Friday, January 5, 2018

Bugesera district

Hi everyone, delayed in posting so you may see a few back to back! Each day has been quite full! 

We spent the morning in Bugesera for church with partners of Under His Umbrella. This district is an hour outside of Kigali where there is more farm land and rural and undeveloped living. 
The church was gracious to gift us a real live chicken as a token of gratitude - truly an honor and a first for me amongst my African experiences!  Luckily we were able to pass the gift onto Jonathan and his family , our guide in Kigali and sponsorship coordinator at UHU. 
Unfortunately only 4 out of the 7 of our team were able to partake in the day's events as the other 3 were very sick with food poisoning. (Misery!) 
The following day we were back in Bugesera and  able to spend the entire time at Under His Umbrella  & Vineyard Christian School.  There were nearly 400 kids which was daunting but a lot of fun to meet them and spend time getting to know some of the kids.  We played a little pick up soccer, enjoyed hundreds of stickers, blew bubbles and sang songs. We also had the opportunity to serve their meal of rice and beans within the feeding program. Currently the school budget only allows for 3 meals a week, so many of them are not fed the other days or don't come to school at all. 
In the afternoon we spent time with the UHU sewing ministry, meeting the mamas and learning their stories. They were so kind and open with us about how impactful the sewing program has been on their lives and families along with a brief testimony about life before working at UHU.  Mind you three of these mamas also had tiny babies under 6 months affixed to their backs while they worked tirelessly making uniforms for next term. They also sew & sell bags and aprons to earn additional income in addition to weaving baskets. 

At the end of the day we were able to facilitate three home visits in the village to bless families in need from Under His Umbrella and provide some necessities like maize flour, beans, rice and bars of soap.  It was such an honor to be welcomed into each home and spend time learning their stories and to be a part of their  community. 
The landscape and people are beautiful and each day is continuing to be full of so much joy and hope! 
Wishing you a Happy New Year from Rwanda!


Africa is...a place of such unimaginable beauty and dignity and expanse and possibility, and such unfathomable suffering and despair and disease and decay. It is at once so alive and so wracked by death, so powerful in its landscape and physicality, and so powerless under the weight of famine and political upheaval and disease... You will be haunted by what you find there, and you won't be able to wash away what you've seen and heard... You will be responsible for them, for telling the truth about you are and who you discover you are not, and for finding a way to make it right.
 - Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines 

P.s I'm also having a difficult time uploading photos to this blog... But I have several on Instagram if you want to see some highlights!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Land of a thousand hills

Rwanda is taking my breath away - the people, the landscapes, the hope and resilience are unlike anything I've known.
We arrived safely and uneventfully after 20 plus hours on 4 planes with 5 stops from Charlotte to New York to Doha Qatar, Entebbe Uganda and finally Kigali Rwanda.
The past few days have been long but incredibly full with the heart of Africa that I've come to love so dearly. Though I've seen suffering of many kinds, nothing has quite compared to learning first hand about the genocide in 1994 that took over 1 million Rwandan lives. The magnitude and impact is visible 23 years later and to now know just a few of the stories and nightmares from those weeks of ones lost and those who survived is forever etched in my heart. 
We had the opportunity to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on Saturday which was remarkable to say the least, filled with so many emotions. There are an estimated 250,000 people buried in mass graves, surrounded by gardens and a museum dedicated to remembrance and hope for a better country and world. Inside we learned the timeline of Rwanda's history and how these atrocities came about, along with picture walls of thousands lost, video testimony of those who survived and the glimpse of restoration for today's Rwanda.
Rwanda is a beautiful country, known as the land of a thousand hills. The people I've met so far with the organizations we're partnering with Best Family Rwanda and Under His Umbrella are wonderful and have been incredible hosts, not to mention the amazing work they are doing for their people.
We spent the day Saturday at one of the three BFR centers - Nygarunga with 100 beautiful children, playing games, stickering foreheads and hands, blowing bubbles and assisting with photographing all of the kids for needed sponsorship and updated photos. We were also able to partake in their afternoon Saturday "treat" of milk and sweet rolls and share leftovers with the neighboring children who are not part of the program. 
Afterwards we visited the nearby market that Best Family built to provide a marketplace for parents to establish their own small business by selling various food, clothes and other items to better provide for their families. These mamas were magnificent and the hard work and lengths they go to for their children was beautiful to see. I met one mama and she immediately handed me her small baby, who promptly wanted to partake in the grilled corn I was gifted.  This was so heartwarming and an honor that she wanted this "mzungu" to meet and hold her smallest child.  This was after another precious toddler ran away terrified at the sight of me, with my pale, blue eyed self. I hope she will not be traumatized for life but the rest of the crowd laughed and thought it was hysterical that she was afraid of us.
This particular "branch" of BFR was established in a vulnerable village where the parents are either survivors of the genoicide with disabilities or are veterans who fought to stop the attacks.
My heart is full and tired but I am so thankful to be here.  I am striving to be present in each moment and soak in all that I can.

Thank you for loving me along the way!



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Africa calling ... lost & found

I think for most of us, we're always looking for something.

Whether it's the next move, from Atlanta to New York and back again, for the job that pays our bills or the people that make our days feel full ... for another soul to connect with, the friend who doesn't have to say anything, the always present "Me, too"... and when someone sees your heart and wants nothing more for you to find what feels like has been missing, ... or has yet to arrive.

Our hearts long for connection and purpose … so in my life’s searching, Africa has given me a sense of belonging and purpose that is unlike anything else I've known.

It is not an easy or comfortable calling and I honestly still do not know what it means for my life’s journey– It is a privilege that I do not deny, one that begs me to listen and remain open and faithful but that is far from easy.

Most people cannot understand the desire to travel across the globe to third world countries, for less than average conditions, subjecting oneself to unfamiliar hazards like yellow fever, typhoid and malaria … Yet, I long for returning to this place. For meeting beautiful joy-filled people and learning their stories, for holding precious children who do not know the love of a family let alone human connection … I yearn to be a tiny glimmer of hope that sees and affirms that they, just like me and you are valued, even the most vulnerable of us.

I am grateful to say that I'm journeying to Rwanda the day after Christmas with GoBeLove International. As I wrestled for the past year and a half on what was next for me, when and where to go and how, this place made an impression on my heart. A small African country known in modern history as a place full of tremendous heartbreak, there is also so much hope and redemption alive today.

Our time will be split between Kigali, the capital of Rwanda and Gisenyi which is located on beautiful Lake Kivu that borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. While in Rwanda we will partner with in-country ministries and spend multiple days with each.

As a nation Rwanda has made a commitment to move orphans to families and to keep families together and the ministries we partner with in Rwanda all work towards this goal. This trip speaks to my heart for orphans and vulnerable children and desire to learn how to serve more effectively.

Journey with me as I continue to seek this path - your encouragement, support & desire to see me Go make all of this possible.



“Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too--  even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling.”
Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fifteen years ...

It seems like yesterday but also a lifetime ago that you left the world as we know it to be.
I remember that day so vividly in my mind, like it is frozen in time.
A Thursday in April that started out so ordinary, now engraved on our hearts with the wound of grief.

All those things we didn’t say…

My greatest longing for you was to be well – to be happy and safe, out of trouble or harms way and to know your worth.
I know you wanted this for me, too.

My deepest regret is the last time I saw you on this earth, I was angry and hurt that you were high.
I’m sorry. I know you are, too.

My love for you has never wavered.
I know now that you genuinely loved me, too.

You wanted to protect us -  
From your pain – your hurt – your demons –your fears – your experiences – your addiction.

I wish I could have shouldered some of that burden for you.

My heart aches for the suffering of others and I truly believe that began with you, dear brother.
Thank you for teaching me to see people and to desire to know them fully.   


I am growing into the knowledge that you can’t experience joy without experiencing pain - One simply cannot exist without the other.

My hope lies in knowing that what was once lost, can be found and where there is sorrow, sweetness will someday follow.
I believe you will always be a friend to many young and old , here and in heaven above.

To my oldest sibling, as I continue to grow and change with the passing of time - 
You are forever young.

You are remembered
You are loved
You remain a part of us.

In the wake of death, may we all find life -
And live it abundantly.

#fifteenyears  #timemarcheson #personal


"When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are...For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost." Buechner

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Home safe and sound!

Hi everyone, I'm behind on my posts so more stories to come, but wanted to let you all know that I am home from Kenya, safe and sound.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to go and be love and more so for the incredible support and encouragement I've received throughout this journey.
Thank you all for praying with and for me, I so appreciate the love from each of you! I hope you know that you are all a part of each story I experienced, thank you for allowing me to be love to so many young and old along the way.


"You were created to love and be loved.

 You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known.
 You need to know your story is important, and you're part of a bigger story.
 You need to know your life matters."

- To Write Love on Her Arms 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Closing Day at RingRoad

Today was the last day of school for the term for the RingRoad kids. We spent the morning organizing items to be handed out after the closing day assembly and awards. Similar to Allara from last week, each child was given a bag of "Christmas" food to take home, along with mosquito nets for the smaller children, and new uniforms for all. The girls were given new undewear, thanks to #pantiesforapurpose we had over 600 pairs to distribute which was amazing! The girls were excited and grateful, so thank you to everyone for contributing to this need. 
In the afternoon, Cassi, Alex and I took four of the kids from RingRoad to the Mega City shopping center to do some shopping with money sent via their sponsors. It was so great to see these kids with so little, use their money for new school shoes, school books and groceries for their families. We had an eventful time piling 7 people into a TukTuk, plus all of the goods and driving them home back towards the Nyalenda slums!
It was another full day, but filled with wonderful people and experiences - hard to believe how fast the time has gone by and we will be leaving soon to come home.
Planning to spend the weekend at the children's hospital, reunite with Obama and volunteer again at New Life baby home - Packing it in!

Thanks for the encouragement and for following the journey.

Sharon, Terri, Mary and friends now in class 6!

Handing out new shirts and underwear!

Closing day! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving in Kenya

Just a quick update as its Thursday in Kenya which is Thanksgiving in America. Time is flying by during my time in Kisumu and each days feels so full. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to visit this place and meet so many wonderful people and to the Nicholson family for graciously hosting us during this trip.
We had a lovely meal this afternoon with several other missionary families from the States and did our best to create a traditional Thanksgiving dinner! It was great to celebrate so much and learn different stories from these families and what they are doing here in Kenya, from ministering to street kids, providing hope to widows and orphans and empowering these people with trust and faith.

Sending blessings and love to you and yours on this day of thanks - Happy Thanksgiving friends!


Cassi, Sarah, Ruth Michael, Chris, Abby Jones
Me & Iddy