Saturday, December 31, 2011

It was a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS at New Hope Homes today!

The day started early. The big boys got up early and spent hours cleaning the classroom. They made it shiny clean. Really. It practically sparkled. I was so very proud of them. .

Then we working on measuring some feet for the kids to see how much they had grown in the past 4 months. .

Harv is a HUGE hit. The kids love him and he they. .

Meanwhile, Abby was up early baking cutout cookies. Ahh, so much loved went into today. .

Eventually all the kids came up and everyone got some tinsel and tossed it at the same time...when we hit…And a Happy New Year in the Merry Christmas song. .

Abby brought her guitar and led the kids in Away in the Manger; We wish you a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells. It was great fun. .

Then importantly….Erica joined us and talked to the kids about the meaning of Christmas and asked them lots of questions to ensure today was about celebrating the CHRIST in CHRISTmas. We talked about the fact that Jesus was the best gift and the other gifts there were getting today were not things that we deserved, and they shouldn’t expect them every year. We talked about sometimes we have sponsors who have some money to help and sometimes for this Christmas we would be thankful that there were people who could help make Christmas a bit more special for them. .

THEN came extra fun. 2 by 2 the kids came to chairs in front of the Christmas tree and held their beautiful bag that Deb made for each of them with their name on the outside, a picture of one of her kitty’s in the pocket and then their presents inside. It was precious beyond words. I will post more photos when I get back, but for now, just know that each gift bag was perfect. Shoes, PJs, undies, socks, an outfit and of course…their present. THANK YOU all who went out their way to help make this Christmas so extra special for them. .

Then we had a little catered lunch so Emmanuel didn’t have to cook. A real treat for them. Abby helped us order from a place that did beef kabobs and chips (French fries) .

THEN, as if that wasn’t enough fun. Abby let each child frost their own cookies. They were so yummy and kids had a great time frosting them and of course got it all over their faces. EXCELLENT FUN! .

The little kids then went down to the 2nd and 3rd homes to take a nap and the rain began. It poured and poured and poured and poured. I keep filling bucket from the roof pipe to refill our buckets that we use to wash. Water is such a gift and fresh rain water is especially good. .

Our skyping time was great. We talked to Ian and Kristen and again and they told the boys about a Chelsea match they could watch tonight if we skyped in with them. Ian was awesome. He created a livemeeting we could login to and they they watched. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the Chelsea game so they settled for Arsnels..their nasty rivels! .

The walk back to the 1st home was a muddy slippery climb up the hill, but all did it. Nothing like walking in the dark carrying stuff and hoping to continue to go UP...not down. ☺ .

2 more hours and we’ll be ringing in the New Year here in Rwanda. We thank you for sharing our journey and we’ll say a prayer that your new year will be blessed beyond measure. .

Donna, Harv, Abby, Erica and the Kids of New Hope Homes.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Harv is in the House!

The day started with a visit from Mommy and Auntie Erica. They kids were so happy to see them again having spent Christmas with them a few days back.

Erica and I then ran some errands and ended up running into the Mbanda Brothers. as you will see in the pic, I’m a bit shorter then them!!!

We then connected up with Abby and started our planning for Christmas – which will be tomorrow!!!! YEAH.

Harv arrived with the last round of bags so we are ready to rock. Abby taught school again and I spent the night cuddling with each of our little kids for 10-15 mins at time. I sat in the chair and one by one they came for their quality time. Sweet precious time.

A special part of our day was skyping with Tina and Kristen & Ian. They know the kids so well now that is makes for easy silly chatting.

Tonight Harv arrived so the kids…especially the boys are super excited. I can tell he is already a natural. He has a cool iphone app that shows the constellations in the sky. It was a perfect lesson after we learned about the planets yesterday.

A short report tonight as tomorrow is Christmas and we have much to do!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Isaac cooking for me! And the kids jumping for joy!

Science Class with Miss Abby

Science Class with Miss Abby

Ahh, life is good at New Hope Homes

Ahh, life is good at New Hope Homes I arrived at 8 pm last night to the welcoming arms of Abby who surprised me by meeting me at the airport with my driver.

Thankfully I made it through customs without a hassle this time. I guess it pays to only bring 5 bags vs 12 bags like last Christmas. Thanks to Harv for for bringing the next two bags in two days.

It exciting to have him join me. Harv and I worked together about 4 years ago and stopped by my Christmas Party Fund Raiser for New Hope Homes. He talked about joining me sometime. When my trip got delayed by a few weeks, I let him know and voila…he decided to join me with just a few days notice. Gotta love a spirit of spontaneity.

Abby and I quickly dropped the bags at the first home and then practically ran down the hill to see the kids. It was like a echo effect as the first child saw us an yelled our names…then the next, then the next, then the next and then they all came running with hugs and kisses. It feels so wonderful to be amidst all this love.

It was raining really hard so we decided that Abby should stay with us vs walking down to get at motobike ride back to her house. Thus it was a big slumber party. The boys were crazy, silly, laughing in their bunk beds. Every time I went in they would pretend like they were sleeping. Then the minute I stepped out the giggles began again. Ahhh, ya, the silliness is one of my favorite parts.

This morning I again went to immigration to try to advance my case for citizenship. The process started 1 year ago this month, so I have learned patience. If they grant it to me, it would be a miracle as I meet all qualifications but one. I don’t own any land or run a business. They have all the proper referrals from the local mayor etc, but they don’t seem to fully understand the value in investing in our kids and aunties, uncles etc vs land. Tomorrow I meet with the ‘big boss’ to see if he will reconsider my case.

Abby then met me at Nakumatt the Kmart of Rwanda, then we did some errands including a nice visit with Abraham who owns a souvenir store. Abby decided we needed to check out a new restaurant run by a Canadian. Burgers and Fries…I kid you not! Wow things have changed in the past 5.5 years.

The afternoon was spent watching Abby teach the kids some wonderful science lessons. They wanted to learn about Space. Thanks to Kristen Cavallo for sending us some great books. They learned the order of the planets relative to the sun, then were assigned one to study and draw a picture. They then stood in line in the proper order. Abby is such a great teacher!

She then left to go play with some friends and I continued the fun. We walked down to the 2nd and 3rd homes to find the Aunties singing and playing with the kids. It is hard to put into words the joy of seeing our Aunties work so joyfully with our kids. The perpetual motion is something that you can only understand if you were here…speaking of…who wants to come in April, August or December of 2012!