Hi. There's no real casual way to crawl back into a blog, that you're not even really sure is relevant anymore, after you've been gone for almost a year. And written about once a year for last three... But here goes nothing. (wink.)
Last time I was here, way back when, I told you I was crazy. But I knew why. And I felt pretty good about it. I've learned a lot over this last year, like more than maybe a year should really allow. Except that maybe I didn't really learn it all as much I just remembered some of it and settled down with the rest of it. With the help of my counselor, I've also laid down a good number of the burdens I somehow decided were mine and had been dragging around. I've learned what it feels like when I start to sink and I know better what to do, where to go, and who to go to when it happens. When I'm unhealthy, I isolate myself, because I tell myself there is no way anyone could understand, not the complexities of it all. But when I'm good I know it's not about understanding it all, opening up and letting people in is the point; same, same can look really different, different on the outside. I've got some really rad "me too" ladies in my life who have shown me that friends don't have understand completely to love and support fully.
So, lately. Lately, as in since Thanksgiving. I guess I moved back to Rwanda, full-time. I didn't really intend to, I don't think. Not yet anyway. But I knew it needed to probably happen and would eventually. You know I have these boys that I'm obsessed with.... Obsessed with in the way that they saved me. When I was sinking hard they made me laugh, and helped me let go, and gave me something to hang on to. I fought for them; fought to be able to love them well and fought for them to allow me the honor. They fight for me, too. Sometimes literally. We belong to each other and it's been nice to have this long stretch of time without me popping in and out so often.
My mom was here for Christmas and New Years, which felt so normal. In the most unconventional way. It was 70 degrees and we wore matching flannel pjs, and drank hot chocolate, and worked in the garden, and ate goat brochettes. As long as I've been in Rwanda, people always comment on how lucky I am to still have my grandma; I call her Gran. This year, my mom wasn't Mom, she was Grandma, and everyone was so right, we are the luckiest.
In January, just after my mom left, we finally got word that 4 out 4 boys passed the National Exam and would be continuing their education into secondary school!! (Terry, number 5, is already in secondary school, if you're counting.) This was HUGE! All of the boys are much older than their grade level and education here really leaves a lot to be desired, but they finished primary school and I think even surprised themselves how well they did on the National Exam. School started a couple weeks later and JD and I still catch ourselves with our jaws on the ground over all the positive changes secondary school and a little consistency has brought. For almost all of them.
This year, for the first time, all five boys go to Kanama, the school that No.41 feeds, which is super convenient since JD and I both office there most days. But this is the second year at Kanama for two of them and one had earned himself a pretty poor reputation in his first year. We were cautiously optimistic that having them all together would help everyone settle in a bit. The school was somehow less optimistic and we had a few meetings with the leaders, hoping to ease their concerns, and to assure them that the boys were serious. We made a lot of promises and made good on most of them, but some reputations and some labels are harder to overcome than others. Especially when they are mostly self-imposed. I can't speak for my youngest guy, but I've spoken to him until I'm purple in face, and the heartbreaking truth is I can't want anything for him that he doesn't want for himself. On the second day of school our baby made a choice that he knew would move him out of the house. Though he continued to attend school, sporadically, and did finish out Term 1, it doesn't look like he'll be returning to school in Term 2 and that means he also won't be returning to the house. We have walked every step with him. My head knows this is the right thing, my heart is still trying to catch up.
Speaking of the house, WE MOVED, and that whole debacle/miracle deserves it's own post. The No.41 ladies have graduated to their very own space, kinda. They are now working in a row of boutique shops on the main road (that has a back door that opens into our backyard) and this house on the hill, just for our family, is making me crazy and making my life all at the same time.
Well, I've babbled a lot here, more than I thought I would, and at least now we're all caught up to this year. :) I'll come back next week and fill you in on all rest!