Sunday, January 06, 2013

When will you be back? 1.06.13

When will you be back?

Today this is the question that is asked.  Especially of Harvin. 
Departure day is often known as “a very bad day!”.  The kids say the words with almost a stubborn proclamation.  The tone combined with the accent makes it quite impactful.

We started the day finishing packing, a quick breakfast with Chantal and Mbanda and we were off to pick up the kids for church.  The big kids walk, but we offered to go pick up the little kids in the van.  We arrived at the house to find most of the kids gone.  As it turned out, they started to walk before we arrived and we drove right past them on the road as Harvin and I were gabbing about the morning plan.  The kids gave us, but especially me, grief as they were on my side of the van.  I don’t know how we missed the parade of our kids, but I believe it was because we were watching a big parade of kids dressed in boy scout like uniforms marching down the road on the other side.

Church in Rwanda is a lengthy adventure. The praise and worship lasts at least an hour with multiple choirs.  Mbanda is Bishop here so we attend services at the cathedral.  It’s a very large building with simple artwork but a very very lively and engaged congregation. Given that it was our last day we were able to sit with the kids at church vs in the front row.  Sande translated for me and Kayetesi, Fabiola and Alice took the opportunity to sit close to Harvin and translate.

It’s surreal that this is Harvin’s 3rd trip in 12 months.  The kids absolutely love him.  The boys want to be boys with him and the girls just want to talk to him and know everything about his life. They love to sit in his lap and just have him hold them, or run their fingers through his hair or make funny faces for him. The sound “Harv, Harv” echos throughout our home day and night.  His ability to connect with the kids is effortless.  He is as comfortable having one of the tiny kids want his attention as the big.  His presence is greatly missed when he is not on one of my trips.

Services lasted until nearly 1 (having started at 9) so our remaining time with the kids was short. Harvin later commented to me that perhaps this is the best way to exit. We decided to go out in style.  We had a few more pics to take etc.  A woman I work got one of her kids classes to make papers with each of our kids names on them done in a very special way.  We wanted to take pics with them so the kids in NY could see how much they appreciated all of their creativity. 

We then decided to dance our way out for this exit to keep the kids from getting sad. First we did a dance party and then we improvised a bit with the song they traditionally sing – it’s  a simple song…goodbye Harvin, Harvin, Harvin, goodbye Harvin, we shall meet again.  Harvin suggested we sing the song to them versus them singing it AND we did it for each child. We simply trapped each child in our joint arms and sang the song. We covered everyone including the Aunties, Uncles and of course Mama.

The kids giggled nonstop as we approached them. The little kids anxiously got in line to ensure we knew to include them. This was preceded by a horrific version of so long, farewell, from the sound of music.  We were terrible, but we laughed and the kids loved our show. In the end we made a little speech about how much we love them…is it this big (fingers close together – to which they reply NO!  then the game is repeated until our arms are spread as wide open as possible. Then they shout “yes, that much”. 

It was then time for hugs and tears.  I have gotten much better with this but it is still so hard to simply say goodbye. I know I will be back in early April but that feels like forever. For Harvin, he knows there is a next trip in his future, but not sure when that we will be, so this goodbye was a bit more emotional.

The rain came as we drove off to lots of “flying kisses” as they call them. Big kisses on their hands that are thrown to us.  The rain was perfect setting as our hearts were full of love but very very sad.  I wept in the van as Harvin once again maneuvered the bumpy road and the 2 log bridges.

We zipped back to Chantal and Mbanda’s to grab our bags and begin the journey to Kigali. The wndy roads, rain, mudslides and an over turned safari vehicle reminded us about how fragile life is and danger that hides on these beautiful but windy raods around the hills back to Kigali.

We were warmly greeted by Abby at the airport. Due to the extended travel time we had to forgo our favorite burger joint in Kigali – Mr Chips, but we wanted to connect with Abby to say goodbye, ,even if it was a short visit at the airport.

We now on our long journey home as we sit beside each other on the plane trying to again process the lessons are come with each trip.  May we hold them dearly.

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