Sunday, August 17, 2014

American Life


I've been savoring every drop I can get of this American life, even while missing Rwanda so much. It's good to be home. 

The best part about being here is that all 7 of us are together. Last night we streamed a movie and watched it. For free. Or for $1. I don't remember. 

"Streaming" just doesn't happen in Rwanda - due to slow internet speeds. What a treat! 

More things happen for free here than I remember! 

Yesterday morning, I took Destin to a "back to school bash" event that our local Salvation Army Kroc center was putting on for the community for free. There were bouncy houses, hot dogs, water, chips and popcorn, face painting and many school supplies - all free. 



From these pictures, you can see that Destin had a ball. 




In the afternoon, our whole family got to catch up with our dear family friend, Dana. What fun to just slide back into laughing and joking together as if no time had passed. 





Later, I took Stephen and Ruthie dorm shopping. The amount of choices - even for toilet bowl cleaners - is still a bit hard for me to comprehend. This country has so much more than most of us realize on a daily basis. As I feel overwhelmed and yes, a little guilty sometimes by it all, I keep remembering the (paraphrased) words of Jesus: "To whom much is given, much is required". Were we blessed so we can have all this stuff and enjoy life on easy street? Is that what Jesus's "abundant life" he mentions in John 10:10 is all about? I don't think so. 

I believe the greatest challenge on earth, spiritually, is to be rich, and/or to live in such a rich country. It takes away the awareness that we need our God. Richness deadens us to awareness of the needs of the less rich. And, keeping track of so much stuff takes so much time, it is hard to have time for others. 

So, should we pretend to not be so filthy rich as a nation? That would just be silly. No, we should accept it, thank God for His blessings, and then find ways, with God's help, to pass His blessings on to others. 

To me, "much is required" sounds a lot like the old movie, "Pay it Forward", or the old phrase, "Blessed to be a blessing". 

Share your bounty with others. Seek out someone for whom you can be the hands and feet of Jesus today. Ask God to show you with whom he'd like you to share. There are plenty of people needing a hand right here. You don't have to go to Africa to share the love God has given you. 

We live in such a blessed country for a reason. God entrusted this to us.  He believed in us, trusted us to make good use of His gifts and pass them on to His other children. 

Dear God, thank You for letting us be Americans. We did nothing to be born here. It was nothing we did. We aren't rich (and if you're American, you ARE rich) because we are smarter or harder working than the rest of the world. You just chose that for us. Please help us to not horde Your blessings, but to share with others who have so much less, and to hope they will share some of the things they have: overflowing joy, deep, abiding faith and the gift of understanding utter dependence on YOU, with us in return.  Amen. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

New Year's Resolutions....in August

So, I've totally fallen off the "keep in touch with people and let them know what's up with our mission" principle.






And I am sorry about that.

I don't think there is any realistic way for me to go back and sum up the last three months or more since I was blogging regularly, so, perhaps I will reminisce some in the next few weeks and try to recall a few past events, or perhaps I will just start where we are now.

Here is a current picture of our new family: 






Okay, maybe that isn't us ~ but we don't have an official picture yet, so maybe this will sum it up for you. 



At any rate, today's post will be about where we as a family are NOW, because, as mundane and ordinary as it sounds for any American readers, it is for us very unusual and extraordinary, after living for two years in a place totally different from the USA.


First Extraordinary Event:

For the FIRST TIME IN FOREVER, all 7 Bergs are living under the same roof in Trinity Baptist Church's missionary house on Bluebell Drive.  (Also, Here's a big shout out to Trinity Baptist!  What a blessing is this house to us!  Thank you!)


I say "first time in forever" and mean it quite literally, since last time we were all together, we were a family of 6.  This is the first time ever for all 7 of us to be together as a family.  

Destin, adopted since June 24, already feels to us as if he has always been a Berg.  What a miracle this is  - we'd read and prepared for the awkwardness and the adjustment of older child adoption - but it went much more smoothly than we could have hoped or imagined.  Still, we are bracing for the end of the adoption "honeymoon" period, and realize that perhaps we have rough waters ahead.  Or perhaps not.  Perhaps, since we've known and loved Destin for two years already, and perhaps since he already knew us and loved us, perhaps the adjustment will not be the same as if we had only just met one month ago. Either way, we know God is holding us in His hand (Isaiah 41:10) and He has the whole thing under his loving control - nothing will happen that has not passed through Him first. 

A few of the other monumental events we've lived since I was posting regularly include: 

Stephen graduated from Rift Valley Academy on July 17. 












 

RVA wouldn't have been NEARLY as great an experience for Stephen if it weren't for his wonderful and devoted dorm parents, Tiffany and Corey Carey.  Oh, how we thank God for them!  We are happy that they will be able to be Sam's dorm parents in two years. 



 The class gathered on the cafeteria steps one more time to throw their hats together. 



Hannah finished her first year of college at Mary Hardin-Baylor University. 


 
 

 Ruthie finished her first year at Rift Valley Academy High School.  






Old friend from Kerrville, Jack, with Ruthie and some of her New Friends from RVA in Nairobi.  What a special treat!
 

Ruthie made many friends this year and really enjoyed RVA.  We are so happy she has adapted to her new environment so well.  One big plus for her this year was when her old neighborhood friend, Jack, came to visit in February with his mom, Chrisie, and his younger brother (Sam's good friend), Shaun.  We had a great time, and Ruthie enjoyed blending her old and new worlds for one special weekend! 

Sam finished Junior High, and I finished homeschooling.  Sam's "school-mates" didn't really exist, until the Lands (thankfully!!) arrived at the end of the school year.  So these pictures are of the friends he hung out with between classes.  




 


And, Destin Moses moved to Kibogora, Rwanda from Idjwi Island, Congo, and began attending Kibogora Methodist Pre-School.  














On July 24, we moved into Trinity Baptist Church's missionary house.  We are so grateful for the gift of this home while we are here in the States.  What a huge gift this has been to us!  We all have comfortable beds, Destin has a backyard, friends donated and set up a slide for him, and our wonderful public library provided many ESL videos and Barney tapes.  Three week checkout periods.  Whoop!

So, what are we doing now?  
 For the next two weeks, we will be trying to cram in as many family times and memories as we can, because starting August 20, our chickens will all be flying the coop once again.  Well, almost all the chickens, anyway.  At least Sam and Destin will still be in our house.  
 
Starting September, our biggest priority is to share what we are doing in Rwanda with anyone who wants to know!  We are available to speak anywhere, anytime we haven't already booked.  We are trusting God to continue his PERFECT record of bringing in our needed funding for this mission, so we won't be arm wrestling anyone about funding.  :) We just really want to connect and share what God has put on our hearts to do, and to see who He calls to join us either physically, like Jaycee Knoulton and the Land family, or financially or prayerfully.  We'll leave that part up to God, and just do our part of telling the story of what we're doing.  We have great pictures if anyone wants to see them!

Also, Tim will be working back in "his" old hospital while we are home, to try to replenish our bank account.  He is looking forward to working with his old colleagues, even while he dearly misses his fellow doctors and nurses in Kibogora Hospital in Rwanda.

I am signing up to substitute teach in our local public schools, and hope I remember some of my classroom management techniques from the Dark Ages when I took those education classes for my M.Ed., back in another lifetime.  

Many of you have asked us when we will return to Rwanda.  We had expected to return in late October of this year, but things got complicated when we tried to arrange for Sam's schooling situation.  We'd planned to fly both Ruthie and Sam back to RVA for the start of fall term.  However, RVA has a policy that we hadn't remembered:  new students must have parents ON the African continent for their first term, and we won't be there for the entire first term.  So, we are sending Ruthie back, who is a returning student, but Sam will have to stay back in Kerrville with us until we return to Rwanda.  For him to get high school credit, he needs to stay in the same school through one semester - he can't just leave midway through the semester. So, we will go back to Rwanda when he finishes the fall term, and he will start at RVA for 2nd term, which begins January 4. 

The bad news about this is, we miss our team-mates at Kibogora, and our many friends there in the Kibogora village and hospital.  The good news about this is:  we have more time to be in Bible studies here, to visit friends and family, to catch people up who want to know about Kibogora, for Destin to learn English, and for Tim and I to work here. 

If you want to see any of us, please don't wait for us to call you if you want to get together.  We've had phones break and all sorts of other techno glitches (and just plain being overwhelmed with all the moving around we've been doing the last few months) which might be preventing us from reaching some of you.  Comment below and we will make a way to get up with you to tell you all about the mission and/or just catch up on life in general!  Until school starts, we are pretty busy getting two kids ready for college, getting Ruthie ready to fly back to Kenya without us, and getting Sam and Destin ready for public school here in Kerrville.  But after September, we can't wait to meet with, pray with, laugh with and just visit with old and new friends. 

Thanks for reading.  If you want to pray for us, please pray for the ongoing transition of all the new school situations, the new housing situation, having a 6 year old again, and the emotions coming up with all the changes with school coming and going.   It's so hard to say good-bye to our kids all the time.  Please pray that we will enjoy some solid, fun, memorable family times these last ten days before everyone starts leaving again. 

Until next time! 

~ Linda

p.s. One more picture!  I have so enjoyed looking at the clouds here.  We have such a big sky!  I don't think anyone has as pretty clouds as we do in the Texas Hill Country. For anyone who doesn't live here, here is a picture just to share with you.







Monday, July 14, 2014

JOY FILLED NEWS


The Lord has done great things for us
and
We are FILLED with JOY!
Psalm 126:3

News Flash! 


We have a new son! 


This precious little boy,

Moses Destin Kiziganyi Berg,
has now been adopted into our family!  

 We signed the Congolese Adoption Papers on my brother Jim’s birthday, June 24. 

What a special day!  

*******


We cannot wait to introduce him to YOU and to the USA when we come home with him in just another ten days! 

So many details and miracles played a part in Moses becoming a BERG – I will chronicle those in subsequent posts.  


If you frequent this blog much at all, you already know Moses (formerly referred to as "Deste").  If not, you can check out part of his back-story by reading this
and this
and  this
and this 
and  this
and  this!

Whew!  
They are more, but I'm guessing no one wants to read that many posts.   


In the meantime, we are happy to finally get to share this news on our blog.  What an answer to many prayers is this little boy. 


Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling. 
 God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing.
Psalm 68: 4-6

 
He defends the cause of the fatherless 
and the widow, 
and loves the foreigner residing among you, 
giving them food and clothing. 
Deuteronomy 10:18

“Be glad, barren woman....."
(post-menopausal woman could go here, too, I'm thinking.  haha.) 
Shout for joy and cry aloud........,
because you're getting more children.....
Galatians 4:27, paraphrased

 "Lift up your eyes and look about you......
your sons come from afar....."
Isaiah 60:4   

Monday, June 2, 2014

HOW NOW, A RAT?

"HOW NOW, A RAT?  DEAD FOR A DUCAT, DEAD!!" ~  Shakespeare.

While of course Hamlet was talking about his step-dad, the King, and not a real rat (moral: always look before you stab - poor, poor Polonius!), I am talking about the genuine article ~ the real deal ~ the four footed, furry, non-friendly, stinky squirrel-without-the-furry-tail-nor-cute-face kind of rat.  Lots of them. A whole stinking family: cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, moms, dads, uncles, the works.  They've all moved into our home.  (Or maybe it is only 2 or 3, and they move around so much, we think there are more than there are.)

But, however many are here,  I'm putting them on notice now:   My name is Linda Muller Berg.  You ate my napkins and pooped in my shirt drawer.  Prepare to die.  (Yes, that reference to Princess Bride was on purpose.)  




One of my "transition goals" which I hope to accomplish before we move home to Texas (temporarily) is this:  to annihilate every rodent that has taken up residence in our..... residence.


I'd like the next human inhabitants of our home, whoever they may be, to not have to contend with opening clothes drawers and finding furry friends inside, or with opening a kitchen drawer and finding a running rodent ripping up our few paper napkins for her nest, or to feel a wiggling under the couch cover where one is SITTING, and realize it is yet another rat, trying to escape being discovered.


I have HAD IT WITH THESE long tailed, disease carrying, disgusting things!  (Sorry, Virginia Kerr Young, but they really are disgusting!)


This is war.  All out war.  For the benefit of whomever moves into our lovely home in a couple months, we are pulling out all the stops to find every one of these creatures and ending their lives, one by one.


We have a new cat, with a new job, and Simeon is good with his feet stomping skills, too.  Zach and Sam love to get off school to chase down and grab the little boogers, so maybe we will make headway.


Ewwwwwwww.  Today, we found and exterminated one.  Here is our proof.  One down, 999 to go.  Okay, maybe only 3.  But it feels like 999.  Ewwwwwwww.  That's all I have left to say.  EWWWWW!

Below is the play-by-play of our rat catching activity today.

1.  Sam opened drawer to get out napkins and saw a RAT.  Eww!
2. Rat jumped out of drawer and ran to the pantry.
3.  Sam, Zach and Simeon all ran into pantry after the RAT, and all sorts of screaming, laughing and knocking around noises started emanating from said pantry.  I tried to come in, but girls weren't allowed.

4.  Suddenly, I hear, "I got it, I got it!"  Then I heard a loud thud, followed by, "Oh GROSS, blood is coming from its nose and ears!"  Simeon, Sam and Zach were all howling with laughter at this point.  So glad PETA doesn't have an office in Kibogora.  
The younger boys weren't allowed to enter either, but here is a picture of their excitement just outside the kitchen while the older men-boys were doing the hunting.  
I lost the desire to enter the pantry at this point.  But I did force open the door for a quick picture, taken only moments before the rat was caught.  

5.  Zach and Sam decided to feed the now-deceased rat to our mama cat, in hopes of cultivating a "taste" for RAT within her.    I guess it worked, because she was so happy!















And she was so proud of herself, as if she had been responsible for the kill.  Ha!  Lazy cat!

So, that was our day.

How was yours??  




42


No way!

Yes, way!


I used to say this about all sorts of silly things, many decades ago.

But now, when I think about how we have only 42 days left in Rwanda, I find myself remembering this old phrase and 
thinking it over and over (only the number of days keeps getting smaller.)




We leave kibogora (temporarily) in 42 days.  

What?

42 days? ........NO WAY!!!!  

Yes, way. 








42 days left to see friends, visit patients, for Tim to operate,  to see my sewing ladies.  42 days left for working on college apps with Prudence, taking Joshua jilles, Moses Deste and Fabrice to swim in Beautiful Lake Kivu and shopping for tomatoes and flour in Tyazo market.  42 days to hang out with the Land family www.landfamilymissions.blogspot.com and be with them as they make new friends and continue adjusting to their new home, 8,000 miles away from their family, church and lifelong friends.





I'm reading up about handling transitions, because this one seems already to be knocking me over. 



I'm so excited to see my loved ones in the United States, yet I'm basically losing it every day about leaving my loved ones here. 

This whole "belonging in two worlds" thing is kinda hard for this small town Texas girl to process.  Maybe I'm having a hard time with saying good-bye, and with this transition, because our return date is rather open-ended/completely unknown.  We don't know exactly when we'll return, because it depends on when God chooses, in His perfect timing, to make it possible for us to return by moving the people He has already chosen to donate the funds we need.  

In our home-school here, we read a devotion this morning about how God already KNOWS the person that Macy, Zach and Sam will marry one day.  OR, He already knows that they will not ever marry.  If they'll marry, He knows what their future spouse had for breakfast today, where he or she now lives, and what she or he looks like.  He knows his or her name.  He knows how they'll meet.  

If Zach, Macy and/or Sam will never marry, God knows that, too.  He knows why that will be best for them.  He knows how He'll use them in a special way on this earth, a way that wouldn't be possible if they did marry.  

He knows it all.  

He directs our paths.  

We don't know how or when the funds for our mission work will come, or from whom they'll come, but He knows.  He knows how, He knows when, He knows from whom.  He knows why we have to go home now.  We can rest, really rest, knowing He loves us and He has a great plan.  Even though we ourselves are CLUELESS.  

Then again, I've always been this way with transitions.  Maybe I'd still be this upset, even if we had it all figured out.  I still remember, like it was yesterday, when I handed my Dad my cheer pom poms after the last football game of my senior year and literally bawled all the way home from the football field, certain that my life was OVER, and that I could NOT make the transition to life after high school - that NOTHING would ever be the same and could never be as good again as it was at that moment.  (Thanks Dad, for not laughing too loudly at me back then and for your patience with your overly sentimental and transitions-impaired daughter.)  And if I was that bad in November of my senior year of high school, just imagine what I was like at graduation.  Yes.  I was a mess.  A total mess.  Just ask my parents or high school friends like Kirk, Kelly, Charmaine, Dey or Noel.  

At least regarding this transition, our family will have these friends (see pic below) back home to welcome us, friends who have experienced where we've lived these last two years. I have a hunch that these people will make it much easier for us to re-engage and reconnect back home, because if we start crying for no reason in church or show up wearing Keen's and hippy skirts (or for the guys, bright floral Hawaiian type shirts, slacks and sandals) to a formal event, they'll understand!! Haha. Just joking. I won't wear my Keens to any weddings.  Promise.  And also, in case any Rwandan friends are reading - I realize Rwandans are very sharp dressers and would never wear these things to weddings here - it is the Mzungus who wear the casual clothes, not the Rwandans, mainly b/c we are trying to navigate the bumpy roads and don't have the same core strength as our Rwandan friends, so we can't handle wearing "real shoes" here. 




If you have time, would you please pray for me, Tim and our children as we make this new adjustment? We want to readjust well, to re-engage in our home culture while we are there, and to enjoy the time with family and friends to the fullest. 

We also want to help Hannah as she moves back into college for her sophomore year, and to help Stephen as he moves into his dorm at TAMU for the first time.  Even though we are sad to leave, we are also beyond thankful and excited for the many opportunities like these that we'll have because of our time in the States.  

I don't remember who said it, but it's true: "Wherever you are, be all there." That's what we want to do! (Without forgetting our friends here, of course, just like we haven't forgotten our USA loved ones while living in Rwanda.) 



Thanks.....

P.S.  One thing that will not take any effort to adjust to is.....Chick Fil A!  We plan to drive through on our way home from the airport...... :)