Sorry, I have been slacking on the blog, but certainly not slacking here. So much going on I can hardly remember.
Drove to Runeghiri to enjoy Easter Eve and Easter Morning with Bishop and Chantal Mbanda. We had a wonderful time together. In addition to the joy of celebrating Easter our focus was on strategic planning work for the Vision of New Hopes Homes. Our friends in Kansas have raised the funds to build our 4th home. We now have the land, and will break ground but need to raise the funds to operate it annually. Our goal would be to build the 4th and 5th homes together for building efficiency costs. There are the serious on going needs of our current 3 homes. Our dreams are so big but our budget so small. Believing that God will show us the way and so grateful that my colleagues at Aegis Media are eager to help us use their collective communications expertise to help us raise funds.
On a small note, ahhh, so nice to have running water at the Mbandas. And hot water! They also had a wonderful meal for me and shared some wine. It was good to be present with them as they shared their needs to so many other things they want to accomplish. Help build a small home for a woman who’s home was destroyed in a big wind about 2 months ago, start more day cares through their part of the country, send Mbanda back to school to finish his studies in Canon Law in the Anglican/Episcopal Church, help Chantal build a little store that ladies who weave baskets etc can sell, etc etc. Their hearts are so focused on helping people uplift themselves. Please, if any of these things seem like something you would like to get involved with, please let me know.
The drive to Ruhengeri is normally 2.5 hours. Our return was like a rocket ship with a nice man who drove us back. 1:20 mins. The roads are not stop twisty, turny roads with people passing at all sorts of inopportune times. I was in the back seat with Chantal desperately trying NOT to throw up. There was a small plastic back near me so I kept my hand on it if needed. I told them I could not speak. I would just close my eyes and focus. Thankfully we made it with no vomit anywhere in sight!
Then it was the last night home with the big kids. 12 kids that you simply would love to call your own. I can’t tell you enough about how wonderful they are. They are smart, compassionate, kind, funny, helpful. You name it, they are simply a joy. When I think back to 5 years ago when no one spoke English and New Hope Homes was envisioned and launched by Chantal it’s remarkable. I have seen these kids go from scared, incredibly ill and timid kids to filled fully with hope. If you are reading this, you too are part of their journey and I thank you.
The energy level in the house last night was at a fever pitch. Yes, like any kids the night before school, trying to get every last wiggle out. And in this case, serious giggles were part of the wiggles.
We skyped and called so many people. It was too funny!!!
I eventually got them all to bed. This included standing like the camp counselor in one of the bedrooms until the boys stopped laughing. Of course my food on there behinds shaking their beds made the process last a little longer. Hey, come on, I was a kid too!
The drive to Rugenguri was uncharacteristically quiet. When I inquired what was up they said they were sad that they would be at school and I would be here. Some also had that – I want to stay on vacation – look on their faces. We eventually arrived at school. On the way up I asked if I should “cry big and make a scene or little?” They said ‘little”. I said I would cry “big” just to bug em. Their English is good enough now that jokes are understood. They boys however, were horrified by the fact that I might embarrass them…they just kept trying to see if I joking or not. Yup, they are growing up indeed!
There was a serious check in issue that took hours. Some top guy somewhere in the government made a ruling THIS MORNING that no 6 year olds could attend boarding school. They thought several of our kids looked that age. They check the paper work again and again trying to confirm that they were right but our kids kept saying they were 7. We had to go through layers and layers of review until we ended up at the head master who said Grace and Esther look small – yup they are – and could be 6. Finally I remembered that I have a pdf on my computer with all the kids ages. Not government official, but the beginning. Mbanda’s wonderful asst Milly came to help me and finally go them to agree to let them stay over night while we drove back tonight to find some government paperwork to allow them to stay. Esther and Grace however, were kinda digging the part where they go to come back home with me instead of school!
We gathered in a circle and said a prayer before the boys headed off to their wing of the school. One of the officials allowed me to cross through the entrance gate with the girls as I was ‘their Mom’. I like the sound of that!
As we walked through the rain to their rooms their friends came running and gave them lots of hugs and helped them with their bags. It was so sweet. I toured each of their rooms and met their friends. Marie Rose asked if we could say another prayer before I left. Paper, Rock, Scissors confirmed Fabiola would lead us in prayer. Tears flowed but not as badly as before as they know “Miss Donna ALWAYS comes back!” I rounded the corner and burst out in tears. 3 mins later two little hands landed in mine on either side and it was Alice and Esther who had come running to walk me back to the front gate. Bless their sweet hearts. Another goodbye and then I was mush.
Abby who is planning to spend at least a year teaching in Rwanda starting this fall.
The drive home was still. No kids. Only memories of each of their voices, their giggles, their hopes and dreams.
Now I return to 3 homes where no one speaks English, But the love is there. I am looking forward to getting to know our little kids more and more as our big kids get so much of my attention, but my love spreads out over them all.