This is my blog where I hope to update everyone on my adventures with YWAM. :)

"He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and
to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hearts of Gold

Our "Christmas Tree"
 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Our team spent the holidays pretty simply but we did our best to make it feel like home. For Christmas all of us were delegated things to cook/bake for the day. I made cinnamon rolls from scratch. They turned out surprisingly well considering that the ingredients weren't exact and neither were the measurements since I had to guess at how much a cup and teaspoon looked like. I also was in charge of making garlic mashed potatoes which also turned out really great. It took us almost all day to cook everything but it was worth it! To decorate our house and make it feel more "Christmasy" I cut out stars and made a "Merry Christmas" banner. For our tree I draped my green blanket over a wooden statue and pasted on construction paper ornaments. It was a makeshift Christmas but I think it made it more special. As a team we also did a small white elephant exchange and later played a few games of Mafia. In all it was a very wonderful Christmas! For New Years we went to an all night Prayer Meeting that started at 8 pm and ended at 5 am. When we got there it was packed! The church was filled with people so they brought out chairs and put them outside, which is where we ended up. It was really chilly outside so we only stayed until around 1 am.

Making Cinnamon Rolls
Since there are 7 of us on our team and we cook our own meals every day we alternate having 2 people stay home and do all the cooking and cleaning for the day and the others go to ministry. Just cooking the meals takes a long time as our microwave doesn't work and we have to boil everything we use (even water and milk) on our propane stove. We have nothing that is "instant" or "easy made", it's all from scratch! We eat so well and healthy this way! It can be quite the task but it's also fun and a great learning experience. We also scrub our laundry by hand in buckets in our backyard and hang them to dry on clothes lines. I'm finding outreach to be such a great preparation for being a wife and mother! :)

Peeling Potatoes

Me and my chicken
A few days ago I was walking home from the store when I passed two men on the street who had bunches of chickens tied up and hanging by their feet (still alive!). Out of curiousity I stopped and asked them "angahe?" (which means "how much?"). I am just beginning to learn numbers so it was quite the feat trying to understand what their answer was. One of the men ended up pulling out his cellphone and typed out the price on it. They were asking 3500 Rwandan Francs for a chicken which comes out to about $6. After all that trouble of trying to communicate prices with them, I then had to try and explain that I didn't have that amount of money with me. Feeling bad and on the spur of the moment I decided I actually would buy a chicken! After a lot more hand gesturing I got them to walk the short distance with me to the gate to our house and wait for me. My teamates were in the middle of eating lunch when I burst in saying "I found us a chicken!". I got one of my teamates Ben and our interprator Aimable to come out with me, and we talked with the men and picked out the best (aka most plump) looking chicken and bought it! I am still really amused that this even happened, it was such an impulse buy, but hey, I'm in AFRICA! Before I left my friend Logan told me that he wanted me to kill something if I had the chance. This chicken is my chance, the only question is whether I'm going to kill it sooner rather than later. Right now it's staying in our storage shed and since it had been dragged around upside down when I bought it, it's pretty tame and easily lets me pet it. My initial desire to kill it has waned the longer we've had it and especially since I named it (after Logan). It has also gifted us with a fresh egg every morning, which made me very excited. At the rate things are looking right now this chicken will probably have a long life (at least until we leave).

These past two weeks (it feels like we've been here so much longer!) we've been doing door-to-door ministry in a neighborhood here in Kigali. It's been such an amazing experience. The people here are so very welcoming, open up their homes to us and taking the time to listen to us share. God has definitely prepared and brought the right people into our paths. I'm not sure of the exact number but I would estimate that since we've been doing door-to-door at least over 20 people have come to accept and have a personal relationship with Christ! I am blown away at how receptive everyone has been to our message. God is so good!

During our wandering through the neighborhood during door-to-door we came across a small community that has really touched our hearts. I don't know how to aptly describe it but I will try. It's a very poor community made up of mostly women and children (lots of children!). The ground is muddy, the house walls and floors are made of dirt and the roofs consist of rusty and tattered sheet metal. There are around 21 children of various ages and sizes, from 1 1/2 years to the oldest being 15. They wear dirty, ragged clothes, most of them having holes in them and are too big for their little bodies. It's hard to distinguish the girls from the boys as they wear mixed clothing. None of them have underwear (or diapers!) to wear. Many have scabs on their heads from bug bites. From what we've gathered (although they haven't outrightly said it) it seems the mothers often have had to resort to prostituting themselves in order to be able to buy food for their children. (Which exlpains all the young children, and no fathers) You can tell that they are very hungry and hardly get much to eat. The children have one toy which is a horrifying doll that has only one arm, the rest that they play with is whatever they can find. But these children have hearts of gold and smiles that will light up your heart. Whenever they see us all of them run and leap into our arms, surrounding us and hugging us with such joy. I constantly have several children in my lap or holding my hand. They just love to be touched and held.

Several times we've had the children sit while we tell them Bible stories, and then afterwards we ask them questions and give them a treat. One of the little girls named Julia sat on my lap my first visit for almost the entire time we were there. She kept holding my hands, clapping them, stroking them, pulling my arms around her tighter; I almost didn't notice when she slipped something on my finger. I looked down and saw that she had brought a simple metal keychain ring and lovingly placed it on my finger as a ring. It was such a cheap thing, but to her I knew that it was special, and I have worn it every day since then.

Reading the Christmas Story
After the first time I visited them I wanted to cry, but at the same time I wanted to DO something. Our team has decided that no matter what other ministries we move on to, we are going to continue to spend time and work with this community. God brought them to us for a reason!

This next week we have decided to help them construct new toilets (basically outhouses). The one father that lives in the community had already started the process but hadn't been able to finish it as they didn't have the money for it. After that if we can get permission from the local government we hope to be able to build them a rain cachement tank so that they can have clean water readily available to them. Another thing that we believe is really important is training the women in a skill so that they have better means to make money and support themselves. We have discussed the possibility of teaching them how to crochet, sew, and do manicures, pedicures, facials, etc. It will take a lot of planning and work to do these things but we truly believe that it is so important. We want to leave a lasting change in these peoples lives that is there even long after we're gone.