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From Student to Teacher

From Student to Teacher

(I’m taking more time to work and write for our nonprofit in 2017. Hope you enjoy insights into DR Congo and our education project. –Kristin)

Do you know how New Year’s and Christmas are celebrated in Congo?

Future Hope Africa Blog

moses Moses Cito Kajiramugabi

Moïse (Moses in English) is one of the teachers at our Future Hope Africa Education Center in Bukavu, DRC. He first came to the Center when he was in high school, for help with his studies and to participate in our Princes Club, now called the Young Leaders Club*.

He graduated from high school with very good grades and was offered an opportunity to go to Kinshasa (the capital city of DR Congo). After much thought and prayer he decided instead to stay in Bukavu and work with us at the Center. His passion is to help younger ones with their school work.

Moses is 20 years old and among the youngest of 11 children in his family. His father has recently become ill so staying in Bukavu has also meant he’s available to help care for him. His father and mother currently have no employment, so working at…

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Living in Holland

 

How Holidays Are Celebrated in Congo #cause #FutureHopeAfrica

(I’m taking more time to work and write for our nonprofit in 2017. Hope you enjoy insights into DR Congo and our education project. –Kristin)

Do you know how New Year’s and Christmas are celebrated in Congo?

Moïse (Moses in English) is one of the teachers at our Future Hope Africa Education Center in Bukavu, DRC. He first came to the Center when he was in high school, for help with his studies and to p…

Source: From Student to Teacher

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Living in Holland

 

MLK Jr.’s Less Famous Words

“Help us to realize that humanity was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity.” –Martin Luther King Jr., Quote from Prayer for the Church

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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in Martin Luther King Day

 

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Smelling Socks #Motherhood

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(Photo Credit to TimelessTreasureTrove.com Where Frugal Got Fabulous)

I sometimes smell boy socks. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to yada yada. You know how it goes. Here’s the deal, though. When you tell kids to clean up their room, and most the mess is a hodgepodge of clothes both clean and dirty, all the clothes end up in your laundry basket.

Maybe that’s no big deal at your house. You’re always trying to make a full load anyway. Not at my house. Four sons, two parents, and a tiny European washer with the shortest clean time for colors at 1 h 20 m. The dryer will take  two times longer, maybe three.

Therefore, I must smell socks. Boys will have a consequence for every clean sock they’ve put in the dirty clothes. I don’t smell underwear. As a woman and a mom, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

And don’t get me started on the odors seeping out into the hall. I’m sorry. Once you’ve made the room smell that bad, why would you continue to sit on the toilet for another 45 minutes?

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Kristin King is an author of paranormal fiction. She blogs about travel, food, living in Holland, the occasional current event, and most anything except motherhood.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2017 in Brings a Smile, Moments

 

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2017 Without You #Loss #Grief #Holidays

His inhaler was empty.

A little American boy woke up a few weeks ago and went to school…just like my four sons did. If he is like them, he was in his favorite class, PE, when the attack came. It had happened before. This time his inhaler was empty. His lungs felt as if they were filling with water. The pressure inside pulled everything into that growing liquid. He was drowning in a room full of dry air. His throat was closing down in the middle of the gym. And his inhaler was empty.

Did you head into the holidays with an empty slot? A vibrant friend who took his own life? A parent you’ve never been without at Hanukkah before? A brother who fought the cancer till he had no fight left?

Is there an empty slot at your center threatening to suck your whole life into pain? Threatening your joy with sorrow? Threatening your blessing with unbearable loss?

When I started writing this blog, Alan Thicke and George Michael were still breathing. Mother and daughter, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, were still in the world together. Shocking. Taking our wind for a moment. Yet distant. Not like my husband’s father and his aunt. My friend Beth’s brother. My student Sydney’s grandfather. Not like Yuhan, the little boy in my nephew’s class. No article by CNN will review that we lost them this year, or the person you lost who makes your throat ache and close.

Some people will try to comfort us. Try to speak of how great his life was. How my aunt  did everything on her own terms. How filled their lives were with accomplishments, or family, or friends. You know what though? Friends don’t cut it. Honestly, if there’s an empty slot, no lover, no marriage, no success, no child birthed or adopted is ever going to fill that slot. And no words of sympathy, no matter how heart-felt, are going to relieve that grief. Not right now.

My friend wrote me about her loss. “As the year comes to a close here in a few hours for me, I find a strange sense of anxiety welling up inside me. It’s as if by going into 2017 and leaving 2016 I’m stepping through a door and closing off my brother forever. I don’t quite understand that one.” I don’t get it either. But I feel it. Don’t you?

My religious tradition talks about an emptiness inside us that we try to fill with the things of this world, that we think will make us happy. Maybe some of them work for a while. Distract us. Put a lift in our step. A smile for a moment. The hole is God-sized though, and nothing else can take that place. No one else can fill it. And grief is that way too.

An older person dies and somebody somewhere will inevitably talk about how fulfilled their life was. Really? Can’t they feel how wrong that death was? The great-aunt in her 80’s or the little boy in gym class–IT’S WRONG. It was not how this world was created to be. We know that truth inside of us even if we don’t have any way to express it–even if the words won’t come to us or the faith is beyond us. Death is wrong.

Her life was filled. Was it fulfilled? Full-filled life. How do we get that?

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” Jesus said. Weren’t those people already living? Well, yeah. There’s more though. More for you and for me to reach full-fillment. It’s there for anyone who seeks it. That’s what I’m opening my heart to.

In 2017, that is the air I breathe (song lyrics again) when my chest is too tight to expand. That is the bread I eat when my throat is too constricted to swallow. How do people go on without Jesus? There’s lots I can imagine. Not that. I really can’t imagine that.

2016 was the year that: the colleague lost his dad, the granddaughter lost her grandfather, the wife lost her husband, the sister lost her big sis. The year that you lost…

 

The doctors said my nephew’s best friend would have died even if his inhaler had been full. If the medics had been right there. If he’d been in the hospital at the time of his asthma attack. Sometimes the emptiness is one that nothing on this earth can fill, that nothing in this world can fix. One song lyric says, “And all I see, it could never make me happy.” And if that was the point of the song, it’d be one pretty depressing tune. But the chorus quietly prays:

Let me know that You hear me
Let me know Your touch
Let me know that You love me
And let that be enough (Switchfoot)

Oh God, so many of us are hurting. We need to feel your touch, to know you love us. Some of us know that you hear us, but you seem so far away. We know you are there for us, that you are here with us. Let that be enough. Fill our emptiness with more of you. Full-fill our lives with all you have for us.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

I had decided not to write this post. Not to transfer the words from my chicken-scratched notebook to this page. Then I opened social media, and two more friends had lost someone so dear to them. I couldn’t not write it. I couldn’t not tell you that there is hope, that there is comfort, that there is a brighter tomorrow. It might get worse before it gets better. And that tomorrow won’t be the same as those yesterdays with your loved one. This is new place, a new way of being in a new year…

2017 Without You

Never without our all-loving God.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13)

Maybe this will speak to you, the words of Gwen Flowers’ “Grief”

I had my own notion of grief.
I thought it was the sad time
That followed the death of someone you love.
And you had to push through it
To get to the other side.
But I’m learning there is no other side.
There is no pushing through.
But rather,
There is absorption.
Adjustment.
Acceptance.
And grief is not something you complete,
But rather, you endure.
Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself-
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.

(Some names were changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.)

–Kristin

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in Christmas, Holidays, Moments

 

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No Where #Ireland Family #Roadtrip

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Author, Ryan King shows thickness of walls at Rathgall Stone Fort, Ireland. Anyone else wondering how tall they were?

If you think Ireland destinations, you might think of Shannon and Galway, of walking the Cliffs of Moher, kissing the Blarney Stone, stepping on the Giant’s Causeway, or driving the Ring of Kerry. We did none of these on our family roadtrip.

I tried to sell my husband on the beauty of the Cliffs of Moher.

He asked, “How many people die there each year?”

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Safest way to view Cliffs of Moher (image by hecktictravels.com)

“Well, there is soil erosion at the edges and the occasional gust of wind, so a few…plus suicides.” Later I found out these unprotected cliffs are one of the 12 deadliest tourist spots in the world.  “We can be careful,” I said.

“With our four boys? No cliffs–anywhere.”

With that we headed to Ireland back roads. Using our fave holiday home rental search, we landed on the outskirts of Tullow. Never heard of it? Neither had we. It’s in the middle of no where. In Ireland, though, there’s always something to see and do with our sons.

The Rathwood nature park no longer features Falconry and Birds of Prey. I really wanted to hold an owl like the kid in the ad. The furry ponies were apparently grazing elsewhere, so we saw the deer and headed into the woods. A wide gravel path meandered to the goose pond. The place struck me as where-to-walk-your-stroller, but the boys enjoyed being out. If you’re a shopping looking for fine gifts of clothing and decor, the Rathwood Center is a great place. We zipped through hoping the boys wouldn’t break anything very expensive and hit the road.

The Rathgall Stone Fort was our find of the day. With outer walls from 800 B. C., the “Ring of Rath” is actually one of the most important Bronze Age sites in Ireland because of the bronze and later iron workshop excavated there. Discover Ireland says, “Rathgall was a huge workshop where spears, swords and shields were fashioned.” Clay molds, gold and glass beads, and the like were all found, although you’ll have to hit a museum to see the artifacts (some one of a kind for Ireland). Makes sense that beyond the thick stone inner walls, you walk out through three successively larger earthworks and stone rings protecting what was once a wealthy family or community.

Ireland also abounds with ruins, but unlike Wales, they are most likely to be of abbeys or monasteries. Seeing the clouds drifting behind open arches of once great windows in places of worship was both enchanting and a bit depressing to me. With better weather, you photographers of all skill levels would have a heyday. Pressing small feet and the always hungry tummies of our four sons kept me on the move.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-10-49-27-amWe couldn’t find an Irish Bakery to compare to The Welsh Bakery at all, but we scored a 5 EUR skateboard, 3 EUR Manchester United sport shirt and more at the charity 2nd hand shop. These are great places (also around the UK) to find off the wall, sometimes literally, souvenirs from Irish crystal candy dishes to vintage outerwear. Make sure to stop in if you get the chance!

I stayed back with three of our sons who wanted an active day of swimming and playing at our accommodations while our eldest son got his desired daytrip to Dublin with dad. They did the touristy town tour, saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and enjoyed Guinness in its hometown at the pub lunch.

Our days passed quickly, and next we headed to the coast to spend a day around Wexford before catching our return ferry to Wales. More on the coast next time. We did make one important discovery in and around Tullow.

Everywhere Ireland is close to Somewhere Ireland, and even No Where Ireland is a great place to go.

–Kristin

Related Links:

Largest Stone Age Capstone in All Europe Near Tullow

Movies Made at The Cliffs of Moher

Puffins and Other Birds Nesting on Cliffs of Moher

Top 10 Things to See for Ireland First Timers

 

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Living in Holland

 

Castles, Cakes and Cows #Wales #Roadtrip

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Pembroke Castle (Image from Coastal Cottages Blog)

If castles are your thing, then Wales is the place you want to go. I’m not talking about “modern” palaces with fine decor like Neuschwanstein and Versailles, but honest to goodness medieval fortresses, the kind of places to take refuge from the Zombie hordes. Choose carefully though as the castles are in various states of repair with diverse access to fresh water and other necessities.

These hotly contested lands were divided into at least four factions in the 1200’s–all of whom tried to secure their holdings withe stone upon stone. As posted previously, our family road-trip covered four countries, counting Holland, England, Wales and Ireland. I had no idea Wales would become one of my favorite places in all Europe. screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-4-36-47-pm

The Welsh people, much more so than the Irish and the Scottish, have held onto their native tongue (e.g. all signs in Welsh & English, so you know you’ve arrived), heritage, and culture. We heard Welsh everywhere from the pub chatter, the waitresses to the gas station attendants and customers. It’s every day, every where including most schools.

We stayed out of big tourist places making one concession by visiting Pembroke Castle. Having recently seen a bit of the fortress in the movie “Me Before You” (yes, you will cry), I was unprepared for the massive structure. Surrounded by a water-filled moat (swans a-swimming), looming towers, Pembroke captured the best of both history with dioramas, models of various building stages, to scale model reconstructions. Characters stood ready to tell you about the scullery, the knighthood, the falconry and more of medieval life. With our four boys, we broke away from the Free Tour to explore at our own pace.

Pembroke also afforded us our only “gift shop” of the sort to carry my collector spoons, my son’s pins, and Christmas ornament and such. We’d already decided to buy a Welsh flag as well and couldn’t find one till here, where several sizes tantalized.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-4-24-36-pmAs interesting as Pembroke Castle was, my family enjoyed Wiston just as much, maybe more for the kids. We found Wiston by taking an adventure drive with no destination our first afternoon. Brown signs pointing to castles, ruins, hill forts and such abound. Stumbling upon Wiston, we discovered a ruin built around the same time as Pembroke by Wizo (love that name). Wiston is a prime example of moat and bailey construction.

Hiking through the field past earthworks and up the hill, sharing the place with cows who quite frankly found us fascinating was a real kick. One of my sons took the opportunity to stand on the castle’s hillside and give a speech thanking the cows for their support as his bovine audience lined up to watch him with serious intent. We may have worn our boys out on castles though, as the youngest sidled up to hold my hand and said, “Boy, you guys sure like history.”

img_0065We stayed on the outskirts of Haverfordwest, where a short walk took us to Spittal’s only and authentic community pub, The Pump on the Green where we ate our fill included family style bowls of peas and carrots for all.

Our best food discovery, though, were the Welsh cakes. Even the gas station had them in packages of six–perfect for our troop. I bought a package of Welsh cakes almost every time we stopped. Ryan glanced over and sighed when I returned to the car. But how could I pass up the ginger and dark chocolate Welsh cakes when the traditional fare was made with raisins? BTW- The Welsh Bakery is not to be missed. Their toffee-tiffin cut up like fudge bites is mouthwatering yum-yum.

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The Welsh cakes we had were almost 3 inches across.

I’m not sure how I lived in the EU so long without visiting Wales, but I would return in a heart beat. “Keep Calm and Cwtch” said the tea cozy, and who of us doesn’t need a nice hug or cuddle?

 

–Kristin

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2016 in Food, Travel

 

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