Archive for July, 2018

July 21, 2018

Wedding Invitation

Soon after arriving in Beni I had to decide how to share about my engagement with friends and family from home and also invite them to our wedding. I did not want to do a digital invitation because I knew that no matter what I did, I would not be happy with it. I decided to do it by hand and experiment with a calligraphy set that I got from my Grandpa. I wrote the sections of the invitation on pieces of trace paper and then cut them up and arranged them on a white board along with some yellow flowers that I picked from the garden. It turned out better than I thought it would! I experimented with taking pictures inside and outside that created different effects with the background (fabric vs grass) and shadows (soft vs sharp). The indoor photo was the winner, but I have included both here. I was glad that I found a way to do the invitations that made the process more fun! I sent the picture to friends and family in e-mails and included one of my favourite photos of Othy and I.




July 14, 2018

Getting Settled in Beni

I have been in Beni for two months now. It is hard to believe! I haven’t had the chance to write about my arrival in Beni until now because I was trying to catch up on everything that has happened up until this point. I am settling in well. I am living in the house of two american women who are friends of mine. They are both away (I overlapped with one of them for a short two weeks) and so I have been taking care of the house for them. In the meantime a Congolese colleague from UCBC has been living with me so that I’m not living there on my own. It took time to get used to living in Beni both with the difference in culture and language and also meeting new people everyday. I found that for the first few weeks I was going about my days in a bit of a haze and by the evening was completely drained. Then after a month I started having more energy and it was as if I could see everything clearly again.


Beni sunset

It feels like the time is passing quickly. From Monday to Friday I go to UCBC and assist the Sharing the Land (STL) project at the Integrated Research Institute (IRI). It took some time to get oriented within my role, but it has slowly taken shape over the last two months. I am serving to build internal capacity within IRI and the STL team because UCBC is taking on more projects and is becoming a leader and a training hub within the land reform process in the DRC. My role involves developing curriculum, performing trainings, finding publication opportunities, and contributing to graphic communications. I have enjoyed getting to know and working with the team of 10-15 people who are mostly alumni of UCBC. At the beginning of July I began leading a one month training in GIS tools for other UCBC alumni and a few land administrators. It has been a real challenge to develop curriculum in french at the same time as leading the training in french! What a great way to improve though! At the same time as doing this I am also continuing my part-time work with E4C. I am remotely overseeing the work of three fellows from India, Kenya, and Guatemaula who are doing research in the agriculture and habitat sectors. All of this combined has been keeping me very busy!



GIS Training

On the weekends I have been joining a few different social activities. The international staff have been gathering once a month for a social, and the international women have been meeting for a time of fellowship and prayer once every two weeks. I have also joined a discipleship group that Othy is a part of called Like Christ (Kama Kristo) and am thankful to have been welcomed with open arms by the group. On Sundays I have been attending Othy’s church which is the English service at CBCA (Communauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique) and after church I often attend the choir practices. I am enjoying learning many new songs in French, English, and Swahili! I have only spent a short time with the people I have met so far in these different groups, but I know already that they are people that I want to get to know more. When I am around town I always feel like an outsider, but in these groups that feeling disappears which is a real blessing.


Choir practice

Before arriving in Beni I wondered what it would be like to finally live in the same city as Othy! It has been a nice development in our relationship. We see eachother in passing at UCBC, and we find time to hang out on weekends and after work on some days. We have also taken two short trips to Butembo to visit his famly. We have jumped into the various planning that needs to be done for our upcoming wedding that we have set for October 20th! One of the big tasks was to send out wedding invitations and now the next one is travel logistics for those who are coming. We have also started group counciling at Othy’s church and will have some counciling sessions over Skype with a friend from Toronto. Very soon we will start looking for a house to rent. My life is already looking different and soon it will change again!


God at work

I put “God at work” as the subtitle of this section because I want to intentially reflect on what God is doing in Beni, in me, and in the community around me in these monthly updates. However, sometimes there are times when it is more difficult to see where God is at work. I feel like I am in a season of learning to trust that He is acting for our good even when I don’t always see or understand what He is doing. I have also been challenged by the need to pray daily for Him to act in big ways because he is able. Sometimes I feel hopeless when I hear about what is happening in Beni region. The insecurity in the region has far-reaching implications. For example, many people here make their living off of the land, but because of insecurity they cannot access their fields and sometimes their livestock and crops get pillaged. Some of their children are students at UCBC and they are no longer able to pay their school fees. As a result, UCBC has been struggling to pay the salaries of their staff and visiting professors. It appears to be a helpless situation, but everytime the staff and students gather for a prayer or chapel time, they pray both with confidence that he will act and answer their prayers, and confidence that He works all things out for our good. In difficult times we have to trust in his promises to us and also look and see how He has been faithful. I have been reflecting recently on the Psalms because many of them express the uncertainty that I sometimes feel and help me to pray when I don’t have the words.

Prayer requests


  • I have settled in well here and have been in good health
  • I am beginning to develop relationships with people and have found various communities to be apart of


  • Pray for the families who cannot access their fields and are struggling to pay school fees and other expenses, that God may work in the details through people and groups to bring peace to the region.
  • Pray for UCBC to find the funding they need to keep serving, growing, and being a shining imitator of Christ in this region.
  • Pray for intentionality in the relationships that I develop, that I may share God’s love and that cultural barriers can come down.
  • Pray for energy, discernment, and good communication for Othy and I as we prepare for our future together
  • Pray that God provide avenues for Othy and I to have sufficient finances to meet our needs in this upcoming season
July 1, 2018

Goma in Passing

I did not get to see much of Goma because I arrived after dark (around 9pm) and left early the next morning at 6am. My small experience was of the Maji Matulivu Guesthouse (meaning “still waters” in Swahili) that is situated on the edge of Lake Kivu. The guesthouse is beautiful but had a feeling of melancholy because there was hardly anyone there. I had missed dinner but fortunately found the cook and was given a plate of cold leftovers. While I was eating, an older European woman poked her head into the kitchen and we chatted for a bit. She had lived in South Kivu for a long time and was just passing through. I went to bed early because the lights in the living area were already off and I also had to wake up early the next morning. I had trouble getting to sleep however, because someone in the room next to me started singing opera between 10-11pm. I was a bit annoyed by it but somehow it added to the poetic intrigue of this place! The next morning I woke up to the beautiful view of lake Kivu and got to see the changing colours of the clouds as the sun began to rise. My driver came to pick me up, we picked up Jon (I saw Archip in passing on the way there and rolled down my window to shake his hand in greeting!), and then we headed to the airport. The process of checking in was a bit confusing because we had to pay two different taxes each in different locations. I was thankful to travel with Jon because he had an idea of the process. We were flying with UNHAS who allow 20kg of weight with any extra weight costing $1.5 per kg. I had to leave my guitar and my second suitcase with a colleague in Goma to be sent on a different flight a few days later. The plane was the smallest I have been on. We stopped in Bunia and had to get off the plane, go through a security point, to get back on the plane after they finished refuelling. Finally we arrived in Beni and my good friend Lauren was there to welcome us! It felt so strange and yet so good to be back!




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July 1, 2018

Transit through Rwanda

In the past I have always travelled through Uganda to get to Beni, DRC, but this time I was instructed to go fly into Kigali Rwanda, drive to Goma, and then fly from Goma to Beni. Although I was sad not to be able to visit friends in Uganda, I was excited at the opportunity to see another country I had not yet visited. I had heard so many things about Rwanda and was looking forward to seeing it for myself. I arrived in Kigali on Saturday afternoon and hired a taxi to take me to Yambi Guesthouse that came on good recommendation from a colleague at Congo Initiative. The first thing that I remarked on during the drive was how almost unnaturally clean everything was, and how the main roads seemed almost European. It was strange to see because it looked so much more organized than the other African cities I have visited. All of the roads had generous sidewalks and some secondary streets were made with cobblestones. Yambi Guesthouse is a comfortable place with a nice atmosphere. It was about dinner time when I arrived, but I didn’t want to spend money or eat more restaurant food after being several days at a hotel. The hostel has a kitchen and so I walked down the street and bought the ingredients for an omelette from a little shop. Instead of spending $10 on a meal, I spent under $2. While eating I met the owner whose name is Patrick. He offered to take me to see some parts of Kigali the next day. That evening I chatted with Othy because it was his birthday and unfortunately we couldn’t be together in person.



View from Yambi Guesthouse


I took the next morning to get some work done, and in the afternoon Patrick took me to the oldest neighbourhood in Kigali called Nyamirambo. We walked the main streets and then in behind where there are precarious settlements. He said that these houses are illegal because the areas always experience erosion with heavy rain, but people build there anyways. Next he took me to a memorial for the Belgian peacekeepers who were murdered at the start of the Rwandan Genocide in 1993. Part of the memorial is the very buildings where the troops were killed. It is a powerful testimony because the building remains untouched with bullet holes in the walls. A chalk board inside the room is covered with messages from family members expressing anger towards the perpetrators and also a UN general who saw that something was happening but chose not to intervene. Near the memorial there was a conference centre with an area where local arts and crafts are sold. The path approaching the crafts building is a tensile construction that I thought was nicely done. The craft pavilions are constructed out of oriented strand board that I thought gave warmth to the space and highlighted the arts and crafts that were on display. My favourite display was a wall of woven baskets because I love woven furniture and accessories! I think it would be cool to make an artwork in my house out of a selection of baskets. Soon after getting back to the guesthouse a driver came and picked me up. We went first to the airport to pick up Jon and then started our journey on to Goma. The drive took about four hours and we enjoyed watching the sun set over the green hills. As we approached the border crossing, I got a short glimpse of the glowing crater of Mount Nyiragongo, the active volcano 20km north of Goma in Virunga National Park.