We returned to Illinois and Minnesota over our Christmas break. Since I already had to come back to the U.S. for a school trip (see below), it made sense to visit friends and family as well. We’re very thankful to have connected with many of you! Highlight: meeting our nephew, Soren James Carlson, who was born on December 4th.
Natasha traveled back to Kigali so she could resume teaching and begin the second semester. I traveled to New York where I met a group of 11th grade students from KICS. We spent the next couple weeks visiting universities on the East Coast. Highlight: Seeing the students (mostly Rwandese) deal with blizzard conditions and visiting the African American History and Culture museum in D.C.
Soon after returning to Kigali, I was unexpecedly asked to join the KICS director on a school fundraising trip back to the U.S. So I jumped back on the plane in early Febrauary and spent a couple weeks in D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. Highlight: Texas BBQ and more development experience.
Thankfully, Natasha wasn’t left alone the whole time I was away. Her sister, Alex, came to visit (Feburary highlight)! She was still around for another week or so when I got back. We were able to see some places around the city together, do some hiking, and we got Alex on safari as well. She was also a big help in Natasha’s classroom, I’m told 🙂
Staying put! I Our friend from Redeemer, Otto, also came to see us in March. It’s really encouraging to have friends visit and be reminded of our support and connection. Otto’s been to Rwanda several times, so it was less about seeing things and more about being together.
I was finally able to get into a groove teaching my Grade 11 Seminar class each day, or at least until we got to Easter break. (I’m realizing now why teachers always talk about how choppy and quick the “spring” semester can feel.) We were thankful to be home with our St. Etienne church community coming into Holy Week at the end of the month. On Easter Sunday (sliding into April now), we had our first large (-ish… 15+ people) party at our house. We failed to take any photos as a group – sad day – but you can check out the beef brochettes we had. Easter = highlight.
Starting on April 7th, Rwanda begins it’s annual time of remembrance and commemoration of the 1994 Genocide agaisnt the Tutsi. It’s a somber time, the country mourns, and people unite together in the healing and continued reconciliation process. For seven days following the 7th, work stops in the afternoon and shops close so that everyone can gather in their various communities for meetings, walks of remembrance, and discussions. As a westerner living here, it’s not easy to know exactly what to do during this time, but we knew that we wanted to stay put and not leave the country. It was a time for us to learn and be present as much as possible.