JASON & ERIN STEWART

LilypieExpecting a baby Ticker

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'm famous?

I have been thinking who this mysterious person could be that was talking about me in
Desbrates. I'm racking my brain and have only come up with 2 people I could think of. Hey mystery person I am flattered...who are you?:)

Things have been going well here in Kigali. Yesterday Jen, Serge and Jules, came home from Burundi and we headed over to Jules for a 'games night'. While not as malicious and vindictive as a Jakola games' night, there were no friends at the UNO table. I LOVE that so much. The best part of games is the trash talk. I felt so awesome being able to be myself. It brought me back to Sudbury, playing settler's or pictionary, at the Jakola's. What I wouldn't give for a little Hoopla action right now...NADIA!

It's hot in Kigali, althought I hear it's hot back in Canada. The thing here is that the woman don't wear shorts...which means I don't wear shorts...which quite frankly sucks! haha.
I wouldn't consider myself a sweaty person by any means. And I've know some sweaty people...volleyball...Nunu, Bro, Stephen. I must say that the disgustingness of my sweatiness here comes very close to the 3 people mentioned. I sit of the bus I get off and I feel like I just got out of a lake. I am gross. Somedays I think I will never really be clean here. And the feet..umm lets' not go there!

My tuesday/thursday english class is going SO well. Man they have learnt so much it's awesome. They have memorized AND understood what I have taught them and that is so important to me. To often I meet people who speak to me in english and don't have a clue what they are saying. So I am so pleased that they actually comprehend what they are saying.

Lindsey arrives in 9 days. Man, you have no idea how excited I am for her to some!!! I really think we will hit it off!

Well I should be off. Let me once agian thank all of you for your INCREDIBLE support of me while I have been here. Your emails and comments are a daily reminder of the love I have back home in Canada. You are more of a blessing to me and the people of Rwanda then you know.

With much Love,
Erin

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
~1 Thessalonians 5:11

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Feeling better - thanks for the prayers

Well that you all so much for your prayers and encouragement.

Malaria is a problem here in Rwanda and that was one of the first things we thought of, but being sick to your stomach is not normally a symptom. And since I am feeling better, well feeling fine I am sure I don't have malaria.
I did end up cancelling my english on friday and spent the afternoon, cuddled up on the couch.

I got a letter the other day from my Grandma, I laughed reading it as I could picture the things she was talking about. I also got another phone call from home. It was such a blessing to talk to my mom, dad and sister Ali. Ali leaves for Germany on monday and since Amy is working on a cruiseship in the Caribean and I am here my mom has all her girls out of the Country!

Jen, Serge and Jules left on friday morning for Burundi. I love hanging out with them. We have a lot of fun!

On friday Jen and I are planning a Canada Day celebration. I went online to look up cool Canadian facts and put them on red and white paper for decorations. If anyone has any cool ideas let me know! Rwanda's independence day is also on July 1, so it's a holiday.

A week from Canada Day, (July 8) we will be joined by Lindsey. Another Canadian girl who is about my age. I am SO excited for her arrival. We will be staying at the lighthouse which is also exciting. I really think that we will hit it off right away.

I finished Shake Hands with the Devil(finally). I think I have read about 400 pages in the last 4 days! Just out of curiousity has anyone been able to see the movie 'Hotel Rwanda'? I would love to hear your thoughts about it. It arrived in Sudbury after I had left but from what I understand it is very good. If you haven't seen it I encourage you to watch. Let me know what you think.

Well I am off for the day. Love and blessings,
Erin

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sick!

It's gotten cooler in Kigali. Which is such a huge blessings. The past week it has been very nice here. I do hope that it will rain sometimes. The dust is becoming more and more disgusting. The school yard playground is a haze of redish brown. I wondering how the dust in their lungs effects their health.

Speaking of health, I, haven't been feeling so well and spent some of wednesday night with my head next to the toilet. I am still feeling like crap and am thinking about cancelling todays english class. I ache all over and I just want to sleep. Although I am feeling much better than yesterday I still am not feeling all that well.

Since I stayed home yesterday I had time to read more of "Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda". Genocide happened just 11 years ago. It is wonderful that the country is growing and moving on, but it is impossible to forget the horrific events of 1994. Having come to know a few Rwandans who were soldiers in the RPF, and others who have lost family and friends, the book has become more personnal for me. As I sat on the bus today looking at the beautiful green hills of Rwanda, I could picture them red with blood. The staggering amount of bodies lying on the side of the road is overwhelming. Perhaps it is because I am sick today but I am having a 'down day'.

I pray all is well at home.
I miss you and I love you all,
Erin

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Drive-Bys

Wow, nothing like a little guilt to get the comments going:)

So you're thinking I joined a gang...and I'm into drive-by shootings. Well no I'm not, so don't worry. But Jen and I have been doing some drive-bys. After the Vivant street kids there were quite a few extra clothes, especially for toddlers and babies. Jen and I went through the clothes, sorting into different sizes for boys and girls. We put little outfits into bags and loaded up the car. We then drive around looking for street woman with babies. When we see one Jen stops and I jump out give them a bag of clothes and jump back into the car again. It's so awesome! Seeing their faces when they look into the bag is...yeah...awesome!

And the picture...sorry bout that. OK so the team was here in May and that's a pic from the Refugee camp. From L-R kneeling Andrea and Josh (sorry T, they are married)
Standing Tillie, Me, Susanna, Jane and Cathy. Jane's husband (and Andrea's father) Marvin is the guy in the back. The rest of the people are refugees from Congo.

I just want to thank you all so much for your words of encouragement, emails, comments, letters, phone calls and most importantly prayers. I can not express to you how my they and more importantly you mean to me! You are a tremendous encouragement to me and I can't thank you enough. May God bless you for your kindness.
With my love and appreciation,
Erin

Monday, June 20, 2005

First pic...finally

The team and myself at the Refugee camp

Shame on you!!!

Mondays are normally such an exciting day for me, because I get to come to the internet and check my email and blog. Imagine my surprise when after 2 blogs there are no comments!!! For shame!!!
HAHAHA jokes, jokes it's all good! Well actually I do love the comments so get working people!;)

So on friday after the internet I went to Amy's to eat. I met a Swedish girl there who is friends with Christopher the guy I met there a few weeks ago. It was great to sit and chat with her.
Also on friday an older man at the internet, asked me if I was Irish. I told him I was Canadian and he said "Well you look Irish!" And Erin means 'Ireland'.

Friday night we headed to Vivant to prepare for the day with the Street Kids. Jen and I sorted through a couple hundred outfits for the kids. It was fun, we were sweaty and gross but we Canadian girls know how to work hard:)

Saturday morning we headed to Vivant. We arranged all the clothes into sections for size. The kids came in, in groups of 10. First they got their hair cut which they loved and then they came in to get some clothes. I loved dressing them. Especially the little kids, man they are cute! Some were picky about what they were getting, but we stayed firm, others tried to come in more then once. Most were so happy. 'thank you' 'merci, merci' and 'rackosay' came from their smiling faces. It was incredible to be apart of that day. While it was slow in the clothing room I went out and did some juggling with some kids. They loved it. How awesome that for oneday they could forget about all their troubles and worries and have fun...like kids should be doing!
When all the kids had their clothes, they had a singing and worship time together. Unfortunately there are no words in the english language to describe how incredible that time was. The kids were singing, dancing and laughing. They were being kids, something they rarely get to be. I found myself attached to a little girl about 3 or 4. She clung to me like there was no tomorrow. I really didn't care though. There was also a cute little boy there. About the same age. I had the 2 of them sitting on my lap. The little boy fell asleep there.
All 250 street kids where given a meal and a Coka or Fanta(pop) and the day soon ended. The experience was indescribable. I thanked Jules (a friend and leader of the Vivant youth) for allowing me to be a part of a day those kids will never forget.
When the kids were all gone we began clean up. I went to work moving benches and chairs. I noticed that everyone was like 'what the heck is up with this girl? moving heavy stuff'. It wasn't till later that Serge told me they were impressed and afraid. Haha. The guys were saying "her poor husband, she could beat him if she were mad at him" When he told me that I just laughed. Too funny. After we were finished at Vivant, Serge, Jules, Jen and I went back to our house for a movie and some dinner. I love hanging with those guys. They are so much fun!

Yesterday I taugh Sunday School. The past 2 times I have been there church was over 4 and a half hours long. Surely today will be different I thought...it was... 5 HOURS LATER!!!!! I couldn't believe it. I did during that time get a chance to talk to one of my english students. We talked about genocide and how Rwanda is now. His father was killed on the second day and his mother 2 weeks later. At 14 he was forced to take care of his younger sister who was 4 years old, and baby brother who was 6 months. I can't imagine what it was like for him to hide from the killers with 2 little ones and still be a child himself. I thank God for my parents.

Sunday afternoon Serge, Jules, Jen and I hung out again. It was very relaxing and needed.

Well I am to tired to type some more so this will be all of the blog for now.
Now you slackers I expect some comments;) But know that I love you and I miss you.
Love and Blessings,
Erin
Saturday was a

Friday, June 17, 2005

Read Ed's blog

Hey I was just reading Ed's blog and it touched my heart. I encourage you to keep reading Ed's blog.
Also since I can't get any pictures up you can visit the IT website and check out the Rwanda stuff. Good stuff. http://www.iteams.ca/index.pl/rwanda
Peace and love, Erin

My adoring Fans

Hey Hey my friends

Sorry Vanessa I should have explained the DISGUSTING thing. Man that was funny though. Vanessa is not disgusting I will clear that up right away.

Things in Kigali are hot! So hot it stiffling. I continue to watch the brown bath water come off my body. It's gross.

Yesterday was a fairly normal day. Went to the pre-schol then to teach. It is so awesome to see that my students are actually learning. I love teaching too.

Today I teach at Maureen's. The hard class to teach for me. But good news last week I found a really awesome website that will help me with my teaching. I am so happy about that.

Tomorrow we are helping at Vivant church. They are having a special day for the street kids (there's about 200-300 that will probably come) The youth at that church are incredible and serve their community so well. Jules, one of my friends here, is one of the leaders of the youth. He is an incredible guy with a huge heart for God. Pray that the day will be a success.

Well I should be running. Gotta teach soon.
With so much love, and MANY MANY blessings,
Erin

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Long time no blog...sorry

Hello all my faithful readers.
So I haven't been able to blog lately because of life and stuff. So I will try to update you on the past few days.

My walk home from school is amazing and each day the people I walk by get bolder and bolder. They smile, wave and say hello. It is so incredible for me. Being acknowledged here is awesome. I wonder why I get to experience this amazing thing? God is so awesome!

My walk to the woman's association is great as well. Tuesday I was listening to Jeremy Camp and walked with a perma-grin the whole way. The mothers of the children that I stopped to see last week, saw me and yelled "Muzunga" and waved and smiled. In a world that is full of hate and mistrust all it takes is for someone to show a little love to change things. My challenge to you this week is to be that person who steps ups and steps out!

It has become quite hot in Kigali and with the heat comes the dust. When I 'shower' oh man it's nasty, the water is brown!!! Seriously SICK! Sometimes I think I will never be clean again...and the feet..D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G (Vanessa).

On friday I headed to a local cafe to go over my notes before teaching. I met a guy there named Christopher. He's from Sweden and quite funny. It was so nice to sit and chat with someone! I was so relaxed.

Teaching English at the woman's association ROCKS! They are learning so much and I am so proud of them. We laugh all the time. They love my jokes...but then again who doesn't!

Evelyn and the kids have left for Kenya. Diana (her oldest daughter) is getting married there. You may remember that it was here gusoba we went to.

Daniel borrow the movie "Remember the Titans" from a friend and we both LOVE that movie. We have watched it at least 6 or 7 times. I love that movie. I think it's my favourite movie ever.

So I think I may have told a few of you that I would be home on August 7th....I lied. I am actually leaving on August 3rd and arriving in Canada August 4th(the best day of the year) at 1:30pm. Because I travel through 6 times zones on the 4th I will have a 30 hour birthday.

Well still have many emails to write. I have been trying to get pictures up but it's not working...grrr. I'll keep trying. By the way Kelly I LOVE the pics you sent me. Rhuen is HUGE!!!! I hope he doesn't forget me! Give all those boys a big hug from me!

Thank you again everyone for your continued prayers. You all mean so much to me and words can't express how blessed I am to have you in my life!

Love and Blessings
Erin

"He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less"
~John 3:30

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

It's a small world!!!

So I get this message from Jen the other day asking if I knew a "Jennifer Provost" and I'm like sounds familiar but I don't think so. To make a potential long story short Jen meets this girl Jennifer Provost (who goes by Claire) at the bank in Kigali. It turns out she is a Canadian from none other than SUDBURY!!! Like holy cow that's awesome. So she is here till september and writing for the Sudbury Star. It sounded like she was very happy to met another Canadian. And I am very excited to met her as well. If anyone knows her let me know so we can hook up this Sudbury connection.

I went to the pre-school again today and as usual had my gang of children following me. I wish I could see it cause I am sure it is quite the site to see. 1 muzunga among about 30 kids.

Today is nice here but it has been very hot over the last few days. Melissa you would love it!

Anyways I just don't feel like typing anymore. I am going to go home and sleep...I feel a cold coming on!

Much love, Erin

Monday, June 06, 2005

Rwanda vs. Nigeria

Hello my wonderful friends and how are you today? I pray things are well at home. I had a pretty good weekend. Friday we went to Jules' who has been sick to hangout with him.
Saturday I relaxed. It was good.
Yesterday I taught Sunday school for 4 HOURS!!! Actually it was about 4 and a half hours! I find that filling those hours is a challenge. There are about 100 children and their ages are from 3-13. I have little equipment and yeah it's a challenge! But they are so cute! I am working on getting some pictures up asap.
After church on sunday we went to Jules again for lunch and to watch the big football (soccer) game. Rwanda vs. Nigeria. Nigeria is the number one team in Africa. Rwanda played awesome and definitly was the better playing team but a late goal tied it up and the final score was 1-1. It was so fun to hang out and watch sports together with Serge, Jules, Alfonze, Jen and myself.
After the game was over we were going to watch a movie(Speed) but the power went out. This turn out to be a blessing as we were able to spend time talking. For me this was awesome because it is the first time I felt comfortable enough here to talk about the more 'deeper' topics. WE talked about marriage and family and the future and all kinds of things. It was a huge blessing for me and it was great to hear some of their thoughts. So since questions spark the most response to the blog I thought I would ask one.... What do you think the future holds for Erin?

Ok well I am off for the day.
Blessings my friends,
Erin

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. " ~Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Miss Canada Miss Universe

That's right even from the far off land of Rwanda I was able to watch the Miss Universe pagaent. Hey and WE WON!!! Yes miss Canada, when do we ever win tese things...I knew it too! Now for those of you who are like "I can't believe you watch that crap" I say to you, first of all we only have one chanel and second of all I cheer for my country and thirdly Canada is WAY to politically correct!!! Ok that's all of that.

3 sweet letters
A post card from Taiwan, mailed in Canada and sent to Rwanda. Angie Bro that is some great international mail, totally blessed my day. The second from my second grandparents Uncle Abe and Aunt Shirley. A very sweet card that encouraged me so much. And finally from my Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma is so awesome! I am so blessed to have such wonderful family! On both sides they rock!!!

A Great Revelation

Ok so what else has happened in the past few days...well pre-school and teaching english has been going well. I love my tuesday and thursday english class we laugh so much and they are really learning too. I am so proud of them!

Ok so I had this revelation wednesday as I was walking home from school. You see when I leave the school it is normally with at least 2 kids on each arm. Once the leave to go their seperate way I start to pick up stragglers. I love it cause I walk with this mob of children like everywhere I go. I wish I could get a picture. Anyways so as I walk often some little kid or big one will reach down and grab my hand and hold hands with me as we walk. I think it's great. I noticed on wednesday the faces of the adults who would stop what they were doing to watch the Muzunga and the mob walk by. It hit me then that this is a ministry. Most adults see kids as extra mouths to feed or more hands to do work, but they saw me touching and talking with their children. Not afraid or 'above' them in any way. They see that a white person can love their kids. What an incredible message and one I am excited to and priviledge to have. I came here to be a blessing and I am the ne being blessed. God is a great multitasker!

Well I am off to catch up on the email. For those of you who email and don't get many emails back I am sorry but am also so grateful for you love and emails! They make me smile everytime I come check. You are helping me more than you will know!

Until next time, with much love,
Erin

To be blessed you must be a blessing!!!