March-ing On

Ministry of Preparation

March was an interesting month for Partnership development.  We had several great appointments with friends from Sunday school and seminary.  On the other hand, we had two weeks without appointments: one for Krystal’s labor and delivery class, and one because God knew that Grace would get sick.  It is hard not to get discouraged in the weeks that nothing seems to be happening.  But this, too, is training for times of ministry in Rwanda.  Our call is to be faithful to where God has us today.

 ImageKrystal with Perinatal Nursing text

This Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Krystal will receive more specialized training in maternal and newborn nursing.  Her report on pregnancy and labor issues in Rwanda will probably come in our next post.

The last week of March had two key events.  First, we met with Waterstone Community Church’s Mission Task Force on Tuesday (www.waterstonechurch.org).  We sent out a quick prayer update for that one because we didn’t know when this post would be done.  From what we have heard, Waterstone is generous with the missionaries it chooses to support, and they understandably expect a lot from their missionaries, too: connection with the church, reaching the lost, learning the host culture, spending more time with nationals than other missionaries, etc.  These are all good principles of effective missions, and behaviors we are eager to do.  We felt we presented the ministry clearly, and our prayer was that they would partner with us.  Thanks to all who prayed.  (They recently informed us that they are unable to make a long-term commitment, but have made a gift toward our outgoing expenses and expressed an interest in receiving updates to support us in prayer.)

The second event was speaking at Elodie Emig’s Bible study on Friday.  It was an extremely fun group of people from New Song Church (http://newsongchurchandministries.org).  I brought Grace, but Krystal was working at the hospital.  They ended my sharing time by praying for us, and encouraging us.  We are blessed to have a friend like Elodie to introduce us to her friends.  This is one way that God brings people to this ministry to Rwanda.

A third important event coming up has to do with Scum of the Earth Church (www.scumoftheearth.net).  I have been asked to preach this Sunday, April 7.  Along with my sermon on the Great Commission, we will give a teaser about our ministry, then after the evening service, we will have a dessert for people at Scum who want to hear more.  It is a privilege to preach at Scum, and to share this ministry with them.  By the way, you are all invited to hear me preach and to stay for the dessert.  Please come.  And pray for me as I finish my sermon preparations.  And pray as we present.  Truly, your prayers are invaluable!

News from Rwanda

Our co-worker, Tim, reports that the fourth year students in the Pastoral Training School of New Creation Ministries are fired up to share what they have learned.  A few have begun to teach other pastors in their denominations and in their regions of Rwanda.  Another has said, “After I’m finished at NCM, my dream is to go to Congo and begin a similar program for teaching and discipling pastors.”  Their zeal for sharing the Word of God is inspiring.

Personal

Thank you all for your prayers for us to parent Grace well.  As she grows up, she is becoming more and more fun.  We love seeing her smile when we come home from work, watching her play and learn.  At nine months old, she got her first tooth, she caught a cold, and we are trying to sleep train her.  She is doing much better, but please continue to pray for her.

We have a (tentative) date set for our return journey to Port Townsend, Washington: June 22-25.  We have anticipated that day for a long time, and it is now less than three months away.  We just have 100 people left to meet with in Denver before then.  Image

As we plan for our time in Washington, there are several important things we are praying about.  Where will we work for the 17 months before we leave for Rwanda?  How can we best use the time we have with family?  How can we be a blessing to our church there?  Who is God preparing there to be on our team?  Should we use this time to pursue specialized educational opportunities?

Lots going on.  We appreciate your interest in our lives and this ministry that we share.  Please continue to pray for God to work in us and through us as we prepare for Rwanda.  Pray that God connects us with the people he wants involved.  Also, please let us know how we can pray for you.

Blessings!

Blessed

Meetings

While January and February have been very busy, Krystal and I have been blessed over the last six weeks.  We have had over 30 meetings with friends, and told them the story of how God called us to be missionaries to Rwanda.

It has been a very confirming experience because, as we share, we remind ourselves of all the work that God has done preparing us, guiding us toward medical ministry and pastoral training and discipleship in Rwanda.  We come to believe more firmly that he has brought us safe thus far, and he will continue to go before us.  This is doubly affirmed when those hearing our story can also see God at work.  Thank you all for your encouragement.

Another blessing of meeting with people and sharing our story is that it becomes an opportunity to hear their stories. We have heard of God’s miraculous provision month after month, ministries bearing fruit, and jobs finally coming through.  We have also heard of illnesses, injuries, dreams on hold, impossible job situations, and family stress.  In this, God has opened our hearts in a new way to bear your burdens in prayer.  It is a joy and a privilege to pray for you.  We are encouraged to know that you are praying for us.

ReunionsImage

We’ve had several reunions with fellow WorldVenture missionaries in the last month.  First, we had dinner and presented to several of our fellow “appointees” during the Renewal Conference.  Then, our good friends from Rwanda, Gary and Laurie Scheer, came over for dinner.  Finally, quite a few friends were in town for PDX, partnership development training, so we hosted a get-together.

These were special times because many were part of our “appointee class.”  We went through much training together, and we will be learning the ropes in our respective countries at the same time. In our time of sharing, we heard some pretty significant things: God opening up ministry opportunities that confirmed their calling, struggles of culture shock followed by wisdom from God, and even confirmation that God is taking care of family they are leaving behind.  We continue to be impressed by the authenticity and openness of this group of missionaries.  We are strong as a body when we can share our joys and needs.

Requests 

Two personal prayer points for this month:  First, Grace is beginning to express very clearly what she does and does not like.  Pray that we would raise her with wisdom, love, and respect.  Check out this video of Grace.  (I think it only works if you are Facebook friends with Krystal.  Friend us!)

Ultrasound in Gahini

Second, when we were in Rwanda, we realized that a key area of need is in the care of moms and babies during birth.  Through her employer, Krystal has an amazing opportunity to expand her knowledge of labor and delivery nursing.  This course runs seven work days, Monday February 25 through Tuesday March 5, from 7:30-4:15 in Wheatridge, Colorado (45 minutes from our house in traffic).  Needless to say, this will be a busy and difficult time for Krystal as she learns valuable knowledge that will help her ministry in Rwanda.

It will also be a hard time for Grace, as she won’t have mommy as much as she is used to.  I’m with Grace four of those days and a good friend will have her three.  Pray that we are able to keep Grace happy and healthy.

Thanks for your prayers for us in this unique time of ministry.

Next time, Krystal will share about pregnancy and labor issues in Rwanda.

Our First Steps Toward Rwanda

Appointee Orientation

Since our last blog, WorldVenture asked us to attend the Appointee Orientation (APO) in November, where we learned a significant amount about the business of being a missionary: record keeping, study, policies, etc.  Not really the tools we need to teach in Rwanda, but the tools to get to and thrive in Rwanda.

Our list of tasks to accomplish before May.

A highlight was meeting the “appointee class of 2012.”  One of the factors that drew us to WorldVenture was the longevity of their missionaries in the field.  At their renewal conference, we got to see how many missionaries reconnected with their appointee classmates after 15, 20, or 30 years.  For us, it is exciting to know that that will be us some day.

Getting to know each other

They also had a commissioning service where each missionary group got to share a three-minute version of our story: who we are, where we are going, and why.   While the whole service was closer to 75 minutes, below is a shortened version, mostly of the testimonies.  (Ours begins at minute 23:18.)

Church Presentations

Krystal and I feel extremely blessed to have such great connections with several churches.  In the last few months, we spoke with some of them. The Korean Church of North Denver where I was a youth pastor offered to support us before we even asked.  We have been invited to speak at their annual missions conference in January.

We spoke to the leadership team at Scum of the Earth Church, our Denver home church where we attend on Sunday nights.  While they cannot commit to support us financially, we are all excited to help get the congregation excited about missions.

First Baptist Church of Rawlins, WY, was the first church to whom we gave our full presentation.  Pastor Bryan Roberts, a close friend from seminary, invited us to speak at the Wednesday evening service of their first annual missions conference.  Krystal, Grace and I enjoyed meeting the lovely people there, and we cannot wait for our next visit.

Finally, just after Thanksgiving with the Pirolo family, we visited Gateway Community Church in Washougal, WA, where my Mom has attended for five years.  We knew going in that the church is generous to quite a few missionaries, but does not have funds to take on a new missionaries, right now.  We appreciated the time we shared with the director of the missions committee and to hear a bit about their other missionaries.

As missionaries, some funds will come through churches, and we are grateful for them.  However, individuals and families will make the bulk of our supporters, and that is a good thing because, while we can’t go until we have the finances, we need as many people as possible lifting us up in prayer.  We know in all situations, our God will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).

Grace

When last we posted, Grace was still in utero.  Now she has passed her 5 month birthday.  Her birth story was beautiful story of grace, and if you are interested, we can tell you the 2 hour version.  Briefly, God worked miraculously, and he used our doula and our midwife to make for an amazing delivery at Littleton Hospital.  We would recommend all three.

We love telling people how we got her name.  Both Krystal and I have loved the name “Grace” for a girl since before we were married.  My mom’s mom’s name is Grace.  And we love this song covered by Nichole Nordeman titled Grace.

Krystal’s sister’s middle name is Liberty.  (She was born on July 4.)  When it was possible for Grace to be born on July 4, we started thinking about that for a middle name.  The more we thought about what Liberty means as children of God, the more we loved it as a middle name anyway.  To quote the Bible, “It is for the sake of liberty (freedom) that Christ set us free.  We have been called to liberty, only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:1, 13).  Christ set us free from sin and death that we might truly live, that we may be restored into the image of our creator.

Here is a slideshow of Grace for those interested. 

What is Next

While our plan was to be home (in Port Townsend, WA) for Christmas, plans changed, then changed again.  Although it pains us to delay that time with family, we can’t leave Colorado before we have a chance to share personally with our friends here.  We have a few tough choices coming up involving how much “normal” work we can afford to do and still do “partner development.”  On the flip side, we need to maintain health insurance and pay the rent.  Pray with us that we will be able to do both.

We appreciate all the encouragement we have received from so many of you.  Every time we tell our story, God reaffirms our call to Rwanda and to this ministry.  We know our time here is short and we want to make the most of it.  We leave for Rwanda in November 2014, or sooner.  Pray for us as we find partners in ministry who will hear how God is calling them and who will come beside us in our work.

Next time, I’ll give an update on the work currently happening in Rwanda through New Creation Ministries, and introduce you to the team with whom I’ll be working.

Blessings,

Nick, Krystal and Grace