we kill our turkey and eat it too.

Yesterday we celebrated thanksgiving at our house in Kigali, Rwanda. It was a day to be thankful for so many reasons.

The kitchen was crazy busy and chaotic, of course. But it was also filled with fellowship, laughter and lovely people. I could have spent all day in that kitchen, covered in flour and laughing at Aidah as she yells at Sarah Mast about using the wrong pot, watching Sarah Colligan dance and make weird faces as she washes dishes for hours, smiling at the silly faces that Leah and Jordon make in order to get Zeke to laugh…

it wouldn't be thanksgiving without a crowded kitchen

We also went up to the national stadium and managed to get on the field. We played a game of American football, tackle and all. It was a blast and one of our semester goals. I’ve actually never played american football on thanksgiving. I was experiencing and American tradition for the first time in Rwanda. We also played a short game of football before we had to head back to the house to finish cooking. We ended up with so much food. More food than I have ever had at Thanksgiving. We had turkey that some of the girls killed with their own hands last week! (I was too much of a baby to kill one. I couldn’t even watch them be killed. It made me nauseous). We even had sushi, thanks to our Korean friends!

yeah, I'm doing the heisman back there.

I got to share a delicious meal with people that I love. I got to sit across the table from our house staff and laugh as Alphonse tried sushi for the first time and Aidah complimented everyone’s dish (as if her food wasn’t twice as good). It felt like a true thanksgiving, even though it was in Rwanda. I was overwhelmed with how much God has blessed me.

some of my favorite people in the whole world.

These are only a few things I am thankful for (I could never count them all):

1. Africa and all the people I have met here. Coming here was not the easiest decision, but it had definitely been a life-changing experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. God has taught me so much since I have been here.

2. My family. They’re always there for me and supporting me.

3. My friends at home and all around the world. I have the best friends and roommates that a girl could ask for.

4. My health. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I can play football and jump on a trampoline. i couldn’t ask for much more.

5. The fact that God has provided for me always. There is always food on the table and a roof over my head.

6. God. Everything that I have and everything that I am is because of Him.

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the black hole…

Although we are back in the swing of things with class and homework our lives are far from boring. There is rarely a dull moment in the GoED house.

It's a Thanksgiving miracle!

First of all, we found oreos this week. Yes, you heard me correctly, oreos. Real oreos. The actual brand oreos. They were right up the street at the supermarket! We were all feeling a little extra bounce in our step on that day. It was the same day as little Zekey’s 6 month birthday so we made a cake topped with crushed oreos and celebrated that handsome little man’s life. He is such a joy to all of us and we have been so blessed to be able to share the so much of his first year with him and his amazing parents.

We love this little guy!

We found a trampoline in our garage. Don’t ask how or why or what. These things just happen at the GoED house. There is a black hole in which many things disappear, but occasionally we experience a little miracle and something great will reappear…like this trampoline. Needless to say, we set it up instantly. I thought it was difficult to focus on homework before, now it’s just impossible. We have already spent hours jumping around and laughing until we peed ourselves. I actually just went and jumped on it for 20 minutes. We got Aidah and Kotchi to jump with us, but Alphonse and Celestine refused. Then we come walking out tonight to find them both jumping away on it!  It is hilarious to jump with them. It is a very foreign activity, that’s for sure. The motion just looks unnatural to them and I imagine it feels unnatural also, but they survived. Although, Celestine did jump a little too far off and one of his legs went straight through the springs. Luckily he is like the strongest man in all of Rwanda so he was fine.

photo credit to the one and only Leah Bright

Last, but definitely not least, we spent the past weekend in Gisenyi. It is a town near Lake Kivu and it is absolutely beautiful. It didn’t even look like a lakeshore, it looked like a beach in Hawaii. This was our first trip without our leaders, so we were on our own. We took the bus (3 hours) and arrived in Gisenyi town after dark. We had booked a hotel, but we wanted to find a cheaper place to stay. So we asked the only other white person at the bus stop (a cute little old nun from Italy) and she directed us to a church guest house. Turns out they had a dormitory (a room with about 6 bunkbeds) and it only cost like $3. And they had a restaurant which only cost like $3 per meal. We roamed the town for a little before calling it a night. The next day we met up with one of our friends from the center, played football on the beach (I was on skins…don’t worry, I kept my clothes on) and swam in the lake. It started raining, but we kept swimming. We made some Congolese friends to entertain us. They would copy all the tricks we would do. We were flipping each other and then discovered that we could go a lot higher if they flipped us. The rain got heavy so we went up to a little tiki style bar and watched all the local boys have a dance party on the beach. Did I mention that they swim in their underwear….just a little awkward.

I wish I could live here

football. anytime, anywhere.

the vuvuzelas are calling.

Another week full of homework and fun times.
Unfortunately, our classes are  a little more tough now and we actually have to do some work. However, we have still made time for adventure and excitement.
This past weekend we visited a student from the center. What we thought was “in Kigali” was actually a 20 minute bus ride, a 30 minute bicycle ride and then another 45 minute walk. Oh, fun times. Side note: the bicycle taxi’s are probably one of the best things on earth. You pay like 40 cents to ride on this lovely little seat on the back of a bicycle and just enjoy the ride. It’s peaceful as long as you’re not speeding down treacherous dirt roads towards an approaching moto (not like that has ever happened or anything). Sometimes they are even equipped with a bell or a tricked out horn. Anyways, we finally made it to his village and enjoyed a wonderful day with his family. They were so kind and hospitable to us. They welcomed us into their home, cooked us great food, made tea (tasted exactly like fruit loops. so strange, but good) and just graced us with their smiles and loving hearts. They really enjoy taking pictures so we probably did that for a couple hours. I spent most of the time laughing at their silly poses and funny faces. They gave us gifts of bananas and sugar cane as we left (we may have had a few casualties on the ride home). Such a generous culture. I left with a full stomach and a blessed heart.

family

Monday night, we had a cookie bake-off. It was quite the event. There were 8 or 9 cookie entries, and I may or may not  have eaten one of each. Personally, I think mine were the best, but that’s just me. I made “Monster cookies” with a little bit of my own twist. They were peanut butter-oatmeal-chocolate chip-white chocolate chip-peanut m&m cookies. In the end, my cookies didn’t even place. It’s alright though, I’ve already cried my tears of heartbreak. I got to eat cookies until I couldn’t walk anymore, so I can’t complain. Our house staff got in on this competition, which made it that much more fun. Celestine and Julius both had plates with one of each cookie on them. This actually worried us a little because they are not used to eating that much sugar. We were a little concerned that our American sweet tooth was going to make them sick. I think they ended up alright though…I never heard them causing a ruckus in the middle of the night due to a sugar high, so that’s a good sign.

Yesterday, we went to a football match up at the stadium. We try to figure out when games are, but we can never seem to find the answers. So we just wait until we hear the vuvuzelas going crazy up at the stadium and then we know that a game is going to be that afternoon. We went and watched the game with some of our friends from the center. It was a way better game than last time. If you guys remember, Rwanda lost 5 to 0 last time. This time they were playing Eritrea and it was a qualifier for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. They won 3 to 2. It was much more exciting and enjoyable when we actually go to see them score a goal. After the game our friends came over for dinner and we got to spend some time with them. It was nice to get to hang out with them again.

just a little post goal celebration

our brothers from another mother

Another activity-filled week ahead of us. Trying to make the most of what little time we have left in this great country.

Hey fiddy cent, check yourself.

I wish that American music artists understood how much of an influence they have worldwide.
I mean, they know they’re famous and all, but do they really know how much of an impact they have?
When we were at the Center for Champions I mentioned how many times I heard Chris Brown “Yeah 3x.” What I didn’t mention is that he was one of the many American artists that they constantly listen to. I’m talking Justin Bieber all day, erryday. Lil’ Wayne, Akon, Kanye, Tupac, 50 cent, Usher, Sean Kingston (at least he’s still popular somewhere), Diddy, Beyonce, you name it. They don’t just listen to the music, they idolize the singers. I know this happens in the U.S. also, but it is different here. For some of these boys, the only English they know comes from these songs. Many of these boys don’t have a father figure, or any positive male role models for that matter. Therefore, Lil’ Wayne becomes the person they strive to be like. I think most people in their right mind will agree with me when I say that is a terrible thing. For all you Weezy fans out there, you’ve got to admit that he’s not the ideal role model.

It’s not just listening to the music either. It’s wearing a t-shirt with T.I.’s face on it. It’s painting an entire taxi bus devoted to Chris Brown. It’s a little out of control.
It’s just something to think about. These artists are in a position with a lot of power. Along with that power comes a lot of responsibility, but are these artists really taking that responsibility into consideration? They have the opportunity to impact millions of lives. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if they used that for good instead of talking about getting drunk, having sex, cheating, stealing and smoking weed? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my fair share of hip hop, rap and all that other popular stuff the kids are listening to these days. I know that not all of it is bad, but there is definitely room for change.

Don’t worry, I plan on bringing the boys some quality American music that they have been deprived of…….. Taylor Swift :)

Open the floodgates of Heaven.

During our worship time the other night we sang “Let It Rain.” The lyrics go like this, “Open the floodgates of heaven, let it rain, let it rain.” Apparently, God was listening because yesterday, it rained. No, it didn’t rain, it poured.

When Becca and I left for the market is was a wonderful sunshiny 70 degrees with blue skies. The weather was a tad bit different by the time we left the market. The rains here are about as sudden as that feeling you get when the alarm clock goes off in the morning and you feel like you just fell asleep.

Becca and I were walking back from the market and right as we reached our road, it began to rain cats and dogs. Literally, dog-sized raindrops were hitting me in the face. Naturally, every person ran for cover. Have I mentioned how the world stops here when it rains? Well, it does. Everyone just runs under the awnings of the shops and stands there until the rain stops. We considered it, but decided it was such a short walk home. And, I’m from the Northwest, this kind of stuff is like child’s play. I forgot that I am usually equipped with my waterproof rain jacket and my longest walk is usually from my house to the cafeteria. We were soaked by the time we reached our gate, but we had arrived home and now we could get out of the rain and into our house, right? Wrong.

We waited at our gate, but nobody was coming to unlock it. Our guard, Alphonse, was being a baby and hiding from the rain. Lindsey finally came and opened the gate soaked to the core and with a big grin on her face. That’s when I knew that we weren’t hiding from this rain anytime soon.

So we played. We played like little children. We ran around and danced and played football and had our own little slip and slide on the tile. We tried to get Alphonse (the one who wouldn’t even come answer the gate earlier) to come join us, but he just laughed and looked at us like we were crazy. His uncertainty didn’t last long though. After laughing at our craziness for a few minutes he came out and joined in on our childish fun. He later said that we were like a little brother asking to go out and play in the rain. I’m not going to argue with that.

As much as I have grown and learned during my time here, Africa has brought out my inner child. It’s grand.

Somebody catch that bird!

Excitement from the week:

Now that we are back in Kigali we have been reunited with our football friends! It was pretty joyous. I’m pretty sure that Diddy’s “Coming Home” was playing as we went down the valley to meet them. We went down to play a few days after we got back and we received a warm welcome. It was so good to see their smiling faces again. I swear some of them looked like they had grown a foot!

We also went back to Rwamagana to watch some of the students give their final presentations for the year. I felt like a proud parent. They did such a good job! They pretty much just chose any topic they wanted and then created a poster and gave like a 10 minute presentation on that topic. They talked about everything from the moon to alligators to the politics of Rwanda. It was nice to see those students as well.

While my fellow students worked on homework on Saturday (they’re all a bunch of procrastinators. If any of you are reading this you should probably go do some homework instead!) I went on a wild goose chase. Literally, we chased our neighbors pet bird down into the valley because it escaped. When I say pet bird I don’t think you really understand what I mean by that. This is not a little parrot or a canary or some small crap like that. It’s a Ugandan Crane. That’s a big stinkin bird. Google it. So anyways, Leah, Lindsey, our guard Alphonse and I all went to hunt this thing down with hopes of getting a reward from our neighbors. We sprinted all the way down into the valley and then saw someone driving away with the bird in the back of their truck. We waved them down and yelled, “That’s our bird!” Only to find out that this was in fact the owner of that bird and he had already found his bird and was driving back home. Oh, the luxuries of having a vehicle. We didn’t get a reward, but we did get a ride home and an entertaining afternoon.

Besides those exciting events we have just been hanging out,  sitting through hours of class and doing massive amounts of homework. This week we had a 6-page reflection paper, can you imagine? Gosh, my life is rough :)
Well I need to go to bed before these mosquitoes actually succeed in their attack on my ear.
Here’s to another week!