Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The last few days

Last thurday Nathan, wes and I went into kigali to go to the memorial and to the US embassy. I wasn't sure what to expect with going to the memorial. I had read alot about everything that had happened here, but at the same time most of the things I read on Thursday and the pictures I saw didnt seem real. When people talk about the number of people that died during the genocide and the way they died, its almost too big and too ubsurd to reconcile in my mind. It seems like a really horrible scenario or story line. After being here, and knowing the type of people that are here, it doesnt seem like it could happen. Nothing seemed real until coming to the end of the memorial, where they had indavidual pictures of kids that had died and indavidual information about them. It hit me when I saw a picture of a little girl at her birthday and it said age sevenon the plaque in front of her. The genocide happened here 15 years ago. That little girl would have been my age had she still been alive. 250,000 thousand people that are burried in Kigali doesn't make sense to me, but that one little girl that I could have known, does. I think going through that memorial, and knowing what so many people I have met went through was really important. It makes me so thankful for my family and that I still have them. God has put us all through different things and can still use something as horrible as that in good ways. Hearing Jeannine talk sometimes makes me think about it. The first devotion she did before work that I was here for, she talked about being thankful for the Lord waking her up in the morning and how so many people take for granted that they could have died in the night, but that the Lord kept them and us. It's a different mentality to think of things in that way and I really hope I can learn from it.

After the memorial we ate at an Indian place for lunch (it was amazing!). So I wasn't surprised when later that night my stomach didn't feel the best. I'm sure if you have experienced curry, you know what I'm talking about. The thing was that it didn't stop the next day. In the morning my stomach felt funny again. So I started talking to Christi and Tom about it. The most popular consensus as to what it was, was amoebas. Amoebas are one of those things that you hear about and just pray that it doesn't happen to you. You can get them from meat, unfiltered water, and probably a few others ways I'm not aware of.(PAUSE: So as I'm writing this I would just like to put a disclaimer in that I know this is not something I should be posting on my blog. However, I feel that I would be cheating you if I did not explain this aspect of my experience. Also, I should wait to tell my parents what happened before I post it on the Internet. I know I will be getting a distressed email from my mom fairly soon.)So I asked Christi if after work we could go to the clinic. We walked up when we got off. I think the nurses were really amused with me. I tried (in my own form of sign language) to tell one of the ladies that I liked her dress and she laughed and attempted to trade earrings with me lol. After Christi and I explained the predicament, the nurse explained the test and told us to come back to find out the results. We went to get some skirts that Jeannine's cousin made for me (I'm so excited for them!) and to get some shoes Christi was having repaired and then headed back to the clinic. The nurse was sitting outside when we came up. Her and Christi started talking in Kynrwandan, and all I understand is when the woman began moving her hand in the shape of a snake. hah "Oh my gosh" is all that went through my mind. So after this long explanation I had worms (which I would like to say sounds sooo much more disgusting that amoebas only because I have a reference to what worms look like regardless of if they are microscopic or not) Karen and Nathan had fun last night trying to think of a names and Karen conveniently new a song about worms that she so kindly sang to me lol. So in the end I got a prescription, took it last night, and am completely fine today. Hahah I don't know if I will ever have a morning again that the first thing I thank the Lord for is that my worms are gone! But experiences like this make you realize that you really do have so much to be thankful for ...like health.
So I haven't dreamt much here, but the other night I had the strangest dream. I remember the feeling of it more than I remember exactly what happened. I think I had it because when i was walking home the other day I was thinking about how fast the time has gone here and how in about a week I would be home. I dreamt that I was home in my room after being here, but for some reason there was no way that I could come back here. It was the weirdest feeling. Like I wanted to be home and I was happy, but things weren't okay because I couldn't come back. Its hard to want to be in two places at once. I love it here and am so thankful for getting to be here, but at the same time its not my home. My family isn't here and no matter how long i was here I wouldn't necessarily belong. I tell Jeannine sometimes how much i miss my family. She said she knows how i feel :) she said she had to be away from home for 6 years in secondary school. well anyways..just about one week left.
As much as i want to be home there are so many little things that I'm going to miss here. so number one..I'm gonna miss the kids at mommas orphanage. there are two little kids there that I'm so attached to. First is Luckai. hes two and the cutest little boy Ive seen. he sits on my lap during the service until Natete, who's three, comes and pushes him off. Natete has a little attitude. She decided that she didn't like my nose ring and tried to pull it out lol. well I'm taking both of them home with me (minus the fact that Natete isn't an orphan and both of her parents work at the home..maybe ill just borrow her)

( the kids singing at mommas..Natete and Luckai are the two little ones in the middle in the front)

The next thing I'm gonna miss a lot is how much slower things are here. People here are much more focused on relationships and other people rather than just getting things done. They will stop and talk on the street before they would be worried about being late somewhere. No one seems to be in a rush either. I was talking to Bora's brother today who just graduated from university in South Africa and he was asking me about America. He asked what things were like there and he said so many people in Africa want to go. I was talking with him about how there are good and bad things about every country. First, Africa is beautiful. Not that there aren't great places at home, but nothing looks like it does here. And how much more people care about people than getting things accomplished is so much more positive than at home. I told him so many people in Africa want to go to the states, but they might want to come back when they get there.
Im going to miss the kids. As much as I hate being called Muzungu all the time, I'm going to miss the kids that barely come past my knees, bounding up to me with their arms spread out to give me a hug. I'm going to miss the little boy up the street that can barely get the word Muzungu out because hes almost hyperventilating with excitement (sometimes i think hes going to pass out lol)
As crazy as it might sound to some people here I'm going to miss the food! I love special omelets (amy im making them for you and Brooke when i come home lol) My favorite kind are the omelets with fries inside. Most of the time they are fries with a little egg on them (tom likes to call them fry strong lol) they are AMAZING. Im going to miss the little stores here. Sometimes i go buy things just to visit my favorite shop keepers. they have these little heart shaped waffles that i always get from my friend Osomtut's store. i always buy gum from her too and sometimes when i stop and say hi on a run she gives me a free piece of gum. there are so many small things i love here.
So all in all i want to be two places at once :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009


July 19th 2009
My time here is going by so increadibly fast. I have two weeks left and I feel like I just got here. The thought keeps crossing my mind..."Could I stay?", but there is so muchthat I feel is at home too. It's one of the hardest feelings to want to be in two places at once.
Anyways this past week has been interesting. So many things happen here that really break so many norms I hold for so many different things. On Tuesday morning, Tom, Christi, and I left to go to a village south of Butare to a group of women that make some of the handbags that we sell. We got somewhat lost, given that dirt roads don't generally have street signs. A boy sitting on the side of the road got in the bed of the truck and wanted to help us find the cell (a division in the country) that we were looking for. He was definatly an answered prayer (also a little random), because Tom had prayed for help maybe two mintues before we saw him. Meeting the women was really neat at this group. The kids are on holiday so there were so many around. Tom wanted me to take pictures of the area to send to the company that buys the bags. I had the help of about ten kidsfollowing me when I went outside to look around. We got to play soccer a little too :)
By the end of the day when we got to Butare, it was too late to get a bus back so we stayed in a Catholic guest house Tuesday night. This was one of the events that broke some of my expectaions about hotels. The rooms that we stayed in were formed from a big warehouse with wooden walls. The walls didnt go all the way to the ceiling so you could hear everything in the other rooms. People in Rwanda are very much into radio programs. So for most of the night and again at 5 am we got to hear some broadcasts (no idea what they were about).
On a little bit better of a note, I've been praying to be able to understand the people better here and just have any insight on where theyre coming from. The more people I get to know personally, the more I think I understand things here. I try to makeblanket statments/ thoughts about different issues in order to helps things here make more sense. Like I'll see something or someone doing something so completely different from what I'm used to and I'll project that behavior or action to everyone here. But getting to know people here personally shows me that even though it's a different country and there are things that are different from home, the people here are just people. They are all indavidual and so different from eachother, with different temperments and personalities.
I got to go with Karen to her Kinyrwandan lesson last week and got to talk to her tutor, Denise, and sit with her baby Audrey. Densise is so open and friendly and her baby is one of the cutest little girls I've seen. Denise showed us all her wedding pictures and shared so much with us. She let me sit with Audrey too (I really wanted to take her home lol) Meeting girls like Denise gives me a different veiw of people here. It's easy to want to become a little defensive when all you here all day is Muzungu. It feels like people just veiw you as something interestingto look at, but meeting people like Denise make you see that people here really are caring and open.
Today, the kids at a childrens home up the street let me come do one of the talks for church this morning. They always have one of the kids speak and one of the "grown ups" speak. Ironically, the little boy from the home that spoke before me had a more "grown up" talk than I did. He spoke on Job and how God doesn't leave us, but alows us to go through hard things so we can be tested and come out stronger than before. It's really neat to see how much passion and faith some of the kids have, even when they are so young. My talk on the other hand had to do with how our hearts are like Christ's home and how each different rooms in the house can be like part of our lives and we need to let Him be in each part of it (for a younger crowd lol) The best part of the day was when I sat down after the talk and the boy sitting next to me pointed at a verse that I had said, as if to show me how he was listening. After the service was over I looked up and saw a group of girls copying down the verses from a poster I had put up during the talk. It's really encouraging to see how much some of them want to learn and grow like that.
So theres about five kids from the home that I want to take back with me (yes karen you have to fight me for some of them lol :) ). One little girl, Happy, isn't an orphan but lives in the neighborhood and comes around all the time. She is so sweet and one of the most beautiful girls I've seen here. Shes always holding and taking care of the other little kids in the home. She told me today that she was going to call me Happy from now on. I was a little confused and told her that would mean we would have the same name and she seemed pretty content with that lol. hah shes coming home with me fo sho!
Well im going to head to sleep so I can run in the am :) Night!
This is Happy and I at the kids home...she had just done my hair for me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I love Canada, Rwanda, and the US!! (...england, ierland,the philipines, and italy too)

So everytime I get used to a place, it's so easy to stop writting as much down and taking as many pictures. There is so much though that i want to take in, be able to remember, and really share with people at home. I'm not sure where to start with the past few days. This past weekend was alot of fun. On the fourth, one of the volunteers, Becky, from canada, had a "Canada Day" party....umm on the fourth of july..so we were celebrating the wrong country. I went over early to help her get ready. We decided to get the neighborhood kids to help us decorate the door to her gate with chalk. Becky decides to draw a sunshine to show the kids that they could help too and draw others things. When i turned around there were about seven sunshines on her gate. hah eventually, they started drawing different things, but there were about anotherseven "I <3 Rwanda and the U.S." (my contribution). But the rest of theparty was so good. Becky is amazing and always opens up her house to everyone.

After "Canada Day" we went to a restaurant up the street. I was not expecting one of my favorite nights in Rwanda. We had a really good dinner. I had fish bruchettes (fried fish on a skewer), ibury (amazing potatoes), and a fried banana(im really starting to like them). At the end of dinner we went to go dance. The band was playing traditional Rwandan music and everyone was doing the cow dance. It sounds corny, but its actually really graceful and so much fun to do. One guy came up to me and asked if I knew why everyone was so happy...he explained that the song was about Rwandan heroes. He and about 3 others there thanked me for "trying" to dance lol...i guess they appriciated the effort. Also, at dinner I got to meet two other VSO volunteers, Epy and Jahno. Haha so yes basically my favorite night here so far. (minusthe fact that i woke up with a stomach ache (too many fish bruchettes)

So yesterday, we had training on the Mission, Vision, and Values of FH. It was the same training that we had in Phoenix, but its really good to get to be a part of it again. It helps alot to refocus in my heart, the point of the internship. The mission of FH is "To walk with churches, leaders, and families in overcoming all forms of human poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and his creation."And the vision is "God called and we responded until physical and spiritual hungers were ended world wide." Anyways the training went through alot of scripture when explaining the values that the organization wants to hold. Grace and stewardship really stood out to me during the day.

During the training I started to think about how I only understand the very surface of everything here (the culture, the people, what they went through and go through) and i only understand such a small part of what FH does and why. I know that there are things that God put in me to want to do this and be here, but that is such a vaugue understanding. I've really been wanting to put more knowledge, intelligence, and understanding to my faith and the things that I'm doing. Theres a verse in Peter that talks about this. It says "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-controll, to self control perserverence, to perserverence godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love." C.S. Lewis talks about adding intelligence to faith too. He talks about how God values good intentions, but he also wants us to use the intelligence that we have to put thosegood intentions to the best use. hah he says "..God will not love you any less, or have less use for you if you happen to have been born with a very second rate brain.

hah im not good at ending these posts...but im done :) i miss everyone

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rwanda Rwanda

so today is liberation day...which is the day the genocide ended fifteen years ago. everything is closed and i think that theres something going on at the stadium to celebrate.its still hard to believe that happened here. i thought about it alot before i came and when i first got here because thats almost all i read about when i found things about Rwanda(( One book i read is called Left to Tell.If you want to read a first hand account..this book is amazing.), but i havent thought about it as much since ive been here. sometimes things will come up about it. the other day dawn and I went to get our nails done (for the equivalent of 1 USD !!) and the woman wouldnt use the purple color i picked out because thats the color for the genocide. i thought about it yesterday because we had a staff meeting at the country directors house and he asked who had been working for FH since 94 to raise their hand. one woman, who has the warmest smile, raised her hand. it makes you wonder what they saw and what they went through during that time. sometimes ill see scars or someone with an injury and even though i know they could be from a million things it makes me think about what could have happened to them.
i think the reason i forget most of the time is because its so pretty here..and even more so, almost everyone is so kind and accpeting (once they get past the staring lol)the people that you meet and actually spend time with treat you like family. Some of the women we visited this week gave me presents before we left. One group gave me a woven purse and another group gave me a sisal basket. both of which are over a days work. its really humbling knowing that these women have so much less to begin with and give up a whole days work to someone they dont even know.
Dawn left this past thursday and i already miss her. It was so much fun to be working with her, christi and jenneane this week. Last friday we were so hardcore lol. We visited 7 groups and spent 12 hours on bumby roads ( hah those roads are no joke). She did so much to help. One of the things she helped with was to design a bag with a semstress named Martha (who is my favorite of the artists that weve met-shes 22, works so hard, and shes getting married in december). the bag ended up looking so good and it was really neat to be there when dawn explained to her what the bag should look like and to see the final product. anyways i miss dawn and am so glad she got to spend time with us :)
okay so one of the groups we visited last week is a prime opitomy of women's strenghth. they are a cooperative in muhanga that mostly weaves baskets. but listen to this...they are building their own house! not their husbands or the government...they are. its hard to put into words but this isnt the norm. these women are so strong. they formed their own group and are making their own money despite so many obsitcles. I got to ask one woman a few questions( with the help of jeneanne translating lol) about how the group has affected her and she said that she now can buy her own clothes with out asking for help and that it has helped her resolve alot of problems at home. also she mentioned that it helps her in her weaving because the women teach eachother techniques to improve their work.
hah two of the cutest things happened when we were walking up to see the where they were building the house. first i looked up and about 5 of them had their arms around eachother while they were walking in a big line..and another thing was when the one token guy that was definatly following one of the girls around made me take a picture of them together. she was beautiful hah so he had a good eye:) im not sure if she was having it though lol but he was pretty persistent.

well its getting pretty late here...bed time :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

i love my bed

I am so thankful that I could rest today. It has been a long past few days, but really good at the same time. For some reason, today and yesterday, I've gotten more homesick than I have the whole time I've been here. I thinkit might have been a combination of things. First, i think it's partly because I havent been feeling all that well.My friend Nathan has had malaria this past year and i keep asking him what it feels like, but he assures me i dont have it loli think i'm a little paranoid just being in a different place. I got to take a really good nap and feel alot better now. But I thinkanother part of starting to feel homesick was that I realized that I could make international calls on the phone that Christi game to meand got to here my parents voice yesterday...its been more than two weeks since ive heard them and it was so good :). hah ofcourse my mom says "bethhhie your okay....are you taking your malaria pills" lol ive missed hearing the concerned questions (mom i know your reading this i love it when yyou do that :) ) and i got to talk to my dad too.. i have to insert here that I have the best dad in the world..to here his tone when he realized it was me calling was so worth the dollar a minute phone charge.
Before i got off the phone my dad told me that my guinea pig died this past week. It sounds like a minor thing to get upset about(and i probobly shouldnt post this online), but I just started crying. I felt like i hadn't been at home with him enough because im gone all the time. But i just wanna say that my dad took such good care of him when he was sick (taking him to the vet and feeding him baby food when he wouldnt eat his own food..annnd letting him chew holes in my dad's t-shirts while he fed him carrots and they watched tv together lol) i need to re-emphasize the fact that I have the best dad :) I'm just thankful im not with the intern that got sent to peru this summer (they eat guinea pigs there)

Anways, it all sounds like little things. But today i sat down to pray and read for a little and I just cried more..about missing home, everyone there, my team, i even thought about coach mauer retireing and cried. I'm a mess lol. But for some reason even in the middle of crying and missing everything..i dont have the feeling that I should be home. I think i've written about this before, but as much as my emotions are saying i wanna be home, my heart and my head are really calm about being here still. I know the Lord has a purpose for different things (aka everything lol) and i think i can really feel him in that contrast of feelings.

So yesterday was exciting/ something i dont think i'll do again for a long time. Me and two other interns decided to go to lake Kivu this weekend (in between Rwanda and Congo). Although I wasnt completely aware of the plan before we left, bit by bit i started realizing different things about our excursion. First, we were going to stay there but we were gonna camp..which is fine..i love camping haha i think. Next I became aware of the fact that we were camping on an island that we had to take about a 45 min boat ride to. Then I found out that we were the only ones on the island (aside from about 3000 bats) and that the place wasntexactly designated as a camping area. Infact it was more of a mountain than just an isalnd and the only flat place we found was after completing an almost verticle hike to the top. A few other interesting incidents during ourtime relaxing (cough cough being stranded lol) on the island were deciding not to sleep in a tent and almost catching the island on fire when we started the fire (thankfully nate has great skill with his towel at putting out fires...way to go boy scouts :) hah but all in all even though it was exauhsting..it was a really cool experience and it makes me so thankful for my bed.
Anyways i just wanna say how much i miss everyone and hope everything is good at home!

A loonnng day

Friday - June 26, 2009
Today was the longest, and at the same time, the best day of my time here. I wish I could put down on papereverything I saw, heard, and felt, but I'm just praying that the most important things will stand out to me.Christi, Dawn, Jeneanne and I went to the southern districts to visit some new groups of artisans and see the products that they arealready making and to see if there were any suggestions we could give them about what they are making.

The area that we went to is one of the poorer areas in Rwanda and was hit the harder than most places during the genocide. It is part ofa goverment initiative, supported by president bush, to try to help and promote businesses which do not focus on agriculture. It closely alligns with what Christi and Tom are working on, so they work alot of times with different Government workers that are employed for this project. The woman that came with us today was a Rwandan woman named Marcelene.During the (extremely bumpy) ride to the first cooperative(a little past Butare, which is about 2 hours on the main raid from the FH office in Gitarama. The first place we went was a littlemore than an hour once we were on the side roads) I learned a little more about the sectors and some of what the women in these areas experience. I would ask questions to Jeneanne and she asked Marcelene for me (my Kynrwanda isn' the best right now).
So most of the women in these cooperatives cultivate land apart from the work they do making handicrafts. Cultivating, the women can make about 500 franks a day (which is one US dollar).When we met with the groups, I tried to find out the profit they could make on the products that they were making to see if it would be more than cultivating and most of the time (depending on what the women were charging, how much their materials cost, and the time it took them to make each craft) they could make more in their art work than cultivating their gardens. Another plus to the cooperative which the presidentof the first group told me and Jeneanne, was that the women really enjoyed the time that they got to spend together. Most of them groups we saw today were sitting outside in the sun(in the best weather EVER:) ) talking whilethey worked on their crafts. One hard part about the areas that we visited, was that they were so far out on the back roads that they can't always get to areas that they would be able to sell their products. Jenneane told me that the first villiage we saw was apart of a pilot project for Vision 2020 and the millenium development project. They worked to terrace the land in the village (i think to see if it made a difference in the cultivation of the land).

I took alot of pictures today with the FH camera...partly to document the products that the groups were making. I ended getting partially distracted and I think I took more pictures of the kids that were there :) lol. I dont know who was more interested in each other. Me or them. One of the girls at the first cooperative (i think she was 16 maybe?) seemed like she wanted to talk, but kept hiding behind her freind (i know im a little intimidating) When she finally came out from hiding, she started pointing to her skin and then to mine to motionas to how different they are. So then I pointed to her hair and then to mine..hah one of the boys spoke english and confirmed our observation as to how different we were. By then end her and her freind decided they wanted my watch...sooo i gave them my hair tie and ran away lol.

It was a really good experience to get to actually go to see the women (well mostly women) where they work. It puts things in such a differentperspective, as opposed to when the women normally bring their products into the office. Also, the sectors that we went to today are so far off themain road that it would be really difficult for them to get to the office.

I think there is so much more to what I saw today than I really comprehend. I can't really explain it the way I want to. I think I'm only feeling what I see on the surface when I meet these people. I's praying that I can really start to have more understanding of everyone I meet and that the Lord would let me feel what he feels toward them and what they are feeling too. I'm not sure if that completely makes sense, but i know there is so much more to what I'm seeing than I realize. The Bible talks about how close God is to the poor and how He's their refuge..which makes me know there is something different there and I think He's with them in a different way? Not that He loves them more, but I think that their is a different relationship (maybe because of a different dependence on Him). Anyways..hopefully ill get this understanding soon (in this lifetime?? lol im not sure)

Well I'm going to go pack...the other interns and I are going to Lake Kivu....maybe camping :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


today I had m&m's for the first time in a week and a half! we had to Kigali today to meet with a church group that was flying out and the country director's wife, brenda (who is amazing and the best cook!), made lunch and had them on her table. it reminded me so much of home and I think they were the only m&m's in all of Rwanda :)
the past couple of days have flown by, but they have been so good. I'm homesick in a way and miss my family so much, but still am so thankful/happy to be here. There's times though that i feel like if I here one more "muzungu" im going to cry...but theres other times (which I think that God really uses to soften my heart) when kids will come bounding at you for hugs and I can't even describe the feeling of that. Theres a school for disabled kids behind a stadium that i run by and about 20 of them always come out to say hi in the morning when i run by. By the time they're done I'm always short my headband and a couple of hair ties that they discovered when trying to make sense of why my hair is so different...

so the nights here are really quiet. I've gotten to read alot and its really taught me how to slow my life down alot and not always have to be doing things. I've been reading Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis and always find quotes that really stand out to me. The other night I read this...
"What I mean is this. An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get in touch with God. But if he is a Christian, he knows what is prompting him to pray is God also: God, so to speak , inside him. But he always knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God - that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying - the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on- the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal."
I've never thought of it like that. It makes you think about the fact that when you spend time with Him (and all that is going on) He must really want to be with us. I have the tendenecy to feel like the time and effort i'm spending is one sided and really forget that He wants to be with me more than i want that time. so much of the time i think i dont take the time to let Him tell me that.

so its only 1034 here and I'm pretty much ready for bed lol and this is a late night for me :) (hah im a little lame)