Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In case you missed it...

Here is the video that played at the concert of Sara Groves, Anthony, and me. It's about 10 minutes long. Oh, and it has the shorter video of Nate and I meeting in it...finally it's posted!

Building Hope in Rwanda from Kevin Harlan on Vimeo.

This video, featuring Sara Groves, tells a story of New Hope Homes - a Rwandan home for abandoned and orphaned children.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What a weekend!

How do I even begin to describe this weekend to you all? The emotions of it all. The delightful conversations, the images of a place and people that I love, listening to Sara Groves sing and Gary Haugen talk, hugging women that I have barely known and yet deeply love...it was unreal...but, here is my attempt to bring it all too you...

GARY HAUGEN: Gary is the President of IJM (International Justice Mission), an international human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression worldwide, and if you don't know anything about the work they do you truly need to look into it. I read a book he wrote (Terror No More) a few years ago and it was incredible. Here is the message (chose Unfamiliar Passions of God on the right) he preached on Sunday. It was one of the BEST messages I have ever heard. You MUST listen to it.

SARA GROVES: Sara was incredible!! Everyone was so blessed by her music and I am so glad that she was a part of our weekend. But what I really loved about her was the fact that I had the opportunity on Saturday afternoon to just sit with her for an hour, just the two of us, and talk mom to mom about all the things we are both passionate about...Rwanda, adoption, not being pregnant...she is so sweet and I really enjoyed being able to share our stories with each other. If you don't own any of her music, well this is another MUST. Here is her website.

NEW HOPE HOMES: What can I say? To have everyone this weekend talking about a place so near and dear to me...to have them see the beauty of the work that is being accomplished by these homes...for them to hear how loved my son was and the smiles on the faces of those kids that are still there...it was overwhelming. What an honor to have something you love so dearly embraced by others. If you didn't have the opportunity to come to the concert, you can still join in on the cause by donating through the concert link (look at the right hand column to donate) or by going to their website ANY TIME...the link is always on the right side of my blog under CALM Ministries.

CHANTAL MBANDA: Chantal is of course the founder of New Hope Homes and the woman who handed me my son nearly two years ago. On Friday, I met her with a family from our church whose adoption paperwork is sitting in Rwanda right now. We talked adoption and Rwanda and about the kids at New Hope Homes. And, of course, Chantal finally got to see Nathan for the first time since we said goodbye in the passport office in Kigali nearly two years ago. She hugged him and kissed him and spoke Kinyarwanda to him. He didn't recognize her or anything, he had been so young, but there was something that reached deep into my heart when I saw them together. On Saturday, we sat with Chantal during the concert. As the video of Anthony and I rolled and I spoke of her handing Nate to me and the video (that I have never accomplished posting on here) of that moment played, she and I held hands and just cried. It was so amazing. Then yesterday, Chantal came to our house had lunch with us and just joined in on our life for a couple of hours. We spoke about Nate and where he is from in Rwanda. The kids played and had her lifting them up in the air and chasing after them. The girls admired her hair and her clothes and jewelry. Elise, who told me, "I'm interested in her", sat on her lap and cuddled with her. She taught us the one phrase in Kinyarwanda that we desperately wanted to know and embrace in our family...ndagukunda...I love you. Anthony and I just sat amazed that this woman was in our home, loving on all of our children. And as we said goodbye, we embraced and cried and then she said something that meant more to me than anything else she could have ever said, "Thank you for loving him." Oh, Chantal, thank you for giving us that privledge

There were so many other sweet moments. The mom who came up to me with her two Rwandese daughters. They've been home with their girls for three months. She had read about the concert on this blog and her family travelled in from central Kansas to come. Seeing an old friend who has been to visit our friends Brad and Kiki in Rwanda. Whose trip there was one of our first glimpses of the orphans in Rwanda, who was part of the seed that was planted in us. The dad of a little boy adopted from Guatemala who told me that he loved the video of us and whose eyes told me thanks in a way that only someone who has been handed their child like that can understand. The sea of familiar faces, all the people I didn't know...both warmed my heart. It was truly amazing.