RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger


So close...

It’s been a while…

Sorry about that. I would love to be writing often, but that just hasn’t been possible due to the schedule we’ve had-and then…on my free time…I’ve been enjoying friends before it’s taken away to a site far far away! Also, apparently the internet hasn’t been working in the country of Rwanda lately. We come to the “internet” cafĂ© and it’s closed because they didn’t feel like sitting there with no internet.

I can NOT believe it’s already here. This is our last week in Nyanza because we are swearing in next week! It’s crazy. We’re actually going to be “Peace Corps Volunteers” and not just trainees. And free. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Nyanza with all these fine folk…but let’s face it, I’m ready to have my own place again. I’m really excited about swear-in because my hubby is speaking! So wonderful. I’m also sad-we found out our country director is leaving and we’re both bummed about that. He’s moving to Madagascar in September which is great for him but we really liked him. Hopefully the new CD will be good. Pray for that!!

There’s been some crazy stuff happening lately with our housing. We were shown one house that was well… the PC did not approve it if that says anything. Therefore our organization has been looking for something new to show us. We were also told if they did not figure something out about our “emergency evacuation plan” since we’re so remote we might have to move sites. I understand their concerns with being able to get us out of the country safely in case of emergency but I also hate that we’ve already met our village and told them we’d be working there. We’re praying that it will all work our for the best. It always does right?? We got a text yesterday from our Assistant Country Director stating that our organization had proposed a new home with 3 bedrooms… so that could be great! Our very own house...if PC approves it. I’m so excited. I want to decorate it with cheesy African fabrics and decorations. Why not right?

In other news, my body has been rejecting anything remotely close to Rwandan food. Seriously. I can not eat Rwandan food and be totally fine and then have ONE meal and be sick again. It’s pretty interesting how that works. So I’ve eaten a lot of “grilled” cheese via the iron and LOTS of oatmeal. It’s still happening but I’m being hopeful it will be gone soon.

We haven’t received anymore of your packages yet. We received 2 about 3 weeks ago but haven’t received the others you’ve sent. Hopefully they will be here soon. They are heaven. Every time a person gets a package we all feel a little bit closer to home. So don’t think we’ve just forgotten to mention the thank yous….we DO thank you in advance but will definitely let you know once they’ve arrived. My Dr. Pepper is still going strong staring at me and waiting for swear in. I’m pretty impressed with my will power these days.

I just wanted to let all my friends and family know how much I miss you! I really do. I know we always take for granted the people who mean the most to us but man do I miss you guys! I wish so much I could hear from you all. SOMEHOW. Please email me. Please don’t hate me if I leave someone out… I miss my parents. They just know me and even when I think I know myself…they know what I’m actually thinking and wanting. This is sometimes bad but well they are my parents and I just love them. I miss my sisters! K.C. I miss your hugs and sarcasm. I miss you rolling your eyes. I miss Camilla and the babies! They kind of go hand in hand. I wish I could talk to you more sister. I miss my in-laws because I just enjoy being around them and talking to them. They are great. I have the most wonderful relationship with my in-laws. I miss my nanny and papaw. I miss my nanny’s laugh and her cooking. I miss my papaw’s wisdom. I miss my aunt mary and our CRAZY conversations. You get me, mary. I miss my Julie. She probably knows me better than I could even begin to imagine but man…I miss her hugs. You give the best hugs jewels and I miss our conversations! I miss Tiff’s laugh. You always bring a smile to my face…mission accomplished. I miss Meg and her spunkiness. You know who you are and I admire that so much. I miss Ashley. I enjoyed our time before we left…sorry it was cut short. You are such a darling and I hope we live close again someday. Cat and Dust we miss you lots. Hope everything is going well with the Kenya trip. Obviously there are so many more but a bad storm has started which means no electricity….which means dead battery for the computer! So I must go for now.

We will be in Kigali on May 3rd-10th for swear in week…hopefully this means we will have a good internet connection and will be able to Skype with you ALL! I love you guys. I miss you guys. Talk to you soon.


2 Weeks Until Swear-in!

Jarod here…So it has been another busy week of language language
language.  I don’t want to talk about it.  Anyway, we only have a
little over two weeks left until we officially swear in as Peace Corps
Volunteers.  It is hard to believe that our training is coming to an
end.  To be honest, it is going to be a little difficult to tell all
of our PST staff and friends goodbye.  They have become our family
away from home.  And even though we are never far away from each other
in Rwanda, it will seem like it because we will be in such a remote
and mysterious place.  Oh well, that is what the Peace Corps is all
about right?

Anyway, today my training director called me and another girl into his
office to talk.  He mentioned that at our swear-in ceremony someone
always gives a speech in Kinyarwanda and another person in English.
Before he finished the sentence, the girl in the office with me
shouted “I call English”.  Now I’m thinking he’s going to ask me to
give a speech in Kinyarwanda at the ceremony (which in the past has
been filmed and shown on national TV) and am starting to get a little
panicked.  After a few seconds and after I cleaned my pants up, he
asked us both to give a speech in English to which I replied, I can do
that!!!  So, I am excited and honored to give a speech with Portia (in
English) at the swear-in ceremony.

Tomorrow we have our mock LPI (Language Proficiency Interview).
Before we can be sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers we have
to receive a score of “high intermediate” or better on the exam.
Tomorrow is just practice but in two weeks we have the real deal.  It
is crazy to think we can be at high intermediate in 9 ½ weeks of
training but that is where we need to be.  Wish me luck (or say many
prayers).  As I have said in the past, this language is insanium in
the cranium.

Anyway, here are a few random facts and observations of Rwanda:

-       If I haven’t said this before, there is no deodorant in Rwanda,
therefore people don’t wear any…enough said.
-       Most children don’t start school until they are 7 or 8 or sometimes
even older.  So, it is not uncommon to find someone who is 23 still in
-       Our future site in Banda has the first apple trees in the country.
They are still young but should start producing soon.
-       Some Rwandans eat food with their hands only…all food!  It really is
an art.  The language trainer that lives with us says the food taste
better that way.
-       Sometimes, people do not know their ages here so you may ask a 5 or
6 year old their age and they might respond with 11…don’t ask me!
-       Rwanda is known as the safest country in all of Africa and has an
economy that is growing faster than most countries in the world.
-       It is not uncommon to see 4 people on a bicycle…simply amazing!
-       Church services (at least the Pentecostal ones) can last up to 5 hours.
-       It seems that most plants and shrubs double as a latrine.
-       Rwanda is 2 degrees from the equator but because of its range in
elevation from a couple thousand feet to over 13,000 in the North; it
has a perfect average temperature of right around 75 degrees.
-       And my favorite fact: For a people that possess so very little, they
possess an unbelievable amount of joy and happiness.  It really is

That is all she wrote…stay tuned next time for more stories on the
Rwandan adventures of Jarod and Sarah!

Be blessed!


So Excited!!


Hello! So unfortunately we haven’t had internet in about 2 weeks.
We’re very sorry but as I mentioned before…its SOOO slow.

So I need to devote an entire sentence for this alone (it probably
deserved its own blog)…


Our parents sent a package as a trial run and shipped a bottle of dr.
pepper. It did NOT explode and arrived here unharmed to me. I am
totally taken by its beauty. What?  No really, I can’t wait to bribe
someone to let me use their fridge for a short time to cool it. It’s a
miracle from God!! He shined upon me today.

This entry is pretty much me just really excited about a recent
discovery. So here goes…all of my life I’ve wondered exactly “what I
am supposed to be doing” with myself. It’s a thought I’ve pondered and
prayed about on many many many occasions. Yesterday, I think I had a
break through. We were told to give our school history, intern
history, work experience and relevant classes/skills in a bullet
format for one of the PCT’s to type up for everyone. Here’s what my
list consisted of.

School: BS in Food, Human Nutrition & Hospitality. Emphasis: Dietetics.

Internship: Worked for Edinburgh Community Food Initiative. I worked
in Nurseries talking with parents about fruit and vegetable
consumption among their 3 and 4 year olds.

Work History: Worked with University Baptist Church in the Children’s
Ministry Department (nursery up to 3rd grade). Worked as the Director
& Nutrition Coordinator for a preschool (WACD). Babies up to

Relevant Classes/Skills: Any Nutrition classes. Loves spending time
with family & friends. Loves children.

Came to Rwanda…as a Health Worker…went to our village and the first
place we went was the Nursery. They have 300 three to six year olds.
In a parent-teacher meeting the doctor told the parents we would be
working with them over the next 2 years to help improve their
Nutrition and health. Yesterday, this light bulb came on for me as I
was reading through my history and skills. I think I maybe should be
working with children and nutrition. I took a billion classes with
WACD on child development, child behavior management, curriculum
planning, etc. umm…duh.

I still don’t know what will happen after the PC but today we were
assigned groups to go out into the community and do what’s called a
“Participatory Analysis for Community Action” project. Jarod, Trena &
I were assigned to one group. We went to a Primary school which is
6-15ish year olds. We arrived and realized they have 12,000 students
with 12 latrines (squatty potties). No running water or soap. Hygiene
anyone? I feel so excited to figure this out. Other groups were
assigned to Cooperatives and Hospitals. Jarod and I got the
school….with YOUNG kids. I’m just so excited. This may seem totally
random…but I just can’t wait to get involved. How can I help these
children? I know how a preschool is supposed to be ran. I know “what
right looks like” and I am here gaining the knowledge of resources.
God is working something really good out for us… I just know it!

So that’s my epiphany for the day.

Recap… I have a 12 oz bottle of Dr Pepper.

I miss you all. Love you all and hope to hear from you soon. Via
email, letter or call!


Monkeys are my best friend...

Jarod here…it has been a while since we have updated so sorry if this gets pretty long. The last two weeks have been very busy. So, I guess the big news is we now know where we will be living for the next two years and we have also visited our site.

A few more details on our site…we are in the Nyamasheke district in the Western Province of Rwanda. Our village (Banda) is actually in Nyungwe Forest and it is absolutely beautiful there. Banda sits at the bottom of a picturesque valley surrounded by the rain forest to the North, East and South. To the west lies Lake Kivu but it is about a 5 hour hike. Sarah and I have discovered that we probably have the most remote site placement of all the volunteers. You may think, how can you be remote in a country that is no bigger than Maryland? Well, to get to our site you first take a 4 hour bus ride from Kigali (usually accompanied by many people loosing their lunch due to the windy roads). Our bus stop is actually the visitor’s center in Nyungwe Forest. From there you start walking and you continue 1-2 hours down, straight down the mountain. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. You can see Lake Kivu to the west at times and the forest canopy surrounding you like a blanket from the sun. Sarah and I also saw around 30 monkeys on our trip to and from our site. So, if anybody wants to visit the monkeys for free, come see us! Anyway, the easy part is getting down there. Coming back up the mountain is a different story. It takes around 3 hours to hike back up the mountain and at times you will be holding on to vines and roots to pull yourself up the very steep terrain. We will definitely be getting some great exercise for the next two years.

Anyway, I will give some information on Banda. Banda is a very rural, very poor village on the periphery of Nyungwe Forest. The basic source of income in Banda is (like most of the country) farming. There is no running water or electricity in Banda so once it hits around 6:30, there is not much to do except chill in your house (so please send any good reading material or movies). There are no banks, restaurants or post offices. It is actually a 3 hour hike and a 1 ½ hour bus ride to the nearest bank or restaurant. Also, Banda is one of the most densely populated communities in the country with over 500 people per square kilometer. Due to the high population density and lack of resources, Banda has many obstacles to overcome. Fortunately, Kageno our organization has started many good projects in Banda and the future is looking better. Even so, the newly built health clinic there is still understaffed and has limited recourses. Women still have to walk 6-7 hours to have a baby in the nearest health center. But, there are many great things happening in Banda and Sarah and I are happy to be a part of it. I know we are there for a purpose and we are excited to see what the next two years have in store.

In other news, Sarah and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary on Monday. It is crazy to think that it has already been 2 years…wonderful years. It is also crazy to think we will be spending our 3rd and 4th anniversary here as well. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take her to Hawaii like last year. This time, I had a much fewer resources to work with. So, I took her to the lake (or large pond) and brought my guitar to play and sing and watch the sunset. Unfortunately, as I suspected, within 5 minutes of sitting down, there was a crowd of about 15 children surrounding us watching us like some kind of circus show. So what do I do…the only logical thing…start playing the only African song I know and ask them to dance. It was very interesting. After that, we made the long walk to the Nyanze Heritage Hotel. There we splurged on ham and cheese sandwiches and french fries…with ketchup all for about 3500 francs (7 or so US dollars which is very, very expensive here). That was a real delicacy for us and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Anyway, that is pretty much it…maybe we can travel somewhere next year.

Also, in closing I have to mention that this week, the 7th – 14th is Genocide Memorial week. 16 years ago one of the worst genocides of all times took place in this beautiful country. For the most part, everything shuts down for the week. People spend the week visiting the different memorial sites, attending community speeches and events about the genocide and spending time with friends and families. It is a very sad time of the year. I would encourage anyone who doesn’t know much about the events that happened in 94 to research it. There are a few documentaries and movies available as well. For the movie I would encourage Sometimes in April and a good documentary is Ghost of Rwanda. Other movies and documentaries are Hotel Rwanda and Shake Hands with the Devil. Also, there is a book called Left to Tell that I would recommend. It is the story of a lady who, along with 16 other women were hidden by a friend in a small house during the genocide. One of our fellow Peace Corps Volunteers will actually be living in that very house for the next two years of service. We all thought that was pretty cool! The owner of the house said that people would definitely be visiting frequently because of the history of the house.

Well, that is all for now. Sorry so long but there was much to talk about. Also the internet is terrible here and it is always hard to skype, upload a blog or even check our email. I hope everyone is still doing great back home and we hope to hear from you sometime soon. Also, if anyone wants to actually write a hand-written letter, there is just something special about receiving one of those so, don’t be a stranger. Be blessed!

The Rings

I hate the internet here!

Hey friends! How are you? I hope life is well back in the states. We’re doing well. Sorry I haven’t written in a while. It’s so dang hard to use the internet here. It doesn’t work enough for us to get on our emails or facebook anymore…it stinks. In the beginning we were able to Skype pretty well but now…not so much! I’m sorry but we’ll figure something better out once we get to site. I’ve thought about getting a modem that we could use in the village…but it’s 20,000 RF per month for the cheapest one (40,000 RF for the best one) and that’s a lot here…and even then-we would have to hike up the mountain part way to use it…so don’t get your hopes up. It’s part of the experience huh??

A lot has been happening here. Of course there is the language. Always the language. It’s so stinking hard-but I’m sure trying. I’m hoping I’ll get it in about 2 years?? This week has been pretty taxing on us, it’s the genocide week. We have NO worries in comparison to the Rwandans on this subject but it’s hard to watch everything that happens. They have marches, speeches, and commemorating ceremonies that we attended. It’s just hard. Thankfully we’ve had lots of down time this week. We’ve gotten out of class everyday at 12 and had the rest of the day free which has been so wonderful. I needed that break. Going to class 6 days a week from 7-8 everyday is hard. We have breakfast at 7 and then dinner at 7 so we’re together pretty much all day. The trainee’s are wonderful and I’ve loved getting to know all of them but this week has been so nice to sit in my room and watch FRIENDS!! That’s right…friends. Trena brought all 10 seasons and so so so graciously allowed us to borrow those and I’ve watched the heck out of them this week.

Speaking of trainee’s… today Ali announced she would be going home. I totally cried. It’s crazy how close you can become to people in 7 weeks. I definitely wasn’t the closest person to her but I love her! She’s so happy and fun. I don’t think I’ve seen her down one time since we’ve gotten here.  She just decided it was not for her. I really liked her. Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in touch once we return! It’s so hard to see your friends leaving. You get to know these people and you just expect to see them when you visit their town or a lot during the two years-but then you find out they’re leaving and it just sucks! Statistically 1/3 of our group will leave before the 2 years are up and we’ve already lost 2 of the 37. It’s sad to think more will leave…

In other news, I am SOOO ready for a package. We got a package last Sunday night and it was the best thing ever…but now we’re ready for more. I miss American food so much that I can’t stand it. I miss dr pepper! I would give my left arm for a dr pepper which you all know is a big deal b/c I am left handed!! I have lost weight!! I’m down to 135 and still going. Yay. I am very happy about that because I’m also gaining muscle again. I played soccer yesterday with some kids for about 2 hours. Every muscle in my body aches today. But by golly I’m losing weight…not gaining it! This is good.

What is going on in the states? What the news? I can’t load articles. Julie…if you want to email me copied/pasted articles about relevant news I would love that. Anyone really can email me ANYTHING you want…I just knew Julie likes doing stuff like that. Just try not to send links because they don’t load. For some reason Gmail loads so much faster than anything else. So maybe? I need information. How’s work going? How’s school going? How are the kids doing? How are marriages going? Yes, I’m speaking to all of you. Every friend I have that reads this…please email me! I miss emails and information about my friends. I don’t want to lose touch with you guys. You all know my email address. Facebook doesn’t always work so if you email me on that…I probably won’t be able to check it for a while.

We swear-in 23 days from today. (4-12-09-10). I can NOT believe we’ve been here 7 weeks. It just doesn’t seem possible. Time is FLYING! I can’t imagine what the 2 years are going to be like. I’m nervous. I don’t know what this is going to be like and people going home make it so much scarier! Just pray for us. Please. We are in love with it here and it still feels so surreal that we live in Africa but hopefully we will never get to that point where we’re overwhelmed and want to leave.

I love you ALL! I miss you ALL! And I want to hear from you ALL!!  Please write, email, call…anything you can. We would love it.