Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday 1

Matthew 21:8-11

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. the crowds at went ahead of him and this that followed shouted, Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!"

Today we waved palm branches and grass as we walked together to worship, singing, "Hosanna". Little hands clasped our hands and babies were carried in our arms. Everyone sang praises to God.

The past few nights at devotions we shared about the events leading up to Easter.That there will be a time of sadness then joy when Jesus returns.

Blessed are the children that praise God, through song and prayer.

*Children waving palm branches with Mama Arlene and Pastor Antoine.
*A little girl named "Hosanna" leaping with joy while wearing butterfly wings.
*Hosanna's wings

Palm Sunday 2

Matthew 2:14-16

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the son of David," they were indignant. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?"

Coming to Rwanda is about the children....the laughter, shy smiles, pure joy, beautiful voices, innocence and a future.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Blessings on the Farm 2

Nzoza, Jovith, and Habimana have taught me so much- not only about how to gather eggs, milk a cow, clean the rabbit’s water bottles, or hand cut grass for the cows to eat, but about service and humility. They have been so gracious to me in teaching me how to do different things, since I came in as a learner who knew close to nothing about how to do their job.

At first it was hard because I felt like such a burden and as if I wasn’t really helping them- which I wasn’t. But that's what I'm learning. I am learning how to be the one who is learning, the one who has no idea what's going on, the one who doesn't know what is being talked about most of the time, the one who gets to sit and watch them do different jobs that are not appropriate for women here- I am learning that I don't always have to be the one serving someone else or the one in control of a situation. I am learning to soak up the opportunity of just being together.

I am learning to receive the blessing of being served, and in that I am learning about what humility truly looks like; both in their service to me and in my learning how to receive it. Whether it be scrubbing my hands for me if they think I haven’t washed them well enough after a cleaning job, sharing their breakfast with me, or giving me their jacket to sit on while I watch them do a job they say is a “bad” job for me to do- they have shown me great care and service.

I am so thankful to the Lord for these friendships, and for all the Lord has revealed to me about Himself and His kingdom through these young men. ~ Abby Harrelson

Blessings on the Farm 1

Abby is a junior Art and International Development student at Houghton College studying abroad in Rwanda this semester with Go-Ed Africa, and is working at Urukundo for the month of March. After hearing her share what her month working on the farm has meant to her I asked if she would write a blog entry. Here it is!

I came to Urukundo to work on the farm with no previous experience working with farm animals or in a farm setting- I just knew that I have loved working in gardens in the past and love manual labor, so why not learn more about farm life?! After all, it is so central to Rwandan culture and life. I work with the three farm hands who live and work on the farm taking care of the pigs, cows, goats, rabbits, and chickens; their names are Nzoza, Jovith, and Habimana. At first they were a little taken aback by the fact that I was a woman wanting to work on the farm- here it is not a woman’s job to care for the animals, but a man’s job (unless you are widowed).

There is no word in Kinyarwanda for “cowgirl”, only for “cowboy”, which is umushumba; meaning one who cares for the cows. They weren’t sure how to treat me and what jobs to let me do or not do, but through persistent hard work and intentional efforts to build relationships with them, I have been accepted and feel at home.

The language barrier was also hard at first with me knowing barely any Kinyarwanda and them knowing very little English. Now, this has become such a blessing and relationship builder as we teach each other words by pointing and acting and have gone from barely being able to communicate to knowing how to clearly communicate about farm chores in both languages! The many laughs and confused moments, willingness and patience to learn, and a genuine care of one another have led to many cultural and language differences being bridged to form friendships.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wishing Beads 1

I first met fiber artist Judith Finkelstein when she donated fiber art for the Art For Rwanda event last October. A few weeks later we met for coffee and somehow the conversation turned to beads. I was interested in making beads with the kids in Rwanda but wasn't sure about the medium. Judith shared that she could show me how to make beads from sheep wool. So a time was set up for me to learn.

In January in her studio I learned the steps and actually made a bead. Then she surprised me with a gift of a huge pile of colorful wool for me to take. I was speechless as it was a lot of wool!!

Later while browsing the Barnes and Noble website for a book about beads, I came across the book "Emma and the African Wishing Bead". How perfect!! The project was ready for the school children in Rwanda.

Wishing Beads 2

The process began.....pieces of bright wool, soapy water and lots of rolling the ball in your hands. Rolling and rolling so the fibers bond together. Dipping again in the water. It was messy with water all over and fun.

One of the teachers decided to use capes the Secret Seamstress Society made. (see Blog story Nov 6th, 2014). Capes now became aprons.

Look at the amazing beads. They will be gifts to bless some of the many students that are part of Urukundo School. .......Wishing beads to extend goodness, love and friendship.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

To School - Project 1

Sister school projects have been a great teaching tool for children in the US and Rwanda. This is our second time working with sister school, Mt. Nittany Elementary. One class created a book "How I Go To School" writing about and drawing what they see on their way. It is based on the book, Where Are You Going Manyoni? about a little girl in Africa walking through different landscapes on her way to school. This project was a great way for the classes in the US and Rwanda to compare the similarities and the differences.

Most walk or take the bus in the US while in Rwanda their parents walk with them or bring them by bicycle or moto bike.

**See Blog entry School Partnerships Nov 28, 2014

To School - Project 2

The other class drew pictures showing how they would like to go to school. Everything from riding on animals to stars and butterflies. What fun they had imagining all the ways they could arrive at school.

To School

In Rwanda it's such fun to watch the kids coming and going to school. The parents' love for their children and wanting to protect them is shown as they bring them to the gate to drop them off. Our parents are very involved in their children's education.

By foot, moto bike, bicycle, taxi (father's job) or on their mothers back they come to school! 3 year old in preschool to 9 year olds in primary 3.

Monday, March 23, 2015


God calls and we answer. Sarah, a junior theology student at Houghton College, has been in Rwanda since January with Go-Ed Africa and at Urukundo for 3 weeks. She answered that call. Seldom do women preach in Rwanda but at Urukundo is is common for our mamas, staff and visitors to preach at Sunday worship. Pastor Antoine has a short message then we are blessed with others sharing their message.

Here is a summary of Sarah's words.......

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” - Micah 6:6-8

What does the Lord require of us? Not all our bows and exaltations, not our offerings, our wealth, or even our children. He requires simply that we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. It is easy to say we will do these things. What does that actually look like in our life though?

Act Justly- Psalm 146:7-10 and Isaiah 58

Love Mercy- Ephesians 2:4-8

Walk Humbly- Philippians 2:3-8

It is important to remember that we are not just commanded to walk humbly but to walk humbly with our God. We can do all these things, but if we don’t walk with God, what does it mean? Nothing. It becomes just like the useless sacrifices. All of these requirements culminate in a relationship with God. It is important that as we strive in our daily lives to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly that we do so in relationship with our Heavenly Father in the hopes of bringing glory to his name.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Butterflies Blandine

Teacher Bailey Kellerman at the Friends School worked on several projects on insects with 6, 7 and 8th graders. She took that theme on as she is an entomologist then agreed to draw a butterfly that could be reproduced. I soon had 180 for the kindergartener's project at Urukundo School.

They would learn about butterflies then color, cut, tape and tie ribbons. The teachers loved the idea and said these would be creative and sometimes challenging skills for little hands and fingers. But things they needed to learn.

Blandine, a new preschool/kindergarten teacher this year, decided to do the entire project in one day. After the children made their butterflies, their reactions were such fun to watch. They ran up to the blackboard and raised them over their heads then waved them as they ran around the room. The teachers said was spontaneous and had never done it before. When they settled down we were able to get a class photo. I loved being there and watching them play and laugh as little children.

See my next stories where I helped as Theogene worked on the first steps and another day when David worked on skills.

Butterflies David

Most days my time is spent visiting and helping in the classrooms on the sister school projects I bring with me. So I am on the move a lot! This day I travelled back and forth between David's afternoon kindergarten class and "How I go to school" in Primary 1, math graphing in Primary 2, biomes in Primary 3. Other projects were in action last week and will be finished this week.

Now back in David's class.....he was working on the second day of the butterflies attaching to sticks with scotch as they call it. Then he had them learn how to tie on a piece of ribbon. I'm sure after I left and the project was finished, the kids loved their new learning tool.

The teachers want to use them when teaching parts of the body touching their butterflies on their heads, knees and toes. They will continue with teacher trainings/ meetings after I leave and discuss how to expand on the projects that they did this year.

Last year I brought a huge kit on Butterflies with many projects and lessons made by a retired teacher friend, Lynn Saxton. I barely had time to introduce it but throughout the year they explored it themselves using many of the materials. They see how those materials and lessons can be used with this butterfly project.