Dec 3, 2010

did that just happen?

so this just happened at inglewood kroger:

Mr. Rump Patter - "well, aren't you cute, did you wait all summer to look cute in that hat?"
me - "heckyesidid!!!" insert haha neighborly banter. I took note of his good-looking-ish-ness at the exact moment of... this moment: now here happened a slide and pat motion with full palm contact, and me at 7 full seconds of freeze frame.

and action!

I swirled my index finger in the air at him.... "' 'scuze, did you just pat my rump?"

Mr. Rump Patter, apparently not expecting to be questioned, averts his glance and attempts to swerve down another aisle before I could get my fist to his face. He succeeds only because I am too stunned to move.
me - "UNACCEPTABLE SIR!!!!!" (it was the first thing that came to mind)

I was trying to decide whether or not I was going to explode when I feel eyes on me. Slowly I turn to see a rumpled looking woman with a big grin and her hand perched upon her hip. She leans forward. I expect a moment of camaraderie.... it was not to be....
Rumpled - "oooo honey, if an attractive man like that patted my ass, I would give him my number!"
me - "for SERIOUS??????" this came out at a much higher pitch and decibel than I anticipated. She sauntered a wide berth around me, complete with a side eye and reproachful "mm-hm girl." As she passed, I noticed her navy blue tee airbrushed in neon pink: "you wish you were with me."

You can't make this stuff up.
Notes: go Krogering during daylight hours. have faster reflexes.

Nov 30, 2010

roommate adventures from days gone by: the nashville edition.

also regarding roommates:

i forgot to mention when christie and melissa and i lived together in a scary house with the mouse. the policeman saying, "girls, do you know where you live?!" with great concern was indicative of the neighborhood….

the mouse, episode 1. melissa bought some healthy snacks to take on the road, and had put them on a shelf in the basement. not long afterwards, we found that a mouse had literally eaten its way thru the ENTIRE bag (a big ol' paper grocery bag) and into each box. we hunted for a fat mouse for a while but gave up.

the mouse, episode 2. i was at work and got a hysterical call from christie and could only decipher "mouse" and "washing machine." after resuscitating her over the phone (while completely failing to hide the fact that i was laughing) i hunted for a fat, floating mouse.

arrived home and peeked into the washer to see this pathetic little mouse standing on tip-toes to keep his head above water. scooped him out with a measuring cup and deposited him onto a washcloth - thought i would let him dry before depositing him back into the wild with his critter brethren. the little fella just lay in my hand (on the washcloth, you germophobes) and was shivering, so i tried to dry him off. the minute he tried to sit up, i scrambled outside and put him on the ground. he promptly lay back down and i considered the state of suckerhood i was in. i sat there with him for a bit until he stumbled over and sat on the top of my pink chucks. we stared at one another for a moment and then he scampered off towards where i saw a guy freebasing something in the back alley.

did i really try to dry off a mouse with a washcloth?

the lizard. this is when i was a bad roommate. christie discovered a lizard in her room and alerted me to the crisis. she may or may not have sprinted into the living room and perched atop the couch. i caught it without much incident in a ziplock tub. then i may or may not have chased her around the house with it….

the bird(s). once upon a time there was a birdie i named lloyd dobbler. he was a lovebird with emotional baggage. didn't play well with others. we tried for over a year to make it work, but he was unwilling. he went to be with another girl who was ok with his issues. i hope he's made friends. once upon another time(s) melissa came home with a "can we keep him?" gorgeous red canary. he became jim. jim la fleur for her, jim halpert for me. he sounded like an atari game come to life and would sing his brains out in the morning. funniest wake up calls ever. roxy was displeased. jim went to live with a little old lady with a whole flock of canaries. we hear he is doing well and wooing his fellow lady birds.

the intruder. i don't waste time getting inside in the dark. no matter where i live. once upon a time at scary mouse & lizard house, i entered & locked the door. the exact moment i locked it, there was a pounding at the door. not like a "hey i'm your friend" pounding, but a very insistent pounding. safety first! i peek thru the blinds to see a large unkempt, unshaven, and unsavory man on the steps. not wanting to immediately be rude, i asked if he needed help. he wanted to come inside. (right.) christie grabbed her dog and ran to the other side of the room. i'm sure she would have saved me from there. :) i informed mr. unsavory that he wouldn't be coming inside. he pounded on the door with more insistence. since i am a nice person, i dialed 911 and yelled, "START RUNNING!" he could move quite fast once he heard the siren. the cops arrived in less than a minute (excellent work, sirs) patrolled ours and the surrounding houses. no dice. the nice officer looked quite concerned… "girls, do you know where you live?"

"well, yes but we…"

"we didn't pick the loca…."

"nothing has hap…."

collective sigh…. "welllllll…."

after a surprisingly detailed description of mr. unsavory (i was quite shocked at what i could recall) the officers left us with a stern warning to be careful. we lock ourselves back into the house, sat on the couch, and stared at each other. after a few minutes, christie pipes up, "how cute was he?!" that's my girl.

The New Home.

i haven't figured it out quite yet, but i think her name is serenity. for several reasons.

1. i yell "serenity now!" several times a day. in my head.

2. nathan fillion will hear about this and want to meet me. (oh captain, my captain!)

3. i can hula-hoop in the front room.

4. violet is pleased with her ability to gallop down the hall, launch into the air outside my door, and still land in the middle of my bed.

5. it's sparse, and i like it.

6. i always wanted a carport.

7. it's a solid, safe house, and i like her.

8. no feral neighbor children or window rattling decibel levels from passing vehicles.

9. amber owns a drill.

10. the great goodwill purge. simplification within serenity.

it's advent season. i leave you with this advent prayer for hope:

Lord Jesus Christ, who is, who was, and who is to come,
we pray for the virtue of hope, that amidst the trials and difficulties of this world,
we may keep our hearts fixed upon you, who reigns over the cosmos.
May your grace enliven us, strengthen us, and defend us,
as we await your coming in glory. Amen.
David Bennett

Nov 14, 2010

the chroni*WHAT*cles of boscobel

my time at the boscobel house draweth to a close.

i'm sad about it, so i will celebrate the good moments.

dogs. melissa convinced me i needed my own dog. we prowled and squealed over countless dogs. roxy appeared less than thrilled. i wanted a huge dog, but was happy to compromise to keep roxy from becoming a snack. along came Violet. a pregnant unwed mother dog from the streets. we drove up to the middle of nowhere to a shelter to introduce "the girls." violet promptly bit roxy as they were discussing who was boss, and i was crestfallen. i thought melissa would lay down the law, but she said we would give it a shot. i signed the papers and suddenly had a dog. in the backseat on the way home, violet kept her paw on my leg as if to say, "don't worry, i got this."

after a few staring contests in the backyard, roxy decided to tolerate her. violet's been trying to get roxy to play with her ever since. so, i thank melissa for rescuing me with a rescue dog who sheds all over her house. I won't mention the birds & squirrels she catches and brings inside to "share."

anti-social. is an indicator of a great friend enjoying being anti-social together? discuss.

melissa can make a killer grilled cheese sandwich and have it in your lap before you knew you wanted it.

the neighbors. i could say a whole lot here, but i'll summarize - when you use your broken down vehicles to store what appears to be total crap, you should probably get rid of it. when you have more cars in front of your house (lawn, sidewalk, whatever) than rooms in the house, you should probably downsize. when you find your neighbors' children on your porch for no reason…. well. i just… nevermind.

the television. Law & Order, LOST, What Not To Wear…. collective swoons over Jim Halpert and John Cusack… i even enjoyed being yelled at for rolling my eyes and making snarky comments while they watched The Bachelor/Bachelorette or whatever Next Model of Something or Other Show. in fact, that was great fun. and then, to cleanse the palate, watching Hoarders to make ourselves feel better about our small-in-comparison collection of hotel soaps and shampoos.

the travelin'. we went to florence, italy, and walked around and ate food for 8 days. "what do you want to do today?" "I dunno, what do YOU want to do today?" it was a relaxing vacation with lots of food, gelato, walking, art, and complete with a cooking class, a mugging and a guardian angel. one time, we also got stuck in the mountains with our friend abby when we couldn't get to our weekend wine & cheese cabin escape.

the decisions. Tuesday Night Bible/Wine/Cheese/Study group. "so, um, girls, i am going to quit my job and go to africa for a couple weeks, can you watch my dog?" turns out it's one of the best decisions i have ever made, with some amazing friends cheering me on.

new roommate! out with the "i don't know what to do this stuff" and in with the new roommate! amber can always be counted on for chocolate and magic smoothies. ps, i am taking her with me!

living together for a long time makes you forget who belongs to what appliance, gadget, DVD, or certain article of clothing you constantly share. if we would have shared shoes there could have been a rumble….

i'll miss my clip-on koala for real.

so... who wants to help amber and I move into our new digs?

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well"." - julian of norwich

Oct 27, 2010

lip gloss is a ministry

So I found this cheap lip gloss at Rite Aid and had to try it b/c of my friend Toya and this story. And who doesn't know all the words to 867-5309?!

Plus I like strawberry flavored lip gloss that looks pretty. I ended up giving some to Toya b/c of the "Rick Springfield Experience" she had, knowing she is also a sucker for the shiny strawberry. Little did I know this small share would bring unknown joy to others.

Just showed someone in my office my @Strawberry lip gloss & she shrieked just like I did.

melanie pherson
@ toya, this makes me think i may actually be able to make the world a better place with just the little things.

@ Let the Lord use you. Lip gloss is a ministry.

Sep 9, 2010

34 things it's taken me 34 years to learn: a completely non-comprehensive list

1. don't buy black towels. they look cool, but pill up and shed those pills all over you post-shower. and in my world, they live in peril of getting bleach on 'em.

2. the food pyramid is wrong. sidenote: put the cheezits/potato chips in a small bowl, and put the box away lest you consume the whole box. eat liberal amounts of living greens, veggies, & fruit.

3. i refuse to live in fear. fear of politics, sensational media, salmonella, vaccines, etc…. i know Who holds the future.

4. the only way to actually get rid of dog hair is a vacuum and scotch brand sticky lint rollers.

5. do not adopt a pet or have a child unless you are willing to dedicate your time & effort to their well-being and making sure their well-being does not leave doodie on those around them.

6. i don't think i am scared of children themselves, it's the responsibility attached to teaching the small humans to be caring, compassionate, and common sensical grown ups with a great sense of humor.

7. it took me until 2007 to make friends with tomatoes. always give new foods a chance.

8. a good haircut and good conditioner are totally worth it.

9. i can only do so much in one day. you cannot pour out good things if you do not invest in your body, mind, and soul with good things.

10. you keep learning the lesson until you learn the lesson.

11. sometimes it is a wise and good thing to quit your job and go to africa.

12. i think churches are like relationships - you choose to join up & stay despite the flaws and the crazy because you love the whole. you choose to be a part of a community, to learn from those who have differing opinions and backgrounds, and to see the value therein.

13. politics exhaust me and i don't like 'em.

14. either i believe who God says He is or i do not. and i need to live with the inherent freedom that comes from believing Him.

15. try things twice - the first attempt could taste bad, be off-season, have bad lighting, etc…

16. try not to collect things. because you will probably have to move and/or dust them.

17. some things can be generic brands, some things MUST be name brands.

example: generic swifter dusters are no bueno. swiffers are far superior. ibuprofen can be generic - ibuprofen is ibuprofen. in the realm of chocolate, lindt is the clear winner.

18. i need to marry someone who understands my crazy and maybe thinks it's cute.

19. know your limits, and continue striving for excellence.

20. self care is actually not optional. water, exercise, naps, reading, etc. are necessary good things. there is a day of rest scheduled in there for a reason.

21. i want to love and to be loved completely, healthily, faithfully, and enthusiastically. and with plenty of silly.

22. invaluable things: time to reflect, traveling & experiencing other cultures, true life-long love, parents who still love each other, being debt free, enthusiastic welcome home greetings from your dog when you just took out the garbage, a good neck and/or foot rub, fresh herbs & flowers, a really good hug, and knowing you are loved because and in spite of who you are.

23. do not give power to anything or anyone that does not deserve it.

24. i need God. a lot.

25. we are lucky to live in this country and are given much opportunity to succeed.

26. spewing hatred at those who have differing opinions does not make the world a better place, nor does it show Love.

27. i can change the world every day. turning off lights when i leave the room, buying a sandwich for a homeless guy, smiling at someone who looks sad, sponsoring a compassion kid, walking my dog, folding my roommate's laundry, praying for our president… never pass up an opportunity to do something nice for someone whether they know it or not.

28. don't expect people to seek you out. it's your job to get out there. initiate.

29. be kind at all times and for no reason whatsoever.

30. getting mad in traffic is a waste of time.

31. i will probably laugh at any sort of pun, and am quite easily amused.

32. never read the comments after any sort of online essay, news article, etc.

33. be aware of toxic relationships. some friendships are seasonal and that is ok. surround yourself with wise, nice, compassionate people.

34. my mighty mighty friend rachel found a quote that says it best: "i myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions." augusten burroughs. this resounds within my whole heart.

Jul 5, 2010


i took violet for two walks today, hoping i would be worn out at the proper time. you know, when it's dark outside. she's asleep, i'm not. so i posted most of my rwanda photos on flickr. come say hi, i'm hellomellie!

and here's me at the falls betwixt tanzania & rwanda. with a rainbow. it was so beautiful!

Jul 4, 2010

big brown eyes.

this is clementine. i was drawn in by the pink flamingos on her frock. we met at hope village - a housing village for genocide orphans. she was born to a teenage girl there who has since graduated from school! next up, i need to get miss clementine into school! she wouldn't smile for the camera, but giggled in delight at seeing her own photo.

this is amma. rudy huxtable, anyone??? apparently only i think so, but she had the best mischievous grin.

her momma was right there, and was delighted that i greeted her in kinyarwanda. amma was a shy little bird, but kept a tight grip on my two fingers. i wanted to stuff her in my bag right away!

this is mima. she was the first child i scared with my whiteness, but she finally got up the courage and then kept a firm grip on my hand for the rest of the time we visited. and i quote my roomie mellie: "bring her home now."

there were many more big brown eyes that stole my soul. i want to tell you about fabrice. when fabrice was still a babe-in-arms, his parents had a fight. his father killed his mother with a machete. their neighbors heard her cries and the village took justice into their own hands, leaving fabrice an orphan. one of my new friends in rwanda, K, heard this story on the news, heard the baby's cries, and couldn't sleep for days because the cries never left her mind. thru a swirl of phone calls to tv, radio, villages, etc - she finally found fabrice in a desolate area of rwanda. when she found him, he was emaciated and so ill he could not open his eyes. the villagers, in awe, told her they now believed in God because a total stranger sought out an unwanted orphan. K went back home, and still could not sleep. the baby was still crying in her heart. a few weeks later, the village leader called and said that the baby's last remaining relative, his 97 year old great grand mother was dying. (all other relatives had been killed in the genocide) for the third time, K goes before her church to raise funds for the trek, for food, and for supplies. she takes the baby home - he is full of worms, desperately ill, and somehow remained alive. K and her husband began caring for fabrice (along with the 8 other genocide orphans in their home - never have i seen such a house of warmth and love!)

i met fabrice a few days after his 2nd birthday. he was the first small child who did run away. in fact, he ran TO me, and lifted his arms. always happy to receive a good hug, i obliged. he is happy, healthy, willfull, silly, and beautiful. during the church service where we were introduced to the congregation, he barged up to the front of the church and i swooped him up. he wiggled his little arms all the way around my waist and rested his head on my chest. it was true love.

for what happened next, i had no hesitation. not even a second. K and her husband decided that they wanted to become his legal guardians. the wisdom in this decision? as a legally adopted child, he loses all rights to his family land. if they are his legal guardians, he keeps those rights. they were concerned about the costs and hurdles for legal guardianship and mentioned the cost. there was no doubt in my mind that fabrice is one of the reasons i had to go to rwanda. i had a quick convo with God, counted out the bills, and handed them over the next day. it couldn't have been an easier decision. crazy, yes, for an unemployed girl with only a few future inklings, but what happened next made me giggle uncontrollably. never doubt God's provision. ever.

before i was leaving for rwanda, i offered my car to my pastor, father thomas - flood victims & other hardships had hit our community at church of the redeemer. i wasn't going to be here, my car was, so someone could certainly use it. amber had just retrieved me from the airport and we pull up to the driveway and i meet the family who was able to use my car. (ps, I LOVE being useful) Miss M handed me an envelope, gave me a huge hug, and departed with her small ones. i was in a complete daze from jetlag and put the envelope on my dresser. two days later i open it and it is almost the exact same amount i gave to K for fabrice. i laughed so hard i cried, and then i just cried because i got to play a very small part in saving a kid.

save a baby, save the world.

WHEEEE! (follow up episodes)

akagera national game park:

where you can see enormous baboons decide to go for a dip in the hotel pool.

where you can be 100 yards from an huge hippo in the "safety" of a car.

where you can be inches from a herd of water buffalo praying they don't get irked.

where they literally have a specie of bird called the bald faced go away bird.

where hippos, giraffes, zebras, and antelope abound. and the impudent vervet monkeys will steal your own banana right out of your hand, and where the red dust billows about to turn my hair red....

all in all, it was a good time.

Jul 2, 2010

huge announcement.

there is actual pigmentation differences between my arms vs my tummy.
ladies and gentlemen.... i have a tan. be amazed.
no, the freckles have not merged to create a superfreckle.
an actual color difference has been recorded.

stay tuned for pictures. (not of my savage tan, but of more important things)
am home safe, sound, and slightly crazy from jet lag and overwhelm-edness.

Jun 25, 2010

episode 8 - 99 mountains down, 901 to go.

i met my compassion child, leatitia, this morning. pretty overwhelmed. she's such a pretty girl at 14! her mom and dad were amazing. i'm still absorbing the whole experience. it was very humbling to see that my sponsorship provides so much, not only for her but her whole family. she was quite shy to begin with, but warmed up quickly. she told me (thru the translator) that she prays to God for me and was so happy i could visit her. we had a little question and answer session. i found out she likes cats, so i showed her pictures on my phone of violet, roxy, and sawyer. she especially enjoyed the pictures of roxy and violet wrestling. i can't wait to post pictures. j went with me, so i know the pics will be great! leatitea's mother, patricia, prayed this amazing prayer and we asked questions for a while. it was a short visit. their neighborhood is quite energetic. several neighborhood kids crowded into the house to stare at us. big brown african baby eyes are amazing! leatitia kept stroking my arm - such a tender hearted girl. i look forward to knowing her better.

so the past few days we were in musanze, and then trekked up to bukyona to visit land of 1000 hills coffee. oh my stars these people mean business with their beans! i sorted beans by hand with yvonne and was corrected several times before i got it correct. the impact that this company has had on this community is immeasurable. if you don't know where to buy it, i'll help you find it! christmas gifts for everyone! we also trekked up a hill... and when i say hill, i mean REALLY STEEP HIGH UP FOREVER HILL... in flip flops and a skirt no less... and saw the site of where land of 1000 hills is building a house for a genocide orphan. man, these anglican pastors mean business!!! it's unreal to see the church in true form here. serious community involvement and improvement. i'm inspired!

so we're back in kigali. at 3, we begin a rehearsal with the genocide orphan choir - i'm thinking they are all in their 20s by now... not sure. will either sing with them or play with them. depends on the song - i don't want to detract if they are rockin' out. plus they never have music, and i need sheet music!!! oh, to have the gift of playing by ear... maybe next time i'll be so awesome on my ukelele that we can have lots of singalongs.

this week we will be teaching for 2 days at my new friends' simon and kedres' school in kigali. saturday we get to spend more time with the genocide orphans, and hopefully have the opportunity to purchase some of their wares - i love hand made stuff, especially when i have looked into the eyes of the one who made it!!! sunday is church, monday is school, and tuesday is the trek home!!!

ps, j and i got a pedicure and it's the first time my feet have been truly clean in a month. also, it was about 8 bucks and one of the best i have ever had!!!

Jun 19, 2010

episode 7: safari!

well, my hair is actually quite red from the dust fest during the game drive at the national park. ('manda mac, i think it's go time!!!) i think the total count was 19 diff aminals!!! water buffalo, giraffe, ibis, baboons, hippos, a zillion beautiful birds... i left my journal at the guest house so i'll list 'em later. the hippos were SO close and you could hear them snorting and snarfling in the grasses. it was a VERY rich experience. we were up at 3:30 am and saw the african sun rise over this gibungous lake. we have lots of silly pictures and i'm depressed i cannot attach them. blarg.

anyhoo, i dunno why this keeps continually posting in different fonts but that's what i get for being newbie blogger person.

we have today and sunday left in kibungo, then we go to the main city of kigali. we have 2-3 days in musanze. we'll be working with sonrise school - which began as a safe haven and school for orphans of the genocide. i just finished reading The Bishop of Rwanda and my heart and brain are broken. what an amazing fortitude this country has, and i LOVE how proud they are of their country. it really burns my shorts that it is "uncool" to love america. so guess what? I LOVE MY COUNTRY. we have our issues, but that's what commitment is for - to work it out. don't hate on me, haters! i love to travel but i pretty much am ready to kiss the ground when i get back to america. but i think this time i want a warm shower, lots of soap, and a big scrubbie thingie.

and a pedicure.
oh, and a haircut.
and lots of veggies.
and maybe a micah burger with some dojo green beans.
and whatever ice cream amber has made.
ooooohhhh, ice cream.....

episode 5: subjuncta-what?

one of our many projects is working with gahima agape secondary school. bless 'em, it's the worst acronym ever. this school is supported by st peter's cathedral here in kibungo, which is supported by redeemer in nasty. i am SO impressed with this school, their programs, and how driven the students are. this is my understanding - if they pass their exam in their S5 - 5th year of secondary - the government will pay for them to go to university. big incentive. so these kids work hard and have big dreams.

there are 3 teachers on our team - N is a lit teacher at franklin road academy, D teaches 3rd grade in the public school system, and J teaches 8th grade english at brentwood academy. all are super smarty pants intelligent, and quite gifted at their craft. it's been fun to watch their skills in action.

today i was given the task of teaching subjunctive clauses. my response: "subjuncta-what?" luckily D, the elementary teacher, was partnered with me. i figured if i listened to the teacher, Eli, watched D's examples, i could hop right in with my exercises. the tricky part was that it was only the "if" clause. may i point out i haven't studied grammar since middle/high school? then suddenly, from the depths of my brain, came all this conjugation information. (thank you to miss catanzaro, teacher of my 4th grade class in port huron, michigan!) when Eli started speaking about past, present, and past perfect, i suddenly remembered that i knew what he was talking about.

D continued the class with exercises on how to know dependent vs independent clauses. several students were much more comfortable with their english, but it was such a struggle for them to translate ideas in their heads into english. i was thanking God in my head over and over for my next trick…. i asked for three volunteers, and when there were none, i recruited. one kid was the the independent clause, one kid was the subordinate clause, and the last kid got to be the comma. they thought this was hilarious. had a few more volunteers to be commas after that. they created their sentence, placed the comma, created the 2nd clause, and viola! a complex sentence!

'twas an ohmystarsiamsogladthatactuallyworked moment.

the fun and the funnies: richard, our guest house host and translator, has had some doozies. we were sitting at dinner, and off in the darkness we could hear these loud BLOOP noises. i figured it was some sort of creature, and i asked what it was. he tilted his head for a listen, and responded, "oh, the frogs are shouting to each other." we all howled laughing, and J explained that in the US, the frogs say "ribbit." he thought that was hilarious. so we all amuse each other.

richard is hungry for information about america, so we have many convos about traditions and culture. we were talking about races in rwanda vs races in america, and richard pointed out that i must be a different race than the rest of my team because i am so much paler than the rest. he was a little confused when we were all laughing, but now i know they can tell the difference world wide. sigh.

we also made him try hot chocolate for the first time. during a rather heated game of spoons - he loves to play cards - we mixed up some hot chocolate and set it in front of him. he took a few sips and remained slightly stoic, so we prodded him for information. not wanting to hurt our feelings + looking for good translation = funny. his assessment was, "it is sweet on the tongue but when it gets here (points to back of throat) it is not delicious." we have really enjoyed his translations and his wise innocence about life.

episode 6: wait, how much longer?

sundays are an event! they have an english service at 8am - very similar to our services at redeemer. we anglicans are a stand up, sit down, recite this, community prayer, sing, kneel, pray kind of bunch. it is so delightful to actually be able to follow along with the service even if it's in another language. this is reason #472 why i like anglicans. the world wide community is alive, and it's very cool.

the kinyarwanda service is LEGIT. 3 hours of legit! they start off with what appears to be spontaneous singing. and by spontaneous, i mean it starts off slow, then quickly catches momentum the more people jump in. then they start dancing up front. it is SO fun to watch! talk about exuberant worship. about an hour into the service, i noted that about 6 choirs had performed and we hadn't even gotten to the sermon. in the US, i would have been so antsy, but here i was fascinated. they way they finished songs cracks me up. there is no final flourish, they repeat choruses about 6 times then suddenly stop and leave. just a quick exit back to their seats.

the bishop (who resides over st peters cathedral and all the parishes in kibungo) is the head honcho of this whole area. he preaches twice a month. he is incredibly intelligent, a wonderful leader, funny, and so enjoyable to be around. he actually picked us up from the airport himself! he sat on this fancy wooden throne-like chair, as if he were residing over the service until it was his time to speak. very regal. he is highly respected in rwanda. what an honor to see him and spend time with him and his wife!

two little shadows watched my every move during the service. one was a little student from the primary school that we taught their names, letters, and how to write. (there was a lot of shouting, singing, and a raucous game of duck, duck, goose) i think he decided that i belonged to him. so, i belong to a 5 yr old little boy named parfit. adorable.

we were able to be part of a baby dedication. at redeemer, it's a very tender moment between the parents, baby, priest, and congregation - all promise to watch over the child. it's so sweet!!! at st peter's, it's a whole big enthusiastic hoopla. i really enjoy both, and it was fun to see how another culture celebrates the birth of a baby. the priest calls up the parents, and they are holding their wee baby in an enormous poof of a baby gown. the priests bless the baby and the parents, and then the parents say a prayer and blessing over the baby. then, another choir! altho THIS choir is made up of only parents of all generations, and they sing, pass the baby from parent to parent in the choir, then the baby moves from priest to priest. during all of this the congregation is singing more and more until the whole place is rockin' and the baby has found its way back to mommy & daddy. such a beautiful celebration!

it was so great to see the bishop speak, and altho i couldn't understand most of it, it was the same scripture as the english service. plus i have begun to catch on to different phrases and words! one sweet lady, foster, came over to sit next to me to translate (their generosity and kindness is astounding here) and listening to her paraphrase what was going on was so sweet. i love listening to how they translate for us! it's never verbatim, and more about whole ideas.

sadly, it's ernest's last sunday before going to the US for his scholarship at trinity in pittsburgh!!!

our friend ernest is one of the priests here, and he has been given a two year scholarship to trinity in pittsburgh, PA. in order for him to accept this scholarship, he has to leave his family and home for TWO years. can you even imagine? he was selected out of a very elite group of scholars, and leaves for the US this week. i gave a quick skype lesson to ernest and his sweet wife. they have both been equipped with proper laptops, cameras, skype accounts, etc. they have three small kids, so i know they will love to see their daddy from afar! we are planning a road trip to pittsburgh to visit him and make sure he has proper winter clothing, and also to invite him to come to nashville for a southern experience. we promised his wife we would look out for him!

ernest has his hands in MANY projects. he is quite brilliant. pastors in rwanda are not paid, so many lose time with their people because they have to work. ernest decided that in order for him to be able to tell people they can start from nothing, he had to do it himself. so from one small loan, ernest now has a small chicken farm, goats, & cows. he is able to sell the eggs & milk at a small store in town. he also has several acres growing corn, cassava, pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit & bananas. so not only can he provide for his family, he can sell his crops! he said it would not be fair to expect others to make the same effort if he had not done so himself. he will be sorely missed in kibungo!

if any of my pittsburgh friends want to lend a helping hand, please ask me for his email address! i want him to know that he will be fully supported in this journey!