Friday, 7 December 2012

Chicago!!

Today we DID Chicago
Train ride in - kids LOVED it
Willis Tower - who knew it wasn't called the Sears Tower anymore...
lunch at Girodano's - With Maddy's MOM!!!
LOTS of walking
The Bean
Navy Pier - WinterWonderland
Ferris Wheel
Dinner
Fun cab ride - who knew you could call a cab from an ap on an Iphone
Macy's Windows
Chicago Christmas Tree
Walk back to the train
Garrett's popcorn - Chicago Mix!!!!
Five VERY tired people
 
All spent with Doug and Jen Bradbury. How blessed we are / were!
 
Prince LOVING being in a REAL city!

Isabella can't believe her eyes

The Kamari's with Sandy - Maddy's mom
SO great to meet her.

Remains of Girodano's ...

The Bean - Igishimbo ... as Beni was calling it!!

The tree ... So many lights!
Chicago knows how to do Christmas I tell you!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

12 years later!

In 1999, I went on a short-term mission trip to Mexico. I was going to check out how an IT location was doing at hosting teams. On the team was a lady named Linda. We kept in touch. 

Today as we were driving to have lunch with her and her husband Tim, I was trying to explain to my kids how Linda and I had spent about two weeks together in 1999 and then I spent a night at her house in 2000... and that was the last time I saw her. Email, letters and Facebook has kept us connected ever since.
 
Nothing like greeting someone after all these years. We had such a fun connect time. This is what I love about the Family of God. I'm just fortunate to have some soul sisters.
Hoping it's not 12 years before we see each other again!

Linda, Tim, Beni, Isabella, Me, Prince, Serge

Friends ... no doubt about it


Serge and I meet all kinds of people in and through the ministry in Rwanda. As we were having dinner last evening with Doug and Jen Bradbury we commented that we have a short list of people who we sure hope to meet up with again on this earth. There are many more whom it would be nice to but all highly unlikely.
 
When teams come in for 10 days to 3 weeks, it is limited as to how we get to know people. Life is focused on ministry and making the teams life happen well while they are in Rwanda. In the midst of that we catch glimpses of people we know that in a 'normal' life, we would be good friends. Not so often do we get to see if our guts were right.
 
Well... dinner it was with the Bradbury's.
What an incredible treat.
Serge and I were right... we really DO like them!! :-)



Friday, 30 November 2012

Kaitlyn's house!

We made it to Kaitlyn's house!
What a blessing for us to spend the night with Kaitlyn and her parents.
She has been an intern with us twice and is planning on bringing a team this summer and who knows what God will have for her after that. She definitely love Rwanda and the people of Rwanda dearly.
 
This is in the category of 'unexpected' in life. Those things which you would love to happen but the likelihood of it happening is pretty high. Well... it happened.
 
What a lovely visit! May have even convinced her parents they need to come and visit us in Rwanda!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Isabella's New Hair

If you have a 3 - 6 year old girl with thick curly hair, you know know that combing it out is no treat. May a fight has been had in the tub while washing it and lots of conditioner bought just to make this mom's life a little saner.
 
Well... yesterday was Isabella and my last hair fight ... hopefully!
I had enough. I called Guys and Dolls in town and VOILA... new hair for Isabella.
Great thing... she loves it!!

Thinking we took off about 20 cms!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Selling ...

Once again we brought as much product from Ubuzima as we could. Ubuzima is an association for those with HIV and AIDS. A couple of years ago we were able to start an income generating project with sewing and jewelry making.

Thanks to all who are buying as when we are in Canada and the USA!


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Happy 15th Birthday!!

Celebrating Princes 15th Birthday today.... with cake that is.
We celebrated yesterday on his actual birthday by going to the Royal Winter Fair which he wanted to do.
 
Prince is a great boy, growing up to be young man. I have often said that God knew I needed him in our family. Prince we love you so much and were excited to celebrate this birthday with you in Canada!

Isabella, Prince, Beni and cousin Maggie and the cake that Grandma made!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Daddy and Prince Arrive!

Our family is together again.
Isabella, Beni and I have been waiting for daddy and Prince to arrive.
May the Kamari adventure continue :-)


They have been missing each other!

Their first meal... Montanas
Beni was pretty excited about his new red truck!


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

First time in the leaves!

Fun with their cousins!

Reverse Culture Shock

I always know that something will get me.
Before I head back to the west, I always brace myself for all the choices of most everything - entire AISLES of cereal ... etc.! Plus half of it is half the price of what we pay in Rwanda. Always a challenge to get into the 'Canadian groove' again.
 
I have had times when all I could do was breathe through the Zehr's supermarket, I melted down in the IKEA candle section, I have walked out of more than one store with nothing because I couldn't make a choice. I didn't know what it was going to be this time.
 
Dental floss!
 
So we landed in Canada yesterday and today I headed to my local Shopper's Drugmart to stock up on stuff. I come with no toiletries as it's so much cheaper to buy in Canada. On my list... .dental floss. 
 
I found it all right.
 
When I did, I just stood there and stared... trying to take it all in.
I finally counted my choices... THIRTY SIX!!! (36!!!!) not counting the pick thingy's.
Who needs 36 choices of dental floss?? Seriously people!
 
I breathed deep and finally found the familiar small white box with green letters - your basic floss in mint flavour. 
 
I left Shoppers Drugmart just a little sad and overwhelmed.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Jetlag

4:30 am tea party ... sigh

Canada Bound ...

I am on my way to Canada for home assignment. What does that mean?
See my family (YEAH!), see friends and connect with current and potential donors.
Serge and Prince will come in a couple of weeks once Prince is finished his exams.
We'll be back in Rwanda in early January.
It's been 2 years since we've been 'home'.
So much to do and so many people to see in such a short period of time.
Praying for health!

Kids... Kigali airport
Beni meltdown - 'Mommy, I forgot my sticks!'
'What sticks Beni?'
'My HOCKEY (mini) sticks!!!'

Made it through the night... morning in Amsterdam

Uncle Craig to pick us ... lunch at McDonald's

Sunday, 21 October 2012

6 Years old!

Party at Grandma's house!

Blowing her candles with Auntie Linda and Grandma

First piece of cake - mom, Auntie Solange, Beni and Prince

Mmmmm... not sure mom approves of this one!

Thrilled with her Barbie like doll

Friday, 19 October 2012

Isabella's First School Party

Today, Isabella hosted her first school party. It is her 6th birthday on Sunday and it's her last day of school.
 
At 12:15pm, Serge, Beni and I showed up at school with princess cupcakes and candy bags ready for the big event. It's big when it's kindergarten!

Isabella with her two best friends

Blowing out her candles

Serving her cupcakes

Dad and Beni getting in on the action

Isabella with her two fantastic teachers
Teacher Odeth and Teacher Fiona

Foundation Class Faith 2012 at Wellspring Academy

Leaving school on her last day of Foundation Class

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Going 'home'

I was out last night with my two best friends here, Chrissie and Anita. It as our last hurrah before I leave for Canada for a couple of months.
 
We got talking about what it's like for us to return to our 'home'. Chrissie is from the UK while Anita is from S. Africa. Chrissie and I get back about every 2 years while Anita has been here 3.5 years and has yet to return.
 
We talked about our aging parents. We talked about the relationship with our siblings. We talked about the challenges of going back 'home'. For the three of us, Rwanda is where God has called us , where we have been blessed to be at complete peace in knowing, this is where we are to be. Of course we all miss our families and a few close friends very much. No doubt about that. But then there is the much larger group of friends and acquaintances and we got talking about how hard it is to relate. Life has changed so much for the three of us over the years. What we encounter on a daily basis is a lot different than 'home' and what we grew up with. Some of it we get used to and it becomes normal and other bits of it are still constant challenges for us. Big challenge - what to talk about with people? How much energy to put into trying to get someone to 'get' my life?
 
As time passes, God continues to move in and through all of us. That is true.
As I look forward to being in Canada, I'm praying that I have the energy to share my life with people and that I can do it in a relevant way. I'm also praying that those I do come in contact with encourage me in my daily journey of life.
 
What I know is ... I'm going to do my best to make the most of my time in Canada and I'll return to Rwanda with stories to tell my friends over our next coffee together.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Memory Lane

Again today I was packing. I was packing up my office at home.
I came across my notebook from when we started working with children and youth at risk here in Kigali.
 
I was so amazed as I read through the notes from my first meetings with some of the kids. 
 
Daniel - lives under the bridge by the church, multiple health issues, just hoping that he is going to wake up alive each day
 
Today - Daniel is a house commissioner (real estate agent) and has lived on his own for the last years and is always dressed very well. He has helped us multiple times over the last years find houses for our interns, long term missionaries and other missionaries coming to Rwanda.
 
Sibomana - no place to live each day. maybe he could be a construction worker someday.
 
Today - Sibomana owns his own welding shop. He calls Serge on a regular basis to check in and wonder when we are going to send him some youth at risk to him so he can train them in welding.
 
Finiyas - doesn't even know why he is alive today. no idea that he can dream or hope for the future.
 
Today - Finiyas has a full time job. He rents his own home and goes to school in the evening.
 
I was most grateful that God allowed me to read through these notes again. How their lives have changed - from hard hearted street youth to godly men who are integrated well into all areas of society. We have been part of that.
 
As I read through my notes though, I was also very aware of  the youth who are still living on the streets. Not that they haven't had a chance to go to school, get off the street, gain life skills ... they have made a choice not to. We pray that the seeds we have planted will grow and they will desire change in the future.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

House Update ...

Went by the house today... LOTS going on. Only got a few pictures before my camera battery died...

Our new gate... we're still deciding what colour it will be
besides the red anti rust paint.

They have painted the first coat of primer inside, have all the
ceilings finished and are starting to paint the outside primer too!

About a third of the grass is planted ... each individual stalk!

My future kitchen!

Fuel Shortage

I noticed on FaceBook the other day on a post from a friend in Burundi that they had a fuel shortage. I knew it would only be a matter of a day or days before it would hit us.
Sure enough ...
 
Serge went to the pumps today and was told he could only have 20000 RWF of fuel - half of what he wanted. He begged and pleaded and the guy finally gave him the 40000 RWF. He then promptly drove on to a station further down the road and put more fuel in.
 
It's been some time since we have had a fuel shortage. It is usually not very fun. If it lasts for weeks upon weeks, the amounts one is allowed to buy gets less and one drives around looking for a station with cars as they actually still have fuel.
 
Who knows how long this one will last? What I know is that the price jumped today from 970 RWF to 1050 RWF. That's a 12.5 cent increase. Sigh...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Justice

This morning I was reading from Timothy Kellers book, 'Generous Justice'. I was struck again about 'doing justice' ... living it each and every day. I think that Serge and I do strive to 'do justice' most all the time but it's always a challenge to read and ponder and wonder .... what am I missing? What is it about justice that I yet do not understand.


My mind went through people in our life of ministry here in Rwanda. One that stood out was a man and his son that Serge told me about the other day. He's the guy who is leveling our front yard at the house we're building and going to plant the grass. (BTW.. planting grass here is done by hand. ie. blades of grass are planted not seed) Serge told me that he brings his 18 month old son with him to work.
 
You see, a few months ago, this little boy was about dead. The mother thought that he was dying and ran away. The boy, Mugisha is his name, meaning 'blessing' has fully recovered and the husband / father has tried to find her ever since. They can't find her so, he is obligated to take the boy with him everywhere he goes. Mugisha runs around our yard, playing in the dirt as his fathers toils.
 
In typical Rwandan fashion, most everything is bartered. One would never pay the asking price for anything. This includes the labour and materials for preparing and planting grass. As I listened to Serge discuss with Papa Mugisha, I knew what we had to do. I told Serge that I needed to talk to him. I told him about what I had been reading and the conviction in my heart. We were to pay whatever the man asked and not to barter. Just to tell him that we wanted to do our part in helping him look after his son. 
 
This is what the Lord Almighty says;
Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do  not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor.
Zechariah 7:10-11
 
I'm praying that we did some justice today ...

Our house today

Seems we're in overdrive for our house these days. I went with Serge this morning to sort through the latest round of decisions and check on the progress. Showed up to a hive of activity. Counted about 30+ guys working. I decided to snap a few pics to show you all what's happening  ... and maybe educate you  a bit more about building in Rwanda!

One of our 'under the eaves' guys. Each piece of wood is cut by hand

Leveling the front yard for planting grass

Had to smile.. these guys were reinforcing the
scaffolding! Ha!

Putting in the forms. Getting ready to cement the top of our
garden stairs

And this is how you plug in your drill

So the electrician guy forgot a switch.
Now they're chipping out where the line needs to go

Our windows and doors being made

Piles of sand, rock and gravel waiting ...

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Mmmmmmmm....

This morning Isabella, Beni and I had some lively chat around the breakfast table. Serge had already gone off to our house that we're building (seems the electricity wasn't working for some reason) and I knew Prince wasn't feeling great so I let him sleep in.
 
Isabella was telling me all these animal facts that she LOVES learning. Did I know that turtles don't have teeth? Did I know there were flower shaped fish at the bottom of the ocean? Have you ever seen the fish that blow up when they're scared? 
 
Beni is always concerned that I know he will protect me. So sweet really.
'Mommy, are you scared of sharks?'
'Oh, yes.'
'Mommy, I will fight them for you!'
'Mommy, are you scared of lions?' ... and on the conversation goes through all the big scary animals that he knows and he always confirms that he will protect me from them. 
 
I was holding them, hugging and stoking their little cheeks .... all the while eating pancakes. (Ate the last of our real maple syrup this morning... sad).
 
As I stroked Beni's cheek this morning and he leaned into it, taking it all in, I was reminded of something that happened earlier this week.
 
I was out and about and was greeting some children.
As I went to greet this one little girl, I went to stroke her cheek. She was so cute...
She immediately flinched away from me - rapidly turning her head away.
 
My heart sank.
 
How many times had she been hit on her face?
 
Poor dear. Probably about 3 or 4 years old. It's already ingrained in her head that if a hand is coming towards her, it's to hit her.

Just made my heart go mmmmmm....

Beni and Isabella rocking the baby to sleep!