Sunday, August 04, 2013
A most remarkable day
Today was a big day. An important day. A mark your calendar and remember it kind of a day.
Harvin and I took 5 of the kids to town to pick up Norbert and his sister. (A bit more about them in a moment). Given that their bus was about and hour late gave Harvin a great excuse for Harvin to check out the coffee shop that he had saved on his phone on the last trip. While the name had changed we found a sweet little place with outside seating and coffee. Harvin loves to teach the kids about the joys of coffee and loves to try (like my dear friend Erika) to get me to try to embrace it – which will never happen – LOL.
I used the time to update the blog while Harvin chatted with Kayitesi, Sande and Lionel about all sorts of wonderful tops from explaining what it meant when I told Kayitesi that I “had her back”. Lionel also talked about their debate club at school so Harvin got them to debate drinking coffee vs fanta. It was quite humorous.
Sande asked Harvin why he liked coffee. Harvin talked about the taste, the experience of a coffee house and the benefits of caffeine. Sande then said to Harvin…”But Harvin, you drink coffee and you are always tired. Donna does not and she is always awake until at least 1 am working on the blog an other things. How does she do that without coffee?” We both laughed until our sides hurt.
Now…back to the Norbert story.
Norbert just graduated top of his class at Sonrise boarding school where our kids go to school. He is a double orphan (meaning both of his parent have died.) His mother in the genocide when he has 2 and his father just a few years later. He is the youngest of 3. Both his older brother and sister are teachers.
Harvin attended a private college in Mpls and the Director of Admissions had been so moved by Harvin’s commitment to Rwanda and the kids of New Hope Homes. He has seen how the experience has truly changed Harvin’s life. He and Harvin talked about the possibility of creating a spot for one of the kids at Sonrise to attend St. Olaf College. Last year we arranged a meeting in NY with Harvin, Chantal’s husband Bishop Mbanda , Michael from St. Olaf and me. The outcome was a team of people who came together to create a full ride 4 year scholarship for one student from Sonrise. Harvin, Bishop and I met with several candidates and then 2 made it to the final round of skype interviews and Norbert was selected.
He will be starting school at the end of August. Harvin and I were planning to fly him back with us he has a delayed visa appointment so now hope to get him to Minnesota just 2 days before school starts so we have lot to accomplish setting up his dorm room, buying him clothes, books and oh…that little o thing called winter!
We will be posting and sharing more on facebook,, but we welcome help from anyone who can help welcome to his life in America.
Norbert is #1 in his class and aspires to be a nurse and absolutely wants to return to Rwanda to help his people.
So…back to today.
Harvin and I picked up Norbert and his sister to meet them and talk about the future. Harvin started by asking Norbert if he had any questions. He was prepared with many. Imagine you are 21 years old and will be leaving your country for the 1st time. That means 1st flight, first packing for a trip. First everything. We walked him through packing, the things that happen at the airport, finding seat on a plane, to changing planes in Amsterdam. We plan to be waiting for him on the other side of customs and welcome him to his new life.
I get teary just thinking about it.
This is the beginning of a journey that will change Norbert life trajectory and potentially thousands and thousands of lives if he becomes a nurse and is able to help more people. The circle of hope gets bigger each day.
Norbert was moved to tears multiple times today as he tried to comprehend all that is before him. I am so so grateful to Harvin for starting the dream to Michael and St. Olaf for sharing in the dream and for donors who have come together to help make this a reality.
We are on our final push to raise the last round of funds to secure books, etc.
If you live in Minnesota we would welcome any gently used coats etc as well as some home visits to help make him feel like he has family here.
Harvin then took Norbert and his sister back to town while I awaited the arrival of 40 wonderful people from a church in Conway Arkansas. They are a group of nearly 40 who are committed to helping the people of Rwanda and support the work of Chantal and Mbanda’s vision. They are also helping our kids by providing 2 high quality cows, some pigs, sheets and wonderful creative toys.
They toured the house, saw our pigs, heard about the birth of the rabbits, shot some hoops, sang and delivered so many suitcases filled with love.
In the small world that is mine. I learned that my cousin in Conway Arkansas who runs a lumber company had donated items the last few years that allows this group to raise money and come here. He had NO idea that this was the group to which I am connected. Imagine standing in Rwanda at our home making that connection. Yeah, I was a sobbing gooby mess.
Our kids really loved having them here with us.
After their departure we took a small crew of the big kids to unload the bags and organized them in storage. It was quite a feat to set things up but everyone was so excited about the wonderful way they had blessed our kids.
Just as we began to start sizing kids the power went out. This is very common in Rwanda. Frankly the first few years I came, we didn’t have any power, so it’s second nature. The kids, finding themselves in sudden darkness, just stand still until their eyes adjust or someone finds a small light (or torch as they call them) from their phiones.
That evolved into the updated shoe fitting and beginning to work with the smaller kids to start going through clothes. It should so easy, but with 28 kids it takes forever. We have a pretty good system now, but even then it takes remarkable patience.
The kids began their goodnight hugs and kisses and the night came to a close.
Harvin and I now sit in the living room blogging in the darkness and celebrating the remarkable day we have been blessed to play a small part in.
We see 1st hand how one small ripple of goodness in the universe can soon evolve into a great swell of greatness.
Thank you for sharing in our journey and supporting our work with your good wishes, prayers, and funds. This work could NOT happen if it weren’t for people like you. May the love be returned to you 100 fold.