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We're in Kigali for a couple of days so we have great internet so here's just a couple of pictures! It's gorgeous. Everywhere you go!  Also...if you want to see more...go to our facebook.

Also, we found out our's the link.

Bring on the rainforest!

Hello again everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful day. Oh and this is Papa Ring speaking by the way. So another week has passed by (so very fast) and things are still going great. It is hard to believe we have already been here for over a month.

Big news this week…we got our site placement. So, we now know where we will be living for the next two years. Sarah and I are really excited about our placement. I don’t think I am supposed to say exactly where we will be living but it is supposed to be pretty much in Nyungwe Forest National Park which is a beautiful rain forest. So I thought I would throw a few interesting facts in about the forest.

“Nyungwe National Forest is one of the most ancient forests in East and Central Africa and dates back to before the Ice Age. With a pre-historic atmosphere it is incredibly rich in bio-diversity. The forest supports over 250 different types of trees and shrubs and a vast range of flowering plants, amongst which are over 100 species of orchid and giant lobelia. Nyungwe also harbours 13 species of primates, these include chimpanzees and the handsome L’Hoest’s monkey with his flowering skirt and other species of monkeys. Several large mammals inhabit the forest including leopards, golden cats and bush pigs amongst others.” There are many more interesting facts about this magical forest. You can Google it if you want to know more.

Anyway, our future home is also only 5 or so miles from lake Kivu and we are situated pretty high in mountains where the temperature should be just perfect and the nights should be nice and cool.

We still do not know a whole bunch about the organization we are working with but I believe we will be doing various health education projects and community activities along with many other activities. We will be visiting our future home and community in a few days and we will see what our living conditions will be like and will also meet our counterparts, future co-workers and other community leaders. We are very excited! Stay tuned for new updates in a week or so.

I also realized I haven’t mentioned anything about our training staff and Peace Corps country leaders yet. I just want everyone back home to know that they are all amazing. We couldn’t have asked for a better staff. Our language instructors are more than patient with us as we struggle to learn this crazy difficult language. They shower us with Fantas often so don’t worry; I am getting a coke every now and then. They are fun to hang out with and make sure that we are always safe. Overall, they are altogether wonderful.

I would also like to give a few shout-outs to friends and family back home. To mom and dad (both sets)…We love you guys and as you already know we are being taken care of. To Phil, you need to start planning a visit sometime in the future. Just know you will have to overcome your biggest phobia…you can do it. Dustin, there had better be an extremely impressive man trip planned for when we get back home (you got two years). To Seth and Landon, I feel confident that my 68 will hold up for the next two years so I am not too worried about that. To Mark, I will do my best to implement an extreme flag football league here…might be a little tough though as I do not yet speak the language and Rwandans only know football as soccer. Mamaw and Papaw, just know we are safe and sound. Sarah and I feel just as safe if not safer here than at home. To the rest of my friends and family, we miss you all and hope life is treating you well. We will talk to you soon!

The Rings


Let’s go Men!


Jarod here…so what’s new? Language…still tough, Rwanda…still beautiful, training…still intense but good, food…well…Anyway, I don’t
think I mentioned this before but out of the 36 people in our Health
group, only 5 are men. FIVE!!! Come on guys. So, needless to say I
had to bump up the testosterone level a few notches to just above
Johnny Bravo level. However, I quickly realized I may have overdone
it a little and that I reached the pinnacle of masculinity when a kid
called me Chuck Norris the other day. Not really but seriously…five.

I know I have mentioned it before but the landscape here is beautiful.
Every time we take a trip it gets better and better. Today, on the
way to the rainforest the hills were crazy beautiful. It amazes me
how every hillside, valley, mountainside is used to plant or grow
something. There is no hill to steep or mountain to remote. There
are hundreds of plots (squares) of different crops littering the
hillsides. It’s crazy. Every hill looks like a hand made blanket
sewn together with every patch a different shade of green…absolutely

In other news…saw a few monkeys at the rainforest. They were cute.
However, I got the impression they weren’t as excited to see us as we
them. Oh well…no worries. Also, I may have said it before but life
here is simple. Days consists of the bare necessities…you know the
simple bare necessities…forget about your worries and your strife.
Anyway, people work to eat to live. Kids push wheels with sticks,
kick around soccer balls they made from banana leaves…those kinds of
things. Everything else is just not important and really doesn’t seem
to exist…especially in the rural areas. There is not a day that goes
by that I am not amazed at what these talented women can carry on
their heads. It is not uncommon to see a women (or man) carrying a
kitchen table on their head. And, I have heard stories of them
carrying much, much more.

Oh, I learned something new at church today. So, I noticed last time
at church they were auctioning things off towards the end of service.
I finally discovered what this “auctioning” is. So, in Rwanda (like
many other African countries) many people have little or no money.
But, they do have other things like milk, beans or rice. So, the
people who do not have money to give in the offering will bring what
they do have and it will be auctioned off in church and the money will
go towards the offering. So, nobody is left out. What is even cooler
is that when people buy these goods, they will pay 3 to 5 times what
they are worth because it is going to the church. It is really cool
to see how the community comes together to help each other out.

So, overall the mood is good, life is great and I got a beautiful wife
to share it all with. Read her blog for more news. I hope everyone
is doing well back home. As you know we miss you all very much. And
if you miss us…well…just send chocolate. Love you guys!!!

You must come visit!


Oh Rwanda how I love thee…

Words truly can not express the beauty Rwanda possesses. Everything is
beautiful from the landscape to the trees to the rain to the people.

There is so much about this culture that fascinates me and that I
already love! Here are some cultural differences between America and
Rwanda. In American, we shut our “outside” door and leave all the
other doors in our home open. In Rwanda, they shut their bedroom doors
and leave the outside doors open. Why? In the Rwandan culture, if your
bedroom door is open, then the people in your home are allowed and
“welcomed” into your rooms. It makes perfect sense, if a door is open,
you are free to enter. Also, women especially married women should not
dry their underwear outside. They can if they have a very high fence
that does not allow anyone to see….otherwise, they may be considered a
prostitute. That’s right a prostitute. Here’s another, if a person is
attending school and does not have a “real” job they are considered a
child. Obviously, in America if you turn 18 you’re legally an adult.
Here…you can be 30 and a “child”. If one of our PCVs dated a 30 year
old who was still in school and didn’t have a job…they could be
ostracized by their community because that 30 year old is still a
CHILD! Crazy.

Oooh…something I love! They carry their babies on their backs. It’s
the cutest thing. They wrap them up in this sling made of fabric (any
fabric) and all you see if the head sticking out from the back and
from the front 2 tiny little feet. Therefore the children here learn
very early to hold their heads up, otherwise they would just flop
around back there. I have noticed that most children here some to
have really great head/neck function as well as gross motor
capabilities! The other day we were at this town meeting and a mom was
sitting next to me on the ground. She had probably a 3 month old
laying on a piece of fabric on the ground. Naturally I started playing
with the baby (of course right!) and she couldn’t have been more than
3 months old. She was holding herself up on her elbows with her head
lifted up and watching me. I started tracing the fabric pattern and
playing “keep away” with my finger. She held herself completely on one
elbow while holding her head up and chasing my hand with her other
hand. I’m losing my child development quickly but I’m pretty sure
that’s good. I was impressed.

The other night Jarod and I were leaving our training compound after
dinner, so it was pitch black dark, and we decided to jog. Suddenly we
heard these little feet pitter-pattering behind us and we flipped our
light around to see about 4 or 5 little children running right behind
us. So Jarod said “Tugende” which means lets go! So they all ran about
a quarter of a mile with us to our house. As we were running I
introduced myself to the little girl (Nitwa Sarah) and she said “yego,
umagore wowe….umagabho wowe hano” which means “yes, you’re
married…your husband is here”. It totally freaked me out. She couldn’t
even see my face but knew that the umuzungu (white person) named Sarah
was married. I think they sit around and talk about us! It’s crazy.

So as mentioned in the last blog yesterday we went to the national
park. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually partake in the park. We woke
up at 5:00 had breakfast and left for a 3 hour drive down the windiest
road ever! After people got sick and a very bumpy 3 hours later…..we
arrived! Only when they realized we were umuzungus (white people) they
decided they didn’t want to give us the original group price they
quoted us (17,500 RF for a couple of hours) but that we had to hike
the longest trail, 4-7 hours, and the price was going to be 35,000ish
RF. Our walk around allowance for 2 weeks if 24,000 RF. So that was
definitely a big no. I can hardly blame them though. I mean, in
comparison Americans are millionaires compared to the majority of the
people here. I think they thought we’d just go ahead and pay the
amount because we came all that way but we didn’t. Nope-we turned
around and got back onto our buses and drove away! On the way out we
saw the monkeys we were going to pay to see sitting on the side of the
road. So we stopped and took pictures. It was something! Oh Rwanda.

I hope everyone is doing well. We love you all and are enjoying seeing
you on Skype…those we have seen that is. Those we haven’t….we want too
so get Skype!! Have a wonderful week. I hope the Lord is blessing you
all abundantly!

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” Ephesians 5:2


Welcome to the place where you speak 3 languages in 1 conversation!


Mwiriwe Ishuti Yanjye! Bonjour Mon Amie! Hello My Friends!

I apologize for the delay in writing. I have been very busy! This
language is so incredibly challenging! I’ll start though with
Sunday…it was a great day. We slept until 8:00 am. It was amazing.
Although we awoke several times starting early, we managed to lie in
bed until 8:00…we were proud. We then got up and washed our clothes
(by hand of course). We then had several of our “firsts” moments. I
took a HOT bucket bath. I boiled some water and thoroughly lavished in
it. Our next “first” was none other than GRILLED cheese. That’s right.
Grilled cheese. It was definitely something. We have these little
“stoves” that you place charcoal into. You then place a metal pot or
flat plate (pizza parlour hubcap style) on top of it. We waited for
the charcoal to get nice and hot and then managed to get the butter,
bread and cheese to all blend quite nicely. It was probably one of the
best things we’ve had yet. Although in Butare, a place we visited on
Saturday, there is a French restaurant that serves pretty good
American food. It’s by no means great, but it is definitely good. I
had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, french fries, and an ice cold
coke. It was pretty darn amazing.

Saturday we went to Butare. We visited the Murambi Genocide memorial
and the Butare Museum. It was SOOOO hard. The Murambi Memorial (they
have memorials ALL over the country) has 50,000 bodies preserved in
lime. Try to think outside of the American view of preservation.
You’re probably picturing some huge museum with thick glass, air
conditioning keeping the room cold and all these bodies under a
special light. Oya! (NO!) That assumption would be incorrect. They are
in about 20 different rooms, lying on tables about waist high; rooms
that you walk into and are literally surrounded by these innocent
victims’ bodies. You literally can touch them. You literally can smell
them decomposing. Basically, in 1994 this place was a secondary
school. The people were “tricked” by the perpetrators into believing
it was a safe place for them to flee too. They were told they would be
guarded and taken care of. The perpetrators did not feed or water
these victims as part of their plan to weaken the victims as they
would be frail and unable to fight back. These victims were families
comprised of huge numbers of children and babies. Once they felt their
victims were weak enough (2 weeks later) they then surrounded the
school and began killing. The bodies were then thrown into these mass
graves. The French came in under “Project Turquoise”. Project
Turquoise was a plan for the French to help the perpetrators get
safely out of Rwanda once the Genocide was complete. The perpetrators
then commanded the French to clean up the mess. The French built a
volleyball court on top of these mass graves and played on them
everyday until they Genocide was over and their “jobs” were complete.
One year later, the Rwandan government came in and exhumed the bodies
and preserved them. 15 years later…they are still there…some still
have hair. There are truly no words to comfort them or even to
understand what Rwandans has been through. It’s awful!

This week has been very challenging for me. I am finding it very
challenging to be constantly surrounded with some of the other PC
volunteers. We are most definitely the minority when it comes to
Christianity. Most people have no problem making sure you’re aware
they are an atheist, a jew etc. and they make sure you understand they
do not believe as you do. As with any group, people are super
outspoken and opinionated which creates drama for everyone! People
stereotype things they do not know or understand, such as the
South….if one more person tells me that we live in a completely
different world (meaning the south and north) I’m probably going to
punch them in their face! I hate stereotypes.

In other news, we are going to Nyungwe National Park on Saturday. I am
so excited! It’s a rainforest in the South part of the country that
has animals and hiking and fun! It’s so nice to get out of the
classroom and see the country. I feel like anything away from a
classroom is amazing at this point.

I must give shout outs for the month of March! Julie….Happy
Anniversary. I hope it was awesome and that you did something super
wonderful. You must email me and tell me everything. Tiffany….Happy
Birthday! I hope that you did something super fun and feel that 26 is
wonderful thus far! Email me too!!

As my wonderful little sis posted for me the other day…I have
Blackberry “Pin” now. If you have a blackberry and want to pin me,
send me your pin number. I’d be happy to hear from you! Also, moms I’m
sure you’re worried but just so you know…our pretzels, dried fruit,
granola bars, dove chocolate, habanero bbq almonds and goldfish have
lasted us thus far. We still have some of everything left! We’ve
rationed well. But-Jarod says send more “blue diamond habanero bbq
almonds and dove chocolate immediately” in the next package…he needs
his comfort food!!! Also mom Jarod says he NEEDS those lindor
chocolates you gave him—actually he said those “chocolates with little
pieces of heaven wrapped inside…” Sometimes I worry….just sayin’.

I guess that will be all for now. I know this is long but it’s just so
hard to get to the internet more than once or so a week. I love you
all and miss you bunches! Have a super wonderful weekend.


“God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love
God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28


Hey Guys!

We just discovered we can pin anyone that has a Blackberry for free. So send me your pin number via facebook or in an email. Love you all!! PS. If you don't know how to find your pin number and you do have a Blackberry phone.. It's easy: go to your phone settings (the little wrench), then go to the setting for status and click on that to open it up, just copy your pin number and then send it via facebook or in an email. Thanks!


I love my umudugudu...

Jarod Here…Muraho (hello),

Wow. A couple of 8 hour plane rides and 7 vaccines later, we are in Rwanda. Yes, I know what you are thinking and in fact I was mistaken for a pin cushion. Sarah and I have been in Rwanda for a week now and this place is truly amazing. I will try and sum up the last week for you.

Let’s see…We spent two days in Philly for registration, staging and orientation, went to a real Philly cheese steak place, met the other 35 of us that we will be living with for the next 3 months, flew to Brussels Belgium, had a pancake, flew to Kigali Rwanda, loaded up our bazillion pounds of luggage and headed off to the center where we stayed for the weekend, went to the genocide memorial (wow, what a humbling experience), ate some rice and beans, took a cold bucket bath, threw a frisbee around in the court yard, played my guitar and was taught some African songs from one of my language trainers, slept under a mosquito net for the first time, visited a latrine, took a bus ride to Nyanza (where we are training for the next 10 weeks), watched Sarah scream like a little school girl when a lizard ran out of her closet, became famous the minute I arrived in Rwanda as almost every kid and even many adults follow me everywhere I go waving and peering at me as if I have fallen out of the sky right into the middle of their city and discovered that Kinyarwanda is probably the most difficult language in the world to learn. I am pretty sure it could be easier for me to catch a Polish humpback whale with a butterfly net than learn this language. But nonetheless, I WILL master the language of Kinyarwanda (it may just take me a couple of years).

Rwanda has been known as the land of a thousand hills and now I can see why (although I think there may be more like 1,403 hills but who’s counting). I have never seen so much green in my life. Everything is so lush and colorful. The rain is constant this time of year. The views are breathtaking. And the people, wow…they are absolutely amazing. They are such a beautiful people with the biggest smiles. Although they are quite reserved, one wave and a smile from us can bring a grin to their face bigger than Texas. I do have to say it will take a while to get used to the constant staring and the yelling of Muzungu (white person). Everyone here is so friendly and happy.

I have now seen with my own eyes the devastating effects of poverty, war and disease. These people truly have nothing but would give everything. Their joy and happiness is unparalleled and yet you wonder what do they really have to be so happy about? I gotta run but I hope you have enjoyed hearing about our experiences of Rwanda thus far. There will be many more to come. I miss you all.

Be blessed!


I wish I could carry stuff on my head.

Mwiriwe. Amakuru? Nimeza! Hello. How are you? I’m good! Sarah here…Rwanda. Wow. That’s about all there is too say. Wow. I really can’t even start to describe this place. There aren’t words….so if I don’t make sentences, please forgive me. I just have so much inside my head right now. Life is so completely different here. The stars are the brightest things I’ve seen in my life! At night, you can see the Milky Way so brightly that I almost feel like I’m closer to space here. It’s insane!

As Jarod mentioned…I am automatically famous the moment I walk outside of my house simply because I’m an umuzungu (a white person). My favorite moments have been so simple. This little boy, probably 3 or 4 walked with me the entire way from our training compound to my house. It’s about 15 minutes. It was the 2nd day we were here so I didn’t know anything but hello and how are you. He just held my hand and walked with me smiling the whole way. It’s not uncommon to see 2-5 years olds just walking around by themselves playing. The kids as well as adults just drop anything they are doing and immediately stare at you. All I then do is wave and say mwiriwe and they light up with a smile and a wave back! I was passing a group of kids walking on the street and one quickly poked me with one finger and then they all started laughing and running away. I’m sure he was screaming I just touched one in Kinyarwanda but it was the cutest thing! My host mom is already calling me her abana…child. They are so welcoming.

Things are definitely sooo different here. They do not have any importation laws regarding vehicles therefore literally every other vehicle the wheel is on the opposite side of the car. I have yet to see two vehicles driving in a row that both have the steering wheel on the right or left. It’s different! Every drink is warm. Glass bottled “fanta” is the BIG thing here. If you want to start a company or open up something I’ve heard paying in Fanta and Cola are the way to go. The tea and coffee are hot. The water is lukewarm. Unless of course, it’s on your body…and then it’s ice cold! I have yet to step foot inside a latrine. I am very afraid! Ha. Jarod said it was about the worst smell he’s ever experienced so…I’m holding out for a true emergency only experience.

We visited the Genocide last week. I’m not sure there is really anything an American can say about this. It’s awful. It’s devastating. It’s amazing how much Rwanda has recovered in 16 years. 16 short years and they are building. They are growing. They have hope. On the last Saturday of every month they have umuganda. It is a national volunteer day. Everyone is required to volunteer in the community by cleaning up the streets, building homes, tearing down homes, etc. Basically they do anything that is needed in the community. I think this is a holiday Americans could really learn something from. The WHOLE country volunteers. I love it!!

Life has definitely slowed. We are up everyday by 6:00. Even if I wanted to sleep later…I couldn’t. The roosters are crowing, the goats are baying, and the town people are talking. This morning (Saturday) I heard voices loudly talking and it was still dark. It kept getting louder and louder and finally we looked outside….HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of people were walking. Apparently every Saturday the school children run with the soldiers. The soldiers say a chant and the children repeat them. Update, they apparently do this on Sunday mornings too…So Tiffany, if you’re still having a hard time waking up early…move to Africa. You won’t have that problem too long.

In case you’re wondering…there are a few things I already miss. DR PEPPER! I feel very sad about that. I should have had more to drink before I left. Grilled cheese. Cheese quesadillas. Cereal. They put onions and tomatoes in everything. So just maybe I’ll lose some weight…but our medical officer (PCMO) said that in her 15 years as a PCMO….she has never seen 1 man gain and 1 woman lose. Women tend to gain 15+. So great!

So um last but certainly not least…um my hubby and I almost had our first Rwandan fight. He most graciously volunteered myself to sing at his host families church. That’s right. ME. Minute detail was that he was playing the guitar too but that didn’t matter because I’m the one who freaks out over stuff like that. So anyways…I asked his mom as best I could how many people were in their church. Her response was “many many.” So we arrive about 15 minutes early and there is about 150 people there…so we’re thinking no biggie. Well as we keep singing and singing and singing…about an hour and a half later I turn around and the entire church was completely filled. By entire church I mean every standing spot, every seat, every window…1500 ish Rwandans. That’s right. 1500ish. No joke! They put all the children in the front on the floor. They had probably 200 children aged 2-10 sitting dead silent for the entire FOUR hour service. Four hours. That’s right….four hours! They introduced us to the entire church and we sang. I pretty much wanted to murder my husband. So yay! Our first Rwandan church experience.

Well that’s all for now. I love you all and miss you. We can receive calls from you guys….hint hint. We have class from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. We usually are in our room by 8:30 till we go to sleep….so call us. The number is 078 555 3824. Ask our parents if you need help doing the international thing. Megan, I haven’t forgotten about that email. It’s just that we aren’t sure yet what we’ll want or need. We thought some things would be important but now aren’t sure. If you can figure out how to get warm water in a shower to us…or ice in a glass with dr pepper I’ll love you forever!!

We need your prayers! Always.

Be Blessed!!