settling in

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

I walk to the top of the street, and before long they see me. The moto drivers. I wave to one of them and he drives over to me. I tell him where I want to go, and we briefly negotiate price. It's easier when you know the going rate. I climb onto the back of the motorbike, and we head carefully out of the village. I think I picked a good driver. The mudbrick houses slowly give way to open landscape, and green rolling hills with small clusters of cows, and boys with sticks watching them. We pass people along the way, carrying bundles of firewood on their heads, pushing bike loads of green bananas, or carrying passengers on their bicycles. The landscape zooms past us, and I feel relaxed and free. We pass the low lying fields, where we once saw a family of baboons playing, and head into town. Although the traffic is heavier, it's still a quiet place, and we easily negotiate our way to my favourite place in town. The Demi-Sheraton. On my way in to my favourite hut, I call out the greeting, "mirriwe!". A waitress heads towards me, and I order a drink. I settle into my hut, dig out the laptop and mobile internet, and get to work. 

We are settling back into our routine after the longest break. Two months in Australia with family, a week back in Rwanda, and two back to back weeks of visitors from Denmark have thrown routine out the window. But they have given us something else. A renewed desire to throw ourselves into life here. And, on the horizon, a new season for us, with both of us involved in making a difference in this community we call home. 

celebrating beginnings

Sunday, 23 November 2014

after months of waiting, we were finally granted a building permit for the health centre at mutara development centre. a month ago, christian and his team measured out and dug the foundations. last week they started building the walls. and on wednesday, we celebrated.
one of our colleagues had the idea of celebrating the beginning. celebrating the foundations of the very first building being laid. we set to work making it happen. we invited the local leaders and pastors from the area, our leaders in kigali, and colleagues from kigali to come and celebrate with us. together with the building team there were about 60 people gathered to celebrate God's faithfulness and in seeing the first building of hopefully several that will be used to serve and bless the local community.
with no other structure to hold the celebration in, christian devised a plan to make a tarpaulin covering to keep off the sun and possible light rain. in the event of heavy rain, it simply wouldn't hold. the weather report looked promising, but there was a chance of rain in the late afternoon. in good faith we started the celebration, sharing the vision of mutara development centre and celebrating what has already been accomplished.
however, in the middle of the speeches, the rain began. lightly at first, it soon came down hard and heavy. the tarpaulin covering was no match for it, and soon everyone was gathered under umbrellas and trying not to get soaked. before long, the dirt ground was transformed into mud and puddles. lucy's favourite! i saw the look in her eye, and knew she was going in. i had time to get her to take off her sandals, and then there was no holding her back. in she went! isabel wanted to join in the fun, and as we served lunch for our guests under umbrellas, the two girls ran around in the rain, jumping in the muddy puddles.
it was so encouraging to celebrate the beginning and to have so many people come and support what we're hoping to establish here in mutara, rwanda. christian made a short video showing the process of the building so far, so go ahead and take a look!
mutara development centre is part of ywam rwanda, and is the project we are working with here in rwanda. we are working to get a mdc website up and running soon.

kcw - papa piccolo dress

Monday, 27 October 2014

when i read that the theme for kcw was storybook, i knew i needed to include papa piccolo. right now, it's isabel's favourite book, and for good reason. it's all about cats. papa piccolo is a tomcat in venice, italy, who finds and later adopts two orphaned kittens. the story appeals to isabel's compassionate heart, and the beautiful watercolour illustrations appeal to us all.
i knew immediately that i wanted to make the caroline party dress, a pattern i bought some time ago, but was too afraid to try because of the invisible zipper. the simple, classic lines remind me of stylish european clothing, and seemed a perfect fit for the italian cat. at first i tried to find some black and white fabric, or just black. i scoured the market, but i couldn't find anything, and i was starting to get despondant when i spotted this gorgeous rich purple and gold fabric. the book is full of rich and contrasting colours, so it seemed to be a great fit. i decided to add some kitten pockets on the front, for papa piccolo's two little kittens. 
isabel, of course, loves her kitten pockets. 
even though i was a bit scared of putting in an invisible zipper, it went very well. i had to unpick it and redo it about 4 times, but i'd rather take my time and get it right than regret not doing so every time i look at the dress. the instructions were great, so if you're worried about putting in a zipper, it's a great pattern.
ta da! everything lines up!
even though this dress took me the rest of the week to finish, and i limped across the finish line of kcw last night, exhausted, i am really happy with this dress. it's the most beautiful creation of mine to date.
most importantly, i've got a very happy cat loving girl. that's it for kcw...this time!

kcw - curious george dress

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

it's kcw (kids clothes week) again! this week i'll be sewing up a storm (whenever the electricity co-operates with me!) and getting some new clothes onto the kids' shelves. this season the theme for kcw is "storybook". when i first heard the theme, i didn't think i'd participate. after all, i have limited access to fabrics that aren't wax prints, which made me think it would be impossible to make something from a storybook. but after some inspiration from the kcw blog, i started thinking a little more creatively. i looked through some classic children's books and got some ideas. 
i decided to make something based on this sweet dress i saw in curious george. not only is curious george a classic, well loved children's character, but he is very loved in our house (known by his danish name, peter pedal).
at market, looking for fabrics, i saw this bright yellow fabric, and immediately thought of curious george. on closer inspection, i could see the paper boats on the fabric, and thought of the story, curious george rides a bike (or peter pedal in danish), where george makes the newspapers into paper boats. the perfect curious george fabric! 
lucy was the perfect choice for a curious george dress, as she happens to be a very curious george type child...inquisitive, always up to mischeif, but so sweet and charming that you can't ever be upset for long.
i made the dress using one of my favourite patterns, stof og stil 63011. the only problem is that i only have the pattern in a size 6. as lucy is, at best, a size 2-3, i had to make some adjustments. it's a little big, but i'd rather too big than too small. 
lucy was so excited about her new dress, that she kept running in to see if it was done, and cried when i asked her to try it on and wanted to take it off again. i think she likes having a "curious george" dress.
she said, "when i have my peter pedal dress, then i can pretend i'm a monkey and do all the things peter pedal does." The funny thing is that she already does.
is anyone else out there sewing along in kcw this season? link up to your projects in the comments below! i'd love to see what you're up to.

marina romper in navy

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

After the success of Lucy's birthday marina romper, Isabel asked if I could make one for her. Of course, I said yes. 
I had this navy fabric with bright pink and blue floral print, and it seemed like the best choice for a fun, active outfit. Instead of ties at the shoulders, I inserted elastic in the shoulder ties to make it easy to take on and off. Otherwise, a very fast and easy sewing project.
 Isabel loved it. Of course, in our house we call it a jumpsuit. So, every time Isabel wears it, she does this...
 Happy jumping, Isabel!


Monday, 6 October 2014

 This weekend was just the right tempo.

Lazy mornings, slow days, and afternoon naps.

Saturday it rained all day. Hard. 

The water seeped in through the windows, and I dashed around the house with small cloths, 
laying them under the windows to stop the flow.

The girls and I watched a movie together, but all we could hear was the sound of the rain, 
pounding on the tin roof. 

We had guests over for dinner, and everything felt so normal again.

Friends, food, laughter.

Sunday we woke up feeling under the weather, and took turns sleeping.

I managed to get behind the sewing machine and mend some things. 

Alexander was playing outside the fence and found a puppy, his legs tangled in twine.
He brought him home.

The kids have fallen in love. His name is Nick. 
They give him cuddles and fill his bowl with milk.

Perhaps we'll find a home for him.

an ordinary day in september

Friday, 3 October 2014

After being asked to share more pictures of our life here in Rwanda, I decided to capture a single, ordinary day in pictures and words. This is Friday 26th September.
5:56am - the sun is up, and so is Lucy. We hear her shouting from our bedroom, "Come and see this lizard! Hello!"
6:10am - after dragging myself out of bed, I head outside to walk Sheila, our dog, around the yard so she can do her business.
6:25am - I get in a quick pilates workout. To my surprise, and the kids' amusement, Christian agrees to join me.
6:45am - the shepherd arrives with the day's milk, 2 litres. Christian goes out to get it while I head to the shower. Today there is both water pressure and electricity, which means I can use the shower (instead of filling a bucket and tipping it over my head). Happy dance!
7:00am - breakfast. Our weekday breakfast consists of weetbix and fresh fruit (banana and passionfruit) for Christian and I, and cornflakes and yoghurt for the kids.
7:15am - Christian's hair is looking shaggy. He has a late start today, so I give him a haircut, followed by Alexander. The girls get a fringe trim.
7:35am - our house help, Jackie, arrives, and is very amused to see me cutting hair.
8:30am - while I clean up all the hair, Alexander retells me last night's letter story.
8:40am - after playing a memory game with the girls, Christian heads off to work. Today he's meeting Marieth, our colleague, to do some paperwork and accounting.
8:45am - we start our first lesson of the day, talking about staying healthy and treating minor sickness. Of course, we play doctor. In the meantime, Lucy entertains herself with some animals in her bedroom, "It's the jungle!"
9:20am - we move on to letter work. Today it's the letter L.
9:30am - after giving the house a tidy up, Jackie is ready to start the laundry. There's a lot today.
9:45am - I'm surprised to see Christian back already. He starts cutting and grinding the meat we bought at market yesterday so it's ready to go.
10:10am - morning tea break. I cut up some pineapple and apple, and the kids enjoy eating it on the verandah. I make myself the first cup of coffee of the day.
10:30am - while the kids play outside, I sit down and work on colouring my clothing sketches. So much fun!
10:50am - Christian does some emailing. Although it's slow, the internet is working.
11:00am - after a good break, we're ready to settle down to work again. Handwriting, followed by maths.
11:25am -  I get started on lunch prep. We're having leek and potato soup.
11:50am - Alexander has finished his maths work, and starts practising the recorder. The girls have decided to help Jackie wash the verandah, which means they will get soaking wet.
12:00pm - Christian has been invited to a school graduation, which is supposed to start at 12. He heads out to find Fred, the student we know, so they can go together. As he leaves, he tells me he has no idea how long it will last.
12:05pm - the soup is on. While it's simmering, I get Alexander started on his Danish work. We follow it up with reading on the verandah.
12:35pm - the soup is done, and so is Alexander. While I'm putting the lunch out, there are a couple of dramas to attend to. The girls are soaked (as expected), and Alexander has scraped his shin on the obstacle course outside, and is screaming. I give him a cold cloth and the girls some dry clothes.
12:55pm - we finally sit down to lunch, the kids, Jackie and I.
1:20pm - Jackie cleans up after lunch, Alexander plays outside, and the girls play stop dance. I take Sheila for a walk around the yard again.
2:00pm - Alexander has started making himself a hockey stick with two sticks and masking tape. The girls want to make one too. I start working on some photo templates so I can make a photo book of our summer holiday.
2:45pm - Lucy is complaining that she's tired, so I put her to bed. Outside, Isabel and Alexander get into an argument. Isabel comes inside and lays on her bed, and Alexander heads outside the gate to play football/soccer with his friends from the neighbourhood.
3:00pm - Jackie has made bread.
3:40pm - the girls start arguing, so I put on a movie for them, "Emil og Ida". They love it!
3:55pm - Alexander is home again, asking if his friends can come in with him. I agree, but limit it to those he was with as lots of kids start running over to see if they can come in too.
4:20pm - Jackie is finishing up washing the floor, then heads home. We'll see her again on Monday.
4:50pm - Christian is home again, and is exhausted from his outing. I send the girls outside to play.
5:20pm - the girls and I take Sheila out for a walk, just as Gerard, the night guard, arrives. Alexander asks if he can stay home with Christian.
5:45pm - we walk quite far, and spot a few wildflowers on the edge of the corn fields. Isabel picks one for me, and one for Christian.
5:55pm - we arrive home from our walk. We help Christian water the strawberries, as we aren't allowed to go inside. Alexander has made a surprise for us - a lovely drawing.
6:05pm - I give the kids a warm shower while Christian gets dinner organised.
6:15pm - dinner time. We usually eat a light meal in the evening consisting of bread and spreads. Christian has also fried up some eggs. During dinner, the power goes out. Luckily, the candles on the table are lit, which make for a smooth transition. Once again, we are thankful we gave the kids their bath before dinner.
6:40pm - Isabel tries to draw by candlelight while we clean up after dinner and get ready for our Friday night movie. Christian makes popcorn and I put some lollies/candy in a bowl.
7:05pm - the kids have voted for "Emil og Ida" even though the girls have already seen it today. We laugh at Emil's funny antics, and Lucy is especially amused by how Emil's father shouts his name.
8:15pm - the movie is over, teeth are brushed, and it's time for bed. We get the kids settled, and Christian announces he's also ready for bed. It's easy to feel tired when it's so dark.
8:30pm - I make myself some peppermint tea and watch a movie. It's relaxing to watch by candlelight.
8:42pm - the power comes back on, so I walk around the house switching off lights.
10:30pm - the movie is over, teeth are brushed, and it's time for bed. 

Our days here are a different kind of ordinary. A lack of external activities means most of our days look, and feel, exactly the same. However, the unpredictability of the culture here means things can pop up or change at any time, making every day feel different. One thing we're learning is to stop and take advantage of things when you have them, such as water, electricity or internet.

To get a glimpse of our everyday life back in Denmark, you can see an ordinary day in January 2013February 2013, or September 2013. I'm planning to join Ali Edwards in documenting an entire week from 27th October to 2nd November. Care to join in?
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