Caution: Words Will Fail
We drive up to the orphanage in our bus, and there are children standing at the gate. I don’t know how many. Lots. And then some more. They are all jumping and screaming and pointing and waving…and smiling. Oh man were they smiling. We drove into the gate and they rush the van. Kids of all ages just everywhere. The bus is barely moving as they run alongside us and we stick our hands out the window to high five them and touch them. So we park and then begins what I’ve deemed “the matching process.” Children immediately grab your hand as you step off the bus. And basically all 28 team members today said that whichever child took their hand at the bus stayed with them all day long. It was like we were matched together. We began saying “my kid” when we talked about whomever was glued to us. My kid’s name was Nirere (age 12). He took my hand as I got off the bus. I hugged him and he said “I love you. I have been waiting for you.” I mean talk about a way to start the day…
All the children and a couple of staff members give us a tour of their orphanage (which is huge because it’s the largest in Rwanda and houses over 600 children). They show us their cows, their sheep, their pigs, their goats, their guinea pigs, and their rabbits. They show us the room for infants, the room for toddlers, and then the 3/4 yr old room. You’d think that the pastures with cattle or goats would probably smell really bad…and they did. And you’d probably think that getting inside to the infant room would be a relief from the smell…and it wasn’t. That room was really hard for some of us. It reeked of feces. The infants do have plenty of caregivers and they do get fed very well. However, they don’t have diapers so there’s not much that can be done about them going to the bathroom.
After the small children’s rooms, we go outside and see some of the 3/4 yr. olds dancing and singing. Then one of the older girls asks me if I know Justin Bieber. I told her I know the song “Baby” and started singing it (softly). Oh my gosh. EVERYONE joined in. I’m talkin’ even the toddlers all started jamming out to some Biebs. They were all singing at the top of their lungs and dancing, and I was like “what? this is insane that he is so famous. Seriously.” It was really cool though.
Then they took us to the special needs area (which is mostly older kids, like teenagers). It was really sad how they’re weren’t really any people there taking care of them or playing with them. They mostly just sat and wandered. Nearby was a group of ladies sifting through beans to pick out rocks and straw. I sat down and asked to help. It was so much fun. They laughed at how slow I was, but so did I. Then some lady comes up and starts singing and dancing, and I mean she was intense. One guy tapped me and said “she is singing for you!” I thought it was so sweet! I asked what she was saying and I was told “she is healthy in body, but not mind. She sings no words.” So this woman was just singing jibberish, but she was still praising God with her whole heart and body.
By now, it was about lunchtime and we went to the No. 41 ministry to eat and then purchased all our bags that we had sold to friends before our trip. The money from each bag pays for one child to have a meal daily for a year. They also have other crafts that helps pay for some of them to go to university. Our team bought every single one of their bags, and we are going back tomorrow to get 17 more because they ran out. The girls told us thank you for buying them, and they were so proud to show us which ones they had made. Tymm (our leader) went back into the house after we had all left, and he said they were all dancing in a circle, totally overjoyed that we had bought every bag. This simple little purchase means SO much to them, and that really touched our heart.
We went back to the orphanage and played for hours. We blew bubbles, played soccer (football), basketball, blew up balloons, face painted, did crafts, and so much more. At one point, another team member came and found me. I was busy playing “don’t let the balloon touch the ground” because let’s face it, no matter where in the world you are, no one wants the balloon to touch the ground. But this team member told me that there were some older girls who wanted to sing and so she told them she would bring me. I went into their room and they asked me to teach them a song (after we sang “Baby” by Justin Bieber again). So I taught them “How Great is Our God.” They asked me to write the words to help them learn it. Y’all, they asked to sing that song like 40 times, no kidding. They loved it. I asked if they would be willing to sing for some of my team members, and they agreed. They performed the song, and it was awesome. I love that I’m using my gifts that God has given me for this purpose. Thousands of miles from home, and I’m still teaching teenagers how to sing songs. Awesome. Really awesome.
So all this time Nirere has been glued to my side. It was wonderful to see him open up and interact with children of all ages. We played with kids from 2 to 16 and it was really like watching a family. They all know one another and look out for one another. They all share well. I didn’t see a single argument or tussle or hear one complaint the whole stinkin day. I mean they even passed around the bubbles to one another and took turns. Last time I got bubbles out around little kids in America, they were like beating each other up and screaming to hold the jar of bubbles. It’s amazing how kids with no parents to discipline them and raise them up in a Godly home can be so mature, giving, and loving to one another. And there’s only one reason for that: God. There’s no other explanation for how kind and serving these kids are. He is their Father, and that is all they need
I’m looking forward to seeing Nirere tomorrow (and all 3 Emmanuels and Denysse and Lilian and so many others), but it will be hard to say goodbye…
P.S. I wanted to post lots more pictures but the internet here can’t really handle it. It took 15 minutes to load that one. So…just wait til we make a Facebook album. 🙂