Friday, December 19, 2014

Ben is a great boss...

...which is one of the reasons you should consider coming to work for KICS.
Other reasons are fun co-workers, a beautiful location, amazing kids, perfect weather year-round, and the opportunity to make an impact in the future of Rwanda, Africa, and the world. Also, while you'd be considered a missionary educator needing to raise support, we provide a decent service package to help with that.

Available positions are:
  • Grade 1 Teacher
  • Middle School Social Studies teacher
  • High School Math Teacher
  • Part-time primary music teacher
  • Foreign Language teacher
  • Primary principal
  • Instructional coordinator
  • Business manager
  • Spiritual Life Coordinator
  • School Counselor
  • Athletics and Activities Director

For more information, visit the employment page on the KICS website. Let us know if you're interested or apply now. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gifts for Growth

It's not too late to participate in our "Gifts for Growth" Campaign at KICS. We are 25% of the way to our $100,000 goal! Visit this website to make a donation. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday

So, I didn't know that was a thing. I guess, just like Hallmark made up Sweetest Day to sell cards, some missionaries created Giving Tuesday to help fill in the gaps in their support. Just kidding, that's not what happened I don't think. 

But, real or not, it's here and we'd like to ask you to consider making us part of your Year-end giving for 2014.  We are so thankful for the many ways you stand with us through prayer, connection and encouragement. 

As we approach the end of this year, we have three opportunities we are a part of that we would ask you to consider giving towards:

  1. To our personal ministry account.  We are full-time missionaries with CRU and as such raise all of our salary and benefits for us and our family.  To give to us, please visit: Those of you who receive our paper prayer letters will get a letter detailing our needs. 
  2. To our school where we are serving, Kigali International Community School.  For the first time, we are leading a giving campaign to help us cover some basic literacy and technology improvements for our school.  Web-Elves are working on getting our donation page up and running. If you'd like to donate towards KICS, contact us. We'll let you know when we get things running online.
  3. To a project we have been involved in through our parent organization that provides food in one of the most closed countries in all the world.  Through partnerships, we have been able to build a few factories that provide bread and soy milk for children.  You can visit to make a donation.  Once the donation is processed, Susie and I will forward the money on in an appropriate way.  Please send us an email or in the comments section let us know it is for the factory.
If you have any questions about either of these three opportunities please let us know.  

We thank you so much for considering us and the efforts we are serving with as part of your year-end giving.  Please know that  any amount, large or small, would be beneficial for us.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

With Gratitude

With gratitude, I live this life in Rwanda, surrounded by beautiful faces, interesting trees, strange birds, searching hearts.
With gratitude, and a side of grumpiness, I open my eyes too early in the morning to inspect a child's coloring or to give permission to get a banana.
With gratitude, I scan my Facebook feed, seeing the faces of friends near and far - both of which feel like a miracle to me.
With gratitude, I review my kids' progress reports, noting their achievements and gains.
With gratitude, I think of their teachers - present and past - who have with love and patience inspired these.
With gratitude, I miss my family and football games that I don't watch and strawberry pretzel "salad."
With gratitude, I hug my husband who has made us dinner reservations tonight. With gratitude, I don't plan or shop or save or cook this year's feast.
With gratitude, I brush my hair, which has grown back from the assault it suffered to chemicals and high-energy waves.
With gratitude, I let Annie go to bed without making her change into her pajamas, because who cares.
With gratitude, I take hot showers, flush toilets, and drink water that doesn't make me ill.
With gratitude, I remember doctors, nurses, sonographers, therapists and mri techs.
With gratitude, I order Christmas presents for my kids and make plans for their 7,104-mile journey.
With gratitude, I pack for a Thanksgiving getaway with dear friends.
With gratitude, I reflect on the power Jesus has to soften hard things, to add flesh to dry bones, to offer healing and forgiveness.
With gratitude, I think of 20 students who I (I!) have had the privilege to teach for a short time.
With gratitude, I celebrate a friend's birthday in person and a brother's birthday from afar.
With gratitude, I host friends who traveled 24 hours on a bus from Kenya just to hang out with us this week.
With gratitude, after my worst nightmare comes true and I bump another car with my massive beast on a rain-slicked dirt road, I drive away after she tells me it's ok.
With gratitude, I try out the few Kinyarwanda words and phrases I know and breathe grace since we quit our lessons.
With gratitude, I hang out with missionary friends who have long and faithfully been here, gleaning from them all I can about culture, gracious living, and joy.
With gratitude, I type words into a thing called the internet and know someone will read them.
With gratitude, I think of the hundreds of people who give out of their abundance or out of their own need to fund our ministry.
With gratitude, I continue to repeat Ephesians out loud until I know it. Thanksgiving was my goal, but I still have two chapters to go.
With gratitude, I remember you in my prayers.
With gratitude, I grieve with my passport country, which is the home of grieving people this week.
With gratitude, I think of every person I know who has been affected by racism and prejudice, but has shared their life and story with me, so I (someone who has known privilege) can learn and change and understand.
With gratitude, I think of one of our best friends who is a white American law officer, who is brave and loyal and honest, who, just by knowing him, keeps me from being quick to assign blame.
With gratitude, I am eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rescuing Annie

Three days a week, when I'm teaching, Annie stays home with Grace for a couple of hours. Grace gets her dressed, feeds her breakfast, does her hair adorably and plays with her. It's like having a stay-at-home-mom only better. Yesterday, I was surprised to get a call from Grace because not much can go wrong between 7-10 am. But, my growing girl had locked herself into our bedroom. In America, that's an easy thing to do because babies love to push buttons. It's also an easy thing to fix because you grab a bobby pin off the top of the door frame and pop, baby is freed.
In Rwanda, it's actually a bit of an achievement for a small child to lock themselves in, which is why I've never worried about it. It involves turning a key and what two year old has the attention span for that?
So Grace called and said "Annie locked herself in your room." So, ok, I'm coming home. I have a key to my bedroom. But then, I remembered that we leave keys to the rooms somewhere else (not gonna tell you where :)!!!!!!), so I called her back and told her where the key was. Grace (who is more Rwanda-experienced than I am) reminded me that as long as Annie has a key in her side, no one can unlock the door from the outside. Crap.
Theophile, one of our maintenance staff at KICS came home with me to rescue her. Of course, Annie had no idea she needed rescuing. She was chatting through the window to Grace who was outside keeping an eye on her. I'm so glad Annie didn't head to electric outlets, because there was exactly nothing Grace could have done from outside the bars except scream at her.
While Eddie was hatching a scheme to squeeze Annie through the bars (impossible), Theophile disassembled the lock and Annie was rescued. I mean, I had a feeling like I was pulling up a starving Chilean miner, but of course, Annie had no idea she was stuck.
Despite a whole day of reciting, "Annie no keys"and  "No doors Annie," I found her stabbing our door with a key last night. Gladly, the locking mechanism had been removed.

Grace babysitting from the window

It wasn't until my arrival that Annie realized she couldn't get out. 

Can I squeeze through those bars?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A childhood, past and present

There's something that's been brewing for a few weeks now. In it, I could sniff the potential for my kids' disappointment - the Christmas program at school. Auditions. Scripts. Acceptance. Rejection. Like with most things academic, this is not chancy for Simon. He would almost certainly get a part he auditioned for and bask in his success. For Sweet T, though, the forecast read different. Old enough to audition, but too young to read the script. Old enough to know she wanted what her big brother wants, but too young to understand her capacity. I could see it coming, and I began praying for her heart, and for my mother's shepherding of it. On the surface, there were two options: prepare her for success or prepare her for disappointment. Of course, both of those options are completely wrong. One risks building her up for a bigger fall, and one risks leading her to believe I think she isn't good enough. In speaking to a good friend about our daughters' various disappointments this school year, we chatted about how, of course we would love to protect them from Hard Things, but how so much more, we want them to know Jesus is with them in and bigger than those Hard Things.
Today, my mother's intuition was semi-confirmed by a reliable source that there will be disappointment, and probably tears regarding the Christmas program. I am thankful to know before she sees the list posted without her name on it.
I've spent the following couple of hours reflecting on two of my similar experiences as a child. First, was fourth grade. I was new at a small school and there were 4 girls in my class. Suzanne, Amy, Cara, and I were all each other had. I was immediately accepted by them because they didn't have a choice. The Christmas program was Psalty's Christmas (Christmas is a time, Christmas is a time, Christmas is a time to looo-ooove.) The auditions were for the ensemble (definition: girls who can sing). Suzanne, Amy and Cara all had (and probably still have) beautiful voices. One might think all 9 year old girls can passably sing, but not true. In fact, I didn't know I had a bad voice until I heard myself during the try-out and realized how different I sounded from the other girls. But, still, would they really cut one girl?!?!?! Yes, they would. And there I was, the only girl I knew that would be still standing on the risers when the stars took the microphone.
Of course, my Dad had the power to change all of this. And he did, in a very appropriate way. He didn't demand that I get a solo, but after he talked to the teachers, I ended up in the "sign language choir" (translation: girls who suck at singing but can be taught to move their hands correctly) with the third graders. Honestly, this did help. And, as a parent and teacher myself, I think it was the best course of action. But, it didn't take away the disappointment. The circumstances changed, and I felt seen and loved and supported by my dad, but I still felt the not-enough-ness that comes when your name's not on the list.
Next came fifth grade and what might turn out to be my worst day ever in my whole life. In one day, I lost the Spelling Bee (pacific. one eff, two effs, whatever, English is a dumb language) and found out I hadn't gotten a role in Pollyanna. I was crushed. It is still a memory that brings tears to my eyes.
Of course, my Dad had the power to change all of this (not in any way that wouldn't end up in a lawsuit), but he didn't.
Instead, when I came home and ran up to my bed after school, I found a heart-shaped box of candy and a letter scrawled on a card in a pink envelope (must have been Valentine's season). And, in the midst of my disappointment, words of love, affirmation and encouragement formed what would turn out to be the most significant memory of my childhood.
That's what I want for my kids. I want them to know they are loved through every disappointment, that they are enough, that they are great. Sometimes there will be a solution that can help. But, sometimes, there will only be the words I Love You.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Missionary Kids

I never would have planned on raising missionary kids, although as soon as I fell in love with Ben, I began to learn about what it means to be (or marry, or give birth to) "third culture kids." TCKs are people who grow up with multiple cultural identities, and this life breeds all kinds of unique strengths as well as creates some challenges.

One of the great things about staying on staff with Cru when we made this transition is that the organization cares for our entire family. When we were at our pre-field training a year ago, a couple of Cru staff members came up to visit and spend time with our kids. They encouraged them to be Missionary Kids (kids who share their faith in a new culture), as opposed to Missionaries' Kids (kids who are dragged along by their parents' jobs). They gave our kids a book called Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World, which Simon has devoured at least twice.

This week, he came into my room and asked if he could borrow some paper to make a list. Later, he requested tape so he could hang his project on his wall. This is his list: "Tips on being a successful missionary."

Obviously, I am proud of him, but what brings tears to my eyes is how pleased I am that he is embracing this experience and choosing to learn from it.

(It should go without saying that not all of our moments are rosy, but some of them are!)