Friday, 27 June 2014

Can life really get any harder ...

.... for some people??!!!???? 

Just wondering ... 

So yesterday, Marie Jean is back in my office at J.Lynn's. (see my post from June 10th...for the first part of this) 
She received her pay from us on Tuesday of this week for the month of June. 
When she left J.Lynn's she went down the road to the market to buy some food for her children.  

And get this.. her money was stolen! 

Now I've been 'around the block' more than once in Rwanda. I have heard about all the stories there are to be told when it comes to asking for help.  As I'm listening to her, I need to forcefully not dwell on that it's possible she is lying to me so that she can get more money. 

I do my little wrestle with God... SHOW ME! MAKE IT CLEAR!!! 

In the end... I don't know for sure but gosh, what is another $19 USD? 

My heart is really heavy people ... to anyone reading this... tears are rolling down my cheeks. 
I'm praying that none of my women walk in on me.
What to do? What to do? What to do? 

God's going to make it clear ... I'm trusting him for that!!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Sunday Worship

Last November we were part of a small group starting a new kind of church in Kigali ... or Rwanda really. A church that seeks to make an impact in peoples lives in all aspects - spiritually, socially, economically. A church that is lead with plural leadership. A church that seeks to have people moving in their gifts. A church that people don`t need to be `perfect`before them come. A church that sees a community transformed. 

It's been so fun to be see who's been coming to join us regularly and where God seems to be taking us. We're in for a ride for sure - but we knew that from that beginning. :-) 

Sunday blessed my heart. We have a dynamic little worship team. There are usually four of them - Olivier, Arsen, Robbie and Stephanie. Olivier and Arsen are brothers. Orphaned since they were very young and maturing into wonderful young men of God. Robbie and Stephanie are joined us long-term in January for 2 years and have been a great asset to this team as well. 

Sunday... Robbie, Olivier and Arsen along with Henry from the Kiziba Refugee Camp. 

When Robbie is in the camp he connects often with Henry. Henry is part of the youth leadership there which we continue to mentor and develop. I`m sure he can play about anything and writes music all the time. He`s been teaching Robbie some of his songs. Robbie had just told him that he was going to introduce one of his songs at the church on Sunday. Henry mentioned he would be in Kigali for the weekend visiting so that didn`t  take much persuading from Robbie to have him come to play his song... 

Robbie the American missionary, Henry the Congolese refugee and Olivier and Arsen the Rwandan orphans. Doesn`t get much better than that. All people that God is in the process of transforming. All using their gifts to serve the Kingdom. Thinking a little glimpse of heaven yeah?!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Marriage ... Cross-Cultural or not...

Yup.. going to dive into this one. 

The other night, Serge and I BOTH spent a few hours on the phone talking to different people on two different continents about their marriage crisis. Both calls were random in the sense that they weren't scheduled. They weren't unexpected as we have know the people and have journeyed with them both for some time. 

Just feeling the need to throw this all out there .. and this is completely from my perspective... 

Marriage is work. There is NO way around that one. 
Someone said to me years about that 'Marriage is not to make us happy but to make us holy.' 
I SO think that is true. 
When you're in a marriage relationship, the other person gets to know you better than anyone else ever has and well... it's not just the nice stuff. It's the crap too - all the insecurities, the stuff that 'we' think is important, the selfishness, the 'stuff' from the past, and the list goes on ... 
IF we dig into marriage, it makes us a better person... iron sharpens iron, the rough edges are somehow smoothed over. 

Then throw in cross - culture. 

What I DO KNOW is that one can be in a cross-cultural marriage in their their own culture .. just because you're both the same colour, and grew up in the same country, doesn't mean there aren't cross-cultural differences. And actually... I think this one is the hardest as most don't expect it - We're the same right??!! NOT! 

I am in a cross -cultural marriage - different countries, different colour of skin. 
My best friend here in Rwanda is also in a cross-cultural marriage. 
We both talk to SO many young women who are 'interested' in marrying cross-cultural, ie. guys are interested in them or they have developed a significant relationship with a guy here. What we both know for sure is this... 'IF the guy has not traveled to your homeland or a country which is similar and become somewhat familiar with it BEFORE he met you, there is HIGH potential that your marriage will not bode well for you.' As you can imagine this is not welcome news to most ... 

This is a generalization but man do we see that truth over and over and over... 

It doesn't mean that differences can't be overcome and that strong marriage foundation can't be made and that they both can fight (in the good sense) for what is good and right and honorable in a godly marriage relationship. But so often... culture clouds the vow of marriage - this is what I know, this is how I was raised, and what will my family or friends say. 

Serge and I are both praying hard that what we spoke last evening to these individuals will give them the courage to fight for what they believe in... that they want to save their marriage come hell or high water (pardon my French as they say... ). 

I thank God for my marriage. Yes, it's cross - cultural in every sense of the word but we're in life together come what may and we're committed to make our marriage the best it can be. I'm just blessed that Serge doesn't shy away from talking ... even when it's HARD... well, usually it's me shying away from dealing with conflict. Talk about marriage making one holy. Just saying...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Parents Day at School

Our kids go to WellSpring Academy. 
It is supported by the WellSpring Foundation which is Canadian. They work hard to train the teachers to have integrated classrooms where various teaching styles are used - not just lecturing which is the most common here in Rwanda. 

Monday and yesterday provided Serge and I with the opportunity to visit their classrooms for a few hours. Here's a little glimpse! 

Each kid did a presentation in either math, English,
reading or science. Isabella... the introduction to everything. 

Was hilarious to watch her ... typical bored kid -
sprawling in the chair, leaning on the desk, messing
with her hair, etc. etc. :-)

The school has beautiful grounds

Prince in a discussion group on the impact on the projected
population growth in Rwanda.

Demonstrating various aspects of Adobe ... next up,
basic web design.
We got their mid term reports too. Always keen to see exactly how they're doing and see how the rest of the class is doing as well. 
The school has just been accredited with the Cambridge system so that has brought some new and exciting changes to the school - challenging ones for sure, but good. Onward with an international education!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Sustainable Living ...

Sometimes just doesn't happen. 
BUT that is why we are here... to try our best to make the lives of those we journey with more sustainable. 
Sustainable meaning the basics - a roof over their head, food to eat and clothes to wear.

That came VERY clear to me again the other day. 
Marie Jean can into my office at J.Lynn's asking for a loan - 20,000 rwf ($29 USD)
I knew that she already had an outstanding loan with us and we have a policy that you can't take out more than one loan at a time. 
When I asked her what she needed money for - rent and medical fees and food. 


I don't know Marie Jean that well as she only works for us two days a week. What I do know is that in an effort to align things more at J.Lynn's, I was going to cut her to one day per week as she really isn't 
'necessary' for the second day. 

She needed to pay house rent now (11,000 rwf / $16 USD) or she would be kicked out of her home. Her daughter was very sick with malaria and typhoid and needed the medicine (6,000 rwf / $9 USD), and the rest she would use for food. 

She begged me to give her the loan. 

So... I started asking more questions. 

Where is her husband? He was unfaithful and left her. She has no support. 

Does she have any other jobs? Sometimes she can work a day for someone washing clothes or labour work. 

If she receives 16,000 rwf / month for 8 days work from me per month and 11,000 rwf is for rent and 3,000 rwf is for loan payback, just how do they eat? Some days they eat and some days they don't. Sometimes the neighbours give them food. 

Do her girls go to school? Yes, one is sponsored by a local NGO and the other is paid for by the local government. (I was SO glad to hear this... they are in Grade 3 and 4.) 

So I know you need the money, but how do you expect to pay it off? Cut me 5,000 / month. Sigh... 

A couple things here... if I do that, she has NO money for the month. 
Next up on our list of training at J.Lynn's is personal budgeting... what does that look like for her?? 
We have such a spectrum of women here at J.Lynn's.. Marie Jean and then my mind goes to Chantal, who has taken a few loans from us and is raising pigs to gain extra income - and doing great at it, I might add! 
MUST get the training for kitchen gardens in before the beginning of September when the next growing season starts. If Marie Jean can grow some food, her life just might be better... 
We need to grow more here at J.Lynn's too.. maybe we rent a field somewhere and grow food so we have extra for Marie Jean and others in need. She could work at the field for food... just a thought. 

My mind goes so many places. I wish I could 'fix' peoples lives quickly so they would be living in such hardship, challenge and pain. But I know my role is not to fix but to journey alongside and do my / our best to help them grow, learn, and develop into the person that God has created them to be.  

My prayer... let me see Jesus in them and get on with doing what I am called to do in their lives! 

We paid the medical fees... but not the rent. Would be so easy to pay it all... but dependency, dependency... God give us wisdom. 

I thank God I never got around to cutting her back to one day a week at J.Lynn's ... Thank you Jesus!