Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Boxer Day

At least that is what Isabella was calling yesterday... December 26th.

After I explained to the kids about Boxing Day and how it all started... people packing boxes to give to the poor, they decided that we could to do the same with the leftover cookies and chocolates from Christmas.
Of course I encouraged the idea... I'm the first to eat chocolate and cookies for Christmas but then it becomes enough ... although I didn't give away my shortbread.
(Is that bad?? God please forgive me if it was!)

30 Bags packed and ready to go
Beni, Isabell and Prince getting into the giving
Fun that the kids all lined up outside of our house...

Showing off their fun treats

Monday, 26 December 2011

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Moment that made me stop...

When you leave our house and turn right, you drive through a little settlement of 'small / bad' houses with a million kids it seems. After these houses are the two shoe repairmen of the community. Day after day they sit under their little umbrellas and mend shoes or anything else that might come their way.

Today is Christmas and the two men are sitting under their umbrellas.

We are a bit taken back. Our comments about it... 'Why are these men here, it's Sunday AND it's Christmas.' 'Must be here because they don't have money for the day to eat.'

A lump has risen in my throat and I'm doing my best to not let my tears spill over, as I think about this whole situation - here we are, headed off to spend the day with Serge's family and I know there will be enough food, laughter and fun

It's Prince from the back of the jeep saying that we should turn around and give them money... we do. (Proud mom moment!)

Both are married and one has two kids. As we drive away, I pray for the families. May the little money we gave them, bless them and help them know that God has not forgotten them.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

While Visions of Termites dance through my head....

So the other night I was dreaming termites.

On Sunday I had went into my office and as I put my hand on my bookshelf for support as I reached for something, I felt a crunch. It was the 'dirt' which termites create to build their shelters!

Because I had broken their home... the little critters were scurrying. NOT cool. I took some deep breaths and went for some insect spray. As I sprayed and removed the two books they were focused around, it was another bad to worse moment. They had basically eaten both of the books!!

So... Sunday, Visitors... I disposed of the books, sprayed the heck of what I could see and closed the door!

Monday and Tuesday I spent cleaning everything on the office. I had NO time for this but I was not about to be beaten by a bunch of termites! By Tuesday night... I believe I won. For now. We'll fumigate early in the new year.

Only lost three books so that was great news for me.

So where do the visions come in you ask?

Well, I'm dreaming on Tuesday night of termites... termites everywhere. On me, on the bed, all over the house. As I'm about to lose it, I feel these little hands on my face. They are turning my head and in a little voice I hear, 'Mommy, I love you.'

I have no idea when Beni arrived in bed with us but it was the best ending to visions of termites!

Friday, 9 December 2011

What goes around comes around?

So after our board meeting this past Saturday, Emmanuel, one of our board members here, and I got chatting.
He had just come back from meeting in Germany. Not sure exactly what but know he met up with some people from Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Did I know them?
Anyway... we got chatting.

I have known Emmanuel for a long time. He's married to Serge's sister cousin. Serge and I were the Matron and Best man in their wedding. He's a great young respected evangelist in this country and understands the times ... of the country, of the church, etc. 

He starts to talk his passion... mobilizing Rwandan to be missionaries.
He is also the President of JBU here... InterVarsity. This year they sent 7 university students to South Sudan on a mission experience. Was a great experience for them, and he knows they went as naive people - zealous but no training. The conversation heats up between us... both passionate. My 'past' of mobilizing the Canadian church is flashing before my eyes... the speaking, the training, the facilitating... 

Nothing like this is happening in Rwanda. Emmanuel is passionate that the Rwandan church is raised up. He knows it needs to happen well - but how. I know some of what it takes... training, orientation, debriefing, etc. etc. I tell him the heart of IT... to see people mobilized to share Christ, how to become a full partner in IT we need  all of it... not just doing ministry here but mobilizing the church to mission here and the ends of the earth.

My soul is stirred... 

I always knew this would come, but now with Emmanuel already in it and fired up... maybe sooner than later. Thinking IT may be helping to send Rwandese to the world. Yeah!

Next move.... Emmanuel and I will find some time to continue chatting through this some more. Can't wait... but thinking it will need to wait until January...

Friday, 2 December 2011

Reminiscent of Christmas

I LOVE the Christmas Season!
I love everything about or most everything. I love whatever is in the air - the first snow, the parties, the food, hearing O Holy Night at the candlelight Christmas Eve service... and people just seem to be in such a different mood - generous, giving... nice to each other.

When I married Serge, he promised me that I could buy a Christmas tree in Rwanda and didn't have to bring one. I did sort of threaten him that if I couldn't find a tree for our first Christmas, he would be in trouble. I well remember walking into T2000, a Chinese shop here in Kigali and seeing Christmas trees set up about 3 weeks before Christmas. Now this is a BIG deal as it was the first sign of Christmas I had seen. Christmas in Rwanda is pretty non existent. I'll never forget a few years ago walking into our largest supermarket here on Christmas Eve and they were just pulling deocrations out of boxes to sell. I just walked out shaking my head.

Here, Christmas is for children. You buy them sweets and little gifts but it has nothing to do with the adult world. Even church. Pastors may or may not preach a Christmas Sermon.

Each year my heart aches. My heart aches because without Christmas, without God sending his Son Jesus as a baby... where would we be?
 
As a family, we are determined to enjoy the season. The tree and other decorations went up this week. I heard there was a skiff of snow in Canada - so why not? The kids love it. As they were off putting up a string of lights in each of their rooms, the tears rolled down my cheers with memories of Christmas' past. l know I can't live there but must continue each year to make Christmas meaningful and relevent for our family here in Kigali. Serge assures me he likes our style!
 
New this year... two Christmas Carol parties - one for Rwandan family and friends and another for other expats. We`ll see how they go. I know the kids and I will enjoy preparing for them. Bring on the cookies!

Monday, 21 November 2011

NO Repeat on this Monday!!

It's 9:21 pm and the house is quiet almost... Beni seems to think his foot hurts.
Whatever...
At this point, I'm not too concerned nor do I have the energy to spend on it.

Serge has just got home from Bible study - it was good - and now it's supper for him.

Okay... just so you know it's been a day and I'm venting!!

This morning started at 5:40am... like it does each morning Prince goes to school. Yes, he's to be on summer vacation but he needed to go back for summer school. That's okay with me, but it just means I get up earlier than I want when it's supposed to be 'vacation' time!
The Beni and Isabella at 6:30 am... and the day rolls from there.

It's Monday - start of a new week and I was ready for it.
Serge graduated on Friday evening so this was to be MY week to get stuff done. The stuff that I've been putting off for the last three months in order to stay sane.

Well... breakfast no problem. First load of laundry - no problem.
But then the problems start... and LAST ALL DAY!!!

I decided to start with a quick scan of email and catch up with what I can. Internet is NOT happening. Nor is texting, and phone calls are a hit and miss. Annoying at first as I just thought it was temporary... but no... lasts till tonight. (Speed seems extra fast tonight... or maybe that's just because we had none all day!)

I need to do finances... seriously!!! My computer has a battery that doesn't keep a charge - hence I need to be plugged into electricity. Well.. electricity was on an off I don't know how many times. I just know that if I had a dollar for every time it went off today, I'd be rich! 

My laundry... well, as I said, first load was no problem. Second load finished at 6:30pm!!! After EIGHT... yes, EIGHT attempts to wash it. Guess it should be clean. Sure hope tomorrow is a better day for wash!

And need I mention the kids... hyper, screaming, whining... the works. 

Somewhere in the midst of my day, I did manage to get a text to Serge saying that I 'needed to go far, far away...'
He came home and I completely melted down with him... you know, the ugly cry.

Took me to about 2:30 pm to 'abandon' my day. Why it took me so long, I'm not sure... thinking it's the Lichty stubbornness or something. 

In my abandonment - I decided to write Christmas Cards!
Sure hope that what I wrote is 'nice'!

Praying for a better Tuesday.
Good Night!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Serge Graduates!

Serge graduated last night from the Business Development Centre.

The centre is a partnership between the government of Rwanda, International Christian Chamber of Commerce and Regent University.
It was a three month intensive course on entrepreneurship. Not only did he gain great academics (he was one of the top five business plan finalists) but also great friendships with the business executives who came each week to coach them through the program.
Serge took the course to expand his knowledge in this area so he could be better equipped to teach and guide the vulnerable in Rwanda to be or be better entrepreneurs.

Time well spent.

Graduate!
Medal for Servant Leadership and
Certificate for completion

Class with some of the business coaches

Proud wife!
Serge with one of his teachers
Jason Benedict from Regent University

Sunday, 13 November 2011

14 years old!!

On Saturday we had a party to celebrate Prince's Birthday.
It was a great day. Lots of energy, games, pizza and cake.
Serge and I were declared 'the coolest parents'... so I guess that's says something :-)

14 years old!
The cake... Aresnal - his favourite football team!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

I Have a Name!!!

We have lived in our neighbourhood for almost six years.
Along the road there is a cluster of much poorer homes and kiosks (little shops). With this cluster of homes, come children by the dozen.
Each time I pass through these homes, these children yell... 'Muzungu!!'
Muzungu means 'foreigner, white person.' It's a word of observation - nothing deragatory about it.. just a gesture of letting everyone know that there is a white person passing.

I can drive through there 3,4,5 or 6 times a day and it's the same thing every time. 'MUZUNGU!!'
I just smile and wave.

Well...Beni has been going down to the kiosks with Bucumi and Solange, our house help, to get various items when we need them.
Last week when I drove through the homes, I  heard... 'Mama Beni!'

I am no longer Muzungu. I have a name!! 
I'm quite pleased about this.

When we pass with Beni in the car... it's like he's a major football star passing through - it's hilarious! They all come running, yelling his name and want to greet him.
So much for the rest of us... but I'm happy with Mama Beni!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Six stores and counting...

So I'm making some cakes today...

Needed more baking soda.
So when I dropped Serge at the office  this morning, I thought.. I'll just run into our corner supermarket and get some. Well.... 6...yes, SIX stores later and still no baking soda.

Sometimes I really feel like Rwanda is such a different place than when I first came in 2003 and then I have experiences like this and I have to smile. Lots of change is happening...but sometimes one can still spend hours going from store to store trying to find something I would call basic. 

About to put the kids down for a nap and I'll head out again. This time to town.
Six stores and counting...

Monday, 31 October 2011

A Thief!

Serge and I are sitting here at the dining room table working. Our two workers are cleaning the floors and the kids are just waking up from their naps.

Solange, our house girl, went to get something from the outside and found an 'unknown man' in our compound - a thief! She ran back into the house yelling 'thief' and Serge and Bucumi, our outside of the house worker, took off running.

They watched the guy hop the fence and Bucumi took up the pursuit outside... but the thief was not to be caught. He did drop Solange's wallet though and we don't think he got anything else!

It was the same guy who got in our house and grabbed my phone a couple months ago, but Solange got him at the gate but couldn't hold on to him. She did get my phone back though!

We know that in all these years we have been here, God has protected us... and even today. We know we have had other guys jump our fence in the daytime and night but none have gotten anywhere and have been found out before they get far into our compound. Just last night we heard some glass breaking and went to investigate but found nothing. Did someone throw a bottle over our fence to see if our watchman was awake?

We know that God has protected us in the past and he will continue to but for sure... all of this is a bit  unnerving. Hence, I'm writing. Hoping to calm my nerves a little...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

5 Years old!

The cake

Blowing out her candles
Couldn't find the candles I bought! ARG!!

Isabella with her little friend Natasha.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Value of Life

I was sitting at the airport today, dropping off Maddy who is headed back the USA for a couple of weeks.

The TV caught my attention with the breaking news. Israeli Soldier Shalit is released for 1000 Palistinian soldiers.

Since this has been in the news for the last weekish.. forget how long... my mind has been going around the incredibleness that one Israeli soldiers life is equal to 1000 Palistinians. Makes me go mmmmmmm...

What value do I / we put on life?

I'm saddened really.
I live in a country where 17.5 years ago the world said that 1000000 Rwandans were not worth a soldier.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

New City Buses!

So.. a few weeks back, Kigali got some new buses. Sent me into culture shock!
Crazy I know but hey... when I've just been used to public transport being a bicycle (Yes you can pay someone to take you on the back of their bike!), a motorcycle, a car or a minibus - more like a 12 passenger van outfitted for 18 people... new city buses are a big change. They even have the scrolling, digital readout to tell you where they are going!!

When my kids first saw them... 'Mom! looks like the movies. Looks like the buses we saw in Canada!'

Got thinking about them as I drove around yesterday. I got looking at the minibuses and thinking that I'll miss them should they ever stop them from running. You see, most of them are painted in the owners favourite whatever - sport or musician mostly. We have Beyonce, Shania Twain, Jay-Z, Vince Cater (they forget the 'r'!), etc. etc. They are colourful and full of character.

They represent someone who has enough money to buy a minibus and either hire a driver or he drives it himself. They also hire a conductor to collect the fares.  They represent the people of Rwanda.

With the big city buses moving in... how long is the 'little man' going to last? Will they all be out of jobs and therefore unable to provide shelter, food and education for their families? 

Development is great, but yesterday I was wondering... still am...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Annual Kamari Thanksgiving

So three years ago or maybe its four years ago, I was needing Thanksgiving!

I have always loved Thanksgiving and have fond memories of cottage weekends with friends and always great food. And of course the turning of the leaves and the wearing jeans and your favorite sweatshirt to go for a hike.


Then, when one lives in 'summer' 365 days of the year, after having four seasons and Thanksgiving to 'mark' the year, one NEEDS to have some of this back in their life somehow. So, I decided .. .then I talked Serge into it... that we needed to do Thanksgiving. He is never opposed to me cooking - but would he be the only Rwandese? Maybe he would be ... although I think this is the first year he actually will be as I'm not the only Canadian here married to a Rwandese.

Each year we sort of have the same core group and then the add-ons. The add-ons are those we know or others know who could benefit from a homecooked Thanksgiving complete with turkey. Turkey is no small feat by the way... I can pay $15 USD / kilo at a grocery store or Serge can drive about 30 minutes out of town to a village that has some and hope that they're big enough. We drive out of town and hope for the best.

So.. tomorrow is Thanksgiving here. I should be making stuff and cleaning for sure but here I am writing on my blog. Just needing to connect with 'my Thanksgiving' before I try my best to recreate it for others.

It's been an incredible thing really.

I'll never forget some comments over the years...

From a mom who had only been in the country for 6 weeks, said to me through tears and a hug, ' I didn't know how I was going to provide Thanksgiving for my family. Thank you.'

I remember a dear friend from Canada who sent money specifically so that I could buy cream cheese to make pumpkin cheesecake last year ... I never knew that MEN could get so excited over cheesecake!! Sad part, I didn't even get a piece. Oh well.

Just yesterday I talked to a Canadian lady whom I have yet to meet. They've been here two  years. She was more than excited for them to be invited. Her response... 'Are you seriously going to have turkey??' My response.. 'Yes, and everything that goes with it!'

This morning I got a call from my friend Jocelyn wondering if she could invite one more to the group... she just met a gal from ON who is in desperate need of some 'home'. Sure, at this point, one more won't matter.

Well, I must get to the task of it all. Have about 36 people showing up with kids and praying that it won't rain!!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Friday, 7 October 2011

The House as of today!

We're up to the second floor!

Beni exploring the back of the house
The stairwell... thinking they are cementing it today
so that they have better access to cement the rest of the
second floor this coming week
The second floor... waiting for cement!
Pray the cement price doesn't go up within the next week!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Making Rebar

Rwanda is a labour intensive society. If a person can do the job, you hire the person rather than the machine. Sometimes you think, there has to be an easier way... but then the person you hired probably wouldn't have a job, nor would he eat, have a roof over his head or be able to provide for his / her family.

On any given day we have 16 - 20 workers at our house.
We're happy to know that we can be part of providing for them and their families.

Thought some of you might be interested in the making of rebar process...

The guy who has made ALL the rebar 'shapes'
You can see I'm not very construction oriented...

This is the guy who puts the rebar pieces together
22 square pillars and 6 round


The pile of pillars... waiting to go up!

4000 Blocks!!

Yes... 4000 blocks - not bought, no cement truck showing up... all made by hand! Incredible really.

video

Some of the blocks!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Foundation is finished!!

Our House is moving along!!

It's SO exciting for us to see our house moving along.




Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Our house as of today!

The almost complete annex - outdoor kitchen, storage,
workers quarters with bathroom and shower
Now... our building materials storage!
My future front porch!! Can't wait!!!!!
Serge... just happy to see some great work being done!

Nostalgic

So yesterday Serge and I were at the Expo... a two week long county fair / flea market / plowing match event which brings together Rwanda industry, associations, companies, co-operatives and also those from surrounding countries... wandering around to see what we could see that would be helpful in our house building.

As I was wandering through the booths, I came across the Rwanda Milk Marketing Board.

Mmmmmmmm... I had to smile. You can't take the dairy farmer girl out of me.

I bought some cheese from them!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

I can see!!!

On Saturday, our current team was in the Kiziba Refugee Camp.
As they were walking one of the team members took a picture of an elderly woman. He then turned his camera so she could see the digital picture.

She couldn't see the picture as her eyesight was not good.

Al, the team member, took off his glasses and put them on the old lady thinking they might help her.

Next thing he knew, she was jumping up and down and hugging everyone around her giving thanks and praising God for her regained eyesight! She could see herself in the picture and see everything clearly around her.

Needless to say, Al went home without his glasses...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Since my last post ...

Yesterday, Mama Deborah called to inform me that Alphonsine's landlord had come yesterday morning to kick her out of the house. I asked Mama Deborah if she had anywhere to go. Nowhere but the street. The team paid for six months rent - $16.67 / month - the five that she owes and one more. That brings her to September 5th.

On Tuesday at the weekly meeting of Ubuzima, I was reminded that Claudine was also owing 4 months rent and the landlord was calling. The team paid for that as well today. Five months at $33.33 / month. That takes her until August 20th.

I haven't heard any 'crisis' from Mama Patricia but thinking that the team should pay their rent too...

But then what??

These women are not lazy. They everything they can to try and support their family.
Happens they are poor in material wealth and have little finances.

I know that paying their rent is the right thing to do at this point in time ... but what about September??
We so desire sustainability .... the dream but in the meantime, we do the little bits that we can to keep them from being homeless.

Exciting thing happened today - Ubuzima had their first repeat customers! We're praying that this is part of the solution. Pray with us that it is!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Passion Stirred

We have a team on the ground right now. The other day, we spent the day learning about HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. After spending the morning with Mama Deborah, the leader of Ubuzima - an association for those with HIV / AIDS, we went visiting.

Mama Patricia - She is NOT positive for HIV but her husband is. They have three children and live in a small two room mud house. She has been sick for a number of days with a bad headache and dizziness. We went to pay her a visit to encourage her as much as we could. My heart was moved to tears. The only jobs they have a casual labour, meaning they go out - if they are strong enough - to find a construction site job or washing laundry. Their oldest daughter walks 2 hours one way to school each day so they can save 2000 RWF ($3.30) each semester. Their 11 year old son, Pierre is first in his class. But all three kids are about to be chased from school because they can`t pay their school fees. (total per semester $22) They are also three months behind on their rent which is 12,000 RWF ($20 per month)

Claudine, an HIV widow, has three kids of her own plus one that she has adopted into her family. Three years ago, a women from the Ubuzima association died and  left 5 children. Claudine took one in. It was incredibly moving to hear her answer my question as to why she did it. The moms were friends. They lived close and helped each other look after their children and each other. She knew that if they had a half kilo of rice for the family to eat, surely they could  share that with one more mouth.
`What I know is that Claudine is a vivid example of `doing unto others as you would have them do to you.
About 2.5 years ago, Claudine sent her daughter Nadine to fetch water. She was raped and became pregnant at 14 years of age. She also looks after this little boy as her own.
They are 4 months behind on their rent and the landlord is calling...

In Claudine`s house
Alphonsine is a single mother of two boys. She is sick much her life with little energy to work. She lives on the very edges of Kigali so the rent is not so much. The last months have not been easy for her. Her son, Magnificant, had a great fall and has swelling on his brain. Twice they have gone to have the fluid removed. You can see he is a fun, 11 year old kid who loves adventure as he smiles shyly to each of us. He`s holding onto the casing of a matchbox car - the wheels and insides are gone but he still has the body - and it`s his treasured possession. `
Besides the hospital and doctor bills, she too is behind in her rent and is not sure where they are doing to get food.
The team leader, Kendal, was our intern last year. As we sit in Alphonsine`s home, she shares about visiting Alphonsine last year. Alphonsine had cooked her the last food she had in the house. Kendal told her that she didn`t want to eat as she wanted to be sure the kids had food. Alphonsine`s response...`Doesn`t God look after the birds of the air? He will look after us too.`

Needless to say, the day left the team in deep thought and wrestling with themselves and God.

For me... the dream of having land, building houses - a community, to bring these and other women and families just like them together so they can support and encourage one another. That they can be in peace that if they died, their children would be looked after. They could grow food, learn skills easily, be literate, etc, etc, etc. God knows the dream and we wait. In the meantime, Serge and I will continue to do everything we can to bring sustainability to Ubuzima so they can earn money to support themselves. We have a long way to go but we know that God is faithful.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Umbrellas

Until I came to Rwanda, I thought that umbrellas were invented and used for keeping one dry in the rain.

That is not the only use for them.
They are also used for giving one shade in the beating African Sun.

I was reminded of that again this afternoon as we went to the cemetery for the graveside service for a dear friend's mom/auntie. The sun can be very unforgiving during the dry season ... hence one must create their own shade.

Not sure to do with the old wives' tale that I grew up with ... 'That it's bad luck to open an umbrella unless it's raining!' Oh well... :-)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Incredible Women

My mind can't forget some incredible women that I met at the IT conference in Mombasa. Women who God is using to change the world. 

Lydia - white South African, working the northern bush of Kenya with her husband to educate the bush children. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to her testify of God transforming her heart. She used to use her voice in protest against black South Africans. Today, not only does she live and minister amongst black Africans, she and her husband have adopted four black African children themselves.

Ute - A German lady ministering in an orphanage in Tanzania. I so enjoyed getting to know here. I know we're hang out if we lived closer. I listened in amazement about how God told her at 50  years old to adopt quads... yes FOUR little Tanzanian children who had come to the orphanage at 3 days old. They were then two. She's in a battle to get VISAs to take them on a visit to her homeland. She has been denied - they say she's going to sell them!! ARG!! She's trusting God to move the powers that be so she can take them in September!

Liliane - a Kenyan lady who is working with Somali refugee women in Nairobi - not only to share the gospel with them but to give them skill so they can earn some money to be independent and support their children.

Mandy - A American lady on the team in Soroti. Serge and I had thought and prayed much for Mandy and her husband, Josh, last year. Their little guy Luka had been on deathbed for weeks, and God miraculously healed him. As was watched our kids energetically splash around in the pool, I listened to her share about their passion to church plant - having been in Nigeria for 4 years before coming to Uganda 4.5 years ago. The health challenges that come are part of being called and trusting.

I just have to smile as at the time I was reading a little book by Lynn Hybels entitled, 'Good Girls Don't Change the World.'
I agree...

Friday, 8 July 2011

Happy Birthday Beni!

Two years old!!

Loving all the attention!!
LOVES this trike...
What does one do with a little Picaso??
(Notice the hairband... What Isabella wears, Beni wants!)

Fun in Mombasa!

We had the priviledge of traveling to Mombasa for a week to attend the IT Africa conference. Was such a great time to spend with those whom we minister alongside on this continent. 

We pulled Prince from school, went three days early and made it a family vacation as well. (He failed a physics test the day after we were back ... ARG!! Oh well.. .exams start July 18!) We packed a lot into the days we had.

Wild Waters - our kids have never experienced anything like it so it was grand to take them to a water park. They ALL loved it. I also enjoyed the slides... it had been SO long! Kids thought it was hilarious that I flipped around and came down backwards on a big curvy slide. Mom was not thinking it was so hilarious... just a bit of screaming...

Keeping cool

Our dear friend Dora joined us for the week-end!


Prince wishing he could take it all back to Rwanda with him!

Relaxation... SO needed!!
Another day we toured Mombasa... saw all kinds of sights and animals

Isabella always a bit scared, we FINALLY got Prince to
feed them... and well Beni - he'd ride them if he was allowed!
Forget how hold this guy is...
Isabella sitting pretty in a window at Fort Jesus - an old
Portugese Fort - with the Indian Ocean in the background
Camel rides on the beach! Good time but as far as I'm
concerned - don't have to do that again!
Ride put Beni to sleep though... mmmm...
 Then it was time to spend four days with fellow IT folk. That was fun too...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Shopping, An accident and Mr. Chips

So my friend Anita is having a baby mid July. However earlier this week, she went into heavy contractions is now on mandated bed rest. I told her that I would do whatever I could for her. I know what it's like to be here with no close family around.

Shopping... could I do the stockup for her house? No problem! One of my gifts is shopping!

I was to do it Friday but that didn't happen so Saturday afternoon it was. Off I went with great anticipation of getting everything in short order and delivering it to her.

Shopping went fine... but on the way, as I was rounding a taxi minibus, the person riding in the front passenger seat decided to open her door to get out. Not good! This all happened as I was beside the bus so what I saw was only in my rearview mirror - chunks of my car being driven over by cars behind me and a swinging minibus door.

I thank God that Serge came to my rescue. I had no idea what to do in the case of an accident. The police finally arrived four hours later to measure up the accident and write the report.

It was now after 8pm and the kids were home with nobody. It was a no brain decision to grab Mr. Chips for the second time in as many days. Mr. Chips is the Rwandan McDonald's as per Prince. (Got to love that the guy who opened it is from Dundas ON!) We came home to Prince feeding Beni and Isabella cereal with yogurt. Nice!

As Serge and I reflected on the day... the story of Job came to mind how God told Satan that he could only go so far... that is how life has been feeling these days.

Tomorrow morning, Serge will go to the insurance company to get the form to take to the police to fill out and then back the insurance company to see where our life goes from here. All this in a much too busy week! ARG!!

PS I'm writing this Sunday afternoon. Serge just came home from an end of mourning ceremony. I'm off to deliver the groceries!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Short-team team account

If you want to read an account of a short-term team in Rwanda, check out this link. They have given a pretty great description of their time here. 
Also their reflections... blesses me to read them.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Sad Heart

Serge received a phone call from Maman Deborah yesterday about noon... Denise had died.

Denise was a widowed mother of five children between the ages of 11 and 21. She lost her husband in 1999 and moved back to Rwanda the following year to live with her mom in the family home. She was an entrepreneur, a business woman who travelled in East Africa to bring wares to sell. She supported her family.

She also knew some English and I enjoyed my little chats with her over the years. I would often sit beside her at Ubuzima. You see, Denise was HIV positive... her five kids are as well. 

Last Wednesday, we took the team to visit Denise as she had just come home from the hospital recovering from what I understood to be heart palpitations. I could see that her breathing was still laboured. Well, turns out she took a trip to Tanzania on the week-end for business, and she died on the way home. How sad. I can't imagine...

The Faith Lutheran Team with Denise (yellow circle) and her
mom and her youngest son (front row, standing) 
When we were with her, I wanted her to share how she lives with HIV/AIDS. She wouldn't share as her mother was sitting with us and she doesn't know. She didnt' want her mother to worry about her or cause her stress. I wonder if she knows now? I was just texting with Maman Deborah for a bit just now... she's wondering how she is going to go and tell the mother the truth. Someone needs to keep looking after the children who are HIV positive. Now I wonder... do the children know their status? I don't know...

What I do know is that Denise's faith in God was rock solid. She loved the Lord and gave him all the honor and glory in her life. I remember her saying last Wednesday that no matter what may come in life, God would lead her through. May her children remember this about their mother.

I will miss you Denise.


Monday, 20 June 2011

World Refugee Day

'One Refugee Without Hope is Too Many'

That is the slogan for today - World Refugee Day.
Every June 20th is the day to remember the 43+ million people who are alive in this world but displaced from their homes because of conflict, persecution and violence.

Seems fitting that Serge took our current team to Kibuye so they can go into the refugee camp tomorrow and Wednesday. Kiziba Refugee Camp is home to 20,000+ men, women and children of which most of them are from Congo.

The team will have a grand but overwhelming time. They'll bring hope and encouragement in all sorts of ways and learn lots about themselves, God and the world they live in. The church, this team is from, has a large refugee community from East Africa which attends regularly. One of the reasons they came to Rwanda is to see the other side of the refugee highway... the beginning of the road where refugees start their journey to stability and peace. 

They'll check out the various income generating projects which we are involved in, see how the students are doing, how the youth ministry in the camp is developing and play some volleyball. I have prepared them to have their butts kicked. :-) The refugee youth are serious volleyball players!

I look forward to hearing about their latest life experiences when they return on Wednesday night! We'll see what else they have to tell me about besides the volleyball game.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Milk Rant!

As I sat down to breakfast this morning, I couldn't help my mind from doing the 'milk rant'.

Being a dairy farmer's daughter, having milked many cows in my lifetime and having already drank more litres of milk than most do in their lifetime - I'd like to think that I know more than a little bit about milk.

Some months ago, the main milk packager in Rwanda switched to exclusively producing UHT milk - Ultra high temperature milk - the stuff that can sit on your shelf for months on end.

Now there is no one anywhere that can tell this girl that UHT milk is milk! Seriously people! I get it that it has a place in the world but when fresh milk used to be the norm and now UHT??

There is only one manufacturer of fresh milk in Rwanda and they cannot keep up with the demand. So about every other day I am driving around Kigali to all the stores that I know which sell it to see if they have any left - maybe, just maybe they will. If not, I resort to buying UHT milk - my kids need to drink something and I guess that UHT is better than nothing.

We have tried to get a local farmer to deliver to our house but we haven't found one that doesn't rinse his buckets with cow urine. When I asked Serge about this, he says it's tradition. SERIOUSLY!!?? 

So, in the meantime, I resort to going on the milk hunt every couple of days... and hoping that we find a farmer that has good tasting, urine free milk!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Blocks are going up!

We started to build our annex, as they call it here. This will be the outdoor kitchen, storage and workers quarters. One always needs storage space when you are building as you buy and stockpile for the construction ie. cement bags.
Serge will go to pick the roofing tomorrow for this building then it's windows and doors and then it's digging the foundation of the main house!
We're excited!

The kids checking it out!

Serge and our builder, Francois, making sure
they're on the same page.
The neighbourhood kids always come to check out
their future neighbours


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Snakes!

If you know me, you know I have the biggest phobia ever for snakes!
I can't even look at them in a picture without getting all queshy and jumpy.

I have lived in Rwanda now full-time since January 2006 and have never had to deal with snakes.

WELL... that has changed. Even though I have not seen them, our workers have killed four in the last two weeks and they said that they killed two others in the past two years and haven't told us. ARG!!

They say the snakes are babies... but we all know what that means!!! Mom is around somewhere!

I try not to live in fear in letting my kids out to play. I have read what I can on snake bites and I trust that I never have to deal with it. God can protect us! Now to live in that knowledge... at peace.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Nightmare Come True

Last night Serge got a call from Mama Deborah.
She and her family took in a former street kid, Theophile, about 1.5 years ago.
If you have been reading our updates for a long time you may remember Isobel, Theophile and Celestin, the first kids we supported in a home.

Well... LONG story but the latest... Mama Deborah found out yesterday that Theophile has sexually abused a three year old neighbourhood girl.

My whole body went completely numb, too numb to even cry.

All of the kids we work with have had incredibly difficult lives and pasts. We know there are drugs, glue sniffing, and girls. We deal with stuff all the time. But abuse. ARG! ARG! ARG! Too much.

Mama Deborah took Theophile to the police last night. We'll wait to hear what comes of it all. 

In the meantime, I watch Isabella playing Princess. If anyone would ever harm her in any way... I can't bear to think of that. I wonder about the mom of the three year old girl. God help them!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Success!

Our prayers were answered people!
We had a great day selling the products made by Ubuzima, an association for those with living with HIV/AIDS. $227 worth! Maybe that doesn't seem like much to you but trust me, it's great and will be an incredible help with their upcoming expenses not to mention a great confidence booster for their morale. 
People actually want to buy their things - there is a market! YEAH! 

Who knows when the next opportunity will be have such a display again but I'll be keeping my eyes open for those opportunities for them. In the meantime, it's time to learn some new products - decorative pillows and skirts! Got some fun things coming to improve the jewelry as well. Love eBay sellers who ship worldwide!! :-)

I really do believe that we can get this association to be self sustaining.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Why do I Doubt?

Every other Tuesday morning - or that is the plan anyway - I meet with three great friends here in Kigali to catch up with life, encourage each other and pray. Three of us are missionaries and one a physiotherapist and wife to the only neurosurgeon in Rwanda - 2 Canadians, a Brit and a South African - and three of us are married to Rwandans. Great mix!

Well, this morning was a time to be together again. It had been about a long time since I have been able to go with all that was happening in our lives. We had a great time of catching up... and then we prayed. We prayed for our husbands, for our kids, for Rwanda and for each other.

We  had finished praying and well, this is where my doubt comes in. You see when we were praying, God clearly gave me a picture of the umbilical cord wrapped around Anita's baby. I sat there after we had prayed and were saying our good-byes and I argued with God... was what I saw really true? I DID get up the nerve to say that I needed to pray for protection for the baby as I had this sense that all was not well somehow. Valerie and I pressed into some prayer for Anita and the baby.

Again, we chatted as we were about to leave. God would not let my heart rest but I continued to doubt. What if? What if the visual I had was not from God? More chatting...

I finally blurted out what I had seen. Val looked at me and said that she had seen a picture of the cord wrapped as well. Oh God, how could I doubt you?? We pressed into some serious prayer again and then we hugged good-byes and left each other until next time.

Anita called me tonight.
Her husband's uncle had come to see them tonight and before he left, he prayed for Anita and their family. In his prayer, he thanked God for the curse that had already been broken over the baby earlier in the day. That what Satan had meant for evil, that God had prevailed and the victory was already won for the baby's life. He had no idea of the prayer time earlier in the day.

Why do I doubt God?
Why do I doubt that God can and will reveal things to me if I seek him?
Why do I doubt him when he does reveal things to me?
Where is my confidence?

This is definitely not the first time I have been in this exact situation. God has used me like this before in my life but it has been sometime. God, I want to be open. I want to be used by you... give me the courage to have faith and trust in who you are.
Help me not to doubt!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Stakes are on the Ground!

This is a new day for the Kamari Family!
The stakes are in the ground for our new family home.
We will go as far as the money takes us and are praying that God multiplies if miraculously!
Truckloads of sand and gravel were to show up today to start making bricks!

Serge in the middle of our lot.
If you look closely you can see the stakes
Me standing on our road... with the neighbourhood behind

The view from our future front porch