our journey to rwanda....

an opportunity presented itself and we decided to follow where God was leading - rwanda, a land of a thousand hills. a land where almost 1,000,000 were massacred in 100 days in 1994, a land where orphans abound.

our prayer is that God will use this trip to show us many things - but mainly Himself and how we can help the children.

our time will be spent primarily serving in orphanages. we can hardly wait to get there.

p.s. first time readers -- please read the first blog entry and listen to the song playing :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

'you might be surprised'

do people's responses sometimes catch you off guard? i thought i knew what jill (the trip's organizer whose passion is to introduce others to this little country called rwanda, tucked away in the middle of africa) would say. but i didn't.

when we finally got a chance to talk on the phone about the trip, i said, "i have to be careful because i know this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime and can never be repeated. i can't expect the next trip to be as perfect as this one."

and then she said, "you might be surprised."

she has been there six times and the passion hasn't faded. a man we met while there, tom allen with bridge2rwanda, wrote me and said "no one comes to rwanda just once." wise man.

we have received emails from just about everyone we met. gosh, it takes me back. and i love that. i know it sounds cliche to say we had 'divine appointments' but you could not call them anything but that. how God is weaving all the people, situations, and ministries together is just the coolest.

and we are still pursing a certain little girl. and maybe boy. it will truly be a miracle. but He is in that business.

we are crazy enough to be in the early stages of planning a second, longer trip. it is a big step of faith on many levels, but when you have left a part of yourself somewhere, you've got to go check on it, right? we know if this is not His will for our family, He will not order our steps. but so far He is, and so we follow where He leads. the challenge for the kids and i is to find our niche, so to speak. is serving in orphanages enough to justify the expense? i have not one doubt that their lives will be forever changed for the cause of Christ. and if that is the case, that is treasure laid up in Heaven. much to think about.....

if you haven't looked at all the pictures in the last five posts, please do. it took alot of work. just kidding. not really, but look at them 'cause you might like 'em.

and i will sign-off this blog, at least for now, with these two sayings i saw on t-shirts. one was a guy on the plane on the flight home. it said, "an eye for an eye and we'd all be blind - mohandas ghandi". glad Jesus changed all that to 'turn the other cheek'. and the other said this profound truth:

i need africa more than africa needs me


p.s. Lord willing, we will travel to china to adopt 'abigail' in early june. please come with us: www.mistyming.blogspot.com


thank you sam for taking all the pictures HERE.

we drove here after attending church. there are two pictures of the outside of this God-filled place. you remember the church service, right? the one where we danced? now you remember and you have a smirk on your face, i just know it.

secondly, a rotten dog is a rotten dog regardless of where he or she lives. this one happens to be 'prince' and he abides in rwanda, thank you very much.

again, like scenery, garden pictures aren't quite the same as being there - but i know my sisters will enjoy them as they adore all things gardens. so pam and deb, enjoy :)

this was the other orphanage we had the privilege of visiting. this one used to house over 600 orphans. i think they are now down to around 100 with many of them actually attending a boarding school. the new plan for imbabazi is to continue housing all the current kids until they graduate without adding any new children. i guess the long-range goal for rwanda is to place children in foster homes and the imbabazi board has decided to support that goal. the hope is that the beautiful grounds and facilities will be converted into a technical school. a gentleman named jeff r. is joint-leading the orphanage and properties. he has only been here a few years and had no intentions of taking this position - until he was in the position and knew it was what God had been preparing him to do.

the lady who opened the orphanage many years ago was named rosa carr. to say she had a green thumb is quite the understatement as you have seen for yourself. from what i understood, they started off growing a plant called 'pyrenthrum' which was found to be a natural insecticide. soldiers who had lice slept in the garden and discovered that all the lice had died when they awoke. could i make something like that up? honestly, i think that is what jeff said. sooo pyrenthrum was grown and processed with the oil being sold. then synthetic insecticides came about. but with the rave for natural products, pyrenthrum is making a comeback. and if i have this information all messed up, forgive me :)

there is a picture of a little grass shack where the night watchman sleeps. gotta love it!

they cut their grass with hand-held tools. i'm talking perfect.

it started pouring. and it never let up. did i tell you we were there in the rainy season? so what do you do with a group of teenage boys when you can't be outdoors? you get out construction paper and markers and you draw. and you make paper airplanes. and you teach them tic-tac-toe which they'd never heard about. it didn't take much to please them. not at all.

we spread out the goodies we had brought and the Lord saw to it that we had a shirt and shorts for every boy. and flip flops. and school supplies. in a couple of the pictures, are jill (the trip organizer -- a feat in and of itself :) and a favorite friend named claudine. claudine came to the states a few years back to have her leg amputated due to bone cancer. she now has a prosthetic leg and is doing wonderfully. her brother adrien is standing next to martha's red suitcase. martha is my church friend who went to vietnam with me and loaned me three suitcases for this trip. and then i gave one away. so what did she say when i told i gave it away and would be giving her one of mine back instead? "aw, just keep 'em all. won't you be needing them for china?" there aren't enough marthas in this world. back to adrien. he pulled me aside and asked if he could have it after we had taken everything out. he needed one to use as he goes back and forth between boarding school and the orphanage. tell him no? yeah, right.


i hope i am spelling the name of this village correctly. this was the second hospital site we visited. the current health clinic is being completely rebuilt into a full-fledge hospital. it is at 9,000 foot elevation and the effort to get building materials to it is a significant feat. they have crews working 24/7 to complete it in as short of a timeframe as humanly possibly. and since it is almost all being done by human power, and not machinery, it makes it all the more incredible. a very young woman, maybe 35 years old, is the project lead. her experience in haiti landed her this monumental assignment.

in the pictures HERE, you will notice the intricate puzzle piece type building blocks. these are hand-chiseled chunks of volcanic rock. all pieced together in a perfect fashion. and you would be remiss if you didn't 'oooh' and 'aahhh' at the scaffolding. whatever, it works.

and ladies, notice the women off to the side in picture #547 with their digging tools. yip, churning up and preparing the building site. let's all together now say, 'quit our whining!!!'


as in rich surroundings....not overindulgence :)

click HERE to enjoy the scenery and then come back :)

rwanda is a mix of bittersweet. the poverty intertwined with spectacular beauty. the pictures do not come close to doing it justice. i am posting them for selfish reasons -- i want an organized account of this amazing experience.

it truly is a land of a thousand hills.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


i didn't expect to keep writing/blogging after i got home, other than pictures. then again, i didn't expect to be turned inside out. i wanted a journal of sorts of this trip and the byproducts that came with it. i realize much of this information isn't particularly interesting, but it gives me an outlet to organize the swirling thoughts. oh my. the drama has come back.

i haven't been anywhere since we got home weds. afternoon. honestly, i am nervous about seeing people because, most likely, i won't be able to stop the tears. i feel deeply sad and i can't quite pinpoint whether it is one particular thing or everything together. greg is feeling more blessed than melancholy. dang men. i am not used to sad. if i am honest, i would say i am more often mad than sad. i called my sister this afternoon and as always, she listened. didn't judge. and then imparted wisdom. older sisters are the best.

she guessed that the low i feel is the counterpart to the high i felt. wow. that hit the proverbial nail square on the head. i think i usually hover right around the middle on the emotional scale. after hitting an all-time high, i plummeted with an all-time low.

before we left, i was ready to go. but i was already ready to get back. have you ever done that? i had no idea what was about to happen. and to think we almost didn't go.

p.s. one positive of having these feelings -- i know abigail will have many moments/days of missing and yearning for her people and homeland. hers will run much, much deeper than what i am experiencing but i think this will help me understand her heart better. i will need to remember that time, love, and patience will go a long way.

our drivers

i realize that you don't know these people, but i am hoping you feel like you do :) since i talked about them in various posts. these are our drivers, simba and jean marie. they were both instrumental and integral to our rwandan experience. simply put, they helped make our trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience!! we saw them more than anyone else and they completely took care of us. taking us from one end of the country to another. the girl in one of the pictures is lynn. she also works for 'thousand hills' and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep us all moving together. one of many jokes was that we were like herding cats. they had never heard that phrase and found it quite appropo. it was not uncommon to have someone making a 'meow' sound and everyone knew exactly what that meant.

honestly, i don't remember anyone endearing themselves to me so much so quickly as simba.

they are normally taking people on safaris and mountain gorilla expeditions. we were not their normal clientele. hopefully in more ways than one :)

click here to see their sweet faces: HERE

genocide memorial

to view a few pictures from the first genocide memorial, click HERE (click on any picture to enlarge the set).

i will never, ever be able to get my head or heart around this. without any question, demonic forces were at work. some of the killers themselves have said that they were overtaken by spirits.

the tour we did took about 1.5 hours. you held the walkie talkie type device up to your ear and typed in the number for each section of the exhibit. it covered every aspect of the genocide and truly was fascinating. that is probably not the right word, but it was very informative to describe all the factors that went into the genocide -- political, economic, religious, social, and cultural.

a few of the pictures, with mass concrete slabs, were mass graves. friends and relatives still come and place flowers.

from here, we went to the hotel rwanda. it now operates under a different name. we had lunch next to the pool. a long, long way from 16 short years ago.

we also visited a second remote memorial. in the dreariness of a rainy day, with no other visitors, we alone were guided through the church where 10,000-11,000 were massacred. the young man who told us the story, charles, spoke very quietly. he was one of 7 to live to tell what happened there that day. see the post 'unimaginable' for more.

april 7th is when the genocide began. every year, that days mark the beginning of a month long memorial. if you think of it on that day --when you flip the calendar, write a check, or mail a birthday card -- say a prayer for the hearts of all those who still feel the pain daily. like simba.

Friday, March 12, 2010

pictures of CALM kids

to view the pictures of the CALM kids, click (to see pictures larger, click on any picture) HERE

i tried hard to reduce the number of pictures but just couldn't.

to organize the pajamas/toys you bought for 'your' child, i put the picture sheet you signed into each sack so i would know who had what. good concept except i didn't make copies and so now i don't know who had who. i had planned to give each of you a photo thank you. so much for that idea.

there are 6 or 7 of the older kids that we didn't get to meet because they go to school at sonrise and come back to the orphanage only on school breaks. no peace, pammie :( BUT chantal and her incredible daughter, eric, are allowed to visit once a month. they were going the saturday we were there. when we saw them the following monday, they had given them their gifts and taken pictures! i should receive them any day. i am as excited to 'meet' them as you are!!!


Sad is the day
that any woman becomes absolutely satisfied
with the life that she is living,
the thoughts she is thinking,
and the things she is doing.
There must be a continual beating at the door of her soul,
a desire to do something larger
which she seeks
and knows she was meant
and intended to do.
- author unknown -

how do you begin to process all the Lord has shown in such a short time? i don't know either :) get a cup of joe 'cause this ain't short.

i feel so honored that you came to this blog, amongst the thousands out there, to join us on this road to rwanda. my sincerest hope is that the world became smaller, that you saw God in the faces, that you learned of the horrendous genocide that killed millions, that you see the need to do more in a hurting world, that you love orphans more than you ever knew you could.

i have been sorting through all the photos and will post them later today into five categories: C.A.L.M. orphanage kids; the genocide memorial, the imbabazi orphanage kids and gardens; the butare hospital project; and just plain ol' amazing scenery.

how many rambling random posts have i done? well, now it is one more :)

the opening quote was just given to me by a good bud, carrie (affectionately known as care bear). i called her thursday morning to babble through my genuine gratitude for making memories with thomas/sarah/phoebe, cleaning the house, and making dinner. as i unloaded/shared all in my heart, i knew she would understand my thoughts better than i could understand them myself. she has had the quote above posted on her refridgerator for years i learned. it summarizes so succintly all i am feeling.

let the rambling begin!

i am a black/white person. i like things in tidy organized 'boxes', figuratively speaking. and my heart has been spilled out all stinking over. God opened so many doors in rwanda i feel like i am in an intricately drawn maze. i need to wait on Him to navigate the open doors, channel us in the right direction, keep us on the right path. the problem is i am impatient. that could be the understatment of the year. i feel such a strong sense of urgency. is that of God or me? God forbid an attitude of complacency. but equally so, God forbid me from making His plans fit mine.

i had never given one thought to rwandans before a year ago (that was when we met jill and jeff rose, leaders of the african health and hospital foundation and organizers of the trip). and now i want another, much longer, trip planned. like now. working in africa requires just a little bit of planning (note to self: and finances) and a lotta bit of the Lord's leading. but just in case He is wondering....we are ready to go back. like get abigail in China and go.

i find the cliches we casually say here in the US like 'less is more' or 'live simply' to be very ironic. for the most part, these phrases to us mean doing without satellite, taking our kids out of a sport, making do with 3 bedrooms instead of 4. they will never have that meaning again after having seen the degree of poverty. i can't really explain it, but they seem unbelievably hollow. maybe the word is arrogant? there is a ginormous difference between living simply and living poverty. maybe it shouldn't irritate me. maybe in time, it won't. maybe i hope it always bring my mind back to thoughts of rwanda.

neither ben nor i can let our minds actually think on the kids or people because it is too painful. when i talk of them, i fall apart. just ask brianne, who just stopped by to pick up some things she had left here, and the tears just flow from a broken heart.

i have told myself repeatedly a quote i tell the boys when they are sad coming off of church camp, "be happy that it happened, not sad that it's over.' i won't tell them that anymore because it doesn't make you feel any better.

when we got into DC, i saw irritated people. i purposely tried smiling at many folks to see the response. almost always, it was a look of 'no time to smile' or 'what's to be happy about?" greg commented, 'i would love to see smiling faces again.'

greg and tim had us in stitches at the airport laughing at the language drama that they guessed i used when i blogged. neither of them had read any of it, but that didn't stop them :) they would take one sentence and make it into a paragraph of flamboyant expressive words. i am laughing now because some things, when i have reread them, have come off dramatic. because my heart was impacted dramatically. was that dramatic? moving right along....

i have a renewed appreciation for bright lights, blow dryers, water, and internet service.

God orchestrated sam and simba's farewell. now that really was dramatic. but if i ever need drama, it is now :) simba was supposed to pick our luggage up at 8 to take to the airport for us while the other driver, jean marie, would get us to the airport after letting us get in 30-minutes of our only souvenir shopping the entire trip. miscommunication led to simba not coming and the realization that jean marie would have to give sam's Bible to simba instead of sam himself. but GOD knew better! simba had to find us at a bank parking lot to drop off someone else who needed a ride to the airport. when they saw each other, they went straight into each other's arms. simba held the Bible out and said 'i am ready for this now.' ahhh. does it get any better?
actually, it does. a rwandan lady we saw at the kigali airport and then again in DC (another God divine appointment where we spent a 2-hour lunch with her and have been invited to stay at her home next trip) told us that many men, who lost their family in the genocide, have never married because of the intense heartache they felt/feel. they will not open their hearts again. sam cracked simba's open. i believe simba felt a love toward sam that he has not felt for many years. sam knows that if this was the only thing that comes of our trip that it was worth every penny. he accomplished the mission God set before him. sorry for the drama. not really :) oh, and the lady from the airport: she's requested simba's contact information as she wants the men at her church to befriend him and ask invite him to come.

if you think of it, we ask that you continue to pray about esther and the others. as i have indicated earlier, we have put this into God's hands and are seeking clear and specific direction. like duh, i know. i have to focus on His will for esther and not my mama's heart that wants her here. it has been suggested that we initially talk with a leader from saddleback church in california. rick warren, author of 'a purpose-driven life', leads (out of this church) an organization called PEACE which serves in rwanda. greg and tim met with this group while there and left so, so encouraged and filled. this gentleman will hopefully have the insight and connections to know what, if any, the next steps should be. and interestingly, greg has had a meeting scheduled in california to meet with a health system for the last week of march. in rwanda, the saddleback church/PEACE team asked that greg meet with them, and join them at church, while he is in california. we are praying that, if this man (he leads an initiative at the church called 'generous giving" :) is in the states, he will meet with greg to chat about our situation. i have no idea if this made any sense to anyone other than me. how about just 'please pray for esther' :)
and the last thing that i put out there is for the moms. i suspect that there is at least someone out there who can relate to what i will attempt to share -- God gives different burdens to different people, right? what i am trying to come to terms with is whether it is okay, as a mom to several, if i can have contentment and peace if a good chunk of my heart desires things that are outside the home? although the majority of my time, energy, and love is for those within these walls, there is a significant part of me that can never be limited to it. reinsert drama. i sometimes wonder what draws me to the down and out? i know for a fact that it was only by God's grace, through the many years i never thought of Him, that i am neither down, nor out, at this very moment. maybe all those years of living apart from Him has made me realize how brief my time is to serve Him -- which for me means takes the form of widows, orphans, and the poor. this journey has brought all this to the forefront of my heart and mind. i consistently seek tangible, ongoing ways to serve, but a sizable piece of me yearns for something BIG. is that wrong? sometimes i wish i could just not want to serve more outside of my family. thankfully, greg understands and even has the same heart himself. does that ring true in you?
xoxoxo :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010




having trouble with wi-fi tonite so i am not sure when i can post this....today we rode in the car for many hours on our way up to 9,000 elevationto visit a hospital under construction. the roads were the worst yet. we bounced along for a long time. i think my stomach muscles got the biggestworkout they have had in years from gripping the ceiling handle :) i am so thankful we were able to visit so many remote villages while on this trip. we got a very good feel for the country as a whole.

at this particular site, what they have been able to accomplish is nothing short of a miracle considering the locals either carry the materials up the mountain or a truck very, very slowly pulls itself toward the top. you would have too see it to appreciate the magnitudeand scope of the project. it will be 150 beds and serve 350,000 rwandans in this district.

another random post of things i want to remember.

we have met probably 10-15 college students who live and do year-long internships here. some have graduated and come back to live.they have got their priorities right and their heads on straight. we have been so impressed with their maturity and commitment to global health. before this trip,i had no idea the number of non-government organizations who work in african countries to improve their quality of living. i pray that ben and sam wereable to see how Christ-like, selfless, and hip you can be at the same time :)

simba, our primary driver, and sam are best of buds. he looks around 25 and we found out he is 38. he lost his entire family in the genocide and he is the happiestguy around. sam talked to him (while we were at one of the genocide memorials, he stayed in the car with simba since this one was too disturbing for such littleeyes) about whether he had ever been saved and simba told him no, but that he was thinking about it :) sam is giving him his Bible tomorrow when we say ourfinal 'so long for now' :) if you ever come to rwanda, use the 'thousand hills' travel agency and request simba.

here was my revelation for today. when you look past the poverty, this is the most beautiful country with the most beautiful people in the entire world. i was letting my eyes focus on what is not here instead of what is. and what is here? the biggest smiles on the cutest kids ever! and the landscape is unmatched. i wish i could describe it better, but try to get a picture in your mind's eye. lush, lush green garden quilts amongst thousands of 'hills'. the gardens are like patchwork up anddown and all around the hillsides (i would call the mountains and simba would correct me with 'hills'). gardens filled with corn, cabbage, tea, and every vegetable you can think of. throw in waterfalls and creeks filled to the brim with rushing water and red clay roads. oh, and patches of forest-type trees. oh, and avocado trees. on all the drives out to the countrysides, it was just like looking at national geographic's best photos. God did good.

we had two black toyota land cruisers that drove us everywhere. there were washed daily with cool shiny wheels. i am convinced no other car could take abeating like these. they rack up serious miles taking people on safaris. needless to say, as we drove through the villages we attracted attention :) because wewere sooooo far out, these kids had not seen many vehicles like this filled with white people :) they would excitedly scream and run by the car shouting 'muzugu' meaning 'white people'. it was hilarious! they were so filled with joy, i will never, ever forget it! simba told us they love water bottles to carry to school. so we handed some out the window as we drove by and honestly you would have thought we handed them a million dollars. i looked out the back window one time and three kids wereliterally on the ground wrestling over it.

the cost of living here is outrageous! i naively thought that it would be cheap. cheaper than say china. suffice it to say...not. because the country is landlockedwith no seaports, has little or not manufacturing, and because the roads are horrendous, it is major expensive to get stuff in. i mean everything costs a LOT.

85% of the population is under 25 years of age.

i am so proud of ben and sam. they hung in there everyday without complaint. they ran more in 8 days than our normal 8 months. they both absolutely love ithere. they had soooo soooo much fun at C.A.L.M. orphanage. today was the best. we didn't arrive until 3:30 since we had to bump ourselves to a hospital almost 3 hours each direction. ben and sam threw frisbees and balls and just had the most awesome stinking time. i played probably 300 rounds of 'which hand has the gum wrapper" with alice, prince, and grace. we are madly in love with these kids. and then tim, greg, and simba brought over pizza and pop which they had never had! they lined up and just chowed! it was one of the best days of my life.

i gave esther the silver necklace i'd been wearing (the one you gave me karen with the circle within the circle) and just held her. could she be our daughter? only the Lord knows.much to my amazement, i felt a peace about leaving. they all sang a goodbye song to us. it could not have been any better. we felt 100% at home here. the aunties too are forever in my heart. we had given them body lotions with gold and silver sparkles and today they were all glimmery :)

i thank the Lord once again for His goodness during our time here. i am so very thankful that we stayed healthy. while we have been emotionally and physically taxedevery single day, He kept us feeling strong. of course, we will probably crash, burn, and get sick when we get home :) but definitely better there than here.

signing off from the most amazing journey i have had to date.

promise many pics to come from the good ol' U.S. of A. thanks to each of you who left comments. the scriptures blessed me immensely and every word was thenourishment i needed. please know how much i appreciated you taking the time to do it...

the road to rwanda is muddy, bumpy, red clay color ... and life-changing. Lord willing, we'll be back. again and again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


i am on the hotel computer and cannot upload pictures. i know it is boring without pictures and i am so sorry!!!! but i feel the need to write and share, so you are stuck with my thoughts :)

there are a couple of things i want to remember and since this is my journal of sorts, i will write it out here. to eat here, you garden. there are gardens everywhere. it has been such a blessing, as a vegetarian, to have almost exclusively vegetables and fruit for every meal. and many of the gardens are on the sides of mountains. i think it may be called steppe or terrace gardening? i have talked often about the difficulty of life here and this is just one more example of things being an extra challenge. gardening is hard work even on flat ground. oh, and add no equipment for assistance.

the volcanoes, where we currently are, are breath-takingly picturesque. fog hovers around the tops. amazing.

mud. it is everywhere. we are in the beginning of the rainy season and every day it downpours. since the majority of roads are dirt, you can imagine what it does to wash them out.

i now can appreciate what rodney in haiti says about taking hours to go a few miles :)

this morning, we were blessed with attending sonrise church and school. did you know you can move your feet while singing in the choir? :) the choir is called the 'voices of angels' and that they were. preacher, if you are reading this, the service lasted 2.5 hours. tell everybody back home to back off :) there were many things they did that i liked -- the pastor would say 'God is good' and the children would respond with 'all the time'. then the pastor would say, 'all the time' and the children would say 'God is good'. for the offering, everyone would come forward and put their money into a large basket. kids were coming in from all directions. this is a boarding school and the service was predominantly young children. like 600-700. it was hilarious when the pastor came up to the westerners (that would be us :) during a song and had us get up and dance. can you say 'oh my!!!"

tonite we had a dinner with bishop john and several members of the bridge2rwanda team. what a blessing! i talked with bishop about our family adopting. he would support it in a nanosecond as he has adopted 4 times (and has 5 biological), but we will begin conversations once back home with some individuals who may be in a position to help. we will let God take the steering wheel and see where He takes us. tomorrow we go back to the CALM orphanage and we are buying pizza and pop! they have never had it and chantal said it would be a huge big deal! we will have to say our 'so long for now' to the kids. words cannot say how much i dread it.

today we went to the imbabazi orphanage. it consists of primarily older children as no new children are being taken. the grounds are amazing, amazing gardens. the guy who runs it said they sell bouquets in town to hotels and westerners for $5.00. in the US, they would sell for $100. i promise to post pics that sam took as it was hard to believe this beauty was tucked away in the midst of the poverty. we played all afternoon with the older orphans and gave them gifts that they were very, very grateful for. you feel so guilty driving away in a nice car with your nice camera, nice wallet, nice bottled water, nice, nice, nice.

i am wrestling with many things. i am homesick. and yet, leaving will be hard. i have no idea what the Lord wants to do with this experience. how do you come back to the luxury after seeing life here? although i have read many times about other's travels here, i now believe you have to see it firsthand to have it sink in. the poverty sickens me. i truly do not understand how they can stand it. it never ends. it is everywhere. everything is so dirty, so muddy, so depressing, so run-down. and yet the kids run beside your car smiling and just wanting to touch your hand. why do i want to rescue them when i don't even know that they want rescued? do i honestly believe a life of comfort and excess is what they need? as you can see, i am messed up :) the part that saddens me deeply about myself is that i don't know that i could stay here. i don't know that i have what it takes. then i remind myself, God has what it takes. it makes me feel so pathetic, so jaded, so high maintenance, so ridiculously lazy and spoiled, and most importantly so out-of-touch with the heart of God. i want to help these children and the only way to really help is to help them learn to sustain themselves. it is just overwhelming.

thomas, sarah, and phoebe - i miss you so very much. i want you to come here. it will change you.

Lord Jesus come quickly.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


that is the only word i can think of to describe today. and i don't know if i am spelling it correctly. nothing worse than a homeschool mom who doesn't use capitals and can't spell :)


today we visited two genocide memorials before driving north. tomorrow we visit sonrise church and school and then the imbabazi orphanage. we have opted to attend the early service where the primary school children sing. no doubt, it will be incredible and moving.

i have so many things in my heart that they feel a jumbled mess. i have no idea how we will process it all. it has been interesting as early in the trip, africa had not captured my heart yet. for some reason, i felt a loyalty to asia and i couldn't imagine feeling the same toward another continent. and then God showed me that my heart is big enough to fall in love with two completely different cultures.

the countryside here is beyond beautiful. the 'hill's are numerous, lush, and breathtaking. and it can easily be overshadowed with the poverty if you let it. for us in america, everything is well-kept, smooth, in nice neat little boxes. here it is bumpy, muddy, dim, rundown, and the hardship people endure is beyond my understanding. people walk 3-4 hours to work and then back again. literally, everyday is survival. the numbers of people you see walking along the roadsides is wild. we arrived here at night and the people are still walking and hanging out in front of their dark shack houses. my mind keeps going back to the night hours. i think, okay, pick a room of your house. rip up the flooring. take out all the contents. lose the electricity. remove the door and windows. put tin on for the roof. if you need to use the bathroom, go outside. if you want to eat, grow it. if you want water, get your five gallon container and start walking. there you have life in rwanda.

life is hard here. in america, we make life hard. my guess is that this is a slight step up from haiti.

if you have not read the book 'left to tell', please get it (see author in first post). if you are not aware of the rwandan genocide, you are not alone. the world and the united nations missed it too. in 1992, there were isolated incidents and people here began asking for help and not one country decided to notice. in the US, we were watching OJ simpson get away with murder, the tonya harding/nancy kerrigan debacle, and listening to president clinton lie about his relationship with monica lewinsky. in 1994, 2 million rwandas (the population is 7 million) were killed. i am going to completely simplify what happened, and hopefully will get the facts correct.

there were two primary tribes: the tutsis and the hutus. the hutus accounted for approximately 85% of the population and the tutsis 15%. in a nutshell, the hutus wanted to exterminate the tutsis. think hitler and german supremacy. a rebel militia group worked on a plan to pull it off for several years and then put the plan into action. the country's president was shot down and the killings began. what you need to understand is that the tutsis and hutus were friends with each other. the propoganda was sophisticated and extensive. on april 7, the massacre started. and it lasted for three months with the entire country effected. the tutsis tried to hide. we visited a church memorial today where 10,000-11,000 were killed. they had sought refuge. charles, who showed us the grounds, was one of of seven survivors. he was nine. we were the only ones there today in the rain, and it was haunting. all the victims' clothes lie in piles. mass graves. skulls in boxes. one pregnant woman who was a hutu was married to a tutsi. she would not kill him so the killers tied her to the church altar and opened her womb while saying 'all cockroaches must die.' cockroaches were what they called all tutsi. the killers offered to kill individuals by gunshot, instead of machete, if they paid them money. charles said the killers came playing drums and whistles and singing 'kill all cockroaches'. he still hears the music in his head. and this scenario was being repeated all over the country leaving no one behind. women and children were especially targeted. women were raped repeatedly and HIV left its mark over and over again. the horror cannot be understood. to say it was heart-wrenching, is beyond an understatement. there is so much more to know, and i encourage you to seek it out. nothing like this should ever be allowed to be repeated.

the amazing part is the restoration of the people. this was only 16 years ago. everyone here pretty much lived the genocide. and yet they have had to forgive or die in their spirit.

on a lighter note, we are seeking your prayers regarding adopting esther. we have many strikes against us. but if God wants this child in our family, we want her desperately. the group we are here with has many contacts and tomorrow night, the question will be posed if it would be possible to remove the barriers which would allow for her adoption. and i beg you, if you have ever ever kinda sorta toyed with the idea of adoption, do it. i have never so clearly seen the reason why people need to adopt. there is nothing, absolutely nothing -- apart from salvation --that a child needs more than a family. please set aside every selfish reason we can come up with for not adopting and just do it. please pray about it.

Friday, March 5, 2010


my brain is fried. apologizing in advance for random thoughts all spilling out :) we have ran continually. greg and tim have had more meetings than i can track. i thank God more than words can say that so far, none of us have been ill. we are most grateful for feeling so well to this point in the adventure.

drumroll.......oh my! to see in person all the precious faces that we've looked at for weeks is unbelievable! some look exactly like the website pictures. but to now have personalities just completes it. you guys, they are stinking awesome. some have completely, totally, overwhelmingly captured our hearts. ben said it best today -- 'mom, how are we going to be able to leave them?"

although this is a Christian orphanage and touted as the model for facilities to follow, it is so not family. they are well-cared for, well-behaved, and well-looked after, yet it lacks what only a mom, dad, brothers, and sisters can give. i honestly cannot get my heart around the fact that we will leave them. they deserve a home. they need a home.

yesterday, we were able to give 20 of the 27 their gifts. seven of the older ones are at a school an hour away where they live except for during school breaks. we are hoping we are able to meet them over the weekend when we go to their school and church. chantal, the owner and director, is an amazing woman. she was very gracious, welcoming, and loving. she brought each child into her office, one-by-one, and we gave them their gifts. she wanted a picture taken of each of them holding their pajamas and toys to give to those of you back home who put the love, energy, and prayers into each child. some pjs were too big or small, so we rearranged accordingly. it worked out way way better than i had hoped and prayed. i should have pictures for each of you, but i am not going to post all as the wi-fi is slow at best and taking long periods of time per picture.

the 'mamas' and 'aunties' work very, very hard. not to mention taking care of 20 little kids, consider they have no washing machine or dryer. yip, it is all done by hand. out back in tubs of water. bent over scrubbing, rinsing, wringing, and hanging on the line. every day, bedding and all the clothes. and they were smiling and laughing and joking throughout. it was a blessing to be part of their efforts . they kept giggling and speaking kinyarwandan and pointing. i don't know what i was doing wrong, but they sure did :)

and the one that ben and i don't know how we can say good-bye to is esther. she's the one. this girl is indescribable. today we gave her spelling words and ben said 'spell mom'. and do you know what she said? 'j-a-n'. i had no idea she knew my name.

this morning, i had breakfast with the 'in-country' coordinator for gladneys adoption agency out of the US. for those who have adopted, you understand completely her role. great, great lady. we hit it off. it was a blessing to spend time with another woman of faith, especially one who loves orphans. we reviewed rwanda's policies for adoption. here you work directly with the government (ministry of gender and family?) and you can use an agency as your consultant if you choose. they recently changed their program where you came and selected your child, went back to the states to complete your dossier, and returned for your court appointment and travel home with your child. now they are following the process most other countries have -- the referral is given to you based on your request for gender and age. great, except when you have already fallen in love. however, it is my understanding that there are ways around it possibly. all i know is what you know -- God is sovereign and He will accomplish His will for each child.

tomorrow we move to a different town for two days. i have no doubt, God has gone before us. i will post if internet is available. i cannot tell you how grateful we are for covering us with your prayers. thank you for choosing to come along for the ride. a special thanks to carrie, toby, connie, bri, britt, and the fredericks for taking such good care of thomas, sarah, and phoebe. i have had moments of intense homesickness. one of the blessings of being kept continually busy, is that i don't have time to get as anxious as i would if i had time alone with my thoughts :)

signing off with a heart full of love for kids on the other side of the world....

p.s. gas is $9.18. not joking.
p.s. rwanda is pronounced 'rhonda', not ruwanda.
p.s. we have two cars with two drivers that were hired for our group. their job is to get 9 people everywhere they are going from early morning until late at night. i cannot tell you how customer-focused these guys are. they are 'simba' and 'john-marie' (french names). they think of everything to make you comfortable. i mean everything. it is so refreshing to see young men be that focused and concerned about visitors' impressions of their homeland.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


this post is dedicated to lori bassett. oh, what i would have given for her to see the joy from giving out pajamas. you allowed me a blessing beyond measure.

today we saw rural africa. i will do my best to communicate what we experienced, even though i know it will be impossible.

all the pictures you have seen of mud shacks with nothing inside and dozens and dozens of children outside everywhere in tattered clothing is true. women walking for miles with sacks of grain on their heads. people carrying 5 gallon containers for their water needs.

today was bittersweet. we traveled two hours mainly but red clay road into a village where thousands live. we toured a hospital. they are doing the best they can given available resources. the comparison between a US facility and here is such a world apart, i could never begin to do the description justice. we went into the children's room where there were 2 lb. babies and little ones with HIV. we gave them pajamas, hot wheels, baby dolls, glow bracelets and sandals for the mamas.

giving a little one a piece of joy and hope is priceless.

opportunities abound for assistance with their medical equipment, both procurement and repair. for example, they have no x-ray capability. can you imagine? the trimedx foundation excels in providing third world countries with not only the equipment but, more importantly, the ongoing assistance for maintenance and repair. the US doctors who live here permanently were rejuvenated with knowing people, who can do something, care.

from here, we went on two home visits. the way things are set up here is such a testament to community. there are five provinces in the country. in each province, are districts. districts are then broken down into community villages. each of these, provinces/districts/villages have respective leaders. health accountability social workers are in each village following up with patients. here is where i will never be able to describe adequately what we saw or felt. tonite at dinner, it was just us and tim (the trimedx pastor and foundation director). greg, tim, and i were telling some of our favorite God stories and we just sat weeping silently. our hearts were broke.

the two homes were mud shacks. the first home was the home of a man, women, and three children. the man's leg had been amputated. we each introduced ourselves and i said i was there because i loved the Lord and He wanted us to come and help. juliette translated and the man pointed to a small picture up high on a wall of Jesus and said He is my Savior too. hearts knit together. after we toured their garden and held their rabbits, we gave out toys. greg asked juliette how much to get him the prothesis he needed. she called. $400. done deal. greg told him next time he saw him he would not need the stick he used to walk.

the next home was even poorer. there was no door. there were no beds. there was no water. there was no electricity. there was no inside toilet or kitchen, those were out back. there was no dad. there was nothing. and the mom has HIV.

we went to the back of the SUV and got out the remaining pajamas. lor --tim has all the pictures and videos as i was the crazy lady getting all the blessings :) but there were more kids than i could count. i never detected that people felt like they were accepting charity. i didn't feel judged or detested because we were the 'haves' and they were the 'have nots'. they were just stinking happy to have something new. and does anything touch the heart of a kid more than fresh jammies?

it is overwhelming and yet it felt like God opened doors in incredible ways. each appointment today was a divine appointment. in 'a hole in our Gospel', the author explains that poor people in these countries are not usually stupid or lazy. like we often think. if they worked harder, they wouldn't be in this predicament. but that is not true here. there are NO options. ironically, they work 1000 times harder than you or i. they have to. if they don't, their children die. everyday is survival. the majority of their time is just spent doing what it takes to exist -- finding food and water.

the only comforting thing for me was knowing that they don't know any different.

it will take time to process the day. these kids were the most precious things i have seen. i have experienced no greater joy in a long time. i have no idea how God is going to use this, but He knows He has a willing vessel.

i keep thinking of all the kids outside. night comes. what do they do? there is no light. there is nothing inside their shack. what do they do?
so tonite i go to bed as last night. no AC, very little water that comes out, and will sleep under a mosquito net. but i washed my face with a baby wipe. i brushed my teeth with bottled water. i picked out what clothes i will wear tomorrow. i will crawl onto a mattress. i will turn out the light.

and thousands won't. now it feels like millions of miles from what i call home.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

sunrise over egypt

up. down. up. down. up. down. up. down. up. down.

as in: washington DC; rome, italy (for fuel); addis ababa, ethiopia; entebbe, uganda; kigali, rwanda.

dang, that's a long day :) but we made it!!! thank you Lord; you alone get the credit.

the trip started well. let's just say we had some serious luggage going on. like 7 ginormous suitcases almost to weight capacity. i prayed driving in that we would get an airline clerk who would work with me :) when a bag was over the weight limit, she said let's just rearrange the bag we just did that was under. i said 'you know, i prayed that i would get someone like you.' and she said, 'the Lord always provides for His people, doesn't He?" after that, we were good buds :)

and then all the luggage actually made it here!!! sam and i just pulled out the things we are taking in the morning. tomorrow we get up early and go to a town about 2 hours away to visit a hospital clinic called 'partners in health' set up by paul farmer. some of you may know of his amazing works. we will give toys and pajamas to the kids in the hospital and then accompany the social worker to some home visits. orphanage work starts thursday.

and our hotel (see previous post)....well, i fully admit that i am an extremely spoiled pampered american. i am not proud of that. some people are living literally in shacks and i feel like i am sacrificing because of no AC, decent shower, and sleeping under a mosquito net. obviously, God has a lot of room to improve my heart and gratefulness.

still can't believe we are in africa. it doesn't feel like 8,500 miles from home.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lord willing....

...we leave indpls. at 6 am monday morning and will arrive in rwanda, on tuesday the 2nd in the afternoon (they are 7 hours ahead of home so it will be early morning here). we hit the ground running and continue until we leave on tuesday, march 9th.

thanks ahead for any prayer you lift up for greg, sam, ben, me, and our work there. and also for thomas, sarah, and phoebe at home :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

shout out!

thanks to each of you who bought pajamas and a toy for the orphans at C.A.L.M. i am so very excited to give these gifts to the children there! so many of you put your heart into picking out just the right gifts and i can never thank you enough. i told someone this morning in an email that it is like i am now taking a piece of each of you with me. that gives me great comfort to know i am traveling with some of my favorite people :)

and an extra special thanks to two very special friends (you know who you are :) with ginormous hearts who sought out incredible deals and got over 35 pairs of women's sandals and over 40 pairs of the cutest children's pjs you have ever seen.

and thanks sam for agreeing to forego birthday gifts at your party this year for orphanage donations instead. all it took was the snickers bar i was holding for you to agree that this was a great idea. when you hand over that $120, i guarantee it will be a blessing to your heart.

and thanks to 'the chosen 12' men at church who were given jars to save their change all month so we can give it to the orphanage. you indeed will help 'change' lives for these kids.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

quick and specific

monday brought many questions as to whether God wanted us to go on this trip. it came down to asking the Lord to confirm it quickly :) airline tickets had been bought, vaccines and medicines scheduled, and plans to work at various orphanages had been made.

when it was decided that the boys and i would go along, i naively thought it would cost primarily the above expenses plus meals. we would just stay in the hotel with greg amd not incur any significant expense there. wrong. in rwanda, there are very few safe hotels and the ones that are there are ultra expensive. and only two can be in a room. a small room at that. no exceptions. no parents with a child. or two. here in the states, we all pile into one crowded, chaotic large room.

greg and i could not get our head and heart to come together and justify spending thousands to stay in a posh hotel while we served those who would never set foot in this type of facility. it felt so wrong. the disparity was beyond ironic. would it be best to give the orphanages what we would have to spend to stay in the hotel? this issue had been going on for days and came to a head monday. reservations had to be confirmed or lost.

my only agenda for going was for us to love on this precious kids and take them gifts that would be a blessing to them and the ones who bought them. we wanted the world to become smaller. our world here could come to see the world there, to some small extent. people would become real. not nameless, faceless statistics. these are little people made in God's image and they need us to use our resources to help their situation and give them hope.

greg and i figured if two of our kids were given an opportunity to see life here, they could not be unchanged. my greatest hope is that God uses this experience to get ben and sam to serve Christ by loving others.

so monday saw much prayer time. Lord, if you want the boys and me to go, you need to work out this hotel problem of needing two rooms. two very expensive rooms. we need a place that is close to where we will work, safe, and cheap :)

the organizer of our trip grieved at the thought of us not going. her heart wants us to love this country that she has come to love. she had made so many things come together so we could experience real rwanda and its orphans.

tuesday morning brings an email titled 'a miracle happened'. the travel agent remembered a little guesthouse apartment that a client had used. her words, it is safe, accessible, and cheap. sound familar? it costs about 1/8 of the hotel.

we took that as our directive that we are to go. i am forever amazed when He answers so quickly and completely (see http://www.mistyming.blogspot.com/ the post titled 'the mist' to fully understand).

p.s. if any of you have not read the book 'the hole in our Gospel' by richard stearns, please go buy it or order it now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

the faces behind the trip

go here to see some of the precious faces we are privileged to serve:

why the long blog name?

please listen to the words of the first song that plays. it is the song from hence the blog title came. a friend (thanks ginger :) gave me the lyrics and music to this song 'albertine'. it was written by a young singer from new zealand who went to rwanda on a mission trip and met a girl named, you guessed it, 'albertine'. she promised to never forget her. here are the words to the song (please listen even if it is more contemporary than you are used to....the words are what i pray this trip is about):

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
her mothers voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
there in her eyes what I don't see with my own
now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
now that I have held you in my own arms,
I cannot let go till you are
I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet
I will tell the world, I will tell them where I've been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine
I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

and also, please read a book called 'left to tell: discovering God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" by Immaculee Ilibagiza. she survived the 1994 genocide by hiding in a pastor's cramped bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. all this was going on while here in America we watched OJ simpson being chased in his white bronco.