Thursday, 29 April 2010

Just Give Me the Money!!!

So.. this afternoon I had some errands to do around town - all to do with banks!

With our personal account, the ministry accounts and the account of another organization, we are helping to distribute finances while they are out of the country - and then you double it as you then have USD and Rwanda Francs for each. Sounds crazy I know, but that is how it is.

Anyway... We're leaving for Izmir, Turkey on Sunday morning 3am, for the International Leadership Forum. Side note: We are over the moon as Serge got his VISA for Turkey AND his VISA for The Netherlands (he'll see his brother whom he hasn't seen for 9 years!) All this to say... I have a lot of work to do! I'm remembering how our President Neil Ostrander would say that... sorry, I digress...

Lots to do, so little time and I need to go to BANKS!! So... I head to the first one. VISA cash withdrawal for our April salary money. I go into the VISA office and I present my passport and VISA card. The teller then processes my amount and I sign... done... nope... haven't even started!!

So then his supervisor has to initial the papers, then he takes me from his office to a row of tellers. He submits my papers to her, she initials them, then she prints off another copy which is sent to her supervisor via a runner, and then the runner waits for the supervisor to sign it... he had someone in his office, so we wait... then it comes back, she prints off another copy, then she signs it, then I sign it and then I get my money. About 40 minutes later.

Then it's off to the next bank. I need to pick up a new cheque book, get some monthly bank statements printed as one never knows when they will come in the mail, and money from one of the accounts. We chose this bank in the first place as it has a numbering system - you get a little ticket coming in the door and at least you're in a line and few people will jump it. Trust me, my limit is about three line jumpers and then I about lose it, especially if I have the kids with me! God is still working on patience with me in certain areas!

So.. I go to the counter where I need to collect the new cheque book. I anticipate having to use my assertiveness as I don't have the little slip to claim it. Serge has it, but I need the cheque book now. So... I ask. The account number... in my cell phone, but my phone battery has died. SHOOT! Now I know my chances are nil... but to my surprise, he decides to look at the name for me and Voila!. There it is, he has it and he hands it over after I sign for it TWICE!! Go figure!

Now the guy I need to see about monthly bank statements is nowhere to be found. Another lady finds me and decides she can help. Come with me she says. I follow. Well... Rwanda is working on their customer service and for that I am grateful. President Kagame is ON people about this but it's always hard for people to learn new tricks right!? Well... a couple phone calls, some friends dropping by to chat in her office and who knows what else, I finally have my statements.

Now to get the money. I have my numbered ticket in hand and I am watching the board for my number to be called. Now, the teller I need to go to - Guichet No. 5 - has many people. I KNOW they don't all want USD. So I decide to be patient and wait. The teller forgets to use the numbering system, so I wait. Finally the way clears and she calls for the next number... it's not mine, but nobody is jumping up, so I do. Saving grace.. she asks how the kids are doing. I Know she remembers my kids as Beni has had a screaming fit in the bank because it was taking SO long... he was perfectly fine when we went in. Sigh...

So by now, I have spent about 2.5 hours in banks this afternoon.

Time to collect Serge from the office and head home. Had called a taxi to pick Prince from school as I just couldn't leave town without all the banking done. I am so grateful we have a couple of very reliable taxi drivers whom we can call anytime of the day to do a run for us. I came home to find the kids well. Good thing.

Then it was immediate dinner, bedtime routine and here I am. Must go. Serge is waiting to do some finance stuff. Should be fun at 10pm!

(What about ATMS you might ask... well, one of the banks is actually supposed to hooked up to the international system now but I think I have been about 6 times and it's worked twice. The odds are not in our favour... )

Enjoy your debit and credit cards people!!

We're heading to Turkey and Europe on Sunday for 15 days. Debit and Credit here I come! :-)

Monday, 26 April 2010

Serge and I with Her Excellency - The GG

I'm not sure what the big joke was but she was fun...
Our dear Head of Mission here is AnnaMaria (in the Blue) and friend Lorraine ( from TO with the World Bank) is in the background. The house, the Canadian residence in Kigali. The guys... security.

Ladies with the GG

I was the only Muzungu at the Gender Round table from Rwanda beside our Head of Mission here, AnnaMaria. The rest of the Muzugu's were in her delegation from Canada.

Friday, 23 April 2010

So I met the Governor General AGAIN!!

Went to the reception at the Canadian Residence last night along with about 120 other Canadians and friends of Canada - as they say.
Was a fun evening... had some great appetizers - including fried shrimp and shrimp skewers. SO wonderful!! WOW!! Most all the drinks were Canadian too including Saskatoon Berry Sparkling Champagne.
Serge and I chatted with the Her Excellency for about 5 minutes. She is completely genuine and lovely. Told her that I was inspired by what she had shared at the women's round table the day before - about being carted all around Haiti as her parents taught in the rural villages. Told her that I sometimes wondered if I was doing the right thing by exposing my kids to so much... but God used her to continue giving me inspiration and peace in doing that with Prince, Isabella and Beni (She thought we must have the cutest kids... of course we are completely biased!). She was visibly moved. At the end of our chat, she kissed me on both cheeks to thank me for sharing that with her. Was a special moment indeed. She had been in Goma, DRC before she came to Rwanda so she and Serge chatted about life in Congo vs. Rwanda. She is well informed and very compassionate.
It was quite the evening.
Serge and I drove home shaking our heads in amazement. We really have no idea how we get to these sorts of things but thinking God just smiled on us.
Will try to see if I can get pictures and post them. Know the official photographer, so we'll see. Hope so!


The new hair... here it is!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

How I Spent 2 Hours Tonight!

I was in the living room of the Canadian Residence here in Kigali with 10 Rwandan women who move and shake this country, 5 women delegates from Canada AND Her Excellency Governor General.

She wanted to know about the Role of Rwandan Women in Society. Was a lively and good discussion to be part of. The leading question was, `What is the most challenging thing to being a Rwandese Woman`? There was lots of chatter... but basically it came down to education. If she is educated, then she will have power, be more informed, know her rights and want to better herself and her family. As the discussion went on, I couldn't help but think of the Rwandan women in my life. There are those how have means ie. money, stability, job, etc. Then there are those who live on less than $1 / day. They are the poorest of the poor - living subsistantly, trying to cultivate a bit of land to feed their family for the day. There are also differences between the urban and rural women.

As the chatter went on, my mind kept going around - it is not just about the women themselves the but men and children in their lives as well. It is one thing to educate a woman but here in Rwanda she would need to ask for permission to do something and if the man saw that it would not be beneficial to him ie. make him look bad - then he would not allow her to do something. SO... the men need to be educated too. Then I realized that we HAVE been doing that.

Two stories - both from our pastoral training:

1. Serge and I went to visit Pastor Desontos over a year ago now. He lives with his wife and two small children in a very modest home in the village of Fumbwe, about an hour east of Kigali. When we went to visit, all of a sudden he disappeared and she came to sit and visit with us. After awhile we asked where he was. He was COOKING!! This is UNHEARD of here. Men do not go near the kitchen. She just smiled and thanked us - and still does to this day - for changing her husband. They are now role modeling this behaviour in their village and they have seen other couples start to change.

2. At the close of the pastoral training, a pastor stood up (I forget his name just now - it's late and I should be in bed!) and said that his wife had been asking him to join an association. He had repeatedly said no to her. He was then challenged by the teachings at the pastoral training on marriage and servant leadership. When she asked again, he decided to let her go. She now brings home the money and they bought land and have built their own house to live in. How life has changed for them because he honoured his wife.

We're starting in Kayonza - want to see a community transformed. We know that gender equality training is part of the journey and I know and remember more than ever that it is not just about educating the women, it's about educating men, women and children in the understanding that God has created us equal and desires all of us to participate to the fullest in the kingdom of God.

How I got to this round table tonight, I'm not sure as I was the only Muzungu / Rwandese there, but it sure inspired me again to stand for those how cannot stand for themselves.
Another tidbit I took home... she told us some of her story growing up in Haiti and being 'dragged' around by her parents in the rural Haiti as they taught literacy. She was saying that she was more than grateful that her parents allowed her to see what she did at such an early age, as it has made her who she is today.

Was great affirmation for me about continuing to integrate Prince, Isabella and Beni in our ministry activities.
May their involvement growth their love for God and people!


Okay people.. ENOUGH about the hair :-) I'll get you a pic sooner than later!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

New Jerseys and Cleats!!

Our street kid football (soccer to those how live in N.Americans!!) team is ALWAYS excited when they receive new footballs but they were over the moon to receive some 'new to them' jerseys (Thank you BOW whoever you are / wherever you are!!) and CLEATS!!! Rich and Robin are fellow missionaries here in Rwanda with Tent Makers for Rwanda and they had some teams coming in March and wanted to involve them with our ministry. We were glad to host them as they brought medical expertise, fun and of course the football wares. Our guys got to use the jerseys and cleats on Sunday afternoon for the first time in a real game against another church here in the city. They put up a good fight by lost 4-2... blaming it on the new cleats!! GO figure!! They have always wanted them and now, they're blaming them! They are just used to playing in bare feet and their old shoes, I guess.


Just have to laugh... should have welcomed you first before I started just writing what was on my mind :-) Thanks for coming to check this out. Trust you will come back often to see what is happening my life. In living in Rwanda since January 2006, I have said many times that I need to have a blog - more for my own wellbeing then for others but hope that it is informative and entertaining for you as well. Finally... today is the day. Not sure why today... have lots of other things to do - finances, laundry, have the English Service Team meeting here tonight so need to prepare for that, - Beni is having a nap and Isabella is singing away as she prepares who knows what with her little kitchen set - so I should be on my to do list but here I am... guess this has been on the to do list for a long time!! Welcome to my life as I journey with God, my family, the people of Rwanda and others who cross my path in life. Need to go. Almost lunch. Have this feeling that today is good day!

So I got a haircut!!

CRAZY that my first post would be about a haircut, but hey. I have lived in Kigali Rwanda since January 2006 and have been in search of a decent - not the most amazing haircut ever, just a decent one - since then. I have let my hair go as it's better to have hair you can put up at a moments notice than to have bad hair! Well... my life has changed! I'm thinking that God finally said, 'ENOUGH!' 'It's finished'... and allowed me to find a dear Belgian lady who cuts hair from her home. Not only did she probably give me the best haircut of my life - not kidding - she COLOURED it too!!! From a real mixing, not a box from ShoppersDrugMart!! WOOHOO!! Not sure how often we can afford this haircut but I'll be saving my francs from now on! I am a new woman and the world is a little brighter today! May she live in Rwanda for many days to come... story of my life that people leave...