Friday, October 19, 2012

How God Got Me to Rwanda

Frederick & friends
I'm going to Africa. I'm going to AFRICA!

I still don't quite believe it's real. It's been on my heart for years now, and one week from today, I'll be in Rwanda.

Here's how God got me there.

About five years ago, I was helping Jack Hanna to write his autobiography (that's another story), when he told me about a boy named Frederick. He used the word unbelievable. A lot. And now I know it was justifiably so. 

Frederick was only fifteen years old when a fateful bus ride made him another victim of post-genocide tensions. He lost his hands that day. But in the grand scheme of things, he was was one of the few fortunate survivors.

"Listen." Jack looked me dead in the eye. "You've gotta tell his story."

And the seed was planted. But if you're familiar with Jack Hanna, you know he has a way of talking so fast that even emphatic phrases need time to sink in.

Fast forward a couple of years (the exact time it took me to get the courage). I awoke at five in the morning (lunchtime in Rwanda) and felt God's not-so-gentle nudge. Call him. Now. So, I nervously picked up the phone and dialed the fourteen digits I had found in a series of Internet searches. (First for the number to the Ubumwe Center, and another on how to make an international call, since I'd never done so.)


"Hi, may I speak with Frederick?"


"May I please speak to Frederick?" More slowly this time. 


Enunciated as carefully as possible, "May I speak to Frederick, please?"

Laughter. "This is!"

From there, we were fast friends. The tone of that first phone meeting has continued throughout our friendship, with me trying to explain carefully and him always ten steps ahead. He speaks to me in my native language--his third . . . or fourth? And just this morning, I was able to string together three whole words in Kinyarwanda

I have a lot to learn.

He speaks of hope and forgiveness in terms that are far beyond my experience (even though he's several years younger). And he has shown me--again and again--that there is no such thing as a disability. Not for him.

Together, we're working to share his story, his lessons in forgiveness, and his contagious hope with the world. But before I can do that, I'll have to see where it all took place. 

That's why I'm going to Rwanda. And part of how I got there.

But stay tuned, friends, there's a part 2 to this story.

Until then, meet my friend: Frederick.


Laura Smith said...

So excited for you and this project, and where God is leading you to get Frederick's story out there. Can't wait for parts 2, 3, 4, 5 etc.

Unknown said...

I am so excited for you it's almost like I was going myself!!

Jamie said...

A week! Oh my goodness, I have got to get these clothes to you. xox

Amy Parker said...

Thank you, friends. Your encouragement carries me. <3