In about a week one of the doctors who traveled with us to Rwanda in June 2010 is headed back to that great green country. He will be spending some time in the clinic doing ongoing training for the local doctors and nurses. He’ll also get to attend the official medical clinic and community well dedication. It took a year and a half and an incredible amount of red tape but now The Ndengera Clinic is officially certified with the governmemt. The well also had more bumps and twists than we ever imagined but it too is up and running. To celebrate they are having a ceremony. I had the great priveledge of writing a letter to be read on behalf of our church and team. This whole project continues to be one of my greatest joys. Here is what I wrote. I wish I could be there to read it myself.
Greetings from Liberty Bible Church and the medical partners in the United States. It is an honor to be here at the dedication of the Ndengera Clinic and well. On this happy day, we echo the words of Paul in Philippians 1: 3-5
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We honor the commitment of our brothers and sisters in Rwanda as you invest in this clinic and well. We trust that your efforts will continue and broaden in support though out the community.
It is our hope that this clinic will provide compassionate care to the people in Gisenyi and to the children of the Ndengera Foundation. It is our desire that the clean water from this well will support the good health of the community.
More than that though, it’s our prayer that all who come in contact with this facility will feel the love of Christ and the encouragement of being served by those who love Jesus.
We have been blessed by your friendship and thank you for the opportunity to partner with you in this great work.
I hope they take a lot of pictures.
It’s been a year. My husband commented that I am still feeling the effects of my trip to Rwanda. I think he was referring to the fact that I’ve got a month to go on my INH treatment for dormant tuberculosis. I have a countdown going to a big forbidden feast involving lots of chocolate and cheese. Avocados too. My family is counting down too. One of the side effects of the meds is irritability. I’m so sorry. Fun times.
When you drive into the compound in Gisenyi, Rwanda that houses the clinic and school, children smile and run. They follow the truck down the dirt road yelling and waving. I’ve never felt so welcomed and humbled and inadequate and loved and overwhelmed all at the same time.
Thoughts of Rwanda still hit me randomly and with full force. Travel anywhere does that. The memories pop up at the oddest times. My life is intertwined with visions of Rwanda. Last night I was scraping leftovers off plates into the garbage. My inner dialogue kicked in and was reminding me to breathe deep, pray for a good harvest in Rwanda and not yell at anyone who didn’t eat their full portion. I know it’s not completely rational. I recognize that you can’t mail leftovers overseas. It still hurts to think of hungry kids and food in garbage.
When I held a child who had no parents and who could not speak my language, my heart grew. I hold my own daughter tighter now.
When I sat in a field surrounded by banana trees baking in the sun and sewed buttons on rags it put a perspective on my own clothing budget that didn’t shift quickly when I came home.
When I ate mangos and avocados ripened on the tree it makes me grin at the inferior fruit here. I miss the tree tomatoes too.
When I hear Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone, I’m instantly transported to a church with a tin roof and loud rain pouring down. Choir practice in the dark swatting mosquitoes. My single most embarrassing moment and a personal triumph over pride. The term fools for Christ takes on new meaning.
When I see someone who traveled with me, I am grateful. Their eyes have seen what I saw. When someone agrees to help with a fundraiser I am grateful. When I get an email from Rwanda and see progress on our projects, I am grateful. When I take a shower and the water is warm and clean, I am grateful.
My spouse is right. I’m still feeling the effects. Some good. Some painful. All worth it.
I brought home a souvenier from Rwanda. Well. Maybe. Maybe its a souvenier I’ve been carrying around for who knows how long. At any rate, its official. I had two positive skin tests for tuberuclosis. I would like to state the next sentance in very large letters. I AM NOT CONTAGIOUS. I HAVE NEVER BEEN CONTAGIOUS. I thought about getting a T-shirt that had the same thing but decided a blog post might have the same effect. I have dormant TB and am on nine months of medications. At the end of the nine months I will gratefully be finished and will never again have to think about TB. I’ll also never have to have another TB skin test.
The last several days I’ve had an internal battle with myself. The whiney half of me wants to tell everyone that I think it stinks that I can’t have a whole pile of foods I love for the nine months I’m on the meds. I have learned all about Tyramine and Histamine and liver swelling and high blood pressure. I’ve read and reread the drug information sheet several times. The pitiful half of myself is staring at my coffee pot and wondering if really one cup of coffee will really interact all that much and isn’t cheddar cheese worth a little severe high blood pressure?
I had another reminder this morning that gratitude really is the way to go. I had a conversation with someone who had tuberculosis as a child. Not the dormant kind. Okay fine. Keep the chocolate and the coffee. I’m grateful.
A couple of days ago someone who has already traveled this particular path emailed and said something that just made me smile. He said “welcome to the positive side”. Another TB survivor told me its great I’ve converted and welcome aboard. The fact is that once I’m done with the treatment, bring it on baby. This particular body is set to go. I have immunity now to Yellow Fever, Hepatitits A and B, Typhoid, Polio, Tetnus, and a whole pile of other prevoiusly deadly diseases. Doesn’t this make you grateful to live in this century? As a personal protest and committement to myself to try and not whine, I signed up for next year’s Warrier Dash. 3 miles. Lots of mud. This is fabulous. This whole adventure makes me want to get on a plane and go somewhere to help push back on the darkness. Wanna come?
I have not blogged in over a week. I feel like a failure but I can’t find my laptop nor do I have internet access at home yet. I also do not know where an entire box of my daughter’s clothes are but on the upside I know where my daughter is so in the big picture everything is good.
The entire moving process is such a bizarre experience. To put it simply, you beg everyone you know to give you large cardboard boxes. You then put every single thing you own into these boxes. Then you beg everyone you know into helping you carry around the pile of boxes. You stay up into the wee hours of the morning unpacking these boxes. Lastly you beg everyone you know to take away the large pile of boxes.
Last night, I was looking at my pile of cardboard boxes. When we were in Rwanda, I met a woman who had lost her home in a mudslide. She had a whole pile of children and basically nothing else. She had no boxes. I stood staring at my boxes wondering how now to help the people we met in Rwanda. The needs are overwhelming and its hard to find the energy to mount a fresh attack on fundraising and organizing. But the disparity between my pile of empty boxes and her lack of boxes is continuing to haunt me.
I’m grateful for our new house. I’m grateful for clean water. I’m grateful I know where my family is sleeping tonight. I’m grateful for the freedom in this country to talk or blog about what I’m thinking. I’m grateful for the opportunity to go to Rwanda. It’s painful. But I’m grateful.
My aunt and uncle and cousin moved into town today. What a joy to have more family in town! We spent most of the day hauling their belongings up and down stairs and trying not to put nicks in their brand new walls. I say trying because I personally helped take a chunk out of one of their ceilings with what I swear is the tallest bookcase I’ve ever seen. Sorry. I’ll come help paint it. At one point in the day when we were surrounded by cardboard and wrapping I asked my husband if we did in fact really want to personally move. I hate moving. The entire process is unsettling, exhausting and overwhelming. I remember when we moved last time, eleven years ago, that I swore I’d never do it again. Foolish thing to swear something like that. Our house has been on the market for five weeks now. We’ve had two people look at it. Today my uncle looked around at the mess and said “This is a very good day”. How right he is.
When we were in Rwanda most of the team went and visited a new settlement of people just down the road from where we were working. Several months earlier their homes had been destroyed in a mud slide. They were relocated to a new field and the government provided each family with a tarp. That’s right. A tarp. Since then, these families had scrounged up some sheet metal and random wood pieces to form house like structures. Some of them are working on building new one room mud floor houses. When they move into their new house, they will take their tarp with them.
In light of that comparison I promise that when we do get a buyer that I will cheer. I will try to remember to be more grateful than grumbling when I’m packing the boxes. I want to smile as I carry them upstairs. If I don’t, please remind me that it is a very good day.
I remember the first time that my little sister told me no. I had to be about fourteen so being told no was an unsettling event all by itself. Having my eight year old sister tell me no was shocking. She’d never told me no before. I was the big sister. She stood in the hallway after being asked to go get some random object of mine with her hands on her hips and quite firmly said no. I went and told my mom. Further shock to my world view happened when my mother told me that the little sister didn’t have to do exactly what I told her to every time.
I was an only child for almost seven years. I was thrilled when that stopped. I even convinced mom to bring the baby in for show and tell in my Kindergarten class. When she was about two, our parents left us for the evening with a babysitter. I remember being the translator then and wondering how in the world this teenager couldn’t tell what my brilliant sibling was saying. I also remember telling the babysitter that it would be her last time watching us if she continued letting my sister cry instead of rocking her to sleep. I was a bossy eight year old. Not much has changed. I still rush to defend or rescue and I still give entirely too much unsolicited advice.
Before our trip to Rwanda, my little sister was in charge of helping get our team ready to travel. She handed out a form all about culture shock and dealing with the return to America. I thought this meant that when I got home I’d be all upset at our culture and mad about excess and I duly prepared to keep my mouth generally shut on those topics. Turns out the culuture shock is deeper than that. Turns out I’m having a hard time in general. Its hard to remember to pay your bills here when all I can think about are the balances on account ledgers in Rwanda that mean one child will go to school and one will not. Turns out my sister was right.
When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? ~Pam Brown
Filed under Family, Rwanda