She Is A Princess! The world deserves to know!

If you have visited my blog more than once, I’m sure you have met my siblings that I honorably call my children. This is not by coincidence. Since after God spared my life during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, He entrusted me with the 3 most amazing siblings on this planet. Although they were all less than 10 years old at the time, I cannot imagine my life differently. Even though I have never been young and never got a chance to be selfish, I don’t have a regret.

This year, 2014, marks 20 years since after we lost our parents and two siblings, and how long I have been raising my siblings: Eric, Alice and Mireille. If I had to start all over again, I would do it in a blink of an eye. These 3 are the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Every single moment and breath I take, I praise God for honoring me with such great and important responsibility: to love and be a mother to an incredible man and two beautiful women anyone can ever wish for in their lives. I call them my TREASURE! Just shortly after the Genocide ended, the day I learned that my 3 siblings had survived, too, was my first sunshine of hope to give me a reason to live for, thrive and strive in this life.

It was the best day of my life!

My Adorable Baby. Isn't she a beauty?

My Adorable Baby Mireille Noella. Isn’t she a beauty?

You may have read the article I wrote about my brother Eric “Inconceivable Heroism Amid Horror” and another post about my sister Alice “She is A Pure Beauty. And a woman of God“. However, this specific post is unique in its own way, because I get to talk about my youngest sister, our princess Mireille Noella. She is my baby and I don’t feel any different than if I had birthed her myself!! This is very true. During the Genocide, Mireille was only 3 years old. I certainly owe everything to my little brother Eric who, at 8, kept both Alice (6) and Mireille (3) safe, when it was a matter of life and death and everyone running for their own lives. He sure is my hero!

When I share my story, people often ask me what I struggled most with since after the loss of my parents. My audiences wonder if it has been forgiving those who killed my family members or raising my siblings. Surprisingly, it is neither. My greatest life challenge has been to slowly realize how much Mireille doesn’t have many memories about our parents or life before the Genocide. Sadly, things she can recall most about is during the Genocide. For 13 years that my life was a paradise with the most incredible parents that ever existed, my baby does not remember much about her portion.

It can range from simple things like our family childhood dog’s name. Or routine things like the fact that we used to pray together every night as a family. She absolutely doesn’t remember this at all. When I sing our Mom’s favorite Gospel songs that she always sang to us when we were little, it sounds made up to her. Instead, she randomly remembers things that none of us knows where she got it from.

Few treasured photos we have of our parents and two siblings we lost in 1994, my little sister is unable to connect those images to our childhood before the tragedy. She’s completely disconnected from memories I hold onto so dearly! It breaks my heart. This is the deepest wound that I will probably carry for the rest of my life.

I will never find words to express to my readers that can accurately describe how much it hurt when Mireille speculated her greatest wish in this life: to see our parents again so she can get to call them “Mommy and Daddy“. Undoubtedly, this is a precious part of her life that has been snatched from her before she could get to live it. No wonder why she didn’t really talk much until after high school. It’s very touching when she calls me MOM; it absolutely melts my heart.

Very Stylist and Chic. She can easily be a model!

Very Elegant. She can easily be a model!

Mireille and I are almost 10 years apart; for this reason, she will always be young in my eyes, and simply a PRINCESS. I already accepted the fact that I can never replace our parents’ empty spot in her heart, but I know one thing: I love her with all my heart, for the rest of my life. There is simply nothing she can ever need that I am able to provide. She’s not only the youngest of 5 siblings. I watched her growing from a malnourished 3 year old out of the orphanage where the government placed my 3 siblings after the Genocide ended, to the most beautiful woman she is today!

Absolutely gorgeous and a fashionista from head to toe that I often wonder how we are possibly related, she is smart, a hard worker, intelligent, creative, loves God and people, very funny, although she may appear to be shy sometime. She is also spoiled, not only by me who would give her this planet if it was mine, but also by Eric and Alice who love her endlessly.

I will probably never fully understand why my little sister had to grow up without parents, but there is one thing that sustains me: GOD Who has been our Father, Comforter, Redeemer, Provider and everything we ever need to this day. I owe to the Lord every good possession and health that my siblings and I have.

Mireille may have been deprived of her precious childhood and forced to grow up in a hurry, but today she is finishing up her college senior project to graduate this December with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. And there are so many opportunities that await her ahead. I know very well that she will do amazing things in life!

Even if I have children of my own in the future, Mireille will always remain my oldest child as long as I shall live! Her, Eric and Alice will never, EVER need anything within my capability. This is my standing PROMISE to my parents in heaven and Jesus who has them with him. The Holy Spirit bears me witness! Although it may sound unreasonable to say, I praise God who has allowed me to somehow remain single this long so that my siblings can enjoy my full attention, which I certainly have for them, undivided.

I love them beyond comprehension. Mireille will always be my baby and spoiled until God calls me home. When I will see my parents in another life, I will be eager to narrate everything to them!

My love for my 3 siblings is unconditional, all my days!!

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Sometime during my graduate studies at RIT in NY, a friend of mine asked me to help translate for a teenage girl that had been hospitalized but didn’t speak English. This girl fluently spoke one of the languages I understood from one of the East African countries. Her and I immediately connected and later, I was invited to their house to meet the rest of her family.

On my first visit, I was shocked to see how much preparation and trouble they went through to make it look like nothing close to a  simple gathering. It was like a royal dinner, composed of food varieties from East Africa to represent a feast that was apparently prepared for me: beef stew, plantains, homemade French fries, rice mixed with various spices, vegetables and many more. I didn’t know what to say. I normally have a disappointing appetite but this certainly did the trick.

As months went by and I visited the family again, it was exactly like the first time I was there. Since then, I figured that I should not tell them ahead of time that I was coming, after all we are Africans. Back home, you can simply show up unannounced! Even with short notice, they would distract me while I chatted with others, unaware that they were cooking. I couldn’t believe how generous they were.

An East African dish. So delicious!

Truth to be told, I can tell that this family barely makes their living on possibly minimum wages. How do I know? Because of their employment type. It is also interesting that they always have a house full of people, literally; some of them are relatives while some others are just strangers they shelter until they can get on their feet.

If I didn’t know what they did for a living, I would just have assumed that they were rich. In fact, this girl who is my connection to them is not even their biological child. They actually met her somewhere along the way in Africa, and took her in because she had no family or anyone else to raise her. Personally, I am always amazed by how positive they are about life. They love God, others and they are hopeful people. Their home is always open to everyone.

Watching their way of life challenged me: how can someone like them be so generous, loving and positive when they live on minimum wages with a house full of people? Each time I speak to the wife, she quotes the Bible a lot and encourages me with Jesus’ promises and hope that is found in following him. I’m always amazed by her love for God even when I can easily see that the family struggles to make ends meet!

This family reminds me of the story of the widow’s offering where Jesus commented on her offering which was two small copper coins while rich people poured gifts in the offering box. Jesus saw that the widow has put way more than all of them because rich people gave out of their abundance but the poor widow contributed out of her poverty and put in all she had to live on. It is a challenging example that we often ignore!

A Rwandan Cabbage Salad. I made this one by myself🙂

A famous Bible verse about the way of love in 1 Corinthians 13 raises a very important question about generosity.

 “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Does this mean  that people can indeed give without love? The answer is possibly. Generosity works hand in hand with love. If they are separated it’s like faith without work. When this dawned on me, I desperately asked God to fill me with love first!

Honestly, it’s not always easy to be generous, especially with money and time. In fact, it is a human nature to be inclined to give or help people that we know well or care for. Of course it’s very important to ensure that your donations go to credible recipients but we sometime cling on it that we often forget that our giving shouldn’t necessarily be dictated by how grateful or recognizing our recipients are.

Also, for those who give often wonder how much is enough to give!

But I have learned that it’s not about the amount, but the heart of the giver. And that it is much more blessed to give than to receive.

I don’t know about you but I often want to hold onto what I have with excuses that I don’t have enough or that I have to enjoy the fruits of my hard work after all. Nothing is wrong with that, but after I was reminded that “it is blessed to give than to receive“, it changed the way I approached giving, loving people and generosity.

I have been praying and asking God to make me like the man that David cites in Psalm 112. Verse 5 states: “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends“, and verse 9: “He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor.”

I want to love and be generous to everyone God brings my way, and not expect anything in return. I am not the one to judge the character and be selective on whom to be generous to or not. I will leave it to God who will judge all the nations and reward everyone according to their work in this life. God is love and He sees everything. Everything I do is between me and Him, people easily forget!

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.’ ~ John Bunyan