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words from the heart

It's me again…the tall thin one…with a beard.  I feel like all of my blog posts are just about our experiences and the activities we do.  We explain about our life in Rwanda and all the weird things that we encounter.  But I don't think I have ever really taken the time to just explain how we feel about them and our life here…so hear it goes…hang on to what you got cause I am not sure where I am going with this.

So…I always wondered if living in a third world country for an extended period of time would change who I am.  I always thought it almost had to but honestly, would it really and if so, would it change you in a good way.  Would you see the world in a different light, be inspired by those that are less fortunate, have your eyes opened to things you never noticed before or understood, develop a passion for things you never knew you were passionate about.  Or, would you become so jaded by the things you see everyday, the unreliable, frustrating and sometimes corrupt system you live and work in, the sickness, disease, poverty, malnutrition and death you experience on a continual basis, the stares and looks of others insinuating you don't belong here and we don't want you here.  These are the things I thought about before coming and 16 months into it, i am still not sure how I feel about all of it.  

I recently read a book called "The hole in our Gospel" by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision and I would encourage anybody who considers themselves a Christian to read it as well.  He talks mostly about the mandate for the Church to stop just going to church but to actually be the hands and feet of Christ.  He talks about the cry of our world and the need for us to reach out to others, our neighbors whether that be across the street or across the Atlantic.  We have for so long put so much emphasis and effort into "converting" others and "reaching the lost and dying" but I feel we have done so in an ineffective way.   Christ didn't change the very foundation of our world by strictly preaching the gospel, verbally that is.  He was the gospel and embodied it.  Others didn't come running to him because he told them they were dying and going to hell unless they repented of their sins.  They ran to him because they saw something attractive and appealing about and in him.  I truly believe there is nothing more attractive in Christianity than physically showing the love of Christ.  And how do we do that…by simply loving others.  Sadly, there are few other things about Christianity that others admire and most if not all would say they don't see these characteristics in Christians.  Instead what they see is, judgmental, self-righteous, close-minded hypocrites.  This is truly sad and I hate to say it but, it is the truth.  

Christ didn't come to be served but he came to serve…heal the sick, feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, take in the stranger, set free those that were bound and the list goes on and on…but this list has one objective - to serve.  These are the things that are attractive to the world but unfortunately they aren't seeing it in Christians.  This should be a wake up call to the Church.  To be honest, I am not so sure any more that someone can even enter heaven without making an effort to love and serve others they way Christ did.  There are many scriptures in the bible that talk about the role of the church in serving others.  About, is this not the type of fasting I have chosen for you…to break free the chains of the captives…feed the hungry…etc.  When reading these types of passages, it seems clear to me that if you don't strive to do these things, you are failing in your job as a Christian and I feel these passages make that clear.  I truly believe that many times the biggest sins are sins of omission rather than commission and I feel that we have so often omitted the presence of servanthood in our Christian walk with Christ.  It seems that if we really wanted to be like Christ that we would want our hearts to be broken by the things that break the heart of God.  Surely this would cause us to jump into action and be the hands and feet of Christ right…or would it?   This doesn't sound like a pleasant and comfortable way to live.  It actually sounds like the opposite…it might even be painful and cause our hearts to be overwhelmed with grief…but maybe they would be overwhelmed to the point where we couldn't just sit by and watch as thousands of children die daily from 100% preventable diseases like diarrhea and malaria.  

Anyway, the book explains it so much better than I ever could and puts things so much more into perspective…read it if any of this is interesting to you.  So, back to where I left off about how I feel about our life here and how it has impacted our lives.  It's really weird and I don't know if I will fully know how it has changed or impacted me until I return.  I don't think we can even explain most of it…it is just something you have to experience for yourself.  That is why I am so excited I have someone to share this experience with.  Otherwise, I would return home in a year, tell friends and family all about these amazing experiences I had in Africa and watch as they slowly become uninterested and unconcerned.  Not because they don't care but because they can't relate at all to what our life is like here.  That has been one of the tough things about re-integration into life back home for PCVs since PC started 50 years ago.  

So, I hope this has made since to you and maybe even encouraged someone to be more the hands and feet of Christ as He desired for us …whoever you are reading this.  I had no idea where this was going to go but just felt like I should write a blog that dealt at least a little bit with my feelings.  Anyway, remember, going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than being in a garage makes you a car!


Books For Banda!

Greetings from Rwanda,

I hope you are doing well.  Jarod and I are still enjoying our time here in Rwanda.  It is truly an amazing country and I wish you could have the chance to visit it sometime.  The reason I am writing is to see if you would be interested in playing a part with our current project. 

The village we live in is a very remote and rural village and because of its isolation, has very little access to many needed resources, one of which is books.  We are in the process of trying to raise money to send a couple thousand books to our village to start a community library.  The people of Banda Village are so hungry for knowledge and since the official language was recently switched to English, books in English are very necessary.  If you would like to help out with sending some books to Banda, please read below.  We are using two different organizations which have worked with sending large shipments of books to Africa for many years now.  The first is called International Book Project and the instructions for how to donate are listed below. We need to raise about $1,500.

The easiest way to donate is by sending a check to the address below. Just make sure that it says “Sarah Ring, PCV –Rwanda” on the memo line.

If you want to donate online, go to

You should click the radial button under Dedication for “on behalf of” and type “Sarah Ring, PCV – Rwanda” in the field. That stays with the donation and it will be allocated accordingly.

If you have any questions or want to make sure your donation is correctly allocated, you can email Rachel Lewis.  Her contact info is below. 

Rachel C. Lewis
Executive Director

International Book Project
1440 Delaware Avenue
Lexington, KY 40505
Skype: Rachel.C.Lewis

Facebook: Become a Fan

The second organization is called Books for Africa and the information to donate there is listed below as well. We are working in collaboration with 13 other Peace Corps Volunteers. The total project goal is $3500 but we only need about $500 to complete our portion of the fundraising. The project is called: Ubwonko Bwiza: Books for Rwanda’s Future project.

Books for Africa,



Hello Everyone…Jarod here.   Just wanted to give you a quick update as to what has been going on in the last couple months since we haven't posted.  Sarah has already taken care of the blog about our crazy dog Zuba.  I will tell you a little about the Kigali Marathon we recently participated in.  Before you gasp in amazement at our sheer strength, motivation and endurance to run a full marathon, let me first say we participated in the relay part of the race…a team of 4, each running 6.5 miles.  Now you can say, "ohhh okay that makes since."  

For some odd reason, Sarah and I both ran the last leg of the race.  Unfortunately, by the time we were able to start our run, most of the other runners had already finished.  So unlike the usual bursting off the starting line with hundreds of other runners, Sarah and I both set off for our journey alone, she about 20 minutes ahead of me.  I was serially the last runner to leave the stadium.  Unfortunately by this time, almost all of the road markers and signs directing people where to run had been taken down.  So, right out of the gate I made a wrong turn, ran all the way around the outside of the stadium then left the parking lot only to stand at the road and ask everyone walking by which way to run.  After about 30 seconds of waiting and asking, someone finally said, run that way.  At this point I was already feeing like quitting thinking about the rest of the run.  This happened again at least 2 more times throughout my run.  I seriously just wanted to stop and say are you kidding me…skip this or in the famous words of my uncle Roger, "Pooie with it!"  Sarah had many of the same problems and spent some time running the wrong way as well.   Well over an hour later I arrived back at the stadium entrance only to be greeted with one of the volunteer race supporters who asked me to carry around the flat Kennedy poster on my last lap around the track to the finish line (this poster was brought along to signify the celebration of 50 years of Peace Corps).  Sadly, at this point I felt like I was going to die but told her I would be happy to do it.  This proved to be a little more difficult than what I expected since the life size poster acted as a wind sail as I ran my last lap spinning and hopping around the track like a little fairy trying to keep the poster up as I ran.  Finally I crossed the finish line, the last person to finish in the relays, as everyone cheered and congratulated me.  It was during that short but seemingly forever long 6.5 miles that I learned the reason I don't run…because I hate it.  There was a 73 year old man and another with only one leg running the half marathon (13 miles) and I am almost positive their 2nd lap was much quicker than my only lap…sad I know.  It turns out walking up and down mountains at 7500 feet in elevation everyday just isn't the same as actually running.  Next time I will know.  

Anyway, it was a fun day and I am glad that we participated.  Peace Corps had over 50 people between staff and volunteers running that day.  It was great and as much as I didn't enjoy that run, I would probably do it again if I had the chance.  



Zuba and I napping...

So I know I know! It's been over 2 months since we've posted anything. AHH. Sorry. This post isn't anything too special but wanted to update everyone on our amazing pup. I love him and he's brought so much joy to our home living in the middle of nowhere!!!

He's like any normal pup....eats and sleeps. ALL DAY LONG!

This is a pic of zuba waiting for his food to cool. I cook corn flour everyday and mix it with these nasty disgusting little fish things and it sets up on top of the shelf while it cools. He's trying to figure out a way to get to the top of the that little pink bowl. :)

We recently had Zuba neutered. It was a horrific experience for all of us!! They didn't put him to sleep so we held him down while they inserted a needle into his peepee. He yelped and yelped and I nearly cried!! But, all was well and they successfully removed his lone ball. That's right...he only had one...him and his dad make a true pair....for those of you who know what I'm talking about!! We had to create an "Elizabethan collar" for zuba to avoid licking and snagging the stitches. This is the best we had. Poor thing. He just couldn't see anything. He ran into everything for about a week. It was also cardboard so it smelled to high heavens!! We literally gagged when he came around.Thankfully, all is well. He's healed up and just a mischievous as before!!

The church should get a kick out of this picture! First of all, they sent the most AMAZING package recently. It had a FOUR pound jar of peanut butter. Unfortunately it was consumed within a week as we were feeling so deprived! After we finish peanut butter....zuba gets to lick the container. We left it outside while we went to work for him to play with and when we returned...this is what we found!! He had it stuck on his face. He didn't even hear us walk up because he was still just licking away. I guess he was also feeling a bit deprived of his yummy peanut butter so he was just enjoying life inside the container.

Finally, this is our pup now. He's just a sleeping away. Something he's very good at. Here he's sleeping on 2 normal sized pillows. His bed I whipped up. :) He's a big big boy so far. He's around 6 months now and weighs well over 30 pounds. We're wondering about the return home trip with him...but will figure it out soon!