Monday, April 16, 2012

Beauty is in the simple gift

We rose early at the Mbanda’s to head back to Kigali at 6:30 AM. The crisp fresh air in Musanze refreshes the soul, as does any time spent with the Mbanda’s.

The love and faith radiates from every corner of this home. Your soul finds true rest The love and faith radiates from every corner of this home. Your soul finds true rest here. They are a gift to so many.

The volcano and mountains in the background provide a stunning view.

With hugs, kisses and blessing exchanged, we began the 2 hour drive back.

Early morning drives are among the sweetest in Rwanda. Endless streams of people walking the streets with everything in tow on their heads. Water jugs, wood and everything in between. The fog that fills the valleys and the hills creates a sense of majesty amidst so much poverty. The lush green terraced farm stand with dignity attempting to feed a family and perhaps create a little left over to provide a some income.

As the light creeps over the landscape it softly lights the faces of the people. Strong people, those that are suffering, children and families. Each is face shines in the light as a new day unfolds before them.

The beauty of the scenery and colorful clothing almost distracts you from the poverty. The majority of the people are walking with no shoes. Imagine emerging from the woods with a fresh cut load of wood or a heavy jug of water from a pump or stream and now shoes. Those that are blessed with shoes a few and those shoes a the simplest of simple.

Counting blessings starts early today.

While I think we both expected to sleep most of the ride home there was none. The conversation flowed nonstop about plans for the kids, how to inspire donors to help us build a new home in Musanze as well as the long term special needs care of Desami and Deborah. We both dreamed of the kids future and our ability to help them not just survive but thrive. There is so much work to be done, so many funds required, so many dreams yet to dream.

I told Harvin it is exciting and frightening for me to try to comprehend his future role with New Hope Homes. Exciting as he is such a blessing to the kids. He is a pure natural not only with the big kids, but has a rare gift with the little ones too. He is never fazed (or at least he doesn’t show it) by the energy required and the constancy of the movement and need. His patience, creativity, and love for this kids and our Aunties and Uncles is simply without measure. The frightening part is for me to trust that there really is someone else with a similar heart for these kids that might be able to remove some of the weight of the responsibility I so often feel as the solo spokesperson on their behalf to raise funds. He not only has the love for them he has a big strategic brain and job to help lead. I do believe that God will work it out and thus, I put my full trust in Him.

He will either grace Harvin’s heart and hands to do this work or bring someone else to the team fill those shoes if Harvin ultimately feels drawn to some other outlet to receive his gifts of mentoring and loving kids.

His gift is the simple gift of giving. He opens his heart and hands to the kids each day and simply meets them where they are at the moment. Not too much, not too little.

As we pulled into town we dropped off a Bible with Harvin's Youth Pastor friend. She was looking for an English one that had notes so we gave her the one I had purchased for guests as we can replace it next time I come. We also stopped by the Mayoy's office to say goodbye to our friend Louise - his Assistant who invited us to her home a couple of days ago. When we arrived home we learned that Auntie Jaki had already taken Desami to the hospital to have his plaster cast removed from his leg and a brace fitted. Harvin quickly jumped back in the van to meet them while I began the sad task of packing. The big kids came up and I wanted to help. Their faces turn sad on departure day and “today is a bad day” can be heard often. I tried to make fun of it, but just want sideways look from Kayitesi make that impossible. She has this great accent and look that says…don’t pretend that we shouldn’t be sad, it is our hearts that are heavy when you go. Their helped turned into too many hands do too many things so I resorted to bad parenting 101. A DVD. I brought the original episode of the Brady Bunch a couple of trips ago, but we never watched it. The kids loved them. The comedy is so visual that they laughed so hard. The blended family is what they are living, so it was an awesome selection and a perfect distraction to their hearts and mine.

Harvin kept reporting in from the various stages of Desami’s appointment. The plaster removed, the new form built for the brace, and physical therapy. The PT was gut wrenching for him as the therapist worked with Desami and showed Harvin the at home exercises. One of the things they did was to force him to stand on his bad leg for 15 or 20 mins to continue to strengthen it as Desami wailed in pain. It’s a these moments when you know that Harvin really has fallen in love with these kids as their pain is his pain.

It was pain the echoed again this morning with Isaac’s tears as Harvin said his final goodbye – at least for this trip.

While we waited for Harvin a few of the kids joined me for a visit to the kids down the street who live in raw poverty. We have become friends and visit often. It's good for our kids to see the physical blessing of their world and keep perspective. We always talk about how we can look for ways to help others and by visiting with these kids they get a glimpse a life that they no longer know. While our kids are sweet GREAT kids, we want to keep them grounded. We brought the 4 families that live there some Hershey's kisses as they wanted to know a few days ago if we had any Easter sweets to share. We also brought them a memory game where you flip the cards to match them. There were very appreciative of our kindness.

Harvin returned to house as I was finishing the packing. Just after we loaded the bags in the van for my 6 pm departure and I was putting the rest of my things in storage I got a text from on of the key mgmt. team that told me to take 2 more days to finish up my work here before returning to Detroit. I couldn’t believe it. I showed the message to Harvin to he said…’go quickly, call Delta to see if they still have the 1 seat they had late last night’. When I had called earlier in the week, it was going to be the change fee plus $1700 – which clearly wasn’t in the cards but last night it was just a simple change fee. I reached Delta and snagged it again. Harvin had been steadily encouraging me to stay for about a week. I think secretly he wants the hot shower in Amsterdam and not having to deal with the my post depature exit solo, but I also trust him when he says…it’s more fun together…as I would feel exactly the same way if the roles were reversed.

The afternoon was spent honoring the Aunties by having the girls do a spa day for them. Our kids painted the finger and toes of our Aunties in thankfulness for their love and care. The kids were not allowed to paint their own – just the selfless gift of doing for their Aunties.

We pulled a big couch onto the front step and had them sit in a row with the girls on little tables at their feet. It was so so so so sweet.

The boys played football (soccer) with Harvin and they gave him a run for their money. The boys love their time with him as every moment is either sheer joy or a learning moment. In this case, it was both. When the little kids woke up from their naps we did the all time fun bobbing for apples routine. Harvin filled a small bucket with water and made some extra splashes as he explained how it worked. He line the little kids up on the ground and began cutting up the small pieces so their would sit nicely and watch. He was a magician at the game while I attempted to shoot pics of the kids.

The kids gathering around and laughed and cheered as each one tried to find a way to grab the apple.

May I importantly explain that Harvin’s Mom funded this treat. Apples are the kids favorite special food ranked higher than even icecream. Apples are super expensive, hence the delicacy! Thank you Mrs Harvin, you made the kids day.

We eventually coaxed the Aunties and Uncles into the game too and the kids thought it was too funny. Lastly, Harvin reminded them that I hadn’t gone for my turn and their supported my silly attempts to break the rules before the did the full headdive and emerged victorious. Harvin then lined up the little kids around more freshly cut pieces. Can you tell you overwhelming cool it was to see Desami finally lined up with the other kids to get a snack. Supported by his walker, he pushed right along eventually to the front of the line. It is the simple gift of watching a disabled child do the simple everything day things that his brothers and sisters to that makes the investment in New Hope Home something to be honored.

With the energy high, we attempted another group shot. It was better, but they are darn near impossible to achieve an endless sea of smiles. They are used the endless camera in front of them when I a here, but of course they now decided that frowning and hiding from the lens of picture is more fun than standing still and smiling.

The kids also loved saying hi to Harvin’s mom and thank her for the apple fund!

Dinner was served early tonight so we had a chance to watch a movie at the 1st home while Harvin grilled up some meat cubes for me to celebrate my 2 extra days here and a new beverage we co-creatd with Abby.

Esther and Prince helped pop some jiffy pop to enhance their viewing pleasure.

All and all it was a sweet, but a very very good day.

The evening one of the boys –while sitting with the Aunties asked what Donna means…I told them “Lady”. Then they asked my 2nd names…I told them Wiederkehr. They asked the meaning of this. I said it means “shall return”. They then pointed out that combined it means Lady who who returns…and yes indeed dear one…I will again.

Sometimes, when you strip everything away, we are given the gift a simple, positive moment or day. Today was indeed that kind of day.

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