It’s a Date

When Rebeka first came here, we had a lot of goals for her. We wanted her hair to get long enough to put a bow in with no headband. Check.

No headband!
No headband!

We wanted her to learn English. Check. We wanted her to eat a vegetable. No check. Of course we wanted her surgeries to be successful, and for her to learn to walk on the bottoms of her feet. At PT yesterday, she walked 640 feet with her walker, her longest distance yet. She can stand without her walker for a long time, and she’s practicing standing on bare feet, still clinging to the walker or our hands because this is a hard one.

Our biggest goal is to send her home able to walk on her feet without her walker. And yes, included in that goal is the phrase, “send her home.” We’ve always known that was part of the deal. People ask me all the time how hard it will be to say goodbye. Hard. But so far I’ve been able to stave off the reality of saying goodbye. We’re busy learning to read and walk and do math. We’re busy running to PT appointments twice a week, getting fitted for the brace for her right foot, busy achieving goals and making new ones.

Every morning we get out our calendar, put a sticker on the day, sing our “days of the week” and “months of the year” song, and look ahead to what’s coming up. We looked forward to Halloween, then Christmas, then Easter. We knew when school and PT and surgeries would happen, but until recently, there was no departure date circled. It was just out there somewhere. We knew it was coming, but it seemed like a long time away.

It wasn’t until I wrote her departure date on her calendar that it began to feel real.

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June 24th she’ll be traveling home with an American family that’s moving to Rwanda for a few years. They have three young kids, and we’ve got play dates and dinner dates on the calendar so Rebeka will know them well before she leaves. They are kind and sweet and absolutely capable of caring well for Rebeka. She will be in good hands. And she is traveling home to her family, her mom and dad and sisters and a brother, who all miss her and can’t wait to see her.

That’s what I say. And then I think, when she’s gone I’ll have lots more time to write, workout, and volunteer at school. I can spend more time with my kids. Clay and I will take some trips. Our family won’t have to whisper in the morning because Rebeka is still sleeping. No more wheelchair tearing up the back of my car, and a lot less Uno. And then . . . and then  . . . that’s how my heart stays far from that June 24th date. It’s all okay because .  . . because . . . And honestly, life has been harder, yes. But life has been sweeter and richer, too, and my heart knows it. I have been stretched. I have learned new things about myself. Some of them aren’t pretty, but some of them are pleasant surprises. I can do what I never thought I could. And I can say goodbye to this girl we all love. Yes, there will be a big old hole in our family pictures, once Rebeka leaves.

DSC_0042
Easter morning, and look, no wheelchair and no walker.

But we will choose joy on that day, even if our hearts are heavy. She has worked so hard, been through so much, and she will walk. Our goal is for her to be able to walk two miles by then. That’s how far it is to walk to her school in Bugesera, and interestingly enough, that’s how far it is to walk to her friend Kate’s house here. It’s going to be hard, and she has a lot of work to do. That 640 feet we’re so proud of is less than a quarter of a mile, and she did it all with a walker. We’re determined, her physical therapist and doctors are determined, and she’s determined that she can do it with enough hard work. We’re convinced it will take more than that, and we’d love prayers for her, prayers that she’ll walk those two miles.

It’s a date, Rebeka Uwitonze. June 24th  all of us will do one of the hardest things we’ve had to do in the eleven months that you’ve been with us. We’ll say goodbye. But until then, we’ve got some work to do, so let’s get busy.

11 thoughts on “It’s a Date

  1. Wow. It’s been an amazing journey, and I have so loved following your updates. I think my heart will break a little on June 24th, when you say goodbye to Rebeka – when we all say goodbye to Rebeka. Prayers and good wishes for the hard work ahead.

  2. I really don’t cry very easily. But this isn’t easy. And I am sitting in my silent classroom at lunch, crying. I have kept up with this whole journey from my computer screen and the few snippets I’ve seen of Rebekah at church and school. I am so thankful that you took all of us along on this ride. I am so thankful that Rebekah has 2 families who love her so much…one in Bugesera and one in Austin. I am so thankful that June 24 is not the end of her story, but the start of a new chapter. I am so thankful for you and Clay and your kids and the witness that you are of the gospel.

  3. You have me teary-eyed here, too, Meredith. I will miss the pictures you post of Rebecca– her ever-present giant smile lighting up the scene, from California to Austin. Your family’s effort and sacrifice ( though I know you’ll quickly tell me it was nothing…) has blessed each family and individual who has been fortunate enough to go along. We feel ESPECIALLY blessed to have brushed shoulders and spent time with Miss Rebeka herself. Your family’s journey makes us all think crazy thoughts like, “what can I do to help someone else? Maybe I can think outside the box, like the Davises. Maybe if I keep my eyes open God can use ME like he’s used them.” Thank you for giving us an amazing “story from the street”. We love you, Davises and Rebeka! — Sayre Fam

  4. Meredith – thank you for sharing this journey with all of us. Rebekah is such joy and I praise God for her and all of the Davis family.

  5. When I see that picture of Rebeka with the kids at Easter, and see that big smile and sparkling eyes, it is so obvious she is a child well loved. We have loved getting to know her over these last months and she has a permanent place in our hearts. I’ll always remember those squealing giggles as we went sailing across the pasture in the RTV on our egg/scavenger hunt. We are praying for all of you as you approach that day when saying goodbye will bring tears all around. We look forward with anticipation to what God will be doing in the lives of all those who come in contact with Rebeka in Rwanda and pray that she will recognize how God has prepared her all that lies ahead.

  6. Wow! I’m In Tears. I’m Sure There Are So Many Mixed Emotions With her Departure In Sight, But The Good News Is That You Will Have Completed An Enormous And Very Important Task To Not Only Better God’s Kingdom, But Better The Life Of One Of His Most Prized Possessions! I Don’t Know You, But I Hope To Be As Loving, Giving, And Sacrificial As You Have Been, Setting The Stage For My Children To See First Hand What God Is All About! Hope To Meet You Someday!

  7. Perhaps a bit too fragile to read this tonight…too raw…too sad, but I choose JOY! For Rebeka, for your family and for my family…so many changes, but no one can steal that joy that the Holy Spirit has planted in our hearts…thank you for sharing Rebeka with us…we will miss her, too! {{{Rebeka}}}

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