Feb, 11, 2015
Dear TATENDA FRIENDS.
We are using a foreign keyboard so we ask Sr. Marty to correct the misspellings since we have only a short time with electricity and internet.
We have only one day left here. The two groups have been very different: The second group was from rural areas and had less English skills. As in the first retreat, we were delighted to have a retreatant who was fluent in English. He translated for us. It is surprising how difficult it is to give a presentation using a translator. We both became proficient at developing a rhythm of speaking and pausing to wait for the translation.
Food was a central concern for this retreat. It was clear from the beginning that many of the students had not eaten regularly. It was obvious when we observed several “human Hoovers” who inhaled everything in front of them with joy and gusto. We were caring for body, as well as soul. When we asked them how it was going for them midway through the retreat, they all said, they appreciated the food very much. These are basics we take for granted in the USA. What an awakening. For us the food has become very routine with lots of starches and little protein except beans.
We are sending along a photo of our new calf, TATENDA. S/HE is beautiful. We are still not sure of her gender… we think s/he is male but they tell us female, hmmmm?
This country is very poor. However weddings seem to be a community event where brides are walked by their parents through the streets to their new husband’s family home. Even though they are teaching English in the schools, many do not use it, YET in the retreat they all seem to understand how central the Mystery of God is. A UNIVERSAL understanding! Almost everyone has suffered loss, and their wariness is evident. Even with this second group, it took longer to gain trust. Most of them have never been on a retreat before, much less one that asks them for silence! That is a big stretch for Africans. We know of many Americans who would shrink at the idea. So these young students struggle with the challenge.
The gifts we have brought have been well-received…. Nail kits, sewing kits, CDs of music, toiletries, pens and notecards, and wonderful hand sewn bags…plastic bags are illegal here in Rwanda for ecology sake. Tomorrow we will conclude this second retreat with singing, dancing, and prayer. Judging from the reaction from the first retreat, we are in for an exciting closing day. A special part of the ritual is the assigning of prayer partners who are teenagers from Nicki’s parish. They love this special connection.
We have created a strong bond with many of the students. Today we were surprised by a visit from Mathias, our translator from the first retreat. He walked two hours to deliver a small gift from the first group for us carry home to the family of TATENDA International.
Running out of internet time; so we bid you goodbye for now. We will begin the arduous journey home tomorrow at midnight and send a return update as soon as possible with more details of our mission to Rwanda
Blessings, Nicki and Sarah