Pictures of the Family

Some people like to see how the family is doing.

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Krystal tickling Luke

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Silly Faces and Silly Hat

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Rayna’s 4th Birthday Party Sleepover.  Watching Balto.

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Luke feeling like a big kid with a backpack.

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Rayna being silly with her friends at school.

Back to Work

Thanks for the click!

Here’s the prayer list:

  • NCM Retreat this weekend: unity after a time of stress, vision for the future, rest and fun together
  • Pirolo Family: setting boundaries and expectations better to prevent burnout
  • Pastoral Training School: we have a cohort of year 2 pastors coming on Monday.  We are recruiting for a new cohort to begin in January
  • CLIR: accreditation process requires effective recruiting, consensus building, and wisdom.  We are praying for favor before the government, and a wise group of accreditation auditors who will judge what and how we must adjust.
  • Team: WorldVenture teammates need prayer.  Eric’s new wife, Fabi needs a visa extension in the US. (She is Brazilian.) Laura is having health issues that limit her work capacity. She is so frustrated.

Pictures Promised

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Sumo is an almost graduate of CLIR.  We’re giving him some scholarship money to continue at a partner school.

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This is our General Assembly meeting (second of three in six weeks), where we approved our new statutes.  Yeah, bureaucracy isn’t my favorite.  What I learned, was that these men and women LOVE New Creation Ministries.

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NCM staff playing Jenga.  Pray Together, Plan Together, Play Together

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At this commissioning service for new pastors in the Nkurunziza denomination, I learned that 12 of the 17 pastors present (including denominational leaders and church founders) had been taught and mentored by NCM’s PTS Director Joseph Muyumbano (seated middle in the second Jenga picture).  He is a man of great influence in exactly the right way.

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Grace, Rayna and Luke washing vegetables with Phoebe.  One of many ways we work to prevent amoebas from growing in our tummies.

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Well, I guess we didn’t have two girl rabbits after all.

Transitions

As of today, Thursday, co-worker Eric Flaa will be on home assignment to get married, reconnect with supporters, and debrief his first term.  With his departure, I will be stepping in as the Acting Director of New Creation Ministries.  Taking a good share of the work, though, will be a Rwandan colleague, Jean Bosco, and another WorldVenture Missionary, Gary Bennett.  Pray for us, as we, three, carry our own work load, and take up more responsibility.

In the past 12 months our staff meeting has changed from 14 to 9.  We have lost 6 regular staff at NCM: (1 retired, 1 returned to US for pastoral ministry, 1 resigned to dedicate his time to pastoral ministry, 2 in the US for medical reasons, and 1 just now going on home assignment), and gained 1 (dedicated to teaching PTS).  In the next five months, we are hopeful to have two return from medical leave and one new arrival to work with NCM from a partnering mission organization.  ALL THE MATH!  But really, it is change and transition, and unsettling.  More importantly, Rwandan culture fears uncertainty.  Pray especially for our Rwandan colleagues in this time of transition.

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Seven of these fifteen people at our staff retreat in 2017 are not currently serving with us in Rwanda.  Jean Bosco is next to me, fifth from the right.  Eric is next to him in the black shirt.

Remembrance

Sunday marks the 25thanniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda.  Join us in prayer for our Rwandan colleagues and friends who still bear the scars, mental and physical, of that time.  Rwanda has come so far, but there is still a long way to go to see the Gospel transform and heal.

Retreat

We are going to the triennial East Africa Spiritual Life Conference in Kenya next week.  Please keep us in prayer as we have time to reflect and grow spiritually, and reconnect with our leaders at the WorldVenture Home Office.

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This is Grace three years ago at the last Spiritual Life Conference.  Despite her nonplussed expression in this picture, she had a blast!

That meeting will be followed immediately by a family vacation.  Krystal’s mom, Shari, will join us in Kenya with her new husband, Grandpa Steve.  Okay, his name is really Steve, but he’s the first grandpa any of our children have ever known, so there is some excitement.  Pray for traveling mercies all around.  Traveling with young children is not easy, and vacations can sometimes be more work than fun (for the parents).  Pray that this time is restful and refreshing, and a time of joyful meeting, reuniting, and growing deeper all around.

 

Ministry Growth or Ministry Death

We are at a crossroads in Rwanda.  The government is seeking to crackdown on illegal churches and other non-profits that abuse their position to avoid taxes and take advantage of Rwandans.  The next step may have serious consequences for our ministry.

The government is writing a law that will require pastors to have education.  It says, “A religious teacher [at the national or district level] must have a bachelors degree in theology, or another bachelors degree plus a legal certificate in theology given by a legal school.”  Lower level pastors will still need some training, but not as strict.  There has been some pushback from church leaders asking for the law to be revised before being passed.

Our ministry is primarily discipleship, but our method is “schooling.”  We have a Pastoral Training School, and our university-level program (Christian Leadership Institute of Rwanda).  In both, we provide top-notch education, but how the law is written can greatly impact us.

Depending on how this law is written:

  • We could see tremendous enrollment in both programs as pastors seek to meet the education requirement.
  • We could see enrollment dry up, if we do not meet the standards decided by the government.
  • We could see our program diluted, if we have to significantly adapt our programs to the new law.
  • We could see our program suffer, if we have an influx of people who simply want the piece of paper (certificate of completion). Our time will be spent grading excess papers instead of mentoring the true disciples.

Pray with us that God would use this legislation as a blessing to his church in Rwanda.  Pray that he would continue to use New Creation Ministries as we help the church of Rwanda function as a the Body of Christ. As we prepare for a new enrollment at CLIR in January, pray with us that God would bring the right people for us to invest in.

Teaching

We are entering a busy time for teaching between mid-August and mid-March.  Nick is prepping to teachOld Testament Theologystarting in August.  The Old Testament is often misunderstood and usually misapplied to the church in Rwanda.  Pray for Nick as he helps the students wrestle with what the Old Testament actually teaches the church.

Pray also for Krystal, who will teach Self-Leadershipbeginning in October.  She has a Masters in Leadership from Denver Seminary, and lots of experience leading in a secular environment.  This course focuses on being a person of integrity as you lead, and Krystal will get to teach some of the most powerful lessons she has learned as a leader.

Family

Luke is 4.5 months old now and has started playing with his feet.  He loves laughing with his mommy and talking to his sisters.  Rayna is 2.5 years old, and she has taken to copying EVERYTHING Grace does, for better or worse.  She is a great hugger, and has lots of desire to talk, but struggles with a limited vocabulary.  Grace just turned 6 and is stretching her wings for independence.  She is learning to read, loves having chapter books read to her (Geronimo Stiltonand the Hardy Boys!), and enjoys being creative with all her craft supplies.

Krystal’s ankle has improved significantly by identifying some good diet changes.  Nick has good intentions of running twice a week.

I read recently “You have only 18 delicious summers with each child.”  On the other hand, our list of things to get done seems to increase daily. Pray that we would make each day count for eternity, balancing family and ministry needs.

Finances

We are so grateful for your continued sacrificial giving toward this work in Rwanda.  We notice each dollar, and we appreciate your vital part in this ministry.

Some people have experienced difficulty giving online.  Over the next few weeks, our sending organization, WorldVenture, will be rebuilding the online giving function.  If you already have automatic giving set up, that will continue.  However, we won’t be able to receive special gifts or new sign ups online until it is fully built.  If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, we can receive mailed checks.  We’ll keep you posted on when it’s back up.

Care Packages

If you ever wanted to send us a care package, this is the time!  We have two friends offering us space in their luggage!  Send us an email and we’ll get you the address for our friends.

Thankful

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we wanted to share with you our Top 5 List of things we’re thankful for these days. (Not necessarily in order of our gratitude.)

#5. Family!

The big news is we are pregnant!

 

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We are expecting a baby boy in late March.  From the 20 week ultrasound, mom and baby look healthy.

Grace and Rayna continue to bring joy to our lives.  Our family traveled to Cape Town in late September to attend a WorldVenture conference. While it interrupted school for Grace and Nick, it became a refreshing break from the hundred little things that had been wearing on each of us. After the conference, we stayed a few more days to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Both of us grew up on the beach (San Diego and Port Townsend), so it filled us up, seeing our daughters play in the sand and waves.

Finally, our parents are visiting! We are excited to host Krystal’s mom in December, and Nick’s mom in March.

#4. Church!

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Grace and Rayna in Sunday School

In October, we were invited by several friends to attend a young Kinyarwanda church called Gospel Community Church. This church understands the Gospel, has sound theology, and is excited for outreach, evangelism, and missions. Krystal has begun attending a cell group on Tuesday nights (while Nick keeps an eye on the girls). This is a church where we feel fed, and we believe this church will play a strategic role in the future of discipleship in Rwanda. It is a joy to be part of a healthy church!

#3. Ministry!

We are so thankful for the meaningful work God has us in and the people we serve.

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CLIR Students

I (Nick) successfully finished a term teaching Systematic Theology, and then a term teaching Teaching and Educational Ministries at New Creation Ministries. Some of my students have far reaching influence in Rwanda, and are now better equipped to teach the truth of God’s word.

Krystal has a new title at Iranzi: Mentor to Midwives. She continues her work at the prenatal outreach clinic, and has taken a more intentional step toward observing and coaching the Rwandan staff.

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Krystal teaching a group of midwives about labor support

#2. Matching Grant!

Our hearts fill with gratitude knowing that, for the second year in a row, a donor has offered to match all new sponsorships of pastors in our Pastoral Training School (PTS) made by December 31! After the pastors pay their $80 annual school tuition, there remains about $1800 per student to fund their education and discipleship. While that is only $150 per month, with 35 pastors expected to begin in January, that is more than we can bear alone.   This matching grant makes it easier for new sponsors to give.

If you are interested in more information, a brochure is linked below. And the sponsorship link below that. Every dollar helps! Krystal and I are so excited about this, we have already committed to sponsor a portion of a pastor’s training.

Pastoral Sponsorship Information

Pastoral Sponsorship Donation

#1. YOU!

We’ve often quoted Philippians 1:3-5 to you: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”   And it is true. We are thankful for each of you who has given your time, prayers, and finances, to see the gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom of God, spread throughout Rwanda. You are PARTNERS with us, we are yoked together. We rise or fall together, but by God’s grace, we are rising, and we hearing God’s name glorified in the nations. Krystal and I are so thankful for you and we couldn’t be here or do what we do without you.img_5189

There you have it, our top 5 things we are thankful for this year. What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments below.

Finding Home and Rhythms

As always we appreciate your partnership in this ministry to Rwanda. We are well aware that we could not have gotten here without your support, and we won’t stay here without your continued involvement.

Language

In many ways we feel like we have turned a corner in language. We have been in Rwanda for 7 months and have studied Kinyarwanda for 6 months. Many missionaries don’t try because they have a different ministry philosophy, or they are short term. Others stop at 3 months or 6 months of study, and this we can understand. The needs for ministry in Rwanda are great and this could be comfortable plateau.

We are able to express basic needs and ideas. Yet we know we have so far to go. For us Kinyarwanda is easier to speak than hear and basic sentences must be simplified and repeated multiple times. Sometimes we feel like the most common things we say are, “Bisubiremo” (repeat) and “buhoro, buhoro” (slowly, slowly). The biggest growth point in language now is that we need to build our vocabulary and understanding of grammar, and of course, practice.

We believe it is such a gift that WorldVenture and our team give us this opportunity to invest in ourselves as missionaries and the people of Rwanda by learning the language well. For us it is such a blessing to speak Kinyarwanda to an unsuspecting Rwandan and have them light-up with surprise and joy that “tuzi ikinyarwanda!?!?” (We know Kinyarwanda!?!?). They are even more amazed when Grace greets them or responds to them in Kinyarwanda.

Krystal and I continue to study together and bring different strengths to learning. Because we are here for the long haul, our primary role right now is to be a learner of language and culture. Even still, pray that we would make use of opportunities to point people to Christ.

Kumbya

We enjoyed a refreshing time at Kumbya, the annual missionary family camp/conference held on Lake Kivu. Grace made some good friends and Rayna stole some hearts. For our part, we survived tent camping with two young kids in Africa. We were blessed by the ministry of a short-term team from Canada who ran a Vacation Bible School for our kids and brought a phenomenal plenary speaker who taught on the 12 apostles.

Our Home

About a week before Kumbya, our pre-move-in home repairs were completed and we finally moved in to our “permanent” home. It has been a long time since we felt truly in a home of our own. Since arriving in Rwanda, we have moved/travelled at least six times, but with this last one, we were finally able to unpack pictures and frames and put them up, organize our kitchen and office and create places of study and play. Our favorite part of the house is the outdoor area where we spend most of our language lessons, something we could have never done in the cool Pacific Northwest.

Since we are making Rwanda our home, we are so grateful to have a house that can be a home our girls grow up in.

Our Family

This past month, Rayna (now almost 10 months) began to crawl. She is a slow crawler, unless you leave a dirty shoe within ten feet of her. Then she loves to crawl over and try to chew it before you notice. And this past week she has begun to cruise. Rayna chooses the darnest times to cut teeth! Her first two were at the conference in Kenya. Her second two started while camping in at Kumbya! She is quite uncomfortable with them, still, especially at night. [Pray for good sleep!] But in the day, she continues to be our joyful, sweet girl.

Grace (4 years) recently began Pre-Kites at Kigali International Community School, and she LOVES school. Today she announced that she could count to 100 (She got up to forty-eight, forty-nine, forty-twenty, forty-twenty-one.) She participates in a kids’ choir, and has taken to singing to herself while she colors.

Please continue to pray for Grace as she still very much misses Washington and her cousin Hayden. We have seen Grace’s character grow tremendously since arriving in Rwanda and see so many beautiful aspects of her life here but it is hard to see her deeply mourn over the loss of her home and family.

Krystal had an opportunity to meet with 6 other immigrant nurses to collaborate on ways to practice nursing in Rwanda. This month she also plans to begin regularly volunteering at the Nyabisindu Clinic. This clinic is set up in a very poor area of the city and ministers to mothers and babies by providing prenatal and postnatal care to families who have little to no resources for healthcare or education.

Nick has been excited to participate in staff meetings at New Creation Ministries, and to get to know his Rwandan counterparts. God willing, these are the ones we will serve with for many years to come. They have a staff retreat September 9-11. Pray that good friendships are forged in that meeting, and pray for Krystal as she has our kids alone for a weekend. Finally, Nick is ecstatic to see that he is on the schedule to teach his first class in April of next year, one year and three months after we arrived. Fortunately, this will be in the college and taught in English.

Internet

We have been experiencing excruciatingly slow internet most of the time for the last three months. Given 8 hours of mostly focused work, we were able to update our computers. If we are slow to respond to emails, or still haven’t added you to the email updates, it is because we have a hard time managing such things well from our phones and our computers are hard to connect to the internet. Pray that a better solution becomes available, inexpensively, soon. We may change the format of our updates to account for these realities in the field.

Once again, thank you for your continued prayer and financial support that allows us to build God’s kingdom in Rwanda.

Blessings,

Nick, Krystal, Grace and Rayna

Getting Up Close and Personal

While our primary task right now is language learning, God has been gracious in bringing great opportunities to both of us to minister and work in our areas of expertise while practicing language.

House Call

A Rwandan pastor connected with one of our team mates recently had a baby boy, but he and his wife were concerned about the little guy’s health, more specifically that he was not getting enough to eat with breastfeeding. Our team mate, Eric, asked if I, Krystal, would be willing to come to their home and assess him. I found that baby Eric was very healthy and encouraged the family not to supplement breastfeeding. In Rwanda, it is common for families to supplement breastfeeding with cow milk mixed with water. While this family intended to use formula (something that is very expensive here), I encouraged them that baby Eric was healthy and energetic, and that they should continue breastfeeding.

After the visit, they had Grace, Rayna, Eric and me stay for Rwandan hospitality, which included a very yummy Rwandan meal. We’ve seen pictures since then, and he continues to be in great health.

Post-natal Clinic

I also was able work at a local ministry to new moms in a poor part of the city. I got to call the moms from the group and do an initial assessment of their babies including weight and measurements. What a challenge just to read their names from the clipboard! Some moms heard me greet them in Kinyarwanda and assumed I was fluent, others looked at me as if I was speaking gibberish. Jocelyn, the ministry leader, was grateful for the help, and I was both excited for the practice and challenged to learn more words in Kinyarwanda specific to the clinic.

Village Visit

IMG_2134 sEarly last month, our language helper, Philemon, invited us to visit his village with him and two of his friends from Kigali for a weekend. What a great experience for us all! We were overwhelmed by the hospitality offered, especially since we were regularly reminded of their need.

Philemon is the last of twelve children. He has nephews and nieces older than himself! His father was the pastor at his church near Cyangugu (SW Rwanda). Now, his brother pastors there.   Apparently, during the genocide, no one at his church participated in the killing. We are blessed to know that some churches stood up for the truth!

Philemon had a full weekend for us including visiting his mom, a tea plantation, singing two Kinyarwanda songs in front of church, and having Nick preach!

On our drive home from the village we talked about what surprised us about the visit. Our language helper said that he was surprised how much we talk to Grace because in Rwanda parents don’t talk to their children. Another one of the Rwandans that we drove with said that she was amazed how many times Nick told Grace he loved her; she was so amazed by it that she actually counted the times she heard it: 7 times in 2.5 days. She lost her father in the genocide and was blessed to see a dad show his love for his daughter. We were told that our hosts were amazed that we ate Rwandan food without complaining, truth be told we have grown to appreciate Rwandan food and Grace impressed us with her love for indagara (small minnow like fish that are cooked in a sauce and eaten head, tail and all).

Philemon was also impressed by the energetic way Nick preached. I think he expected Nick to be sedate and scholarly, and was surprised by his passion and dynamic style.

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Nick preaching on the parable of the soil, while Philemon translates, and Grace plays legos.  One day soon, he will be able to preach in Kinyarwanda!

Language study can be so discouraging, so times like these are so fulfilling: to do something we’re actually good at, to be a blessing, to do what we came here to do.

Blessings from America

We were blessed to receive two suitcases and a shipped box from Calvary Community Church. A friend from Calvary, Carol Harms, a high school teacher in Washington, came out to train teachers in a partnership between Africa New Life and Rwandan public schools. She got to see her sponsored child. And she volunteered to bring one bag of gifts. When she discovered that she was allowed three bags, she opened up a second bag for people to bless us. We felt overwhelmingly blessed by Calvary, and our first packages from home.

We are feeling encouraged and excited to be here in Rwanda, learning language and culture, and seeing opportunities to shine the light of Jesus. Know that we are representing each of you, our partners in ministry. Please continue to keep us in prayer as we learn, and for our health.

Final Note

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Grace and Rayna reading letters from her friends at her first preschool, New Day Learning Academy, in Port Townsend, WA.

Grace turned four on June 28. We had a wonderful party for, inviting her Rwandan, Burundian, and American friends. Rayna will be 8 months old on Saturday. “The days are long, but the years are short!”

***Correction: In our last update, we incorrectly indicated what will become of the Scheers. They are not retiring, but are transitioning from Rwanda to ministry out of the home office of WorldVenture in Colorado.  We are blessed to know that among their new responsibilities, they plan to come back in April of next year to teach in our program for a term.

Prayers at Work

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If you understand this chart in its entirety, you are beginning to understand preeclampsia.

We wanted to send out an update to say thank you for praying for us, and thank you for sharing your stories.

Today is the day we had planned to leave for Rwanda.  In our last update, we shared that Krystal’s diagnosis of preeclampsia has delayed our departure until after baby is born in early November. Our prayer was for health for mom and baby, and purpose for this time. God is answering our prayers.

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We met with a specialist, a perinatologist, in Seattle on Wednesday. In conjunction with Krystal’s appointment with our doctor in Port Townsend on Monday, here is what we know. It could have been a false positive test, or it could have been caught very early. It could continue to be really mild. The specialist is very optimistic, because there have been no big changes in the past three weeks, that Krystal will make it to term.

We believe that God has kept this from progressing. Please continue to pray for our health. Krystal wants to go full-term and deliver naturally. We’d love for our GP to deliver baby, but she will only do so if she is on call at the hospital at the time. Will you pray for that for us?

Purpose

A month ago, we thought that God wanted us in Rwanda for the end of the year. Now, we see his hand in keeping us here.

Our field leader in Rwanda, Tim Brubaker, reminded us recently, “When you get here it is going to be less about what you know and more about who you are that makes a difference.” Character is the foundation upon which all knowledge and skill must rest. I wouldn’t say that we are without character, but God is using this time to deepen and broaden who we are to encompass all that he wants to do in us and with us, here and in Rwanda. Krystal, always “doing,” is learning to “be” and rest in God, enjoy Grace, and dig deep with God. I, Nick, will be using some of his time helping his mom downsize in preparation for a move to a smaller home. I will also finish my read through the Bible, and I will explore several spiritual disciplines specifically devoting more time to intercessory prayer. Already, I have felt God moving my heart for several people I know in great need.  God wants us to raise up people to pray for the work in Rwanda, of whom we should be the first.

Alpha_course_logoWe invited a few of our relatives to come to Alpha, out of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Chimacum, WA. Alpha is a “10 week course that explores faith from a fresh perspective.” Our prayer is that this course will open up spiritual conversation throughout the week, too, and that our family will find rest and peace through a personal relationship with Jesus. The first night was good. Pray with us that they come back next week.

Cool Problem

Silas, my translator, and Theogene, a graduate of NCM's PTS

Silas, my translator in 2011, and Theogene, a graduate of NCM’s PTS

It takes just over $600 per year to train a student in the Pastoral Training School (PTS). The students pay $65 per year in fees. We want the students to contribute, but since they are mostly poor rural pastors, we cannot charge them more than this. The PTS has always been greatly sponsored by missionaries involved in the program. As we begin to pass the baton of leadership over to some highly competent and godly Rwandan teachers and administrators, we realize that they will need a new source of support. Would you like to be involved? You can send a pastor through four years of school for $50/month! Click here.

baby_airplane.350w_263h2Flight

Finally, pray that we get the right flight. You might imagine that flying with a newborn and preschooler will be different than with just a preschooler. Pray that baby is healthy to fly, and that we get the perfect seats together.

Blessings,

Nick and Krystal
Grace and Baby Girl Pirolo #2