Thursday, 27 September 2012


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


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!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Reflection... and Riding!

It is always amazing for us to read about the impact of our ongoing ministry in Rwanda. 

The following is written by Jen Bradbury. She, along with her husband, led a cross generational short-term team to Rwanda in 2011. The impact continues... we are blessed and humbled.  

Only God

by Jen Bradbury (YM Jen Blog)  
A year ago, I visited Kiziba Refugee Camp in western Rwanda.
This camp is home to more than 20,000 refugees from the Congo, where an on-going civil war has resulted in the death of more than 3 million people. It is a conflict rarely talked about or even acknowledged in international news. Yet, it's brutality has resulted in thousands fleeing the Congo every year, desperately seeking safety. Those forced to flee their homeland for fear of persecution or death are called refugees.
Refugees are a people with literally no where to go. When refugees flee their homeland they take only what they can carry. They leave with virtually no resources. As a result, they can only go as far as their feet can carry them, usually to a bordering country already inundated with thousands of other refugees like them. This makes it impossible for the bordering country to absorb refugees into its economy or infrastructure.
To bridge the gap, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) establishes refugee camps in bordering countries to house and care for fleeing people. The UNHCR gives refugees a tarp to construct a “house” and a meager per person food allotment. It provides water and sanitation and works with refugees to establish camp hospitals and schools. The latter are necessary because oftentimes people remain in refugee camps for years, waiting for the conflict in their homeland to end so they can return home (the desire of every refugee I've ever talked to) or for a third country to allow them to resettle in it.
More than a year after visiting Kiziba, I vividly remember the stench of too many people living too closely together. I remember the constant sting of the dry, Rwandan earth hitting my skin after being churned up by the wind. I remember the voices of adults doing business and children laughing and singing. I remember seeing thousands and thousands of people, stuck - trying to make the most of a monotonous existence despite being scarred by the horror of their journey there. What I remember most is Emile.
During my two days in Kiziba, I toured the camp with Emile, the president of JCM, a youth organization that works with the camp government to improve life in the camp. Emile proudly showed me the community garden JCM tends in order to provide the most vulnerable in the camp with food and the hair salon and cell phone charging station they run to help finance their ministry. He took me to a beautiful overlook and pointed to his homeland, which he could literally see from there. He called it the “most beautiful place on earth.”
Emile also took me to his house – a mud and stick hut covered with a UNHCR tarp. He invited me inside, telling me, “You are welcome here”. We sat together in a room only slightly bigger than my bathroom as he introduced me to his family. His grandma shared how she had been in the camp so long that she could not remember what her life was like before arriving there. His sister returned from teaching at the refugee school and went to prepare the same dinner their family ate everyday for 15 years – rice and beans. As houses in the camp lack electricity and running water, she did so in a shared “kitchen” at the end of a row of houses, over an open fire.
Despite his meager surroundings, Emile is a man with many dreams. During my time in Kiziba, he shared with me how he wants to make something of himself so that he can support his family and bring change to his homeland. Driven by those dreams, Emile and his family decided to apply for resettlement. Applying for resettlement is difficult because doing so is to admit you are tired of waiting and that you are likely to never return home. It is to say you are open to going elsewhere. It is to put yourself at the mercy of people you have never met and countries you know little about. It is to undergo a lengthy process filled with written applications, interviews, and medical exams and characterized by frustration, disappointment, and at times, intimidation.
When I met Emile, he and his family had been approved for resettlement. They knew their new home would be the United States, though they had no idea where within the US they would be resettled. They also did not know when they would be resettled. As a result, when I left Emile and Kiziba, I felt fairly certain I would never see him again.
However, via Facebook, I learned Emile was resettled in Denver, CO in December, 2011. The following April, I found myself in Denver and arranged to visit Emile at his new apartment.
He greeted me at the door with a hug and the words I remember him saying in Kiziba, “You are welcome here.” Emile invited me into his home, extending hospitality. As we visited, he shared his struggles since leaving Kiziba – how someone had to explain to him that turbulence would not make the plane on which he flew to America fall from the sky. He talked of seeing snow for the first time; Of having someone explain what a dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer are for. He talked of the difficulty of learning English and of finding a job. He also shared the joy of finding a new church.
After spending time with Emile, he took me to a nearby apartment, where I was reunited with his mom and siblings. When the time came for me to leave, Mama prayed for me in a language I do not speak. I left in tears, having powerfully encountered the God we both worship and serve.
Much to my delight, in August, my husband, Doug, and I returned to Denver. Once again we reconnected with Emile, only this time we did so with our family in toe. As we left Emile's apartment to take him out to eat, Doug leaned over to me and said, “This is so surreal.”
After dinner, we went to see Emile's extended family. During our visit, we talked about the continuing war in the Congo. At one point, Emile confessed, “Only God can bring peace to the Congo.” Later that night, as Doug looked around in wonder at us sitting on Emile's couch in an apartment in Denver, he too reflected, in awe, “Only God can do this.”
Only God.
And the truth is there is so much that only God can do.
Yet, remarkably, there are some things we can do as well. When we see a need, we can meet it, thereby partnering with God in his kingdom work here on earth.
Emile showed me this in Kiziba, where he worked to improve the living conditions and bring hope to a desolate place – a place where challenges still abound today.
Like Emile, I, too, want to be part of what God is doing in Kiziba. That's why, on September 29, I will be participating in a 15-mile Ride for Refugees to raise money for International Teams' Impact Rwanda. International Teams is the sending agency for Jen and Serge Kamari, long-term missionaries in Rwanda. Through International Teams, they serve the oppressed - widows, orphans, and refugees.
They do this in Kiziba, where they develop and invest in leaders, provide scholarships for refugees to finish schooling once they've completed the meager education offered in the camp, and supply capital and training for micro businesses. In so doing, they bring hope to a place filled with hopelessness.
Emile was the beneficiary of this hope.
When I last saw him in Denver, he said this about Jen: "It's possible for one person to bless an entire nation".
Through I-Teams, Jen and Serge bless others in Kiziba so that they, in turn, can also bless others.
Emile is living proof of this. In Kiziba, he blessed others. In Denver, he is continuing to bless others.
Funds generated from this ride will enable Jen and Serge to continue blessing others through their important ministry in Kiziba.
And so I invite you to give whatever you can to this ministry.
As Emile said, only God can bring peace to the Congo.
But this you can do.
Through your gift, you can make a difference in Kiziba today.

Jen is one person who has decided to Ride in the Ride for Refugee to support our ministry in Rwanda.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

I Miss My Dad

It's crazy how one grieves through life. It comes in waves and most of the time very unexpected.
Today I'm went to the funeral for the father of our dear friend Jules.
I didn't know his dad at all be we know most of the family.
I couldn't help myself from crying when they took the casket out of the church. Again when they they lowered the casket into the grave and again when the family went forward to pay their final respects.
It will be 5 years at Christmas that my dad died. It's amazing to me how life can be 'fine' and then on other days I miss him too much. I find myself talking to him in the car sometimes when I'm alone believing that he can hear me. It's in moments like today when it all seems like he died just yesterday.
I would never wish him back as I believe with my whole hear that he is with Jesus, in a perfect place of peace and rest and I  believe he wishes us all to be with him. I believe that I will be with him someday. But the time between now and then ... I can miss him.  I think that's a good thing - just not an easy thing.
I am also very mindful that many in this country and round the world don't have a dad, or a dad that loved / loves them dearly. How blessed I am in the midst of my tears and sadness.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Our house ... as of today!

Isabella... always fashion forward
Ready to go see the house!

Come sit on our porch!! It's going to be amazing!

Part of our front yard ... stairs are in, fence is going up

Colums look pretty even to me.
The workmanship continues to amaze me. All done by hand!

Our septic hole... again, dug by hand!!
Thinking it's 3 m x 4 m x 3 m deep!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Last Hoorah before Third Term

Bowling came to Kigali earlier this year and our family has enjoyed it on different occasions. Serge and I are SO thankful for something else to do with our family in the city. It's always a HUGE challenge to find something family oriented to do.
The scoring is a little different, a guy with a hockey stick cleans out the pins and rests them for you at the other end ... but other than that ... it's bowling!

Somehow I landed on my butt and about followed the ball!
Of course the kids thought it was pretty hilarious!

Beni getting into the action

Bowling shoe style... same the world over!

Prince beat us all ...