~unpacking rwanda~ a short series of simple thoughts

i’ve heard it said that one day in africa is like six days at home. with over a week’s worth of memories & lessons learned i truly feel as if i could share about my recent trip for weeks to come.  ( fear not. i won’t drown ya’ll in monotony!) so what i’d love to do is a short little series of what africa taught me…sort of unpacking both the simple and the profound if you will. the days both in travel & while in country saturated my heart and my mind with so many things and i fear i’m going to forget. i fear i’m going to live as if what i saw and i what i learned didn’t change how i live and how i love.

so please follow along. my disclaimer, as i’ve shared before but feel could never be overstated, is that i am new to so much of this. i am no expert in foreign policy, fair trade, economic empowerment, the orphan crisis, or business models. i’m doing the best i can to take complex, often times very sensitive & very controversial issues and share them the best i can. my prayer is that nothing i say cause anyone to trip up. that nothing i say is offensive. i realize i can’t please everyone all the time and i humbly ask for grace as i wade through, stumbling awkwardly with an occasional misspelled word. i invite anyone to review this area of our website as well.if you’re new to my blog, you may start from the beginning here.


~unpacking rwanda, a short series of simple thoughts~

 the kitchen truly is the heart of our homes & a natural venue for love and blessing others to begin.

the sun began to set as we sat outside teresa’s home. in no time, dozens of children gathered around, as they often times do while dinner is prepped. she handed us greens, tomatoes, onions & garlic. the oil began to sizzle over the small fire. we looked at each other with “oh my, this is quite a large long knife i’m about to chop potatoes with” expressions & knowing smiles.  the rhythm of food prep unspoken yet not really any different between teresa and us was smooth and natural. the aroma of garlic & onions sauteed over the fire- a familiar fragrance in many of the meals started over my own stove. she had a gentle quite spirit about her ( & i’ll share more about her hospitality soon) with a sweet little smile as she cooked. having been married for over 25 years to a “very sympathetic, kind man” i couldn’t help but wonder if she thought of him as she prepared dinner.

we felt loved and welcome while we gathered in her kitchen. we had brought beans as a house warming gift, however she was truly the blessing giver, no doubt about it.

that evening in rwanda, i smiled to myself as i thought about the fact that the kitchen is the heart of the home. a natural venue for love and blessing others to begin. i thought about the times that meal prep can seem mundane, can even seem daunting. grocery lists & striving to create new and healthy meals for our loved ones can seem never ending. yet i love how shauna niequist encourages us to “create space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. it’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”

i personally have never felt like a great hostess. i’ve dropped the ball in inviting others to my table on a regular basis. i’m sure my reasoning was something along the lines of “i’m not that great a company cook anyways” yet the times of growth and giving that i’ve missed out on over the years leaves me disappointed in myself. on the upside~ we’ve been blessed over the years to so often be able to share dinner, all 6 of us, around the table. i consider that a priceless honor.  last night at dinner i asked the girls to share their thoughts about one of the aspects in how i parented them. while we were at a pizza joint, ( i think it’s okay even if we weren’t sitting at my own personal table) i wanted our time together to be a safe place to land.

while i have many friends that do this well…and do this on a regular basis, on a dusty road in rwanda, perhaps i learned this lesson in the most memorable way of all.

“so this is the dance, it seems to me: to be the kind of host who honors the needs of the people who gather around his or her table, and to be the kind of guest who comes to the table to learn, not to demand.”shauna niequist.

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(all images are my own & teresa’s name and story used with her permission)


Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

colossians 3. 23&24


For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,

but through love serve one another.

galatians 5.13

July 28, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Jamie - Beautiful words, beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing. Prayed for you and the team. Share more! Xoxo

July 28, 2014 - 1:43 pm

giosmama2626 - I totally love this post!

July 28, 2014 - 1:43 pm

keri - you have me wanting more!! more stories, more photos! just beautiful! i especially love the last pic with your big ‘ole smile!!! xoxo

July 28, 2014 - 2:46 pm

Heather - Beautiful… “Come to the table to learn not to demand.”
Loved this post!

July 28, 2014 - 3:24 pm

Alecia - Oh I can’t WAIT to read more!!! What lovely pictures and an even lovelier simple thought! 🙂 I STILL can’t believe we were on the same continent at the same time…CRAZY!!!

July 28, 2014 - 3:25 pm

Alecia - PS…that last picture of you is just STUNNING on so many levels!!! Your beauty inside is reflected on the outside & the joy of the moment is so evident!

July 28, 2014 - 4:58 pm

Jackie - Just lovely.

July 29, 2014 - 5:04 pm

shelly - Paige….LOVE love love every image and I can not wait to serve Internationally with my kids! Our church is in Nairobi right now… I so wish I were with them! You captured the trip beautifully and you shared your heart for missions with us in a most transparent way. Makes me want to get on a plane today… Every Christian should go and see and serve in this capacity (if possible)… (being mission minded at home is equally vital) Truly life changing.


July 30, 2014 - 10:42 am

Jennifer - Beautiful! What an experience!
That last picture of you…screams the love and joy and happiness in your life and heart!
I’ve never seen something more gorgeous!

July 31, 2014 - 9:16 am
August 4, 2014 - 9:02 am

joy overflowing~ unpacking rwanda series » simple thoughts from Paige Knudsen Photography - […] journaling through my images & thoughts from my recent trip~ you may begin here if you’re joining in new […]

August 13, 2014 - 7:24 am

HE makes a way when there is no way -unpacking rwanda » simple thoughts from Paige Knudsen Photography - […] journaling through my images & thoughts from my recent trip~ you may begin here if you’re joining in new […]

August 14, 2014 - 10:53 am

Daisy - So beautifully said and captured in pictures.

July 6, 2015 - 9:24 am

rwanda, jen hatmaker & a noonday sample sale » simple thoughts from Paige Knudsen Photography - […] essentially our team headed over & spent several days with artisans living in rwanda who sew & create several of the pieces Noonday Collection has carried the last couple years. even today i sit here & struggle to write in a blog post what those 10 days did to my heart. ( you can view some of my blog posts & some from the team as well through this link) […]