Sunday, December 28, 2008

The picnic from H-E-double L!

There's not much to do with kids out of school in Kigali.  So, when we heard about Mt. Kigal, we jumped at the chance to check it out.  Someone told us you could drive up there, and that  there was a restaurant that's good for getting a Coke, but not food, and a pic-nick area.  The view of the city is supposed to be the best.  So, day before yesterday, we decided to pack a lunch and head up.  Packing the lunch took the better part of the morning.  The house staff is off, so I had to do dishes, then make grilled cheese sandwiches and do more dishes.  OK we're ready to go, so we strike out.  About 20 minutes in the car, and the kids ask are were there yet?  We were just at the base!  We head up some paved roads, then it's dusty dirt roads the rest of the way - very bumpy.  So bumpy in fact that the puppy gets carsick and vomits in the car.  We jostle some more, pass a radio tower as we are told and come to a fenced off area with a closed gate.  It doesn't look inviting, so we head back to the tower thinking we've taken a wrong turn.  We pull in to an area near the tower where we encounter a local guy, who signals for us to drive back around (where we just came from).  We jostle back around, passing again the uninviting gate a second time.  We hit one bump, so hard that my head slams against the side of the truck, and now I'm seeing stars.  After pulling up to the uninviting gate a 3rd time we finally notice the small "Closed for renovation" sign!  By this point, 50 minutes after we left the house, we're all experiencing low blood sugar (an a nice headache for myself).  So we have to eat somewhere.  We go back to the radio tower area, where we find an abandoned swimming pool, hot tub, minimal view, and a torn down house or hotel.  There are cows and goats grazing near by, with their droppings everywhere, but we sit on some steps to nowhere and get out the food.  Immediately flies are everywhere!  And by the time we are finished eating there are three men just staring at the truck. ??? We quickly eat, then bathe in Purel, and begin our descent.  Next problem, a one-way street headed up, and we can't find another way down!  We stop to ask an elderly man for directions.  He speaks fluent french and very fast, but he starts saying how we can't go down the one way because we will get stopped by the police have to pay ### Rwandese Francs.  He invites himself into the back seat with the kids and makes conversation as he directs us down the mountain.  I felt like I was on the Amazing Race.  He babbles on in perfect French, how I have a handsome husband and we look to young to have three kids, and our kids look like friends instead of siblings because they are so close in age.  I tell him Ella's adopted from China.  He explains that he is not Rwandese, but from Congo, and has not heard English for 40 years, only French.  He explains how it's difficult to get a job in Rwanda if you don't speak English.  This is his segway into asking for a little tip as he exits the vehicle.  Merci Beaucoup!  All's well that ends well.

Un Mystere! The case of the flying belt!

Background: LWI house has a security guard service that it uses for the evening, however right now the usual day guard is on vacation, so the service has been sending a day guard as well. We really like our regular night guard, Fidel.  The last couple of weeks though he keeps asking about his uniform belt?  Usually after his shift at 6am!  His French is not totally proper, and my French is very limited (especially before I've had my coffee), so I've just been shrugging my shoulders and telling him, "I've not seen your belt."  Well, he's just not letting this belt thing go.  So, I used the google translator and wrote down.  I've not seen your belt.  How can I help you?  He wrote back in French and I used the google translator to figure out what he said.  He is accusing the temporary day guard of stealing his uniform belt.  Ok, now we are getting somewhere.  We did not feel comfortable confronting the day guard, so we called the security company, and put Fidel on the phone.  He was able to explain everything to the company, and when he hung up, I asked him to tell me what they said.  Again he wrote, I translated and the google translation was,  "I said tomorrow it will be for office says this problem flying belt itself."  I laughed hysterically! Mostly because, I'm thinking how much could a uniform belt cost?  I'd rather give him the money for a new one than start confronting the day guard. The last thing we need are the guards coming to blows over a belt in our driveway.  As best I can tell, the actual translation should have been,  "The office will call the day guard in and he will have to explain for himself the problem of the stolen/flying belt."  The verb for steal and fly are the same.  So moral of the story, I need to keep pluging away on the Rosetta Stone, so I don't have to rely too heavily on the translator!

So, here is Fidel wearing his personal belt - not the uniform one.  I wish he would have smiled in the picture.  He has a great friendly smile and humble spirit.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Love, The Magruders

Everyone kept asking me if we were going to do a Christmas tree.  I finally did it, on the 23rd.  No one shops early around here.  The stores don't really start getting merchandise until mid December.  I LOVE it.  It was such a nice change from the x-mas assault that begins before Halloween in the USA.  We strung popcorn and made salt dough ornaments.  Good thing the tree is small, because we spent the whole day just making what you see.  Merry Christmas to all.  Love the Magruder Family

Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa made and early delivery

So, Santa came early to Rwanda.  The Magruder kids got a puppy.  He cam with a letter from Santa saying that it would not be good to have a puppy on the sleigh all night.  His name is Amazi, which means water in the local language.  Santa also didn't want the kids to be too bored while they are out of school for a month!

Monday, December 15, 2008

"We did not believe we could have water for Christmas"

Kicukiro, Rwanda

A Broken Pump.

My man Phillip can't stand to see a broken pump. What you think Phillip? Feel like a broken rod?

Hey, what you doing? That pump is broken.
You think you can fix that?
Hey, this guy is fixing the pump, we might be able to get water again. Can we help you?
Is he fixin' it?

We are so very happy to see you.
We did not believe we could have water for Christmas.

Sure are a lot of people that think this is going to work.

Look, water. Let's talk about the importance of proper hygiene and how to keep this water safe for you to use and drink.

We have water again, praise God. Thank you. Merry Christmas.

As the truck pulled out there were 60 people waiting to get water, they say they will be there until midnight pumping with much celebration and praising.

Friends and family, this is what it is about. Thank you for encouraging and praying for us.

Love you all,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Great trip around Kenya

Hey all, I am back from a fantastic trip full of rough dirt roads with much "jostling" to survey the water needs of about 25 hospitals and health clinics with Esther Havens ( and Lane Wood (pastor in Austin) who represented Charity:Water. Obviously I am thrilled to be back with my wonderful family and enjoyed surprising the kids at the after school pick up.

Charity:Water is considering partnering with us with the funding to provide the clinics with a deep borehole, electric pump, storage tanks and water kiosks for the communities that surround them. We spent 2 weeks in Kenya and only 2 nights in Nairobi. We ate much road dust and slept with bugs but we also got to see Kilimanjaro (wow is that thing tall), giraffes, baboons and other monkeys I do not know the name of.

Some of the most striking moments for me where being told that the community gathers water from the river and when we go to the spot they use - it looks like
What they mean is that they dig down to where the water is in the dry river bed, sometimes very deep. But, as it is kind of raining now the water level is high with run off from livestock and agricultural areas.

The Kibira Slum in Nairobi reportedly contains about a million people in a five square mile area.
This beutiful young girl

goes to a school that has this "water" available

Really? In an age of trillion dollar bail out plans for private companies, can we offer this young girl anything better?

Both of these situations are how massive outbreaks of dysentery and cholera occur.

Esther and Lane are presenting their findings back to Charity:Water in New York Friday. I am praying that they are moved to join us in these projects.

Yeah...Mac is back!

MacGregor is home after a two week trip to & around Nairobi.  We are glad to have him safely home. -Ashley

Black Friday and the 10 Commandments

My mom sent me a link to this and I really liked it, so I thought I'd share.  Credit to the author is given at the end.

1. I am the Lord your God. Recognize that stuff isn’t going to make you happy, but faith in whatever it is you believe in, love, and understanding are what’s important. The iPhone can wait.

2. You Shall Have No Other Gods Before You. That Wii may be cool, but making it the focal point of your life isn’t doing anyone any good. Get yourself out into nature for a few minutes. Play with your kids. Read a book.

3. You Shall Not Make Wrongful Use of the Name of Your God. As in “So help me God, I’ll kill you if you don’t let go of that Suzie Barfs-A-Lot Doll.” That’s just not neighborly.

4. Remember the Sabbath and Keep It Holy. A stretch on this one, but maybe we could all take a day or two off each week from consuming and do some good instead? Just a thought.

5. Honor Your Mother and Father. Ask yourself “Would my parents be proud of how I’m acting?”

6. You Shall Not Murder. Ya see, it doesn’t say, “unless something is 20 percent below cost,” it just says don’t do it. Simple.

7. You shall not commit adultery. Not touching that one (pun intended).

8. You Shall Not Steal. Let that little girl have the doll she’s holding. Sure you’re bigger and can take it before her mommy sees, but come on.

9. You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor.
 All right, this one doesn’t work so much, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on, no?

10. You Shall Not Covet Anything That Belongs To Your Neighbor.Simply put, let the Joneses be the Joneses and let the Smiths be the Smiths. The things that you have that are important can’t be bought and can’t be sold. They are learned and passed along from one generation to the next. Take a look at who you are, and stop worrying about everyone else.

Bottom line is this: We all need to wake up and recognized that we are being played. Somehow we’ve bought into this notion that owning bigger and better stuff makes us bigger and better people. When in fact it makes us shallower and hollower. Last Friday proved that quite well. So here’s to next Back Friday when the stores are empty, the aisles deserted, and everyone is home with their families having made a decision about what is truly important, and acted upon it.

Dave Chameides is an environmental educator and freelance filmmaker.  The full article can be found on his site at: