Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Harvin started the day with a great run with the older boys. We made a decision that this would be a legitimate run….therefore the joy would be in the run and togetherness. This is in contrast to the reward at the runs that Harvin started last time …where the run ended up with a bagel from a mozoongo (white person) bakery that recently opened. We decided they needed to be into it for the right reasons. ☺

I decided that I would take a spin on the new scooter. White women driving anything is quite infrequent in Rwanda…but a moozongo on a scooter was quite the attraction. I simply motored by and greeted everyone with a hello or good morning in Kinyarwanda. They laughed and smiled as this crazy woman. Harvin got a local mobile phone (hmm, does that mean he iis really coming back? Or is $25 bucks for a working phone too much to pass up?) It gave us both a sense of security that we could reach each other while we were on our solo missions.

Remarkably we returned at nearly the same time. He of course did another run with the boys that don’t quite have the endurance of the bigger ones. He is indeed a good man. While he was gone, I attempted to make my 3rd pot of coffee in my life ever. No, not my 3rd pot in Rwanda…Yes my 3rd ever. I bought the coffee pot yesterday for our volunteers who go thru crazy withdrawal without it! I didn’t quite have the proportions down right, but he was very sweet when he took the first sip. “Perfect is too week, too strong or just right – this one is indeed perfect”. After probing nonstop he finally hinted that I might want to cut my coffee contribution in ½.

It was then time for school. Harvin ushered all the kids to the classroom for me to begin while he took a quick bucket bath. He then found himself in a deep deep time with Isaac who simply needed to shed some tears and have a man to talk it out with. For those who read the blog from our last trip, you read about how Harvin – who didn’t know he had a gift for working with kids, turned out to be a remarkable contributor to our kids – especially the boys. He showed them that strong men also have a soft part and tears are part of that. We talked about how important it was for these boys to be given the opportunity to cry for the parts of their lives that they left behind when they were orphaned or abandoned. Today, Harvin gifted Isaac with some more time to process. It sounds their private time was spent with few words, rather the gift of simply crying it out.

Meanwhile, I was focusing on teaching school. The kids wanted to practice English so we created a 2- lessons- in- one session. They had to write complete sentences about all the things that were not in their proper place in the classroom. The ones that came up with the longest list, those that had the most unique observations (meaning no one else saw it) and the ones that had the longest word all got to go to the local produce open market with Harvin and me. We had 5 winners. Just in case you are wondering…the longest word was thermometer and the most unusual item...a tooth on a desk. I speak the truth. Ya gotta love it here!

Then it was skyp -o-rama. We talked to old friends, new friends, people who pray for our kids, people who are helping financially and some co-workers who want to help with the website. Our kids especially love meeting other kids. Thursday is our next session, so we hope to talk to you then!!! My (donna’s skype is rwandadonna)

Harvin then spent the afternoon on perhaps his all time favorite New Hope Homes project. He jerry-rigged a mr fixit, tooltime man solution to our basket ball backboard that had flipped upside down. It took hours and he had 4 great assistants in Fabiola, Isaac, Sande and Uncle Emmanuel. It involved a saw, screws, ubolts, cut up rubber from tires etc etc.

The kids have been climbing the trees nonstop to get a green fruit down that they like…looks and tastes close to limes. While Harvin played ‘Man with Tools’, I snapped pics of the kids and tried to coax the kids down that had climbed wayyyyy to high!

On the first trip, Harvin talked about how much we seem to nurture, support and discipline the kids similarly. We laugh about how two single people who hardly know each other seem to find an instant in sync rhythm here. But last time I gave him grief about him getting the joy of being the ‘good cop’ while I was the ‘bad cop’. This trip it is fully balanced and in some ways a bit more tilted with him in the bad cop role…just ever so slightly. I thanked him as it makes my life so much more enjoyable here. Earlier this afternoon, we had talked about how one of our older girls was misbehaving all yesterday evening and most of today. We talked about needing to talk to her about her behavior and talk about consequences if it continued. Late in the afternoon I walked by Harvin as he was working the boys on the basketball net I said “ I am going to have the conversation with you know how right now…it’s time”. I didn’t think he could break away from his task but he looked up and said …”wait, I’ll join you”. When the three of us gathered he delivered some tough love in such a beautiful strong way I was blown away. Truly. He made her look at him and eventually gently but firmly held up her head to ensure her eyes were locked with his. He was loving, clear, yet very firm. The clear consequences, If the behavior didn’t change immediately she wasn’t going on our Kibeho roadtrip tomorrow. I added some texture and the message was delivered as a team and received remarkably well. The result…yes indeed she will be joining us in Kibeho tomorrow.. Ya, I know, it’s only one day, but having him there mattered more than I can say.

As Harvin and I were setting out for dinner with the local pastor of the kids Church the rain looked menacing so we decided to walk vs taking the Scooter. OK MOM’s see we do use our brains occasionally. But then the kids were running behind starting the fire so I could cook up some meat I bought yesterday and the rain looked better so we decided to do the scramble and help them…then scooter down to Mr. Chips. Mr Chips is our favorite new place that opened by a Canadian who make legitimately good burger and fries. Oh how my life over the past 6 years had changed in Rwanda!

Dinner was indescribable. Lillian shared her story of how she survived the genocide as a young mother of 2 kids. (8 months old and about 3 years old) after her husband fled in fear leaving her with HIS disabled Mother, and her 2 sisters. She talked about how she hid in various people’s homes, fields and anywhere she could during the first month of the 3-month genocide that killed 1 million people. She talked about the kindness of moderate Hutus who tried to help them in so many ways including swapping out their photos on their identity cards for Lillian’s sisters photo so she would appear to be Hutu and not be killed. Her story was detailed, mesmerizing and so poignant as this month is set aside to remember the genocide and this week most places close at noon so they can listen to national and local ceremonies to honor the dead and to move forward. Now tonight, we sat and listened to her very personal horrific story and saw the pain yet were blown about by her strength and endurance. She raised 8 of her own brothers and sisters before the genocide after both her parents were killed. Then 2 were killed in the genocide.

When I have time, I will put my head together with Harvin’s to detail more of her journey including taking a 10 days truck ride to the Congo with her two kids pretending she was Congolese as she had some old paperwork. Her sister traveling as a supposed Hutu shared that truck stuffed full of people with no food etc pretending they didn’t know each other. She talked about the kindness of strangers who helped her by taking her in for 3 months after she crossed the border.

In the end, we were honored to spend time with the amazingly, strong woman who is now a pastor of a church and changing lives in so many ways. Clearly she has a testimony to share with so many others that are hurting. They will know she truly has lived hardship. That said, she is an amazing Preacher and truly optimistic about life.

Thus our days were booked ended by two hugely powerful personal stories. Isaac’s which is still pouring out of his heart and soul in private moments of endless tears and Lillian’s who has put a voice to her pain.

I/we are honored to have the privilege of knowing them both.


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