We began the day today with three tasks: wash our clothes, organize shoes for the kids, and go to the market to buy vegetables. I am proud to say all three tasks were accomplished! But of course, nothing ever goes as easy as you’d hope. And there are always lessons to be learned.
When Abby and I woke up this morning, Donna had already headed out to the market to look for fabric and take some pictures. After a few cups of tea (I’m a caffeine addict) I finally felt human enough to begin washing clothes. The process: find water, pour water from huge jugs into washing basin, find soap, soak clothes in soapy water, use bar soap and rub on clothes, use fists to rub pieces of clothes together until dirt is removed, rinse clothes until all soap is gone, hang to dry. To sum it all up, LENGTHY!! I can’t believe how hard these aunties work to wash clothes for themselves and the 27 children. I thought I could rest easy, all my laundry done, 4th or 5th cup of tea in hand, when I realized that the piece of paper with all of Sister Nathalie’s contact information (refer to yesterday’s post) was in the back pocket of the jeans I just washed. I ran to my jeans and pulled out a soggy, crumpled mess that used to be a piece of paper. Face gray, heart stopped, body sweating profusely, I grabbed Abby’s tweezers and set to work (see pic). I don’t think I even breathed until I finished. But, thank the Lord, I was able to spread it enough to copy the information in my notebook. (I can’t even describe the look on Donna’s face throughout all of this. She is a woman of unbelievable grace)
After we all calmed down, we began the arduous task of finding tennis and dress shoes for all the kids in their right sizes. We’ve been at this for a while. Most of the kids are wearing shoes that are too small, some as much as 2-3 sizes. We searched through bags in the storage room and found the right shoes for most of the kids. Some will have to make do with shoes that are a little too small or too big until we can find the right ones.
We also took Sande, Marie Rose, Fabiola, and Alice with us to the market. Donna is so much fun to walk the streets of Kigali with. She doesn’t know a stranger and she’s constantly making new friends with her camera! There were crowds of people around her while Abby and I were picking out produce. What a great sight! It’s inspiring to see how committed Donna is to getting to know the community surrounding New Hope Homes. The busy day kept going. Donna hosted a market for all the staff at NHH. They all got to pick a number and come pick out a gift from her “market”. Everyone had such a blast! The aunties and uncles were laughing so hard. We were also celebrating the day with a movie night for everyone. Kids made jiffy pop over the charcoal stove, played with dress up masks, and then we all sat in the classroom and watched part of Toy Story together. Sande ditched the movie to help me cook some of Donna’s meat. He was great. While we cooked, I asked him about what he wants to be when he grows up. He responded either a football man or a bishop. All of these kids have such powerful stories. As an American, you usually hear about kids in poverty in numbers. So many kids go to bed hungry, blank amount of kids are orphaned by violence or disease. It rocks your world a bit when these kids stop being numbers. They are Sande, the 11 year old who wants to be a bishop, and Alice, the 6 year old who loves dancing and having her hand held. There are 25 other kids like these at NHH. All with hopes, dreams, and fears. All unique, all wanting to be loved.
So while my task-oriented side celebrates that we crossed everything off the day’s list, I am also humbled by remembering that there is a greater purpose behind what we do here. The kids these homes are serving are real, just born in a different country and in a different context than the ones I see running around Minneapolis.