Thursday, 24 March 2011

Bittersweet Day

On Sunday, Jean Paul leaned forward to me after church and informed me that on Wednesday (yesterday) was the day to go back to his secondary school to collect his diploma. There was a ceremoney and would we be able to come.

I knew that with all Serge has on his plate for this week, it was impossible for him but yes I could come.
'Jean Paul, call the headmaster and confirm the day and the time and we'll talk on Tuesday. Be sure you do that!'
'Yes, Mommy, no problem. I will call.'

I saw Jean Paul on Tuesday at the church. No problem, the ceremony was set for yesterday morning at 10am.

Yesterday morning arrived...

The interns were at our house soon after 7am, the hired jeep arrived, we collected Jean Paul on the way and we were off for about a 2.5 hour drive to his school through the incredible Rwandan countryside. It had been awhile since I had been out of the city and it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly beautiful this country is.

Jean Paul, Intern Karyn, Visitor Maddy (more on her another time),
Interns Nicola and Mike

Jean Paul and I with his highschool diploma. WOOHOO!!
Historic day for us... first kid who has graduated from high school.
Jean Paul is currently enrolled in university studying tourism.
So you may be wondering.. .what is bittersweet about this!

Beautiful country, historic day for International Teams in Rwanda -
well.... days don't always turn out the way you want or even dream they will.

You see, when we drove into the school, I saw no preparations for a ceremony.
Jean Paul said that he would go into the Headmaster's office to inquire. Fine. He returned to say that a girl had died during the night and that the celebrations were cancelled. Oh, that's sad.
We were invited into the director's office.

But my mind was going... something was 'fishy'.

I got the headmaster's phone number and called Serge to ask him to call the guy. He did. There was never any ceremony planned for Wednesday. We got our jeep driver to talk to students outside and sure enough, no student had died.

My heart was sinking faster than a lead balloon.

You see, we know that Jean Paul has had problem with lying in his life. We have been pretty hard on him about being the man that God has created him to be. Giving him some pretty tough love over the years. Each time has has rose to the occasion and seems to have grown and changed.

Yesterday was a vivid reminder that he had not completely changed.

After a brief time at the school, I asked us to leave. We would head straight back to Kigali and there would be no celebration lunch as we were so looking forward to having. I know the interns were a bit confused but they rolled with life without asking questions and for that I am grateful. My job today.. to talk to each of them about this all. ARG!

Back in Kigali, Serge, Jules and Alain were waiting for us.
As I talked to them before they talked to Jean Paul, we about cried as we shook our heads in disbelief over Jean Paul and the resigning ourselves to the fact that we know street kids lie to survive. We KNOW that! We just thought we had at least made progress with Jean Paul.

Serge, Jules and Alain spent the next 4 hours with Jean Paul. It was very disheartening as the lies kept spilling out of him. At the end of the day, they went to the house where Jean Paul stays with other former street kids we have in highschool. They have rules of the house which they have made,which they must enforce and lying is not tolerated. So, at the end of it all, Jean Paul was asked to leave the house. Serge told him that he could spend the night as he didn't want him put out on the street when it was dark, but that he must leave first thing in the morning.

It's morning here...

Bittersweet I tell you!

Sweet - Jean Paul has his highschool diploma
Bitter - we had to pull some pretty tough love once again

My heart is heavy for sure, tears are rolling down my cheeks, and my hands are shaking.
Why God?
He had NO reason to lie to us.
One can have all the education in the world but if he is not a man of character, his education is useless.
I have to hold onto the fact that I know God is in the process of tranforming each one of us and that our as long as we are alive, our stories are not finished.
I need  to trust in this - that Jean Paul's story is not finished.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Sustainability - here we come!

For about the past 6 weeks, I've been meeting with Maman Deborah every Tuesday morning. 

Maman Deborah is the leader of Ubuzima - an association for those with HIV/AIDS. I just call her the second 'Mother Theresa'. Compassion oozes from every pore of her being.

In 2004 / 2005 she took training to work with those with HIV/AIDS. When we connected with her in 2006, there were about 80 households in the association and she had no idea why they kept coming back. We knew why. She just loved on them and gave them hope to live. The hope she was giving was Jesus Christ. Interesting that Ubuzima means 'life' in Kinyarwanda.

Since 2005 as have doing our best to encourage her in her leadership of Ubuzima. Over the years we have heard her stuggle and desire to meet more needs but she had no money.

During 2010 we started a sewing and jewelry making project with them. It definitely looks promising as the people of Ubuzima are talented. I have pushed them for quality and they have rose to the occasion. We took a bunch of stuff to Canada with us and sold most all of it. 

2011 is the year to build a foundation. 2012 is the year to soar.... we're praying for that.

So my Tuesday mornings... helping Maman Deborah get herself sorted when it comes to all things financial. That included making a budget and then giving her ideas and tools how to manage the money they do receive from donations or by selling their goods. (and giving her a weekly dose of encouragement!)

The huge temptation when there is little money and so much need it to put all the money into the need. But then what? No money to buy the necessary materials to make more money. 

I know this will be hard for Maman Deborah as she constantly has people coming to ask for help with their latest crisis - whether that be food, medical bills or school fees for their children. She has always given if she has had money in her pocket.

I know that Maman Deborah 'gets it' about not doing that, having to say no, etc. We'll see what the first couple months bring. We officially rolled this all out for March 1st. Two weeks in and so far so good. Pray for her ... and for me as we walk this journey.

I have great faith that if these changes can happen, Ubuzima will expotentially grow in their ability to meet the needs of those in their association AND they can become sustainable - or at least mostly sustainable.

Maman Deborah working hard in getting herself sorted

Monday, 14 March 2011

Highway Robbery!

That's the first thing that comes to mind and then a sigh of resignation that this is life in Rwanda.

Overnight our fuel went from 965 RWF to 1015 RWF per litre.

$1.61 / litre to $1.70 / litre

Not claiming that we have the most expensive fuel in the world... but if you're less than this, just send up a little prayer of thanks!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Other Three

Off to the dowry giving.
Isabella got to wear her first mishana ever... FINALLY! She's been waiting for this day for a LONG time.
Uncle Leonard and Aunt Clara got to join in the festivities.
(I stayed home to finish decorating cakes!)
Beni with Uncle Adolph

The Kamari boys with their mom

First mother and daughter dresses!

Cake table
Just a few of the 400 cupcakes I decorated. Not sure how soon I'll do that again!

Bridal cake

Our family with Uncle Jean Luc and new Auntie Renata
The day was a long one but went incredibly well.
Thinking the family all dropped into bed much relieved and blessed for a grand day.

Only 6 more brothers and sister to go... and I'm thinking a couple hundred cousins... then we'll be done!
Takes a community to make a wedding happen here and they work hard at it.
Until next time...

Friday, 4 March 2011

First of Four!

Jean Luc and Renata's Civil Wedding.
Jean Luc promising Renata that he'll be a good husband!

Jean Luc got the best looking Bride in the house!

Brothers - Together for the first time in 11 years!

The Kamari sister-in-laws!

Today is baking the cakes!
Tomorrow ... dowry giving, wedding and Gutwikurura - official ceremony to move the bride into the house.
Sunday - we rest!