Remembering Rwanda!

Her words touched my heart.

As she shared her story, her eyes revealed years of struggle and hardship.  A survivor of the genocide. A single mom of 3 kids.  A woman fighting HIV+.  Her frail, weak body poured out her heart to us as we crammed together inside a tiny room she called home.  

We asked how we could pray for her and she said, “Please remember.  Remember me and my family in your prayers when you return home.”  Her words keep ringing in my head.

Please Remember!

There is so much I want to remember from our life changing trip to Rwanda with my younger son, Conor.  I want to remember the God moments, the heart felt stories and especially the people.  Below are some special people that we met and want to remember.

Florence, the single mom that I described above.  As I stared into her eyes, I could see that life had been very tough.  She shared that her husband left her when she became sick and paralyzed by the illness.  Thankfully the church stepped in to help with her children and get her medication. On my hard days as a single mom when I am tempted to complain or get frustrated, I want to picture Florence.  My hard days do not even compare to her struggles.  We truly have so much to be grateful for. 

I want to remember to choose gratitude!

Joseph, a twenty-year old who we met him on another home visit. Sadly, he lost his father and siblings in the genocide. This young man is seeking.  As we sat in his home with his mother, he asked lots of questions.  He showed an interest in learning more about Jesus and being baptized.  Even after sharing our faith, he was not quite ready to make a decision.  Before we left, we prayed for him.  It was special that we were able to plant seeds in this young man’s heart and I know God will continue to water them.  Praying for God’s perfect timing for him.  We were thrilled to hear that he attended church the following week- God is so good!

I want to remember the power of prayer! 

Innocent, a preschool teacher who we met while helping at his school.  When we asked about the challenges he faced as a teacher, he shared that they don’t have any visual aids or hands on supplies to teach.  Only a pencil and paper. As a fellow teacher, my heart just broke as a pictured my classroom full of colorful posters, manipulatives and hands on supplies.  To help, we began saving our bottle caps from our water bottles as math manipulatives.  In addition, before we left, we gifted this school with crayons, soccer balls, stickers, and colored construction paper.  I will never forget their smiles as they received these teaching aids.  Helping meet others’ needs is a priceless gift.

I want to remember the importance of helping others.

Finally, I want to remember the sweet, smiling faces of the children.  It is wonderful to see how much joy they have.  I remember meeting Divine and his younger brother, Jeffrey at church.  Divine was only 10 years old and he was holding and taking care of his 18 month old brother.  Jeffrey had fallen asleep on his lap so he could not participate in the singing or bible story activity. To help, I held his brother so he could participate.   This is not uncommon in Rwanda to see young children caring for even younger children. The older siblings don’t complain about the additional responsibilities whether it is walking to get water or taking care of younger siblings. 

I want to remember to have joy no matter what the circumstances.

There are many more life lessons and amazing stories to share in later posts!  Conor and I are thankful to have experienced such an amazing two weeks in Rwanda.  We arrived home safely yesterday and are still processing all that God has shown us and taught us.  

Our trip to Rwanda has changed our hearts forever!  

Love, Jodi

Transitions

I am feeling emotional.

Today is my youngest son’s 6th grade graduation.  As I look back at the pictures from the last seven years, I wonder where has the time gone. 

He is excited about the transition to middle school.  I am happy for him too but also very aware.  Aware of how quickly time keeps moving and how bittersweet transitions can be.

June is a big month for transitions with graduations, retirements, and weddings.  Single to married.  Working to Retired.  Living at home to living in a college dorm.   House full of kids to empty nest.

All these big changes leave us full of emotions.

I want to encourage you this month to put words to what you are feeling.  Some transitions can be smooth and easy, but some are more difficult and can leave you feeling sad.  There is loss as you go from one season to the next, and it is important to acknowledge it so you can deal with it. 

So, whether your baby is heading off to Kindergarten this coming fall or traveling hours away to attend the State University, remember that change can be hard. 

Give yourself lots of grace as you adjust to your new season of life.

I think one of the biggest gifts that we can give our children is teaching them how to deal with transitions in life.  Honestly, if we think about it, we are constantly going through transitions.  From baby to preschool to elementary school, junior high to high school, college to working, single to married, no kids to having kids…. Then the process repeats.

If your child is entering a new chapter, help them identify their emotions. Ask them what they are excited about and what makes them nervous.  I like to remind them that everything they are experiencing is normal as they transition from one school to the next.

Friends, if you find yourself entering a new season of life, pause and reflect on how you are feeling. Journal and write out your emotions and then share them with your friends.  

Be honest and open so others can encourage you when you are having hard days.

This month, I am praying for all the graduates whether it is 6th grade like our house or high school or college- my hope is that you will embrace the new adventure God has for you.  Praying for the parents of graduates, especially those with an empty nest coming this fall- my hope is that you will feel God’s love and comfort during the difficult times.

Whether you are facing a giant transition or a small one, remember you are not alone. Reach out to a trusted friend. Maybe they are feeling the exact same way and together, you can help each other through this transition.

Love, Jodi