Sunday, October 31, 2010

Intore Dancers!

Our pastor and his wife threw a fabulous ice cream social last night. It was an evening full of fun and fellowship along with some incredible entertainment. They hired a local Intore dance troupe to perform for us. This is the traditional Rwandan dancing once performed only for royalty. There are different stages of the dance that touch on peace, reconciliation and courtship. The men dance as warriors to show power. The women dance with grace to show love and care. It is also said that their dance emulates the movement of cattle because cattle are a form of wealth in Rwanda. Each performer wears bells around their ankles. Emma loved the drums and the girls with baskets on their heads.






Thursday, October 28, 2010

To the Waiting Families...

I have been receiving emails this week from Rwanda waiting parents. I am so blown away by the response from my last post. Thank you first of all for even reading my ramblings. You put things out here into space and never know if anyone other then your friends and family are listening. I hope that sharing my life in Rwanda is helping you cope with the wait and I guess it is.

One of the major reasons that I wanted to take the huge leap of faith and move to Rwanda was to do just this. I want to be able to be sort of a bridge for waiting families to their children here. I know that when we were waiting for Emma I would have done anything to know where she was and what her life was like. As I said before, it really is a blessing for parents to know where their child is. You can pray so specifically for that child. I hope that I can help you to understand the culture and the people here. That was so important to us when adopting from China. When we landed in Beijing we felt sort of at home because we had read and studied so much about the place and the people. It really felt like the only connection I had to Emma and her birth family during the wait. Sort of my way of trying to understand her birthmom I guess.
I am trying to be that sort of link for you. There are those really dark horrible gut wrenching days when all you want to do is get on a plane and get your baby. You just need some sort of connection to your baby. My desire is to be a comfort to you. Know that there are 3 adoptive mommies loving on your baby every Tuesday afternoon in a dark room with light blue walls and cream colored cribs. We have felt every single thing that you have felt through your wait. We know what you are thinking and understand. Know that we are praying for your child when we hold him and we are praying for you, too. Know that we are cheering them on when they pull themselves up in their cribs, when they stand on a blue mat and try to dance to the music, when they clap and make adorable baby noises. Someone is paying attention. That was hard for me. I don't really know what Emma's life was like. I don't know how much she was paid attention to. I want to be your hands and heart until you arrive to bring your baby home.

And I pray that happens soon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Witnessing Joy in a Dark Room

i started volunteering at the orphanage today. i think that I am still processing this afternoon's trip. I didn't really know what to expect from it really. when the teachers go on sunday afternoons, they are not allowed to go in the baby rooms. they play with the 2-4 year olds outside. because my friend has been involved with adoptions for so long here, she has been able to work with the nuns and educate them on the importance of baby massages. so we got to massage the little babies!! i couldn't believe it! I was in the room with babies who looked to be about 8-13 months old. now they might be a bit older but they were just starting to stand up and try to walk so i would guess about that age. when we got there they were feeding them. a couple were crying...a couple were sleeping...others just hanging out. after a few minutes, they brought us 3 little babies. i would say they were about 5 months old. all boys. i swear...adorable!!! we loved them and gave them massages, did a little Physical Therapy muscle toning type stuff and just held them until it was time to go. while we were there, they got out a new mat and let the kids crawl around. some where trying to stand and attempting their first steps. I couldn't help but think of emma at this age. they then put on some french children's music and the kids started bopping and swaying around. I thought of Emma's nanny telling me that she enjoys joyful music.

i didn't really know how i would react today. i didn't know if my thoughts would be for our future children or more directed to emma's past. i was definitely more connected to emma's past. i think it was a bit easier because emma was in foster care at this age. i noticed their cloth diapers...not a rope or bungee cord to be seen thank goodness as this is often the case in china. i watched the little ones try to dance around the room and thought of emma's ankle scars from being tied to her crib. it made me grateful for this orphanage. the nuns seemed to be enjoying their time with the little ones. they were singing to them and clapping along. the children were all smiling. there was joy in that dark room.

it is so different from our china experience. i was probably in the same room as my friend's little girl. and the children of some of you who are reading this blog. my friend has had her dossier in rwanda since january knowing exactly where her little girl is and where she will go to get her. with china, we had no idea where emma was in that huge country until we got her picture. so different. what a blessing for the parents waiting to be able to pray so specifically for their little ones.

so much to process. i'm just so happy to finally be able to go. i have been so scared to go for the last several weeks given the changes in the rwanda adoption seen. i just wasn't sure if i could handle it. orphans and their care are constantly on my heart. i feel like this was my reason for moving here. i'm just praying for God to use me to help the orphans here. there are about 1 million of them in a country of 9 million.

i'm starting small and praying for something big.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where God Sleeps

I have been to many beautiful places in the world...The Great Wall of China, Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, Loch Ness in Scotland, the mountains of Germany and Austria, Hawaii, the rolling hills of Italy and England, the Rock Mountains, and the list goes on. I must say though that the place I just returned from is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life. The volcanoes and lakes of northwest Rwanda form the most breathtaking landscape. The colors are so vibrant...almost electric green leafs and grass, blue lakes, orange dirt roads, every shade of green and yellow you can imagin form rectangles across the mountainside.

Not only are the views amazing but the people are too. A friend told us about Virunga Lodge. It is, according to the guidebook, the best hotel in Rwanda and right up there with all resorts in Africa. Our friend, who used to live in Ruhengeri said that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck stay here when they visit Rwanda. It is $500 per night per person. Yikes! We decided to drive up and check out the view and have lunch. The lodge and food were amazing (I have been craving a delicious steak and I had one finally!) But, the best part of the whole thing was the ride down the hill. As we drove back down the mountain, the village children sprinted after the car. We gave high fives and waved. We stopped and Emma, Abby and Lucas shook hands with the children out the window. In fact, when they saw Emma, they got very excited. They probably haven't seen many Chinese children. They kept running after us and shouting and cheering. We handed one little girl a can of pringels...she was so thrilled. We finally figured out that they were shouting "pen." They wanted pens and pencils! We dug through our bags and the truck and started handing them out the windows. They were so excited! It was an amazing 15 minute drive down the mountain.




We then drove over to Volcanoes National Park. If you have ever seen the movie "Gorillas in the Mist," this is where it all happened. The mountain gorillas live in the bamboo forrests on these volcanoes. It is really expensive to go on a gorilla treck so we thought we might be able to just hike around the park with the kids. Didn't happen. It costs $100 a person just to hike the lower levels of the rain forrests. Someday, I will see the gorillas but not this year.
The next day we decided to head out to a fishing village we saw on our map. First we stopped in town at a shop trying to find pencils and pens to give any children we might see again. When Matt and Spencer (our friend) where in the store, the truck ended up surrounded by children and women. I started chatting with one little boy. He spoke very good English. (we were about 25 minutes from the Uganda border where they speak English.) He asked me for my email address! It was hilarious! No pencils or pens to be found so we stocked up on suckers.

The fishing village was beautiful...of course! We walked along the shore of the lake which was all lava rock. There were children fishing and playing, women doing laundry and men playing cards. The colorful fabrics that they wrap around as dresses and capes where laying out on the lava rocks to dry. I loved seeing the carved out fishing boats and talking to the boys who were fishing. It really made me wish that my Grandpa Hubbard where there to experience that with me. Anywhere he goes, he must check out the fishing seen! The little boys were using worms they had found in the fields and catching very small fish. I don't know if they were catching those to eat or to sell as bate for catching larger fish. I just know that it was great! The children sat on the rocks and watched as Emma pretended to fish like the boys and Abby and Lucas ran around the mounds of lava rock. The children are so lovely.

On our way back to the main road, we busted out the suckers and the children went crazy! It was awesome!







I finally understand why Rwandans say, "This is where God sleeps." It is the most breathtaking place I have ever been. I really can't imagine a more pleasant place for Him on earth. It just amazes me that the people of this part of the country can be so full of joy and happiness after everything they have been through. Ruhengeri was one of the hardest hit places during the genocide and yet they thrive. Is it reconciliatoin? Is it true forgiveness? Has God reclaimed this place for Him? I don't know. What I do know is...

God is peace and God sleeps in Rwanda.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gahaya Gifted Hands

This morning we went into town with some friends. On our way home we stopped at the Gahaya Gifted Hands. This is one of the many craft co-ops in town that creates beautiful baskets, beads, and art. This particular business actually sells to Macy's. You may have seen their products in the store. The woman who owns the business attends our church and her daughter goes to KICS. So, we were given special permission to take photos and given a special tour. It was fantastic!

These beads are extremely common in Africa. They are made by hand from pieces of magazine paper and then strung on string to make beautiful necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Emma joined in and gave it a go!

Is this not the most beautiful sewing machine you have ever seen?
I wanted to take it to Antique Road Show so bad!

This is one of my favorite shots so far in Rwanda.
I just love the color and her face. So beautiful!
Here the men are dying sisal to be used in the weaving of baskets. They boil water in these huge tubs over a fire and then add the dyes.
They put in the sisal in and then give it a stir. It immediately turns into a vibrant color.
They only had it in the pot for about 3-5 minutes. They then lay it out to dry.
The sisal is then woven into these gorgeous baskets and bags. They actually had one there in the shop with a Kate Spade USA label on it. Pretty cool!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Matt!

Today is Matt's birthday. He is the first of us to celebrate a birthday in Africa. Emma and I made cupcakes and took them to one of his Bible classes. The second grade class made him a card and sang Happy Birthday. We spent the afternoon skyping with family and friends who wanted to wish him well. Then in the evening several of us from KICS went to a new Chinese place down the street. It was a beautiful place and the food was fabulous!

We had a wonderful day celebrating Matt. We love you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Butare

The school has been so great about taking us on day trips so that we can leave Kigali and see more of Rwanda. On Saturday, we all climbed on a bus and headed south to the city of Butare. Year's ago, as recently as 1960, Rwanda was ruled by a king. Between Kigali and Butare, you can visit the palace and the King's huts. The huts were very fascinating. Emma was very excited to visit a palace. She had visions of Disneyland in her head I am sure. The palace is really more a house by most standards. It is said that when the King visited Europe and saw the palaces there, he returned and started construction on a new larger palace. Unfortunately, he died before he was ever able to live in it. His new palace is now an art museum full of wonderful pieces.
The King's Hut. There are also 2 other small huts. One for the milk and one for the beer.
Here is the palace that he lived in until he died in the early 60's.
This is the palace that was under construction at the time he died.

We also visited the National Museum in Butare. It was a beautifully done museum with wonderful displays on the history of Rwanda as well as instruments, weapons, baskets, etc. Of course, no pictures allowed!
On the drive home, we stopped for some fast-food Rwandan style. Goat brochettes! Delicious!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moon Festival Party!


So I am just now getting around to posting about our Moon Festival Party. Emma really wanted to have a party this year for Moon Festival because for the first month that we were here the only Ni Hao Kai-Lan episode on the ipad was the Moon Festival one. She has the whole thing memorized and really wanted to have a party. So, we did. We had about 25 people here in our not so huge house. One special guest was a woman that I had met that week at a coffee shop downtown. She had just arrived the night before from London. She was visiting Rwanda on her own and asked a friend and I if we lived here. We took her across the street to the craft market and told her some places to visit. It struck me that I am no longer a newbie here...I was able to show someone else around town. It felt great! She was a lovely Jewish woman all on her own so I invited her to our party. It was so great. She was able to visit with lots of our friends and find out information on the gorilla treck and some other adventures she had planned. I just hope that we were a good witness of Christ's love to her.

Emma and I spent the week getting everything ready. We made tons of paper lanterns. I asked at the Chinese restaurants and a store in town owned by a Chinese family if they had them and they said no. The young Chinese man at the store who helped me was great. He was really excited that we were having a party. In fact, he told me that he would be carving a watermelon (like we do pumpkins) for his lantern. He said, "it's more fun that way." I told him that I was going to try to make mooncakes and he said, "impossible! it's much too hard. I tried once and couldn't do it." Well, thanks to my friend Sheri's special recipe I was able to make mooncakes that all the kids loved!

The biggest challenge was making egg rolls and cream cheese wontons from scratch. It wouldn't be so difficult if you could by egg roll WRAPPERS in Africa. Making egg roll wrappers from scratch is quit a challenge. After 2 days and 2 different recipes, I finally mastered it! I was so proud of myself. They turned out Fantastic! I would like to think that Emma's birth mother would be impressed.



So, I always forget to take a group picture because we are always so excited to eat the yummy food! I will try to remember for Chinese New Year!