Saturday, June 11, 2016

Parents learning to read and write......

Our programs (both primary and infant programs) are all about family. It is all about orphan prevention. (Did you know in most orphanages, more than half of the kids have a living parent?! Most are what is called “poverty orphans”.) 

What if……. the children never had to leave their parents because of poverty. 

What if…….. the parents were more empowered to make informed choices and changes? 

What if……. decided to walk alongside moms, dads, and families?

As someone who first came here to volunteer in an orphanage. And someone who is constantly learning. Honestly I think if anyone tells you they know what they are doing, well, I would question them greatly. And I would hope they would question themselves. 

I digress……. 

One thing we have noticed with the families we work with. (28 families) is that more than half of the parents (moms and dads, or foster moms/dads) have never been to school, or have no ability to read and write. Some might have gone up to second or third grade, but then had to stop, for various reasons. Some remember some basics, and others never stepped foot in a school as a student. 

We asked them if they would be interested in coming to a class once a week, to learn to read and write? Everyone of them jumped on the idea. So we decided to look around, and see if we could find a teacher who would work on full day a week. We did! (We are going to break this into 4, 2 hour classes) 

Can you imagine for a minute, perhaps you fled with your parents during the genocide and became an orphan, and grew up a street child. After a sweet talking solider, you bore a few children, but then in your early 20’s were thrown out! You found out your parents had land, that rightly belongs to you. You return with your kids, to reclaim that land, and find your uncle in the home. He draws up a contract, and you have to trust what he is saying, this says. You always have to trust what others say something says. 

You have to trust every legal paper, every school paper, every bank slip, everything you have to trust what someone else tells you it says. Your lease you have no idea what the landlord put in it, and so her upping the rent by $1.00 a month (remember most of our families roughly make $1-$2 a day!) You dont know if that is legal or not, because you never asked for a copy of a lease you cannot read. 

So we want to go get some pens, pencils, and notebooks, for these parents. (we are so excited that there is equal excitement and interest from both moms and dads!) to learn to read and write and empower them! Lets help them set an example to their children as well. 

It is going to cost us $120 a month to do this. Just $120 to educate the parents of the kids in our program? YES! 

We are hoping we can get 5 $25 a month sponsors, or 2 $50 a month and a $20 a month sponsor. Or 12 $10 a month sponsors. Or perhaps your small group or bible study group want to sponsor this project? 

We are scheduled to start the first week of July!!! (We do a lot in faith) 

You can sign up for recurring monthly donations that are tax deductible at 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Primary program day....

Saturday we had all the kids from the primary program come and get their backpacks with all their supplies. The parents accompanied them, and I wonder if most of it wasn't for the parents, they had so much fun too! Every 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, all the students in the program will come to the office, so we can play games, give lessons, and just generally love on them. 

I was so excited after I got all the bags stuffed!! 

No. 41 came to measure all the kids for uniforms. You should check them out
they are pretty amazing! 

Playing games outside, as we one by one got uniform measurements. 

Posing so I can take a pic, and they could all gather around and look at it, and giggle. 

Songs and games (like simon says) for a little time, while we got pictures one by one
for the official paper work files. 

I cannot wait till the 18th already. 

This week Yvonne Parr has been here, and has been doing the more in depth 
information meetings with each and every parent. And as we learn more and more 
about each and every family, the more I am beyond myself to get the kids all together
twice a month, for some time to play, pour into them, and we plan to get them a treat 
of amandazi (a friend bread) and milk. 

THANK YOU so much to all the sponsors. I cannot wait to get a chance next week, 
to email you each individually an update. As we get to know the families and children more, 
we cannot wait for you to get to know them more too!!

THANK YOU so much for giving these kids the gift of education, health insurance, 
and encouragement. 

I just know when we do our names in sparkles and talk about how God knows our names, 
and how he created each of us. I just know its going to be the best day I walk away, 
picking glitter off me for days. ;) 

In Christ, 

Dear 22 year old me, dont kill yourself......

Dear 22 year old me, 

I remember you well, because sometimes I still catch glimpses of you. I wanted to tell you a few things that are going to shock and surprise you. 

Soon things are about to get a lot worse than you thought they could. I know there are certain occasions in your life, that emotional memory is so strong, that you have set out so deeply to never replicate that feeling in your life, and dug your heels in to make sure you never make someone else feel that way either. Soon, you will take Xanax because some of the memories, the hurts, are going to make you want a little relief. But that one Xanax, is going to drive you to get a screw driver and bust open a locked box of your medication, and you will take every single pill inside. Because right now you are living in a transtional living program, after your time of homelessness. You will determine in a moment of emotion, that this temporary pain is too much, and you would rather take a chance with whatever happens after death and take every pill you got. 

You will wake up in the ICU, restrained to the bed, the date written on a dry erase board in the corner. This will be one of those moments that will be so strongly ingrained in your heart and soul that you do not want to duplicate, nor want anyone else to ever feel. When you wake up, you are going to hear lots of beeps, and the ventilator. You will be aware, and go to speak and realize you can’t because of the tube down your throat breathing for you. When you realize you cannot speak, you will go to lift your hand to see what it is, and realize you are restrained to the bed, and can’t lift your arms or sit up. Your eyes will dart around the room, you will see the date on the dry erase board with the name of the nurse. You will panic, and begin to slam your wrist against the metal rail of the bed, to get someones attention. The next couple weeks you will battle many things, and curse the hospital again and again for saving your life. They will try to take you off the ventilator, and you will feel a rush of panic as you cannot breath, the nurse will tell you she is going to put something in your IV, and when you wake up, the tube will be back in your throat. You will have aspirated charcoal into your lungs, you will battle phenomena, you will beg your family back in IL to come, and they won’t. You will always remember a random intern, who sat by your bed, when you had a fever, and put a cold washcloth on your forehead, and just held your hand. You will remember those who held your hand. And you will also want to replicate that. 

You will be so scared at times, you sleep with a knife under your pillow, and the dresser against the door. You will live in a group home, and count all the ways, it doesn’t feel like a home. You will be admitted and traumatized. You will watch the door during visiting hours and hold your breath, praying….hoping…begging…. someone would come to see you. 

I wish I could hold you right now, younger me. I wish you knew, that all these things, would one day be used for Gods glory. Your arms, the scars. Oh how many times, you will roll up your sleeves, or a child on another continent will kiss those scars. Even a friends young foster child, who self harms, will identify with those scars, and instead of doors closing, some of those scars will open doors. 

You will one day, buy a one way ticket, and not have a stinking clue what in the world you are doing, to move to Africa. But things will be different. But some of these things that made you, you. They are still so deeply ingrained into you. The memories are still so strong, even now at 35. 

You will become determined to hold a hand, on a hospital bed. You will see some, others will write off, and you will get angry that they wrote them off, dig in your heels, and refuse to budge from hope. You will snicker a bit, when “professionals” say things like “They will always be sick” and remember the time you were on SSDI, because they thought the trauma of your life, was so deep, that you would never be self sufficient. So you will smirk a bit, and agree, but you will refuse to see the reality, and trust what Gods possibilities are. 

You will even find the love of your life in Africa, and all the things you never thought you would find your life, you will be in awe of. 

I know its hard right now young me. I know right now, you long for something to call your own. You are so tired of living outside your comfort zone, scrambling to find one. To find one day, comfort zones are severely over rated, and you will end up living your life, feeling more uncomfortable getting too comfortable! You will get out of that ICU bed, and you will OD all over again. 

You will struggle just to catch your balance. You will question others choices over your life. You will question your own value, and try to determine weather you are valuable enough to live or not. You will have those who will refuse to walk away, and always have a place for you at the table. Just so you know, they still do. They have still stuck around. Your church family, the ones who come to pick you up at the group home…… that church will still be home. And walking in those doors will stir so much in you, and impassion you so much, because it reminds you of your roots. It reminds you, of those who didn’t give up on you. It reminds you of rest. It reminds you of hope. It reminds you of where you began to trust in the one true die for love of your life. Jesus Christ. 

You will learn, that nothings lasts forever. Even now you have to remind yourself of that, when you find yourself scared half a world away from anything familiar. When your scared, anxious, overwhelmed, those feelings must pass. No one feels overwhelmed 24 hours a day. That heightened emotions must pass, as will the good ones. You will begin to learn to trust in what you have learned to be truth, and walk more by faith, because you will learn how your emotions can lie. How your emotions can crash over you. You will learn you do not have to stay in them, or let them define you. You will learn to acknowledge them, allow yourself to feel them, and then allow them to recede. You will tell others its OK to feel these same things, and plead with them to validate their own emotions, because you know that, that wave will continue to crash over and over them, till they do. 

You will open your table, and change the rules. You will open your doors, and your heart. You will pray some of your deepest, passionate, intense prayers on the back of motto’s zooming through the land of a thousand hills. 

You will bless those who saved your life. You will want to go back and thank each and everyone of them. 

I know right now it is bumpy. And I do not think the Lord brought it, but I know sweet scared girl, that the Lord will use it. You will get up on those shaky legs, and not just learn to walk, but fly halfway around the world. You will know the power of love. 

I wish you knew right now, how all that you are going through, will be used for something bigger than you. I want you to know, that another day, you will surrender. Truly surrender to Christ. It will be yet another one of those days, moments, etched into your heart and soul. And as you bring piece by piece your brokenness to Christ, he will weave it into something beautiful. 

Daily you still bring him those broken pieces. Grace, upon grace, upon grace. Even now, as you remember what Christ has brought you through, remember even now, those strong demanding emotions and situations. The Lord will use them for His good. 

The anniversary is coming up. . . . when you OD’ed on all those Xanax. The day, you had no idea, your life was really just beginning. Younger me, I am so glad you lived. I am so glad it was in the ambulance you stopped breathing, not before no one made it to you. And all these times where you feel like you cannot find a place to belong. You never will, and one day……. one day, you will embrace your citizenship is in heaven, and not a single one of us were made for this world. We are simply passing through, and our real place of belonging is in Christ. 

Hold on, its about to get a whole lot worse, scarier, happier, fearful, anxious, amazing, and incredible. Your life is just beginning. So when that nurse comes in and explains all the tubes, machines….. hold onto hope. Hold on tight. Even if no one comes, when you beg them to, because you are scared. It will inspire you to show up, and step up, and step in. Girl, you are in for the ride of your life………

35 year old me 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I love to hike now.

Something it does to my head.
Its like defragging your computer.

Normally I put on my earbuds and listen to podcasts or worship.
Sometimes I have to pull out the ear buds,
put the phone away,
and just walk and admire.

Yesterday was four hours of hiking.
And it did not disappoint.
So I thought I would just share a few images from my hike yesterday.

Because it really was and is....... Rwandaful.

It's hard to go hike to a home visit, and not pass through tea planations.

Psalms 95:4
"In His hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peeks belong to Him."

Brick baking 

Romans 1:20
"For since the creation of the world Gods invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." 

This cracked me up. As we were walking, and I saw this heard of mixed goats and sheep coming down. I thought "oh that would be a cool picture of all the goats and sheep." But was waiting for random passerby's to get past. Once I stopped, no joke ALL the goats and sheep stopped, and stared at me. It was like they were wondering what this random white girl in the middle of nowhere mountain villages. They all stood staring at me, till I walked past, then they all started to continue on their way. I never laughed so hard, me and Theirry were nearly on the ground laughing. 

Found a new place to get my coffee!! 

Does it not just take your breath away?! 

On the way down the mountains these guys nearly knocked me over, they were bolting down the mountain with this hand made sugar cane transporting device. We caught up to them at the bottom of the mountains in the plantations. 

I would have totally bought some sugar cane to munch on, on the way home. 
But didn't bring anything with me but my water bottle. 

If you heard this before, you will probably have heard it 100 times already. 
I remember on my first trip to Rwanda with VO. 
As I sat on the bus passing all these houses, and people, 
I just longed to have the bus stop, go into their homes, sit down, and chat. 
Just to get to know them, personally. Their life. 

Now home visits are one of my favorite things. 
Who knew I would forgo the motto's one day, and rather hike 4 hours to 
get to sit in a home, chat, and shell a few coffee beans. 

I love the relational aspect of what I get to do. 
I love the time I have in prayer when I hike. 
I love how it calms the mind. 
i love how up every hill, and around every turn, there is always something that takes my breath away. 

I have been living in Rwanda for almost four years now (in August). 
The beauty of Rwanda, is surely un matched. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Love wins

I used to say she had a sixth sense. She always knew when I was coming to the orphanage it seemed. 

And it was pretty well known she had dibs on some part of me. My hand, my back, 
or my hip. 

I often saw these eyes staring up at me, as she grasped my hand in the crowded orphanage. 

Occasionally we could get some time together without hundreds of others. 

Then this 9 year old girl, who wore clothes of a 5 year old moved into my home. 

It was a new adventure for the both of us. 

And somehow she has grown into a pre-teen! 

And her joy is contagious!

I call her my rainbow bright girl, and my pinky brewster. 
She loves all things sparkly, mis matched, rainbow, and extreme. 

And if she is happy, sad, excited, whatever emotion it is. 
She feels it with every fiber of her being!
When she laughs, she throws her head back, and you almost see it 
go from the bottom of her feet and just explode. 
When she is angry, her looks could turn boiling water to ice. 
She she is happy, I do not think her feet touch the ground. 

She is surely starting to come into her own. 

And its been a rocky road. Anyone who has parented a child who has a trauma history
knows, its a journey all its own. I remember the first time she told me she was hungry
and asked me for something to eat, and how I swung her around and hugged her so tight
and told her how proud I was of her. There are some silly little milestones sometimes you can 
point back too, and realize bricks where coming down from the walls. Other days just 
seem like normal days, but you dont realize the routine, the structure, that is laying groundwork
into the bonding. 

I dont know what spurred me to write this blog. 

Oh yeah I do. After I got myself ready and the kids all fed and off to school, 
and was going to the office to meet with the mama's and babies from the village. 
I forgot something in my room. 

I ran back into my room, and found this and a piece of candy Rebecca left on my bed. 
I cried a happy snotty my face is leaking in many ways cry. 
And when I got to the office, I taped it up on the wall, right where I can see it
when I meet with the mama's. 

To remember......