... Living inspired by the beauty of life, one post at a time.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015


As we say goodbye to 2014, we look to the future with hope and determination and welcome the new year with a heart full of expectancy. This year was the year for being brave and stepping out of comfort zones, way out and over the edge! 

This year meant travelling to new countries, gorilla trekking through the jungle, embracing new job opportunities, parenting teenagers to a new level and staying strong while still holding out for a few dreams that are still on the horizon. 

Brave means so many things in all of the different seasons of life - sometimes it means staying strong when you feel like throwing in the towel, sometimes it is reaching out when you don't feel like it and at other times it means just doing the hard yards that life throws at you despite the heartache and pain. Life is messy and crazy but always beautiful. We make it what it is, so keep smiling and keep going, no matter what!

To all the brave people, we salute your courage for doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way. 
With an eye on the horizon and looking forward to all that is ahead of us, we welcome 2015 with open arms. 

Wishing everybody the very best for the year ahead. The best days are still ahead of us!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Little boys



Encourage your little boy to embrace his curiosity to learn. Help him explore rock pools (and ignore the smelly sea things that find a way home in his sandy pockets), allow the removal of cereal from their boxes for construction purposes (and marvel at the cereal box city that has taken over his bedroom when it all seems too much!).

Let him make a mess in the dirt, collect bugs, have snails as pets, grow things (weird things!!), try out experiments with the kitchen utensils and don’t get too mad when the fan is pulled apart (even when you thought it was working just fine).

… Because little boys grow up fast (too fast!!) and memories fill aching spaces.


… And some day this zest for learning might just lead him on a great big grand adventure!

~ Here’s to you son!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Two hearts beat within my breast

I heard these words today and they struck a cord!

'Two hearts beat within my breast.
One is foul, the other is blessed.
One I love, the other I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.'

Sometimes we find ourselves warring between what we know is right and doing something else entirely. I question myself, often. When I have a million things on my mind and I rush about the day, is love brought to every sphere of my life? When people are unhappy or pressure mounts, do I breathe out blessing or cursing?

Living a life poured out in love isn't easy. 

We live in a world where hate squanders what we value. Hate wages war. Rage storms in and love is lost. 

The world as we know it has changed. Blessing is weird and cursing is expected. The tentacles of compromise have coiled slowly around our every day living. The fabric of our millennial society has evolved to the extent that the values adhered to by one generation have emerged in the next as a vortex of societal discordPeace has been obliterated and intolerance rules. The lines of political correctness have crisscrossed so overwhelmingly that a seismic value shift has changed our societal direction. Undermined ever so subtly, we have been hushed into silence. This generation (the b.b's and the x,y,z's) unlike any before us will experience the greatest societal shift in their life time than at any other time in history. Look how far our society has changed in just ten years!

So how you love matters!

At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. I can't hear you when your behaviour screams louder than what you have to say. 

Feed love and you'll feed life.
Let love have her way!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Live audaciously!

Life is about accepting challenge and stepping out of comfort zones.

Life isn’t so much about calculating the risk, but accepting the risk and doing it anyway.

Life should not be lived within the safety of comfort zones or neutral states of behaving. This mental conditioning causes restrictive boundaries and indifferent perspectives, where we are neither thinkers or creators. If we are not prepared to take a risk or make a mistake, we compromise the ability to think divergently and act creatively!

Take the butterfly for instance, its struggle is necessary to its survival. Help it escape its cocoon and the butterfly will live out its days deformed, unable to experience the exhilaration of flying free. It is in the struggle that the butterfly finds its strength.  After its dark days inside the cocoon, the butterfly has this one moment to accept its destiny, this one final moment to live beyond its restrictions. To fail to push through in this pivotal moment will impact the butterfly forever. It will live out its existence crawling in a world where it was destined for something greater. It must gather its energy and exert itself completely and wholeheartedly at the crucial moment. The butterfly must squeeze its frail body out of its tiny confined space. It will emerge withered and worn, but then it begins to extend and expand its full capacity … the butterfly will spread its wings and fly.

We shouldn’t be frightened of thinking differently or making mistakes … or afraid of picking ourselves up once again after loss and adversity. It is in these exact places that our biggest battles are won. Comfort zones need to be pushed, boundaries overstepped and our thinking stretched beyond its capacity. True ingenuity is discovered in strenuous effort and enterprise.

So go right ahead and think expansively, dream magnanimously and live audaciously.

The gift of life requires us to live devotedly and passionately in the realm of remarkable resolve.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Light that chases back darkness



It is light that signals the beginning of a new day, light that chases back darkness, light that illuminates and it is light that brings hope and perspective. It was light that cracked open the dawn of time and light that divided the heavens and the earth. 

Children of the light, shine brightly in the darkness. 

Like a city on a hill, the light CANNOT be hidden! 
Light overcomes the darkness, do not be afraid of dark shadows. The darkness cannot overcome the light. Let us walk as children of the light while we have light, darkness will not touch us. 

We are called into a marvellous light so bright that death cannot escape its glory!

Those who follow the light, shall never walk in darkness. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above. May our lives be so full of light that we shine brighter than the noon day sun. Walk in the light and allow your light to shine before men. 

Arise and shine, the time has come!

Fan the flames of light so they grow ever brighter. 

While you have the light, believe in the light!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What lies before us


What lies within us resides insurmountable potential because we have been destined and pre ordained for more. We have been purposed beyond all earthly comprehension for a time to come, a time of infinitely designed significance, and it is this knowing that echoes across our existence. The past is but a line drawn in the sand, a line that states what once was. It is a line between what was and what will be, that is all. The past is a string of lights flickering behind us, acknowledging a path travelled. But the future, the future is a beacon of hope. It is a song that reverberates outside of time and space. Across the years, this song of purpose directs us forward - because wisdom and truth is a song we have learnt to sing in the toughest of battles. Its anthem has been raised in the stormiest of seas, amidst the turmoil of life, and in the hard places of life. We have learnt to press on, that is the magnificence of the human spirit. We, such unique humanity, grow resilient despite loss, grow stronger through brokenness. What lies within us is is truly unfathomable, it is entirely limitless. Empowered by what might lie before us, we are stirred to climb higher and rise yet again. 

There is more for us than the bare bones of just living, more than this temporal world, so much more than we could hope or imagine. Hope calls our potential to arise. Like a lighthouse, hope and possibility shine before us. They direct us to safe places. This sweeping arc of light guides us through the darkness, it leads us home. Hope and possibility, the sweet mingling of tomorrow, is there for us to hold on to. If we are brave enough to see it we can grasp it wholeheartedly. What lies before us is unbelievable possibility. That possibility is the sum of all of who we are now and into the future, it is both our weakness and our greatness and when we weigh the weight of our weakness against all of our possibility, we are strengthened every time.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Imperfect Living

I am loving this thought at the moment, 'There's no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let others get inspired by how you deal with imperfections.'

There is something powerful about a life out worked on the battle lines of brokenness. To observe a courage that has been ferociously forged in the face of inadequacy is indeed inspiring. Watching a burgeoning life fight a relentless battle, then valiantly push back encroaching enemy lines in their day to day living is compelling. Now that is a life I can learn from.

This life of imperfections continually sets us apart from the absolute ideal, some worldly standard that exists outside of reality. Thus we are often found lacking and wanting. Our flaws open grounds of doubt, lack nudges ever so pressingly. Humanity is bonded in its limits and boundaries, we are all in this together. Vulnerability marks us all, it burns deep. We see the flaws in others and those within ourselves. Some of us open our arms to it and there are those who will close their eyes. Faults are carried like burdens, some will ease that heaviness and others will turn away. 

Our failings give us option to try another way, our flaws the scope to see things differently. We are afforded the chance to forgive and be forgiven. To say sorry and hear it in return, to extend grace and receive it right back. All of this should shine a light upon lack that should not limit us, but draw us together in unity. This rough edge that we share should help us to hold hands in solidarity.

'Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail'. - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Imperfections give rise to bravery and occasion to expand and flourish. There are the brave amongst us who rise from disappointment to fly again and still others who will be the wings to help another fly. This ability to strain and stretch, to recover and adjust is found in the toil of resilience. Strength and depth come from this place. This is where life is lived, on the frontlines of adversity. Let's do this thing together!

These imperfections, both the real and imagined, the ones on the inside and those on the outward, reveal raw need in us. They leave us somehow feeling incomplete, and in doing so, point to a yearning for something more. It is this pull that causes us to challenge expectations and pursue an intrinsic path of purpose. If we allow them to, these very shortcomings can become markers of possibility and opportunities for growth. After being bent, compressed or stretched we are more pliable, open and honest. Our story becomes sinew and bones, it breathes hope and purpose. This is a story I want to read.

Our imperfections are perfect for pushing us in directions perfection would never take us. An imperfect journey is the catalyst for change. After all, without our distinct vulnerabilities we would not embrace a new path, different perspectives or others points of view. Our imperfections should not cause us to stall, but should propel us forward and into our future. It is imperfection, not perfection that gives us the chance to choose individually, and to live differently. The imperfect life is full of promise.

 Life isn't about conforming to absolutes or some unmarred utopian way of existing, but rather is all about the gritty, robust resoluteness that embraces raw, honest living. 

Here's to that kind of living!



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thank you Rwanda

Today is my last day in Rwanda. It has been an incredible journey of highs and lows. I have been inspired by old men travelling many hours on foot, a suitcase in hand to glean strategies for early childhood education at the conference we ran in the mountains of Muzansi. They count it a privilege to attend.

My heart hurts for my Compassion child who lives in a small mud hut, with no bed to sleep on. My excitement escaping me that day, heartbreak cutting deep. Sad realisations sinking in to reality. What do I do now? The responsibility of what I now know pulls hard on my heart and soul. We have so much to be thankful for, a hundred different things every day. 


I have been touched by the eagerness of a young woman to pursue a sponsor to attend university despite not having the means to do so herself. Her words touched me deeply as she told me how she wants to do just what I do. I realise what I have is a privilege, to be able to freely choose my path in life, to have the good fortune to teach others and get paid to do it. I prayed for her, tears spilling down her cheeks. There are no words to express hope waiting!

There are teachers here who are untrained, doing what they can, with what they have - with the little they have, just to fill a need. The littlest people of the earth need us all. How different the world would be if we all attended to the little things and did small things with great love? 

A gang of handcuffed convicts walking along the dusty road toward me, took me by surprise. The pink jumpsuits they were wearing identified them as perpetrators of the genocide. The guard directing them with his rifle poised upright, remained stiff lipped as they walked on by. Prisoners work in Rwanda, they give back to the community. 

The joy of children participating in simple activities is a sight to behold, no iPods, iPads or iPhones! The simplicity of little things brings great delight, kites flying high above clay homes - children shrieking, a spare tyre and a stick gathering the village children - everyone running. Imaginations grow here, determination too!

And then yesterday, I was moved to tears by the clapping and cheering at the close of the conference as our team gifted a CD of childhood songs to each teacher attending our conference. Their appreciation of such a simple but valued gift was incredibly moving, their smiles contagious despite my tears. 

I have been embraced by a resilient people that have shown me the beauty and greatness of the human spirit, and its incredible ability to forgive and grow again. The strength and dignity of such humble and hopeful people have altered me. Life is a beautiful gift.

Purpose has been worked out here in so many small moments, an open heart can do great things in a million tiny ways. 

I have expanded here.

Rwanda, you have changed me in unexpected ways. 

Murakoze cyane, thank you so much.










Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Early Childhood Conference in Rwanda

Day two of our Early Childhood Conference and we are in the swing of things. Yesterday I gave the keynote address for the opening of our conference setting the scene for the importance of learning in the early years. The nursery teachers have come from far and wide, some travelling for hours on foot. The group varies in age, the young and old alike are here to learn. There is no descrimination. It is a special occasion and every one is smartly dressed. They have brought their best. Mothers are in attendance, their babies strapped to their backs. Old men with worn travelling bags sit quietly to the side. All eager to lean in and glean ideas for their own classrooms.  

Hope Global is providing accommodation and meals for the Rwandan teachers for the three days we are running the conference. Yesterday lunch consisted of rice, beans, fried potatoes, cabbage and a meat stew, the steamy dishes were piled high on everyone's plates, the anticipation evident. The feast was a welcome celebration. 

We are running small group workshops with practical ideas to be implemented in Rwandan classrooms. My workshop is teaching English. I am focusing on letter sounds and blending simple three letter words with short vowel sounds. The Rwandan government changed the second language of Rwanda from French to English three to four years ago. The main language is Kinyarwanda. English is slowly emerging. I have written the letters of the alphabet on smooth stones that I had packed into my luggage. I have tried to think like a Rwandan because their supplies are limited and resources sparse. Yesterday I brought out my stones and showed the teachers how to help children learn the sounds of the English language. They marvelled at the smoothness of my stones and asked, 'Where can we get these?" I realised I am not so good at thinking like a Rwandan after all! 






Sunday, April 27, 2014

Walk of Hope

Today we walked alongside the Rwandan people in solidarity as they celebrated hope and life twenty years after the genocide. Our starting point was the presidential palace where the then president was killed as his plane came in to land in the field behind his house. The plane was shot down and was the signal for the planned genocide to begin. Hit lists had been prepared in advance. The killings began immediately all across Rwanda.

Our walk covers eight kilometres of hilly terrain. It is hot, the Rwandan sun beating down mercilessly. No rain today. As we set out, voices begin singing. More people join in and I am carried along on the sweet rhythm filling the air. We stopped traffic as the progression swelled, police slowed traffic to a standstill. We marched on in the hundreds, kilometre after kilometre towards the stadium. Other groups also walked from significant points around the city where the genocide atrocities began. As we near the stadium each of the progressions merge, shouting and excitement stirring the crowd.

The walk is a sign of comittment to move forward. Progress has been slow in Rwanda over the last twenty years, but momentum is quickly growing, with the last few years showing significant progress in the infrastructure and rebuilding of the country. Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economic systems today. 

A survivor of the genocide is welcomed to the stage to share his story. Edward Kuraranda was born in the Western province. His seven children were killed by his father and brother in laws during the Tutsi genocide. They were all dumped into the river. Somehow he evaded the killers. His wife from a Hutu background was taken by her family and forced to leave her Tutsi husband. He was left with nothing. He tells us that after the genocide and despair he found hope in God. God kept him alive, God was his refuge through the tragedy. Everything is possible with God he tells us. He stands before us today to bear witness that it is possible to move through the darkness. After the genocide his wife was restored to him, she then joined him on stage. The crowd erupts with clapping as his two sons born after the genocide also stand on the stage. Edwards story is full of forgiveness, like many of the people here. I have never seen such widespread tragedy touch so many. Everywhere we turn there is another with a similar story - suffering, restoration and forgiveness. 

Mark Zschech, along with his wife Darlene began Hope Rwanda, now Hope Global ten years ago in 2004. Ten years after the genocide they began a journey of restoration with the people. And now ten years on he reminds the people that the message hasn't changed. He tells us to always choose hope, to walk the road of hope because we are ambassadors of hope. The stadium roars in response.
I  look out at the stadium full of people, there is a common thread weaving all of their stories together. Hope is weaving a beautiful tapestry here in Rwanda, it is colourful, vibrant and full of promise.

Kwibuka' - remember, unite, renew. 











Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Compassion visit

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting my Compassion child. The experience was a mixture of joy and sadness. I was so expectant for the day to unfold and looked forward to the chance of folding this boy into a loving embrace. The moment arrived and he shyly came out of the project office to meet me. I greeted him with a hearty hug. His eyes remained downcast, his demeanour humble. We were welcomed inside and his folder was produced. The Compassion Director poured over the details, informing me of his progress. He explained his health, education and spiritual results.

Eric hopes to be a teacher. The gifts I brought him couldn't have been more perfect, an abc chart, alphabet cards, writing paper and pencils so perfect to nurture this dream. A glimmer of a smile appeared as I handed over the tennis balls and musical book I had brought along. Eric hesitantly tapped on the keyboard as I gently showed him how to read the numbers and touch the keys to follow the musical pattern and words. We then bundled into the van and drove ten minutes to his home. As we drove I thought about how far he had to walk to school. It was hard to believe that children, some very young have to walk on average 18 kilometres in rural areas. 

As we pulled up to Eric's home I looked out at the little mud hut in front of me, it was tiny! The rain had been streaming down for a few minutes and had now turned the red earth to slush. We gingerly made our way inside as the rain continued to fall. It was dark. A streak of light from outside filled the doorway and offered a little illumination as we sat down on smooth wooden chairs. A row of chairs, a reed mat, and a small table filled all of the space. A simple door separated the room beyond. This room had a low bench along the back wall, a tattered mosquito net bunched to one side. At the other end, a bamboo bench leaned across the mud wall, a small window allowing in a shaft of light. 

Before arriving we had stopped at the local markets to purchase rice, sugar, oil, porridge, biscuits, soda, toothpaste and cakes of soap. I wondered how long the food items would feed a family of eight? Eric's father helped our driver unoad the supplies we had brought with us. The gifts were hefted out of the vehicle and quickly hidden inside the second room. Packets of biscuits were then split open and shared, the village children sharing the spoils with us all.

The whimper of the baby drew everyone's attention, her fussing resulting in her being put on the breast. Eric's siblings gathered around their mother, sitting on the mud floor slurping happily on the soda we had brought. We exchanged words with the help of a translator, the pauses in conversation allowing me to reach out to Eric, to run my hands across his razored scalp, pat his shoulder and engage in communication that required no words.

As our time drew to a close, Eric's father offered a few words. "Thank you for looking after Eric and all of us". His words broke me, tears welled up blurring my vision. I took a breath. My heart was breaking. This was messing me up. I expected to feel happy, but a deep sadness was filling every part of me. Their need was so great, their living so rudimentary. I get to leave, to go back to my life, but this, this was their reality. I hugged each of them in turn, trying to covey a message that the language barrier couldn't express. I had to leave this boy in the land of a thousand hills, had to say goodbye after only just meeting. Not enough time to say all the things that needed saying, not enough time!



Friday, April 25, 2014

Gorillas in the mist

Today I had the pleasure of meeting the Umubano family, a group of mountain gorillas from Volcanoes National Park. The experience was really very special, a once in a life time opportunity.

After arriving at the entry to the park we disembarked the jeep and prepared for our hike up the mountain. A heavy mist rested over the mountain obscuring our view of the top, but did not deter us, stirring our excitement and sense of adventure even more. We set off, trudging through open fields passing women planting potatoes in the rich red earth. Once hitting the boder of the jungle we had a briefing before climbing down a steep ravine. The six foot ravine prevents elephants and antelope from traipsing through the local fields. From there, it was all up hill. After a few minutes climbing, our guides pointed out golden monkeys resting in the tree tops. I wondered about the animals present but unseen.

The stinging nettles were fierce, the first few stings shooting painful stings straight through my jeans. The path was hard going and rather slippery. I fell over at one point, not a graceful manoeuvre when you are trying to avoid the stinging nettles! After being carefully pulled to safety by our guides, the rangers directed us forward for about forty minutes before we were informed that we needed to leave our belongings under the vines and trees. We then proceeded to the left as the rangers slashed at the undergrowth to forge a path for us to follow. We heard the gorillas before we saw them. Their movements through the bush announcing that we were close. 

At the guides instruction we all quieted our voices before a male gorilla pulled back the vines to reveal his magnificent face. The clicking of cameras and crunching of bamboo were the only sounds that could be heard in the still mountain air. We stopped in our tracks as the magic began to unfold. A mother and her baby nestled together under tangled vines. They were unperturbed by our presence, lounging happily in the morning sun. For one hour we observed the antics of these amazing creatures, the baby climbing over mother and vines, amusing us the whole time with his antics. 

The silver back finally called an end to our visit by clearing a path for mother and baby to follow as he disappeared into the jungle. The juveniles continued to eat as we departed and made our way back downhill. I would have to say that this experience is right up there with the best of the best, a truly remarkable opportunity.







Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fruits of Hope

We arrived early in the morning to 'Fruits of Hope Academy', a thriving school serving the local Rwandan community of Gisozi. Today is hot, the dusty air humid and dry. The bus arrives at our destination but can take us no further. We get off the bus and trek down hill to get to the school which is carved neatly into a hillside. I understand why this country is known as the land of a thousand hills, the land is an undulating expanse of greenery. The red terrain is unforgiving and unsuitable for vehicles, it's gutted surface littered with crevices and boulders. I tread carefully, ensuring each step is well placed. My covered shoes serve me well today.

We head inside to meet the teachers. They are all young, but I am not surprised. Much of The population of Rwanda is young because so many died in the 1994 genocide. At the introduction address the principal reminds us about the effects of the genocide, it is on everyone's lips and a constant reminder of the past. "It is our history" one young teacher tells me, "but my vision is to see a generation rising up to change that history, I am a part of that, I am working hard to see this happen." This young man is twenty seven. His family escaped to Uganda before the 1994 genocide. I asked him what made his father leave Rwanda. He tells me about the killings that happened in the years leading up to 1994. "My family returned after the genocide but there were many family members that had disappeared", he responds. He is not bitter. He believes he has a specific purpose for restoring hope to the youth of Rwanda. This determined young man shares more of his heart with me. His dreams are big, very big. His next statement takes me by surprise, "We are lucky that some of us remained alive so we can start again", he tells me matter of factly. I think on this and marvel at his optimism. 'It is better to be positive than negative', he informs me. I nod my head emphatically, his words are truly humbling. 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Village of Hope

Thunder rolls across the twilight sky, the heavens have just opened, spilling rain across the hill country of Kasabo. The red earth has turned to slush, our feet are covered in thick oozy mud. Covered-in shoes would have been good today. We follow the rocky ground to the community centre at the widows and orphans village where seventy widows and children have crammed into this small building to listen to a message of hope. Excitement builds as the women and children begin to sing. Their joy spills forth in dancing as drums beat out a soul stirring rhythm. As the offerings of praise and worship subside, the women lean in intently, hearts open, ready for the inpouring of grace. 

There is a sense of serenity at this village, the air is quiet except for the sound of cows lowing and children playing. Our welcome this morning was graciously extended by an elderly woman. Her hunched frame is full of love as she embraces each of us in turn. I cannot guess her age. Her face is weathered, her body bent, her serenity transparent. She found her way to the village a year ago bringing her adult daughters with her. Her youngest is twenty, and born just before the genocide. For twenty years they have struggled to survive. Her story is compelling. Her body bares the marks of a horrendous beating at the hands of the perpetrators of the genocide. She is permanently hunched over from this beating, protecting her baby twenty years ago would leave her permanently disfigured for the rest of her life. I cannot imagine the breaking of a body. This woman is brave, her courage incredible. Refusing to hand her baby over, she covered her baby with her body receiving blow after blow on her tiny frame, time and time again. I cannot imagine how she has suffered. It seems too impossible to believe.

The 'Village of Hope' provides homes and self sustainable practices for widows and orphans affected by the genocide. Lives continue to be transformed.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Resurrection Sunday in Rwanda

Grey skies and a light drizzle greet us on day two in Rwanda. It is Resurrection Sunday and a mist lies low over the earth blanketing the surrounding area in an eerie haze. I think about that day, that day two thousand years ago when a life stirred in the depths of a dark and oppressive tomb and imagine that THAT morning may have been similar to the one I am experiencing today. I imagine the heavens low over earth, pressing into the expanse of humanity, covering a life and calling forth a life. I realise again, the power and victory we have over death, how death can not hold us down, that in the end when the temporal passes away, we find abundant life. We enter a life eternal and a life never ending. 

After a breakfast of sweet pineapple and honey pancakes, Jess our Australian contact from Hope Global, spoke to us about the excitement building for the upcoming 'Walk of Hope' that we will be completing in a few days time. The people of Rwanda will converge on the city and join together in solidarity, walking the same path that once experienced unspeakable heartache and pain. She revealed the mounting excitement of the Rwandan pastors for this new brand of missionaries carrying the same heart and message they share for their country. They are encouraged by the coming alongside, no longer are missionaries changing the culture of a people group, they are embracing and celebrating its culture. A sense of purpose is growing as awareness and support grows for a country focused on honouring the memory of those who died. Rwanda has its eye on the future. 




........................................................................

The following excerpt is from a message by a local Rwandan pastor. It is eye opening to hear the hope and faith uniting and inspiring this nation towards a brighter future.

Message by Pastor Joel - Resurrection Sunday.

The church has a unique message. To focus minds and hearts not on the devastation we went through, not on grieving which was so devastating, today our souls look forward. The beauty of the church is that we focus on things ahead of us.

April 1994, when it was dark, in our dark days, we hid in the dark afraid for our future. There were people who didn't believe in our future, but today we have a different plan. We pray for a better future. Today we wonder when is morning coming because we have business to attend to. Today we celebrate life, we are not living out of devastation. We prefer resilience, let's not get stuck in our past. Look forward for a better future. The night that once covered our country, the darkness which hovered, has been turned around. Walk with our heads high. God we thank you that the night finally came to an end, the darkness came to a stop. On April 24th we will walk in our thousands, we will walk celebrating hope. This is our walk of significance. Our ashes have been turned to beauty, we have been adorned with a crown of joy. Out of death has come life. 

Prayer
God you have turned our mourning into meaning. Thank you for bringing anarchy to an end. Thank you we can walk rejoicing. Our hearts rejoice. The nation is crossing. We have been given opportunity to create a new beginning. Thank you for the new day dawning. Our hearts say thank you. Protect your children, may hope continue to reign in our hearts. Hope instead of despair. Keep our nation in safety.

Oceans divide us, but faith unites us.

Hello Rwanda

The early morning sounds drift in the window, waking me from the exhausted sleep of many hours travelling. Thirty four long hours, four flights, and an unscheduled stop and an afternoon of planning had pushed my body further than imaginable. My body had collapsed eagerly into the welcoming embrace of a turned back double bed the night before. As I wake in this land of a thousand hills, a rooster crows somewhere in the distance, his incessant pre dawn crowing waking a slumbering world. A dog barks, birds sing an unfamiliar song, causing my mind to focus and my eyes to open. It is pitch black! The expected shards of daylight do not materialise. What time is it? Inky blackness hovers around me. Pushing back the draping mosquito net, I heave my sleep drenched body to an upright position, perching on the edge of the bed my feet hit hard cool concrete, and wakefulness comes rushing in. I check the clock, it is 3:00 am, what .. only 3:00 am! It is my first morning in Rwanda and she has welcomed me with open arms. 


Yesterday we had crammed all assortment of bodies and bags into the coaster that would take us to our guest house. Eighteen people tightly wedged together, luggage stacked high, one on top of the other, just high enough to afford the driver his rear view. No seat belts and we were off, on the wrong side of the road, whizzing past colourful outposts, bright signs and an abundance of people. The contrasts commanded my attention, Coca cola signs and western familiarities stood out against a backdrop of carefully balanced baskets atop the heads of graceful Rwandan women. Faces stared back at us, curious looks and questions in their eyes. The wind whipped around us as we sped along main roads teaming with moped taxis and walkers everywhere, passing bullet pitted government buildings, reminding us of Rwanda's suffering and unforgotten past. Banners of hope hung from strategically placed vantage points, a single word - Kwibuka (remember, unite, renew) announcing the resilient spirit of these people. 

The road to the guest house is narrow, dipping to reveal a winding stretch of bare earth falling away to a fiercely gouged red earth. The road leads our coaster down hill. We pass clay baked brick walls littered with shards of broken glass, jagged edges upright and fiercely alert. Carefully embedded along the top of the walls, the broken pieces of glass alarmingly stand to attention, a warning that to breach these walls would be costly! Double iron gates quickly swing open at our arrival and close just as quickly behind us as bolts are lodged in place. The outside world shuts behind us, and we are welcomed to the surroundings of carefully attended gardens and quaint green arbours for quiet contemplation and steamy cups of tea. A flurry of greetings and unpacking followed before we wearily trudged a flight of stairs, heaving over stuffed bags of belongings and resource behind us. We had finally arrived and despite the weariness of travel there were smiles on all our faces. 

The guest house sits nestled between an assortment of closely huddled buildings. My room is simple, whitewashed walls, patterned curtains, a wooden desk and two beds adorned with embroidered quilts, a mosquito net swings happily above the bed. My two story view stretches to an undulating view of small singular dwellings as far as the eye can see. Yesterday, I stood at the window straining to absorb every sight and sound, soaking in the newness of a different country, allowing all the months of planning to swell inside of me with recognition and understanding. I was here, breathing in what had taken months of deliberations. Lingering fears melted away as rising expectation filled every ounce of my being. 

The land of a thousand hills awaits.



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