We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

To Heaven and Back

The Land of a Thousand Hills. We were there last week! We even went to Heaven and back in an evening. We had a wonderful half term break with Grandma in the beautiful country of Rwanda.

Our friendly Gray Crowned Crane
After surviving the long, incredibly pot-holed road, we quickly and easily crossed the border (never a given!), and stopped at Kayonza. We stayed in luxury tents, eating awesome pizza from a real Italian pizza oven at the Eco Lodge in the Women's Opportunity Centre. With women's groups, craft shop, restaurant, café and lodgings, this is a real social enterprise hub, helping vulnerable women across the country.
Enjoying the view
I was delighted to be amongst another Mamas Group! It was great fun spending time with them - trying to communicate with our mixtures of English, French, Swahili and Kinyarwanda! Louisa spent all of the first afternoon and the whole of the next day with the basket weaving group, learning how to make beautiful and strong baskets! Both the girls and the Mamas loved it!
Making baskets

Finished baskets in the shop
We also spent time with the group making "poo pictures!" This, as you can imagine, was right up my alley! Making beautiful and valuable artwork out of that which is discarded and deemed despised ... in this case, cow dung!
The mamas painting the cow dung pictures

Dung is mixed with ash
...and then moulded into patterns on a board
It was a beautiful spot and thoroughly inspiring with all the work being done. The women, most of whom have struggled to rebuild their lives after the genocide, are now making and selling the baskets and artwork and also yogurt, peanut butter, coffee and other things as well as running the shop and delightful café!

We travelled on to Kigali and discovered we had been upgraded in our lodgings to a huge villa as our apartment was occupied! We had a huge kitchen - complete with a couple of plates, a small cooking pot and a plastic teaspoon! It was a great base for exploring this immaculately clean city. Did you know that no plastic bags are allowed here? They are taken from you at the border! Rwandans have mandatory Community Clean-up Days and the results are clear to see in the tidy, rubbish-free public places! The city is well-organized with beautiful tree-lined streets and even traffic lights telling you how long you must wait at a red or how many seconds of green are left! We were very mpressed!
Our Villa

Great traffic lights!
(This is a real novelty for us ... we only have one set of traffic lights in Mwanza!)
A highlight was visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The girls have already done a fantastic job communicating about the moving experience this proved to be and you must read and listen to what they shared here on their blog. It was deeply saddening and horrifying to see up close the terrible atrocities that took place in 1994. All the while knowing that so many similar atrocities still continue in many countries today. Yet it was incredible to hear the stories of forgiveness. To see the hope of a nation for change. The memorial gave a clear message to the rest of the world that there is no place for bitterness and revenge. It encouraged hope for the future to be found in unity and love.
The graves of over 250 000 people killed in the genocide

We drank plenty of the infamous Rwandan coffee and did an ace job of checking out the local cafes! Rwandan coffee really is good and the whole coffee shop experience was a real treat for us!
A great coffee shop!
Rwandan coffees from the regions!
And we found a bowling alley! Louisa had never tried bowling before (no bowling for us here!) so this was quite the experience! It was a rather old alley and we had to be careful to wait for the man hiding at the other end to finish sorting the skittles before we shot another bowl down and took out his arm!

Wait for the arm (or hockey stick) to disappear!

And finally, the other treat was our trip to Heaven. We went on Wednesday evening and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience! As we climbed out of the land crusier, we were warmly greeted by a kind man, "Welcome to Heaven!" There was a sign there at the children's playground stating that "Heaven takes no responsibility for any injuries sustained!" All jokes aside, we enjoyed a fantastic meal at this restaurant which is a social enterprise project aimed at helping young people get vocational training and employment. We visited their shop selling the beautiful products from local artisan cooperatives. Amisadai was keen to buy one of their "Heaven" T-shirts. As mum quipped, then she could say "Been to heaven. Got the T-shirt."
In Heaven!


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