Saturday, April 22, 2006

4.21.06 1:13pm. Sitting in the Kigali airport. Awaiting a flight to Nairobi. Last night we had the celebration of all celebrations. A fest fit for a king...but instead it was in my honor. The food was prepared as it is each day, over a portable steel stove-like- features 3 holes for cooking. The heat is supplied by charcoal. Everything takes so much work. Chantal2, Sieba and Czeiza (sounds like Cheese-ah) worked in a frenzy to get it all prepared in time for the guests. We had a total of 14 adults including both Joseph's, Johnson, friends of Chantals etc. The group sang songs of praise as the food was being prepared. Sweet baby Paul was beginning to warm up to the environment a bit...ever so slowly. He rotated between fascination with the children, and cries for his Ma Ma. Francoise had comforted him a bit by caring him around her back in the traditional Rwandan style that surely he was accustomed to with his mom. She is of similar stature, so I can only assume he felt a bit more at ease. It is unlikely that Jackie would have done this so again, we were thankful for Francoise. She managed this while working hard on preparations for the party! When dinner was proudly presented they insisted that I should be first in line. The room was filled with love. A beautiful cake came out after dinner that said "thank you miss donna, we love you". What followed was something I could never have imagined. Chantal began with a little speech to the group that Mbanda translated for me. She started by telling the group about receiving an email from America that a woman wanted to come to Rwanda to help. Especially in the area of children. "She thought to herself..what will she do, we are so new here, we are just getting started, we aren't ready for people to come. She worried about his woman's expectations. But when she got a reply email that said the woman would do ANYTHING to help she knew that it would be ok and her heart settled down". Then when this "woman offered to stay at the home she got really one speaks English, the accommodations are sparse and how will everyone get along. She had hoped in heart that this woman would want to stay at a hotel to be comfortable. But within a day of meeting "miss diana/donna" they all knew it would work. She went on and on about Miss Donna's contributions to the children, the workers, and all of them. I was sobbing like Paul. She thanked everyone who helped bring the supplies. She told the story to the room about the bags Miss Donna brought..."surely she packed all of America in them". She retold the story of looking at everything and how the adults were even more excited than the children. They were discussing each outfit and who would wear what in the days to come. Then Chantal and Sieba told similar by one. How much Miss Donna had shown them about God's love to come all the way to Rwanda to help them. It was so overwhelming as in my heart I knew all the gifts they had given me. Surely my contributions in returned paled compared to theirs. I then composed myself to try my best to express what this experience has meant to me. I started with "God is good. All the time". Then I decided to read my journal entry from yesterday when we received the 3 children. Chantal stood at my side holding a candle so I could see the words as the power had gone out about 2 hours prior. The kids in the hallway eating their dinner on the floor with one candle to light their way. The adults in the next room with 4 small candles for us. Mbanda translated for me. Everyone cried and blew their noses as I read from the entry. I then gave everyone a card with a personal note that Mbanda translated. Most of the guests then left. We called the complete staff together so I could give them a small token of my appreciation. Cash and for the 3 with phones...a phone card to recharge their cell. They were very grateful. Then I asked Chantal2 to come forward. Chantal translated for me. I thanked her for her story of a few nights ago when she talked about how her prayers had led her to caring for orphans as she too has always felt like one. How she knew the work would be hard, but it is what she is called to do through prayer. And how prayer had helped her forgive White people. I told her about how much I respected her faith and how she has taught me so much. I then reached down and took off a ring that I have worn for many years and presented it to her. It says PRAY HARD. Hugs and kisses followed. Emotionally spent, I was glad our party had come to an end. But wait, Johnson got up to speak. He surprised me by looking me straight in the eyes with Mbanda translating. His eyes locked on mine and never lost focus. It was very powerful. He said that only God knows what is in someone’s heart. But what he could see of mine from the outside looking in it was surely of God. He talked about living with people from all different cultures with many experiences and never before had he seen God's love so clearly as he did in me. How does someone respond to such a thing? It’s too powerful for words. I write these things, not to be self congratulatory...but to simply continue to share my experience. Hugs and kisses and then good night. I didn’t think I had one more ounce of energy in me. Then sweet Paul began to cry. “Mam Mam”. A universal cry understood in any language.

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