Farm Update: “Chop & Drop” KACYATWA Farm: P1

2017 We’re at KACYATWA Farm in Rwanda working in P1, one of our perennial systems, doing some chop and drop. Support species include: Sesbania, leucaena, and calliandra. Our short-term (1-3yrs) yielding crop is pigeon pea (cajanus cajun). And our production trees are malabar chestnut (ibinyobwa), grevillea (grevaria) and soon to be macedamia.

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September Update

Hi, friends!

August brought a number of unexpected twists and turns for our family- the biggest being the passing of my Pappy, George, and the corresponding unplanned trio back to America to be with my family. Thank you so much to each of you who reached out, encouraged, prayed, and donated to help make the trip possible. It was a perfect as a trip for that purpose could have been, full of peaceful time with family. I am so, so grateful.

August was SUPPOSED to bring the start of Halle’s school year, but it was delayed a week because of an unannounced Rwandan holiday. Seriously- they announced it the night before via Twitter, and that’s not uncommon. Ha! So, she started last week at Discovery International School and seems to really like it so far! This has given me some much needed margin/introvert time and freedom to do some things I have been wanting to do, like volunteer at our local birth center!

August also brought us 2 new employees for our ministry staff- Edmond, Matthew’s new Assistant Director of Agriculture and Nutrition, and Emmanuel, our Farm Manager. Emmanuel will live on our farm property, oversee research projects being completed there, and help maintain the land. Edmond has been a volunteer Β for Matthew’s trainings and is super passionate about Agriculture- we are happy to have him fill the gap left by Deo last month.

Matthew’s Agri-Faith training program continues to be the highlight of his week. Last week, they demo’d how to build a proper compost pile! The farmers start each week with a lesson on a fruit of the spirit, and talk throughout the class about how the exemplify that fruit through their farming. It’s a new concept to most- that they should farm differently because they are Christians! What a cool thing to see (and discussion to be a part of!) They also organized a class Umuganda (a community service day) to build one of their own, a widow who also recently lost a 2 year old, a garden bed. They kept saying, “We are Christians, we should help each other in these ways!” It’s amazing to see them connecting the dots like this- really putting their faith into action and living differently because of it.

This month, I’ve had a few firsthand opportunities to use our resources to bless others- and I want to share one with you. One of our Rwandan teammates, Immaculee, is pregnant (around 25 weeks) but is very high risk, and has weekly (or multiple a week) appointments. Because I have a car, I’ve been able to drive her to appointments recently, when she would typically have to walk or possibly take a moto- or someone else from the ministry would take a half day to take her. I’m so grateful to have the means to help out whenever I can- thank you all for your generosity that allows us to have 2 vehicles here.

I have continued to serve on our churches leadership team, both coordinating volunteers for various roles in the service and, this week, launching an all-new small groups program! I am so excited to see how this blesses our diverse community, as I have seen firsthand how beautiful small group communities can be.

Shepherd is still growing like a weed and charming everyone he meets! He is big boy crawling now and pulling up on everything- and trying all kinds of food! For the record, he LOVED Chick-fil-A fries the most πŸ˜‰

THINGS TO PRAY FOR:

-Diligence and understanding for the farmers in Matthew’s training program, that the way of Christ would be newly illuminated to them. These first students will go on to become the trainers for future trainings in their own communities- discipline their own peers and multiplying the knowledge they are learning. Pray that they take ownership of what they are learning and that it really clicks in their hearts and minds.

-Matthew will be preaching later this month while our priest is out of town!

-We are constantly bombarded with poverty needs, including multiple people coming to our home each day to ask for food and money. We want to help, but do so in a way that is both sustainable for us and dignifying for those asking. Pray for wisdom, in each specific situation and how we posture ourselves in the community as a whole. Pray also for the conversations these interactions spark with Halle, and the example that we set for her.

-Pray for Halle as she settles into school, and for me as I create a new rhythm of life. I am beyond excited to start volunteering at our local birth center that primarily serves vulnerable women. Finally, how I’ve been wanting to serve all along!

-Pray that I (Karli) would be able to use my “free time” well, to both practice self care, pour time into my business, and devote time to volunteering here as well. Pray for discernment as I decide where to put my skills to use.

-Pray continued favor over the planning and permitting of our future home in Gasura

-We are beginning to plan a trip to America for December and early January. Pray that we can wisely balance the need for support raising with the desire to spend ample time with friends and family, and that we can build in some rest along the way. Specifically, you can begin praying for favor in flight times and prices!

We are so grateful to each of you, and would LOVE to know how we can be praying for you!

JULY UPDATE: And…..action!

Muraho, friends!

July has been a huge month for our family! Two major things have happened:

Matthew’s AGRI-FAITH TRAINING PROGRAM has officially begun its pilot season!
And….we finally BOUGHT OUR LAND!

We are so pumped about both of these things!

First, let’s talk about Matthew’s training.

IMG_4954Ababibyi B’Ibyirinjiro (Sowers of Hope) is an agri-faith training program Matthew has designed for the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Our pilot season is in the village of Gasura, a rural village outside of Kigali. We are working in conjunction with the already established Savings and Credit Association Groups (microfinance and savings groups for the win!) and training 3-5 members from each of the 6 local churches in the area, about 25 farmers total. These members have been elected for the training by their community. After the first season of trainings, graduating farmers will be commissioned as agricultural ministers, and for the next 3 seasons (18 months) they will be work as our teachers in their local churches.

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Farm Assessment Maps

This month, the farmers have learned about the principles of designing the farm (intro to permaculture), including specific techniques for harvesting rainwater. Here’s a video of a demo used during the training (not our video):

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wbyUz4IkjM&t=279s

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Nutrition Training “Market simulation”

Another training was on nutrition: a mock market was set up and the farmers had a certain amount of money (a bit less than a dollar, which is a typical day’s wages in Gasura) to buy the most nutritious meal they could. Their homework is to make a “one pot meal” from a great local organization called “Gardens For Health.” Wanna try it at home? See picture for the instructions!1 pot

The main goal of the trainings is to give dignity to farming, teaching that to farm well is a ministry of the Church. Trainings include scripture memorization as we work through the “Fruits of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22) asking, “What would it look like to farm with:___________ (Love, Joy, Peace…) We are investing a lot in these elected farmers, counting on them to be our catalysts in the community for economic, environmental, nutritional, and spiritual growth!

Working through the Anglican Church, we have incorporated an opening and closing “Call and Response,” into the training:

OPENING CALL & RESPONSE:

We provide for our community (BY FARMING WELL)

We heal our Land (BY FARMING WELL)

We worship God (BY FARMING WELL)

Who are we? (WE ARE “SOWERS OF HOPE!)

CLOSING CALL & RESPONSE:

God is restoring all of Creation (LET OUR FARMS PRAISE HIM!)

Please pray for this program. Pray for our farmers, for their farms, and for openness to the message. Because Rwanda has developed so fast, there is a perception here that farming is backwards and undignified, when in fact, it is one of our greatest responsibilities and joys and Christians, and the greatest hope for a sustainable future for the second most densely populated country in Africa!

And please pray for more financial partners specifically for this program. Within the next 3 years we hope to train between 600-700 farmers. Maybe your family wants to sponsor a farmer?

  • A gift of $130 can put one farmer through the full 2 year program.
  • A partnership of $160/mo can sponsor a training for a whole local church!
  • To support this training program, visit… http://www.hopeonathousandhills.org/donate
  • (memo line: “Gasabo: Sponsor a Farmer”)

And now… a bit about our land!

IMG_4826IMG_4705Through a generous, specified donation, we have purchased .7 hectares (roughly 1.5 acres) of land! It is in Gasura, (the same community as the pilot of Matthew’s Agri-faith program) on the top of a hill/mountain (it’s a big hill, ok?) just outside of Kigali. As you can see, the view is epic. The idea with this land is that much of the research Matthew is doing for his project will now be able to be done on this land….which will eventually include our home, too! We are excited that Matthew will be able to do much of his work at home, and that we will be able to spread our wings a bit and do more of the homesteading we’ve been missing for the past few years (chickens and bees! chickens and bees!)

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#homeowners!

We are also excited at the prospect of using our land for more official hospitality and retreat purposes. We are hoping to work with our future neighbors (who are friends of ours, yay!) to develop a fresh air, green-space escape for Kigali city-dwellers! The land is just about 30 min from the city center, so the location is ideal for something like this. We will be developing the land to be a model for agroforestry/permaculture farming, sustainable building, incorporation of native flora, and an eco-faith training site, and retreat center.

So now, we start planning: building a wall around the compound (necessary for security of both humans and plants, for real), designing our home, hiring an architect.

A few other things…

I (Karli) am delighted to serve on our church’s leadership team, doing things like coordinating volunteers and, soon, launching small groups. Our church community is extremely diverse (both racially and socioeconomically) and we are so grateful to be a part of it! Pray for us, as we seek the Lord’s vision for our congregation, that we would represent him well and worship him in spirit and truth.

Matthew’s truck is running again! Thank you all for your prayers and generosity. It’s getting painted right now- pics to come of the miraculous healing!

Speaking of generosity- we received enough donations for the truck repairs that we are actually able to pay for Halle to start preschool in the fall (!!!) without fundraising at all. The Lord provides so beautifully! Now, pray for mama’s heart…

PRAYERS FOR AUGUST:

Pray that Matthew would be able to quickly and peacefully hire a new assistant that is passionate and knowledgeable (and fun!)

Pray for attendance and dedication to the Agri-Faith Program to remain steady

Pray for the proper permitting for our home to come through easily

Pray for Rwandan elections (happening today) and for peace throughout the country

Pray that we find the right partners to build our home (architect, etc)

Pray for our church community to grow together in both vibrant unity and knowledge of the Lord

Pray for our community as we grieve the loss of our Archdeacon’s son

Pray for the start of a new term for our preschoolers, and pray God’s love over all of them as they receive supplemented nutrition from our team daily

Pray for us as we remember our son, Hudson, on the second anniversary of his birth (August 25)

Grateful for you all,

The VonHerbs πŸ™‚

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TOP TEN

Recently, I was introduced to the website/online community Velvet Ashes (thanks, Esther!) and I have been loving it ever since. It’s mainly meant to serve as an encouragement for women serving overseas (and does so well) but honestly is just a general encouragement to any woman, I think! Anyway, each week they have a theme, and their daily blog posts revolve around that theme. They also encourage community members to blog on that theme- something that I’m going to try to do on this blog (with grace, of course). Especially if you’re a woman serving overseas, I highly recommend checking out Velvet Ashes!Β 

This week’s theme is “Top Ten”! Now you see why I started blogging the themes on this week, ha! I love a good list, and I think this subject is pretty good. Here’s two lists for you! (Thanks, Kate Flikweert, for the subjects- so perfect!)

Top ten things I miss about America:

MY FAMILY. I think this goes without saying, but we miss our families sooooo much. Between our wise and God-loving parents, siblings that are also best friends, nieces and nephews growing up SO fast, and amazing grandparents- we miss our families terribly. Thank God for FaceTime!

MY FRIENDS. Y’all, we have the best friends. They are all over the map and are living all walks of life, but boy oh boy- we have some good ones. It’s hard to have to schedule FT calls or hope they check their WhatsApps and just not have the ease of communication you once had- let alone coffee dates, New Years traditions, late nights with bottles of wine, campfires, Thanksgiving leftover feasts, or beach trips. We miss our people so much.

AMAZON/TARGET/RETAIL THERAPY IN GENERAL. Okay, this is really me. Do you know how amazing it is to order something and sometimes have it delivered to you THE SAME DAY? You do. I do too, and I can’t do it anymore. And I miss it. Also, window shopping. And buying new clothes. And buying dollar spot things. And not having to be a hoarder. Things I hoard: makeup, medications, chocolate, spices, dry shampoo, essential oils and supplements, kids craft supplies, the list goes on…

EASE OF SERVICES/NO LANGUAGE BARRIER. This is sort of compounded, but being around all English speakers is SO NICE. Additionally, not having to drive all over Timbuktu (or, ya know, Rwanda) to find a doctor that is a native English speaker, or a mechanic, or an electrician, or a bank, or a….you get the picture. Kinyarwanda has like 12 different ways to count to 10, I kid you not. I don’t even know one of them.

STREAMABLE INTERNET. No, I haven’t seen the latest season of….anything. If I start at about 7am and turn off all other devices, I might be able to stream an episode of something. Otherwise…I can’t watch your videos on Facebook. Barely get through IG stories. But the freeze frames are cute!

ALL THE FOODS (without worry!). Guys. Cheese. Chocolate. GOOD BEER. GOOD WINE. Sushi. SUSHI. This is a landlocked country! I have had food poisoning/really bad indigestion more times than I can count since moving here. There is one kind of cheese here and it smells like feet. I can’t afford to pay $15 for a pathetically small wedge of parmesan. Or $10 for a bar of chocolate. I miss Chick-Fil-A so much. And Mellow Mushroom. And JeannieBird. And Hoffman’s.

OUTDOORS/GREEN SPACES. This was surprising to us, and will likely be to you as well- but there are virtually zero public green spaces in Rwanda. Definitely not in the city. There are parks, sure, but you are scolded for being on the grass…for show only, peeps. You wanna frolic in a field? Better be your friend’s field and you’re gonna have an audience. Or you can pay entrance to a national park and hike there….all at least 3 hours from the city though. Womp womp. I just wanna roll down a hill or hike in the morning!

FEELING CLEAN. This is compounded by it being dry season, but I literally rinse off in the shower like twice a day and still always feel dirty. Everything has a layer of red dust on it. Poor Shepherd has like 4 outfit changes a day because he scoots on his belly and gets positively filthy. Everything in the US just feels so luxurious because it’s so much CLEANER. Remember the time we went without running water for 23 days? Me too.

WORKING MY BUSINESS (the same old way!) I LOVE selling doTERRA, educating others about wellness, and strengthening families. I still do it, even here, but it had to look vastly different than it did before. I am still really working through this one, but I really really miss my business and working they way I did before.

NOT BEING A SPECTACLE. Eyes are on me everywhere I go. ESPECIALLY with the kids. I will sometimes walk past a crowd of 10-15 people on my morning walks, working on some kind of construction project, and they will literally all stop and stare at me. I try to disarm them by bumbling some Kinyarwanda greeting, but usually its just blank stares until I get far enough away. Used to it now, but over it. Ha.

Top ten reasons why we stay:

CALLING. Honestly, this is just where we are supposed to be. There’s no other way to say it- we couldn’t be anywhere else right now. There’s so much peace that comes from just knowing that this is where the Lord has us.

STRENGTHENED MARRIAGE. The challenges and bonding experiences of living life abroad have definitely brought Matthew and I together. There’s also something really special about being able to support your spouse when they are living in their sweet spot, and I think we both have that right now. We are both intensely fulfilled by what we do in our day to day, and it’s really great.

EXPERIENCE FOR KIDS. We have always wanted our kids to grow up with a well-rounded worldview, and they certainly are getting that here. It’s also notable that we don’t have to really “shield them” from anything- inappropriate TV shows, dress, etc- which makes parenting easier. A caveat to this- it’s much less commercial overload here, in terms of blatant consumerism. The ads we see around are for cheap Rwandan beer and for Blue band, their margarine. That’s basically it. Not exactly tempting us to buy stuff- or our kids.

EASE OF SERVICES. We may have to drive across town to get to an English-speaking doctor, but I do have my groceries delivered to me SAME DAY. Bye. Life changed. There’s also an app here that is a delivery service for like 70 restaurants around Kigali- meaning, I can have dinner from my favorite restaurant here in a little over an hour. Yes and Amen. (ps…wanna see what ordering my groceries looks like? Here’s the website!)

COMMUNITY. The community we have here is incredible. You gotta realize, when you’re in the middle of a group of people that have all moved overseas in pursuit of XYZ, you’re gonna have some common ground. Our friends are all involved in super cool stuff- from coffee companies to education to incarnational ministry to US government defense support- and they all love Jesus. We are just really, really blessed.

CHEAPER PRODUCE AND MEAT. This one is mostly me. I mean, come on- I could never afford to do Whole 30 or eat Paleo in the US. But avocados are about 20 cents here and beef tenderloin is like $7/kg…so, yeah, what we do have is great and cheap and we make the most of it. I’m a much better cook than when I moved here, too. Also- the coffee here is SUPERB. We grow the coffee that the Bux sells for like $$$$$ and we get it fresh, y’all.

CHEAPER VACATIONS. We can drive to places that celebrities fly halfway across the world to see. And if you’re willing to stay in a guest house, you can see the same views, hike the same trails, for fractions of the price. This isn’t lost on us. If I wanted to see elephants tomorrow, I could just drive and see them. !!!

VALUE OF SKILLS. This is hard to explain, maybe, but here it goes- as someone with a Western education and specialized skills, you’re much more valuable here than in America when everyone fits that bill. Does that make sense? Especially in a small country like Rwanda, it’s easier to be a big deal and feel like your expertise is prized. Also, every time I ask Matthew to trim his beard, he says “But I think right now I have the biggest beard in the country!” …and he’s probably right!

REALIZING OUR DREAMS. Especially for Matthew, living overseas doing missions work is the realization of the dream of an 11-year-old kid. A dream that couldn’t come true in the US. We are so grateful for this opportunity.

INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE. Rwanda was the pit of hell in 1994, when the genocide against the Tutsi killed around 1 million people in 100 days. 23 years later, it’s a model of development in East Africa and is regarded as one of the safest and most stable nations on the continent. Each Rwandan we know is a microcosm of this resilience and healing, and it’s incredible to hear their stories when they are told- which is a privilege in itself.

I hope these lists gave you a little window into our lives and our hearts as we serve here in Rwanda! We love being here (even if we really miss cheese) and we think you should all come visit and see beautiful Rwanda for yourself!Β 

JUNE UPDATE: Visitors and Training Programs and Accidents, Oh My!

Mwiriwe, friends! It’s been a while- what an exciting and eventful few months it has been!

May started out quietly, nose to the grindstone for work (especially for Matthew, writing his curriculum) before the craziness hit mid-May!

First, we were blessed to host a team from Christ Church Waco for a week- including hosting two guests- now friends- in our home! The team came to do theological training for the pastors and catechists in the diocese, but was an encouragement to us, too. We had fun reminiscing about our time in Waco at World Hunger Relief and making new friends. Praise the Lord with us for Christ Church’s partnership with Hope on a Thousand Hills!

Shortly after hosting this team, we got to host Karli’s father for a few nights! Bill works for Samaritans Purse and was able to travel to Kigali (of all places!) for work, making this his second visit to Rwanda in a year! What a blessing. We took him to see one of our favorite places (Lakeside Fish Farm) and ate some good food and relaxed. It was such a sweet time- we are so grateful.

Bill flew home and basically switched places with Karli’s mom, Kelly, for her first visit to Rwanda! Mom was here for a week and it was well-timed. We got to show her lots of our favorite places, celebrate my birthday, and even take her to see the land we are purchasing (fingers crossed). However, halfway through the visit, I (Karli) got terribly sick, and was basically bedridden for the remainder of her time, and a week after that. It was a really terrible experience, but having your mama in the middle of Africa with you to make you chicken soup when you’re the sickest you’ve ever been is a strange and unexpected blessing πŸ™‚ We miss Nana and Pop already!Β Praise the Lord for providing an opportunity to see family that we miss dearly!

The rest of June has been all about seeing big things finally come to fruition here in Rwanda: namely, Matthew’s Agri-Faith training program! The program was presented to the pilot community last week and was very well received. Each church has several delegates that will attend the training, with the hope that those delegates would return equipped to duplicate the training in their own nuclear community. There are a lot of moving parts and details to work out still, but everything is going very well so far! Pray with us as we see this program get off the ground over the next month, and pray for the farmers that attend- that they would be encouraged, gain wisdom, and that the church would be strengthened through this training and the community built around it.

One hard thing about this month was Matthew’s accident. A week ago, Matthew and his assistant (who was driving) were in a single-car wreck that roller our new (to us) truck several times and caused what will likely be several thousand dollars worth of damage. Miraculously, Matthew and Deo walked away from the accident with mere scratches and bruises, and no one else was hurt. So many circumstances could’ve changed and made this accident catastrophic- we are holding each other a bit tighter now, and praising the Lord for His protection over them that day. Pray with us as we discern how to handle the damages, and likely as we fundraise to help restore this asset! And pray also, continually, for protection over our family. Life just seems more fragile here sometimes.

June culminates the “leaving season” here in Kigali, where we have said goodbye to at least 5 couples that have been integral parts of our social circle for the past year. This has been harder than we probably anticipated, and we are still trying to pick up the pieces I think (we miss you all!) but we are praising the Lord for raising up new community around us and strengthening more long-term relationships. Pray with us, that the Lord would surround us with people who would challenge us, encourage us, and help us grow in Christlikeness.

In July, we are hoping to finally purchase the land we have been ogling over for several months! This would be a huge step for us in solidifying our ministry here in Rwanda and really committing our hearts to the people and culture. Pray with us as we continue to seek wisdom over this step, and that the details of the transaction would be seamless and clear (HA!)

We also have a dear friend, Leah, coming to visit us in July! Leah is a friend from the Farm and is passionate about gardening, educating kiddos, and changing the future through teaching kids about their food. We are excited to have Leah here! Pray with us, that her journey would be safe and that her time would be fruitful.

Friends, we are so grateful for all of your love and support. You cheer us on best days and hold us up on our worst ones. We can’t do this without you, and it’s a privilege to serve Rwanda for the Gospel on your behalf. ❀

All our love,
The VonHerbs

PS> We have had some shifts in supporters in the last few months, and would love for you to pray with us for more monthly partners! We currently need about $150/month to get back to budget πŸ™‚

 

APRIL 2017 Update {ONE YEAR!}

Hey friends! It’s been quite a few months!

Thing on the home front for me (Karli) are mostly business as usual. Most of my time is spent going to playgroups, nursing Shepherd, planning and preparing our meals, and doing laundry. And I love it! I have such a vital role in keeping our household peaceful and productive, and I am full of joy in it, most days πŸ˜‰

I have started hosting a monthly Ladies Night at our house- I am so grateful to have the space to do so! Community is so important (even to us introverts) and especially as a stay at home mama in a foreign country- connecting with other women in all stages of life has become really vital to me, and helping others find those connections is something I really believe in. So, every first Thursday, I have started opening up our home to any ladies who want to come- no frills, no show to put on, very laid back- and it’s become something I look forward to and value greatly. I have made new friends and seen others do the same!

KIDS UPDATE

Hallelujah is continuing to wow those around her with her adorable Kinyarwanda phrases and sassy antics. She loves to dance and sing and wear lipstick and paint her nails (she gets it honest). She has recently started mostly skipping her nap (sad face for mama) but it transitioning into a daily “quiet time”- she’s doing really well with it and it’s so fun to see what she does with her two hours! Crafts, songs, all kinds of things. She’s a trip. She’s also a stellar big sister who loves to sing to her brother and help mommy by doing chores like clearing the table, etc. We also have started doing a daily “devotional time” together where we each read our bibles and then pray together. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to disciple this little firecracker!

Shepherd is still the sweetest and is still…a baby. Ha! I am grateful for him every day. He doesn’t sleep very long stretches anymore, sadly, but he makes up for it in sweetness and smiles. He has recently started batting at and grabbing things and pulling them towards him- almost like playing! He loves to have his feet clapped together and his cheeks tickled, rolling around, and chewing on everything. He is a joy!

We also just enjoyed a great visit with Matthew’s parents! We had almost a week with them (kinda short in overseas visit time, darn you Winter Storm Stella) but we managed to both give them a good taste of what our daily life is like here and also explore some more “special things” along the way. The highlight was a 2-night trip to Akagera National Park, home of giraffes, elephants, baboons, hippos, crocs, and more!

I told a friend the other day, in reflecting on the visit- it is always really encouraging when we have friends and family come, for multiple reasons. First, we get to show them all the things we love and remind ourselves of those things too (which on difficult days can be hard to do). We are also affirmed that we actually HAVE come a long way in cultural acclamation and language learning and just generally becoming at home here- sometimes it feels like we have so, so far to go. And, of course, it’s just nice to have people back in America understand what our life is like here! We try to give you the best tastes we can online, but there’s nothing like being here, shaking hands, tasting food, etc….

All that to say- if you’re thinking about making a visit, DO IT! Message me ASAP and let’s make it happen! We would love to have you. πŸ™‚

MATTHEW’S UPDATE

Matthew’s work is varied and exciting as always. The rainy and dry seasons have become a bit muddy (ha) for the past few months, but out yard is brimming with new life. We are harvesting passionfruit and hibiscus daily and are looking forward to papaya and tree tomato, as well as our medicinal and culinary herb gardens we recently started!

A joy of the past month has been Matthew’s two practicum students (Ahyeong and Hannah) who have been living out in Rutunga (where our farm is located) and helping do health assessments for the preschoolers in that village. Praise the Lord, we have had both great attendance from the kids and great parental participation as well! These assessments are vital in tracking and shaping our work here, and these two students have made a huge difference in their few weeks in Rutunga. We are grateful for them! We are taking this information and beginning to strategize more sustainable solutions for our supplemental nutrition for the kids, too.

Matthew continues to work hard at developing our Farmer Training Program and managing the demonstration farm. Each day, there are new things to learn about both Rwandan culture and the typical Rwandan farming practices. Matthew has also had the opportunity to preach at our church several times- something that he is so skilled at and really enjoys, too. If you haven’t heard his first sermon yet, listen here! His second one will be this Sunday- please keep him in your prayers as he prepares!

We also celebrated our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of our move to Rwanda! Even though we had a maternity leave to the states, this is still a BIG deal and we were intentional to acknowledge it over Easter weekend. Praise the Lord for his providence in bringing us here and the refining, teaching, growing, and healing we have seen in our family in the past year. To God be the glory!

PRAYER REQUESTS:
-Continued health (mentally and physically) for our family
-Joyful times as we host a missions team and much of my (Karli’s) family this month!
-Wisdom regarding decisions about residence & school for kids as we look at long term plans for staying in Rwanda
-Endurance for Matthew as he finishes his sustainable agriculture training curriculum, to start in August
-More long-term financial partners to come alongside our ministry
-For deeper relationships with our Rwandan friends, and a more thorough understanding of the culture
-For continued growth in our church, and for commitment and intentionality of attendees
-Peace as we say goodbye to several very good friends in the next few months as they go back to America

February 2017: Our First Month Home

Our first month back in Rwanda has absolutely flown by! We are all finally adjusted to this time zone (ahem, Shepherd) and getting into the swing of life back in Africa.

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matthew gives a tour of the farm to a visiting missions team from roanoke, va

I would be lying if I said that I was 100% looking forward to coming back here- while I was ready to be back in a familiar space and feel like I wasn’t living out of my suitcase, the difficulties of our first six month here were a hard thing for me to get over. Being pregnant and sick and anxious made those months incredibly difficult for me, and I was worried that I was going to fall right back into those same patterns.

However- I can’t begin to explain the healing that has happened in my heart since that time. I love being back here, I love our home, and I love the work we are doing. Do I occasionally get caught off guard with a difficult cultural situation, or struggle a bit with anxiety? Sure. But nothing like before, when I barely wanted to leave my bedroom somedays. Our home feels like a haven of peace and light, and I am so grateful.

I am really enjoying reclaiming my role as a stay-at-home-mama and really feeling like my home and my family are my ministry. We no longer have a house helper, and so all of the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and child-rearing are my responsibility again, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Yes, some days are hard and exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My mental health is better because of it, too. It also helps that delivery services are plentiful and cheap here, and I can have my grocery list delivered to me next-day for about a dollar. Cheaper than gas to shop myself! I have also been loving hosting people for dinners in our home- something very life-giving for me that I just didn’t have the energy to do previously. I’m so grateful for this new season!

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my daily life: equal parts cute and crazy

 

Matthew’s work continues to expand (if you haven’t read his full update, go! Here! Right now!) and now includes over 1000 preschool students in our nutrition program! (For a fun write-up of a recent visitor’s experience, click here) He is currently experimenting with different ways of fortifying the existing supplements with even more nutrients, and creating a plan to do so sustainably, from our own farm! He is so smart and not afraid to try things that he thinks will work, and he’s coming up with remarkable ideas that could make a huge difference in the nutrition these kids are receiving. Have you ever had moringa-fortified peanuts? I have, and they are delicious!

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children receiving their daily snack of 75g of peanuts
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our project roasts over 800lb of peanuts per week for our children

Matthew and his assistant, Deo, are also busily working on developing the curriculum for our sustainable farming training program, slated to begin it’s first class in July. With our ministry funding, we were also able to send Deo to an important conference in Tanzania last week, where he was able to learn from other East African organizations and network with other people doing similar work!

One of the little joys we have had as a couple is getting to lead worship together a few Sundays. We attend the English-speaking service at our Anglican church, which is a pretty even split of Rwandans and other expats. We have always enjoyed playing music together, and this is a real blessing to get to serve together in this way.

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halle helps remove cloth diaper inserts from the drying rack

Halle continues to thrive here, and is even learning bits of Kinyarwanda from her daddy! Matthew is taking lessons each week (in addition to several weekly study hours on his own) and has been teaching/reviewing the vocabulary each week with Halle. I’ve even picked up a tiny bit, too πŸ˜‰ Halle loves going to our several weekly playgroups, helping me with cleaning and laundry, holding her little brother for 2 seconds and then saying “okay, I’m done,” and our weekly tradition of Pizza and Movie Night πŸ™‚ She also has discovered that if she asks for a piece of candy at the checkout of most local convenience markets, she will typically be given one….aka mama’s worst nightmare. Ha!

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our littlest love!

Shepherd is doing well and taking everything in stride. He is finally sleeping at normal hours and continues to give us one long stretch at night- typically around 7pm-3am. This gives me the freedom to host dinners after his bedtime, go to my accountability group kid-free, and enjoy watching West Wing with Matthew without feeling like he will wake up at any moment πŸ™‚ He sleeps soundly in his own bed, under a mosquito net, and goes right back to sleep after feeding. What a dream!

Thanks so much to everyone that prayed for me this week while I was sick. I am still technically on bedrest (though really feeling about 90% today) and so I am getting time to blog like this! I am grateful for the opportunity to rest, and to see what a wonderful husband and father Matthew is- taking everything in stride and kicking butt at the stay-at-home-dad role for a few days. My body was clearly telling me that I needed to rest, and I’ve been trying to take that seriously.

This next week, in addition to our “normal” work, we will be hosting a dinner with the Archbishop, Archdeacon, and Chairman of the Board of Hope on a Thousand Hills (what to cook?!). We also are looking forward to Matthew’s parent’s coming- they will be here in just a few short weeks! It’s such a joy to show the ones we love what our life looks like here, and to even “play tourist” for a few days and go places that we wouldn’t normally go. That said, if you would like to send a card or something small/lightweight our way, feel free to email or FB message me and I will give you an address to send it to! We love surprises!