Rwanda Visit 2018

 School group photo

School group photo

RWANDA 2018

Hey everyone! Sully here, and I just got back from Rwanda. I still can't believe it was my tenth trip back to that beautiful country and the kids. Sadly, it was my fastest trip ever at just over three weeks, but I am fortunate to say that we crammed in as much as we could with the time given. I won't waste your time any further. Allow me to share some stories from the trip.

 Jack before he left for school

Jack before he left for school

SCHOOL COMES FIRST

We are incredibly grateful, once again, to share with you that all of our kids are back in their schools and doing great. We had some of our highest school fees ever this year but luckily our donors and supporters came through better than ever. Knowing their school fees were higher this year, the kids had concerns about their continuing education. I fielded their many concerns one evening and it was yet another reminder of how much they care about their futures and don't take them for granted. Thanks for helping us not let them down. It says something when Elisha noticed that only his first term had been paid for his boarding school (We usually pay for the whole year at once). He came to me to talk about it because he wasn't sure if there was a problem or not. I could see the worry in his eyes as we talked about it. In the end, there was no problem at all and he gave me a big hug when he realized that. But, it was interesting to say the least to see how much he was paying attention to his schooling.

 Clever, David, and Alphonse

Clever, David, and Alphonse

VISITORS

We had the fortune of having a few visitors this year. Some were expected and some weren't. Sky and I have worked together a long time now and both currently work in Alaska together. Sky took the decision to join me this year and I am so happy he did. We all are. The kids loved him from the start. Sky kept his birthday a secret from the kids but we made sure to celebrate anyway with him. Sky got me back by doing a belated 30th birthday party for me with their help. He also took really great photos for us, helped build our new roof, helped with our school needs, helped build a small home for a local elderly woman,  and showed them that not all visitors (like me) suck at playing basketball. I told the kids this and I'll say it again; Sky may have just met the kids, but he knew them a long time ago. Sky and his amazing community of friends and family have helped our kids for so long now and so generously. Thank you to all of them.

 Claude and myself throwing up bricks to Sky and Fiston. In this picture we were trying to throw more bricks than there were hands to catch them to see if they could manage anyways

Claude and myself throwing up bricks to Sky and Fiston. In this picture we were trying to throw more bricks than there were hands to catch them to see if they could manage anyways

Should you notice some finer quality photos in this blog, you can most likely trace them back to our friend Ben Yacobi from the UK. Sky and I had the fortune of climbing Mt. Nyiragongo in the Congo. Ben was with our group and we had a great time with him. It turns out he is a professional photographer. He agreed to come visit and take some great photos for us. The kids loved him as well. Since then he has begun to search out cameras that the kids can use to learn and work with in the future.

 This is the only picture I could get of Ben. He is crouched down next to Sky. This is our group after our night on the volcano

This is the only picture I could get of Ben. He is crouched down next to Sky. This is our group after our night on the volcano

A ROOF OVER OUR HEADS

As some may know, we have our land and our home we have been trying to build for a few years now. It is a slow process as we manage to take care of our kids each year. However, we were able to build our roof this time on our future home. It was good timing too because the heavy rain in Rwanda had full access to the house. We needed the roof to protect the building we had accomplished so far. This building session was awesome because it occurred while the kids were still on holiday so they got to help too. Sky, me, and many of the kids got to mix cement, move dirt, and move bricks for a few full days, and it was awesome to share the experience together. When it was time for the metal sheets to arrive, we all lugged them off the delivery truck too. After that, the roof was finished in no time. We still have a long way to go to live in our future home, but we can rest easy now knowing it is protected from the elements.

 The roof half way done

The roof half way done

 The roof after completion

The roof after completion

ANIMAL VISITORS

Does anyone remember a little puppy we rescued last year? Well I contacted the family that took her in and they came and visited one day with the now named "Roxy." I was excited to see how she had grown and for the kids to see the fruit of their good deeds. Roxy was extremely sweet but a little overwhelmed by the number of people in the household. Joel was our boy who took the best care of Roxy and was the most sad when we had to give her away. It was sweet to reunite them for a minute.

 Myself, Joel, Otto, and Roxy

Myself, Joel, Otto, and Roxy

 Amurand and Roxy last year, post bath

Amurand and Roxy last year, post bath

One morning we woke up to find a cat outside. More importantly, she had given birth to two kittens that night. She also chose the birthing site to be a pile of charcoal! I am not the biggest fan of cats but this cat was extremely nice and by all accounts, extremely tough so I like her. Little Keza named her Daisy and it stuck. Since that morning, Daisy has moved inside the house with her kittens.

 Daisy soaking up love from Francois and Lewis

Daisy soaking up love from Francois and Lewis

 Not-yet-named kittens from Daisy

Not-yet-named kittens from Daisy

FULL CIRCLE STORIES

I think "Full Circle Stories" should become a theme. In recent years we have gotten to the point where we have new kids coming home and starting school and grown kids finishing school, getting jobs, and moving out on their own. In one day, I got to see Eric (11 years old) come back from his first day of school, and then go to a local shop where Gentil (22 years old) now works as he gets closer to getting a scholarship to attend a local university. One of our older boys, nicknamed Dodi, took an internship cooking at a restaurant. Upon his completion, they offered him full employment. He came home one morning before I left so he could teach me to make the best Capati I have ever tasted. These stories are becoming more and more each year and it is so awesome to witness.

 Dodi, Claude, and Yves pumping out fresh capati

Dodi, Claude, and Yves pumping out fresh capati

GRATITUDE AND MORE PICTURES

I love to talk about the heart of everything, but the truth is, these efforts require fundraising and money. The other truth is that my last ten trips to Rwanda wouldn't be as special without everyone's support. Almost all of the stories I shared with you above would not have been possible without so many of you reading this. I hope we can all share a part of this. It is a massive joy for me to share with everyone, our combined successes. I can't wait to see what 2018 has in store for us. Thank you for joining us. Enjoy more pictures and stories below, and never hesitate to contact me if you want more!

KOMERA (Be Strong)

Sully

 A collective photo for all of our collective gratitude

A collective photo for all of our collective gratitude

 Yves ultimately failing to score on me. I like this shot for the Run the 1 plug.

Yves ultimately failing to score on me. I like this shot for the Run the 1 plug.

 Sky, taking in the view before the metal sheets arrived

Sky, taking in the view before the metal sheets arrived

 Our kids using new computers donated to us by my sister Lindsay

Our kids using new computers donated to us by my sister Lindsay

 Janvier helping Manzi out with a typing program

Janvier helping Manzi out with a typing program

 Tabaro and his paintings

Tabaro and his paintings

 Action shot for Claude while Fiston strikes a pose

Action shot for Claude while Fiston strikes a pose

 Yves, Ishimwe, and Joel worked really hard this day. It was fun joining them and witnessing how they aren't so little anymore

Yves, Ishimwe, and Joel worked really hard this day. It was fun joining them and witnessing how they aren't so little anymore

 Manzi and myself goofing around per usual

Manzi and myself goofing around per usual

 Unloading the metal roofing sheets

Unloading the metal roofing sheets

 Spreading out the metal roofing sheets on the lawn

Spreading out the metal roofing sheets on the lawn

 Sky and the kids decided to give me a belated surprise birthday for my 30th which involved dousing me with water and throwing me in the air.

Sky and the kids decided to give me a belated surprise birthday for my 30th which involved dousing me with water and throwing me in the air.

 The world's largest lava lake at the top of Mt. Nyiragongo in the Congo

The world's largest lava lake at the top of Mt. Nyiragongo in the Congo

 An average day without running water

An average day without running water

 Evode and I sandwiching his middle son, Caleb. Ubaka wouldn't exist without Evode dedicating his whole life to the kids

Evode and I sandwiching his middle son, Caleb. Ubaka wouldn't exist without Evode dedicating his whole life to the kids

 Some celebratory Fanta after a job well done 

Some celebratory Fanta after a job well done