This morning we were on the road early with both vehicles traveling for about an hour and a half to the community of Cyuru, where we were greeted with bright, beaming faces of many children who were clearly expecting us. We began our time there with an introduction to a young girl, maybe ten years old. She was the first desperate child rescued by Home of Hope in that area. She was orphaned and living with cows and regularly enduring all manner of abuse prior to our help.
We also met an 18-year-old girl named Jeanette whose mom had abandoned the entire family at a hospital when they were young. She doesn’t know who her parents are and has brain damage from being severely beaten. She was shy and kept a hand over her face when the interpreter was talking to her. We couldn’t help but weep as we heard her story. Later we discovered that she has saved some of her sponsorship money each month, choosing not to buy everything she might like, and has purchased a cow with her savings. She is proud that the cow has had a calf and she has also purchased a pig.
We spent three hours teaching the young people about business and it was very rewarding to see some of them so eager to learn. What good does it do to sponsor a child to age 18 if they can’t support themselves into adulthood? Daryl and I met with 5 eager teenagers afterwards, helping them to form a co-op to establish a market in their community. They all had good ideas and it will be interesting to see the business plan they develop. It was very exciting for me to work with them on their future.
We met all 17 orphans who live in the duplex there and learned their names and gave them some trail mix to enjoy, something not readily available in Africa. They are beautiful children, happy and well cared for. Saying thank you is something they readily do. Their caregiver is a lovely woman with a drooping face, a result of being shot in the eye during the Genocide.
When I was finished teaching, I wandered out to the playground and climbed one of the small 4×4 platforms and about 30 children joined me. Yes, 30. They held my hands and thoroughly inspected the skin on my arms and ankles, satisfying their curiosity about my white color. They wanted to know what a mazoongu feels like! (That may be misspelled, but it means white man, and the kids everywhere shout it out when they see us.) One little guy climbed up on the monkey bars behind me and began feeling my hair. Did I mention I used more wipes during this trip than I’ve ever used in my entire life? Emmanuel, a teenage boy from the very first family we sponsored in Rwanda translated for me and the kids asked me all the questions they could think of – like where was my husband? and how many kids did I have? and why didn’t I bring my kids with me?
Cyuru is a long way up into the mountains so we saw some of the most incredible scenery of the trip. It tested my fear of heights, which I forced myself to deal with by closing my eyes!
Van rides are always interesting but also used as training opportunities and today was marriage counseling! One man is 29 and married a couple of years. Another older man is married and his wife isn’t saved even though he is the pastor. I began asking them when the last time was that they bought their wives flowers. The young man said in November while the older man did his best to evade the question, eventually admitting it was decades. We laughed and laughed as we grilled them and Pastor Brian really challenged the older man to win his wife with love and repentance. I supplied them with flower money, and insisted they send me a picture of the flowers.
By then we had reached the motel and I had to pack up and say my good byes.
Goodbye Jane. Goodbye Bahati. Goodbye Ernest. Goodbye Emmanuel. Until we meet again my friends. I am a better person for knowing them and their country. I’ve changed their lives but they have changed mine and I leave with a great love for them. And it is with great love as well that I look forward to seeing all of you very soon. When you see me, if I am speaking loudly, in short phrases, with exaggerated enunciation of each word and equally exaggerated hand gestures, be patient with me. I have been speaking through a translator for the past two and a half weeks.
—- Going on a mission trip is so much fun! Is it your turn to go? —-