Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Green Thumbs

Urban Gardening Training
at the Eastleigh Community Centre

Tim giving out seeds to members of Iftin

This past Monday and Tuesday, we had the joy of having our CBM colleague and friend Tim Bannister return to Eastleigh to lead a follow up training on urban gardening with 25 members of the Iftin Women's Empowerment Program.

Tim and Diane Bannister during the
second day's gardening demonstration
(attracting quite a crowd from the primary school at recess)

Somali and Oromo women building their sack gardens

Aaron and Tim building a sample bag with the ladies

Erica and Tim showing the ladies the basics of gardening

Each of the ladies were assigned a small group that they will build several sack gardens with at the community centre and tend their gardens with. The ladies will keep each other accountable and at any time can take tools and gardening resources back to their homes where they can establish their sack gardens for their families... a fresh and abundant supply of spinach, onions, tomatoes and kales.

Nelius with her small group's first sack garden

"Proud Gardeners"
Jen with a member of Iftin

Thomas and Erica play fighting
with some of the Somali boys

"Everyone likes Kung-Fu Fighting... huh!"

Some of the urban gardening participants

Tim and Diane after a successful time of training

Green Thumbs Up!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tristan's Birthday


Although Tristan turns 12 on Sunday, we celebrated his birthday this past weekend with seven of his friends who came over for a sleepover. This is the end of the school year at Rosslyn Academy, and all but two of Tristan's buddies will be leaving Africa this weekend.

Daddy playing night games with the boys

The Assassins
Ezra * Michael * Collin

President Tristan with his secret service men
Drew * Floris * Robert

Bring on the cake!

Along with running around in the dark, scarfing tacos and cake,... the boys had a riot playing "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" improvisation games. Very appropriate for these dramatic characters! It was a very fun night!


The boys taking a look at Emma's yearbook

Daddy and Mommy with our boy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 2011 Podcast

Erica meeting with Jean

Our May Podcast is up on the podbean site -- this month the podcast features an interview with Kampundu Tedy, a Guardian of Hope living in a rural village of Rwanda. Kampundu shares part of her story of becoming a guardian for five AIDS who were without a home. Her youngest adopted son, Jean, who was left for dead in the forrest when she rescued him, is now a happy and thriving young boy.

Kampundu taking her youngest son, Jean, to school

Through the Guardians of Hope, Kampundu and her family have experienced support and care from a loving Christian community. They have received assistance for schooling and micro loans that have enabled their family to feed themselves.

Aaron with Kampundu Tedy, May 18, 2011

To listen to Kampundu share her story download our latest podcast at or subscribe for free on iTunes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Children of Hope

Walking up a narrow alleyway in Kigali

Nothing is flat in Rwanda -- you are either on your way up or down in this "land of a thousand hills". There are no easy paths to follow. I think the same can be said of life here, as the country struggles with incredibly high levels of poverty and need. It is a constant challenge for those who seek to care for the marginalized. There are no easy answers, no simple solutions.

Children of Hope Manager, Esperance, with AEBR development director, Gato Munyamasoko

In January, Erica and I began giving oversight to the Children of Hope program in Rwanda that was started by the AEBR with Laura Ward and Patty Card in 2007. The Children of Hope is a joint ministry of Canadian Baptist Ministries, the Danish Baptist Churches and the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches that serves over 1500 orphans and vulnerable children within Kigali, and the Southern and Eastern provinces of Rwanda.

For anyone coming from a place like Canada, it is incredibly difficult to wrap our minds around the idea of a "child-headed household". Yet, tens of thousands of child-led-households are a reality in Rwanda and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa where over 12 million children have become AIDS orphans (and that number doesn't include the untold number orphaned from conflict, war and genocide). In our travels throughout Rwanda, it has been heart breaking to meet young children, not much older than our own three kids, caring for one another in a shack without running water, electricity, nor even a bed. These are children without anyone to protect them, provide for them, guide them, or love them. Kids who have been left to fend for themselves after the trauma of watching their parents die.

Children of Hope has been the churches response to hundreds of child-led households. Unlike the Guardians of Hope who are able to bring AIDS orphans into their homes as part of their family, the Children of Hope must continue to live on their own for the lack of a guardian -- the need is just simply too great and there are not enough guardians to care for these children.

What COH does, instead, is match a cluster of child-headed households with an adult mentor from a church (often the mentors are already Guardians of Hope themselves). The mentor looks out for the children and is there to give support, advise and protection. Through the charity of the church, the children receive assistance with school fees, uniforms, access to health care, and the tending of a kitchen garden. Life is not easy. The path is not simple. But by God's grace none need walk it alone.

Esperance with Rev. Nkuyemurugero Japhet, Regional Minister for the AEBR in the Eastern Province of Rwanda

Over the past year, Canadian Baptist Ministries has been coming alongside the AEBR in alleviating a crisis in shelter for over a hundred vulnerable households. With new laws in Rwanda requiring all homes with traditional thatched roofing to be demolished and replaced with ones constructed with at least iron sheeting, there became an urgent need to house the poorest of the poor. "They destroyed so many homes without preparing the people!" explained Rev. Japhet. In his community hundreds of families had no place to go as they were drive from their homes as they were demolished.

As the church banded together in response, the highest priority was obvious -- within their community were several child headed households -- homes where a orphaned children were left on their own to care for themselves. "With the support of Canadian Churches who gave $20,000 dollars, we have built one hundred homes for families who were homeless," shared Esperance."We cried, but Canadians heard our cry!"

According to Rev. Japhet, "In our region 20 child-headed households have received new houses with iron sheet roofs.... we are so thankful!"

"Thank you all for helping us!"

In Prayer

* Please remember Esperance and her family as they travel this weekend to Burundi to be with her father who is in the late stages of his battle with cancer. We also think of her mother who is too ill to make the journey to be with her husband in hospital there.

* We continue to pray for the Children of Hope in Rwanda and for the funds to continue supporting this important ministry.

* We give thanks for the way that God's love and compassion is being seen through His church in Rwanda through their response to the dire needs of widows and orphans.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Isaie in Kigali

Kigali, Rwanda

This week, Aaron is in Rwanda to serve our partners in the Association of Rwandan Baptist Churches (AEBR) with the Guardians of Hope (GOH) and Children of Hope (COH) programs.

Isaie Gakwerere, Guardians of Hope Project Manager

We have had the great pleasure of serving with Isaie who is now entering his second year as the Guardians of Hope project manager for the AEBR. He is very encouraged by the progress of many of the GOH groups as they care for HIV and AIDS orphans throughout Rwanda. Over the past month, he has been very involved in distributing health kits for caregivers within the 29 Guardians projects which he manages. Isaie's deep spiritual commitment, his joyful spirit, and unflagging optimism make his leadership one of great encouragement with the churches and groups he serves.

Isaie with his fiance, Laurence

Today after work, I had the joy of walking with Isaie to meet his beautiful-bride-to-be Kabatesi Laurence. They have been friends since they first met in secondary school back in 1998 in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, near the Tanzania border. Since finishing school and college, both Isaie and Laurence moved to the capital city of Kigali where they are both now serving with the AEBR. They will be married in their home province on July 23rd this summer.

In Prayer
Please uphold Isaie and Laurence in your prayers as they continue to serve their church and community in such a humble and selfless way. Also remember them as they plan their wedding and prepare for marriage!

The Enns family

The Enns Family
Wes, Jean, Ezra, Julia and Isaiah

Wes, Jean, Erica and Aaron

This past weekend, we shared a time of good-bye with our friends the Enns family who are returning to Canada for a year to live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Enns have been friends, since we first met in 2007 at Rosslyn Academy where they live on campus as Wes is a high school English teacher. We've had a special connection as each of our children have come up together in the same classes in school (and preschool). We are sad to see them leaving, but so glad that they will be back!

Burger Time!

Ezra and Tristan
"Whose ready for seconds?"

Erica and Jean

Ava and Julia trying their best
to get their kite in the air

Our Puppy

Hermione our BIG puppy
Who could be mad at this face?

On the home front, our kids are looking forward to the June and July "winter" vacation in Nairobi. They finish school at Rosslyn Academy at the end of May, and will go back in the second week of August. There will be lots to do over the school break, including some quality time with our three pups. Hermione will turn a year old this July, and already she seems to be teething. Over the past few weeks she has taken a liking to our young palm trees that we had bought when we first moved to Kenya. We had kept them in our apartment before moving to the house -- it has been fun to watch them grow with us -- that is until Hermione decided that they were a nice chew toy. The other morning we awoke to find a four foot palm reduced to a three inch stump, with Hermione asleep in a nest of twisted fronds and frayed strands of the stock. Those dogs!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Choral Program

At Tristan's Choir Concert

Last night we had the pleasure of attending the Rosslyn Academy Secondary School's Spring Choral Concert. Tristan sang in the Middle School Choir under the direction of Miss Lynn Zettlemoyer. It was a wonderful evening!

The Middle School Choir singing "Adoramus Te"

Tristan during a performance of "The Syncopated Clock"

Lynn Zettlemoyer leading the Rosslyn Singers and the Singer Alumni
in the choral benediction "Do You Not Know?"

This was Miss Zettlemoyer's final concert at Rosslyn Academy after nine years as serving as the school's music director. The concert ended with a beautiful tribute to Lynn by students and alumni.

Mel, Atalie and Erica

With the school year at Rosslyn almost over, the kids have lots going on in the next few weeks as school clubs and activities come to a close. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as Erica serves with the Crandall team this week and Aaron travels to Rwanda to work with the our colleagues in the Guardians of Hope and Children of Hope programs there.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Birthday Bash!


The birthday girl

(There is one way to keep Tristan
from sneaking an early piece)

Last night, we had a wonderful time celebrating Erica's birthday with friends in Nairobi. We had the party at the beautiful Zen Garden Restaurant in Spring Valley -- everything was amazing! We are so thankful for the everyone who could come and for the special evening together. We had a lot of fun sampling the sushi, decorating ourselves with flowers, and celebrating Erica!

The party was well past Ava's bed time, so a big thanks to our friend Judy for staying back with our littlest one. Ava did have fun opening presents at home with mommy and eating cake for breakfast the next morning. Oh, what a great birthday tradition!!

Atalie helping Erica with flowers in her hair

Mel giving a scarf tying demonstration
... Tristan, very European!

Kerry, Emma and Tiffany

Emma with Tristan the flamboyant!

Sammy filling in as Ava's double
"Oh Ava what big eyes you have...
...what a full beard you have?"

Amy, Emma and a "quiet" Tristan

The Girls