Friday, September 2, 2016

Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda 2016 Part 6

Thank Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

It is not all pain and heartbreak traveling through the poorer areas of Rwanda. Wednesday was also a day of great joy. We saw our own sponsored child, Umulisa. Again. When we picked her up from her school, I hugged her so hard, I thought she might break.
Umulisa and her Parents
We drove together to her home where her parents were standing outside impatiently waiting for us. Umulisa’s mama and papa, Francine and Jean Bosco greeted us with hard hugs. They were thrilled to meet Kevin and when we entered their small living area, Jean Bosco immediately took a seat beside Kevin. Naomi was wearing her best dress. Jean Bosco was wearing the (now faded) orange Boise State t-shirt I brought last year. He made sure to point that out to us and we laughed. We sat close together on the short, narrow benches lining the walls of their small living space.
Jean Bosco and Kevin - Prayer Partners
Umulisa and I squeezed in beside each other and while I know from her letters she writes English beautifully, she is shy to speak it. Her smile more than makes up for it. I brought gifts again this year and we have started a tradition. Last year I brought Umulisa sturdy, purple Clarke sandals. She loved them. As I received photos of her throughout the year, I saw her wearing them. In one photo I could see they were getting worn. Wednesday as we sat together, I pulled out a pair of the very same sandals, but teal colored. She smiled hugely, covered her mouth and looked at her mama with joy. There were other gifts for her siblings and her parents, but the sandals won the day. It will become an annual tradition for sure!
That Smile
Last year when I visited we were all a bit subdued. It was my first home visit to one of our sponsored children. I felt awkward. I’m sure they did too. But this year, there wasn’t an ounce of awkwardness in the room. We laughed and teased. Jean Bosco said to Kevin, “Now that we have met, we can pray for each other.”

Naomi told us a few months ago while she was cultivating in the field, she stopped and prayed to God that he would bring me back to visit them. Then she looked at us and said, “And just after that we found out you were coming.” She raised her hands up and praised God as we sat together.

We talked a long time about Umulisa’s education. We told them we will support Umulisa through university. Her mama looked at Umulisa and happily told us Umulisa wants to be a nurse. Francine and I have  much in common as our own daughter Rebecca is studying to be a nurse. I like this added bond.

Next year Umulisa will move into grade P7 which means she must change schools. It means a one hour walk to school - each way. After consulting with the sponsorship director in Kageyo, Kevin and I bought Umulisa a bicycle via Africa New Life’s online store. Now Umulisa can make the journey in half the time. I cannot wait to receive the letter I know Umulisa will write and see her standing next to her new bike. I can already see her smile.

Bicycles change lives in Africa. These aren’t your average kids’ bikes. Kevin refers to them as a truck-bike. Every day I see men pushing bicycles loaded with water-filled jerry cans weighing nearly 300 pounds. I see bananas pilled high on them on the way to market. Everything we would transport via car is transported via bicycle in Rwanda. This bicycle will get Umulisa to school, but it will also change her family’s life.

It seemed our visit passed in minutes. I wanted to stay the entire day but it takes three hours to get to Kageyo and it isn’t a drive you want to make in the dark. 

Yet I still have so many things I want to ask Umulisa and talk with her about. I’ll have to be satisfied with letters for now, and pray God takes me back to Rwanda another day.

For now, my heart is happy this bond of friendship and family continues and will continue for eternity.

God is so good to me. I will remember that when the days are hard.

Please sponsor a child. Join me in this journey of joy and change the world. Africa New Life Ministries Child Sponsorship.

Read Friends on a Thousand Hills - Rwanda 2016 Part 7 here

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