyed working at the day camps with the students and meeting new people.

Outside of the mission work, the Sperbers were able to visit the genocide memorial in the capital city of Kigali and also the Presidential Palace Museum, which served as the home of President Juvenal Habyarimana, who was killed at the beginning of the genocide.

Mrs. Sperber said the city of Kigali “was huge.”

“There are 11 million people in the country, which is the size of Vermont and so in the city alone there were 4 million people,” she said.

Robert said language proved to be a barrier and made the trip challenging at times. The food, Mrs. Sperber said, and the weather was good.

She said the family has plans to work with Asante to set up a scholarship fund to be able to send students to the university following their initial schooling.

“They don’t have anything for students after their primary and secondary education,” she said. “We’re going to work with them to put a program together.”

Mrs. Sperber said she is excited about the chance to go on a second mission trip. If anyone else is interested in going with a team next spring, they can call her at 651-6554.

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