Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Week 1

I hope to post some shots from various days of our Easter Week - here are some from one of those days.  This day, we went to visit Chrisie Platt's "daughter", Esperance.  A lab technician from our hospital recognized her about a month ago, and told us he had discovered her parents were not dead, as Esperance had thought, or at least as she had told us.  She hadn't lived with them since she was 7 years old, when she left to find a better life, because at her home, there was so much poverty that she was always hungry.  So she left.  We took her home to her family, along with a lot of rice, beans and etc, a few weeks ago. Then, this past week, I took Ruth, Stephen and Sam with me to go back to her village to check on things and also to bring her family a pig, which could be a real help to moving out of poverty.  Pigs are relatively cheap animals to raise, as they'll eat about anything, yet they have many babies quickly.  Once they have babies, they can raise one to eat, give one away (it is tradition to give one pig to another needy family if you've been given a pig yourself) and sell the rest for income.  

Esperance didn't initially want to return to her family, but when we visited her this last week, she was happier than we've ever seen her before.  She's adjusted well in her re-entry, and her baby sister is especially glad to have her home.  They are inseparable!  Also, her older brother, age 17, had also returned home.  It seems word travels fast when there are beans and rice in your house! 

So, we are now having school uniforms made for the younger and older brother, who will all be going to school starting in May - the 17 year old is in 2nd grade, along with Esperance (age 12).  The 7 year old younger brother is in 1st grade.  We hope the older brother and Esperance can advance through their grades quickly, and within a year or two, can be closer in grade with their peers. 


Ruthie holding baby sister, who was wearing the same dress she wore when I went 3 weeks ago.
It is her only clothing.  Zipper in back broken.  No shoes.  (So was the mom. ) 

The shepherd for the pig was all smiles upon making the "sale" of the pig and going with us to delivery her! 

Stephen presented two Bibles and two hymn books to the family.  

Esperance is all smiles as her grandmother arrives for the pig presentation. 

Left to Right:  Little brother, grandma, mom, dad, big brother
Front Row:  New pig!  :)
Missing from picture: Esperance and her baby sister, age 3
Sam and an older lady in the village

(Pictures from 3 weeks ago...)
Inside Esperance's house (government issued home, given to the extreme poor), she was clearly unhappy. 

Sweet baby sister, born after Esperance left the home 5 years ago.  Note the dress.  She loves her big sissy already!

The bedding where the ENTIRE family sleeps.  The size of a twin mattress on the dirt floor.  Using a
UN donated mosquito net for padding over the twigs tied together to make the "mattress".  

It was so hard to say goodbye to Esperance - she was so sad.  

With Esperance's dad.  Esperance is almost as tall as he is.  

With Pastor Wikana (right) and the lab tech who recognized Esperance and found
her family.  He accompanied us to return her to her family.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Morning walk

My fitness guru, Hannah Berg, told me about a cool phone app called "map my run", which tracks your distance, speed, etc , and even plays music for you when you run. I checked the App Store and discovered that, for muchechus (old ladies) like me, there is a "map my WALK" app, which I downloaded and have enjoyed using here. 

Along the way on my walks, I sometimes stop and learn something new or make a new friend. (Shh! Don't tell my workout coach that I'm resting!) 

Here are some pics from today's walking adventure 

I took the pic bc of his Tshirt - Burnet Bulldogs!! I bet whoever donated this shirt had no idea it would end up on a nice young man in rural Rwanda! 

This young lady put me to shame. As I'm huffing and puffing on my "power walk", here she comes, walking the same speed, while carrying two heavy rocks on her head - and being cheerful about it! I tried to lift the top rock to see how heavy it was, and I couldn't budge it at all. She was one of many on the road today carrying these rocks! 

My favorite stop today was when some folks picking coffee beans invited me to join them. I learned the kinyarwanda word for coffee (which I wish I'd written down because now I've forgotten) and really enjoyed meeting Simon, Louise and their friends. Starbucks ain't got nothin on our amazing Rwanda coffee!! 

They invited me to their home tomorrow, so maybe I can see how they wash, dry and roast the beans, too! 

Who knew exercise could be such an adventure, eh?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Losing & Gaining

Last week God opened a window to let me see Him do something really cool and so very unexpected. Even though I sat in a front row seat, watching Him perform a miracle, I still found myself heartbroken and vacillating between being joyful and (self)-pity-full.

Jules and his sweet mama, and his temporary, but no longer mama.  

It turns out "our" little Joshua Jules will not be ours after all. In order to adopt him, we had to find his parents, so they could sign a release form.  This took some major detective work, but finally we tracked them down.  Once meeting the mom, however, a long and sad story came to light.  Without going into details of a story that is not mine to tell, the bottom line is:  Jule's mama never quit loving him and never wanted to lose him in the first place and has been trying to get him back ever since she gave him up due to not having enough money to feed him.

Tea Time!  So glad this boy will have his own mama to care for him.....

She was willing to sign the release papers, but only because she thought she had already lost the chance to be his mama full time.  As we talked about this, the tears just flowed from her eyes.  As she told me her story, and I realized she had never wanted to give him up, I asked her, "Do you want him to come back with you?  Is that what you are wishing?  Because if that is what you want, I will help you. I do not want to come between you and your precious son!"

On a shopping trip with Jules in the "old days", back when he was with us. 

Jules getting measured for his school uniforms.  He was so excited! And he made all A's!

Jack with Jules and Jean Baptiste.  Oh, how Jules loved his big "brother", Jack! 

Even as I heard myself saying these words, my stomach felt as though an invisible hand was squeezing hard on all my insides.  I desperately wanted her to say, "No.  I love him, but I cannot raise him. You raise him."  But as I looked into her eyes while I was speaking, I knew what she would say.

Jules channeling Elton John.  ha! 

After school, Mugate and Amasi (bread and water) was a favorite and oft requested treat!  

A super fun day after school, when Sam organized a big water fight for the boys.  They had SUCH a
GREAT Time!  Soooo much fun.  

Sure enough, almost before I even finished my question, she nodded over and over again, "Yes!" And then she smiled so big and said, "Oh, Please!  I want my boy back with me!"

"Who, ME?  I didn't get into the stickers!  Why do you ask?"

"Okay, well, maybe I did play with a FEW of the stickers...."

I was so happy to have a chance to help reunite a family, but also so very devastated that this sweet, intelligent, kind and gentle little boy would not be mine.  I know that sounds awful.  But we had all come to love him so much.

Wearing one of Tim's medical coats while his clothes were being washed.....a future doctor? 

Wearing one of Ruthie's t-shirts!  (He was a very flexible clothes person.)

Jule reminds me of what an angel child might be like, if there are angel children.   He does have an impish side that likes to get into trouble, but his idea of "trouble" is the mildest form of trouble I've ever seen a toddler discover.
Besides bread and water, "macaroni and umucheri" (spaghetti and rice) was his favorite dish!
I know, not exactly the best nutrition choice, but this was his last meal at our I wanted it to be his favorite.  

Water WAR!  Sam should seriously consider a future in being a camp counselor.
Those boys had SO much fun that day!~

They had so much fun in this bath.  It was their first bath in the house.  All they could say, over and over, was...."The water is HOT!  The water is HOT!  Is it magic?"

 He is gentle, compassionate, kind, extremely intelligent (amazingly intelligent), thoughtful, loving, generous and so spiritual.  Seeing his little hands folded and his face turned upward with his eyes closed and such a serene look of trust on his face before saying a blessing at mealtimes or a bedtime prayer always took my breath away.  I felt like I was watching something so holy, so divine, that it was intrusive of me to even see his sweet face as he prayed.

I will miss this child!

I went to see him in his new home with his mama and big brother, William, and it about broke my heart.  His mama loves him so much, and her older child's relationship with her is evidence that she is a loving and responsible mom.  But she is poor.  So poor!  Their home is really only a dirt cave.  The walls, floor and ceiling are all dirt.  There is no electricity, no water.  The size is the same as my walk in bedroom closet back home, and I had an average to small size walk in, as far as those go in America.

It's the simple things.....

spaghetti eating race! 

That face!  Sheer satisfaction!  

Yes, he has his sweet mama back, but oh, how it hurts to see where they have to live.  We will be sending him to school, but where will he play?  Will they even be safe?  What if he gets sick there?  I am prayerfully trying to decide if I should beg again for them to move to Kibogora, so we can help them have better housing.

The family reunited.  So sweet.  Thank you, God.  (Even though it's hard!) 

It struck me tonight that MOST of the world lives like this.  We are the rare cases.  We Americans, the Brits, the Western Europeans, the Canadians......we are the few who live in physical comfort.  Our lives are busy, harried, stressful.  We suffer through divorce, bankruptcy, job losses, betrayals and more.  But we have beds, we have electricity, we have relatively clean water, and most of all we have food each and every day, multiple times each day.

MOST of the world (I've lived here almost two years and I STILL forget this most of the time) cannot say this.  Most of the world has one meal a day, if that.  Hasn't even a cave to call home.  Hasn't a bed.  Hasn't safe drinking water.

No wonder people long for Heaven.  Golden streets.  Eternal life.  Light.  Living water.  A Glorious banquet.  All we need.

No wonder we Westerners are the ones who often forget all about Heaven and don't long for it so much, but rather, spend so much money trying to run from going there.  For us, earth is a great place and we do not want to leave.  For others, it is an endurance contest.

God be with you, Little Jules.  Thank you for blessing me and my family with your presence these last months, off an on, since January 2013.  I won't forget you.  May God bless your mama and your brother.  And may He hold you always in the palm of His hand.  I can't wait to see what you will be when you grow up, my little man!

Big brother still remembered Jules from the old days and was SO happy to have him back.
Jules is 3 years, 8 months.  The last his brother saw him was when he was 15 months old.  

Looking at a picture of our children, and naming them all and saying "goodbye" to each one......

Again, this face says it ALL.  
Or this face.  

So proud on his first day of school!

First day of school. 

So exciting to take the MOTO on the first day of school.  (But it turned out, it wouldn't start that
day for some reason.  So, after this picture, we ended up walking! ha!)