Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rwanda Adoption News

I found myself very emotional at church this morning. I was surrounded by beautiful Rwandan children looking at me with their huge brown eyes. All I could think about was our son. I wondered if he is born yet. Who his mother is and where does she live? Have I walked by her at the market?

I think that it hit me more today than other days because it was recently announced that Rwanda is no longer accepting dossiers as of Tuesday. They have signed the Hague Agreement which long term is great news for children. It will protect them against harm and eliminate corruption from the system. The sad and upsetting news is for those families who are currently in the process of preparing their dossiers. For us, we have put things a bit on hold until we get settled in to our life here in Rwanda so it isn't as devastating to us as it is for many families. We have heard that there are about 150 dossiers waiting at the Ministry office to be processed. In my mind, having been through a Chinese adoption where there are tens of thousands of dossiers waiting to be processed, that doesn't seem like a lot. But, I can also completely understand how they feel. It doesn't matter if there are 30,000 or 3 dossiers in front of yours. You just want your child home in your arms.

So, we will just have to wait and see what happens. We have no idea how long the process of accreditation will take. We just have to trust God. Again...the biggest lesson we learned while waiting for our sweet Emma was...God's timing is Perfect timing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our House and Church

Several of you have been asking for more pictures of the inside of our house. I finally have things put away enough that I felt I could take a few pictures to post.
The school...more pictures to come in a few days of Matt's classroom and inside the school!
Here is the church we attend...the blue is an outdoor baptismal!

Our House
The Front Yard. It looks Much better now that Emmanuel cleaned it up. He did awesome!
Our Room. Emma loves our huge mosquito net. She is being a monkey here.

Emma's room!
Emma's pink bed and mosquito net. She loves it because she HATES bugs!
The cabinet above the sink is actually no longer there. The other day it along with the faucet came crashing down. Water was gushing out of a hole in the wall. It was a totally "I Love Lucy" moment!
living room
dining room

We have a guest room/office too. So if you are in the neighborhood, come on over!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Probably the biggest adjustment and the thing that has put me most out of my comfort zone here has been having a worker. I am a very "do-it yourself" kind of person. It is the norm here to have workers. Most "upper class" families have inside workers who help with cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. As well as a guard and/or outdoor worker who would be sort of like a grounds keeper there to keep the yard looking nice, etc. This is so weird to me. We decided to have someone 2 days a week to help with the yard, go the market for me and just sorta be a presence while I'm at work. He works another 4 days a week for our friends down the street. His name is Emmanuel. He is a really nice young man and super sweet with Emma. I discovered yesterday that he has a 4 year old son and a wife. He has done an amazing job cleaning up the yard. Our house hasn't been lived in for awhile so the yard needed a lot of work. Please pray that we are able to build a relationship with him and share Christ.

We have been told by many families that if I try to go to the market and buy produce I will be charged Mzungu prices. But, if we send our worker, he will be charged local prices and so we will pay much less. Yesterday, I made a list and Emmanuel road a moto to the market for me.

Here is what he got for 14,000 Rwandan Francs. That is about $24 US.

2kg of potatoes (4.4 lbs)
1 pineapple
2 bunches of bananas
1 kg of mangoes (3)
5 apples
2 green peppers
1 kg of sweet potatoes (2.2 lbs)
4 avocados
1 cabbage
2 kg of flour (4.4 lbs)
1 kg of sugar (including rocks!) (2.2 lbs)
2 cucumbers
4 cans of tomato paste
12 eggs
and round trip moto ride

Yes, this IS the biggest avocado you have ever seen! I cut into it thinking it was a mango! That is a mango above it. Unreal!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Emma's First Day of Preschool!!

Emma started preschool Wednesday. We are so excited that she loved it. We were pretty nervous that she might struggle with being away from us for 4 hours since we have only been here for 2 weeks. Starting preschool is a pretty big deal in itself let alone throwing in the fact that she just moved to a new country. She has been awesome through all of the changes. She says all the time, "I love living in Africa Mom! It's Awesome!" Wait until she actually sees a zebra or something! She'll really love it.

Her preschool is mostly Rwandan children. She does have a few other missionary kids who attend with her as well. She has her friends Tilly, Joe, and Emily all from England. We think that one other family will be sending there little girl there too. She is actually adopted from China as well so that will be extra special for Emma.

I'm so glad that she enjoys it. I will be starting work at the school on Monday!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Islands In The Stream

This afternoon I was resting on the couch while Matt worked on school things and Emma took a nap. I woke up to what sounded like a parade coming down our street. We went outside to check it out and was told by our neighbor, a lovely Rwandan woman, that it was a betrothal ceremony. Basically, the young man was coming to ask for the woman's hand in marriage. He would make a speech and then negotiate the bride price with her father. Typically, cows are given. It was such a beautiful affair. I ran down the street a snuck (as much as a white person can sneak anything in Rwanda) a few shots. The wedding photographer in me couldn't resist. I tried not to take anything too invasive. People are very sensitive about having their picture taken by strangers here so I didn't want to be rude. I could hear people saying, "mzungu" which means white person so I just grabbed a couple of shots and took off.

This was a few hours ago. I can still hear them celebrating down the street. In fact, they were just blaring, "Islands in the Stream." I just had to sing along!

"Islands in the stream that is what we are.
No one in between. How can we be wrong.
Sail away with me to another world.
And we'll rely on each other ah ah."

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Today I was able to venture out and do some grocery shopping to stock up the cupboards. One thing that I always find interesting when visiting another country is the price difference for certain staple items.

Just a sampling for those interested:
Rice 5Kg bag-$14.50
Banana chips-.85
Canned Peaches-$4
Soy Sauce-$3
Canned Mushrooms-$5 (if you know Emma, you know that she LOVES mushrooms. she was thrilled to see them on the shelf)
Ketchup-$1 (not sure why I bothered bringing ketchup p
Tomatoes (a bag of about a dozen roma tomatoes)-$0.68!!
Ground Hamburger is about $2/pound
Shaved Ham is about $3.50/pound
4 Garlic Cloves-$1.40

I was also able to go to a
like Michael' is a store wit
h crafts already made. There were so many beautiful things. It will be a favorite stop whenever
I make it to the grocery store since it is right next door. I was looking for bread loaf pans and baking sheets at the market so when I spot stone crocks and plates I was thrilled! I bought the dishes for 3000 Rwandan Francs (about $5US) and the Crocks that I can use for bread or casseroles/lasagnas for $8.50 each! I also found
these beautiful baskets perfect for our toiletries and dvds. Emma picked out 2 little animals so that her dolls could have pets at the doll house.

Another fun find was this wall hanging. They are made from banana leafs. We have seen them at the school and I was
hoping to find one. It was only $5. I made a fun collage of family photos. And, the other day I bought this fantastic chair for Emma on the side of the road. $6!! She loves it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Over the last several years we have been involved with many clean water projects. Matt worked on wells in Malawi, we worked with our youth groups to raise money for wells, we were involved with the Rwanda Clean Water Project at Mars Hill, etc. I have seen the pictures of kids carrying large yellow containers of water from the river. Matt has walked with women in Malawi for miles to gather water in the pond and carry it miles back to their homes. You can do all those things and think, “Wow, that’s horrible.” But then you walk over to your sink and drink glass after glass of water and don’t think about it again.

We have been driving around town seeing people carrying containers of water. We are in the capitol city of Rwanda. This isn’t some little village in the middle of Africa. It really hits me when I come home and I turn on my faucet. I can turn on my faucet and there is fairly clear water that comes out. Yes, I have to boil it and then run it through a filtration system and it still tastes like you are licking a ceramic pot or a rock. But, I don’t have to walk for miles and then boil and filter my water.

The water situation is interesting. Each home has a water tank. Well at least the homes with running water. The city will fill the tank randomly so there will probably be times when we will not have water. Maybe even for a couple of days at a time. We only have hot water in the upstairs shower. None of the faucets, including the kitchen, have hot water. So, anytime I do dishes I have to boil 2 kettles of water and then add cold water from the faucet. I use some faucet water for washing dishes so that we can get our stomachs somewhat used to the water. I’m sure there will be times when we eat something that wasn’t washed properly so if we can get our stomachs used to it we might not get so sick. We only plug in the water heater or the water pump right before we take showers or baths to save electricity.

Enjoy a yummy glass of water from your tap...even those of you in So. Cal...and be grateful!

Water tank the back yard.
Water filter in the kitchen

Our New Home

Here it is! We are so pleased with our new home. The yard is fenced in so once the dry season ends we will be able to let Emma play outside more in the yard and not worry about anything happening to her. I haven’t taken too many inside pictures yet because we are still unpacking and settling in. All of the walls are yellow which of course makes Emma very happy. (it is her favorite color.) There are lots of window with great light during the day. The kitchen is pretty retro. I actually love it. I feel like I’m in the UK actually. Everything feels very British right down to the tea kettle.

There are 3 bedrooms. Emma loves her new pink and yellow bedroom. She picked out some fun wall stickers before we left and had lots of fun helping me put them on the walls. Some new friends gave her a doll house and she is just having a blast with it.

I will post more pictures of the inside once we get unpacked. It is actually a really big house. We love it!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Monday, August 2 we woke up in our hotel room just outside LAX at 4AM. We had an 8:30 AM flight and wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get all of our bags checked in. We had 10 check bags and 6 carry-ons. Insane! We actually took up the entire luggage rack on the shuttle to the airport.

As I mentioned before we left, we have been praying that our bags would make it under 50lbs each so that we would not be charged $400 extra per bag. Matt and I specifically prayed that morning that our check in agent’s eyes would be blind to the scale or that he/she would be very generous. Well, one of the too happened. Half of our bags were 53lbs and the rest were 50lbs. She didn’t charge us anything extra for being over the weight limit. She just smiled and rolled them through. Praise God!

At our gate we met Jennifer. She is from LA and is also a new teacher here at KICS. We were hoping to have time to chat with her in DC but our flight was late and we almost missed our connection. When I say almost missed, I mean we were literally sprinting through Dulles flagging down the agent as she said, “last call for Brussels.” It was complete OJ Simpson style. Once we got settled on the plane we realized the Jennifer was not on the plane. She ended up missing the flight and had to stay in DC until Thursday...along with our 10 bags of checked luggage!

We had a 4 hour layover in Brussels. They have these great, however dirty, play areas for kids. Fantastic idea! Emma had a blast playing with the touch screens and running around with the other kids. It was perfect timing for her since we were pretty much on a plane for 13 hour straight from LA to Brussels minus or quick sprint down the hall in DC.

She did amazingly well on all 3 flights. She hardly even fussed. She slept most of the flight from Brussels to Kigali which really through off her sleep schedule since we arrived at 7pm. She woke up at 4 the next morning. She is now sleeping through the night and not getting up until 6-6:30, which is still early for her.

When we arrived in Kigali at 7pm on Tuesday, we came down the stairs to the baggage claim area only to be greeted by this sign. We finally got our luggage late Thursday night. It flew in from DC with Jennifer.

Emma at 5AM with our luggage ready to go!
Playing with the touch screen in Brussels
Yes, those are our names.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Our Last Week in the USA!

What a week! I can't believe this week has gone by so quickly. Emma loves visiting the pool at Mema's house. She has become an amazing swimmer. We are thrilled that there is a pool 300 yards from our house in Kigali.
Tuesday night, Mema and I took Emma to the Wild Animal Park. Summer evenings are our favorite time to visit. All of the tourist are heading out and we are heading in for the cool weather and active animals. Emma loves to play on the playground and ride the carousel.
Wednesday we visited Sea Life Aquarium. We had purchased discounted tickets through Groupon and needed to use them up before we left. Emma had a great time with her Uncle David looking at the sharks and sting rays.

Thursday was Mommy's day to play. I was able to have dinner with my So Cal Mommy's. We had an amazing time catching up laughing. I just love these incredible ladies! There are 11 kids between the 5 of us. We really needed a break!
Friday we spent the day with some of Matt's family. 7 great-grand kids had a blast running around the yard playing baseball. There were Dodger, Padres and Angel fans present. It was a "big game" as Emma said. It was awesome to see Matt's cousin, her husband and their 4 kids home from Africa. They serve at an international school there and just returned to the States a week ago. We were so happy to be able to spend the day with them. We hope to spend Christmas with them in Africa! The day was full of food, laughter, and prayer...the perfect send off!
It is now Sunday at 1:30 AM. The bags are packed-for the most part-and ready to go in a few hours. We will be having a send off in the morning at church and then heading to LA to stay the night before flying out early Monday morning. I really can't believe that the last 3 weeks have gone by so quickly. I also can't believe how much this feels like when we left for China. There is anticipation, planning, packing, unknown. I also know that this is not only a new adventure for our family but it is also bringing us another step closer to our son.

Please be praying that our travel goes well. We are checking 10 bags and have 6 carry-ons. Each bag has been weighed over and over again. We are praying that they are under 50 lbs according to United Airlines. If they are over, the person checking us in can charge us $400 for each bag that is over. We are considering taking a Starbucks card and selling a big story about moving Africa to teach children and volunteer in an orphanage. Also, pray that Emma would travel well. We have 22 hours of air time plus several hours of layover time. She is used to flying but the last long flight she had-11 hours from Hong Kong to San Francisco- was when she was 16 months old. I know that she will have her moments-as I will probably have too. Just pray that our melt down moments are not at the same time!