Today was a very special day for our kids. Today was about giving back and showing their Mama, Aunties and Uncles that they love them very much.
We told that cook Manuel that the Muzongos were going to cook a special dinner so they should all come to the classroom around 6 pm .
That concept sounds easy but it’s all about the execution as you know. Sarah, our forever ringleader and organizer put the list of to-dos together and we divided up the jobs and went at it starting around 10 am.
Abby volunteered to go to Knokumott on a Moto (motorcycle) and get the meat, chicken and ice cream. Sarah had promised some of the kids yesterday that they could go to the produce market with her today so she lead that parade. I joined them but peeled off at the market with Kayitesi to get some material for our table cloth.
Sarah now had a regular person from who she was buyng produce so the negotiation went quite well. I had been in the material market 2 days prior but couldn’t get a good price on what I wanted (I kept telling them it was a Muzongoo price – white person price – and that I had visited Rwanda 6 times and knew what was fair. Today we were able to strike a deal. It was at just the moment that I realized we were to be skyping with Liles Repp and Sydney & Regan Hansen so we went rushing over Sarah and the kids and told them we needed to go back. Alice decided to join us on the return and we were off.
The menu we selected was based on suggestions from the kids, adults and Erica Mbanda. Meat and chicken are much appreciated by the staff. Kids have now had pizza 2 times and while not liking it the 1st time..they really enjoyed it the 2nd time so they asked to try it again. Pizza’s are 10US$ each so they aren’t cheap but Erica offered to pick them up for us in town so it seemed like an easy plan for 27 kids.
By the time the girls and I reached the gate, we they started yelling Abby Abby. Indeed Abby was just returning to the house on the Moto and we were all so impressed as she had been to town and back with the driver that didn’t speak any English. She explained to the Motor driver the she wanted him to drive her to Knokutt, wait for her and return to the house and she had BEATEN us home while were just had to walk 15 mins to the market. She received lots of cheers.
At home we skyped with Sarah and the girls and our girls loved talking to them. The connection was great and I think we could have have simply walked away and let them talk to each other for an hour. I love love love when that happens.
Next up was Liles. While his connection did not allow for us to hear his voice, he was able to hear us so he simply typed the words as text messages that they had to read and they would respond. It was a nice English lesson and the kids loved loved loved seeing him. We told him the $100us equivalent thst he sent along with me in left over Rwanda francs was being used to throw the party that night and it made him really smile.
By now it was 4 pm and there was much to do. Abby and Sarah started washing and cutting up vegetables. Lionel, Isaac and Sande had offered to help cut and cook and they were a huge help. They stayed focused for hours helping. Sarah and Abby have surely discovered some hidden talents. I love when volunteers find something new in our kids. We’ll now be able to pass that along to other people who come to help advance their skills.
I went to the classroom to start decorating with the kids. We took the small tables that the kids use to study and put them together to form one large table, then we put the table clothe over it, topped it with candles and then the kids made special place cards for each member of our staff. They put the name on the outside of the card and wrote I love you on inside each card and then decorated them with stickers and other fancy things. They were simply precious. They also moved the chock board to the end of the table and wrote “thank you for loving us” in Kinyarwanda.
Next up was to find enough plates and silverware from all the houses. In the end we had enough forks and plates but only about 5 knives to share. The finishing touch was to created some nice napkins presentation with some cheap paper ones I had bought in January. The kids patiently studied my pattern and did it pretty darn well.
Next I gathered all the kids and we made a plan for the night. They needed to understand that this was about giving back and having a servant heart so it was not abou them tonight it was about the adults.
Meanwhile Abby and and Sarah had a massive production going with Chips (French fried) meat and chicken. We laughed at the amount of meat we decided to buy and thought we would have enough leftovers for days. More about that later.
Manuel the regular cook stood by and oversaw their production helping out as needed. He was so full of joy that I can’t describe it. He literally skipped through the yard at one point. I asked him in Kinyarwanda if it was good and he was having fun. Yes Yes was his reply and gave me a big thumbs up. The look on his face was indescribable.
Erica arrived with the pizzas and everyone from the 2nd and 3rd house arrived so the party could begin. The kids made a line at the entrance (well sorta of a line..they are kids_ and the adults passed by them to enter the classroom and see it’s transformation. The each sat on the chairs (that are so short you could be sitting on the floor) and read their cards. Whoo hoo. Off to a good start. Next up 4 kids worked perfectly in unison – starting with Mommy – 1 held a bucket under her hands, the next poured some water to allow her to wash , one held some soap to wash and the next a towel to drive. The beautiful production was repeated with each adult. The expression on Mama’s face was complete pride and joy that the kids were doing such a good job. Next I shared in English, while Erica translated that tonight was about giving thanks to them for loving our kids and doing such a terrific job with it. Sande then lead us in prayer. Next the kids went running out of the classroom as a group to quickly go to Abby and Sarah so they could dish them up a mean for the adults. The adults asked that the little kids be served before they ate so we quickly sat them down and handed out the pizza. Then the kids line up and presentation of the plates began. One after another they filed in with a big serving of meat, chicken, rice and potatos. The adults loved loved loved it. In fact the only left overs was some chicken that was taking a long time to prepare. The food was a huge hit which is hard to do with this crowd.
Erica was a huge help with the kids, with translating and taking photos so we have some memories.
After dinner Mama started a spontaneous song that the others joined in with and before you know it EVERYONE was up dancing and singing. I pulled the drum down and one of the Aunties began to place it with such fervor that everything went to the next left. As they began to sing “we are one” in Kinyarwranda I unsuccessfully tried to hold back the tears of joy these people represent in my life. The appreciation I have for how well they care for our kids.
After about 20-30 mins of song and dance they sat back down and we did a little entertainment program. Sarah and Abby have discovered Lionels amazing dance skills and they cranked the itunes and let him take the floor. A bit timid at 1st he eventually got the courage from the cheering crowds to go for it. Abby and Sarah then did a duet “Down to the River” and received lots of cheers.
We decided to hold off on the ice cream as the evening seemed perfect as is and Abby and Sarah could use it for their departures or just another night of celebration.
The kids then filed out to help do dishes. Abby had sent up the perfect production line of wash, then rinse then dry. About 6 kids did the work with Abby and I providing some assistance. The adults decided it was time to get the little kids back to the other houses and came by to say thanks. The look on their faces when they saw what a good job the kids were doing with dishes was priceless.In the end, the kids were very proud of their night and the adults understood that they were appreciated and clearly were so proud of each and everyone one of them. the kids for the time, effort and love they each put into it.
Abby, Sarah , Erica and I ended the night by cracking open a bottle of African wine I had bought in town earlier in the week. Ahhh, a very very very good day.