Today Holly took on caring for, teaching, and playing with most of the kids as DJ and I set out with 10 of them for the long drive to Kibeho.
It is a 4 hours drive EACH WAY including a minimum of 3 potty stops. A dramatic improvement from when Kristen Cavallo took the last group of kids and we had about 10 potty stops and vomit in a variety of place in the car and on us. I felt like quite the inventor today when I handed each of them a Ziploc bag and made them put it in their pocket. It worked perfectly. They simply would open up the bag, puke in it and close it back up. Yes, such is the report for today!
The kids are simply wonderful. They love going on adventures and will sit content while being smooshed like sardines into one seat. We laughed, sang lots of songs, told stories and talked about what they each wants to be when they ‘get tall’. After every puke I would say “are you ok?” the response was always a smile and “yes”. I would pass back some water and the journey continued.
The last 1.5 hours of the drive is a dirt road. We took the GOOD road and soon learned that the rain and trucks have done some damage since July, but it’s still much better that the bad road with took with Kristen and Liles where we had to drag logs onto the road to fill the ruts to make lots of areas passable. On the not-so-bad parts we simply filled the holes with stones. Liles they again talked about your running alongside the car!
Today was another day to give thanks and teach our kids about returning the kindness to strangers in our new favorite thing to pass it forward. The story begins with Diane and Scott Ridgway Cross's kids Charlie and AnnieKate. They are HUGE soccer fans and learned during this years world cup that kids in Africa use soccer balls made of banana leaves and twine. This just didn’t’ seem right to them so within 24 hours they created THE BIG BALL PROJECT and started raising money to send soccer balls to Africa. We made the 1st delivery of 50 balls in July and today we distributed lots more. The game is so fun. We drive down the road in a remote village, then we pick out 2-3 kids that are sitting by the road, or playing and we stop the van. Our kids file out and present the ball to the kids along with a pump. Can you imagine what this feels like for all parties involved. For me to know our kids and Annie Kate & Charlie are changing the face of some impoverished child giving them hours and hours of future play time. Our kids then pose with the kids and hold up a picture of Mary Kate and Charlie so they know where the balls came from in America. How COOL IS THAT???? The circle of love is really big. I am so proud that our kids don’t fuss and beg to keep the balls. When I brought the first delivery of balls in July I asked our kids how many of the 50 should we keep? Knowing we have 27 kids the answer will be quite unexpected. They said “we should keep 2 and give the rest to kids who have nothing”. (When people ask how our kids are doing…I like to tell that story because it speaks VOLUMES about them in just a short story.) I told them since we have 3 homes, we could keep 3 balls.
Kibeho is a very special place for people in Rwanda and many all over the world as Mary (yes, Mary the Mother of Jesus) appeared there for many many years in the 80’s. She shared lots of messages including warning people about the impending genocide. One of the young girls Anathalie was 14 or 15 at the time of her appearance. She has stayed in Kibeho to meet with visitors and share her story. I met her in July and was filled with such overwhelming feeling about being with someone who has crossed the thin line between earth and heaven. I was eager to return to spend some more time with her today and I thought the kids would really enjoy meeting her. My hope had been to videotape her sharing her story for my parents and close family and had spent about 2 months trying to get approvals. Alas today was not to be the day. While I have some approvals, I need more. She was also not feeling well but she did spend a bit of time talking with the kids and asking them sweet questions.
My hope is on my next trip….hopefully April that I will have made progress on the video front. She brought out the name info I gave her in July to show me that she remembered me. She doesn’t speak any English but she knows I come with a sincere heart. Chantal had arranged for a dear friend and fellow Pastor to ride with us to translate. He was so lovely. He shared stories of growing up in the refugee camps with Mbanda as a child going to school under a tree and trying to do the best they could while surrounded with 300,000 people who too had fled Rwanda during that time.
DJ again took wonderful pictures. I am so thankful for his presence. I usually have a camera in my hand and spend the day shooting every day while trying to play with the kids. The staff that doesn’t speak English refer to me as “Seka Missy Donna” Which mean “smile” …meaning I am always in their face with a camera saying smile. They now know that I use those pictures to help raise funds from people like you so we can keep caring for these kids and hopefully many more.
Holly had a full day teaching, measuring feet, taking an adventure to the market with some of the kids and chillin with them. They just LOVE her and know that she leaves Friday which is already making them sad. Holly is a complete and total natural with these kids. What a blessing that her team at the office allowed her to travel me to help us help get these kids story told through pictures and video as our funds are very limited for 2011 at the moment.
To cap off a perfect day, we let Isaac pop up some Jiffy Pop over the fire tonight. Yes, the giggles were infectious and they didn’t want to go to bed.
Love my life here. And remain so thankful for your presence on the journey