Saturday, April 22, 2006
4.17.06 8:40 pm Light ON. me! A remarkable day today. I don't even know how to put into words all the experiences that blessed this day. As usual, morning was playtime. I wasn't expecting Chantal until around 12:30, but at 9 am Eddie showed up to say goodbye to the kids before heading to Germany. He is so sweet with them. Especially the little one. The size contrast against his 6'5" frame is profound. He is a remarkable 16 year old. He surely blesses all that he meets. Painters came to do a paint a small room which will eventually serve as a supply room. The smell was the most noxious I have ever encountered. The home was filled with it. Like the kerosene, but this one gave me the dry heaves. I think it was my endless coughing for the past 2 months that was really at the root of it. We closed one door but it was only marginally helpful. I told them I was going to bathe so I could to my room and deal with my stomach. I think I was just tired. The experience of yesterday combined with the strong rain storm around 4 am left me restless and thinking of ways to help these wonderful people. They are such a gift to this country. I can't fund them, but I think I can be a vehicle for doing so. We had English class with the adults today. Chantal2 amazed herself by understanding how to count to 100! We counted every precious number from one to the magical 100. Sieba got a handle on how the numbers build...two, twelve, twenty...three, thirteen, thirty. She could manage quite nicely to 20 prior to my arrival, but got hung-up from there. We worked it all out on the floor with a big chart that I had made. It was so cool seeing the lights go on in her eyes. Chantal came by around one to pick me up so we could head to tea. She picked up Mbanda on the way. We returned to the wonderful brunch at the Novotel. We met two more remarkable couples. One is from Madison. He was on his way to senior partner with Anderson Consulting when God called him to a new life. They did some work at sea then headed to Rwanda to work for World Relief. They are simply adorable with two young children. They met at 16 and have been together ever since. The other couple left Uganda just a little bit ago due to the unrest. He is from Prior Lake, MN (I mentioned him in an earlier blog) and preached in Brooklyn Park/Center. They are doing start up churches with their 5 kids. Their lives were very inspiring. I cried when we said goodbye. It’s such an honor to meet people who really know their calling and are living it to the fullest. Their inner joy radiates so beautifully externally. We dropped off Mbanda at the office and ran a few errands. It is Debora's (pronounced deb bore ah) 1st birthday tomorrow, but we decided to celebrate tonight as some friends were coming over. In typical Rwandan time the 4 pm start time shifted to about 6:30. The group sang happy birthday and then a woman preached. A man sat next to me to translate. They talked allot about the calling of Chantal to build the Home. The wisdom. The daily challenges. And the early success. Afterward we took a group photo. It was a blast. I still don't have many photos with me in them Lindsay as no one seems to know how to take a proper photo. Thank God for a self timer tonight. Frankly I only want a couple. One with Chantal and Mbanda, one with the whole group and one with the kids. This story is not about me. It’s about them. So, just 3 photos for me would feel more than perfect. Fabiola did a show and tell before everyone left. She got her colors 100% right! It was the first time she had performed such a feat. She also got from A to M in the alphabet. The crowd of about 10 cheered her as it was the single biggest accomplishment in the world. What privileged children to now grow up in such a joyful home. Just as we thought the event was ending, Chantal2 asked people to sit for a little bit. she told a very very emotional story about her faith journey. The calling on her life to work with Orphans as she feels like she grew up as one. She knew she should work in a home like this despite the difficulty. It is such hard word. I tried to take in the emotion of her word as Mbanda translated them for me. Then she turned to me and asked for forgiveness. From me? I didn't understand. What was there to forgive? Chantal1 told me to just listen and take it in, it would be ok. Chantal2 then she told a long story about the Hutus and Tutsi's. Her belief had always been that the white man was deeply involved with the Hutus. She has hated white people with all her heart since then. She mentioned another piece of news that came later (which I didn't understand) that deepened that hatred. It was a crippling kind of hatred. Imagine how she felt when she found out that a white person from America would soon be living in the home with her. She didn't know what to make of it. How could this be happening? How could a white woman from America be coming to help? She tried to take it all in. At church yesterday, the Minister asked people to ask themselves if there was any forgiveness they were still withholding from someone. She realized that for her it was her hatred of white people. She knew she needed to ask for forgiveness for all that was in her heart. SHE APOLOGIZED TO ME FOR HER HATRED TOWARDS ALL WHITE PEOPLE. IN ESSENCE ASKING ME TO RECEIVE IT ON BEHALF OF ALL WHITE MEN AND WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD. I had no idea of all this as background upon my arrival. As you can imagine I wept again. (Notice a pattern?) I went to her and cried and hugged. Imagine the years of hatred she had built up in the 12 years since the Genocide and I was given the honor of accepting that apology. Humbled doesn’t even begin to describe it. Everyone in the room was crying or shall I say sobbing. I then asked HER forgiveness on behalf of the white people for anything WE had done to contribute to the genocide and for what we didn’t do to stop it. The room wept. Then they laughed and talk it was the French...not the Americans who were the problem. It was there way of lightening up a VERY intense experience.