Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Our trip has been packed FULL, and I'm honestly having a hard time knowing how to distill it into neat little blog posts.  However, after bouncing around a few ideas with my fun friends on this trip, I think I know what to do.  Prepare for lots of blog posts - ready or not, here it comes.

Africa New Life works in several communities throughout Rwanda and takes a multi-layered approach focusing on education, health, spiritual development, community development and stable homes.  I have loved getting to see different aspects of each ministry.

I got recruited for this trip by my dear friend, Hollie, who I've known since attending college together at John Brown University.


She runs a non-profit bakery in Corpus Christi, TX called Fed by Bread and sends all of the proceeds to Africa New Life - focusing mainly on serving lunch to the children in Kageyo B through the Food Is program.  When Hollie visited two years ago, they were only getting a cup of nutritional porridge, but now, they get heaping platefuls of beans and rice.  We got to visit the village of Kageyo and help serve the lunch.


We watched as they lined up to wash their hands and then receive their hot plates, which may be the only meal some of them receive that day.


Please note that during this amazing experience, I watched two chickens that were tied up being carried near to the kitchen.  I was paralyzed with fear that we were going to have to witness their slaughter, which I understand (and appreciate since chicken is my livelihood), but I did not want to see.  Thankfully for me, the chickens were momentarily spared and spent time just hanging out near us. 🐔


The children in Kageyo were so intrigued by us, so we entertained them with a little Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, which was funny for everyone involved.  Plus, they just liked touching our skin and waving at the Muzungus (foreigners). 😳


Also, while in Kageyo, we got to see the Keyhole Garden initiative at work, where households are selected to receive a raised garden and taught how to plant vegetables and make dishes from them.  There's a large community garden as well, and seeing the thriving green healthy food being grown in an area that desperately needs it was a bright ray of hope.


Several of the women on this trip sponsored children before we left, and we have gotten to visit the homes and families of the children.  These have been some of the most special moments to witness, and I've not had dry eyes in any of their houses.


Though I have seen poverty several times over, it is always shocking, and I think it should be.  They live with so much less, and much of their lives are consumed by finding the necessary things they need to daily survive.  It's hard to wrap my mind around the disparity in the world when faced with the stark reality of the way many people live.  And when those people have stories and faces, and I am being graciously hosted by them - let me just say, it is overwhelming, to say the least.  It was an excellent reminder of the upside down economy of the Lord, because many of the people we met with know Jesus - KNOW him - and are spiritually blessed in ways that I haven't touched because of the way I live with so much stuff and far less daily dependence on the Lord.


That said, it was a gift to see how sponsorship transforms their lives and provides help and hope in the midst of trying circumstances.

(My friend, Mandy - of Milk and Honey Tees fame - with her precious sponsored child, Dennis, and his family.)
(We took a Polaroid camera to be able to leave behind photos with each family.)

You also have to understand that each time we were in a home, every neighbor in walking distance (a LOT of neighbors) showed up and tried to crowd into the homes with us.  There is just nothing subtle about this. 😂😂😂

It really has been such an amazing look at Rwanda and all the work that Africa New Life and ultimately, God, are doing here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


We are rounding out our first couple of days here in Kigali.  I think I forgot how long it really takes to get to Africa, since I haven't done it in 10 years.  But, we made it and with no travel drama, thank the Lord.  I actually slept 12 hours the first night here, which was a massive relief.  We got a rather slow start on our first day, and I appreciated being able to ease in.

So far, our time here has been rich and full, as I imagined it would be.  It really is the land of a thousand hills, and the views from almost every road seem unbelievable.  It is beautiful - truly.


People and cars and motorcycles and buses crowd the streets to create a bustling, thriving city landscape.  It is fascinating to observe and engage with.  Some of our trip highlights so far include:

- exchanging money and loving that animals are on the currency

(I don't think those are CFA cows, but you never can tell 😜)

- shopping for things that look like Noonday jewelry but don't cost quite so much 🙌, though I guess I did pay for a plane ticket here, so it might be a wash 😳😁


- eating lunch at Heaven, which - let me just tell you - tasted like heaven.  It was a full buffet with a stunning vista and delightful little nooks and crannies to explore.

(I felt like I legitimately needed 3 kinds of jam.)
(Sugarcane that we got to sample)
(Fresh avocados at every meal.  I'm officially obsessed.)
(It feels a little tragic that these mangos are not yet ripe.)

- We attended New Life Church this morning.  Worshipping with brothers and sisters in other countries always feels like such a gift and privilege and reminder that heaven will be made up of every tribe, tongue and nation.


- We also visited the Esther House, a program (by Africa New Life) that helps sponsor girls attending college here in Rwanda.  30 of the scholars met with us in a joyous time of fellowship, laughter, treats and learning.  We got to hear about their dreams, and I am amazed at the ways they are looking forward to sharing their lives in Rwanda to make it better.  They also danced and sang for us, which brought tears to my eyes from the sheer beauty of it until they had us join them. 😂


Also on our itinerary today was a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which I will write about in another post.  I don't have the words to describe it yet, and I'm not sure that I will ever be able to do it justice.

It's been an amazing trip so far, and we are only a couple of days in.  Thanks for following along and praying for us!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


All my bags are packed, and we are about to be leaving on a jet plane.  I'm heading to Rwanda with the organization Africa New Life and five other women.  We're leaving our children and husbands and embarking on a great adventure.  I'm so excited and traveling truly lights me up inside, but I gotta say, the last 24 hours have been rough.

I know in my bones that I am meant to be on this trip.  So many things are pointing me to Rwanda, and I can't wait to get there and see all that God has planned.  I know this is the right move.

That said, it is not easy.  Last night, I broke down sobbing with the sheer hardness of it.  I don't want my husband to do so much extra work.  I don't want my children to miss me.  As tears were streaming down my face and snot dripping out of my nose, John gently reminded me that doing the right thing is not usually easy.  In fact, most good things require going uphill.  He also said that I was making it all about me, which was hard to hear, but true.  I don't want life to be about me, though I have to fight my flesh at every turn.

So, we are headed off to a far flung place.  But, I know there will be new friends and new places to love.  And most importantly, this is where God wants me, so it is the absolutely best place for me to be.


And then there's this quote that I heard at church last week that confirmed it all over again.

We can be drunk with private concerns and indifferent to the great enterprise of world evangelization, but God will simply pass over us and do his great work while we shrivel up in our little land of comfort. -John Piper
Here's to not shriveling!  We met up with a few other girls in Atlanta and are about to head to Amsterdam.  Praying for safe travel, a sweet trip and mercies on the home front.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016


So.  Our lives have changed a lot this fall with everyone being in school and me traveling a lot.  I wanted to document what one of those days looks like - here's yesterday.

7ish am:  Kids sitting together, eating breakfast.  They love Cracklin' Oat Bran right now, and I just bought five boxes of it before I leave town.  Wouldn't want to run out. 😳


8 am:  Walking the twins into school is usually a difficult task.  They both have so many things they want to carry or stop to see on the 20 foot walk from the car to the door.  You better believe those Star Wars stickers were mission critical to whatever Violet needed to do.


9ish am:  A walk through my neighborhood.  I love where I live.


10ish am:  I got an email from the library saying I owed $25 per these three books that were hiding in the girls' room.  I decided it was worth hunting them down to avoid paying $75 for books I don't even want AND to be able to unlock my online library account where I regularly download books.  Mission accomplished.


11ish am - 2:45ishp pm:  I ran a bunch of errands trying to get myself and my household ready for me to be gone.  Without the kiddos, I can notice different things, like this beautiful rose wreath at the library and the fact that pumpkins and mums are upon us.  When I get back, it will be October.  Say what?!?


And, with the children gone all day, I get to spend more time with my cat.  She's sitting next to me even now as I type this.


3:05 pm:  The girls came traipsing in from the bus, one of their favorite activities from school each day.


3:30 pm:  We picked up the twins and got to see the artwork they just completed.  While I wouldn't ideally choose to have them in full time school at this age, I am thrilled with all they get to do while they are there.  It is really great, and they love it.


4:15ish pm:  I forgot to take milk for the twins when I went to get them from school, and they cried the ENTIRE way home.  Then, there was iPad drama.  After school is usually very intense, because they are tired but also sort of restless.


4:30ish pm:  BUT, there are sweet moments too.  Here's Violet kissing my leg.  She's currently in a kissing stage where she blows kisses to everything and everybody.  When she's not mad about something, that is.


5:00ish pm:  We all hung out outside together, because I am trying to soak in time with them.  Here are our kissing faces, and we took a walk/wagon ride with middling success.

(That picture is while the twins pulled the girls which definitely had highs and lows.)

6:00 pm:  John and I had a CFA Dedication Dinner for the new CFA opening up in Little Rock this week.  Got to love when Operators are twinning.


7ish pm:  It was at the Castle on Stagecoach Road, which I have seen, but never visited.  Now I want to go back!


After the Dedication Dinner, we headed to our small group to see our friends and share a little life.  I forgot to get a pic, but it was great to touch base in the midst of this busy month.

11:31 pm:  I ordered the Falling Free book by Shannan Martin on Kindle so I will have it for my trip. I am so looking forward to reading it!


I leave for Rwanda in less than 24 hours.  I did so much before our DR trip that I have felt *mostly* calm about it, except that I keep randomly crying.  I am planning to blog about the trip while on it, so check in for posts from Rwanda!