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. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

I'm moaning this morning...

So I wake up and turn on the shower... no water. 
Now you need to know that's the last thing I want to experience this morning. 
Are we out of water? 
Did our night guard turn the pump off? 

I grab my phone and call our guard... nope, we're out of electricity. 
Is it just our house or the entire area? 
It's just our house. 

Serge then rolls over and picks up his phone to see if he has mobile money so he can buy electricity (we live on a prepaid system here...) 
God does love me as Serge does have money and with in a few minutes he's given the 16 digit number to our guard via a text message (thank God for cell phones!). 

I wait... and I wait... why oh why is the electricity not coming on? 
I wait some more... Serge finally calls him and I quote, 'Boss, I keep messing up the numbers.' 

By this time I am laying back on the bed moaning that I didn't sign up for this life ... 
I could have taken two showers by now... and I'm still waiting. 

Serge is laughing at me ... doing his best to console me by trying to convince me how much I love him (it's not working!)... then it finally it comes... 

I do have a lovely shower but some days ... I just didn't sign up for all the stuff that comes in my life. 

But thinking we all have those days - it just looks different - depending on where you live! 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Liberation Day

As Serge and I were waking up this morning, I asked him what it was like on this morning 23 years ago.

'Well, it was a day like any other except there was a weight that was lifted. We knew that we still had much to do to secure the country and contain the trouble areas but we also knew that the enemy would never overpower us again.'

Today is Rwanda Liberation Day.
23 years ago was the official end to the 100 day genocide which saw 1,000,000 people killed.

Rwanda celebrates today.
We celebrate peace, unity and progressive development.
May God continue to be gracious.

Serge is just one of the faces of liberation ...