God Raises Us
It was a little different from yesterday because the kids had to go to school (yesterday they were celebrating their Independence Day so they didn’t have school). The kids go to school in shifts, some in the morning and some in the afternoon. The little ones under 5 are there all day. So whereas yesterday there were hundreds and hundreds of kids all there going crazy and being hyper and vying for attention, today it was much more calm with only half of them there at a time.
The kids we hung out with yesterday were all at school in the morning. So when we got there, we got to meet some that we might not have seen yesterday. The craft today was a big hit. They made beaded necklaces with a cross in them. Several of them just circled up and sat in our laps and we helped them make their necklaces.
Yesterday, we didn’t take too many pictures because we wanted to be there for the kids and not look like we were just there to catalog them like going to the zoo and taking pictures of animals. But today, once we’d formed that bond, they were all about having their picture taken. And we took so many this morning. So, when we get back to fast internet in the States, you will be bombarded with pictures…I promise.
Around 11, the first shift of school kids got back. The two that hung out with me all day yesterday (Nirere and Emmanuel) immediately ran straight up to me and hugged me. They showed me their folders from school and what they were doing in class. I asked if I could show them photos of my family (our leaders had told us that they LOVE pictures so we made sure to bring some). It started out with just me and my two buddies looking through them. And they very sweetly asked “I have pictcha? Of you?” Of course I said yes and wrote a little note to them on the back (they can’t read English, but whatevs). Well, then some other kids saw that I had a photo album, and they walked up. We showed them our photos and then they asked if they could take one (even if we didn’t know them). We said sure…and then more kids came…and then more…and then more. The kids were even taking pictures of my dog and family members, not even of Blake and me, just because they so wanted to have a token of some kind. It eventually turned in to something of a riot as dozens of kids vied for the last few photos. Oops. Probably not the best idea. Oh well. Afterwards we felt kinda famous because all the kids were running around excitedly showing off their photos and pointing to us.
Then we went to lunch at No. 41 sewing ministry at Tara’s house again. We had another great meal together. To show their appreciation, some of the girls danced for us. Then they shared just how much our purchases mean to them and the opportunities that it affords them. It’s so awesome to see God working in their lives.
After lunch we went back to the orphanage, where my 2 “kids” anxiously awaited. Blake’s “kid” Emmanuel also found us and we hung out for the rest of the day. We walked around, we made necklaces, and we skipped through the dirt. We also went to the special needs area and blew bubbles for them. They loved that.
Then we walked by a room and I heard a familiar sound…a keyboard. I looked in and some of the other team members said “Come on in he’s giving us a concert!” So we went in, and y’all it was AWESOME!! This guy played hymns and Christmas carols and the Hallelujah Chorus. We all sang along with the songs we knew (some of them were in Kinyarwandan or French). The guy playing the piano is also an incredibly talented singer. He has a bass voice that can compete with any music major I’ve ever met. I mean, it was really really astounding. When he played Amazing Grace, y’all I’m not gonna lie, I got emotional. I just thought about what these kids have been through. The one playing/singing was over 20 years old, and he’s probably lived at that orphanage his whole life, never knowing a family. The little ones in our arms sang along too, and it was just so overwhelming. God really is good. Even in a place where there’s glass on the ground and the kids smell horrendous and their toys are just old plastic water bottles. God is good. His grace is sufficient…and it really is an Amazing Grace.
I so did not want to leave that room full of beautiful music. But we only had about an hour left before we had to leave, and I really felt God tugging on my heart to go share the gospel with my two “kids.” Now, try to picture this…Nirere is 12 and Emmanuel is 8. Nirere knows some basic English and Emmanuel knows only a few words. I try to ask them if they know who God (“Imana”) is. Nirere replies, “Yes we know God. He raises us. He is Father.” Oh my gosh. That floored me. It’s so true. God really does take special care of these children because they don’t have anyone else. They may not have an earthly mother or father, but God raises them and HE is their Father.
So then I ask if they know Jesus (“Mungu”). They nod. I’m trying to convey the idea of the cross so I’m like holding up two fingers perpendicular going “Cross? You know the cross?” They look somewhat perplexed and just nod. Right then, our seriously fabulous guide named Jane came over. She apparently had been watching me struggle. She asked “You need me to translate?” I said “YES PLEASE!” So as I spoke Jane translated. I told them about how much God loves them and I had them read John 3:16 in the Kinyarwandan Bible that our team had provided us with. (Sidenote: The director at the orphanage told us she did not want us to hand out the Bibles because they are not Catholic Bibles.) I told them that God loves them so much He sent His son to die for us. Then, when I got to the part about actually becoming a Christian, admitting that we are sinners, believing that Jesus is God, and Committing to follow in His ways…they got puzzled looks. Jane then explained that in the Catholic faith, they do not believe that there is a point where they receive the Holy Spirit and He dwells in them. They believe you just confess continually to a priest and not in forgiveness that covers all sin forever. So then I’m trying to think of how in the world do I get this across to these kids, and Jane…wonderful, wonderful Jane…says, “Let me help you” and she just goes on and on for like 10 minutes. I’m just nodding as if I know what she’s saying. Then she looks at me and says “They understand, and they want to be redeemed today.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -my response. So then she prays with them. I took the Bible in Kinyarwandan, wrapped it in a Target bag so no one would see, and Jane told them not to let Madame Director see it. (It was like dealing drugs or something). Then I prayed over them (well, whatever I could say between my weeping), and they had no idea what I was saying, but it didn’t matter. Oh man…such an experience. God is awesome.
Afterwards, I had to say goodbye to all my new little friends. Nirere got teary-eyed and said, “I will nevah fohget you Linsee” and hugged me. Seriously? Seriously? I mean, this is the same child who grabbed me when I got off the bus the first day and said “I love you. I have been waiting for you.” It’s like she knows exactly what to say to just break my heart. I hugged lots of necks and gave high fives and then we had a very emotional send off. All the team members were crying and the kids were running after the bus waving. It was such an emotional day. So much joy, so much sadness about leaving, so much love. And even though I left there with baby urine on my jeans and bird poop on my arms and cow poop on my shoes, I have never felt more blessed.
Tomorrow we go to Ethiopia. It’s got a lot to live up to compared to here!