Wanted to give you all a quick update on our lives.
School let out for summer in November, so we had a nice little holiday. We had a buddy come visit us from the US for Thanksgiving (who brought so many thanksgiving foods we cannot find here). In December, we took a bus the most Northwestern part of Rwanda to go hiking on the Congo Nile Trail for four days, with two new friends we met along the way. We got to share our first Christmas here with our Rwandan family. And Kathryn’s parents came to visit for a few weeks in January.
Back in November, we were given the greatest gift, as a big surprise to most (except for us)….we’re having a baby!
Otter pup is due in July, so we will be heading home in June to prepare for the birth. We are rejoicing knowing we will get to see and hug you all so very soon.
We’re praying big prayers: 1) Continual good health and growth of the baby 2) For Kathryn to have a normal and healthy pregnancy and birth 3) Preparation of our hearts as we prepare to come back to the US for a few months 4) Preparation of our hearts as we prepare to walk into this new season of parenthood 5) Safe and reliable travels day to day, along with trips to Kigali to visit the doctor (In the past week, we have had three close calls with large trucks and our last trip to Kigali left us with two flat tires.)
We are truly humbled by God’s kindness and faithfulness in our lives and blessing us with this sweet gift.
We are blessed to know you and cannot wait for our little one to be loved by you all!
We love yall deeply, Jake + Kathryn
This is Jake, I just wanted to send you guys a quick update on our lives during this season of COVID-19.
As you know, Kathryn and I made the sudden decision to book a flight back to the US, returning home on March 21st. While we were planning to come home to have Baby Otterman (due July 29), leaving abruptly 2 months earlier than expected, was less than ideal.
On Tuesday the 17th, we booked tickets to leave Rwanda that Friday at 7:40pm. On Wednesday evening, the Rwandan government announced that all borders and airports would be closing on Friday at midnight, so it is safe to say we made it out just time. We had 36 hours to pack up our house, prepare food and life for our house helper, guard, and pup, say our “see you laters”.
Since returning home, Rwanda has completely shut down all travel between towns, all non-essential businesses, and everyone is on mandatory stay at home orders (this is much more strict than in the US, people have been arrested for leaving their houses).
Upon our arrival, we spent a strict 14 days in isolation and have shown no symptoms of the virus. We are beyond blessed and know that you all have been praying with us because it is only through God that we could have traveled through four different countries and not contract the virus.
In the mess of all of this, isolation was a blessing for us. We realized in the past eight months, we barely had any time with just the two of us and it was truly good for our souls and our marriage. We have since gotten to spend time with our immediate families which has also been such a sweet time, but we deeply miss being with and hugging you all and cannot wait for that day to come.
We will be spending our time in the US building a website for the church in Rwanda and helping in the administration at Restoration Church.
Our plan is to return to Rwanda as soon as we can, once all our paperwork is completed, as a family of three.
In the meantime, we would love to see you all via zoom or socially distanced. We love you all!
Thank you for your continued faithfulness and support, The Otterman romp
Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, churches, schools, events, and large gatherings in Rwanda have been cancelled for the next few weeks. Students have been sent home for an unknown amount of time so there is little we can do for the time being.
With this news and the state of unknowns with borders and airlines closing, we had to make the decision that was best for the future of our family. Since this is Kathryn’s first pregnancy and our first baby, with the potential unknowns of birth, we have decided we will head back to America for the birth, a little earlier than originally planned, (and while we still can) with the sole purpose of ensuring our return to the US, to have access to some of the best healthcare in the world in case there are complications during birth.
We have booked tickets and are headed out this Friday. We are truly heartbroken about leaving so suddenly but we thrilled to return back to Rwanda, later this year, as a family of three!
During our time home, we will be creating and managing a website for the church in Rwanda and their various projects. We are also looking forward to jumping back into volunteering at our home church in Salem!
In the midst of this, God is up to something good, and we are holding on to that hope.
We are rejoicing knowing we will be back with y’all soon! We are abundantly thankful for your endless kindness and support in our lives.
The end of the year is often a time of great generosity. During the holiday season there is a infectious kindness that floats about. Many of us live a life where we have the capability to be radically generous to others. With many worthy and noble causes, how do we decide where we want to focus our efforts?
Since coming to Rwanda I have seen so many things that are truly blessings to many people, that often come one day and are gone the next. These are things that I have admittedly taken for granted, and never considered that they could be lost a moments notice. Things like food, a house, and even education.
To graduate from elementary school is actually a high achievement for someone in Cyangugu, Rwanda. Many people are forced to leave school to help provide for their families basic needs before they reach high school. This is the sad reality that many face from generation to generation
As I sit here writing this I am pondering how I can make you feel guilty for all of your daily indulgences, and how the price of *insert your favorite coffee brand* can radically change someone else life. The reality of it is, all of that is true. I am a witness to that first hand. I see blessings that we often take for granted and could never imagine being lost; taken away from so many so often, and others – just go without…
I am not going to sit here an write this to try and guilt you into giving me your money, but instead bring awareness to what else is really out there, outside of our comfortable lives.
If you do feel convited to radically chance someones life you can do so by sending a kid to school for just a small fee. $300 per year, thats just $25 a month or $6.25 per week. You do the math.
For $300 you are not only providing a student an opportunity at an education. You are also providing a student a safe place to live and a consistent food source for three meals a day. (that even in itself is a radical blessing for many)
To learn more about students who cannot attend school without a sponsorship, click LEARN MORE!
We have been spending our days at Saint Peter Secondary School. This is a high school with about 125 students. Schools in Rwanda run a little differently than normal high schools in America. The school year here starts late January and runs till the middle of November, with a two week break in April and July. Classes are taught by module, so students stay in the same class, with the same teacher, day in and day out, until they have finished the entire module. Most students also live at the school during the school year, along with a few of the staff.
We have gotten to spend the last two and a half months getting to know some of the students, through giving hair cuts, playing games, eating cassava loaf, designing projects, and learning Kinyarwanda. At the end of the term the seniors take a national examination that quizzes the knowledge they have learned through out the entirety of their high schooling. This marks the end of school and they immediately go home. There is no graduation ceremony, no party celebrating their achievements. As you know this is very unlike our American culture… So we decided to do something about it.
Before the students packed their belongings and headed home we threw and end of the year celebration for the seniors. We played Dame (checkers), cards, soccer, and even had the first ever Rwandan Corn Hole Tournament. After playing games, we ate a traditional Rwandan meal; rice, veggies, beef, chips (french fries), and Fanta. Once everyone finished eating, a dance party ensued. It was a joy for us to be able to share a special day with the students and for them to know how proud we are and how of them and how blessed we are to be here with them.
We are currently raising money to provide each student with a bible during the school year. Our prayer is that next year we will be able to hand each senior a bible at the graduation party. If you are interested in donating or hearing more, reach out to us via iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook, or email at email@example.com
Along with that, we have gotten to do a lot of observing and learning, about the Rwandan school system, the culture within school relationships, and management of a school. Thanks to this learning period, we have gotten to meet with the faculty and make a game plan for next year to make the school more successful.
We are creating an extracurricular activity schedule for all students to make school more fun and to help make well rounded students.
We are also hoping to implement projects to help with the school’s financial sustainability. These projects include improving our wood shop, farming our land, making our cows healthy, and a students sponsorship program.
Since Saint Peter’s is construction and masonry school, we have an excllent wood shop and full time technician. Our goal is to update and repair some of our equipment and get our technician some more training so he can bring in more projects, thus providing income for the school.
The school is also sitting on a 12 acre plot of land. The land runs all the way down into a valley, which we plan to farm. Kathryn has been doing a cost benefit analysis on this portion of virgin land and which crops would produce the highest yeild. Our plan is to farm this land in order to sell the crops in the market to generate cash flow to reinvest in other porjects around the school Eventually, our goal is to be self sustainable, for the farm to feed the students, in turn the school not having to buy any vegetables from the market and providing more nutritious foods.
Along with the large plot of land, Saint Peter’s has five cows. Upon our arrival, the cows were sick and not cared for properly. We have implemented a new care system for the cows and our goal is that the female cows would produce offspring and milk, that the school will s ell for profit.
Lastly, we plan to implement a sponsorship program. Every student attending school must pay school fees. For one student to live at school, receive three meals, and an education, costs $300 per year. Many people do not have the ability to pay for this, leaving these kids unable to attend school at all. Our hope is to provide scholarships for kids in extreme poverty, providing them a place to live, food, an education, and a real shot at life.
We rejoice getting to share with you all. We will be sharing more soon. We love yall deeply, we could not be here without you.
If you are interested in donating or hearing more about these projects, please contact us!
WhatsApp + iMessage (yes this is free) Kathryn: +250-783-273-098 Jake: +250-784-211-468