Friday, 19 September 2014

Questions and Answers with Isimbi!

I’ve been a little concerned about my Isimbi lately… her letters seemed kind of repetitive and she didn’t seem to be putting much effort into them. Several months ago, I had sent her a letter that was strictly “questions” in hopes of getting her to open up. I also answered every question I sent her, so she would learn a little bit more about me. I had almost given up hopes of ever getting a detailed letter from her; until today!! I got a bubbly letter with answers to EVERY ONE of the EIGHT questions I had asked her!!

She began her letter by greeting me in the Name of Jesus Christ, as she does in every letter. She asked me how I was, and told me that her family was doing well. She then shared her school marks (A bit low) and that she hoped to get more marks next term. (May I add that her marks were still a significant improvement from what she’s shown in the past.)
Now on to the answers! In case her answers are a bit confusing, I’ll print the original questions I had asked in bold type and Isimbi’s answers in Italic type.
1.       Some things I am afraid of are insects and water, because I don’t know how to swim. What things are you afraid of? I fear water (lake) and wild animals.
2.       When I am sad, I like to talk with my friends and listen to music. What cheers you up when you are sad? I like funny things.
3.       When I was a student, my favorite subject was English. What is your favorite subject in school? I like Elementary Science.
4.       My best friends are named (here I listed four friends). Who are your best friends? My friends are Celine, Aline, Diane, and Hannah. (I wonder does she mean me or does she have another friend named Hannah?)
5.       I have known my friend R-------- for almost 15 years. How long have you known your best friend? I have been with Diane for 7 years.
6.       My favorite memory is of when I got to ride a horse for the first time. What is your favorite memory? When you came to visit me. (Actually referring to my friends’ visit, but still…awwwwwwwwww!)
7.       If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go to Israel, Kenya, and Rwanda. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you like to go? In America and England. (And Canada? Haha)
8.       What are some questions you would like to ask me? When will you come back to visit me?

Her last question broke my heart… especially in light of my last post, which talked about how I won’t be traveling to Rwanda this year. But at the same time, it touches my heart in a deep way that her favorite memory was of my friends’ visit. To a child growing up in rural Rwanda, it must have been very like having the king and queen visit… a sponsor visit is that important to a child. I only wish I could write back and tell her that I’m on my way… I pray the next two years go by quickly, and that the time will come for me to see her and hold her in person.

Isimbi showing some love to my friend David.

 Isimbi closed her letter with, “Thank you for the letter you sent to me. I got it and I liked it. Thank you so much Hannah!”

You’re so very welcome my sweet child!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sometimes It Hurts

Sometimes, it’s hard to pretend you’re okay. It’s hard to keep your smile fixed firmly in place, pretend that your eyes are sparkling from happiness rather than unshed tears, and keep your chin up. It’s hard to look up when you feel like your heart is spiraling slowly downward, when you clench your hands where nobody can see and grit your teeth to keep from breaking down.
It was hard last night.
I was sitting in the back row at a Shelter Them fundraiser, where I and one other member of Driftwood Cross had come to sing and support the team who will be traveling to Rwanda this November. During the course of the evening, all the team members who would be traveling to Rwanda were asked to stand and come forward. I thought I was ready… I thought I had prepared myself for this moment. But nothing could prepare me for the clench in my gut when the team members filed forward… without me.
As I sat stiffly in my seat, with my gaze trained towards the front, I smiled and nodded while my heart screamed, “What about me? I belong there too!” And as I listened to our team talk about how excited they were to visit Rwanda, my heart kept insisting, “But you have no idea. If this was a trip to Sudan or Ethiopia or Uganda, you would feel the same. Cute children and great need. None of you can possibly love Rwanda like I do. You don’t know the language, the culture, the customs, like I do.”
It was hard again today, as I re-watched the video of my friends meeting our co-sponsored child, Isimbi. I always tear up when I watch the video of Isimbi… always have, probably always will… but it was always a “I love you so much and can’t wait to see you,” kind of cry… not a “I love you so much and may never get the chance to meet you,” kind of cry. As I watch her lovely dark eyes flicker from one person to the next, watch her shy smile when she is handed a gift, see her shy pride when she presents the team with a present she picked herself, note her interest as she intently studies a photo that she is given, see her slim brown arms reaching for a hug, watch the blooming confidence in her precious face… my heart crumbles into bits and rains down to the floor. Oh, my sweet child… will I ever have the chance to know you?
It gets still harder when I re-read the letters from my darling sister Shakira in Rwanda… She promises that she will teach me to dance “Rwandan dance type” and says, “I will be so happy when you come and visit us in Rwanda.” Jules (The director of Shelter Them) has assured me that “Shakira is a good girl, she is sad to hear you are not coming but she understands.” That doesn’t stop my heart from breaking… Shakira has no mother, her father is in prison and she has only met him once. She had five older siblings who are all deceased. Her aunt abandoned her. I recall her words, “The love you have for me really amazed me,” and I look at her smiling photo and think, “Am I one more person who has let her down?”
It gets harder still when I see the bubbly posts on Facebook… “Can’t wait to see you guys in a few weeks!” “The countdown is on!” “Can’t wait to visit Rwanda again!” “So excited!”
At times I must come off as annoying or desperate, as I beg the team members again and again; take lots of pictures of my babies. Bring them presents from me. Tell them how much I love them. Tell them how much I wanted to visit. Tell them how proud I am of them.
All the while my heart is asking, “When will it be my turn?”
Yes, it hurts. It aches. It burns. I won’t pretend that it’s easy. I can’t pass it off and say, “Oh well, next year.” I can’t pretend that my heart doesn’t break a little more every day. It will be hard to watch the team set off on their journey… it will be even harder when they return, overflowing with stories and photos. I don’t know why this had to happen… that for the third time, my trip is cancelled. I won’t pretend that I don’t have my moments of asking, “God, why?”
Sometimes, on those days when I can almost feel the heat of the Rwandan sun, can almost smell the rain-scented air, can almost feel the red dirt road beneath my feet, all I can do is stretch my hands to Heaven and say, “It’s Yours.” I don’t understand why, and maybe I never will... I can only hope that I will be there someday, in the homeland I’ve never been to, holding my beloved children in my arms. Until then, I will trust my Father to hold my children tightly, to protect them, keep them safe, love them, and guide them; until such a time as I am able to hold them in my physical arms. And until then, I will hold them in my heart.

Even when it hurts. 

2012 Original drawing by Uwimana Hannah

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

When Life Gets Crazy

Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted here! My life has been kind of crazy… believe me, there are times when Uwimana Hannah hangs by her fingernails just like everyone else.

 In the past six months, I have gotten a job, moved to a different community, gotten an apartment, left my job, found another job, left my apartment, and found another apartment! I’ve tried to keep up with writing regularly to four kids whose letters seem to be arriving faster than I can respond to them. I’ve met with the members of Driftwood Cross and kept up with leading worship every Sunday with them. I’ve struggled to find time to blog or even write prose. And I’ve tried to find time to read God’s Love Letter to me (the Bible) and spend time with Him. Ultimately, I’ve failed. Sometimes, all I have energy to do is say “Lord, I’m so sorry… and I do really love You,” as I lay my head on the pillow to sleep.
Thank God He is merciful.
In the process of all this, sometimes it’s hard to find time to sit and think… to do what the Bible describes as, “being still and knowing that He is God.” But thankfully, there have been little revelations of God’s goodness all along the way. Now that my life seems to be settling somewhat, I look forward to sharing some of those serendipitous moments with you all. I’ve missed writing and interacting with my friends on my blog and on my Facebook page so much!

With that said… be on the lookout for some fun updates VERY soon!

May God keep you under the shadow of His wings!