I've had a very busy six days. On Thursday, I flew to Kigali alone and went to the U.S. embassy to take care of some adoption related business. I sat in a nice coffee shop. I tried not to cry multiple times when I felt so overwhelmed by the luxury of my 24 hours there (first hot shower in over a year, good food in an nice cafe, ease of travel, lovely conversations with other American families). I think I came across as a bit "starved". Perhaps I am a bit starved. It's not a bad thing, to live without luxury, but sometimes it can feel like a burden instead of a blessing. And it has truly been a blessing, living here. Don't get me wrong, living in Congo, I live a life of luxury (but I strangely also live a life without). I have so much more than most of the people that live here. I am rich. I will always be rich, no matter the dollar amount on my w-2 at the end of the year (post for another day). I am different than before I came, yet the same. I look at myself and sometimes I see strength and courage and other times I see laziness and compromise. I am ready for a furlough, but I wonder if I am truly ready for a final farewell.
On Friday, I flew back to Bukavu with Jennifer and Dano Jukanovich. Jennifer graciously accepted my request to do a training at the orphanage before I left Congo. Something had struck me a while ago when I read some of her writings and during one of our conversations. I was struck by her commitment to the caregivers of orphans. She mentioned the idea of a orphanage caregiver retreat, saying that when the caregivers know they are loved and appreciated, when they know the love of the Good Shepherd, they will in turn show this love to the children in their care. When the pain in their lives is acknowledged and grieved, when our eyes look into theirs and share in their suffering, healing happens and love flows more freely. I also knew that as adoptive parents, they both deeply understood the importance of building attachment from birth and the effects of not having done so on the long term health and well being of children from hard places. So, she did a training on Jesus' love and care for us as the Good Shepherd, especially as He leads us through hard places, their love and care for the children as their shepherds (leading them with love through hard places), and how to build attachment and treat sensory processing disorders. It was excellent and I really couldn't have imagined a better way to say a final farewell to the kids at Kaziba. I have a lot more to say, which I will in the days ahead, so keep checking back.
On Saturday we drove home from Kaziba (we had stayed overnight). I was exhausted. The road just seems to get more and more washed out and difficult to drive on every time I go. It is incredibly gorgeous up in Kaziba though, and I love every drive I take up there.
On Sunday, I hung out with my family. They missed me and I missed them. I was reassured often by Natalie that she was VERY glad I was home.
On Monday, I headed up to the Katana orphanage. Katana is about 1 1/2 hours outside of Bukavu. It is also incredibly beautiful. You drive along the lake for a lot of the trip and you pass farmland and small villages the entire way. The road is absolutely incredible. Paved almost the whole way (the nicest road in all of south Kivu). Visiting Katana was full of emotion for me. The sisters (it is a catholic orphanage) greeted me with huge hugs and warm greetings, "it's been so long, Holly". The kids have all grown and look good. The orphanage houses 52 kids. Most are over two years old. They don't accept babies, except in the rare case. The oldest children are 16 years old. More to come about this trip as well, but let's just say much was done in my heart and miracles are happening.
Today, I had a very special visitor in my house. A sweet little boy who is now 7 1/2 and completely charming. (I really think he thought my house was disney world!) He and my two older girls watched some Winnie the Pooh together. He started giggling the minute it started, and pretty much didn't stop the whole time. Watching him laugh, full of child-like innocence, filled me with joy and did my heart good. He is doing well, but is clearly struggling.
Now, it's time for bed and rest.