A letter from Kay Day in Rwanda
New Year’s greetings to all.
As I begin this New Year, I have been reflecting on some of the amazing people I have met and hope to deepen relationships with in the New Year. I would like to introduce you to one of my new friends and hope that you will, with me, appreciate the spirit of the people of Rwanda.
Anysie is in her 30s, single, and holds a degree in business from a university in South Africa. She is a head of finance for the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda. None of these things make her all that different from many Rwandans. She is a genocide survivor. That certainly does not make her unique in Rwanda. What makes her a standout is what she is doing with all of this. I had the opportunity to see that firsthand on Christmas Eve. While many people were preparing for a time of worship and family, my colleague Meg Knight and I traveled with Anysie and her neighbor’s two teenage daughters high into the mountains of the southeast to the remote village area where Anysie had grown up. There in a small church sat 223 children and their Sunday school teachers waiting for us. Some of the children had walked for two hours to come for this Christmas program. They had prepared songs and dances of welcome for us and the Sunday school teachers had a lesson for them, but the focus of the time was Anysie’s presentation. She asked them if they knew why she did not come to visit them more often. After several suggestions from the children, one spoke up and said it was because she no longer had family there. She said that was correct. All of her family had been killed during the genocide but the reason she did come back was so they would know that they were still her neighbors and were loved and cared for. She said that the only way to make certain that genocide never happened again was for each of us to love and care for our neighbors. After prayer we served the treats we had carried in the car from Kigali—fruit juice and rolls. The children sat quietly as we served them. Many had never had such treats before. After tasting them they were not as quiet but were eager for more of the rare treats. After the children ate all there was to eat, Anysie met with a women’s cooperative that she had helped to start that is enabling the women to earn money to support their families, and then she met with a group of farmers she is helping with a goat raising project. All of this she is doing on her own, not as a project of the church, but as a genocide orphan from that area who, by God’s grace, has been able to not only survive but thrive, and who wants to share Christ’s redeeming power with those in the remote area of her birth. She had saved and planned for four months to finance this trip.
After we left the church, we traveled over a mountain ridge to a Catholic parish that had a genocide memorial. This was a pilgrimage for Anysie. As we stood between the church and the memorial, she told us that her parents had been baptized, confirmed, married, and had died in that church building. It is where they fled when the genocide broke out. It was there that they, her siblings and 5,000 others who sought refuge were murdered. She was spared because she was away at boarding school. She said that the only way she knows to deal with her grief and to fight against genocide ever happening again is to share Christ’s love and encourage others to share in that love. She had invited us to share in her joy and in her remembrance. I was humbled. On that Christmas Eve I had a new vision of Emmanuel, God with us, in the love of a generous, forgiving genocide survivor.
My prayer is that we can all live out Christ’s love in such tangible ways in 2014. In that regard, I thank you for your generous support that enables me to be here and witness such expressions of Christ’s presence. I ask for your continued support in prayers and in finances. I ask specifically that you pray for Rwanda as it prepares even now for the 20th commemoration of the genocide in April. This will be an intense time and a great opportunity for witness to Christ’s reconciling powers.
Happy New Year, my dear friends.
Kay (Cathie to the family).