Today we set out for Kibeho. This entry will be journey of faith, so skip it if it’s not your thing and catch us back here tomorrow.
Kibeho is a very special place in Rwanda that I learned about the 2nd or 3rd year I was coming here. In the 80’s before the genocide. Mary (yes THAT Mary, the Mother of Jesus) appeared here for many years. She appeared to school children and taught them a very special rosary called the Seven Sorrow Rosary. She asked them to pray it often. Mary also asked they help spread the word that the Rosary is not just a “Catholic” thing, she wants everyone to pray it.
The apparitions were initially thought of with a very skeptic eye, but eventually were endorsed by the Church and verified many times over. Mary also fore told of the genocide that was to come if people couldn’t find peace in their hearts. She spoke of ‘rivers of blood’ that certainly came to pass.
One of the young school girls who was 17 at the time, now 47/48 is still at the site and greets visitors daily. She believe she has been called to do this as her life long ministry. She only leaves the premises to go the hospital in Kigali when she has medical needs. This is my 3rd visit with her. Anathalie was not feeling very well last time so our visit was short as she was having heart and blood pressure issues. Today I phoned her on the way hoping she would be there and joyfully she was! She doesn’t speak more than just few words of English so Sande translated for me. She said she would be there when arrived. My heart left for joy as there is just a peaceful joy that radiates from her when you are near her that I just can’t put into words. I think it’s just a grasp of the feeling that will await us in heaven.
I played a recording of the 7 sorrow rosary for the kids and told them a bit more before we arrived. They are not Catholic so they are so curious about me because I am. I explain that we share the same Jesus so it’s all good!
I believe Mary was very much present when my Father almost died a few years ago so I am opening up my mind and heart to her in a new way as I hadn’t really done it much before.
Anathalie greeted us warmly. Her eyes were full of good health, the change was remarkable. I presented some photos we had taken last time and she loved them. Then I explained that I could have some made into post cards for her to supplement what she has. She was very excited and took quite some time studying them to make her selections.
She was in GREAT spirits and Sande did a wonderful job translating everything. As we talked she began to try to learn more English. Eventually I pulled out my little translation book and she began to study it. It turned into more of a chat among friends. I then asked if she would like me to bring her some shoes on my next visit.
Yes yes yes was the look on her face. The kids measured her feet and we discussed what she would like. I was delighted that she said yes as on prior visits she explained that should couldn’t accept money so I brought her a simple sweater at Christmas that she accepted. Can you imagine staying on the top of a mountain from age 17- until the day you die? Bless you in every way.
Eventually we prayed. She prayed, then she asked the kids to pray and then invited me to do so.
It was a treasured time. The kids sat like cherubs despite being tired and hungry from the trip.
I sent them over to the one resturant nearby with the driver and then I bought from rosaries from Anathalie. As we looked at the colors etc she wanted to learn the English for various things. We sat together for another 30-40 mins trying to sort out the words. She wanted to be able to say “God be with you”, Where do you live” Safe travels” etc etc. I gave her the translation book to keep and she was overjoyed.
She then looked at me and said “enshootee”…which means my friend. Oh my, what a joy for me. And “it is good to see you” which she had just learned.
We hugged and hugged and hugged some more.
I then went to the chapel to pray and she followed me there. When we finished she asked me to “pray for me” which she had just learned. And I asked her to do the same for me. Gez, imagine adding Anathalie to your list of prayer warriors.
She then followed me some more and ask for more of my contact info. I used it as a time to run to the van, grab my computer and modem. I woke up my parents telling them we might be able to skype. She waiting patiently for 20 mins but a storm was approaching and the connection would not work. So so so darn close.
She did talk to my Dad last time to simply say “God Bless you Matt”. That was enough to keep a smile on his face for many weeks.
We hugged some more and she told one of the boys who returned from lunch that I should stay so she could study English with me. Unfortunately the rain clouds were building and I needed to get the kids back. The first 45 -60 mins of the return has windy dirt roads with steep cliffs on the edge so – safety first.
The kids returned to the van with renewed energy from lunch and lots of giggles. The ride home was full of zzzz’s and then giggles, then interviews of each other on my iphone voice memo, Christmas songs etc etc. And of course…our always popular “I’m thinking of something”. Person? Place? Thing? Which can go on for hours. Contrast this drive with the one the Kristen Cavallo ,Liles Repp and I took nearly 3 years ago. 4.5+ hours each way, nearly every kids vomiting and non stop potty stops. Today we made it each way with only 1 vomit and potty stops. Wow.
I love the adventures with the kids as it give me a little more chance to spend more quality time with them versus the mass grounds when they all together. They are growing into such beautiful young ladies and young men. I am so thankful to you for sharing your love, your prayers and your resources so we can continue our work here.
Speaking of. We listened so the song “I saw what I saw” by Sara Groves on the way back home tonight. I told them she wrote the song after a visit to Rwanda and she was the singer at a fund raiser in KC where they raised enough money to build New Hope Homes #4. #4 she shouted for joy. They asked where it would be, I told them near their boarding school I thought. After a bit, they asked. “Miss Donna so when you come visit, will you come to Homes #1-3 or will you go to #4? They were very serious. I told them #4 as I wanted to play with them a bit, then I laughed and said I would always come see then always.
May be true for the of the days that I draw breath.