Saturday, April 22, 2006

Easter continued: After the service, many came up to introduce themselves. The choir invited me back next Sunday for a concert. Alas, I told them I'd be in the States. The Director was proud to show off the new choir robes - traditional Rwandan. That means a full length skirt, generally a close fitting top covered by a long piece of matching fabric (to the skirt) that gathers on one shoulder and drapes across the body. It has a lovely majesty and flow to it. Chantal wore that style to church and to several other gatherings. Flat Stanley finally emerged from hiding, so he got his photo taken with some of the kids. The camera was like a magnet. Everyone wanted in. From there we ended up at the Intercontinental Hotel for Easter Dinner. I ordered chicken, rice and orange Fanta...yum. This family has made me feel so welcome. Here I was intruding on their Easter and they tread me like family. Special thanks to Chantal who has continues to teach me each day and to 16 year old Eddie would probably would preferred a solo Easter with mom and dad before he headed back to school. While I know all of this was probably in the back of their minds, I never felt it. They have opened their arms full of love to this woman from America. As each layer comes off, I learn more about this amazing family. July 29,03 Mbanda felt he was called to return to Africa. Eventually his family made the decision that it was best. He gave up a top job as one of 4 VP at Compassion as a step in faith to return to Africa with no job. He got 4 great offers, but none in Africa. Eventually Compassion created a job as the head of East Africa stationed in Nairobi...and then a year later they opened the door to head back to Rwanda where he felt they were supposed to be. The kids pressed for this decision despite the fact that meant they would be split up. Eddie the 16 year old in Germany and Eric and Erika in Colorado. Their step in faith has opened many doors. Chantal felt really called to start a home of Orphans. Seed money quickly came. It turns out these amazing people have multiple ministries...all within under the name CALM. Christian African Leadership Ministry. When I signed up for this trip, I had no idea that I would be a strong faith filled this is a blessing on top of everything. • Their outreach includes goats for widows. At $35/each, goats provide a great source of help. The children drink the milk and the goats quickly multiply so she can sell them for money. While it is taboo for adults to drink goat’s milk, they often do in private for the health benefits. • They also provide short term seed money...usually about $50 to help people start businesses. • If a church can build the walls, they will find money for a roof. • They also supplement families of 4 for $50/month for 3 years to help "lift them up". Just that small amount of money makes a real difference in their lives. • They buy bicycles for priests and ministers so they can care for multiple churches and their people. Ever felt like a slacker? That’s how I felt today. Clearly I have been called to learn from these people. This afternoon we began to talk about ways to market their wonderful programs. (My insistence, not theirs). My head is filled with a thousand ideas to help them raise money. They aren't asking. I'm offering. To think I left America wondering who I would be helping...would they have dirt floors? Running water? While the life at New Hope Home is simple, it is very good. These two have recently spent 4 hours with the President of Rwanda. The result of this meeting was a decision to build a "new home" that is being co-sponsored by the First Lady of Rwanda and Chantal. It will be for older children. How could I find my way here to these amazing people? They are well connected and are convinced of their calling. They have access to an infrastructure that is in place...or will be shortly. They can turn $1 us dollar into $100 in this country. I know I can help raise funds in my nights and weekends. Mbanda spent time telling me their beautiful story of their calling as we were parked in front of The Home. Chantal and I wept. What an amazing day of growth, understanding and faith. A perfect Easter. This conversation was after I had spent 1.5 hours at their temp home trying to update the blog. I typed like a crazy person trying to update the blog, trying to get the story posted. I want you all to know what is happening here. At a minimum to put aside any fears that you might have about my safety…but more importantly to share all that is happening here so you can come along for the journey. We returned to New Hope to play with the kids. They want English lessons tonight so I am sitting patiently at the table. We will begin as soon as they finish their chores. I yearned to for a Catholic Holy week; especially to be present last night at the Easter Vigil...the hunger grew even deeper after Chantal told me there were thousands of people lining the streets with candles last night. I can only imagine the experience. But I think I am living with the VERY presence of God here at this if this is my only unfulfilled desire in my stay, it will be a small one. I spoke with Mom and Dad for about 5 minutes to wish them a Happy Easter. Cleo and Bud were there. How wonderful! Two Easter miracles for Cleo. I rang Erika but she didn't pick up. Today is the first day I have felt emotionally exhausted. Maybe everything I am seeing is beginning to sink in. Moments after I finished writing, the power went out. Late tonight...9:45 pm. There I was in the main room waiting to teach, but no one came to light my candle or show me the way in the darkness to my room. I was able to find it easily. It felt so natural now. I think our translation just got messed up and they thought I was already tucked into my bed as I had been sitting there so silently. In the constant darkness of blackouts at night...I was thinking about my friend and neighbor Katie who freaks out when it happens home. Katie, I think this would be awesome immersion therapy for you. :)

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