Sunday, August 07, 2011
Kibeho Road Trip
A long, exhausting… but absolutely beautiful day. The kids that were planning to come to Kibeho got up super early…5:45, despite the alarms being set for 6:30. They were excited to begin our long 4 hour drive. Go figure. Our driver got confused and arrived 1 hour late so it was a mad dash to get to Kibeho. And I mean a mad dash. Zoom zoom zoom. Mind you this is on very very twisty roads. I called shot gun early in the van as I was hoping to take some pictures, but the scenery was blowing by so quickly that there were but a few chances. The car was packed with 6 kids, Abby, Auntie Florientine, the driver and yours truly. Packed like sardines on the two bench seats and in between the passenger and driver seat, on the floor and everywhere in between…just like we all used to travel in simple days gone by. This driver had not been to Kibeho but said he knew the way. The challenge is there is a long way when you get off the paved road and a short way. The signs direct you to the long way…so that was the best we could do. We arrived tardy for mass, but were delighted to make it at all given the time we left Kigali. The church was packed, the music beautiful. I was delighted to be in Kibeho for the first time on a Sunday. After mass we waited for Anathalie (the visionary to whom Mary – yes that Mary- appeared as a small girl). She smiled and waved at us encouraging us to simply wait for her. I would wait for a week to be in the presence of this blessed woman. The kids were so so patient as always. Anathalie ultimately greeted us and told our Isaac that she needed to meet with a group of Nuns that had come to visit her. Alas the visit went one for over an hour. The kids waited so patiently and quietly. They were hot, hungry and tired, but never a peep was sounded. Abby was so sweet to simply hang with them while I wandered around, took photos and savored time to pray for so many people and give thanks for all the many blessings in my life. It was wonderful to simply just sit quietly in the chapel and be present. Kibeho sits on the top of a many hills so the wind comes and just breaths in the goodness of fresh life. I try to imagine what it must have been like in the early 80’s when Mary appeared on a frequent basis with lots beautiful messages and challenges. She warned of the genocide before it happened. If you want to know more about this area and story read the book Our Lady of Kibeho. There is so much to share about this amazing place, but I am typing this with lots of kids around me seeking my attention. Anathalie eventually emerged and was so excited for our visit. By that time our numbers had dwindled to Isaac my 11 year old translator and me. AND to top things off we got a call that the van was urgently needed back in Kigali so suddenly my trip needed to be cut short. My heart sank, but I decided that rather than fret about the change of plans, that I would just savor the time with Anathalie, short as it was. To be in her embrace is to know the love of God. I speak the truth. It simply it. I had made some post cards for her to sell in her little shop. She had selected the pictures on my April visit with her so she liked the output a lot. My Mom had also sent along some shoes for her as she is never able to leave the immediate area unless it is for medical needs. Imagine spending your life from the teen years until today (about 48ish) in prayer and greeting visitors from all around the world to hear her story. She is a patient and loving woman. As we left I asked her pray for my family, the kids of New Hope Homes and to bless my work in NY so I can continue to provide for our kids here in Rwanda. She said “ I pray for you and you pray for me”. She knows only a few words of English, but this is a very good phrase to know! I was supposed to spend time teaching her English on this trip, but alas we had to pass it. She asked that I come and stay for at least a day/night on my December visit so we have more time to be together sharing. I eagerly await that opportunity. The drive back was quite nutty. First was the vomit fest. Yes, it probably was not go to have the kids eat in the car, but since the van was urgently needed in Kigali, we had no choice. My standard protocol is a Ziploc bag in the hands of all of the kids. And yes…some were eventually filled! I have a gag reflex so I had to ask the drive to “hagarara – stop” so I could deal with resulting gag reflex. Abby then gave up her shot gun seat for me so I didn’t have to listen to the sound and smell the – well you know….These kids never complain. They just “blah” as we say and then continue on talking. No tears, so sadness…just a fact of life on Rwanda road trips. They also made me laugh until I cried with stories of a trip where (without Ziploc bags), Kayitesi filled up two shoes, and Innocent one. Then the kicker…when Grace threw up on the head of Kayetesi! Ya just gotta hear them tell the stories with their accents…you would rolling on the flooring laughing…I promise. We also were having some van problems including steering and battery…so there was never a dull moment. Add to that … one of the many security checks along the way with the military and a police man playing big man made for a tough turn. He took away our car registration from the driver until we paid some kind of nonsense thing. After much and very heated disagreement we lost our battle. Never to be defeated….after a few well placed calls, we were told to turn around and retrieve it. Unfortunately that meant adding another 1.5 hours to our journey for good measure. Securing our paperwork again, we were ready to set out. Unfortunately the battery wasn’t working. After a prayer, some tape from Abby and a large stone…the Driver jerry-rigged a workable solution. Next to find gas as the light was flashing flashing flashing. Yikes. Never a dull moment on our road trips. By this time, our friends in Kigali of course had to make alternate arrangements as we were so delayed. The kids, hungry and thirsty just remained in good spirits sleeping, and playing “ I am thinking of something…..you know…are u a person, are you a thing, do you have a color etc etc.” Excellent thumb wars got us through the final push of the trip. Returning home the big kids who were left behind (we rotate every trip), greeted us warmly with not one complaint for being left behind. Have I mentioned what beautiful children we have at New Hope Homes! Tomorrow brings another trip to Immigration in an attempt to make some progress on my Citizen application process. Then skyping…then chilling. We will skype a few more times and then get off the grid so I can disconnect from America and just be with our kids here. I love ya, but I need to be off the grid to process much work to be done here. We loved having Abby with ua again today. I was able to see her beautiful home tonight. She is surly a gift to Rwanda. Hope you day was blessed.