We all loved you but God loved you more.”
(Quote from the condolence card given by the kids at the Gede Special School
|Cynthia’s father swinging a kid when he visited Kenya in 2011. Cynthia (Cindy) did the same last week just before the child he swung planted a tree in her father’s memory in the same spot.|
“Bauer” – that’s what they called him here. Richard M. Bauer, Cynthia’s dad, was called that or “Grandfather” by most of the kids. “If it had not been for Bauer…” That’s the beginning of the poem recited by a few of the Kupenda kids during a special ceremony on Wednesday (July 1) honoring Cynthia and her father, who passed away in March of this year. You can view the video of the poem here.
It’s an amazing thing to watch what you’ve only read about come to life right in front of your very eyes. I wish I could have recorded the excitement I heard when Cynthia got out of the car the
moment we arrived at the school. After not seeing her for over a year, the children with physical limitations were the ones nearest the car and began calling out: “Cinnnn-dy! Cinnnn-dy! CINDY!!!!” There was no way to keep from smiling (both inside and out) seeing and hearing their exuberant love for her.
|Cynthia with some of the kids that love her so much.|
You could feel the excited anticipation as we waited in the deputy head teacher’s office at the Gede Special School (The first Kupenda supported school) on Wednesday. We started with a feast: heaping plates of meat pilau and vegetables (school staff were surprised to see me eating with my fingers, but any of you who know me are not surprised that’s the favorite utensil for this Indian girl!).
|Leonard and me sharing at the Gede Special Ceremony.|
|Presentation of the condolence card from the Gede Special School to Cynthia. They were so excited to give it to her.|
|Reciting the poem for “Bauer”|
My eyes were brimming over with tears, sitting beside Cynthia while this beautiful poem was recited by a mix of children, some in wheelchairs, some standing, but all speaking clearly and confidently of the blessing in their life because of “Bauer.” One of the local pastors shared that while Cynthia’s dad was in the hospital, the whole Gede Special School community gathered in prayer for him. And when he passed, their tears of love and sadness joined with the Bauer family’s own grief. This day they got the chance to express that love in tangible ways for their beloved Cynthia.
|The three tree plantings at the Gede Special School in memory of Cynthia’s father|
|Cynthia’s dad making Gladys smile in 2011|
“If it had not been for Bauer…” Cynthia’s dad would be embarrassed by the fuss being made over him, when all he was doing was what he felt called to do – be a good father and support his daughter in this work of Kupenda. What’s the big deal? Perhaps an example from this special day can provide an answer: As the children transitioned from the program to the tree planting outside, they started filing out of the dining hall. Without anyone prompting or guiding them, the older deaf children began pushing the wheelchairs of the children with physical disabilities down the ramp, while others picked up the younger children and carried them in their arms so they could be present at the tree planting as well. They, like Mr. Bauer, would not think they were doing anything special, just doing what they can to help each other, that’s all.
Kupenda for the Children board member