I’ve received NINE letters from my children since my last update! It sounds like a jackpot, and it is; a letter from my precious Isimbi, two from handsome Mbula, and SIX from my sweet Shakira! The only one missing is Ada… I’m a little concerned that I haven’t heard from her in almost four months, but I’m afraid I may be guilty in her case… I’ve neglected writing to my children in the past couple of months, because my life has been so busy. I’m making it up for it now though, and there have been many bundles of love delivered to the post office lately!
First up, the letter from Isimbi. (Who, by the way, is going to be turning eleven in less than two months. Where does the time go?!)
Isimbi began her letter by greeting me in Jesus’ name and telling me that her family is fine. She shared that it is rainy season in Rwanda and asked how the weather is here? She then told me that she is studying well and she knows she will pass. (That’s my always-confident girl!) She told me to keep praying for her and added, “And I know you do pray for me.” (Of course I do, I tell her that in every letter!) She then told me that her mother, grandmother, and brother are greeting me (the first time she’s specifically mentioned her family members) and told me thank you for the last two letters I sent. “I was so glad,” she added.
Next are the two letters I received from my brother Mbula, who almost always begins his letters with “Hallo my friend?” which makes me chuckle because I imagine a British accent. The one deviation from his tradition was his second-to-last letter, which began, “First I would like to say “Hi” to you.” Isn’t that sweet?
Mbula is fine and doing well in his “daily activities.” He’s also keeping busy at school and has been promoted to Form 2 (The equivalent of our grade 10.) His school had an athletics competition and they “participated very well although the game was tough.” They are preparing for football games in the next term and he requested that I pray for their team to win. He then asked about my favorite game and why I like it. Mbula and his family recently harvested their crops and have already replanted in preparation for the next harvest season. He also shared some interesting Bible verses with me.
Some of you might remember me mentioning that there was a mix-up with the post office in Rwanda and Shakira wasn’t getting my letters. Thankfully the problem was resolved, and she received every letter that I’d sent her, about six or seven in total! I was worried that she might be overwhelmed, but I guess she wasn’t… since she wrote six separate letters back! She commented on all of my letters, shared details of her life with me, and asked some great questions! Her letters are too long to share in full, but here are my favorite quotes. What a personality this girl has!
“I was so happy for the photos you sent me, which are a souvenir to my friend Hannah.”
“Now the sun is shining, but in a few minutes is sunset.”
“I like dancing Rwandan dance type, I wish you could come and I teach you how to dance this kind of dance!”
“Rwanda is beautiful because so many people like to worship God.”
“They call me at home, Uwimana. I like your names Hannah --------- (She used my full name here.)”
“Now the sun is shining, it’s neither hot nor cold, if you hang your clothes outside they will dry.”
“I am writing this letter at 8h in the evening. Tell me, what time is it in Canada when in Rwanda we are at 8h in evening?”
She also shared news and greetings from her sisters and her mum, told me about her church and the youth choir she sings in (They have six choirs at her church!), told me her school results (She was second in her whole class… I am SO proud of her!), told me about the holidays they celebrate in Rwanda, shared some great Bible verses with me, and told me some more about the children in the “Shelter Them family.” (I’m so glad she sees all the other children as her family!)
But it was her next words that melted my heart and brought me to tears right in the middle of a lecture hall at the university where I was sitting with friends and reading her letters while waiting for the speaker.
She said, “My sisters expressed love to you that you have much love. The love you showed me I will also give to others because your love to me really amazed me. I am going to sleep and I hope to see you in my dreams. When I think about you, I rush to do my activities so that I can get time to write you a letter. I love you so much.”
If I had any doubts whatsoever about whether letters make a difference, these letters from Shakira cleared them right up. Through the power of a pen and paper, a fifteen-year-old girl halfway around the word has gone from being a face and a name to being a sister… a real, living, loving friend whom I love and value… and whom I also hope to see in my dreams as she hopes to see me in hers.
Before I end this blog post, I want to share a lovely song with you… This is a song called “Uri Umwami” (You are King) sung by the one of the choirs at Shakira’s church. It’s a beautiful worship song that turns into a joyous celebration of praise; I know you will enjoy it as much as I did!