Monday, December 24, 2007

Rwandan Wedding Celebration!

Yesterday was our wedding celebration in Rwanda. It was an incredible experience, and we wanted to share a few pictures. Any Rwandan elements that were missed in our wedding in the US were included in this ceremony!
traditional Rwandan clothes

The ceremony included many elements of a traditional dowry ceremony in Rwanda. The two ‘families’ were represented ‘elders’ from AEE and Urewgo who ‘negotiated’ the union. Fortunately, they were able to come to an agreement, despite the Urwego elder’s request for at least 100 cows. :)

The cutting of the cake and feeding each other the “first bite” are important ritualistic elements in Rwandan elements as well. After cutting the cake, we served the members of each other’s “family,” symbolizing the significance of hospitality in our home.

A Rwandan Christian dance troupe from a local church came and performed at the ceremony. With loud beats from the drum coupled with exuberant singing, women and then men dancers performed some of the most elaborate and skilled dancing we have yet to see in Rwanda. As we suspected, they invited us into the dancing.

Antoine and Bob dancing

The dancers presented several traditional gifts to us. The picture below is of a wooden container of milk. Milk implies a desire for a home blessed with many children.

AEE, Urwego and Le Rucher all presented gifts to us. Pictured below is Antoine Rutayisire presenting us a gift from the AEE Rwanda team.

We felt so honored to be celebrated and loved by our friends and “Rwandan families” here. We truly felt immersed in Rwandan culture, feeling a deeper connection with the people and their traditions.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I spent two weeks in Burundi in October (last month), working with Turame, World Relief's local microfinance organization. I wanted to post a few pictures from that trip, even though I am very late in doing so!

This (above) is Turame's new office. The organization has nearly doubled in number of employees and clients since I left a year ago--exciting progress for this young organization!
And here is the team--or most of them! Fantastic Burundians with a heart to help the poor and show God's love.
Sara Mathews and I visited a rural church in Burundi the first week I was there. In the picture above we are eating lunch with some of the pastors after the service. I love rural churches--the energy and sincerity of the people shines brighter in the midst of the mud brick walls and lack of instruments or sound system. Here are some of the members of the church standing in the area where they are building a new church building. One man is holding the hand-made guitar he uses to lead worship. They are praying for a second guitar, and the funds to finish the roof on the church.
No pictures of me here, so I guess I can't really prove that I was there. But I was! :) Bob and I leave next week on our visit to Rwanda, and we are also planning to go to Burundi for a few days. It will be nice to be there together this time, rather than by myself!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back to normal life!

I haven't posted anything since the wedding...nothing about life now seems noteworthy compared to that! We have been busy settling in and adjusting, and enjoying finding a routine for daily life. Unpacking and settling in to the apartment has been a longer process than either of us anticipated, and has precipitated many helpful relationship-building experiences and discussions! We are now enjoying the fruit of our hard work, and even hosted our first small party here last weekend! Here are a few pictures of the apartment now, and the process.
Bob has thoroughly enjoyed using
the new power drill we have.

Now that we are finally getting comfortable, we are leaving in 10 days for our big trip to Rwanda! So, normal life, whatever that is, gets tweaked a bit. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Wedding pictures!

It has been an exciting month! At long last, we are getting around to posting a few pictures for those who could not be there. God surrounded us with great people who helped the wedding weekend to really be enjoyable for us and everyone involved.

Before I go on, we are grateful to Jeff Jensen Photography, who took most of the photos you will see here.

We were married in Normal, Illinois (Kristi’s hometown and home-church). Here are a few pictures from the ceremony at the church:

I must explain the one above--we asked a few people we know who have had an influence on us spiritually and also are spiritual leaders in their own churches to pray for us during the ceremony. This is very common in Rwandan weddings, so we were inspired by our friends there to include it in our ceremony.

Then, we had your traditional eating, cake-cutting, and toasting at the reception. A grand time was had by all, I think! We really felt blessed to be able to celebrate with so many of the people we love, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day.

There was a family from Rwanda that Kristi had gotten close to while she was in Rwanda who now lives in the US and was able to attend the wedding. They sang for us and led everyone in some Rwandan dancing. We were so grateful that they were able to be there!

So--it really happened! And now you have the photos to prove it. :) I think that is enough photos for now. Sorry for the delay in getting these up! A lot more has happened, and we’ll post some soon from the honeymoon and California reception!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Season of blessing

Only 10 days till the wedding! Last week we got an unexpected blessing from our church in Pasadena. We were at Bible study Tuesday night, intently thinking about the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, when there was a knock on the door and half the church walked in! They threw us a surprise shower, and it was a special treat to be able to enjoy it together! They prayed for us, then we had cake while the kids played in the backyard, then opened gifts--and Bob got to open this time. :) Here are some pictures:
praying for us
We are grateful for such a loving church family!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A new beginning

We have a new apartment! It feels good to finally be in the place that will be 'ours' to call home after the wedding. Bob moved in on Tuesday, thanks to the generous support of some able-bodied friends.

We also drove around town picking up our new couches from their respective previous owners. One of the couches (the sofa-bed, no less) had to come through someone's porch window, which was quite a feat. Bob asked his care team to pray that God would provide some quality used furniture that was not too expensive...and God answered that prayer to a T with the couches! We arranged to buy them last week, and both owners were willing to let us wait a week to pick them up until we could get into the new apartment. Another blessing!
The moving crew

We got all of Bob’s boxes in, and thanks to shower and wedding gifts, already have almost all the essentials for the kitchen! We celebrated having our first meal in the apartment—frozen pizza is not gourmet, but it was still significant.

We had hoped to also pick up our mattress on Tuesday, but there was a mix-up with the store that delayed it. It worked out well though, because getting the couches took longer than anticipated so getting the mattress would have been a challenge. And it was delivered to our house the next day, so Bob only had one night on the floor. We are both excited to have a much better mattress than either of us have been sleeping on previously—Bob has nick-named it ‘heaven’.

testing out the mattress in the store

God is good! We still have lots of boxes to unpack, and other furniture to look for, but we look forward to many of you stopping by sometime!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Retreating with the monks

This week we went to St. Andrews Abbey for 2 days to have some time away to pray and plan for marriage. A bit ironic, perhaps, to go to a monastery for marriage preparation, but the setting was exactly what we needed. The Abbey is in the high desert, just about 1 hour from Pasadena, so it was hot, quiet, and barren. A great place to focus on God.

We planned out our time, since there were several things we wanted to discuss and pray about. We joked on the second day that with the schedule and the sessions, and the plans we were making it felt like a Christian conference...only it was just the two of us! We decided it was so effective though, we might make brochures and recommend the plan to other couples. :)

We took time to discuss and plan what our spiritual life and devotional time together will be like, prayed about our marriage, and even hiked up a nearby mountain path to sit under a desert bush and pray about God's vision for us. It was powerful to see the desert landscape and feel the sand and the heat while we reflected on others like Moses who experienced God's call in the desert.
...and by the bush on top of the mountain where we prayed

We even set some personal and couple goals for ourselves, so you can ask us how we're doing in a couple of months! We also attended the morning lauds and evening vespers services which are such a key part of the rhythm of life at the monastery. Despite the fact that it was somewhat challenging to follow the service, it was beautiful to hear the songs and join with them in worship.

We hope to make this short retreat an annual event to seek God's direction and assess where we are at. We highly recommend this, and would be happy to encourage you or point you to some good retreat centers if you want to seize the opportunity too. Or even if you just want to check out the great cacti. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Great Northwest

This month we got to go to Seattle and Portland to visit some friends. The first was Brent Louie and his family in Seattle, a good friend and former house-mate of Bob's. His kids especially enjoyed getting swung around, carried on the shoulders, chased, or scared by Bob. We got to spend the day at the zoo with their family, and got treated to some of Brent's famous delicious dinners. Here is their family:

Then, thanks to the use of Brent's car, we went down to Portland to celebrate the baptism of Timothy, son of Todd and Michelle Olson, also long-time friends of Bob's. There were lots of family and friends there to celebrate this significant event, and we thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with all the great people.
We went to the Oregon Coast on Monday with Todd, and saw the infamous Haystack Rock--3rd largest Monolith in the world! We waded in the water, found some crabs, got sandy, and soaked in the Oregon beauty of the ocean, the forests, and all the green.
Now...back to the grindstone in Pasadena. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

God is faithful!

Last week's project was invitations. Fortunately, we determined a week ahead of time that we would invite a few friends over to help us stuff and address them--which meant that we had a deadline! We stayed busy much of the week buying supplies, printing out invitations, photo-copying and cutting at Kinkos, and gathering addresses. Here is Bob deftly using the paper cutter at Kinko's, around 10pm Thursday night:
Despite the late nights, we saw God's provision in the process. Let me count a few of the ways:
1. Kinkos copied a big stack of stuff for us for free.
2. We were able to copy the response cards there, even though they initially doubted it would work with the paper we had.
3. The next morning, while I was doing piece by piece with the paper cutter at Fuller, an employee that knows Bob came an offered to do the whole stack for me on his industrial paper cutter--for free!
4. Four friends were willing to come help us stuff and address, and they stayed and worked even beyond the time we anticipated it would take, so that we got it all done!

Praise the Lord!

In the midst of that busy week, God also provided an apartment for us to live in. Another good story, so if you're interested I'll try to recount it briefly here:

In May, Bob applied for a transfer in Fuller housing to a new apartment (since his roommate will be staying in their current apartment). When he applied, he was 10th on the list. He checked back last week to see what the status was, and he was 19th on the list! He found out that they give priority to new students to try to ensure that everyone has at least some housing, which is why he moved down on the list. Bob called a supervisor in the housing department and explained that he was getting married, so had to get a new apartment. The woman was understanding, and said that there was 1 apartment available that was being considered by some other people. If they turned it down, she would offer it to us. It ended up being taken, but she said another had become available in the complex Bob currently lives in. Bob determined that it was where some friends of ours currently live, so we've both been inside the apartment and felt good about taking it. This means that Bob will have a very short distance to move, and that we will have a few days to move both of our belongings before I leave for IL. God is good!

Trip to Rwanda!

As most of the people reading this would know, Bob and I met in Rwanda. We were both living there, working in separate organizations and doing very different things, but both with the purpose of showing God's love to the people around us and letting them teach us about life and about God. Both of us built significant relationships with people in Rwanda, and are grateful for all they taught us about faith, culture, and community.

Before we even got engaged, we talked about when we might be able to visit Rwanda together. We are planning to go this December for a few weeks while Bob is on Christmas break from school. We are really excited about the chance to visit the Rwandans that we knew and the ministries that we were involved in, and celebrate our marriage with them.

If you would like to contribute towards this trip in lieu of a wedding gift, you are welcome to do so! We appreciate your support, and would appreciate your prayers as well, that God would use us to be an encouragement to many of our friends and colleagues while we are there.

Friday, June 29, 2007

In anticipation of the Big Day

My dad, ready to welcome you to the Bloomington :)

Last week my dad conceded to go to the tux store to be measured, which was probably as momentous for him as me going to try on wedding dresses!

Then, Grace Church (where my parents attend and where we will be married) organized an amazing wedding shower the Sunday before I left. I couldn't believe how many people were there, and was really blessed by everyone's encouragement and support. Here are a few pictures:

So, the wedding is really coming--soon! I'm so grateful for all the people around us who are encouraging, advising, and helping us through this significant transition!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wisconsin Dells

Last week Bob and I went to the Wisconsin Dells to rendezvous with some of my relatives that were on vacation there. The Wisconsin Dells are (is?) a unique tourist phenomenon-- mostly a getaway for midwesterners who want somewhere close to relax for a few days. Here are a few pictures:
Grilling s'mores with my cousin Calli's adorable kids

The newest Dell's attraction--The White House, upside-down

We went hiking at Mirror Lake State Park, and saw several interesting webs/nests made by insects. There is a large spider inside on the left of the one below, and she appeared to be carrying a large egg sac. I love the variety in God's creation!

Monday, June 18, 2007


When we got engaged, we said that we wanted to be intentional about planning for the marriage, and not just for the wedding. The wedding is a significant ceremony, but if we haven't looked farther than that day, we're in real trouble. We are trying to balance both, and also remember to live life now, in addition to being in a phase where we are consumed with preparing for something.

Our friend Augustine, a pastor from Rwanda studying at Fuller, took us to a park last week and imparted marriage advice for a few hours. In the picture below he is giving an object lesson--he dropped a vitamin in a glass of water that fizzes and dissolves like alka-selzer. We watched until it completely dissolved--the two individual entities disappear to form a different third entity.

This week we are in IL, preparing for the wedding. Registering, tux shopping, meeting with the photographer, etc. Here we are in an aisle at Target trying out some chairs:

Friday, June 8, 2007

Pentecost Sunday

Two weeks ago was Pentecost Sunday, and we really enjoyed the way that Knox Presbyterian Church (where we attend in Pasadena) celebrated, so I thought I would share a few pictures.

The sanctuary had balloons on both ends of the pews, which gave the place a very festive feel. In the service, they had several people who were fluent in different languages quote John 3:16. The languages were very diverse: dutch, chinese, kinyarwanda, spanish, arabic, and English! The person speaking in the picture below is our friend Augustine from Rwanda:

And, as a souvenir, everyone got to take home a red balloon, which the kids especially enjoyed. :)
Neither Bob nor I grew up in churches that celebrated Pentecost, so we are grateful to participate in a church that follows the church calendar, so that we get a chance to focus on significant events like the filling of the Holy Spirit in the early Christians. Did you get to celebrate?