God's love reigns
"When you go there, something happens," Rufo said. "I'm 50 years old, how did I miss this?"
Rufo recounted a defining moment from his January stay:
He was sitting on a bench when a little girl no older than 10 sat next to him, holding a small bag of M&Ms. She never saw the candy before, nor did she know how to open the bag.
"I opened it for her and she kinda smiled," Rufo said.
A crowd of kids joined them, and, while all laughing together, the little girl put her arm on Rufo's leg.
"My whole world changed at that moment," he said, pondering the epiphany he experienced that day. "Here, we tend to get tied up in all the stuff we need to do and people will just fly right by you and not even notice you. In that culture, that doesn't happen. Nobody flies by you.
"I think I really felt, sitting there with that little girl's arm on my leg -- I think I see how God sees her," he paused, "and we should do the same.
"So now I have this vision every night that we can go back in Ndiadiane, hang out with all these people, and just be a family in the middle of Africa," he added.
For almost all the members involved, this mission is the first of its kind for which they've ever volunteered.
"We have this team of people deeply committed to this adoption," Rufo said. "Everyone's life has been affected in very real ways."
From then to now
A medical team, packed full with 400 mosquito nets and medical supplies, was sent in May to address various health issues including malaria -- a disease prevalent throughout Africa. Kid's Quest, an Eastern Hills children's group, raised money over the summer in hopes to provide each youth a net. The villagers know they need nets, said Rufo, who remained home during the second trip. Nets cost $5 each and they just can't afford them, he added.