We spent yesterday and today out at the orphanage site. The land is beautiful and there is so much going on there. It’s 19 acres of land and much of it is being used – though not yet for the much anticipated orphanage. The first of the buildings that will house children is in process. Men work hard to accomplish so much – and there isn’t a power tool in sight.

The land around the buildings is growing many different types of food. For the time being, the food is used in the community, but eventually the food will be used to help the orphanage be self-sufficient. We saw papaya trees, banana trees, cabbage, onions, squash, potatoes, beans and a few other things I am not sure I can remember the name for. People till the land by hand with hoes – we got to try our hand at that…it’s very hard work and I have to say very few of our team were any good at it! It makes me appreciate the food we eat here even more…a lot of effort is extended before it shows up on our plates. (By the way, the food here has been very good!) The beans are gathered, and placed in a huge pile…and then those piles are beaten with really big sticks to get the actual beans out of the pods. We tried that too…it was fun to see the beans fly out of the pods. After the beating is finished, the beans are gathered up and “sifted” to get rid of the chaff. Again, it’s amazing to me how much work everything is. And not a Target or Wal-Mart in sight if you want some rice to go with the beans!

Our first task was to move bricks. We formed a “chain” and passed a huge amount of bricks down from the pile where they started to smaller piles for the brick layers to use. We were thrilled when the pile was finished (and it was very satisfying watching the wall go up as the pile went down)…but when we showed up the next day,. So, again, we formed chains and moved the brick pile from where the truck dumped the bricks to a pile where they can be more easily accessed by the workers. We often sing while we work – it really does help. We sang the themes from Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch; we sang “Hail, Jesus You’re My King”; we even sang Frank Sinatra songs…anything to make the work go faster. It was very fun–and I have a sinking feeling we will be moving that last pile again the next time we make it out there. It’s hard and very dirty work (red clay dust is everywhere and a shower has never felt so good). It’s also satisfying knowing we have a physical part in building a place where the children of Rwanda can be safe.

The other parts of our day were filled with children. They follow the cars as we head down the “driveway” smiling and calling to us. We try to engage them in games during the day, but the language barrier can be difficult. They are so loving. They want to hold our hands and touch our clothing. I can’t tell you how many times I have named the colors of my shirt, my pants, and so on. They are eager for English words and love to see themselves on the displays of our cameras. They sing to us and laugh when we try to repeat the Kinyarwandan words. There is a school not far from where we are working and we can hear them during “recess”. After school, they flock to us and we hold a short children’s program with singing, games and even a quick but meaningful skit. It’s hard to make them leave when we are ready to go. They run beside the cars (which makes this mom very nervous) smiling and waving as we pull away. They line the sides of the road as we drive off. Their smiles are beautiful and their eyes are full of light. And I am touched.

The lives of these people are so difficult. Many have shoes that are falling apart. I’ve seen several smaller children wearing rubber rain boots. It’s cute, and it breaks my heart. I am so grateful that I have been given this opportunity…and so full of the promise of what God will do with the land that has been dedicated to making a better life for at least some of those who will shape the future of this country.


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