Translated: “Thank you”
I must start off and say I am thankful that I can sit here, typing this blog with my precious mom next to me. We both decided to use the word “Murakoze” because it expresses the condition of our heart. Literally, an attitude of gratitude has permeated my experience here and has done the same for Mom since arriving in Africa on March 27th. Every day we are greeted with smiles, sweet conversations, delicious fruit, beautiful fabrics, and warm hugs that linger. (On a side note: Mom has found a new title… “Momma Julie.”)
You don’t have to be here long to see how thankful people are when it comes to the touch of a hand, a simple gift like a piece of candy, or participating in an African dance. Yesterday was the last day for the workers/teachers at the Excel school as they passed out report cards and embarked on their holiday break. An example of gratitude was shared by the administrator of Excel school as she shared this simple statement. She said, “It is those who work the hardest and receive the lesser pay that express the most gratitude.” Murakoze!
The smiles on these four girls, (Caroline, Jessie, Cynthia, and Charmante) say “thank you” more than any typed words could express. After getting to know these four girls, I saw that the only thing that mattered to them was 66 books compacted into 1 book of truth, grace, and promises… The Bible. Mom and I had the privilege to see the absolute joy expressed by our girls when they received their own copy of the Bible for the first time. This journey only becomes richer and sweeter each day getting to wake up every morning with my dearest Momma at my side.
We can’t wait for what tomorrow brings.
With all of our love from Africa,
Momma Patricia & daughter Julie
What better way to fit into the African culture than taking off your shoes and walking barefoot. As each day brings an unexpected amount of rain, as it is the rainy season here, so come the unexpected circumstances. To say the least… I am learning to be flexible.
The other day I waited to leave a friend’s house until the rain stopped. Little did I realize, the pathway I usually cross would be filled with water. Of course, I approached the now stream of water and had a decision to make. I thought well I can’t go around it, I can’t go over it, so I might as well go through it. So with jeans rolled up and shoes in my hand, I proceeded to cross the stream. All I could do was just laugh out loud at myself, when I realized I had company laughing with me. Accompanied by a teenage girl and 3 small goats to my right, I was being absolutely laughed at and realized this “muzungo” (me) looked like a complete fool. My journey home still looked the same with jeans rolled up and shoes in hand, and this time every person was looking and talking. Although, I soon realized this girl and the others were simply laughing because they were in shock. What difference does it make if I am to walk barefoot than my brothers and sisters? If anything it is a representation to show how much poorer I am than they are.
I share this story to actually talk about the selflessness of the people I have encountered here. They are a selfless and serving people. If there is an option to sit on the ground or a chair, they wont hesitate to offer you the chair. If they have food in their hands, they will be sure to offer you a taste of what they are eating. I use the illustration of walking barefoot to say, that if they didn’t realize I was carrying shoes in my hands, they would have run over to offer me their shoes and give me a ride, knowing that I have about 4 more pairs at my home. My Rwandan friends are quick to give out of what they have and slow to show any sign of selfishness. That’s it… there is absolutely nothing we have that is different from these people if we have Jesus. He is the hope and He is Our fortune. Unfortunately, I do store my treasure in multiple pairs of shoes and clothing, when rather I should be quick to store up my treasure in Heaven.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44
I desire to trade all of my possessions to walk barefoot in knowing my hope in Jesus will care for my walking feet. To serve and to be served is all these people know and it is the sweetest thing to experience.
Translated: Happy Birthday!
Today is my Mom’s birthday and what better way to celebrate than with my sweet Rwandan friends. I wish I could be at the kitchen table with you, drinking our coffee and enjoying breakfast and follow our day by walking in the park… but I guess it will just have to wait 4 days until we can do it here in Africa :)
To the most selfless, God-fearing, encouraging, and loving mother I know- Happy Birthday and may all your wishes come true. Without you I would not be here today, and without you, I would have no direction of who I would want to be when I grow up. Thanks for showing me a slight glimpse of who Jesus will be like when we will get to meet Him one day.
And for those who don’t know… Mom will be in Rwanda, Africa in only 4 more days!! I cannot even wait. This journey only gets sweeter and deeper each day.
Today I had the opportunity to attend a high school graduation at Sonrise School here in Musanze. I must confess when I first heard the graduation would last several hours I realized it could take even longer, considering… I am living in Africa. My expectations were of course wrong, and I enjoyed every minute. From the dancing to the speeches, to worshiping Our God in the middle of the ceremony, these students were full of joy.
For more reasons than one, this graduation was such a memorable moment. Justus and Joy have become two of my dear Rwandan friends here and when they invited me to the graduation I was honored. (Meet Joy and Justus)
I have also gotten to know several of the students there and it made it personal to sit there and see each one graduate. I can’t help but confess it brought me back to my high school graduation. Centennial Knights, this one is for you, and all of those who know my deep love for high school. These students come from different places and are heading in the same direction, but with integrity, these individuals are each striving for one goal. They are striving for the better future of Rwanda. They are striving for opportunities that run endlessly in our own home town. By simply learning the English language, and achieving at school here, the Rwandan students have much determination to gain success wherever they desire. To say only the least of my time at graduation, I felt proud to sit amongst these students.
Congratulation to the Sonrise High School graduates.
Translated: You are brave (bold).
I learned that there is absolutely nothing impossible for mankind with the strength of God. No trial, heartache, loss, or physical ailment can be termed defeat when love exists. Yesterday I had the absolute privilege to experience life behind the gates a school for the deaf. The first thing to catch my attention was the logo on one of the students uniform: “Disability does not mean inability.” I quickly learned how gifted, experienced, and knowledgeable these students are. We communicated through the sign language I know, but they were fully capable to understand my words without any hand motions.
After conversing with the students, I was directed to the work they have accomplished at school. The young girl below made the beautiful blue bag for me, while the boys holding carvings, hand-carved these items. It was in the moment of seeing how gifted these students are that I was reminded of Proverbs 31:8. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” And that is when I understood the only difference between us is the grace God gives me to open my mouth and make sounds. That is all. For to those who have been given much, much is demanded. To speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, this is a mighty command. These students made me feel loved, at peace, and content than most circumstances. I wanted to learn so much from them in the short amount of time I was there. They have much to share and express, and I am amazed I can call them friends.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life
You should mind your own business and work with your hands
so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-13
“Signing: I love you.”