Monday, September 5, 2016

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda 2016 Part 7

“I don’t know why God loves me so much.” These are words my friend Beatrice says to me often. Now they are also my words. On Saturday I visited Beatrice’s grandmother (Tate) in her home in western Rwanda. Again. For the second time God has brought me to visit with this wonderful grandmother. This time I brought Kevin.
Greeting Tate and I didn't even cry this time - well barely
Oh, what a day! I’ve decided I love second visits best. Last year was wonderful and fun and tear-filled and overflowing with joy, but this year I knew everyone’s name. We laughed together about our previous visit. We were at ease together. Tate said she remembered last year I said I wanted to bring my husband and here he was.
As promised I brought Kevin
A lot of the visit was the same. We sat close together in the same small room of her home. We drank Fanta. I shared photographs. She has a new grandson, Gavin and stared so long at his photos. I gave her the gifts her children sent. She was so grateful.

Before we left Boise, her grandson Kamana had said, “Please will you FaceTime me when you are with my grandma. I want to see her face again.” And that was the very, very, very best part of our visit. Watching them look at each other’s faces. Kamana who loves his grandmother so much. I’ve never met a person who loves his family as much as Kamana does. Twenty-three year old Kamana. A new father. Works full time. Is a university student. Yet, still he takes his four nieces and nephews to the park or the fun center in Boise most Sunday afternoons. I think his son Gavin is going to have a pretty sweet life.
Tate and Kamana FaceTime while Uncle Theo looks on
We gave Tate our gift, a warm sweater, and I told her the story of the sweater. At home in Boise, I asked her oldest grandchild, 13 year old Celestin (whom I love so very much), “What should I bring your great-grandmother?” I was having trouble thinking of something special. He thought about it and said, “Bring her a sweater because she will be cold.” So we brought a warm sweater, and indeed it is cold where she lives. When she heard the story of the sweater, she smiled her most beautiful smile.
Telling Tate the story of the sweater
As we looked at photos of her great-grandchildren, Celestin, James, Simbi, David, Gavin, Tate said to me, “I think you are their grandmother too. You are their grandmother in America.” And we smiled together.
Celestin
We sat a long while in Tate’s little house and talked about how good God is. She said she thought she was going to die last year because she was very sick but God healed her. I asked her to be strong so her grandchildren can visit her next year. Her grandchildren who will be American citizens next year! I laugh when I think of them needing a Visa to visit Rwanda.

Kevin talked with Uncle Theo, Tate’s son with whom she lives, about farming and what crops they are growing and how life is for them. I asked if all their children are in school. They are. All four of them. This is a huge blessing.

Cousin Gentille married since I last saw her and I was so excited to give her a hug. She looked radiant and confident as a newly married woman, and so changed from the shy young woman I met last year.
As we prepared to leave, we stood together for a family photo. Because we are a family. 
Some of our Rwandan family
Tate, making sure the family photo is a good one
Afterwards, Tate sat down on her little bench to rest and I hugged her again and said, “I hope God blesses us with another visit here in Rwanda, but if not, we will be neighbors in heaven.” Then she said, “I am not strong enough to walk so far, so I will let the others push you to the car.” As I walked away I smiled at her wording and my heart was bursting as Beatrice’s words played in my head, “I don’t know why God loves me so much.”

When I arrived at the car Kevin was surrounded by children he was teaching to play hacky sack. They caught on quickly since they play the same game with soccer balls.

Next to the car, our fantastic driver and good friend John was playing with a dozen neighborhood children. Children flock to him. He had them all in a group singing. Rwanda may have a heartbreaking past, but today they love big. They love children, and I learn so much from them about love and generosity.


video

Indeed, I don’t know why God loves me so much and has brought me twice to this beloved family.

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. 1 Corinthians 13

Read Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda Part 8 here

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