Wednesday, 17 October 2018


This morning my FaceBook feed had a video that made me cry. 

A video of Tim Hortons bringing the only hockey team in Africa to Canada to play another team... because they had no one to play against on the African continent. 

It made me proud to be Canadian. 

It made me cry because I thought of my own son Beni. 
What he wouldn't do to play hockey. 
I'm still debating if I show him this or not as we might be moving to Kenya tomorrow! 

He's only been on skates once, and he thought he was amazing! 
(Still HUGE thanks to two teenage boys who skated / glided him endlessly around that rink one New Years Eve almost 4 years ago.) 
I've made sure we watch any hockey we can - I miss watching it ... - usually the winter Olympics when it's in 'our' time zones 
Some of his most prized possessions are his sticks... 

I think he was about 5 years and we were waiting to board the plane in Kigali to Canada and he burst out crying. The reason... he had forgot to pack his mini sticks. I assured him there were many more in Canada. 

There are no ice rinks in Rwanda so his chances of playing ice hockey are slim. 
He'll have to stick with his stick, ball and make shift goals. 

But it DOES remind me of all the things that I never dreamed possible for my kids ... they have had opportunities that I never dreamed possible 14 years ago. 

- playing in a school band 
- taking piano lessons 
- riding a horse
- being part of a Christmas musical production 
- taking swimming lessons 

All things that I am so blessed that they have been part of. 

So I guess... who knows really. 
Maybe Beni will realize his dream and play hockey someday. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Liberation Day

Today is a very defining day in Rwandan history. 
24 years ago - when a line was drawn for Rwandans and the world that Rwanda would no longer be defined by colonization, segregation, and oppression.

Today we are defined by unity and a drive to have all Rwandans to be prosperous. 

Today we celebrate!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

World Refugee Day

Today my mind goes back to the first time I connected with refugees. I was visiting some fellow International Team Missionaries in Straubing, Germany and was getting ready to host a short-term team along side them. 

What I remember so vividly to this day is how passionate and how 'doing life' alongside refugees was so 'natural'. I have SO many memories from my time there. 
(Thank you Gord, Sharon, Sarah, Richard)
As the years passed and I travelled more around the world connecting with various long term teams ministering alongside and to refugees, the term 'Refugee Highway' surfaced.
It made SO much sense. 

The essence ... People move. You can draw lines around the globe from where people are displaced or fleeing from persecution, violence, war, etc and see where they go - from this location to this location to this location. It's a fluid 'highway'. Locations change.

The Dream... Wouldn't it be amazing to have people who love Jesus at all the 'off ramps' and along the 'highway'?

I love that dream ... and still do.

I've been in Rwanda for 14 years now and have worked alongside the International Teams ministry in the Kiziba Refugee Camp for that entire length of time. We are well aware that we are their first 'off ramp' location. 
How do we live Jesus to each and every one that crosses our path that they want to know and seek Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Today, IAFR - International Association for Refugees - offered a map to help explain the essence and the dream . The dream lives on in and through many people around the globe.

You can do to download your own map at the
IAFR Toolbox

The following is a snippet from the the March 2018 UNHCR - United Nations High Commission for Refugees - Operational Report for Rwanda. 
You can check out the whole thing here if you're interested in details and what is happening on the ground with refugees in Rwanda.

People are moving on the 'highway' EVERY. SINGLE. DAY
For all kinds of reasons that most of us who live in the west have no idea about.
Don't turn off the TV or turn a blind eye when you see or hear about people... made in the image of God, who are fleeing for their life.
Try to put yourself in their shoes and seek to understand and then seek God what your response might be.

We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. 
An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. 
Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18
There are also an estimated 19 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. 
In a world where nearly 1 person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution... 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Remains 24 years later...

As I was scrolling through Twitter today... looking at the news, an entry from the New Times Rwanda caught my eye. 

They have found the remains of 200 people and think there may be as many as 3000.
Gasabo is where we live. 

The period of mourning started on the eve of April 6th and the country will be actively remembering until July 4th, which is Liberation Day. 

I have lived in Rwanda over 14 years and it amazes me that they still find remains from the genocide. 
I then think of all the genocides that have happened since and continue to happen today around the world. 
Remains will continue to be found ... 

Such grief, such pain... When will it stop? 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Loving our Neighbour...

One week ago, the tragic bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos occurred. To date 16 people have died and 10 are still in the hospital with varying levels of injury. 

As a small town girl from Canada... ok, I grew up on a farm! ... this hit close to home. Small town hockey teams were a part of my life and I spent many nights trying to keep warm 'in the barn.' My brothers played on multiple teams - mostly pick up and church hockey league and my youngest brother played Junior C and rode the bus all over southern Ontario. 
The local Junior B team was one many aspired to and as a family, we spent many a wintery Friday night listening to or going to watch the Kitchener Ranger Junior A team. 

Hockey is part of the fabric of Canadian life. 

Pondering all this while living in Rwanda and seeing the outpouring of Canadian compassion and pride ... my heart swells. This is where I come ...  hockey sticks put on the doorsteps, everyone sporting their favourite team jerseys and money being raised to help all in need. 

It's not lost on me that this happened on the eve of April 6th. 

Since 1994, on the eve of April 6th each year, the week of memorial starts in Rwanda - remembering 1 million people who were killed just because other people had been told by colonists that they were better than the others. It all happened in 100 days. 

This means that there were 625 Humboldt crashes EVERY DAY for 100 days in a row.

Now I know that some may argue that what happened in Rwanda was 'brewing' for decades and that is true and I won't go into all the history. I will argue that many innocent lives were taken and all was unnecessary. 

One story of many heroism stories I love, is the story of a girls school here where they came to kill and asked the classes to separate - Tutsi on one side and Hutu on the other ... and they refused to separate. 
All of them lost their lives that day. 
They make Rwanda proud to this day.

The day after the Humboldt crash, on April 7th, President Assad of Syria, ordered a chemical weapon to be used - the largest to date. Over 40 people were killed and 500+ needed medical attention.

I also know that Congo is in the worst state it has ever been and thousands are fleeing to safety.

Then there is Sudan, Central Africa Republic, most of Puerto Rico is still without power... and the list goes on... 

What I ponder is ...
'Do Canadians really see the rest of the world? 
Do they see the suffering? 
Do they understand that what goes on in the world is not 'over there' or 'they had it coming to them' or 'they are uneducated peoples' but that we do indeed live in a world where all is connected in one way or another? 

Do my fellow Canadian believers honestly seek out how God is calling them to be Jesus in response to what is happening around them - not just at home but to all people who are made in the image of God? 
How are we loving our neighbour? 

I know that from the response to Humboldt (which is overwhelming fantastic!), Canadians have it in them. 
Let's take what has happened in the Humboldt community as a point in time to reflect and evaluate personally our global knowledge and impact and our response to it. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Loss in the J.Lynn's family...

Teddy and Grace
Last night we were watching Dolphin Tale (again!) when the phone rang. 
It was Teddy, our manager for J.Lynn's - beside herself sobbing on the other end of the phone. 
My mind raced with what tragic news she was going to tell me. 

Grace had died giving birth to her first child. 

My heart broke. 

Grace Uwimana had worked for us for a while at J.Lynn's. 
She then left us to finish her degree, move to Uganda and to get married. She married one year ago in January. 

I had been SO blessed that she had come by the shop to visit us when she was back in Rwanda. She was happy and adjusting to married life. 
She had dreams of owning her own business and I know that J.Lynn's had given her exposure and confidence in  her seeking this desire.

Grace, this world will miss your beautiful smile and easy going personality. 
She leaves behind her husband and baby. 

As I laid in bed this morning awake trying to process life, 
I commented to Serge that I didn't even want to know how she died as I'm 95% sure that what she died from was preventable. 
Oh the things that make ones mind go a bit crazy. 

Another day asking God for wisdom as the women at J.Lynn's mourn this loss. 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

5 Years ago...

So you know how memory stuff pops upon on Facebook? 
I personally love it as it reminds me of all kinds of things in our life. 

The other day this popped up 

I promptly burst into tears. 

What the heck?? 
As I dug into why I had so suddenly burst into tears, I realized I was overwhelmingly blessed by our home and SO vividly aware of those in our life that do not have a 'home'. 

We've been spending days trying to track down people from the Kiziba Refugee Camp that we know and love. One trying to find out where they are and two, to see how they are doing. To this day there are a few we are still trying to contact... 

Refugees - Women, children, men, babies, teenagers, the elderly, healthy and sick ... do not have a place to call home and yet for some reason, God has allowed me to have a home that way more than enough. 
I am more than blessed.
Our family is blessed.
Many who have sat on our front porch have been blessed.

As I continued to reflect and old gospel song rolled through my head... 
'This world is not my home ... I'm just passing through ...' 

THIS is the hope and joy we live in. 
May those in our life and beyond who do not know an earthly home, know their spiritual home. 

Friday, 23 February 2018

Question of The Evening

'Mom, how do you do a fundraiser?'

We had come home visiting someone and were just relaxing a bit before bedtime. 
I wondered where her mind was going. 
I told her that fundraising looks different for different things. 

'What would you want to fundraise for?' 

'Well mom, I was thinking of doing a lemonade stand and maybe selling some cookies at school. I think that we can raise money for food for the refugees at Kiziba.' 

My heart about got into my throat and I fought my tears back as she laid out her thoughts. 
They could sell lemonade and cookies - Beni suggested on Friday afternoons when other schools come to play sports and parents come too (Good thinking Beni!) 
As the head Primary Girl could they ask each child to bring an amount of money - maybe 500 rwf ($.060 USD)? 
They could do the fundraising for the month of March 
She would write down her plan and present it to the Primary Principal. 

Her concern was, 'Would the money be enough to get all the people food in the camp?' 

'No, honey it's not. But Dad and I can look for those who need it most and make sure they get the money or the food - whichever is easiest and most useful for them.' 

There are 17,251 refugees in Kiziba as of December 2017.

You see.... Isabella and Beni both know that the last week in the Kiziba Refugee Camp has not been good. 
They know that people have fled for their lives. 
They know that people have been killed. 
They know that their Great Auntie and cousin as safe in Kigali while other family are still in the camp, hiding in their homes. 
They know that the refugees do not have enough food and that the UNHCR / WFP cut their ration money by 25% last month ($0.20 / day).
They know that the WFP (World Food Program) may need to cut the ration amount yet again. 

On the way home, I had read the following out loud... 

'... UNHCR is advocating with donors to address the gaps in humanitarian funding and urgent needs of refugees. To date, UNHCR's 2018 appeal for $98.8 million USD to support refugees in Rwanda is only 2 per cent funded. 
WFP warns about potential larger ration cuts if monthly requirements of $2.5 million are not met...'

This was her tipping point. Hearing this has demanded action from her.

I know she had her 'spiel' written to take to her principal today at school...not sure when she did that!
I look forward to seeing what God has in store for all of this ...