Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Monday`s Comin`

That is the day that Serge and Prince are scheduled to arrive in Canada.
So very exciting as this will be Prince`s first time to Canada and there is so much to show him and so much for him to experience. 

It will also be the day that the on slot of activity will avalanche into our life.

Most missionary families get 6 months or a year to do what we have 2.5 months to do - spend as much time as possible with family, hang out with friends, connect with current and potential donors, spend time at the IT office, shop and try to relax a little. Don`t get me wrong... I`m not complaining in the least... but what does get me is that some people think that our time back in Canada is this long extended vacation. Mmmmmmmm....

Think I have yet to talk to a missionary who says that their time on home assignment is even close to a relaxing and refreshing time. We always joke that we need a vacation when home assignment is over! :-)

Well.. here I sit at my mom`s, writing a blog, the kids are having a nap, mom`s out and I`m watching a bit of TV... and I AM enjoying some time when no one is wanting something from me by phone, face to face or email.  

I just talked to Serge and he's running crazy in Kigali trying to get everything done before he and Prince get on a plane Sunday night. Told him to be chewing back the Vitamin C as well... don't want him to get the colds and coughs that we all have here in Canada. Sure hope I'm feeling better by then, cause Monday is comin' and everything that will bring for the next 2.5 months! 

If we get more snow in the next couple of months than you would want... just remember it's for us!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


One of our interns this summer just completed a little project... a book on Rwanda. 
SO PROUD of her!! 
SO blessed she would give us  her skill and time. 

Check out the book and buy one :-)

4 Years Old!

Our little Princess turned four on the 21st. 
Had a great time sharing her birthday with Grandma - who also celebrates her birthday that day. 
(If you didn't know I am already in Canada with Beni and Isabella... you do now. Serge and Prince arrive Monday to start our home assignment.)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Never Ceases to Amaze me!

Where and the amount of Christian worship music that is played in this country is really quite unbelievable.

Yesterday I was enjoying an amazing gift that someone had given me.. an aromatherapy massage at the 5 star hotel in town (YEAH!) and what was wafting over the sound system... a strings and piano combination of old hymns and current worship music. Was such great time for me... I actually stopped moving, I was able to reflect on God's goodness in my life AND I was getting a massage. Doesn't get much better than that!

When we go into Nakumatt, the big supermarket in town, Hillsongs videos are playing on the TVs.

When I first started coming to Rwanda, I would go to the Inter Continental Hotel for the FREE wireless... and be blessed to hear worship songs being played on the grand piano. Turns out that the piano players in Kigali are the worship leaders in the church ... so they get hired!

When you go to a football (soccer) game - think 40,000 people - singing to church music.

When I go to the local coffee shop - think better than Starbucks - I sit there listening to ... you guessed it... worship music.

Never ceases to amaze me.

Now you would think this might equate with a country full of Jesus followers... we're working on that!

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Poor are Chosen ...

AND they will be rich in faith... and inherit the Kingdom. (James 2:5)

I can't get these thoughts out of my head this week.

In the English Service, we are going through the book of James and this verse and the surrounding passage has actually maybe brought some closure to years of wrestling and thinking.

The big question... not just from me but from about everyone who ministers alongside us from the west is...
How can these people, who have nothing and have been through some extremely difficult life experiences, take every opportunity they can to testify to the goodness and faithfulness of God?

You would think that one who has been born in 'easy' circumstances, grown up in the church, had a variety of faith maturing experiences in life would be able to have more faith than the one with the opposite sort of life.

It's just not so.

I have lived in Rwanda for about 5 years and maybe, just maybe I am coming to peace about my heart and 'the poor'. I have been overwhelmed time and time again with their contentment, joy and determined knowledge that God is good and that He alone is faithful. When I look at their lives, it's hard for me to comprehend how they can truly say these things when HIV/AIDs, genocide, poverty, lack of the basic necessities of life - food, shelter, education - are in their daily lives.

But I think that God has opened my mind and my heart even more to understand how His world, His ways, His Kingdom is SO upside down from what I grew up with.

I used to think it was really sad that Jesus said we would always have the poor among us... but now I'm thinking.. it's a really good thing we do!

We need them to lead us to faith, to joy, to contentment, to total dependency on God.

My heart rests knowing they are chosen.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Hello Sacramento! Cyprien is comin' your way

Cyprien boarded a plane early this morning to bring his journey to Sacramento, California.

When he left our house last night I gave him the best words of encouragement I could muster as I fought back the tears... 'Remember that God is already where you're going, He will always be with you and no matter how hard life may seem, God will always provide a way through.'

Cyprien is a refugee. He has no family.
I first met him in 2003 and liked him from the beginning. He was eager to see how International Teams could bring benefit to the Kiziba Refuge Camp. He would sit in the back row as we talked to the pastors in the camp about living in unity and doing ministry together - they could do more together than separately.

This birthed an idea in his mind...and he ran with it.

By 2006, he had unified 15 different denominations within the youth ministry community in the camp.

Cyprien loves God and desires that everyone knows God. When they ( the formed central youth committee - JCM ) asked us for money to do ministry and we told them that they needed to find the money within the camp, Cyprien led the way in figuring out how they could tap into the economy of the camp.

Today, they have a successful cell phone charging business (no more walking 2 hours to charge your phone!), a hair cutting salon, have harvested vegetables twice to give to the poor in the camp and are planting their third crop , have rebuilt some homes for the poorest of the poor refugees ... and they're sharing the gospel.

Kiziba will miss him dearly but he has raised up many leaders to follow in his footsteps so we know the ministry will not suffer.

We will miss him dearly as well. Cyprien considers Serge and I his parents. Our hearts were torn between being so sad to see him go, to being so nervously excited for him as he walked out our gate last night for the last time.

I need to trust that words I spoke to him... God is already where he's going... May Sacramento be gracious to you Cyprien - Please God!!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Isabelle is back!

One week ago, I received a text message from Maman Deborah late in the night saying that Isabelle had showed up at her door. 

Isabelle was one of the first street kids I met at Vivante back in early 2005. She along with her two young brothers, Theophile and Celestin were day street kids. They had a dad and a roof over their head at night but not much else. Their mom had died giving birth to Celestin, their dad was  / is a complete drunk, they were not in school and food was a problem.

I remember that I fell in love with Isabelle the first moment I saw her. Here was an 11 year old girl who had been the mother and sister to her two young brothers longer than she could remember. She watched over them, protected them and wanted the best for them.

The story is long... but it's because of them that we now have six homes with former street kids who are going to school and striving to live a better life one day at a time.

A couple of years ago, their father came and took Isabelle back to live with him along with Celestin, the youngest. Said  he needed a wife to look after him. I remember feeling so helpless... and praying many times since that fateful day that God would have mercy on her life, that He would protect her emotionally, physically and spiritually.... and that we would see her again.

I immediately sent a text message back to Maman Deborah and asked to see Isabelle the following morning.

It was SO good to see her. She has grown up so much but she still has the most beautiful smile. From what we have heard so far, the years have been hard on her... and she's done living like that. She SO wants to go back to school and we'll be sure she does in January when school starts again. We've also been able to talk to the father this week and he's agreeable. He's also willing to send Celestin so he can go back to school as well.

Isabelle is now 17 years old (thinking that is a few years older than we knew before... but that's pretty normal for here!) and she's going to start in Grade 4. That would make Celestin 11 years old. The father took him when he was in grade 2 and I don't think he has been to school since.

We never know who is going to come across our path in a day.... or how God is working.

The immediate... we need to find a suitable home for them to be part of... God please find us a good mom who's going to love on them!

(BTW... the other brother Theophile has been living with Maman Deborah and is doing great!)
Isabelle and Isabella

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Nathalie is 39 years old, has 5 children, her husband left her when she was pregnant with the last children - twins in 2000. She lives in the Kiziba Refugee Camp.

Serge, Nicola, Isabella and I had a great day with her.

Nathalie started an association in the camp a number of years ago for women with HIV/AIDS. They started weaving bags and then baskets. She is now crafting paper bead jewelry and giving the proceeds to the JCM Youth group in the camp which she is also a leader ... and we their ministry as well through various means. 

It was  a great day to catch up, check out what she has made, give her pointers on where to improve and tell her what I would buy. Lots of encouragement all around. 

I am headed to Canada in early November and plan to take some handicrafts made by Rwandan women.
I am SO excited that God has given me this opportunity to give this refugee woman a 'lift' in life for her hard work and diligence in trying to do something with nothing. We're praying for lots of multiplication on her efforts!

If you'll see me in November or December... I'll have some great Christmas gifts to buy... hint, hint!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

New intern in Town!

Nicola arrived from the UK last Tuesday evening!
Our first Brit... so exciting!
God has never disappointed us with interns and teams and again... no exception. We are blessed.
She will be with us through May 2011.
Pray for her as she continues to adjust to life in Rwanda, her new roles in ministry, and learning Kinyarwanda.
Looking forward to how God plans to bless us through her!

Nicole is modeling her new found fashion accessories!
Have her blog posted ... check it out to read of her journey.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Why we do Short-term

These thoughts have been rolling around in my mind for well over a month. They started when I received an email from someone who reads this blog wanting to know my thoughts.

Is short-term mission really worth it?
Do short-term teams and individuals really make a difference in the ministry?
Isn't better to just send the money?

She was confused. She has been on short-term mission experiences before and believes that God is calling her and her family to do it again.  She had some correspondence from someone else here in Rwanda giving some negative feedback on short-term... What were my thoughts she asked?

WELL... time to get up on my little soapbox again :-)

There is so much to say about this, but in brief - maybe... :-)

- If short-term teams and individuals are prepared, orientated and hosted well... they are amazing opportunities.
- Hosts need to believe that short-term teams or individuals will and can impact the ongoing ministry in the location. If hosts feel like short-term is just something they should be doing and not something they are passionate about, of course they are going to feel like short-term takes too much time away from 'real' ministry and that they cost money AND they should NOT be hosting short-termers!
- How else does a long-term missionary have a chance to recruit other long-term workers? Best they come and see and give God the space to allow their passion to grow for a certain country or people group.
- Spend the money to come! Sure you could send us your $4000 and get a tax receipt but then what? That would most likely be it. If you come, I know we have gained an ambassador for the ministry here. We've gained prayer partners, financial partners because someone has come to minister alongside of us. We've gained lifelong friends.. not just us, but fellow Rwandans as well. This would not have happened if you had not come.

We are just coming out of  summer where we hosted four interns and two short-term teams, over three months. All a bit wild and crazy for sure - we didn't sleep enough, spent more money than we had to live a bit more conveniently so we could function in sanity, we forgot to pick Prince from school more than once, we didn't have much family time... but oh, the benefits!

Our kids still pray for interns and individuals on teams that were here last year, they talk all the time about the new friends they made this summer, again we've had SO many email from this years 'batch' of short-termers of  how their lives were changed because of their time with us... and how it continues to challenge them in their day to day life (gosh we're privileged that God entrusts us with his children!), but most of all... they loved on Rwandans, they gave more than what they thought they had and they learned from their brothers and sisters here.

SO... if anyone out there is thinking that all this short-term stuff just isn't worth it... just give me a few minutes of your time.

I'll tell you what has been my experience for over 15 years .... lives changed! lives transformed! lives being lived with a greater sense of the world that God has created.

What more could you want!?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Inauguration Day

As I'm sitting here writing, the rest of my family is gathered around the TV watching various presidents arrive at Amahoro Stadium for the Inauguration of President Kagame. Last count that I heard was that 15 presidents were in the country for today... who knows what the count will be  today.

It's a great day for Rwanda.

Last night they were encouraging people to start coming to the stadium by 5am this morning. It's packed and thousands are outside as well. I am sure there are few Rwandans that are not gathered around a TV or listening to the ceremony on the radio. Later today there will be parties in all the umudugudus - villages - every 150 houses. The rumor is that tomorrow will be declared a holiday as well so people can recoup from today! :-) I'm liking the sounds of that... 

The slogan for the day is 'The Journey Continues...' and yes it does.
Rwanda is indeed on a journey. I believe that God has Rwanda on a journey which includes healing and development in the form of unity. It's an exciting place to live in this world. Our prayer is that God continues to bring favour to this small nation and its people.

Now to get my kids away from the TV long enough to get out of their pyjamas!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Alain's Married!

Yesterday was a grand day for Alain and Delphine.
The day went without incident and at the end, I could see that Alain was well pleased.

Serge was busy co-ordinating everything and I made the cake. Never made a wedding cake before but it seemed to turn out and I know it was enjoyed! Maybe I should start a little business... mmmmm....

We always have a little joke here that we can tell how good the wedding was by the number of Fanta... it was a good wedding!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Last team of 2010

Been wanting to put some pictures up from this team... Philpott Church from Hamilton, ON. This team of 9 was a blast. They had lots of energy and jumped into everything with hearts and minds wide open. Once again we were privileged to see God working in and through them. 

Thought I'd share some pictures to give you an idea as to what their experience with us looked like.

They went to the 'top of the world' with Serge to experience the Kiziba Refugee Camp and make sure that our 19 students were ready to go back to third term in school.

They also checked out the gardens, the cell phone charging and the hair salon.

Looks like the cabbages are growing just fine!

They then came back to Kigali and spent most of the rest of their time loving on our street kids.
Each day about 60 kids showed up to worship, learn about themselves and God, eat and play.
SO much fun!

Every day started with peeling... potatoes, matoke, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, onions... and then the slicing and dicing. 
Kids comin'  
Pastor Joe had the kids spellbound by his magic tricks 
Always football 
And volleyball
Amber learning new games
Dan serving lunch
Denice loving on Isabella... thinking our kids go through withdrawal everytime a team or an intern leaves. 

They also shopped at the market to assemble 80 bags of food for the Ubuzima group - 80 households affected by HIV/AIDS. They did amazing at batering for sugar, beans, rice, sosoma and oil.
Somehow I have no pictures of this... mmmmmmm...

I am always amazed as to what happens from when we pick a team at the airport to when we take them back to board their plane home.
They love on Rwandans and all the while God is moving.
So great!

Wonder who God will bring our way in 2011?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Dowry Paid!

Last Saturday, Alain Sano who works with us here in Kigali gave one cow for Delphine. Yes, the dowry system is still alive and well here.

We travelled 2.5 hours south of Kigali to Butare with the short-term team from Philpott Church (Hamilton, ON) and they enjoyed the cultural event. Always fun to take visitors to dowry and wedding ceremonies here.

Muzugus ready for the ceremony in traditional mishananas
Alain and Delphine
The entourage of the bride
September 4th is their wedding!

Friday, 20 August 2010

And They're Out...

Nshuti, Mosquito and Uwimana were released yesterday afternoon.

Saw them at the day camp for street kids today. 

Didn`t know what to do with them! ARG!!
I know Serge had a GOOD chat with them. All they could tell me was `Sorry Mommy. Please forgive me.`

Of course we can forgive, but are they repentant?

We will see what the next days and weeks bring. Third semester of school has just started so it remains to be seen how they will finish out the school year.

In the meantime... may God help us make the right decisions with them.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Three in Jail


Probably the most deflating, discouraging, disheartening... you get the picture... thing that happens here is getting a phone call to let us know that one our kids who calls the street their home is in jail. 

They are often picked up by the local police for just hanging out somewhere, for really not doing anything wrong. We then go to the police, tell them who we are and plead heir case. We vouch for them, saying that they are being cared for, they are seeking to change their life and we are investing in them to give them every opportunity for that to happen. We DO want the transformation to happen on all levels.

Well, last night... Serge got a phone call as we were on our way to bed. THREE of our kids were picked. Three of our core kids. ARG!!! Nshuti, Mosquito (yes, that is his name!) and Uwimana.

SO sad for us. Double sad actually because they were misbehaving - gambling. ARG!!!

Nshuti has come so far - came to us when he was like 14 years old, didn't even know how to hold a pencil, we taught him to write and do basic math and he started school in grade 2! He did great the first couple of years and was always the top of his class. This past year, he hasn't been doing great.... making some bad choices. Is this the end of his rope?

Mosquito - lives with his sisters in a child headed household, in school... doing well, or so we thought. ARG!

Uwimana - one of the first street kids I got to know. He was one of four kids who hung out at a gas station and most every time I fuelled my car, I bought them milk. When we had an opened another house, we asked them all to come off the street and Uwimana was the only one to come. He lasted about a year. The pull of his friends was too strong. He's about 11 years old.

Today, Nshuti's house mom, Mama Bridgette, went to plead their case after Serge said they could sit it out in jail overnight to think life over.
They were to be released this afternoon but they weren't.
We'll see what tomorrow holds.

Pray that we have wisdom with this one! We love these kids and it about kills us to see them messing up like this...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

They Have my Business!

I love stuff like this.

Serge had told me about little co-operative selling fruits and vegetables on 'our corner', ie. the corner with lots of little shops to buy stuff close to our house.

Last night, I got to experience it.

Life is more than busy these days and I have not been to the market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables since last week and the fridge was EMPTY! As Serge was getting fuel, Isabella and I ran across the parking lot to this little co-operative.

It's marked by a big hand painted sign indicating that fruits and vegetables are for sale down an alley between two buildings.

The doorway was cluttered with women - women who used to walk the streets of Kigali with baskets of fresh produce on their heads trying to sell something so they could feed their family for the day.

I used to buy from these very women and it was great to be welcomed as a recognized customer - even though it was my first time to their little shop.

Everyday, women roam the streets of Kigali trying to sell something so they can provide shelter, food and clothes for their family. Education is a dream for most of them. It's illegal for people to sell goods on the streets and I often seem them chased by the police, even caught sometimes. I know that it's probably not good that I participate is something illegal by buying from them but my heart of compassion for these women is bigger I think.

Many nights we have come home late from a wedding or something and make a quick stop for milk and bread and for sure, more than one woman will be out, 11pm or later at night, with a baby on her back, still trying to sell something that day.

This is when I want to win the lottery and then go around and pay double for everything on someones head in the city. (Guess it would help if I actually played the lottery but I can dream right!?

Intern Danika and Maman Deborah selecting some fruit before they visit someone with HIV/AIDS.

What thrills my heart is that some women got together and decided that they can do more together than individually. Very forward thinking of them! They have great produce. Even my house girl, Solange, was impressed by the quality of the various fruits and tomatoes I bought.

What I know is... they have my business!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Makes me MAD!!

Today is Tuesday, August 10 - day after the elections here in Rwanda.

My house is quiet this morning as I'm sitting here at my computer supposed to be doing financial reports but... I need to see what the world has said about yesterdays elections here in Rwanda.

What I know is that Paul Kagame has won with 92% with the other three parties dividing the rest of the votes. At least that is what Prince told me was announced on the TV this morning.

I know that I went to bed just after midnight and the city was alive with parties everywhere... I heard the vuvuzela's (and the World Cup thought they have them all!) and I was woken up by the fireworks at 4:30am this morning! Today was declared a holiday (I love Rwanda!)

I also know that many polling stations closed by mid morning because all the registered voters for that district had already cast their ballot. (Canada or the US only dreams of this!!) Serge left the house just before 6am and was 12th in line to vote at our polling station.. then he came home and crawled back into bed! :-)

I haven't heard of any violence or any unrest in the country at all.

I also know that at about midnight the President and his entire family went to Amahoro Stadium where it was PACKED!!! to celebrate. Serge said that he turned the TV off about 1am and left the First Lady and kids on that football field celebrating by leading everyone in the Electric Slide dance... it's her favourite!

So what you ask, makes me mad??!!!

WELL... let me tell you. Warning.. a 'Jen' Rant comin' on!

So... I check CBC, just to see what my own country is saying about the election here. After some digging I find a 7 sentence story which predicted Kagame's win but also stated, and I quote,
'Analysts said Kagame faced no real competition. Some opposition parties were barred from participating, and the pre-election period was marred by crackdowns on opposition figures and media'.

I then go to BBC. And after some digging I find a little story and a media clip. It's the media clip that makes me MAD! The journalist stated that some parties were not allowed to run due to differing views of Kagame's party and were arrested upon arrival and others were blocked from registering. And that is ALL he says... AH!!!

WHY were they arrested?

Blows my mind how some journalists and others in the west, looking in on Rwanda and Africa can be so arrogant and misleading some times!

So, Kagame is just to allow people who landed in Kigali and in their first news conference at the airport announced that their party had come back to 'finish the job'... implying the genocide????

Seriously people!!!! You would think that this `tidbit`of information would be important somehow. Or does one really not know what genocide is or the causes of it?

So Human Rights and whoever else who most likely knows nothing of what it is to be a genocide survivor or oppressed in whatever way can just say that there was no real opposition and that Rwandan people are oppressed??

Did I say this makes me mad???

The genocide ended 16 years ago because the RPF, lead by Paul Kagame and others came and fought in a land which their parents had fled, felt oppressed in or had never even entered before. The genocide did not end because the west put a stop to it. The west was still tying the hands of the UN mission here and still arguing over what name to call the mission of the soldiers they were releasing to come and help fight against the killers. 

What has happened in this country since the end of the genocide in July 1994 is incredibly remarkable. I don`t think there is another country in the world that has recovered from anything like this in such a short period of time - socially, economically, development in all areas really.

So.. how dare the west, point fingers and tell an African leader or country how they should run it... especially when the cause of the genocide was colonization from the west!


Okay.. I`m done.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Plans are submitted and the House is almost finished!

Serge was out in Nyamirama again the other day and FINALLY dropped the master plans for the Nyamirama Training Centre. A very momentous day for us. It's been a long time coming. Now we wait to see if they are approved. The initial reaction was very positive... but we wait.

He also got some updated pictures on Veronic's house. It's coming... slowly but surely.

Life has been busy there... it's election campaign time and the president is using our land to hold a rally... TOMORROW!! So, lots of work to get it ready, not that we had to do lots but we did have to tear down the office / storage place we had built on the land. Definitely a bit of an ARG!! but that is life in Rwanda. Serge is just hoping and praying that they don't ruin the fence.

God thing... Serge met the head of the army in the Eastern Province while he was there.. and he knows the guy!

Serge showed him the master plan and he was very impressed with them. Serge also showed him the house that we are just finishing for Veronic and he was also impressed with that. He then asked if we were going to build a house for the other lady just down the road as well.
Serge told the army dude and Andre, the sector chief, that if they do the bricks, we'll supply the iron sheets and cement. We'll see what comes of it. Hope something does as the lady needs a house!

Couldn't help but think of the contrast...
My mom in Canada just moved this past weekend into a new home which she had built. From the pictures I have seen and from what people have said, it's beautiful. She spent months picking colours and new furniture. I gave her a hard time that she got a dishwasher. All of us kids wanted one when we were growing up, but the famous line always was...'I already have three.'
What a contrast... same world, same need for shelter, ... but so not the same.

Veronic's house today

Front porch - place to find shelter in the rain

Cemented floors! No more dirt!

Her kitchen... still the mud plaster and then the cement plaster to go

Friday, 30 July 2010

I Cry

I was running around town this morning trying to get as much done as possible in the time that I had. As usual,  my list of things to do was much longer than the time I had.

I had just hopped back into the car, turned to pay the parking attendant, when my world stopped.

There beside my car was a boy about 6 or 7 years old. He wasn't asking me for money as many others were doing or trying to sell me something, he was just standing there.

I tried to just move on with life, but I couldn't. I turned my face to look at him again. On the left side of his mouth was a something huge. I don't even know how to describe it as I really couldn't figure it out even when I took a close look at it. Maybe he had a HUGE abscess or maybe he got cut somehow out of the corner of his mouth. Whatever happened, it had bled alot, was caked back together with dried blood and had something that looked is vaseline smeared all over it.

I asked him where is mother was. She was at home, about 30 minutes from where we were.

I just sat in the car. I didn't know what to do.
My first reaction was to get him to a clinic myself and see what I could do. My mind kicked in and I wondered what his mom would think if I took her young child to the clinic, What would the doctors say to me?  And my Kinyarwanda is not good enough to got me through or out of situtions like this.

I gave him some money.

As I drove away, the tears spilled over and I cried.

From the backseat, my dear Isabella asked, 'Mommy, why are you crying?'

I explained to her about the little boy, that he was sick and he needed a doctor but his mommy didn't have enough money to take him. I told her that I had given him money to help.

She then said, 'But Mommy, I pray for people who are poor everyday that God will help them.'

She does.

Awhile later in town, we were confronted again by about six women begging for money as we were leaving a parking area. I gave to four but not to two as I didn't have money to give them.

From the backseat came a distressed, stern, almost angry voice, 'Mommy, but what if one of those you didn't give money to was the little boy's mommy?'

I assured Isabella that not one of them was the boys mommy and reminded her that I had given the boy money to give to his mommy... and then I cried again.

And tears are spillling all over the computer as I write this.

Why God?

In the last weeks, some different people have been asking me how I do it? How I live life in Rwanda among the poor everyday?
Those questions have been rolling around in my head as I don't have an answer... hence I haven't answered their emails.

Most days, I do know that God is strength, that God is the one who ultimately holds each of us on this earth in his hand, that I need to be living generously and being Jesus hands and feet.

But today... I don't think I'm doing it. Feeling so helpless for this boy... oh God, help!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tenessee Bound

That is where our dear friend Eric is headed. Should be somewhere over the Atlantic on an Ethiopian Air Flight headed to Knoxville, Tennessee via Washington.

Our family is going to miss Eric incredibly.
He is a great friend to Serge and I, we have served on the English Service Team since it's beginning three years ago and he has loved on our kids. He plays hide and seek with Isabella and she can't go to sleep each Tuesday night without saying goodnight to Eric.. He talked football with Prince. Together we have laughed, talked until it was way too late on many evenings, prayed together and cried as we have journeyed life. 

Two years ago, Pastor Jeff of Blount Community Church, Maryville TN, along with a key leader from the church, Duane Graves, visited Rwanda. They had come to see how their church might be involved in Rwanda and educating Rwandan future leaders was part of that vision. (I LOVE a forward thinking church!)
Eric was their translator and made a great impression on them. Eric is a bright and incredibly gifted young man. He shared with them his desire to have a masters from the west. After some prayer, Jeff and Duane believed that Eric was their guy.

Two years later, through lots of difficulties and God supplying miracles along the way... Eric boarded a plane yesterday.

My tears flowed as I said goodbye to him. I know that it's only three years but I will miss him. He is one of a few Rwandan people I know who really journey with God in a very real way. Our family will miss him. Isabella didn't want to let him go... heartbreaking for me.

BUT.. God has granted Eric his dream... a masters in Agriculture Economics. He will be the first in Rwanda. SO exciting. And every time I think of Blount Community Church... I really don't think they know how HUGE this is. They are supporting him and caring for him for the next 2-3 years but the dividends are bound to be endless. I know that Eric's life will be changed forever, I just hope they're ready for all that Eric will bring to the life of their church.

We love you Eric.. and we're going to miss you but SO excited to watch the continued journey...

The Vivante English Service Team
Emery, Serge, Eric, myself, Dora

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The New house!

The team with the house they built for Veronic!
They did an amazing job! Thanks WMB and donors!
They not only hauled mud bricks and plopped mud but they loved on the neighbourhood. They have set a standard for all future teams we bring to Nyamirama!
Just some details that the local construction crew will finish - doors, windows, cement floor, front porch, outdoor kitchen and an outdoor toilet.
The local leaders wanted her to have a front porch so that when it rains, people walking by have a shelter to run to.

 Back of the house

Two local workers cementing in one of the bedrooms
Each of the bedrooms is bigger than her banana house!

Sitting with Veronic and one of her grandchildren

Serge and Veronic chatting

 Some of the local kids... dreaming of education for them, clean water, parents who can provide the basics of life for them and most of all that they grow to be the men and women that God has creaated them to be.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Beni and his little cousins

Beni and his little cousins Yanice and Ella having a cookie eating good time at Yanice's first birthday party.
I'm the proud auntie who gets to love on them!

I'm always reminded how much I am missing out in the lives of my dear neices in Canada... Miss Maggie and Little Jorja. How to have everything in life that matters to me close to me?
I just need to trust... but I miss them so much!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Knew it would be Crazy... but it was CRAZY!!!

Yesterday... the first day of campaigning for the presidential election on August 9th was ... well... I couldn't believe it really.

The atmosphere was like the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the Stanley Cup final (as if we know what that feels or looks like but we can imagine right!).
There are three candidates running in this election but by far the majority of the hype was around the FPR / RPF.

There were people marching from all points of Kigali to the Stadium where the big kick off rally was being held, in groups of 50 to the hundreds. They were decked out in all the blue, red and white they could find... some had their bodies painted ... and their clothes, they were singing, dancing and chanting their way. Seemed like all of Kigali was going to the rally. Seems like the vuvuzela manufacturers have been busy for the campaign as well!

We took the team to the market yesterday morning to buy food for Ubuzima - the HIV/AIDS association. On the way, I about had an accident. A car on the way to the stadium, lost a flag and jammed on the brakes so they could pick it back up. I had nowhere to go. Good thing my brakes are working and those of the minibus, carrying the team, who was behind me. 

As we drove by the stadium, it was PACKED. Seemed there were are as many outside as inside and more marches were on their way! Prince said that he saw on the TV that President Kagame showed up in the late afternoon and it was BIG. They were dancing and singing. Said they had cake for everyone -guess that's important to a 12 year old!

Then there were the flatbeds with speakers, blaring music of Rwanda... patriotic songs. Not just one truck or two... but MANY! I never knew we had so many concert speakers in Rwanda!!

Today seems a bit more calm... but the team wants RPF tshirts... where to find those??

Monday, 19 July 2010

Campaign Time!

Tomorrow is July 20th - the day that campaigns are opened for the Presidential election on August 9th.

Guess I don't really know what to expect, except that it might be a bit crazy with the three parties vying for everyone's votes.
Probably the most noticeable will be the vehicles with the SPEAKERS on top of them driving around the city and I'm sure they will be in our neighbourhood, encouraging people to vote for them. Hopefully not too early in the morning so they don't wake us or the kids! Trust me... it's been known to happen!

Serge also said to me today that it will be interesting to see which music artists will have the best campaign songs... interesting.

The local office of the FPR - the party for President Kagame is just down the road from our house, and I have noticed a great increase of activity in and around that office in the last week. Guess they are making sure they are ready.
Tomorrow will tell.... and everyday after that until August 9th.

Pray for Rwanda.
Pray that the right person will win the election to continue Rwanda's journey in healing and development.
Pray that the campaigns and election will be uneventful and take place without any violence.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Day 4

I drove out to Kayonza again today to see the progress the team was making. My goodness! I couldn`t believe it. They have worked hard.

Another incredible sight... Veronic about floating around her property. I have NEVER seen her smile so much.
Was a gift for me to see.

Serge discussing with Francois, the builder, on where to put her outdoor kitchen
Some of the team taking a needed break. Their laps don`t stay empty for long!
Alain checking out the progress. Looking good!
Praying for the house at the end of the day
The team and some of the local workers
Next a roof, then some windows and doors, a cement floor and the outdoor kitchen.
Lots done but lots left to do.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Day #2

We couldn 't make blocks fast enough because of the lack of water, so we had to buy some ready made blocks from various people around. Think we had about 15 local people helping us with that - using their heads, bikes or wheelbarrows - and earning 100 RWF for every three blocks they brought.
This guy has just earned 200 RWF or 34 cents.

LOVED it that there were three ladies from the neighbourhood who hauled blocks for FREE all day! Think that says so much about women helping out fellow women in need.

Pit + mud + water + dry grass + a man mixing with a shovel and his feet = Mud Bricks

Empty water jugs waiting to be filled. Again, people were walking up to 1km one way to bring us water.

Two bedrooms, a sitting room and a front porch
We'll build an outdoor kitchen for her as well.

Assembly Line for the mud and bricks

All about good mud 'plopping'

Beni and I watching the action

View through the banana trees

This lady needs a house too!!!!
May God use us to provide her with a home.