Saturday, April 23, 2005

An eventful return.

Chris and I have made it home, and we've had some adventures. First of all, you can pray for the 3 of our 4 bags that didn't make it.

We had an enjoyable hop on Kenya Airways from Kigali to Nairobi. We met up with a Christian couple in the transit lounge, and had a nice stay for our 7 hours in the airport. The adventures started on our hop from Nairobi to London. Lyn & Jesse had really bad seats, given Jesse's lengthy dimensions. Lyn got very sick partway through the flight... no offense Lyn, but you looked like death by the time we hit Heathrow. We've been praying for you. We had to part ways pretty quickly without really a chance to talk, to make it to our Air Canada flight in a different terminal. We booked it and arrived at our gate just in time for the general boarding call (I guess our bags stopped at the duty-free... I hope they got me something good.)

Anyways, onto good-old Air Canada. Ah, Air Canada, how I love to loath thee. The highlight of the flight for me was non-smoker Chris being accused of smoking in the washrooms. He even got a talking to by the captain, and they were going to report him to the authorities. Luckily they turned from their wicked ways... so sadly I had to scrap my media blitz slamming Air Canada for badgering their customers.

(Yes, I'm a tad sassy... me and Air Canada go way back).

The final affair was Chris packing his visa documents in his check-in. Luckily his was the one bag that came through OK, and the customs officer was kind enough to let him retreive it.

The airline has a lock on two of our three missing bags - they should be in this evening. Hopefully the one lost padre will join the other two and come home safe and sound.

One last pic of the dramatic skies above Kigali as we climbed above the countryside:



Hopefully Lyn & Jesse will be able to post when they make it to Redding from San Fran.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Flights

One last cold shower & it's off to the races...

For those who want to know about flights, here's the deets:

Kigali-Nairobi @ 1:50pm today, 7hr layover, then an overnight flight to Heathrow

There we part ways.

Lyn & Jesse fly United to San Fran on flight 955, arriving at 12:55pm.
Chris & I fly Air Canada to Van on flight 831, arriving at 10:35am.

See you all soon,

T.

The last day...

A huge day today. We travelled to near the border with Burundi, to a town called Butare. On the way we visited a hilltop school, where mayhem ensued...






In Butare, we split into two crews, covering the university campus and a local highschool. Ben, BJ and I (with the help of Jean-Paul, our translator) interviewed students on their views of the way forward for Rwanda. They had excellent comments to make that will help tie together the many diverse parts we had recorded up to today.

A few other pics from today:





Some thoughts from Lyn:
The guys went on to the Rwandan national museum in Butare after the filming today and then had their first encounter with the police thanks to Ben. driving through the breathtakingly beautiful "country side" today on the way home from Butare I realized how much this country has left a mark on my heart. I don't think I ever had the time before to actually consider what impact it has made and I'm sure all of us have only just begun our discovery process. We travel tomorrow but not until we do one more shoot...working right up until the very hour we leave, (it simply follows suit for the rest of our time here). We all look forward to sharing this experience with you. Things we're looking forward to:
Red Robin french fries
Warm showers
Chai with friends
My own bed (trev)...these are better
Broadband internet
N. American bathrooms
Cars with suspension
Good friends

Things we'll miss:
Good friends
Thunder storms/Clouds/Rain on tin roofs
Cute kids
Crazy traffic
Cool night sounds
"The compound" - Our home away from home
Beautiful people
Samosas and chapatis
Trev's 20D
Humorous newspaper headlines
And how could we forget...ping pong

Thanks so much for following with us on our journey through Rwanda. We have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. and of course I'm sure Trev will keep this blog going a long time as we plan on beginning editing towards the end of the summer so stay tuned...peace out from Rwanda

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Big day tomorrow

Today we interviewed Pelli & Joseph and some of the site workers, trying to get a grass-roots Rwandan perspective on their hopes for the future. It was tough... speaking through a translator is really difficult and time consuming. Their words are really important to our doc, though. We've had lots of perspective from the high-ups, but in the end these are the people that their plans effect the most.

Tomorrow is a really big day. We leave at 7am for Gitarama to film at a school, then on to Butare to interview the Dean of Education at the Rwandan National University. In all it's about 2.5 hours each way, plus filming. This time, though, we get to ride in our Hi-lux and a sweet DFID Land Rover (Jesse's in love).

The sound of the ping-pong ball is mixing with the crickets... we're all getting ready to head out for one of our last chances to relax together and get desserts at a nice local hotel, so I gotta run. I'll try to post again before we leave.

T.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Rainy day

We had some awesome storms today. We watched some huge billowing clouds build and swirl around the hill opposite 'the compound.' Then we got pounded! It was awesome. And then the rain came flooding in the front porch, and we brought out the broom and squeegee to keep the water out.







From Lyn: We interviewed the former Minister of Education who is now the rector of the Kigali Institute of Education
(teacher training school) and then visited a local gov.-run school. This school was obviously lacking in resources but not in students. It was good to finally get into a school to see the need that has been talked about in so many of our interviews.

In other news, we purchased ping-pong balls today (our favorite past time). When we first arrived here the only ball was lost and eventually found but then broken after a few days of playing. "The compound" grew dark without the joy of our ping-pong games until TODAY! infact, as I write, everyone is enjoying watching, rooting or playing at the table. I'm not sure if we have been able to describe "the compound" but the "kitchen" area is quite large and includes a table for 10 as well as a few couches around the walls and then the ping-pong table.

I certainly wish I could express the power of this storm we experienced today. it was, perhaps the most amazing thing I have faced in nature. we all celebrated with Chris' chocolate chip cookies. We ate oven-baked pizza's tonight for dinner at a fabulous italian restaurant...yes, still in Rwanda. everything can be done here for very little money.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Back in the swing of things

Today was a hard day. We visited Ntarama, a small church where 5000 were murdered as they huddled inside a church for protection. We met a man who's entire family was killed there. We asked him how he could still live there. He answered "Only God."

Like a vast landscape, it's extremely difficult to capture the scale on film.

The following images are graphic and real.









Rosten's here...this is work, but very worth while. a big "HEY" to all our peeps (thats family and friends) that are following along. from the first day this place has felt like home. we've done a lot of laughing and catching up with good friends while working very hard. sounds here include awesome thunder paired with incredible lightning as well as many crickets at night and birds by day. I believe the estimate was over 400 species of birds (an ornithologists paradise...mom). currently Jesse is feeding a bug to a spider and for any of you who know me (Lyn) I am doing okay with spiders. Perhaps this has been mentioned before but this is the most populated country in Africa so everywhere you go - EVERYWHERE you go there are people. It is very green, plentiful crops (cultivated land to the very tops of the hills). the tomatoes are amazing! temperatures seem to be fluctuating between 75-85 F with at least one storm a day - quite hot right before the winds hit which bring the storms over us. we can't wait to share this place with all of you. we'll have plenty to tell. love you all.

Back to Trev... just a note, a bunch of us have come down with a mysterious African disease common cold. Nothing serious, but it puts a damper on our productivity. More news tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

We're baaaack...

Here's the view out our front door on lake Kivu:



Jeff had to concentrate pretty hard driving our 'Mizungu Matatu'... we encountered a lot of confused/surprised/laughing Rwandese who probably have never seen a pile of whites crammed in their most common form of transportation.



Some pics along the way:




Our intrepid documentary team, and two sojourning friends who came with us to Kivu (Tristan and Angie):


A pic from our interview with the minister of foreign affairs:


Tomorrow we're of to Ntarama, a church where a many people were murdered. The bodies have been left as a memorial. Pray for strength as we attempt to film a potentially very gruesome site.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Off to the hills...

We're off to Lake Kivu. This morning's interview with Charles Muligande went extremely well. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he's one of the most influential people in the country (next to Paul Kagame, the President). He gave us some excellent perspectives on where Rwanda has come from and where it is headed. It's amazing to see how united the vision is for the future in this country, from teachers, people on the street, to top ministers in the government.

We're just waiting for Utatam and Back Again to show up and we'll be offline for a couple days. Cheers!

Friday, April 15, 2005

It's the weekend!

Friday night... we're having a movie/laundry night hosted by some neighbourhood missionaries. Yes, around here, they have laundry nights. We've actually been really fortunate with amenities like power & water. Here, the power only blinks out two or three times a day, and usually comes back on within 20 or 30 seconds. We've also had running water the whole time, though it's cold showers. (The first part's the worst...) And as much as I rag on it, the 14.4 dialup has only been out twice in the last six days.

Today we had one of our key interviews with Nicholas Hitimana and his wife Elise. Elise is a Tutsi genocide survivor. They have an amazing story, making it out of Rwanda alive, Nicholas earning his PhD, and returning to help with the rebuilding process. I also shot some timelapses and we got some great footage of Nicholas' kids answering questions about what they want to be when they grow up.

Tomorrow is a big day, with an interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Once that interview is done, we'll be piling in our Matatu (christened Utatam and Back Again), and heading to lake Kivu for some beautry shots of the Rwandan countryside and an overnight of R&R. I doubt we'll have internet access there, so I'll post pictures after the weekend is out.

The logs show there's about 70 of you tracking our progress... nice to know there's people out there keeping tabs on what we're doing.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Day Five

Time's a-flyin. Today, interviews with the State Minister of Education, a member of the National Reconciliation Commission, and a Christian schoolteacher. For the afternoon, we split up. Ben & Jesse hoofed it through the streets of Kigali & braved a public Matatu shooting Broll, while Lyn, Chris, Richard, BJ and I hit our two afternoon interviews.

We've been fortunate the last few days to have a Landcruiser on loan (one of the few vehicles that can survive out here. Rover? Nissan? Ain't got nothin' on a Cruiser. Toyota owns this part of the world.) We had to give our lovely cruiser up yesterday to a returning missionary, and we now have our new 'favorite' vehicle, a Toyota Hilux. On the outside it looks a lot like a Toyota pickup from North America, but it has added features like leaf springs and does away with nicities like shocks. Excellent for camera gear. Also quite fun to fit eight people into when we're shooting full crew.

Richard tells us things will go from bad to worse this weekend... we'll be driving a Matatu out to lake Kivu. A Matatu is externally identical to those old snub-nose Toyota mini-vans they had in Canada, but configured to seat 14. Each one has a name, sort of like how captains christen their boats, and most are all painted up to match the theme. Some favorites:

- Forever or For Always
- Heartbreaker & Heartbreaker II
- the Widowmaker

Any suggestions on what we should christen our Matatu for the Kivu trip this weekend?


Today we learned about some of the specifics on how the country has been healing since the genocide. One striking remark is how two separate societies -- one for widows of men murdered during the genocide, and one for women of men imprisoned as suspected genocidaires, have joined together to form one group as a sign of unity & reconciliation.

Rwanda has adopted it's own unique take on justice tribunals, adopting a process called Gacaca, that not only brings perpetrators to justice, but helps the community to heal as the sins are recounted in front of the community.

One golden quote from today: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." Rwanda has recently eradicated school fees for basic education, and mandate attendance up through Grade 9.

A few pics of the gorgeous sunset, from the local YWAM base:


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Day Four

Quote of the day:

Y'ello!
(When Hello is just not enough.)
-- seen on a 3-storey tall, yellow MTN billboard. MTN Telecom is on of the largest companies in Rwanda.

Today: morning drive through of Kigali with the 'bazooka' .aka. the car-mount for the camera; walkabout of the site with Jeff; timelapse of the afternoon rains; interview with Dr. Alan Penny, DFID advisor to the Ministry of Education in Rwanda; and an excellent interview with Richard & Jeff, sharing the vision of Wellspring.

The team is doing well. We're humming with the shooting. So far we've shot 15 hours of footage, and today got some very well articulated statements about the need in Rwanda and the vision of Wellspring. We're actually concerned we may run out of tape...

Your daily dose of pics:


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

pic-o-rama

I've uploaded a whack of pictures... small sizes will have to do for now. 14.4 modem. Need I say more.

I re-batched some earlier photos that weren't fitting well on the page, so those who are loading the page in the next while may notice a few images missing... a temporary displacement.

I don't know how else to organize them, so I'll put them in chronological order.

London


yes, one more gratuitous photograph from our short sojourn in London...



Nairobi layover


(if you ever get the chance to try Java House coffee... mmm... some of the best I've ever had.)



Tour of Kigali


Church off the main traffic circle where two unarmed UN soldiers saved thousands of lives


The arena where tens of thousands were not so fortunate, waiting through the night for the killers to continue in the morning.


Hotel des Mille Collines




View from above the city



Gizosi National Museum


genocide memorial and final resting place of 250,000.



Names of those who were killed




Kigali


Today's filming


Wellspring (de)construction -- notice the 'unique' camera angle (above Jeff driving the bulldozer)




Interviews


Day Three

Our first full day of filming. Morning fog; interviews with Fred & Damien, two Rwandan school teachers; construction on the Wellspring site, bulldozing an old building; and an interview with a journalist & historian from the New Times newspaper. Busy, productive, educational.

Right now I'm sitting in the site office. We're chatting about trying to comprehend 250,000 bodies buried in one place, 800,000-1 million people killed in a hundred days. We're trying to understand as outsiders what people live with. Have survivors gotten to the point where most days are normal days? Or are they still a living hell?

It's wierd being here. We took pictures yesterday at the Mille Collines; each day we drive by the president's compound, where the 10 Belgian soldiers were tortured and killed; and past the bombed-out Rwandan parliament, a purposefully left reminder on the highest hill in the city, the last stand of the perpetrators of the genocide. It's a country with huge challenges, but as Richard just said "if it wasn't, we wouldn't be here."

Other places I've been across Africa, I've experienced genuinely friendly people, hospitality and general curiosity. Here, there are people with angry eyes full of rage, hard stares and anger, emptyness and souls hardened by their pain. The few people we have been able to connect with are those who seem to have a genuine change of heart thanks to Jesus. The Christians are the few who seem to be able to put their hate behind them and spend their days serving others.

I can see why they would be angry... we were just talking about one Richard's Rwandan friends. To this day she has a hard time looking at dogs and cats. She begged and pleaded with the soldiers who came to evacuate the westerners, asking them to take her child. They refused, pushed her back, and she watched as they loaded the dogs & cats of the foreigners onto helicopters and evacuated them instead of her child.


I'm getting some production stills a little later from BJ, so I'll post pictures later tonight. Standby for Jesse perched atop a bulldozer...

Housekeeping item: comments are now allowed from people without blogger accounts... didn't realize that had been turned off.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Day Two

It's 10pm here, very late by how the world turns around the equator. The sun rises around quarter-past five, and drops suddenly at 5:30 or so. We're adjusting to a schedule that maximizes our daylight time, especially around the beautiful light that is to be had near dawn & dusk.

This morning was spent doing planning, setting up equipment & taking over the Wellspring/CLA site office as our documentary HQ. The rain was torrential and long, unusual for the rainy season. Normally the rains come in around 1:30, pound for about 20 minutes, and the sun returns soon after. It was bleary when we awoke, and it stayed that way until the end of the afternoon.

Today we stretched our legs as a shooting team, getting our first bits of footage. We shot at Gisozi, a national genocide museum created with western funds. There is a small but very deep cemetary on the site where 250,000 bodies from around Kigali were buried after the genocide. It was moving to walk through the museum and see the great pain and unresolved hurts on the faces of the Rwandans walking with us through the exhibits.

In true Rwandan fashion, we shot footage of the eternal flame that blew out about every twenty minutes.

Today, with everybody together, we surveyed the true scope of what we are trying to accomplish. We have some incredible opportunities to shoot people & places that very few have access to. For example, in the Rwandan government, we have interviews with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the State Minister of Education, and an influention member of parliament. These are three of almost three-dozen major interviews or locations we have on to film. We have a lot to accomplish in the next 10 days. Pray for wisdom and skill as we try to refine our plan and finish what we came here to do.

I'm trying to get some pics up but the dial-up isn't cooperating... check back tomorrow!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Welcome to Rwanda

We've made it safe and sound...

We've all come to the consensus that Kenyan Air makes Air Canada look like a third-world airline. A good rest, some quality airline food, and a short 8-hour hop, skip and jump brought us from London to Nairobi. There we had a few hours to enjoy some quality Kenyan coffee at the Java House... alas, they no longer have wireless there as they did during my last visit, so I couldn't take advantage of the extra speed to post more photographs.

Another short flight on Rwandair, a short discussion at customs convincing the border guards that we didn't need to pay the 'tax' to import the cameras, a two-minute ride in the Landcruiser, and here we are at the beautiful Wellspring campus (or, 'the compound' as Lyn likes to call it.)

We're all a little tired, but excited to be here. All of the equipment appears to have made it without incident, and the guest house here is outstanding.

We'll spend today doing an in-depth tour of the city, then meet together as a complete team for the first time (the challenge of a very international group.) A big part of our discussion will be just how much we have to shoot in our limited time. Pray for wisdom and discernment in our planning.

I had forgotten just how slow 14.4 dialup is, so unfortunately my use of photos will have to be very judicious.

I'll post more when there's more to report. Thanks for following our journey.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

London: a photojournal

Once upon a time, four young travellers happened across a small village on their way to Rwanda. This village they henceforth named 'London' for the variety of Londs that could be found there.



Armed with the necessary tools, they set out to discover what they could.


They saw many sights and sounds...


... along the way there were many mishaps...


... and triumphs...


Bleary-eyed from the long hours in the team jet (the 'Winged Fury'), but eager to journey onwards, our team pauses for one last gratuitous photograph.



Tune in next time...

Friday, April 08, 2005

And we're off!

A late (... very late) packing session last night, after working feverishly to complete an edit for two other projects... an adventure with Air Canada deciding we could go to Kigali, but our bags were only paid-up to Nairobi... and now waiting in the terminal, tired and ready to roll.


9.5 hours to London and two episodes to edit on the way... I'll be ready for a coffee by the time we hit Leicester square :)

See you on the flip side...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Rwanda Rostens

Hello from California. We've finally finished packing - three bags at about 40 pounds each. Some of that weight is Skittles. Richard, we are bringing you Skittles.

In keeping with our team's last minute mantra, we'll be picking up Lyn's passport in San Francisco tonight. Don't ask. It's a long, sordid story of postal negligence. It works out though 'cause we're flying out of San Fran tomorrow. In fact, I think our 777 and Trev's AC830 are going to be racing each other. Want to place bets on whose plane is faster? Trev & Chris, we'll wave to you over Greenland. See you guys in London.

peace
jesse & lyn

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Unrequited love

This morning was spent pulling everything apart and putting it back together again... a puzzle of cables, bits and pieces, each part with a purpose.

Below is a picture of one part of the package we're bringing, for stills photography:



If you follow my photography, you'll notice a conspicuous absence: my pride & joy, a Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM lens. I shipped it a month ago for service. Canon first forgot it, then couldn't fix it in time, couldn't replace it, then forgot to return it to me. I do believe this is the furthest my patience has been tested in some time (/understated frustration)

In other news, I'm getting a haircut. Momentous, I know -- those local to Vancouver will rejoice at the news... searing the eyes of little African children is not the impression I'd like to leave in Rwanda.

Our care group meets tonight to send us off in style. Chris and I will spend tomorrow packing and collecting the last few items we need, and Friday we leave. A 12:55pm flight out of YVR on AC830. I've gotten to know the stewardesses quite well on this particular leg. They're a nasty bunch.

Jesse & Lyn are lucky enough to fly a brand-new 777 out of San Francisco, leaving about the same time and meeting up with us a few minutes behind at London Heathrow. We'll do some planning at Starbucks, hit the Apple store near Picadilly circus, and travel on to Nairobi and Kigali. If all goes well, we should arrive in Rwanda early-AM (pacific) on Sunday.

If you're praying for us, you can pray that all the details that come together in the last few hours will go smoothly; safety for us and our equipment; good rest & health as we travel; and favour with the customs agents and any other authorities we meet along the way.

I'll try to post before we leave, and again from London. Thanks for being a part of our trip.

-- Trevor.

Monday, April 04, 2005

117 hours...

... and counting. It's been a very long week of other productions and work, mixed with good times with friends. My pre-trip todo list of about 200 tasks is quickly getting checked off. The next few days will be spent making sure we get everything there in one piece. Chris and I are spending Wednesday to do a final pack & gear check, and from there it's clear sailing... (if travelling to a 3rd world country can ever be clear sailing).

Details aside, our main task now is to tell the story -- finding the right people & places, getting good dialogue in our interviews, building a strong picture of the state of the country and telling it in an engaging way on film.

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