It is undoubtedly hard to believe that it has been indeed twenty years since you left us; the world will NEVER be the same without your beauty in it.
It truly still feels like it was yesterday when everything was normal, a big happy family of 8, when your love surrounded me to keep me safe and assured. It is extremely difficult not to weep. It is not easy to accept that I will never see you again on this side of heaven. There is not a single day that passes without thinking about you. You may not be here physically but your memories are alive and rich in our hearts, eternally.
But I also know that our dear GOD loved you so much that He wanted all four of you by His side. If I could ask Him one impossible thing though, it’d be to give me wings to fly over where you are, in a peaceful heaven, to hug you so tight and tell you that I love you, and that it is for always!
Although if that happened, I am afraid that I’d never let you go. So, until eternity, God’s mighty hand will keep me under the shadow of His wings. Only then, death won’t separate us anymore. Our tears will be wiped away, our hearts will cease to be heavy, for good.
My dearest little sister Marie Claudine “Magnifique”, you were an angel and died like one.
It is still heart-wrenching to know that you were among the first 3 people that were killed in our entire village after the genocide against the Tutsi broke out on Wednesday night; what wrong could you have possibly committed? I am so thankful that I at least got to say goodbye to you, after you died with your arms wrapped as if in a prayer. Although I still remember blood pouring down from your throat as if a knife had sliced it, I hold onto God who loved you way more than I did.
You went like an angel, and I know that lots of them gathered to welcome you home early morning that Thursday, April 7th. I can only imagine the party that was held in your honor! You will tell me more about it in heaven, after I complete the reason my life was spared this very same month 20 years ago. I will catch you up on everything you have missed, okay? I will love you all my life!
Daddy, you left so soon but the confidence you always had in me, as a little girl, keeps me going.
I vividly remember the day you surrendered your final breath, on Sunday afternoon, April 17th. That is when we overheard the Hutu interahamwe militia boasting that they cut you into 3 pieces and they were looking for us (my Mom and 5 children) to finish the whole family. How could anyone on this planet possibly harm you? You may have been tortured in the flesh, but I know that your sweet soul is safe with the God you taught us to pray. Do you remember how you always beamed with pride when I did well in school?
Well, I know you’d have been proud to know that I finished all the way to grad school. I also landed my dream job and work for a great company, in a far away foreign country that has become my new, comfortable home. Can you believe that you were not present to be proud of me? I miss you but Jesus, my Savior and King, is always there on yours and Mom’s behalf. I don’t feel alone. He comforts me when I am scared and applauds when I do well. He also still loves me when I fail too.
By the way, I had a dream shortly after 1994. In it, I made a promise to you that I will love your surviving children as you’d have done if you were alive. I’m very humbled to say that I’ve never withheld anything from your son & two daughters, within my ability, even if it meant starving myself for their well being. And they will never need anything, as long as I shall live! When Jesus will return in his glory to judge all the nations, I will not be ashamed to stand before him and the heavenly congregation that you, Momma, Marie Claudine & Jean Felix will be part of. The Holy Spirit himself bears me witness.
I’d love to tell you so much right now but I will let God tell you everything, okay? I miss you Daddy, but I am strong because of who you raised me to become and the God you always worshiped. P.S: Thank you and Mama for giving me the name “Alphonsine” or a “warrior“. I have become one; you surely prepared me for what lay ahead. Rest in heavenly peace. I will love you Papa, eternally!
Dear Mommy, when I remember our final moments together, it reminds me how you were always honest even if it’d cost your own life.
As we waited for our death sentence by the mass grave, I recall when the blood-shedders asked you if you had more children not with us so they could hunt them down and bring them to die with us, on Sunday afternoon, April 24th. You didn’t lie. Because you were ready to walk into God’s heaven. I remember pleading to the merciless killers, as if they’d listen, to not kill you before I came back with an armed soldier as an escort, to bring Eric, Alice & Mireille: my plea was my final words with you. Miraculously, all 3 of them and I survived.
I am their Mom now, and I love them more than anything in this life. I do everything that I can think of that you and Dad would have done for us. Them and God are my witnesses. I wish you could see them now. They’re all grown up, beautiful and incredible. Can you believe that Alice and Eric will complete their Master’s degrees this year, and the baby Mireille will finish college? Those three are the best thing that has ever happened to me!
Oh, by the way, your youngest son Eric is marrying the love of his life and the most incredible woman on this planet, late this year. You’d have loved his fiancée, too. GOD and I will take care of every single detail in the wedding. We’re very sad that you and DAD will miss it! And also, Mireille doesn’t really remember how any of you looked like :(. But it’s okay; she has me now. She will always be a princess and spoiled as long as I breathe. This is my eternal promise to you and Daddy!
Did God tell you for me that He has blessed me with another Mom? She is just like you. You don’t look alike on the outside but she may as well be your little sister because she just sounds and does things like you did. I have so many amazing friends in this foreign land that I am honored to call my new home. They make me feel loved and special. I know you’d have been proud to know and see all this!
Although I have only known you for just few years, your love was so real and true. I still feel your comforting voice when I am sick and remember how you used to ask me how I was doing. Then I’d simply break into tears instead of responding as a result of being overwhelmed by your caring, spoiling nature and love. I will tell you so much when we see each other again in heaven. I will love you Mommy, always!
My dear big brother “Nkeke”, I’ll never forget that you were my bodyguard at school and no one would come close because you were there, tall and all.
I am so sorry that my last memory of you is not good. I wished I was stronger to stop the infamous Hutu interahamwe militiamen who beat you with sharp wires and blood poured down your beautiful face. The film “the Passion of Christ” reminds me of our last moment together. Jesus was beaten and killed when he indeed didn’t do anything wrong; and in the movie, his broken face reminds me of yours.
You didn’t do anything wrong to those who hurt you, and that is why I know beyond the shadow of doubt that, on Sunday afternoon, April 24th, Jesus welcomed you and Maman in his beautiful heaven where you all belong. I cherish those memories, and knowing that you are no longer in that pain brings me hope and courage.
I know that I will see you again with Mommy, Daddy and Marie Claudine, when I finish the work you all started and accomplish the tasks God entrusted to me. That is the reason God didn’t call me to heaven with you, okay? Rest in God’s peace. I miss you so much. I will love you, all my days!
Jean Eric, Alice, Alphonsine, Mireille Noella. 03/10/2014
Dear loved ones: Jean Eric, Alice, Mireille and I, twenty years later, our memories of you are intact and daily watered by your love that keeps us strong. They are forever engraved on the pillars of our hearts. You are our heroes, and we hang onto your word and pride. As we celebrate your lives cut short this month for the 20th time, we again choose to forgive your perpetrators who hacked you to death, your crime being your physical appearance that you didn’t ask God to be born with.
We pray that they will find God, and repent their wrongdoing; otherwise they will face the Redeemer & Father of the Fatherless, because vengeance belongs to Him, and He will repay. We are stronger, your legacy remains. Our goal is to make you proud everyday. We miss you with deep sorrow! Feast and dwell in heaven where amazing people like you deserve to be, we will finish what you started. You are all our heroes, and alive in our hearts as long as we shall live. We will love you forever and always!
Starting my day in tears after reading this. Your life is like an arrow directing people straight to Jesus. (Thanks for sharing the photos; I can see your dad in your face.)
Thank you so much Kim. I am so glad we are friends. Thank you for re-blogging my article too. God bless you
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It’s very touching and nice as well. I am a witness of all you have said too. I knew you and your brother and sisters many years ago, i can say almost two decades, and i saw with my own eyes all the big things God has done for you. You are such a nice family that everyone could wish to be part of. Love u all
My dearest sister and best friend, you are a gift that I will never be able to thank God enough for. Thank you for being so amazing and there when I needed you the most. I love you
very touching sis.. i already know the story but tears were shading the time i was reading this, when was awake. right this morning. Imana ibakire mubayo natwe kubibagirwa ntibibabarirwa.
Bro, kubibagirwa ntabwo bibabarirwa byo nukuri, kdi Imana ikomeze kubaha iruhuko ridashira. Love you always
Alphonsine, I have read no story more touching and disturbing than yours! Accept my deepest sympathy for all that happened to your loved ones. The fact that you witnessed them ending their lives in such agonizing death makes it all even worse! Likewise, few people have impressed me in their efforts and success to overcome the aftermath of such crippling experience, the way you have done. Haranira kubaho unafasha abo mwasigaranye. May God guide you thru it all, and honestly you are a source of inspiration in every aspect. Keep going, keep shining..May their souls rest in Peace!
My dear friend Dick, this is probably the most beautiful and encouraging message I’ve ever read! Thank you so much for your time reading my looong post and writing this touching note. God has been amazing to me and my siblings for sure. I am a witness to what He has done in our lives. He has made us strong through all this. Any good thing in me is because of His Grace. Thank you again for encouraging me today! May the Lord bless you.
Thank you for sharing this very intimate letter, and for honouring your parants and sibling so well. I love the pictures 🙂
Thanks Linda. I appreciate it!
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Darling Daughter your story will never cease bringing me to tears. You are a joy and very precious and I thank God that He brought our lives together. I love you dearly!
Thank you my dearest Mother. God is Almighty. Only Him knows how I’m eternally grateful that He led my path to Rochester! I love you so much
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Alphonsine, this is such a beautiful tribute to your family. I know I am late to reading this, but thank you for giving us a glimpse into the ways God has created blessings in the midst of tragedy.
Such a sad sad time of remembrance. Your tribute is beautiful and honoring to your parents and siblings and most of all to God. I am sure they are looking down with pride on all you have become in Him. I love ❤️ you dearly and am here to support you any way I can!!!! Dad too!
Thank you so much Mom, for everything! I love you and dad and I’m so thankful for and to both of you ♥️❤️
Thank you SO much Jon! It means a lot to me. The Lord Has been so good to me! He’s an amazing Father. Grateful to you and April for all your support 🙏🏾
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