Tuesday, August 9, 2011

God Chooses the itinerary

August 9th 
We awoke this morning after a relatively good night’s sleep.  We ate breakfast at the hotel, and loaded up to go to our first orphanage.  Jane called to see if there was anything the orphanage needed.  They asked for food.  Wow.  Everyone pitched in and we bought $195,000 (not dollars...Francs - the equivalent of $325 USD) of supplies for them.  We bought porridge, rice, diapers, sugar, beans, and laundry detergent.  We made our way to the orphanage and arrived around 11:00.  
I felt like something was wrong as soon as we arrived.  I had seen pics of the orphanage and this did not look the same.  We were told that there were visitors there from the American Embassy singing for the kids.  Clue #2, the orphanage knew we were coming and were expecting us.  The orphanage director was very kind, and told us some amazing stories of how the orphanage came to be.  When he asked who we were, we told him about Visiting Orphans, and he said “Why have we never heard of you?”.  Clue #3.   He gave us a lovely tour of the facility, then we joined the kids and listened to the end of the concert.  I held a lovely little girl on my lap (I think it was a girl, they all had their hair cut short).  Finally we had our final clue.  Emmanuel called us on Jane’s phone asking us when we would arrive...oops!!  At least we hadn’t already given away the supplies they had asked for!  
I do believe that God makes divine appointments sometimes, and I think there is a reason we visited this orphanage! I will be passing on their info to Visiting Orphans so we can put them on the itinerary next time.
We had lunch at a lovely Rwandan buffet, and were measured for hand made Rwandan skirts.
Finally, around 3:00pm, we made it to the orphanage.  They were sooo happy to see us.  We parked on the side of the street, grabbed our donations and the supplies and followed them across the street.  We walked up a hill, then walked up a steeper hill, then jumped across a small ravine, then up an even steeper hill.  Most of the Muzungus (white people) were panting pretty hard when we finally made it to the orphanage!
At first, it was pure chaos.  20 Muzungus with candy, bracelets, whistles, stickers and 95 kids wanting them makes for a pretty insane picture.  Eventually we realized we could never make it even, so we gave the toys to the director to give away later.  We, with Emmanuel’s (The Director) help split the kids into three groups by age.  We did some great art projects with them.  The youngest kids glued cotton balls onto light blue paper to make the sky (God made the sky and God made us).  The primary/elementary kids made paper dolls and colored them (We are all connected and all friends), the tweens and teens drew their name on a piece of construction paper and decorated with glitter, sequins, and crayons (God knows your name).  For about 30 minutes it was very organized - ha!!  As the kids finished their art projects, Jenn and Chris were setting up the camera equipment.  They would take a pic of a child holding their art project, then printed them, right there in the orphanage, then stuck them on foam board and let the kids decorate.  It was a BIG hit!  The kids loved seeing their pics and loved even more that they got to keep those pics!!
We finished the day in Heaven.  No really, the restaurant is called Heaven!  Brad and Chelsea Carpenter met us there and we had some amazing food, and great conversation with them and the team.  It was really great to spend time with them!
Tomorrow we leave early for Giseny.  We didn’t empty many suitcases today, so we will have to fit 22 people, 41 suitcases, plus our carry-on bags in a bus made to carry 24 people.  It might be a tight 3 hr drive tomorrow!!
PLEASE continue to pray for us, lots of traveling in the next few days.  Praying we can really love these kids and make a difference that lasts longer than one day!!

The Adventure Begins

Aug 6 - Aug 8, The Adventure Begins!

Shane, Alexis, Keighley, Amanda and I left Fowler at 6:15 and had an uneventful drive to Wichita (thanks for driving us, Shawna!) and boarded our flight to Chicago. We were a bit nervous because we only had 40 minutes between flights and O’Hare is a huge airport. We made it there on time...and our flight was delayed. We finally got to Dulles in Washington DC and met Katie and Abby, the other two teenagers on the trip. We caught a shuttle to the hotel and waited for the rest of the team. We had planned to meet at 6:30 for dinner, but almost every flight had been delayed. At 7:30 those who were there (the Fowler crew, Amy, Carmen, Katherine, Danellia, Katie and Abby walked to McDonalds. We had a great time getting to know each other, then walked back to the hotel...through the rain!! We decided it was just preparing us for the rainy season in Africa!
Tena, Beth, Jill, Miranda, Chris and Jenn arrived later that night.

We woke up early the next morning to board our flight. The Fowler team and Miranda were the only ones who were able to send their luggage all the way to Kigali, so we had a lot of luggage to get to the airport. We made it in two trips in the hotel shuttle. Shane took the first group, I followed with the second. When my group arrived, we had a bit of a problem. The back of the shuttle was full of our luggage. Behind the last row of seats was a plexiglass shield. The door to the back of the van was jammed! Shane tried to help the driver open it but it wouldn’t budge. After 30 minutes and a borrowed screwdriver from airport security, they were able to remove the plexiglass, and remove the suitcases. Whew!!

We were able to get our team checked in, and other than a $150 fee for Carmen’s extra suitcase, it went very smoothly. Tena had one bag that was overweight, so we distributed the extra weight to a few of the carry on bags. Shane and I were the last of the group to head to the gate. On the way there, we got a call from Amanda telling us that Alexis had been stopped at security. She had taken some of the extra luggage, and had a bag of lotions that were in Tena’s donation bag. We told them that we had some extra baggies and could split them between us. When we got to security, they were nowhere to be found! We called them back and somehow they had ended up at security on the other side of the airport. It was getting dangerously close to boarding time, so we told them to leave the lotions behind and get to the gate. We finally made it to the gate just as the plane was starting to board. We said a quick hello to Tina, Debbie and Melinda and boarded our flight.

We had a 14 hour flight to Ethiopia, then a layover in Addis. We were all a bit tired at that point. I told everyone we would have a chance to eat, shop a bit and get online once we reached the airport, but they sent us to terminal one, which didn’t even have a vending machine, let alone internet access. After an hour sitting in the smoky waiting area we loaded our last flight to Kigali. We made it safely, but the whole team was exhausted, a bit nauseated, dehydrated and cranky. We did get every piece of luggage (yay!) and met Jane in the lobby.

We were planning to check in at the hotel first, but decided we needed to get to the genocide memorial before it closed. We grabbed some water, coffee and smoothies at the cafe, then went inside to the memorial. It was absolutely heartbreaking. There are 293,000 people buried in mass graves at that site. The guide did a great job of telling the story of the Hutus and Tutsi tribes (we were so tired from the flight, many of us had a hard time keeping our eyes open while he talked).

Finally, we arrived at our hotel. It was beautiful! We stayed in apartments in groups of four. Ate dinner together, then finally went to bed.

Tomorrow we visit our first orphanage, Kimisagra, in Kigali.

Monday, August 1, 2011


We leave on Saturday for Rwanda and Ethiopia!

I have a few shirts and bracelets left in stock! We still need a couple hundred dollars for our trip. Please think about buying a shirt for $25 or a bracelet for $5!

Photos of the t-shirts are on my facebook page, here is my current stock:

Black Africa Swirl shirt, I have two 3XL and one small left - these are mens fit, so run a size big

Black Women's Heart - slim fit, womens (fits a size or two small, order big!) One medium, one XL

Gray Man-up - I have 4 small v-neck and one XL crew neck.

Bracelets are only $5 each.

This week only!! FREE SHiPPING - order by Thursday!!