Our New Normal
Hello from beautiful Kigali, Rwanda! By God’s grace we arrived safely in July with both kids, our dog, and every piece of luggage. Grace and I have wanted to reach out to you all and catch you up on our lives here in Kigali.
Getting to Rwanda:
Our last couple of months in the U.S. was a crazy whirlwind of seemingly endless preparations, paperwork, fellowship, and sad goodbyes. We were able to spend some much-needed time with both sides of the family. Considering we aren’t sure when we’ll be able to return to visit, that was a hard time but also such a blessing. Dealing with the emotions of leaving our families did not make the logistics of our move any easier. In order to acquire a visa to work in Rwanda we had to produce original birth certificates, marriage license, background checks, and diplomas, just to name a few. We’ve moved between states as a family a couple times and that was tough, but with our move to Rwanda it was on another level altogether. We had to consolidate everything to the suitcases and bins that we took with us as luggage on the flight over. Deciding what toys and household items to bring and which ones to leave behind was especially tough for the kids. However, through all of the tough and stressful times, God always reminded us that He was with us every step of the way.
Probably the biggest single blessing came during our last Sunday at our home church in Cornelius, NC, Newsong. The Newsong Church family truly sent us off to the mission field well. Not only was there an outpouring of prayer and encouragement (even a time where Newsong Kids prayed for Esther and Judah!), but at the end they asked if the church family would help us raise the funds that we would need to buy a vehicle when we got to Rwanda. This was one thing we were relying on God 100% for. When we had spoken to current missionaries in Rwanda earlier in the year, they told us that finding a good vehicle was very difficult and it would take at least $9000 to get an older, semi-reliable car. We had no idea how we would be able to afford it. The response from Newsong Church was mind-blowing! Within a few days, they had raised the entire amount plus a little extra. We feel so blessed and thank God all the time for giving us such an incredible church to call home. So, if you are part of that Newsong family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! You are truly an answer to prayer!
Flying to Kigali:
On July 19th it was finally time to make the big trip across the Atlantic Ocean, across Europe, then the Mediterranean Sea, the Sahara Desert, and the Virunga mountains, before finally arriving in the small East African country of Rwanda. The kids loved flying here. Our layover in Amsterdam was a great break (and chance to have McDonalds one last time). Esther loved tracking our flight on the map and trying to see what countries we were flying over.
No one liked the food on the plane. A good first lesson for the kids in adjusting to new cultures.
Adjusting to our new life:
Being in a new place always has its challenges, but for kids, one of the toughest things is getting used to new food. There is no fast food in Rwanda and nothing is instant from a box or frozen – everything needs to be made from scratch. Everything from milk, to fruit, to cheese, to meat tastes a little bit different. I think they ate spaghetti every single meal for our first two weeks! They have slowly adjusted over the last two months and are trying more and more each day. Esther has fallen in love with the ever-abundant avocados that we have here. We have been able to find some comfort foods along the way, like hotdogs for Judah and applesauce for Esther. Please keep praying for the kids as they continue to try new foods and find foods they like here.
Judah loves to brag that “We live in a 4-story house!” In all honesty, our house is a modest split-level (with a few steps and a landing in-between, thus 4-stories). Both kids have their own bunkbeds which are usually covered with stuffed animals and pillows along with their mosquito nets. Grace and I enjoy having a dining room that overlooks the living room. We love that the layout of our house allows for a lot of family time spent together. We are also blessed in that our kitchen is one of the largest in the whole neighborhood. We can actually fit our whole family in the kitchen to make scrambled eggs in the morning (not that we always WANT everyone in there, but it usually happens).
Most people thought we were crazy for bringing our dog, Hawke, with us. Truth be told, there were many times throughout the moving process that I also thought we were crazy. Let me tell you, being on the other side of the move, I am thankful that we put the effort into bringing him with us. First, he has provided a constant for the kids. While we did our best to bring as many toys, blankets, and “familiars” with us for the kids, they are still going through a huge change and almost everything is different. Hawke has been a huge comfort for both of them (and can often be found sleeping on the bottom bed of one of their bunk beds). Second, Hawke has been a good security system. Many people here strongly recommend hiring a guard that stays on the property for security, but they have said that having a dog like Hawke is just as effective. While Kigali is a safe city and our neighborhood is especially safe, it’s nice having the peace of mind that we have Hawke here to let us know if anything is going on outside.
Adjusting to school:
Grace had just under a week to adjust to living in Kigali before jumping into meetings. Since then, she has launched full-on into her role as Secondary Principal. While this school is incredibly different from her previous school, it comes as no surprise to me when I am stopped in the hallway and told how amazing she is and how well she is doing. There will certainly be numerous challenges along the way but I can see the passion that she approaches her job with each day and I have no doubt that God is working through her to bless KICS.
Esther loves her teachers and classmates. During the staff retreat she was able to connect with some other staff kids also in her grade. It was so great to send her to school her first day knowing that she had some friends there already.
Judah had a lot of trepidation about school. He’s an anxious kid already, and all of the change already has placed a toll on him. Leading up to school he was pretty adamant that I was going to homeschool him instead. Even after the first few days he was still hesitant about school. He finally came home from school one day and announced “I have friends!” “Awesome! What are their names?” “I don’t know, but they’re my friends!”. Since then, Judah has connected with his classmates and is enjoying his time at school even though it is vastly different from his school last year.
Life is starting to feel more “normal” now. We are enjoying the commute to school (1- minute walk) every morning and afternoon. I get the opportunity to drop off and pick up the kids every day. Judah is taking swimming lessons and is on the soccer team that I also get to coach. Esther has been taking traditional Rwandan dance lessons each week. Our mornings, meals, and bedtimes have become more routine. Each night we have been reading through The Horse and His Boy as a family.
While there are still many things to get used to, we are happy to be here where God has called us and excited about what he has in store for KICS and B2TheWorld. Speaking of B2TheWorld, I (Micah) will be sending an update soon about the exciting things that are happening and what my new role looks like. Thank you for your continued prayer and support!