Thursday, March 31, 2016

Our Schoolchildren 1

I wish I could share all the faces of the kids at school. To show their hopes and dreams and desire to learn. And such joy being at school.

Many that are fulfilling their parents dreams for a bright future. For a better future than their parents have had.

Our Schoolchildren 2

More sweet faces of our kids at the Urukundo School.

Midway Reflection

Connie ~~~ I am amazed to be in Africa. As a child I heard a missionary speak at church and thought, " I want to do that someday"

Of course life kept me busy with work, family and all the other activities until one day I found myself retired. I tried volunteering in several organizations, and signed on for my first service trip-a medical mission to Nicaragua. After five trips there, I still enjoyed the work. When a chance to go to Rwanda came along I was eager to see the country and find my place on a team.

Since arriving, I have met the midwife and seen two new mamas with whom we shared the layette kits. I toured a local hospital on Monday which I will share about, cleaned and organized in the little clinic here on the compound, helped the teachers and did projects with the kids.

So it seem my "someday" has arrived.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dresses 1

Thank you to all the ladies that sewed dresses for the girls in Rwanda. Those from Trinity Episcopal Church in Tyrone, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Hollidaysburg, Watsontown United Methodist Church and First United Church in Muncy.

The dresses were given out to the girls at the Urukundo Children's Home for Resurrection Sunday. Others will be given to girls in the community and a refugee camp. What a big smile you put on their sweet faces!!!!

Thank you for letting me be the messenger of your prayers and wonderful gifts.

Dresses 2

More dresses in time for Resurrection Sunday. Thank you again for making the day special for so many girls!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Izuka rya Yesu

What we call Easter Sunday is called the Resurrection of Jesus in Rwanda. Today branches were waved during a processional while everyone sang Hosanna in the Highest. It was a celebration about our risen Lord.

The children performed a drama about Jesus' last days, crucifixion and resurrection. They were amazing. Then singing by a community group, the children and youth followed. Anitha one of our girls gave a message as did Pastor Antoine.

It was a joyful service receiving God's blessings and sharing hope for the future.

*The last supper
*Jesus being led away by the guards
*Singing that Jesus has risen!!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Well I thought I would share a little about me. This is my 6th trip to Rwanda and each time I am amazed by the loving children, the gracious people and the beauty of the country. Coming each year brings me such joy to rekindle many friendships and share this experience with new team members.

The school is growing, new students are attending classes at the sewing center, staff is taking on more responsibility, new community outreach is expanding and Mama Arlene continues to inspire and grow the ministry. I am always humbled to be serving God in Africa. One song tonight at devotions says it all, "Jesus is alive in Africa" and you can see it in the faces of all the children.

*At school
*With Janette
*Life is Good....with Johnny
*Kindergarten Undersea Project


The word Umuganda means ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’. In traditional Rwandan culture, members of the community would call upon their family, friends and neighbours to help them complete a difficult task.

Modern day Umuganda can be described as community work. Reintroduced in 1998 after the genocide it was institutionalized in 2007. On the last Saturday of each month, communities come together to do a variety of public works. This often includes infrastructure development and environmental protection. Rwandans between 18 and 65 are obliged to participate in Umuganda. Expatriates living in Rwanda are encouraged to take part.

Today close to 80% of Rwandans take part in monthly community work. Successful projects include the building of schools, medical centres and hydro electric plants as well as rehabilitating wetlands and creating highly productive agricultural plots.

While the main purpose of Umuganda is to undertake community work, it also serves as a forum for leaders at each level of government to inform citizens about important news. Community members are also able to discuss any problems they or the community are facing and to propose solutions together. This time is also used for evaluating what they have achieved and for planning activities for the next Umuganda a month later.

*Not an Easter egg hunt but Umuganda at Urukundo.
*Chefs chopping food

Friday, March 25, 2016


What can I say but Connie comes as a healer, writer, a sister in Christ and a lover of children. Wow that packs a punch. I have know Connie from church and from our working in Nicaragua. Then last year she contacted me said she had always wanted to go to Africa. After hearing Mama Arlene speak in the US she was more convinced she was being called. So here she is in Rwanda.

She wondered what she would do. Opportunities have presented themselves in many ways. She has helped in the school with crafts projects, played with the children, hugged and laughed with the littlest ones and read stories to the older ones. She will soon lead devotions.

But most importantly she is helping in our clinic working with Diescor, our high school graduate planning on attending medical school. They sorted meds and supplies to see what else may be needed, then they will go to the pharmacy for a few supplies. She went to the clinic across the street and met with the midwife and a new mom. Our mom and baby outreach provides much needed layette items that many in the US have knit and donated. So she gave the mother a receiving blanket with many needed items.

Next week she will go back to speak with the midwife and will also visit Kabgayi Hospital for a tour of the maternity ward. Layette kits will be given to the neediest moms. I'm sure she will have many stories to share!!!

*They love Nurse Connie
*Getting ready to walk the kids to school
*Connie talking with a new mom and baby
*Working in the Urukundo Clinic with Diescor and Anitha

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Hugs Good-Night

Jenna, GoEd. student from Messiah College ~~

"My favorite part of living here at Urukundo is bed time. We all sit down together and enjoy songs and a story at devotions, but the best part is still to come. The kids pray and are dismissed, but before they go, they say goodnight to each and every one of us.

Receiving a hug from them could possibly be the best thing on Earth. Each hug is filled with love, kindness, and friendship. There are a select few of the kids who even kiss me on my cheek and say sweet dreams. The best part is that the kids do all of this because they want to, not because they are told to do it.

I think that is one of the reasons that I love this time so much. Hugs aren't given away to just anyone, they are saved for the people who are special. I am glad to be seen as a part of the Urukundo family, and I will always remember these goodnight hugs as someday I hope to receive them once again."

Too dark for night time here are Jenna's daytime hugs

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sewing Center 1

Connections...that's what the ministry in Rwanda is about. Returning each year to renew friendships with everyone that is having a huge impact on the people of Rwanda. An impact on their people.

Theresa has been the the director of the sewing center since it was established in 2013. She has brought professionalism and grown their community outreach.

This year has seen the largest growth adding additional rooms and a third instructor, Redemption. He learned to sew at 17 years of age from a teacher at his school. He has 6 children so the job in his community is very importent to him. His specialty is sewing men's clothing but does whatever order is requested. For now that means many, many school uniforms.

Sewing Center 2

The center continues to grow as the need for training girls and boys for a career in sewing grows. I was so surprised to see a second sewing room (training room) with 14 machines in addition to the 10 machines in the main sewing center.

We now have 11 students that started in February. This is so important to the future of these youth.

Clementine, 14 years finished Grade 6.
Janette 16 years finished Grade 6.
Antoinette 21 years finished Grade 7.
Rose 23 years finished Grade 11.
Isabelle 17 years finished Grade 6.
Marina 20 years finished 12th grade.
Reticia 25 years finished Grade 11.
janette 20 years finished Grade 9.
Medeatrice 20 years finished Grade 11.
Christian 29 years finished Grade 12. She has 1 child and has taken in an orphan.
Alice 30 years finished Grade 12 and has two children.

It was a privilege to speak with them and have them share that they are thrilled to be in class. They did ask to have English classes so I will look into that.

*****Thank you to Amy Frank, founder of The Makery in State College, PA for sponsoring a sewing machine. It is the one 14 year old Clementine uses.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sewing Center 3

The 6 August graduates are all still working at the Urulundo Sewing Center. Work includes making all the school uniforms for over 400 students at our school and uniforms for other schools. They also make dresses and clothing for special orders. Teaching continues to help them become more proficient in hopes they will earn enough to purchase their own sewing machine. It's about embowering them to work for themselves to provide for their own needs and their families.

Students are Visionia, 18; Immacule 20; Esperance 20; Clementine 25; Jacqueline 17; and Christian 20. All of them only finished through 6th grade but they are determined to make this their career.