Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our First African Christmas!

Our first Christmas in Rwanda was a wonderful time. We were able to skype with family and friends and watch them open the gifts we had sent them. It just amazes me how much technology makes the distance seem not quite so far. We attended a wonderful Christmas Eve service at our church. Matt was asked to give the message at the Christmas Day service. It was such an honor for him to be asked. He did a fantastic job!

Matt was also able to go white water rafting on the Nile River in Uganda over Christmas break with some of the other teachers from school. It was an amazing experience!

Some of our new African ornaments.

Matt got Emma a new dress and some beads on his trip to Uganda.

Making cinnamon rolls.
I splurged and bought Emma some fresh strawberries. I think it was about $6 for this small bowl of berries. They were a bit sour but we still loved them!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I love me some baboons!

On our safari Saturday, we came upon a large group of baboons. They were Emma's favorite part of the day. It was so fun to watch them interact with each other. The babies were riding on the backs of the mommies. The little ones were chasing each other all over and wrestling. One little one was picking bugs out of his mama. My absolute favorite part of entire day was the interaction between this mama and her baby. I am so happy that I was able to capture each part.

I first noticed this little tiny baby sitting alone with his mama behind. I could see through the lens that she noticed me. I actually got a little nervous because she looked at me and started walking closer.

The baby looked back at her for protection.
She walked up to him and looked so tenderly at him. Then she picked him up just like you would your baby.
She pulled him close to her for a little snuggle.
Then placed him on her lap for a minute and watched the others play.

Then he grabbed on and went for a ride.
He is just so precious. I seriously almost cried watching this precious interaction between mama and baby. The guide said that baboons love their babies very much. If a baby dies, they actually morn them for about a week before burying them.

How Amazing God's Creation Is!

Thanksgiving, Visitors, and An Exciting African Adventure

Wow! It has been so long since my last post. We have had an incredibly busy yet exciting couple of weeks here. First we had a huge Thanksgiving bash with about 50 other westerners...mostly Americans but a few Canadians snuck in! It was so fun to eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, pumpkin pie, etc. It was fabulous! So much so that we also had a dinner Thanksgiving party with the school staff. So, we were officially stuffed for a couple of days!

Then on Saturday right after Thanksgiving some friends arrived for a visit! It was fabulous! We had an amazing time showing them Kigali and what everyday life is like here. They also came to check out the school and I am so thrilled to say that they are coming next year to serve at KICS with us! We couldn't be more excited to have a little piece of home here with us. Emma is very excited to have her friends live here and go to school with her, too.

Matt took them to the orphanage on Sunday right after they arrived. They all had an incredible time playing with the kids. I planned to take them back on Tuesday but we ended up not being able to go for a few different reasons. We did take them to the Genocide Memorial in Kigali. That was the first time for Matt and I to visit as well. It was very moving. I highly recommend that anyone coming to Rwanda visit the memorial in Kigali. It is very eye opening not only about the genocide that took place here in Rwanda but also about genocides that have happened in modern history throughout the world. We all left a bit speechless.

One of the best days of their visit was being able to get them out of the city and into the true Rwanda. They chose to go on a day safari at Akagera National Park. We love it there so we were more than happy to take them. We hired a tour company to drive us for the day. We had traveled about 2 hours and were maybe 5 miles from the park enterance when the car just would not move anymore. Smoke started surrounding and filling the car. Emma was asleep on my lap. The driver turned around and shouted, "get out!" We tried but the one door in the back for all six of us wouldn't open. Matt's door in the front was stuck for a time as well. A bit of panic set in until the doors finally worked. By this point Emma was so freaked out she wouldn't let me hand her out the door to Matt so her and I just stayed in the truck because we realized that it was not actually on fire and going to blow. Of course by this point, there was a huge crowd of on lookers. One of the local men decided that we should push the truck down to the entrance where there is a mechanic. So, Emma and I road, Elizabeth steered and the rest of the gang pushed along with some villagers. We didn't make it far before a truck of military men pulled up. Our driver explained what happened and they told us to hop in the back of their truck. They drove us to the Akagera Lodge where we waited for 4 hours for another park truck to take us on safari. When the truck finally arrived, it was a completely open truck! It was awesome! We could stand up and everything. We had an amazing view and I got some fabulous shots.
The next few hours were full of adventure as well. A man who is "foolish in the head" was walking through the park and started throwing stuff at us. It started to rain so the guide took us to a house where we waited on the porch for it to clear. It was such an African adventure. We were so happy to walk through our front gate late that night all in one piece. Everytime Emma has played with her dolls and toy car since then, she says, "the car is smoking, get out, get out!" It's hilarious!

I can't believe that it is almost Christmas. We have been recieving Christmas packages in the mail and can't wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus with our new friends here in Africa. Matt is planning a 4 day adventure with some of the teachers to Uganda the first week of break. They are going to raft on the Nile River in Jinja. Matt has wanted to do this for a long time and we have heard that they are building a dam and the rafting will all change soon. So, I am really excited for him to have this chance to experience it. Emma and I will just chill out here and have some girl time. It is a 13 hour bus ride each way from Kigali. Not my idea of a good time with a 3 year old!

We have 3 Christmas parties this weekend so we are going to be very busy again. I am looking forward to some time off to relax.

There are tons of pictures on my facebook of the safari. I will post some here soon for those who don't have facebook.