Sunday, 15 April 2018

Loving our Neighbour...

One week ago, the tragic bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos occurred. To date 16 people have died and 10 are still in the hospital with varying levels of injury. 

As a small town girl from Canada... ok, I grew up on a farm! ... this hit close to home. Small town hockey teams were a part of my life and I spent many nights trying to keep warm 'in the barn.' My brothers played on multiple teams - mostly pick up and church hockey league and my youngest brother played Junior C and rode the bus all over southern Ontario. 
The local Junior B team was one many aspired to and as a family, we spent many a wintery Friday night listening to or going to watch the Kitchener Ranger Junior A team. 

Hockey is part of the fabric of Canadian life. 

Pondering all this while living in Rwanda and seeing the outpouring of Canadian compassion and pride ... my heart swells. This is where I come ...  hockey sticks put on the doorsteps, everyone sporting their favourite team jerseys and money being raised to help all in need. 

It's not lost on me that this happened on the eve of April 6th. 

Since 1994, on the eve of April 6th each year, the week of memorial starts in Rwanda - remembering 1 million people who were killed just because other people had been told by colonists that they were better than the others. It all happened in 100 days. 

This means that there were 625 Humboldt crashes EVERY DAY for 100 days in a row.

Now I know that some may argue that what happened in Rwanda was 'brewing' for decades and that is true and I won't go into all the history. I will argue that many innocent lives were taken and all was unnecessary. 

One story of many heroism stories I love, is the story of a girls school here where they came to kill and asked the classes to separate - Tutsi on one side and Hutu on the other ... and they refused to separate. 
All of them lost their lives that day. 
They make Rwanda proud to this day.

The day after the Humboldt crash, on April 7th, President Assad of Syria, ordered a chemical weapon to be used - the largest to date. Over 40 people were killed and 500+ needed medical attention.

I also know that Congo is in the worst state it has ever been and thousands are fleeing to safety.

Then there is Sudan, Central Africa Republic, most of Puerto Rico is still without power... and the list goes on... 

What I ponder is ...
'Do Canadians really see the rest of the world? 
Do they see the suffering? 
Do they understand that what goes on in the world is not 'over there' or 'they had it coming to them' or 'they are uneducated peoples' but that we do indeed live in a world where all is connected in one way or another? 

Do my fellow Canadian believers honestly seek out how God is calling them to be Jesus in response to what is happening around them - not just at home but to all people who are made in the image of God? 
How are we loving our neighbour? 

I know that from the response to Humboldt (which is overwhelming fantastic!), Canadians have it in them. 
Let's take what has happened in the Humboldt community as a point in time to reflect and evaluate personally our global knowledge and impact and our response to it. 



Saturday, 14 April 2018

Loss in the J.Lynn's family...

Teddy and Grace
Last night we were watching Dolphin Tale (again!) when the phone rang. 
It was Teddy, our manager for J.Lynn's - beside herself sobbing on the other end of the phone. 
My mind raced with what tragic news she was going to tell me. 

Grace had died giving birth to her first child. 

My heart broke. 

Grace Uwimana had worked for us for a while at J.Lynn's. 
She then left us to finish her degree, move to Uganda and to get married. She married one year ago in January. 

I had been SO blessed that she had come by the shop to visit us when she was back in Rwanda. She was happy and adjusting to married life. 
She had dreams of owning her own business and I know that J.Lynn's had given her exposure and confidence in  her seeking this desire.

Grace, this world will miss your beautiful smile and easy going personality. 
She leaves behind her husband and baby. 

As I laid in bed this morning awake trying to process life, 
I commented to Serge that I didn't even want to know how she died as I'm 95% sure that what she died from was preventable. 
Oh the things that make ones mind go a bit crazy. 

Another day asking God for wisdom as the women at J.Lynn's mourn this loss. 




Saturday, 24 February 2018

5 Years ago...

So you know how memory stuff pops upon on Facebook? 
I personally love it as it reminds me of all kinds of things in our life. 

The other day this popped up 

I promptly burst into tears. 

What the heck?? 
As I dug into why I had so suddenly burst into tears, I realized I was overwhelmingly blessed by our home and SO vividly aware of those in our life that do not have a 'home'. 

We've been spending days trying to track down people from the Kiziba Refugee Camp that we know and love. One trying to find out where they are and two, to see how they are doing. To this day there are a few we are still trying to contact... 

Refugees - Women, children, men, babies, teenagers, the elderly, healthy and sick ... do not have a place to call home and yet for some reason, God has allowed me to have a home that way more than enough. 
I am more than blessed.
Our family is blessed.
Many who have sat on our front porch have been blessed.

As I continued to reflect and old gospel song rolled through my head... 
'This world is not my home ... I'm just passing through ...' 

THIS is the hope and joy we live in. 
May those in our life and beyond who do not know an earthly home, know their spiritual home. 




Friday, 23 February 2018

Question of The Evening

'Mom, how do you do a fundraiser?'

We had come home visiting someone and were just relaxing a bit before bedtime. 
I wondered where her mind was going. 
I told her that fundraising looks different for different things. 

'What would you want to fundraise for?' 

'Well mom, I was thinking of doing a lemonade stand and maybe selling some cookies at school. I think that we can raise money for food for the refugees at Kiziba.' 

My heart about got into my throat and I fought my tears back as she laid out her thoughts. 
They could sell lemonade and cookies - Beni suggested on Friday afternoons when other schools come to play sports and parents come too (Good thinking Beni!) 
As the head Primary Girl could they ask each child to bring an amount of money - maybe 500 rwf ($.060 USD)? 
They could do the fundraising for the month of March 
She would write down her plan and present it to the Primary Principal. 

Her concern was, 'Would the money be enough to get all the people food in the camp?' 

'No, honey it's not. But Dad and I can look for those who need it most and make sure they get the money or the food - whichever is easiest and most useful for them.' 

There are 17,251 refugees in Kiziba as of December 2017.

You see.... Isabella and Beni both know that the last week in the Kiziba Refugee Camp has not been good. 
They know that people have fled for their lives. 
They know that people have been killed. 
They know that their Great Auntie and cousin as safe in Kigali while other family are still in the camp, hiding in their homes. 
They know that the refugees do not have enough food and that the UNHCR / WFP cut their ration money by 25% last month ($0.20 / day).
They know that the WFP (World Food Program) may need to cut the ration amount yet again. 

On the way home, I had read the following out loud... 

'... UNHCR is advocating with donors to address the gaps in humanitarian funding and urgent needs of refugees. To date, UNHCR's 2018 appeal for $98.8 million USD to support refugees in Rwanda is only 2 per cent funded. 
WFP warns about potential larger ration cuts if monthly requirements of $2.5 million are not met...'

This was her tipping point. Hearing this has demanded action from her.

I know she had her 'spiel' written to take to her principal today at school...not sure when she did that!
I look forward to seeing what God has in store for all of this ... 




Thursday, 7 September 2017

Why Serge gets headaches...

Getting a car fixed here in Rwanda is probably one of the most nightmarish things to do. 
We have been so blessed with our current vehicle. We have had it since 2007 and we have barely done any work on it until the last year or so. It is a 1997 Land Crusier Prado... 20 years old and running on mostly original parts so... they're getting old and need to be replaced. 

The joke in Rwanda is that you go in the garage to get one thing fixed and come out with five new things that need fixing. 

Yes there is a Toyota Garage here ... but for most of us (about 75% of Rwanda drives a Toyota!) it is way out of our league. 

So Serge's headache today... getting a master cylinder fixed. 

We got the brakes fixed earlier in the week ... and they work! ... but there is still a noise. 
So, the Canadian guy who we have been going to, was not available but recommended a S.African guy who is pretty new here. Serge liked him well enough and believes what he's being told BUT now it's to get parts... 

Serge always likes to go and buy the parts so he knows he's getting an original part. 
And like everything... he has a guy.

So the garage says they can send for the part outside but it will cost 180,000 rwf ($212 USD)
We need to take a three hour drive tomorrow, so no time for that. 

Serge calls his guy - 250,000 ($295 USD) for the original or 40,000 rwf ($47 USD) for the fake!!

Serge calls another guy he knows... 220,000  ($260 USD) but maybe negotiate if you come and chat 

Cue the headache. 

Does he really need to go back to town and sort this? 
Is 'his guy', who claims he is a Christian buying from the second guy and pocketing money? 

Sometimes I tell Serge he over thinks... but I get it. 
He doesn't like spending money on the car .. and yet it's necessary 
Why can't people just be trust worthy? 
Cause is the 'original' actually an 'original'? 

Only God knows ... 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Choosing Real - Part two

The night we drove home from seeing our sister cousin alive for the last time, Serge and I had a very intense conversation full of frustration at the Rwandan church, helplessness in knowing that there was nothing we could say that would bring hope, in disbelief that those who love Jesus, who are leaders in churches and ministries here could not choose real - choose eternity. 

Trust me, we were around it all - multiple times!! Ha! 

As we arrived home, we knew that we could only pray and then be there to pick up the pieces after. I knew in my deepest part of me that it was only a matter of time. (Sometimes the gift of discernment isn't a great gift to have...)

I had tried to share what was on my heart about God being just as real, powerful, all knowing, present in this very difficult and challenging time, as he is on any mountaintop or miracle. They didn't buy it. They were 100% sure that God was going to heal.  

Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe that God heals but it's not for us to know when - this life or when we see him face to face.
And that is where Serge and I went off... health and wealth gospel, blessing is for here and now, have we ever heard a sermon on death, you wouldn't dare talk about death... sigh. 

Choosing real... we all will die one day. God tells us that before we are born our days are numbered.. that not one of us can add a day to our lives. 

I shared with Serge that saying we have in the N. America - 'The only two sure things in life are death and taxes.' He thought that was a good one. 

Why do we think that here and now is the best? 
Yes, it absolutely sucks to lose someone we love so dearly. Trust me I still cry sometimes when I think of my dad and he's been with Jesus almost 10 years. I miss him!

Loss and grief are real. 
But it doesn't make it wrong or evil. 

It's what we choose in the midst of it.... and how we choose to live our life as we journey onward.

This is all contrasted by my sister in law Sherri and brother Lyndon. In the incredible depth of everything (I don't even know what words would be accurate to use to embrace it all) they choose eternity and are doing their best to live in that every day - as hard as it is to live in the earthly unknown, they dig deep and choose to live in the real of eternity.  

Serge and I know that as the weeks and months pass, we have a challenge ahead of us, to bring up that conversation with his family and whoever else God brings across our path.
Let's commit to live real.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Choosing Real

A friend visiting Rwanda left me this book earlier this year. 

I picked it up mid July and finished it this morning. 
It had me from the intro... 

'...I was keenly aware that every circumstance, person, and feeling is an invitation to see God's genuine heart in the middle of it. 
Choosing Real is opting to see how present Jesus is in real-life circumstances. Choosing Real is not about putting on one's big girl panties. It's not about being strong, pep talking, or reciting the words, 'Let's do this.' Choosing Real trust God has a beautiful plan in the mess, in the scary, in the unknown, in the tears and in not feeling enough... 

Authentic... is a synonym for Jesus.' 

After reading that,  I promptly ordered one for a friend and told another friend she had to get herself to Amazon and get herself one... 

See, I knew that the three of us were on very different journeys and yet were so the same. 
We are all seeking God with our hearts to be real and authentic in the mess, the scary, the unknown of what was ... and is still happening in our lives. 

About a month before, our family had found out that our dear sister in law Sherri was diagnosed with cancer... the kind that only a miracle cures. 

Two weeks later, we find out that Serge's sister cousin also has cancer... again, the kind that only a miracle will cure.  August 8th, Kunda died leaving a husband and three young children.  

Serge was at a wedding meeting when they got the message. He came home to pick me up to go to the hospital. Prince left his friends good bye party to come home to be with Isabella and Beni. And the night unfolded from there ... bringing Kwizera, Kunda's husband, to our house for the night. (The kids were at an aunties' out of the city). The next night saw the three kids come to our house ... nothing like having a father tell his kids that their mommy was with Jesus ... or your kids embracing / comforting their cousins aged 8, 5 and 2. They stayed with us for a week. 

Did I mention we had a short-term team on the ground too...  

Lots of mess, lots of scary, lots of unknown, lots of tears .... 

But I KNOW that over the years I have leaned into being more real - living real. 

Reading this book during this season of my life has only given me the reassurance that I'm not crazy, that all the digging deep into why God has created me is for real ... in all the hardships, all the challenges, all the feelings of helplessness... is real. That life is not about getting 'out' of all the things that are hard to get to the mountain top.. that place where one breathes easier and feels that they can put their feet up for a bit and wonders when the next life altering event will happen. 

But it's about showing up every day to whatever is in the day and knowing and trusting that God is there ; working - for, in and through us. 

Even when you are crying out to God to show you how to help children sort out that mommy is with Jesus. 
Even when you're 6000 miles away from immediate family in the midst of a very difficult journey. 

What I own is that there is no there... there is only here. 
And here is where I choose real.... trusting God for all that comes.