Melanie’s African Adventure – Part 3



Today was an exciting day. I spent the morning in the office with the accounting staff, with visits from my Mom and grandma’s sponsor children. It was so fun to read the Christmas cards to them and then give them each a gift. Obedi was very proud in his new shirt, but took it off and carefully folded it back up once we had taken his picture in it. He loved the soccer ball and left with a big grin. Blessing came a bit later and was delighted to receive new jewellery. She carefully picked out a pair of pink earrings to wear and loved her new clothes. I enjoyed my time with them so much and was so happy to have the opportunity to give them the gifts I had shopped for on behalf of my Mom and Gram.

At lunch time the rest of the team came and picked me up and we drove to the church. The time had come to deliver the goats and pigs so generously purchased by my friends and family (slight sarcasm noted here). Four motorcycles, four drivers (three hired ones who didn’t speak English, and Garrick), four cargo holders including Karissa, Melissa (who I wrote about yesterday), our bookkeeper Bahati, me, one guide who also didn’t speak English, and a bunch of squealing pigs and bawling goats!

When they brought me the biggest goat, I thought they were crazy. I refused.

When they brought me a smaller wailing goat, I wondered if goats bite. When they gave me the goat, whose feet were tied together, I wondered who was stronger, me or the goat. When we went to take off, I wondered if I would go flying off the beck of the motorcycle since both of my hands were actively engaged in holding the goat. When we pulled onto the highway, I wondered if we would be hit by a bus in the crazy Rwanda traffic. When we drove near the edge of the hill, I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see, knowing that I could panic being afraid of heights and shift my weight the wrong way, sending the bike off balance. When the goat’s back feet came untied, I wondered if I was strong enough to hold on to her.

In between all of these ponderings, the view of the countryside was absolutely riveting and captured my attention until another set of thistles going through my jeans jerked me back to the reality that I was on the back of a motorcycle driven by a stranger who didn’t speak English, up a winding dirt road, carrying a bawling goat whose feet had come untied. It just doesn’t get any better.

When we made our first stop, they told me the bikes couldn’t go the rest of the way so I had to carry the goat up the hill. Half way up, the goat freaked out and took a bite of my hair and didn’t let go all the way up the hill.

When I got to the top of the incline, I arrived at the home of a woman named Jacqueline, who had been standing outside waiting for us. She invited us into her home. The main room was about 5 x 8 foot space with a dirt floor and not a single piece of furniture. I was embarrassed to be seeing her desperate state of living, but recognized that she was proudly welcoming me into all that she had, which was barely more than nothing. With the help of Melissa interpreting for us, I found out her name and the names of her children. I prayed for her and told her I hoped the goat would be a great help to her family. At the end, she hugged me and thanked me and then began to sob, and hung on and continued sobbing. I had probably just given her the greatest hope for her future that she ever had and yet it seemed so small compared to the magnitude of her need that I felt like I was being inhumane. We have SO much. I was so impacted by her deep gratitude for what we had done for her. The fear I felt when I was handed the goat quickly faded from my mind, replaced by the knowledge that I was delivering a lifeline to a desperate family.

We delivered four goats and four pigs. Thankfully, the pig I carried on the motorcycle was small. He squealed as though he was being murdered. He was in a gunny sack and not happy about it. I discovered that if I patted him like a baby, he settled down, but if he was still for too long I worried he had died from a lack of oxygen. I had to balance my attempts to let air into the gunny sack with my efforts to keep the pig in the bag!
One by one we visited each family, gave them the addition to their family, found out a bit about them and how the animal would help them, and then prayed for them.
One woman named Marie had five children who were badly malnourished. Three of them are hers and the other two she has taken in and is raising. Marie doesn’t have a home. She is presently living in a house that is under construction because the owner needs a guard on the property, but once the house is finished, she will have nowhere to go. The oldest boy is mute and the back of his pants were torn open, leaving him uncovered. We saw a lot of this in the poorer areas we were been in. Garrick and Karissa met with the Mom and the overseer later in the afternoon and gave funds to help this desperate family with food and clothes.

After the last pig was safely delivered, we stopped at the home of our guide, Celestin. He is a painter and with the help of a microloan, he and his wife have even able to build a house. It is a good house compared to the homes we visited today, but almost empty. There was a nice purple straw mat on the floor, probably their bed, and on the mat were a bible and a Rwandan copy of Pastor Mel’s book, “Be A Man”.  I could feel the presence of God there and I was touched to be invited into this God-centered home.

Lives were changed today. The question is who was changed more, them or us? It was the best day of my entire trip.


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