JASON & ERIN STEWART

LilypieExpecting a baby Ticker

Thursday, July 28, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RHUEN!!!!

That's right my little baby (not really mine) is 1 year old today! I can hardly believe it. I miss that little guy! I miss all my little brothers! So Rhuen...happy birthday! I love you and a big high five from me:)

Yesterday I got a letter from a WONDERFUL person. She is sweet and kind and her name is Melissa Doner....One of my favourite things about Melissa is how she LOVED it when I used to throw rocks onto the roof of her cabin at night...great times eh Mel:) Thanks so much for the letter, you made my day!

Today was my last official day of ministry. It came with some mixed emotions. While I am excited to go home. Saying goodbye to my english class was very difficult and although I kept it together I did get a little choked up.

Tomorrow we head to Gisenyi for some MUCH needed R&R. I can't wait to go....actually I can't wait to be there. The 5 hour bus ride on very windy roads isn't too fun but it's all good. We come back Sunday night, so you probably won't hear from me till monday...which means I am expecting LOTS of comments...remember what Theresa said...beware of the wrath of Erin.

I pray this blog finds you well.
With so much love!
Erin

p.s. 7 days till my birthday!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

8 days till my birthday!

So since I am so much less busy than normal I though I would spend more time blogging and emailing. I love the internet, a little taste of home.

Things are heating up here in Kigali. Walking during the day is killer, the intensity of the heat is hard at times. Apparently it gets hotter in August. Yikers!

On friday we are going to Ginseyi. It's a city on Lake Kivu, that borders the Congo. I am really excited to rest and relax and debrief. Should be a great weekend.

Tomorrow is my last day of ministry work. I have my english class in the afternoon and then that's it. It definitly brings some mixed feelings into the picture. I am really excited to go back home but it will be hard leaving my friends here!

Speaking of coming home maybe it'd be good to talk about some "expectations" about coming back to Canada. Truth is I am not sure at all how I will react to coming back. I am quite sure though, that I will experience some kind of reverse culture shock. To what degree, well we'll find out. I will warn you of a few things you might notice are different with me. One is that I have stopped using the word "yes". Haha in this culture raising your eyebrows means yes and I love doing it so I literally have taken the word "yes" outta my vocab. Second thing, I look different...I have a SWEET tan on my face and arms...but since I only wear capris or skirts here my legs are scarey white! Just a warning. Third thing, I have noticed that my english is much simplier. So bear with me.
I hope that helps you. I guess the thing I will need most from you is prayer and patience...and lots of hugs:) haha

Well I hope you've started your shopping...only 8 days till my birthday!!!!!!!!:)
I pray this blog finds you all well.
Love and Blessings,
Erin

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

2nd package, big surpise, violently ill...2 outta 3 not bad!

So it's been a busy 2 days....
Let's start with sunday when I was violently ill! And by violently I mean extremely violent! I think every half hour that night I was visiting my friend John. I am fine now...well still a little tired but MUCH better. The bad thing about being sick sunday night was that we had something special planned for Jen.

Prior to Lindsay's arrival I had talked with Rhoda (from IT) about doing a special night for Jen. I was thinking like a 'spa' type night. But the wonderful IT people put Jen up at the Intercontinental for the night. (A VERY nice hotel)
She didn't have a clue. Serge told her that they were going to met a friend from Zambia at the hotel and when we opened the door the look on her face was priceless. She had NO idea what was going on. Hahaha. Even when we told her the room was hers she was like I don't understand. HAHAHAHA. We had a great time! Thank you so much Rhoda and everyone at IT for the help. It went great. Oh and one more thing...Lindsay and I took the oportunity to use the AMAZING shower...that is the cleanest I have felt in 3 and 1/2 months...it was incredible.

Another great thing...ANGIE BROHART I LOVE YOU!!! yews the wonderful Ang sent me a sweet package with CHIPS and chocolate syrup...Angie that was so awesome. I am so happy with it...a HUGE blessing (our friendship!)

Well the sun will be going down soon so we must get home. I plan on doing lots of blogs this week, as I only have 1 ministry left then I am done my work here...so keep the comments coming and I will try to post as much as I can during my last week here.

Love and Blessings,
Teacha Erin

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hotel Rwanda and Goodbyes

Hotel Rwanda
I had the unique oportunity to watch Hotel Rwanda in Rwanda. The movie came out just before I left Canada and never made it to Sudbury before I had to leave. I think hat that was a good thing though. I had expected to be crying the entire time but I only teared up a bit at the end. I think it was a great movie and effectiver expressed some bold/true comments.
The emotion I experienced the most during the movie was anger. The scene where all the foreigners are rescued made me so angry. Had those soldiers stayed, genocide would not have occured. I think the reason I didn't cry more was that all the killings and brutality that went on was not news to me. I have been to the genocide memorial twice, stood in churches where thousands where slaughtered. I guess there wasn't the 'shock' factor for me. The part of the movie where I did tear up was when the RPF soldiers were protecting the transferring Tutsis. 2 of my best friends here were RPF soldiers and as I looked into the faces of those actors I could see their faces. The more time I spend with them the more they become my heros! They are like brothers to me and knowing that they went though something so awesome breaks my heart. Watching the movie here, in Rwanda, made it very very personnal! If you haven't yet watched the movie I strongly encourage you to do so...I would also love to hear your thoughts on the movie.

Goodbyes
As my time here comes to an end I am both excited and sad. I experienced my first set of goodbyes at the preschool on friday morning. It was there closing day so it was barely half the morning. We sang our regular songs and then went in side for the kids to get their reports. Harriet (a teacher) had one of the girls pray for me, it was an incredible special moment, and surprisingly enough I managed to keep it together. We met with the teachers and pastor afterwards and I though 'wow I am doing good, I can make it with out crying'...oh foolish me. Harriet prayed for me, and it moved me to tears. There was so much passion in her voice, and so much love. We hugged goodbye, and Harriet began to cry. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen a Rwandan woman cry. I never realized the impact I had on the teachers. I knew the kids loved me and would miss me, but I didn't think that I had made such an impact on the teachers. We stood hugging and crying together. It was really amazing to me. I was so blessed.

Well I know that this next week and a half will be full of more tearful goodbyes. I'm such a sap! Please remember me these next 10days here in Rwanda and my LONG 2 days of travelling. I will definitely be needing them in the following days.

Please know that every person that has been touch by me here is a direct result of your support back home. Though your support you are ministering to the people here in Rwanda. I am so grateful for your love and support. It has gotten me through some 'rough' times here. I could never epress how much you all mean to me but I hope that you understand that I am so grateful for your kindness.

Love Always,
Teacha Erin:)

"As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another."
~ Proverbs 27:17

P.S. 11 days till my birthday

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall!

So Lindsay and I have hit it off smashingly! We are together most of the time which means we are laughing most of the time, a very good thing. This next story was not funny at the time but we have shared a few laughs at the situation....

Sunday after church the Vivant youth were going to the hospital to visit some patients. Linds and I tagged along. After waiting in the church for about an hour we jumped into a stiffling hot bus where we waiting for like 20 minutes. We finally got to the hospital where again you guessed we waited to go in. There were only 2 people who spoke english so Lindsay went with Eric and I with Salange(sp?). So we're in the hospital talking when all of a sudden I felt like I NEEDED to know where Lindsay was. I looked up to see her with Eric. He had a hand on her and a hand on the patient he was visiting. Lindsay then grabbed his arm, I thought it odd since he was in the middle of praying. I watched as she began to lean into him, something was not right! I dropped the stuff I was holding on to the guy's bed in front of me and started to see to head over to Linds. Then she went down, like a ton of bricks. I don't know how but little Eric managed to catch her and lay her safely onto the ground. I ran over and was like 'Lindsay Lindsay don't worry I'm here your ok' etc. We managed to get her outside for some fresh air and she started to slowly recover. Like the red-headed muzunga(white person) didn't stand out already! To make matters worse for the poor girl while we were driving home Jen had to quickly pull over so Lindsay could have another embarassing moment and harf out all of the food she had eaten that day (harf=puke). While she did warn Jen it might happen. She is feeling much better now and since the 'incident' we have laughed many times about.

Speaking of laughing...I have an INCREDIBLE bad and hard to control habit. I tend to laugh at completely inappropriate times. I think it's because I don't know how else to react so I laugh. Like if I am scared it happens. Like with Linds, it wasn't funny and I was scared for her but once we were outside I was laughing. I told her I didn't think it was funny but I couldn't help myself. What a horrible habit. I apologise if I have even laughed when you have been hurting or something like that. I mean no harm.

Well it's hot and dusty again today, like anyother day and my feet are somewhere underneath this dirt. I hopethis email finds you all well.
With much love,
Erin

p.s. You guys ROCK! I love the comments and the emails and all the support you have shown me. You are wonderful and have been an incredible blessing to me!

Monday, July 18, 2005

'The Purpose Driven Life' - Rick Warren

On Saturday we went to the stadium to hear Rick Warren, the author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ speak. The president, Paul Kagame, was asked to introduce Mr. Warren. It turns out that Mr. Kagame read the book and then wrote Mr. Warren inviting him to come to Rwanda. As the president spoke I recall thinking how dignified he was and how incredible that such an incredible leader sees the importance of church and state.
Mr. Warren had 3 main points that he talked about:
1)The purpose of life 2) the purpose of Rwanda, and 3) Restoration and Reconciliation.
1)The purpose of life: He did an overview of his book and highlighted the 5 purposes in our life. While he was speaking about service/servanthood, I noticed some street kids in front of me. I had a half filled bottle of water and one of the boys was eyeing it up. I reached over and handed him the bottle. No less than 2 min after I had done that Rick brought up the verse that talks about how serving others is serving Christ. His very first example was this…”If you give a child a glass of water, you are giving me (Jesus) a glass of water.” I looked at the boy, who once hearing the translator, turned to look at me. His smile sunk deep into my heart and I quietly thanked God for His greatness.
2)The Purpose of Rwanda – Rwanda is one of the most unique countries in the world. Mr. Warren said that the country the whole world turned it’s back on, would be the very country that would be an example to the world. I too share this same belief. The people of Rwanda are incredible people, whom I have come to love and respect.
3)Restoration and Reconciliation. Forgiveness is the key to the purpose of Rwanda. Mr. Warren talked of some very key things about forgiveness, comparing the people that tortured and killed the family of the Rwandans to the people that tortured and killed God’s only son Jesus.
I thought Rick Warren spoke fantastically, and spoke words many pople had not heard. I think he did an excellent job reaching the people where they were at and was not a flashy speaker.
When he had finished they had two men give their testimonies. This was a powerful event to be a witness of!
The first man got up and testified that even though he was a christian before 1994, he took part in the genocide. He killed many people in brutal ways. He talked about how he could hardly live with the horrific crimes he had committed, how they consumed him. He talked of how he bagged God for forgiveness and how he asked his victims to forgive him. He humbly told of how God changed his life and made him a new man. As he was finishing he humbled himself and asked the crowd for their forgiveness. He sat back down to the sound of applause.
The second man stood up and testified that before the 1994 genocide he was a Christian. He also testified that he was a survivor of genocide. His family had once been very big but had been exterminated. He himself had been beat with a club and thrown into a deep pit. He spoke of his anger for the murderers. He then told the crowd how he had to face these people, one of them being the very man who had testified before him. He then said something that moved me almost to tears. He said, not by my own strength, but God’s…I forgave him! He amazed me even more by saying that not only had he forgiven this man but that now they are good friends, even visiting each other at their homes. As he sat back down he too was given a thunderous applause. Those two testimonies were so powerful. The combination of Rick Warren and these two men was an incredible powerful testimony to the merciful and awesome God that I love and serve!

The day ended with some traditional dancing. They even inviteed Rick and Kay(his wife) Warren to dance. That’s right I have a few videos of Rick Warren trying to dance the Rwandan traditional dance.

May this blog find you happy and healthy.
With much Love,
Erin

Friday, July 15, 2005

Feel'n hot hot hot!

Hot is perhaps one of the most understated understatement I have even used...stiffling seems to be more accurate. It is so hot here. We haven't had water in a little while which is common during the dry season in most any African country.

Lindsay and I were really feeling the heat on wednesday. We got dropped off at the Canadian Embassy so Lindsay could register here and were planning on walking back to town. At first we didn't think it'd be that bad. After an hour in the hot sun, we thought differently. The thing that made it the most difficult was that it was up hill the whole way. I know I tend to exaggerate but seriously we would see the crest of a hill and be relieved to get to the top only to find yet another hill waiting for us. We literally walked up hill the whole way. 1 hour, intense heat, all up hill...yeah we were tired!

The heat, dust, and feelings of dirtiness are starting to take its toll on me. No worries though tomorrow I am teaching swimming lessons to some friends here, so I will be in the water:) The feeling of having your whole body surrounded by water is one that I truly appreciate. After we go swimming, we are headed to the stadium to hear Rick Warren speak. He is the author of The Purpose Driven Life, and has been doing some work here for the past few days. I am really excited for that, not only because I really liked his book but also because I would love to hear an English preacher.

Last night I heard that beautiful O'Canada ring tone from my phone and was not disappoint with the caller from the other end. Brian Carney, my IT (international teams) contact called andwe had a great chat. It was great to hear from him and talk to him. I think the sound of my phone is my most favourite sound here. The sweet sweet sound of O'Canada!

Lindsay has been here a week now and it has been absolutely wonderful to have her around. She reminds me of my friends back home so much. [Which makes me miss them more:)] She is a super great girl and we have spent so much time laughing together and talking. She has been able to come with me to my different ministries and might even take over a few. I feel so confident in leaving them in her hands. It is such a blessing to have her here. Also staying at the lighthouse has been so great. The staff is so wonderful here and they treat us so well.

Well I am off to do some more emailing. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. It's that love and support that makes it easier to be here but hard to be away from home.
With so much love,
Erin

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

1st package, 7th phone call, Lindsay is here...Life is good!

Wow I know it's been a little while...my apologise...the internet and I have been having a tiff lately and we weren't friends for a little while. Ok So what has happened in the last few days...well Lindsay is here and to say that I am super crazy excited about that would be a huge understatement! She rocks we have had so much fun. Being back at the lighthouse is great too. I love the staff and they were so happy to see me again, as was I. So Lindsay rocks and is very much like me...I know your all thinking troublew and your right! haha

Also The wonderful Miss Angie Brohart made the O'Canada ring tone on my phone play its sweet little tune! We had a great talk and it was really awesome talking to someone who has experience many of the same things I have experienced here. I know somethings will be hard to deal with coming back to Canada so I hope you will have patience for me. One thing I know I will struggle with is the death of my Nana. While I know its true she is gone...from over here it doesn't seem real.

My mom sent me a wicked awesome package! Thanks mom. I have already gotten into the rockets. I am really blessed to have such an awesome family back home. I really appreciate them!

So Rick Warren comes to Kigali today or tomorrow and apparently Laura Bush and Tony Blair's wife(I can't think of her name) will be here very soon. I hope to go to the stadium saturday to hear Mr. Warren speak. Should be good.

Well between chill'n with Linds, and learning to speak western English again, life is good. I hope this blog finds you all well.
Blessings,
Erin
p.s. yes I do arrive home on my birthday August 4...it's ok if you give me my presents late...that's acceptable.
p.p.s. BC would be rock'n but I basically have 1 week to recover before I life gets crazy.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Rain drops keep falling on my head...

I wish!!! I would love for the rain drops to fall on my head. Its been about 2 months since I have seen rain and I miss it desperately!!! Because it's the dry season I probably won't see rain again till I am back in Canada:( I have always had a fascination with water and storms. I remember sneaking out of my cabin at Galilean and meeting Heidi Blum on the washroom stairs to watch the storms. I think my love for water comes from my parents. Ever since I can remember, we always went to the family swim at the QE pool(now the John Rhodes). I love those times together at a family, I treasure those memories in my heart. I miss rain!

I guess since I am coming home soon I could let you know of my flight details. I will be flying out of Kigali at 6:30am Wednesday August 3rd, 2005 (Rwandan time). I have another 12 our layover in Ethiopia, then I fly to Frankfurt, Germany. After a shorter layover and an 8 hour flight, I will land in my beautiful country. I fly into Toronto at 1:30pm EST. I'm not exactly sure what will happen once I get to Canada (nothing like planning ahead I know) I do know that my aunt Eunice will pick me up from the airport and I will definitly spend thursday night with her. After that well...not sure. My aunt is either going to drive me back to Suds or I will bus it. So that's kind of the plan.

Lindsay is flying out of Toronto today and after travelling, layovers, and time changes she will be arriving here on friday late afternoon. So I only have 2 more sleeps at Evelyn's before I move to the lighthouse to be with Lindsay. I am excited to go but I will really miss Evelyn and the kids.

Well I think that's all for today. The server went once while I was typing so I wanna post this before I lose this. Please know that your prayers and love are being felt over here in Africa. I can't tell you how much they mean to me and how much I am grateful for them.

With much love,
Erin

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What's in a name?; The power of acknowledgement

During my morning walks to school, more and more people say hi or wave or acknowledge me. Seeing me come regularly over these past few weeks and months has given these people some familiarity with me. It's incredible how far a smile can go! Have you ever noticed that the sound of your own name is kind of nice. When people acknowledge you as a person it generally tends to make you feel good. I am going to give all of you a special challenge for this week....talk! Talk to the people around you. Talk to the lady who gives you your Tim Horton's coffee, the mailman who brings you your mail. The clerk you are buying groceries from. Everyone loves to be acknowledged. The next time you see someone serving you with a name tag...use their name. If you show respect to people they will do the same. So step out of your comfort zone and talk. I have no special powers, I'm just an ordinary person who has been able to show the Rwandan people something that few white people have...love and compassion. I am no-where near perfect nor do I 'have it all together', but I do know that it doesn't take much to show love. That smiles are free yet priceless! Every child needs to feel loved. Every person needs to feel loved. Hugs are free yet priceless too!

July 4, marked the liberation from genocide. It was a day to remember those killed, but also to celebrate the freedom Rwanda now has. The president of Rwanda was there. He lead the RPF, the Rebel Army that stopped genocide. The more I hear about him the more I respect him. Serge and Jules say that there is no other person who could do what he is doing for Rwanda. Serge used to be a presidential guard and Jules works at the ministry of defense so they know what they are talking about. Deborah and Daniel go to the same school as his kids and Deborah told us that at least once a week he drops off and picks his kids up from school himself. Seriously how many presidents do that! He could very well get someone else to do it but I think because of the events of 1994 and previous he knows how important family is!


Jen just arrived at the internet and handed me a letter. CODY YOU ARE AWESOME. I haven't read it yet but I am so excited too. Cody you prove yourself worthy of my girl Angie all the time and I am so happy for the both of you. You will be such a blessing to so many people.

So my GPSers (my youth group) heads to Mexico on saturday. Guys I know you are going to have a great time. Be open to what God has planned for you. I am so proud of you all. Have a great time and let me know how things go. I'm praying for you!

Well that's about all she wrote for today. Remember smiles are free and priceless.
Blessings
Erin

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I AM CANADIAN!!!

It is truly an honour and a privilledge to be born in Canada. I love Canada! The people, the land, the culture. I love being Canadian. We took yesterday to celebrate our great nation. Our original plan to have a big party fell thought because of a funeral. So instead we invited Jules and Serge over, as well as Evelyn, Deborah and Daniel to enjoy a Canadian style lunch. Poutine...which was quite good. I went to town with the decorating. IT was red and white everywhere. We even had temporary tatoos(which of course I still have on). While Jen and the guys were in Burundi I had made up some sheets of Canadian facts. The read each one and were surprised with some the inventions and achievements of Canada. Rwanda is the smallest country in Africa and the most densely populated...They were astonished at the size of Canada and it's relatively same population. After a great lunch and great conversation we headed to Jules to watch a movie and relax. Serge was really impressed that we were so patriotic. He kept saying "you really love your country". I really do! I always have but being here makes me more patriotic. We aren't perfect but I love Canada.
I think we did Canada proud. I hope that all my fellow Canadians to time to express pride for our great country.

SUE YOU ROCK!!!
That's right my good friend Sue LeBlanc sent me an awesome letter with some pictures from her marathon and Pat's graduation. Classic Pat with the magazine!
As I read her letter a flood of wonderful memories from highschool came pouring back. I was so blessed to have the friends I had in highschool. We did so much fun stuff, and we did it with out alcohol or drugs. We really did have good clean fun. I can't remember how many times we play football in the school yard across from Sue and Pat's or cricket or hide-and-go-seek in the dark. When I remember those times I can't help but smile and laugh at the crazy and incredibly caring friends I had during my days at the Dunn. I loved highschool because of these friends. Thanks Sue so much for the letter. The pictures were awesome and now you have me craving DQ;) You're an awesome friend.

Almost got smucked!
Jen and I were walking to the bus park on wednesday afternoon. I was walking normal and causious(as always) when this biker(motorcycle) guy almost hit me. I jumped out of the way. We walked about 4 or 5 steps and all of a sudden heard this crash and yelling. I turned to see a policeman grab the guy from the bike and shove him against a bus, with a punch to the back. During the scramble the bike was still moving on the ground and came very close to hitting Jen, like literally centimeters. I was slightly ahead of Jen and both grabbed each other and hightailled outta there. They threw the guy and his bike in the back of a pick up truck and that was that.

My thursday english class went well considering my translator didn't show up. I had told them on tuesday I was going to give them facts on Canada and that's just what I did. It was a more relaxed setting and we had a great time. Teaching those men and women on tuesday and thursday afternoons has become my favourite ministry. It brings me so much joy to see how much fun they have and how much they are learning.

Who goes to Africa and gets fat???
The answer...ME. Seriously I think I'm getting fat here. How you ask?...well the food is freak'n good and there is no where to exercise! So it's quite easy to see how it could happen. Oh how I miss the gym. Cardio and weights...Dale and I yelling at each other to push harder...'Humbers doing it!'...the sweet smell of sweat after a hard work out...sigh...

Lindsey comes on friday...hehehe...I can't wait. She is travelling by herself which is kind of liberating but also a bit scarey...more so in Ethiopia trying to figure out where to go. Pray for her as see has a few long travelling days ahead. She leaves Wednesday night at 10pm EST. And arrives in Kigali around 4pm our time.

Elaine B. I remembered that you got married yesterday. Sorry I couldn't be there but I said a little prayer for you and I know that it must have been a very special day.

This blog has turned quite long. I miss you incredibly. I am very excited to see you all again. May God keep you safe until I can see you again.
With much love,
Erin