Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Camping in Rwanda- all the glorious details!:)

Our trip was so much more than camping details BUT they were a big part of our everyday so I thought I'd give you a "quick" ha tour of our camp site. Jeff drove out with the Crowson family the day before we left so that he and Murphy could set up all of our tents. They did a great job and we were all thankful we didn't have to participate in that part! (but that also meant that car-sick suseptible me got to go on the SIX hour bus ride by myself with the kids!:)) Amazingly the Lord blessed us with dramamine, zophran, scop patches and NO SICKNESS from any of the 28 of us! That was a HUGE miracle and one I did not take for granted! So we drive up to Kumbya through several small towns and villages, tea plantations, rolling hills, mountains AND the rain forest! The rain forest was beautiful- monkeys, lush tall trees, and drop offs that seem to be about 500 feet. Of course we missed most of that because our driver decided it would be obviously better if we went 90mph through the forest:)
 Sweet Cannon above at the Woodward compound- Aimee and I were VERY lucky to have multiple areas for bags and kids!:) and below is the Hills team each morning at breakfast. We had "theme" days where we would talk about trends and music of the time period chosen:)

This was the kitchen- those holes were continuously filled with wood to light the fires to prepare our meals- we had an awesome Rwandan staff who were so sweet and such hard workers!
 Inside of the kitchen- pots on top are filled with our dinner! It was HOT in there!
 This is a line for the "showers"- I'll explain all that a little later:)
 Sie in front of the Owens tent- the one behind it housed the McCulleys
 This was our compound- Jeff built up tarps to keep the heat down and for a little private toothbrushing-with-your-water-bottle station!
 This pic is taken from the back- so you can now see our wonderful hammock-tents! I kinda made fun of Jeff for buying these but they were truly a life saver!! So comfy and I felt a little more enclosed in my own world at night- instead of listening to the bats poop or the monkeys scurry!

Every afternoon we had about 4 hours of free time. This was so wonderful and we got so much quality family time and a chance to really get to know the missionaries. One of the favorite spots was "THE PLANK"   We figured we may not be getting all the amoebas and parasites that we wanted to pick up on this trip so jumping off a 30 foot plank should shove those right in!:)
This is Aimee preparing to go for the first time- the main reason it's a little scary is that you are walking out on a very questionable board that rests entirely upon tree branches. So the board bounces as you walk to the end and all the leaves are shaking.
30 feet down and we all made it! Let's do it again!

 We all felt pretty cool until Sie just walks right out and without hesitation jumps off!:) They had a blast doing this over and over!

 This was a  cool little area for smaller kids and to the left a make-shift diving board- and below is the floating dock that was fun to swim out to and play on!
 Parker in the kayak- this was all their first time in a kayak and they were instant pros!
 Patton getting further and further away....
 Jeff and Patton
 Me and Parker

 Parker and Sie in the canoe- they LOVED going by themselves- thought they were pretty big!

 Cassidy and Chandler with an ever-present fan club consisting of Aren and Stevie:)
One day we all heard Cannon screaming about a bug in his tent- this was about day 4 and we were mostly kinda over the scary bug feeling (who am I kidding- I never got over it) but Cannon was over it so we were all wondering why he was upset. Phillip was like "Cannon quit being dramatic"- then he went in the tent to see what that was all about and found this....ALIVE AND KICKING on the sleeping bag....
 Another cool bug we found one day outside of our tent... a leaf bug! Not sure that is it's real name but that's what we called it!
 And then there were the monkeys...they were shy at first and we rarely saw one the first 3 days but they started to feel comfortable I guess and came out in droves!

An owl lived in a tree down by the lake- very cool!
We didn't have too many injuries other than Patty's BROKEN LEG!! I was with her a few times when her driver would forget to come down and pick her up and take her back up the hill for lunch:( but most of the time they were right there to help her!
And then there was Patton who stepped on a tent stake and ripped open the sole of his foot, and climbed up TWO rusty metal buildings on this trip-- the second time didn't work out so well for him:/

This was the entrance to both the girls and boys toilets- they were basically outhouses (holes in the ground) but they had toilets sitting on top of them so you could at least sit!! They were not that bad the first couple of days and then oh my did they smell!!

 hand washing station- with super clean lake water!!:)
 Girls side:
 Boys side:
And if you thought going to USE the toilets was fun just wait till it's your day to CLEAN the toilets!! Jeff has done many a great thing for me over the years but I can honestly say I've never been so thankful to him for just taking over and doing this for our family!! I brought gloves just in case we needed them someday so I put them on when it was our time- but I never actually cleaned one:) Jeff did them ALL! And I watched and encouraged:)

Cassidy was a brave girl and helped out on her family's assigned day:)

But the best attire for cleaning drop toilets has got to go to Mr. Michael McCully!! He was prepared!:) It seemed to say "yeah I'll clean the toilets, and then rob a bank!"

Well, I'll have to show the toilet and shower videos later because they won't upload and I don't really know how to do more than just push maybe another day:)

Ok so I know that's a LOT of camping details but we had some pretty great and funny memories with each one!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rwanda- Kumbya

Well it has taken me forever to get all these Rwanda pics up but here goes another attempt! Our main mission this time in Rwanda was to go and serve missionaries from all over east Aftica at a retreat called Kumbya. (it's pronounced like it looks but everything in me wants to start singing Kum-ba-yah my Lord every time I see it written:)) Anyway, Christians from all sorts of denominations have been meeting there every year since the 1940's and this place radiates unity! It is a time for missionaries to be refreshed, fed, encouraged and loved on- and it was our job to bring that refreshment to them in a variety of ways. We had a team of 28 who all used a wide range of talents and abilities to come and lead these amazing people into a time of rest and renewal with their savior. It all sounded wonderful and something we totally wanted to do- except for one tiny detail...we would be camping. Let me just give you a small glimpse into my history of camping. When I was about 10, my dad took me and my sister on a camping trip for 4 days...and we forgot our bags. It rained the first day so the one outfit we had was wet and dirty. So, wearing the same underwear for 4 days clearly scarred me for a lifetime. But since I am a trooper, I agreed to go camping with friends when Jeff and I had been married about a year. Only problem was it was July. In Texas. I was 8 months pregnant. I had a fever blister the size of Rwanda. That was probably the most miserable I have been in my entire life. I can hardly even think about it.  So after that I took a good long look at who I was and suddenly it all became so clear to me. I AM AN ADULT!!! I CAN TOTALLY DECIDE TO NEVER GO CAMPING AGAIN- EVER.  And so I did. The only way this girl would ever roll out a sleeping bag again was if the good Lord came up and told me to do it. And he wouldn't do that because he knows how much I HATE camping. So we were good, the Lord and I.  For about 14 years. And then Kumbya was mentioned. We felt clearly called. Seriously Lord?? Remember I HATE camping!?! And then it got even better. Murphy Crowson mentioned that it was going to be a little "rough" camping. What's that now?? Mr. Missionary thinks it's rough??? Um ok, what does that mean?? Well, just a few little details like no running water and no electricity. Oh, ok.  I'm thinking that means Dominos pizza and a cold coke zero are probably not gonna happen. But we really did feel called and I really will do something if God asks me to- even camping. So off we went! Being 3 weeks away from it I can say that camping wasn't that bad. I even got cokes! And although the shower was lake water it was hot!- more on that later:) And every night they turned on a generator from 5:30-9 for dinner and worship (and charging our computers and camers!) But then I think of the "toilets", the bats, the monkeys, the "toilets", the mud, the bugs, the "toilets", and I am truly thankful that we don't live in a tent. Enough said. BUT- this penisula on the Lake Kivu shore is breathtakingly beautiful. The backdrop for all our daily activities was lush rolling hills, a gorgeous lake, and surrounded by incredible people. The people we met and became friends with are what truly makes this place amazing and as time goes on, when I think back on our time there, they are what comes to mind. Truly amazing.
 This is the group on the second night when Patty had given everyone our Kumbya shirts-

There were missionaries from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, and Congo

Randal and Michael (and Savannah a couple of times!) led us in worship. It was simply amazing. People kept thanking us for bringing a worship team. For a lot of them, this was the only time they would be able to worship in English the entire year. The only time they could sing out, and worship with abandon!

Morton and Suzy Jeffrey came to be the speakers of the week. They poured out their heart and soul into making this a week those missionaries would remember and come away refreshed and renewed.

Another part of our team was in charge of putting on a kids program. The Vaughn's were in charge of the middle school kids. The Woodwards with the high school. Sharon with the elementary. Savannah with the babies. And me with the pre-school. We were spread out along the shore of the lake so I didn't get many (or any!:() of some of the groups...

Patty had worked endlessly on organizing us all and of course had every detail thought of. We didn't want to just do this- we wanted to Pattyfy it! Matching snacks and candy to go with the theme or story that day, custom bags, 16X20 canvasses for each and every kid to paint, crafts, games, lessons, toys, parachutes, SO much name it, Patty had thought of it and did it! Plus, she's just amazing with kids. They are drawn to her. They would all run up to her to show her their craft or just love on her. She was amazing even with a broken leg!

Wade's job was videographer! He was everywhere getting so many sweet moments caught on film. AND he's making a video of the entire week and giving a copy to each and every person who was there!! I love this pic because it shows him how he was most of the time- taking video and still pics at the same time. He also taught a baptism class and one sweet boy told him that that class was the reason he had decided to become baptized in lake Kivu on the last day we were there!
 Jeff and Trine were "runners"- and boy did they! Wherever we needed them each day they were there.

 We split up our kids throughout the teams so they could help. We didn't just want them participating in the kids program, we wanted them serving. And they were absolutely amazing at it!!

 ok that is only SCRATCHING at the surface of all these pics but I'm getting there...more to come later... One more quick one..sometimes I struggle with what my "talent" is to minister to other people. I always joke that if you need a scrapbook page or a pyramid built, I'm your woman...but people in 3rd world countries don't always need those things:) BUT I did realize one of my talents this trip that I think truly blesses people....teeth pulling! I ROCK at it!! Thanks for letting me pull TWO teeth Cannon!!