Monday, October 27, 2008

"Others can walk. We must run"

I have a lot of amazing things to share about the past…so I'm going to feel like I'm only scratching the surface. Here goes!

I went to my first Rwandan wedding last Sunday and it was quite interesting…all in Kinyarwanda so I understood very little. My roommates and I stuck out because we were white, and in the middle of the ceremony, the guy taking pictures just walked across the aisles to get a good angle to snap a shot of us…it was hilarious. We showed up an hour late for the ceremony and it was still going on for 1.5 hours before we moved locations. The families took pictures, only we didn't know, so we followed the cars going that way and ended up sitting in the parking lot watching them take pictures for over an hour. Then we followed them to the reception where there were traditional Rwandan dancers and all sorts of interesting and entertaining aspects of their wedding! The funniest thing was that the father of the groom gives a drink to everyone as an acceptance of the bride into their family- so there were fantas served all around. The best part was for sure the dancing, and the worst part was that Thacienne (bride) did not smile once…and in fact looked really upset the entire wedding. We were at the wedding from 2pm to about 8:30pm or so and it was still loooooooong before the end of it all! Besides- they don't feed you, and there is no dance floor, so I don't know how they convince so many people to attend weddings here! They must actually go to celebrate the union…hahaha.

Funny story- Someone here wants to put together a Christmas party sort of program and was asking around for Christmas movies to get ideas from. So, the pastor at my friend Alyssa's church was asking her for one…and she was saying that the Wheeler's probably had a couple, but they aren't going to be about Jesus. The pastor was completely confused….how could there be Christmas movies that weren't about Jesus?? She had to try to explain that in America there are other Christmas things that the movies would be about….he just could not comprehend how you could have something to do with Christmas that wasn't about Jesus.

We turned in progress reports this Friday! I'm 25% through with the school year!!! CRAZY. I love my kids.

A few families that are missionaries in Togo came here for another survey trip. They are feeling very called to move to Rwanda, which seemed crazy because there are far less organizations and aid in Togo than here, but they are going to move here in 2 ½ years. I can't really explain without writing a ton about how neat it is to meet people like them. They studied for 7 months in France to learn French, then got to Togo and learned the language they'd be working with for the first 2 years, have planted 18 churches, and much more. Their lives are just incredibly led by the Lord. I wish I had all day to just talk about what it is like to know so many people who are following God's calling in all different ways…my views of Christianity and of the Lord's Kingdom are being so stretched all the time.

I am a 5K completer!! I ran a 5K today…mind you I have not exercised since the summer…at all….and I finished! We had a few unbearable hills, but that is inevitable here in Rwanda…as well as an altitude problem as well. But it felt so great! The church put it together and we all ran before service! There is a quote by the President, "Others can walk. We must run" about how Rwanda really has to work quickly to catch up with the rest of the world…and our sermon series has been about leadership and faith, so it was a really neat experience.

I really think I need to be a runner. And I think I need to do art. And I think I need to garden or build or sew or cook. One of those for sure. Oh- and read. But I just don't have as much time as I want for these things…

I've made new friends! I even went and hung out with them without my other roommates around… which is so good for me. I was always busy in college, but I also had a lot of alone time. Here it is seldom.

I met people this week who have just gotten to Kigali so now I actually feel like I belong and live here because I get to teach other people where to find places and how to get around and places to see. That's really cool. (also driving a car makes me feel like I actually live here too!)

I wish I could explain to you some of the people who are a part of my life here. I know many missionaries who have dedicated their lives in different foreign countries and sacrificed so much for God's call, I know well known Rwandans, notable Americans, embassy workers from different countries, marines, people in government, so so so so many people who are here with NGOs (which is like a non-profit organization) some from Food for the Hungry International, Living Water, International Justice Mission, Compassion International, Peace Corps, VSO, coffee and other agriculture ministries and so on, Rwandans with miraculous testimonies, and many more inspiring people. It is amazing to just share in life with people who I see as extremely influential. Sometimes I can get confused and think that moving to Africa to teach is a "big" thing...but I'm reminded how small I really am when I am with people from all over the world.

If this blog isn't long enough for ya, just let me know and I think I could write a few more pages worth and email it to you. hahaha! I don't blame you if you skimmed to the end.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where the streets have no name...

Muraho again! I am writing as a woman who has lived in Africa for 2 months! Last night my friends and I went to celebrate at a restaurant called Heaven. The owners train and employ people from villages or difficult backgrounds and everything (tables, placemats, menus, etc) is handmade in Rwanda.

I have had a wonderful and exciting week with my class! We continued learning about addition sentences and are moving into subtraction, focused on 'sh' and 'ay' in our spelling and reading, learned about mammals and reptiles and birds, etc in science, finished our book called The Very Strong Readers about a school of fish (tied in with science) and what they do to be stronger readers. We also had our first Writer's Workshop celebration to conclude the first unit. That was precious! They got so excited over getting a juice box! We led elementary chapel this Wednesday as that was excellent reading practice for our parts. They were great!

Probably the best school story is this:
As a background, my students get stickers on a chart and are rewarded when they get to 25 stickers. (they get to have shoes off afternoon, stay after school for 20 minutes, or get 2 stickers, or a few others) And I also give tables tallies on the white board for different things. So, we're in line and Saadou just raises his hand and says, "Getting stickers is not the most important thing and even getting a compliment is not the most important thing. The important thing is learning." I was pretty thrilled he said that and encouraged the class that learning really is the important thing. But then Jade took it another step further. She said, "Getting tallies and stickers are not important. God loving us is the most important." and then they were all in agreement talking about how stickers and tallies are not important. So Jade spoke for her whole table and said, "You can rub (erase) our tallies, we don't need them because we have God."

I have an adorable and thoughtful class!

In other news...I now am a part of too many bible studies and have to decide which to continue with and which to let continue without me so that I might have time to find another ministry. (I'm wanting to find a program for teaching kids to read that don't have the opportunity to go to school...but I'm not sure yet) So, help me in prayer over that! I like all the groups for different reasons, but 5 is just really too many in my opinion.

So after being here for 2 months- yay!- some things are starting to feel normal, and its even hard to decide what to tell everyone.

Oh yea---I got a car!! I don't know if I'm supposed to share this, but I just will...the school is able to help my friend and I by loaning us money for a car. We just pay monthly payments and when we sell it again at the end of our stay we'll just pay the rest to the school and get some money back too! (cars don't depreciate hardly at all here). Our lives have drastically changed in the past 5 days. We are able to get more than one thing done in a day!! But it is sad too because our taxi driver Pete was so reliable to pick us up from school, and the children on our walk to meet the taxi every morning don't see us coming and run up, and we don't say muramutse (goodmorning) to everyone we used to see....and all the taxis and motos we know...its just sort of sad, but also an incredible blessing!!

My battery is about to die and I don't have my adapter with I must go ahead and post and add more soon!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! I couldn't be here without you :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lake Kivu Uno

It was quite awhile ago, but September 15th was a holiday from school because it was voting, so my roommates and I went on a vacation with the Jenkins for a night on Lake Kivu! The pictures were hard to choose from to share on the blog, but I'll try to give you a glimpse of how beautiful is was!