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Banda the beautiful!

Hello everyone…Jarod here. Wow we are finally here at our site…the place that we envisioned ourselves working when we started the whole application process some year and a half ago. Also, I see that Sarah has filled you in on most of the details so I will keep this short.

Banda really is an absolutely amazing place…a place surrounded by so much beauty, lush green forest, animals galore and many smiling, welcoming people and yet poverty has hit Banda so bad that it is sometimes tough just to walk to the market and see everything we see. I have never seen children so dirty…honestly, some of them may not have had a bath in months or changed clothes in months. It is sad to see but regardless of how dirty they are their faces light up with excitement the second we say hello or walk by.

So we hitched a ride with our PCMO to Kamembe to visit AJ and Gillian and it was weird leaving our village. I mean we had only been there 10 days but it felt as if we were abandoning our people even though we were coming back the next day. We waved as we drove off and their faces were curious like, you just got here and now you are leaving. I can’t imagine leaving after being here two years. I already feel a sense of attachment and commitment to our village this early in the game. Anyway, many things are happening and I am excited to see how everything will play out. Take care guys and we hope to hear from you via email, letter or however you can contact us! Be blessed!!!


Wow. So much continues to happen. It’s like an up and down roller coaster. This week has been difficult. Cooking by candle light makes everything more difficult. When everything sticks to the pot no matter how much oil you add…this is a problem! I feel like an idiot trying to learn everything over again.

The PCMOs (Peace Corps Medical Officer) came to visit us yesterday. It was interesting. Apparently they are very concerned with how remote our site is. They are worried about how they would get medicine to us if we were very sick. They are concerned about how we would get to them if we were very sick/hurt. It’s just very confusing. On the one hand, this is exactly the concerns we’ve had. On the other hand, this is what the Peace Corps used to be all about. They used to be so remote that they literally dropped you off and then returned 2 years later to get you. The PCMOs was telling us about this GORGEOUS place that has a health clinic that is top notch. They said they felt amazed as physicians to walk into this top notch facility. Then, they proposed that they are thinking of moving us there. At first I was like what the heck! We just got here 1 week ago. But, as my wonderful level headed husband talked more to me about this I realized the opportunity as well as dilemma that we are in. On the one hand, we have Banda. This place is amazing. They need help, not that we by any means are that help, but we’ve already told them we are staying for 2 years. On the other hand, this place has a health clinic that we could work in and would get so much health experience in a professional environment. This could be exactly what our Health resumes need.  So there’s the dilemma.

We hitched a ride with them to Kamembe to get some supplies because being in Banda for a week we obviously realized the things we need and are missing. So, we stayed with another PCV at her nunnery last night. Man. She is blessed!! She has nuns that cook for her every single day for every single meal. I mean good food!! Then, she has this adorable little baby living here that the nuns care for and she gets to place with him all the time! They stuffed us FULL. I literally thought I was going to throw up. It was wonderful. Especially after knowing that all I had eaten for lunch was rice. And…it wasn’t even cooked all the way.  Man! So tempting to come here all the time. They told us to call our supervisors and “demand permission” to stay until Monday at least with them. It was nice. Sort of like a home away from home.

Well….breakfast is coming soon and I want to indulge before I head back into the forest. Have a wonderful weekend and we will write again soon!! Love you all.

Banda! We've arrived....

Hello all! Sarah here. Long time no talk. Well….so much to discuss and where to start. We live in Banda now! As I am sure you can tell because we haven’t updated or responded to anything in some time. Man, things are soooo different here. Not wrong, just different. We do not have electricity of any kind. We have flashlights, lanterns, & head lamps. Woo hoo! We don’t have running water; we have water that is drawn about every other day. We do have gorgeous mountains, valleys, & animals. The beauty of this place is like a paradise! I can’t describe it any other way. Every time I walk out of my front door I feel like I’m in paradise, the garden of Eden-ish. Seriously.

Aside from the beauty there is something else I’m experiencing that I never have. Poverty. Beyond any level that I could have ever imagined. We have two little girls that are our neighbors and so far we’ve been here one week and they have had the same little dresses on that are completely ripped up and so dirty that I don’t know what the original color was. The women wear the traditional Africa fabric, t-shirts and most do not have shoes. They farm, walk and do pretty much EVERYTHING bare foot. It breaks my heart. The children are so malnourished. Their little bellies stick out farther that you could imagine while their arms and legs are absolutely TINY! It is so heart breaking. The day after we arrived I saw some kids outside our gate playing and they seemed so happy so I went out to see what they were playing with and one of the boys had a “pure white refined sugar” bag and the other had “plastic great value wrapper”. Both of which had come from the trash I had thrown out the night before. They were so happy to play with something they’d never seen! A plastic bag and wrapper from dish soap. I nearly started crying. They also have a huge problem with alcoholism. Not bigger than any other country in the world but more serious in our village than around Rwanda because well lets face it, they have nothing better to do. The government has issued some rules stating they have to stay out of the town in the mornings until 2 when everything can open due to the fact that they will sit around and drink all day otherwise. It’s really such an issue in our tiny village. All I know to do is talk to God about it. I can’t understand why I have been so blessed and places like this have such a hard life.

But….and that’s a big but….our organization is working SO hard to turn this place around and they are doing so many wonderful things here. Kageno ( is an NGO started by a returned Peace Corps volunteer. They are housed in New York but started their program in Kenya. Kageno is from a Kenyan dialect meaning “Place of Hope” and it truly is. They started a preschool for the many youngsters running around here. It has only been open for 3 months and they have 301 children. Some of them are being sponsored by Americans. They had a sponsor donate money recently and they are building a PLAYGROUND for the children. It’s so cool! They have a health clinic that sees many patients every day. (Although the only nurse was recently killed in a car accident so you can definitely be praying for his wife and child as well as the organization to figure out what to do next). Kageno has put in water spigots all over the village with clean water for people to draw. They have started an eco-lodge that will eventually bring in money. They have a cooperation that makes mats, baskets, earrings, necklaces, candles and does book-binding for Americans to order to bring money to the village. I know I will talk so much about them over the next 2 years but wow. I wish you could see all the things going on here. This organization is really working hard here and they could definitely use your prayers! As Americans, all of us have so much to offer them whether that is prayers, financial support or actual giving of our time. It’s truly amazing.

I am so thankful to be part of something so much bigger than myself. This is what Peace Corps is all about. Right here. In Banda, Rwanda! We are offering our hands to help build something so wonderful. I can’t wait to share more with you. Have a wonderful day and I’ll write more soon. Miss you all. (Ps….dad-been thinking a lot about you! Miss you so much!)


New Mailing address!

Hey guys! Update on our mailing address...since we're moving we are going to switch addresses and at least see if we can get them a little sooner. The new address is:

Jarod & Sarah Ring
Peace Corps Volunteers
BP 541
Cyangugu, Rwanda
(East Africa)

We're trying it out and if it doesn't seem to work as well as the one in Kigali, we'll switch it back but we'll let you know. For now....this is our new address!

Swear-In Speech

Hey Guys,

Since I didn't see any of you at the Swear-In Ceremony (not sure why you couldn't make it), I thought I would try to include you in some of the the days events. So, below I have posted a few pictures and the speech that Portia and I gave. Not sure if it will be interesting to non-volunteers but I hope you enjoy.

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming today to the swearing in of the second group of Peace Corps health volunteers. My name is Jarod Ring. I will be working with Kageno in Nyamasheke. My name is Portia Washington. I will be working with ADEPR in Gisenyi. First of all, thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ambassador for opening up your beautiful home to us for this ceremony today. We would also like to say a huge thank you to John, Biba and the entire PC staff for giving us the amazing privilege of serving in this wonderful country. Thank you Mup for giving us the opportunity to speak on this special day. It really is an honor to be standing here today. I would also like to briefly tell you about how we came to be here giving this speech. So, a couple of weeks ago, Mup called us into his office and told us that at the swearing-in ceremony, there is always one volunteer who gives a speech in Kinyarwanda and another volunteer who gives a speech in English. Before he finished his sentence Portia shouted, “I call English”. Fortunately, he then asked us both to give a speech in English, which I was glad to hear.

These past 10 weeks of training have flown by. Since the first night of our arrival in Rwanda, the Peace Corps has kept us very busy. We have been busy making new friends, busy learning about the illnesses we will probably get during our service here, and, for some of us, busy actually getting those illnesses. Most importantly, we have been learning Kinyarwanda and learning about Rwandan culture. That was the most challenging part of training and will most likely continue to be a challenge throughout service. Most of us have found that learning Kinyarwanda takes a great deal of patience and perseverance, and we all applied ourselves to studying and practicing. This is not to say that learning Kinyarwanda has been smooth sailing. There were failed attempts in practicing our skills on the people of Nyanza, for example accidently telling someone “I vomited” Kuruka instead of “I ran” kwiruka and there was complaining about the difficulty of the language and much fretting that our Kinyarwanda would never be good enough for us to be able to function as human beings. However, thanks to our language teachers, our Kinyarwanda has improved buhoro buhoro. In the famous words of Mup (Papa wacu), “Kinyarwanda is a process”. Really, our language and culture facilitators have been amazing. I am sure that many times they were very tired of us asking, “is there a rule, I need to know the rule”. They are practically superhuman in the amount of patience they possess when teaching us Kinyarwanda and they have been invaluable sources of information in answering our questions about everything from Rwandan culture to the best place to eat brochettes. Their enthusiasm in teaching us and their honesty in answering our questions is greatly appreciated.

We also would like to thank Mup. Mup’s job could not have been easy, listening to 36 volunteers’ complaints and demands about classes and food. But throughout training, Mup has been extremely good natured. He is always ready with a hug and always willing to listen and sort out any problems we may have. For many of us Mup’s support has been a comfort and we can’t help but wonder how we’ll manage once we get to site and don’t have him there, encouraging and reassuring us.

I would imagine that many of you would agree with me when I say that Rwanda has stolen my heart. With every mysterious stare that quickly becomes a huge smile at the very mention of a simple “Mwiriwe”, with the many walks home where you suddenly find a crowd of kids surrounding you and their hands in yours as you walk (who knows if they were actually going that same direction originally) and with every sight of one gorgeous landscape after another, it is impossible not to fall more in love with Rwanda and all of its beauty!

I know I speak for us all when I say that I am extremely excited and somewhat scared about the next two years of service. Over the next two years, we will begin many life long friendships and make many memories. Already during training we have become a family and it is amazing how, despite all the strong and occasional personality conflicts, we have become so close and are so supportive of one another. The experiences we have and memories we make will shape our lives beyond the time we will spend here in Rwanda. Perhaps some of us will find a new hobby, or develop a new passion for a particular profession, or meet our future husband or wife. And hopefully all of us will make a positive difference in our communities over the next two years. There are so many great things happening in Rwanda and I know we are all excited to get involved and play a part in the bright future of this amazing country.

So in closing I just want to remind you all to remember why you’re here. Think back to when you first started the seemingly unending application process for the Peace Corps, and remember what you wrote in your aspiration statement. What was your primary reason for joining the Peace Corps? Why did you decide to give two years of your life to an unfamiliar and foreign place? What motivated you to come here and to give up your amenities and comforts of home? Remember those reasons and let them be your motivation and guidance over the next two years. When times get tough, when isolation sets in and you began to question why you signed up for this in the first place, remember those reasons. They are why you are here today. We have all been blessed to have the opportunity to come here and not only help those in need, but also to learn about Rwanda and its people. We should make the best of this opportunity. Fortunately, I, unlike the rest of the volunteers here today, am lucky enough to experience this amazing adventure with my beautiful wife Sarah, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Mup, the LCF’s and all the training staff have worked extremely hard in providing us with the tools we’ll need to be successful Peace Corps volunteers. Now, it is time for us to make them proud by putting those tools to use. We will do our very best not to disappoint them. So thank you again to Mup, Felicien, Alphonsine, Abdul, Marie Claire and Claudine for all your hard work and dedication in helping us get to this day, where we’ll finally become Peace Corps Volunteers. We would also like to thank all the LFC’s, particularly Assinath, Zilpah and Abel who we had the privilege to live with for the past 10 weeks. Our late night Kinyarwanda lessons are much appreciated. You have helped make Rwanda our new home away from home. We look forward to working with our respective organizations and becoming part of the community of Peace Corps Volunteers here in Rwanda. We also look forward to working along side the current volunteers and drawing from their experience. Remember as cliché as it may sound, the statement could never be truer; you will only get as much out of this experience as what you put into it. So, I wish all of you the best of luck. Komera and get ready to begin the toughest job you will ever love!!!

The two gentlemen at the top of the picture are PC Country Director John Reddy (on the right) and Ambassador Stewart Symington (on the left). 

This is Africa....

Good morning to you all! I hope this Thursday morning is treating you well. Jarod and I are just sitting at a little outdoor diner waiting for our food to arrive. I have a funny story for you. Well, I thought it was funny. So this morning we went to eat breakfast at the hostel we’re staying in. We get there and they have bread on the table and butter. Well after a couple bites I was obviously looking for something else to put on my cold bread. So Jarod hands me a bowl of something that looks like jelly so I decided to try it. At first I couldn’t quite place it but knew I had tasted it before….so I tried another bite. Then I realized, oh yea. It was baby food. That’s right people, baby food. The man that was eating with us said it was papaya “conffecture du papaya”. But I have tried baby food before and it was DEFINITELY baby food. It looked just like carrots. True story. All I could say was “this is Africa”.

So Jarod's lunch finally came….

The vegetable pizza…

contains green beans, carrots, peas,

potatoes, cheese, onions, and olives.

They took the literal meaning of

“vegetable” to a pizza….

they don't discriminate here!


Oh happy day...when packages came

So today we go our packages!! 4 actually. We were told we had 2 so we went to the post office to get them and when we got there we had 4!! They were filled with the most scrumptious gifts. We got our new backpacks we had ordered. We got toothpaste, toothbrushes, bug spray, LOTS of spices, chocolate, LOTS of packets of sauces, LOTS of water flavorings, candy, gum, cereal, and so much more than I can even begin to name!! It was amazing.

Our phone was stolen yesterday and then this morning we found out that our site had some issues…so we’re going to go next week but all of this was made better by those packages!! It was the most amazing thing that could have happened today.

So that means a little bit of 2 things. One we are going to be here with internet for 1 more week so all of my friends…lets set up a skype date! Two…we get to eat good food!! We got to eat a wonderful “last supper” with Ryan at the sun & moon. Good pizza! Now he’s off to his site and we’ll be the only ones left for the whole week. Although, we’re not bummed about this because of the reasons I mentioned in number one and two up there….

We are just happy as two fat grub worms eating under a log! That’s right…grub worms.


Missing you....

Hey friends!! So jarod has written a blog explaining what’s been happening/what will happen this week. We are very excited and very nervous at the same time. We still are not sure as to what we’ll actually be doing at our site. We know that God has everything under control and knows exactly what He wants for us but the unknown is SO scary. Please continue to lift us up! We’re also really sad about saying goodbye to everyone. It’s amazing how close you can become to someone when you are with them for 10ish hours every single day. It’s sad to see them go.

We also wanted to let everyone know...we were told we are to stay at our site for the first 3 months in order to get to know and integrate into our community. For Jarod and I this will be a tough time because we won’t be able to talk to you guys for the majority of it since we don’t have internet or phone service. So please continue to write & email us as much as possible! We will respond just as soon as we are able. Those emails and short Facebook messages are what keep us knowing how much love and support we have back home. SO PLEASE WRITE US!! Don’t think that just because we aren’t responding we don’t want to talk. We just may not be able too! We love you guys so very much and miss you all more than you could ever know.

Also, happy birthdays to everyone!! Camilla happy birthday and mothers day! Moms…happy birthday. We love you sooooo much! We miss you more than you know and trust me-this week there has been tears on your behalf.

Also, I just wanted to let everyone know….I finally consumed my Dr. Pepper!! It was heavenly. I loved it.

                                             I miss you guys and love you sooooo much!!!

Get ready to be "Installed"

Hey Guys…Jarod here. It has been an interesting few days in Kigali so far. The days have been composed primarily of shopping for our new house which has proven to be difficult due to the fact we have not seen our house and do not know what is in it. Other than shopping, we have been eating…a lot. One thing is for sure; I have more than enjoyed a variety of choices of food here in the big city. I have had cheeseburgers twice, pizza twice, ice cream twice, some amazing Indian food, eggs (sunny side up), pancakes and much more.

Most of our fellow PCV’s are moving to site tomorrow or as the Peace Corps calls it; they are being “installed.” That is a really weird term. It sounds like we are some mechanical part that needs to be “installed” to be effective. Anyway, Sarah and I are not moving to our site (or being installed) until Wednesday which is nice because that gives us a couple more days in the Kigali with good food and internet.

In other news, we had to say goodbye to most of our trainers yesterday and the rest are leaving today. It is funny how close a lot of us were to them. They were amazing and were really the one thing about Rwanda that was familiar to us. They helped make Rwanda our home away from home. I begin to see more everyday how people fall in love with Rwanda. The Rwandan culture is so rich and vibrant and there is a huge sense of (a very respectable) pride in the people here. The sense of urgency, schedules, timelines and anything fast-paced from back home vanished the moment we arrived. Things happen whenever they happen. People walk everywhere, they walk slowly and you greet everyone along the way. And if you see someone that you actually know even remotely, you stop and have a conversation with them. There is a huge appreciation for family, friends, community and fellowship. It really is amazing and it makes me wish that America was a lot like Rwanda in many ways. Anyway, I can’t fully explain it…you will just have to come visit and see for yourselves.

Also, I want to give a few shout outs…First of all I want to say a huge HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to Mom #1 and Mom #2. You guys are amazing and we love you so much. I wish we could be there to tell you in person. Also, was going to send flowers but shipping from East Africa was rather expensive. Happy Birthday Camilla. Happy Birthday to Seth Joshua W Bush League…go join the rotary club. Happy “Anniversary” to Dustin and Cat. Here are a few early wishes for those we will not be able to call or email later in the month. Happy Birthday Megan (that will be on the 19th), Jim (on the 20th) and Happy Anniversary to Mark and Candy (on the 24th), and Megan and Seth (on the 25th). We love and miss you all…until next time…be blessed!!!

The Rings



It’s official! We are finally United States Peace Corps Volunteers. YAY!!!

We’re so excited. For those of you who don’t know, the first 10 weeks you are not considered a peace corps volunteer. You are considered a trainee. Once you have achieved a successful recommendation after you pass your language test…you are sworn in. It’s a big deal. We swore in at the US Ambassadors home and some of the most important people in the country came. It was so wonderful. Here’s our oath…the same one the President takes:

“I, Sarah Ring, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, domestic and foreign, that I take this obligation freely, and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps, so help me God.”

It was great! Jarod did so good on his speech. I was a proud wife! It was such a wonderful time and now we’re officially here and for real get to be volunteers. I’m so excited!!

Also, we’ve received several emails asking us what if anything we’d like to have for a care package…so I was just going to point out on the right side of our blog towards the bottom there is a wish list of things. Those things are things we REALLY want if you decide you’d like to send us something. Any food is good. Seriously. We are desperate for food…. We love you all!

Group Poop

Some of you may find this strange while others may find it hilarious. So far I’ve successfully avoided the famous “latrines”. I have held it ALL day if I had too in order to not use one of those…but let me just tell you what I experienced today.

We are at a hostel. It has 4 bathrooms and 4 showers. But…the bathrooms are unisex. So tonight after dinner I went to use the bathroom and as I sat down….Jarod joined me….and then Ryan….and then some other man to shower. So as I’m sitting there, Jarod and Ryan started talking and then wow. Uncomfortable moment numero uno!! I was using the bathroom with 3 men. Totally random. I’ve never done that before! Experiences you get in Rwanda. You just don’t know what you can expect here.

On a different note…today was wonderful. We’re in Kigali for swear in and we went to the bourbon coffee shop for lunch. It was unbelievable. You would have thought we had NEVER eaten before! I got a hamburger with a small side salad and an iced white chocolate mocha. I almost cried I was so excited. And true story, so I was eating with Kim and they brought out “her” food. She thought well this doesn’t look like what I ordered but whatever…it’s Rwanda it never does. So she salted her fries, put ketchup all over them, started eating then, cut up her sandwich and took a giant bite! The waitress comes out and says that’s not your food…takes it from her and puts it down a couple of tables over in front of one of our other volunteers. SERIOUSLY! She didn’t even think twice about. So Avery got to eat Kim’s half eaten food. Oh Rwanda… uncomfortable moment numero dose….but my experience was phenomenal! THEN for dinner we went to this AMAZING Indian restaurant. I had the chicken masala and it was sooo good. Very expensive but SOOOO good. I can easily see how much money we’re going to spend every time we come here. I’m looking forward to a week more of this food. And hopefully good internet. And hopefully…..PACKAGES! We’ll see. Tomorrow’s the big day. I become an official Peace Corps volunteer. So exciting!! Our oath we take is the same oath as the President…so cool. Miss you all…..


April Showers Bring...Well…May Showers


Jarod here…the rain has come with a fury the past week or so and in no way is that depressing. For some reason I love the rain here. It is so refreshing. Back home, I hated it when it rained but for some reason here, I love it! In other news, we have now finished our last week of training. Once again, it is hard to believe we have completed 9 weeks of PST already. It seems just like yesterday that we were waving goodbye to our family in the Fayetteville airport. However, at other times it seems like years ago when we left the states…it’s weird. Anyway, today is an exciting day. Yesterday was officially our last day of classes. Today we are having farewell parties. The first party is for our host families where we will have tea, coffee and fanta, present them with a gift and tell them bye. However, my mother wouldn’t accept a goodbye just yet. She conned me into coming to visit tomorrow and I am dragging Sarah along with me (yea she is not too happy about that). The next party is for all our trainers and training staff. It should be fun as we are doing a 4th of July style party with twister, the 3-legged race, a scavenger hunt and things of that sort. We will also be having some good American style and much needed food.

On Tuesday the 4th we leave for Kigali where we will be sworn in as volunteers on Wednesday the 5th. The ceremony will be held at the ambassador’s house and I have been told that it will be nationally televised. So, no pressure on my speech to be good…should be a fun experience! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be having a week in Kigali to indulge myself with some good, flavorful food and hopefully some somewhat fast wireless internet to update these blogs. (Side note: if there ever seems to be some inconsistencies with dates of these postings and their correspondence, it’s because we usually write our blogs weeks before they are actually posted due to the lack of good internet connection…so they are not usually applicable to the day they were posted). After swear-in on Wednesday, we will be given a list of things we need to purchase for our new homes (along with a nice chunk of change to purchase those things) and shortly after there will be 34 “umuzungus” going on a crazed shopping spree throughout the city.

Anyway, that is about all that has been happening and will be happening during the next week. Oh yea, we lost another one of our volunteers yesterday (birababaje-it is sad). Our one and only Lawrence (the first fellow PCV we met as we got into the taxi in Philly to go to staging) has gone home. Now we are down to just 4 guys…guess we’re going to have to bump up the testosterone level a few more notches. Moving on…I hope to be able to spend some quality time online in Kigali next week and will hopefully be able to email a bunch of you. Feel free to email Sarah and me as we love to receive emails from friends and family back home. As always, we miss all of you and look forward to hearing from you. Also, we have skype and if you have it at well let us know as we would love to chat! Take care and be blessed! Umunsi Mwiza!!!

The Rings!

just another blog

Hello again. So here I am procrastinating again. I just can’t study! Ahh! I’m looking for anything to busy myself from Kinyarwanda.  So I just found out that one of our fellow trainees is going home. It’s our first boy. We only have 5 in the group and now ones gone. So our group is slowly shrinking. We were 37 and now we’re 34. Lawrence buddy, good luck in all your new endeavors!

Today was package day. Our group seriously received over 30 packages today. Unfortunately our packages are still somewhere unknown but hopefully will be here soon. It’s crazy to see all the amazing things parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, and friends are sending in boxes!! We all get so giddy to watch each other open them. It’s hilarious. One girl had a package that weighed like 30 pounds. It was huge! Crazy stuff.

I am about to start reading a new book. I’ve been told that the first 3 months at your site are SO boring and that you get A LOT of reading finished so my sweet Emily gave me a book she’s already finished called “unaccustomed earth”. I am excited to start it. I’m also going to try and read some books I’m planning on downloading in Kigali next week….so if you know any good sites that have free book downloads that aren’t illegal or you’ve purchased any books online that you don’t mind sharing with me…then email me and I’ll get them next week in Kigali hopefully.

Tomorrow I think we’re going to buy some of our stuff for our site. It’s much cheaper here in the town we’re in than in the capital so we’re going to try and buy our pots, buckets, and broom/squeegee for our home that we have yet to hear about.

I feel like I’m rambling at this point. Nothing really interesting happened since I last wrote so I guess I’ll go. I think Friends (the TV show) on my computer is calling my name. Love you all!

Mama wacu

Host Moms Visits…

I just realized that 7 weeks into this and I haven’t even really mentioned my host family yet. So, this blog is dedicated to Mama Rosine and Mama Hirali. Upon arriving to Nyanza for training we were immediately given a host mom or host family. This family is to serve as a resource to us for pretty much anything. They teach us Kinyarwanda, serve us food and drinks, teach us about their culture and we teach them a little about America in exchange. For the most part, host moms are the word hospitable in human form…at least in Rwanda. From the moment you arrive, they hug you, sometimes kiss you, sit you down and then bring out tea, milk, a fanta or drink of some sort for you. No meeting or get-together (regardless of how informal it may be) is legit unless there is some milk, tea or fanta or all of the above present.

Anyway, my mom is Mama Rosine. She is around 44 and is married with one Child named Rosine who is 14. Mothers tend to take on the name of their child…hence “Mama Rosine.” Sarah and I have had some good and some unusual experiences there. Mama Rosine is very hospitable but sometimes a little over bearing. I find it hard to leave when I want to and it usually ends up that I leave when Mama Rosine is good and ready to let me go. About a month ago, Sarah and I were visiting and right before we were about to leave, she brought out what looked and smelled like Rwandan Banana Beer. Now, we had previously been warned about drinking the banana beer because part of the process of making it is that it has to ferment in the sun for 10-14 days which is not sanitary by any means. Many people get sick from banana beer. Anyway, I asked Mama Rosine if it was beer to which she assured me, they are Christians and they don’t drink beer. So, as any newcomer looking to integrate into a new community would do, I drank it (at least 1 or 2 small sips of it). After all, I did not want to disgrace her or seem rude. Sarah managed to take a fake sip because she was already feeling sick. Needless to say, it was banana beer and a few days later my stomach decided to get pretty mad at me…enough sad. Anyway, that was my first and last experience with banana beer. There are many other experiences with my mom but we can talk about those later.

One another occasion at Sarah’s moms’ house, we decided to help her cook. We showed up, walked out back to the kitchen area and began peeling potatoes. She then brought out a massive cow liver. So…picture this big red, floppy, jiggaly piece of meat on a plate. Luckily, we cut that dude up and fried the mess out of it (southern style). Breanne and mom you probably would have loved it. However, it definitely was some kind of different. We will just leave it at that. On another food note, things just seem to have different textures here. For example, back home my favorite thing to eat is chicken. I love me some chicken…any kind. Sadly enough, I have given up on the chicken here. They serve it 3-4 times a week here but it is impossible to chew. I will chew a piece of chicken to the point that my jaws feel like they just got into a fight with Mike Tyson and eventually I just give up and spit it out…I know that is gross but you try and eat it! So, please don’t take your chicken for granted…for me please…cherish it every time you sit down to eat that nice big piece of juicy, tender bbq chicken....think of me and enjoy it even more. That is all I ask!

On a more serious note, this has been a pretty tough week, especially for Sarah. This training can be so emotionally draining at times. I can’t really explain it but cramming your brain with an insanely difficult language, struggling to integrate and find your identity in a foreign place where you know very little, eating a diet that is completely different from anything you would ever eat back home (and your stomach constantly disagreeing with is), trying to understand a culture that is so precious and complex yet terribly scarred from years past and living with 11 other people in the same house can be fairly taxing and stressful at times. Well…then again…maybe I can explain it. Anyway, most of you that know me know I am pretty mellow and laid back so it hasn’t been as bad for me. I tend to fly by the seat of my extra long pants. I know that Sarah is tired though. However, she is doing amazingly well. I am so proud of her. She is so strong and passionate. You can throw her right in the middle of a throng of 250 Rwandan children and she comes into her own and just shines. It’s quite a site to see.

In other news, bed bugs are at large and are a threat here in Rwanda. A couple of girls came down with a bad case of bed bugs over the past few weeks (that sounds weird). They itch like crazy and usually take 3 weeks or so to get rid off and leave your legs looking like a connect the dot game board. Turns out they live in the wood in bed frames so you are encouraged to set your bed frame and mattress out in the sun once a week for a day. This supposedly kills them along with soaking the bed frame in boiling water…crazy I know. So the phrase “don’t let the bed bugs bite” really comes into play here. Also, two other girls decided to get amoebas recently when they had some alleged bad food from a restaurant in Butare. This was very unfortunate for them as this is a pretty serious thing to get. They pretty much have missed two weeks of training due to being very sick and taking very strong antibiotics. They are doing better know however.

Oh this is crazy and kind of sad. On the way out of town today we passed 4 guys carrying on their shoulders an ingobyi (traditional ambulance) with someone in it. Sadly, this was someone who had recently passed away and they were carrying them from the hospital through the middle of town to their home where they will be buried. This was just another eye-opener to how foreign this place is and the reality of life and death. It was so weird. Here they were carrying this person through the middle of town while people continue to go about their daily business routines. Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to feel about that.

Anyway, on a happier note, we will be official Peace Corps Volunteers 14 days from today. Once again…it is hard to believe how fast time is flying by. We will be spending about a week in Kigali for swear-in before we leave for sites. Hopefully we will be able to indulge in good food, hot showers and high-speed internet before it gets ripped right back out of our hands for the next two years. Good times to come!

Well, this blog is now more than long enough. I hope I didn’t bore you! Also, if you guys have any specific topics you would like us to write about during the next two years please comment and let us know…cultural things, daily activities, education, etc. We will be more than happy to try and accommodate that. Besides, this journal is really for you anyway. As always, we miss you all and enjoy getting emails or Facebook messages from you. Please email us or if you want, send a letter. Those are always nice to get. Also, if any of you are interested in visiting Rwanda over the next two years, you have a place to stay and a free tour guide. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed.

Be blessed!

Mr. and Mrs. Tall!