Reblog: In A Garden of Fame Where Their Treasured Memories Grow Fonder: 23 years later!

Resharing a blogpost I wrote 3 years ago:

Source: In A Garden of Fame Where Their Treasured Memories Grow Fonder: Two Decades Later!

Lighting candles in memory of our Loved Ones who were taken away from us so soon!

Inconceivable Heroism Amid Horror

My siblings and I grew up in a large family: two boys and four girls. I am the second and oldest girl; but this post is not about me. I want to share with the world about the fourth child, my little brother Jean Eric Claude. I vividly remember when he was born, I was almost 5 years old. He was a big baby (about 10 pounds), extremely beautiful with chubby cheeks and so much curly hair. I asked my mother if I could hold him, but I was unable to because he was too heavy for me. I am sure you are wondering if I am describing the right person basing on the below picture. By the way, that makes two of us! I am not sure how he grew up to become thinner than the rest of the family.

When Eric was young, him and I used to fight a lot. I am sure I provoked him but he was not that easy either. He played outside always, and was injured all the time from different utensils he collected or perhaps some fights he may have been involved in. He was a stubborn little guy.

On Sunday afternoon, April 24th, 1994, exactly 17 days since the Rwandan Genocide began, everything changed! God must have stirred something unimaginable in this 8 year old’s heart after my Mom, my old brother Jean Felix, my cousin and I were led by the infamous interahamwe militiamen to the mass grave in the lower Kanombe, suburbs of Kigali, to be killed.

Sparing you the details for now, I miraculously survived but my Mom, brother and cousin didn’t. Although death was everywhere, I undoubtedly cherish that afternoon because God gave me another chance to life. However, the same day I got separated from my brother Eric, and sisters Alice and Mireille, who were all under 10. At this point, they were so certain I was dead, and I thought the same for them.

My handsome brother
My handsome brother, now a grown up man! I’m eternally honored to be called his sister.
With no instructions on what to do next or a moment to think about it, my baby brother immediately assumed the role of a big brother and a parent. Fleeing amid rain of bullets, blood thirst machetes and hiding in unfamiliar areas, he tied up a piece of blanket around his neck so his two sisters could hold on to it.

Sigh…

I often wonder how the blanket didn’t choke him or how he figured out that this would be the best approach for his dear sisters. Few times, the youngest Mireille who was 3, got separated from them; unable to decide what to do, she would simply stay wherever she was left. Was she scared? When you are aware that death awaits you any minute, the sense of feeling becomes numb, even at such age.
As soon as my brother realized that she was missing, when parents left babies to cry to death and everyone was just running for their life, my brother turned around to look for Mireille. No wonder why their hearts have been knitted together ever since!
Also each time they found something to eat after days, my little brother would let my sisters eat first. After they have had enough in their little tummies, only then he would grab some.
Their stories after we got separated still wound my heart greatly. It certainly is where my forgiveness is tried the most. But I praise GOD, for keeping them safe, allowing me to be part of their precious lives, and His amazing Grace!

The spoiled brat quickly became a MAN at that young age, a selfless one. I doubt I would have been able to put my life in danger to find my little sister or keep them safe, when sounds of terror and weeping voices of sorrow rang across all corners of the country. Only extraordinary, rare people would do that. I often wonder what was in his mind, but the LOVE he had for his little sister sure overcame his fear and selfishness of saving his own life. God Almighty knew well that I was incapable of doing such a heroic act and led me alone.

Mireille and Alice: My greatest happiness!
My Beautiful Girls, my Greatest Blessing, my Treasure! Mireille (left) and Alice (right).

Only those who have been through the Genocide can understand my inability to describe the cruelty of the humans who became ferocious animals: babies were cut out of their mothers’ wombs and smashed against walls; relatives denied each other, neighbors turned their back on their friends, husbands killed wives and children, hell engulfed Rwanda. Amid terror, my little brother didn’t care about death that surrounded him, and God used him to keep my little sisters alive. He is my hero, my best friend! If I could get hold of the whole world, I would freely give it to him; if I was part of the Nobel Prize organizing committee, he would get at least a few of those!

My brother’s last name “Mudacumura”, means “innocent in both English and French. This truly depicts who he is. He has every quality you can possibly look in a great man: selflessness, humility, passion, compassion, a big heart, brilliant, kindness, funny, sweet, down to earth, loves God, handsome, a true gentleman! Until this day, he puts his siblings’ interests before his. He is the rock of our family, an exact replica of our father.

I CANNOT wait already for the day he will tie the knot with this incredible woman of his dreams, probably the luckiest girl on this planet. No one deserves happiness more than him. And I can’t wait for the day we will again see our parents, so I can narrate all about a little boy they left behind, now the most amazing man in the whole wide world.

I love my brother with everything functioning in me. Him and his two sisters are the reason I am alive, there is no doubt about that.

They will never, EVER, need anything my ability can provide; God and my parents in heaven have my word!

It hurts my feelings when I think that one day I may not be the first person they all run to for help. Of course I work hard for their independence, but it will greatly shatter my heart. They will always be my children, little in my eyes. And they certainly have all my love and attention, all my days!!!

And this, my friends, is the source of my strength and hope: God, the great I am!

God is not “Fair”. He is JUST!

By definition, being fair means: “free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice. A fair decision; a fair judge; legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules.” When we get what we truly deserve, in a good way, it’s called fairness. The jurisdiction system should be fair.

On the other hand, God is not “fair“. This is simply a definition we give to “justice”, in our eyes, not God’s. A simple example is Psalm 103:10 (NKJV): “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” If you read the definition I shared above, this is not fairness at all. If you continue and read a few more verses up to 14, in lieu of fairness, we see mercy.

So, digging deep into the meaning, if God was fair, there shouldn’t be tragedies. Of course God does not cause them but He is mighty to stop them from happening, right? But we, as human beings, have ways of justifying what we “think” is right, or fair. But this does not necessarily mean that God sees it the same way, although we tend to believe so.

Let’s look at these few examples:

  • The city of Moore, Oklahoma pummeled by the tornado is beyond comprehension. Emotions of lucky parents reuniting with their survived children from the two elementary schools debris were simply contagious and very moving. The news of some other parents who waited on what may be their loved ones’ fate was simply heartbreaking.
  • Watching the news as the death toll climbed every minute, of people whose lives depended on the little money they made for hours in a country half way across the world, at a Bangladesh garment factory, didn’t make sense at all.
  • Words cannot depict the earthquake that reduced the Haitian capital city to rubble, where more than two hundred thousand people died in January 2010 and the country incurred heavy irreparable damages. My heart was overwhelmed with fear as I waited for the news of a good friend we met in grad school: Katarina, her husband and their baby boy, who was less than 6 months old at the time. By God’s grace, although they lost everything they owned in Port-au-Prince, they were safe and later returned to the United States. My friend’s survival story is unthinkable.
  • Last but certainly not least, the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda remains the worst atrocities of the 20th century; about a million Tutsi (and some Hutu who opposed the genocide) were killed in a period of 100 days. Roméo Dallaire, a Canadian UN Force Commander (UNAMIR 1993-1994), with an objective to assist the implementation of “Arusha Accords” between the Government of Rwanda and the opposition, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), wrote about his experience. I highly recommend his book: Shake Hands with the Devil.

Romeo Dallaire

You can add a lot more stories, and sadly more are happening as I type. Of course the cause of these tragedies always has little to do with people who encounter them. Also, the conclusion is not about who suffered the most or who deserves the most attention. I personally believe that it’s about what we learn from the experience and finding God’s Power & Plan amid the situation.

In my human mind, of course it’s not fair for children to die, or innocent people to suffer, or bad things to happen to good people. It is very hard to understand that some people may be in abundance while in some places others die from hunger. When all this happen, we start blaming God and wonder where He is as everything happens. Many expressions in Rwanda later quoted that the “God of Rwanda” was absent starting the evening of April 6, 1994.

In some scenarios, we even take it further, by suggesting the Mighty God what would have happened, had He been there! We’re not the only ones though. When Jesus arrived 3 days after his friend Lazarus died, his sister Martha started to blame him. She instructed Jesus that if he had been there sooner, that her brother wouldn’t have died (John 11:21). Of course Jesus was there to not only raise Lazarus from the dead, but to also glorify His Father’s Name. If Jesus healed him instead, I am pretty sure that the miracle may have not been as powerful to them as bringing him back to life.

The truth is, no matter how one may seem to have it all together, we each have struggles on our own levels. We face different challenges in life, but the good news is that God cannot give us more than we can handle. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it“. 1 Corinthians 10:13

To sum up everything, I know without doubt that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. It’s absolutely not because certain places or people are cursed that they should deserve what happens to them. “For God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust“.(Matt 5:45). God is Just, Almighty, a Healer, a Counselor, a Father to the Fatherless, filled with unwavering mercy and everlasting grace. Along with that, His calendar, schedule, curriculum, budget, judgement are NOT reasonable to our terms.

God does not cause earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, but He is right there when and as it happens. After all, we hear survivors’ amazing stories. After all, it’s not by their own power that those are spared. God is forever on the highest throne; His ways are not ours, nor His thoughts are like ours. You cannot advise Him nor question what He’s doing. He does according to His will on earth as it is in heaven. He rules the world with Truth, Grace and Justice. If you trust Him, when everything falls apart, you will be safe in His arms.

Weep with those who mourn and rejoice with those who celebrate. Treasure each day you have, tomorrow is not granted. Be eager to lend help, you never know when you may need it, too. Be considerate, mindful and sympathetic. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.

May God comfort those who mourn today and ease pain for those who are suffering, in the name of Jesus. May today all those who are in distress hear His soothing voice and may their hope be lifted high.

May His Holy Name be praised, now and always!