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.

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.

One Year in!

ONE YEAR!  It is hard to believe, but we have been serving the Lord in Rwanda for one year, as of January 21. We are filled with such joy and gratitude that God has chosen us for this purpose, that he connected us with each of you to send us and partner with us in His work in Rwanda, that he saw us through tough times, and that we have seen signs of thriving.

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January 2016

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January 2017, 5th birthday party for Peace

Iranzi Clinic Training

Krystal is participating in staff training at the Iranzi (God knows me) Clinic for three weeks this month. This clinic aims to serve as the birthing center for the poor women in nearby Nyabasindu, where Krystal has served at pre- and post-natal clinics on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These women now have a safe place to give birth!

img_5925One story from the training: Iranzi Clinic has a policy that patients will be discharged home 8-12 hours after delivery and will have a home visit the following day. (This is part of the philosophy of midwifery.) If they haven’t paid, they will not be held captive at the clinic until they pay, a common practice at hospitals and clinics here in Rwanda where a patient can be held for weeks or months adding to a debt that they already cannot pay. As our new team discussed that we will not be holding captive moms who cannot pay, most of the Rwandans began to protest! “But if they don’t pay, they shouldn’t leave! If they don’t pay before they go, they will never pay and they will go home and tell their friends to come to this clinic because they can receive free care.” The new staff feared that they would lose their jobs because the business would fail if people were discharged without paying.

dsc_0371Something that is very different about Iranzi is the that it practices care within the context of relationship. All of the women who come to the clinic for delivery will be part of a midwifery/nurse team. They will have been seen several times prenatally at Nyabasindu’s outreach clinic before they deliver. Each midwife and nurse that is apart of their team will know them, their social situation, their birth history and will have been praying with them along the way. This is a completely revolutionary way of practicing maternal/baby care in Rwanda!

Continue to pray for Krystal as she interacts with many strong personalities all day. This has been exhausting emotionally and physically. Meanwhile, she isn’t getting as much time with our girls, or any time to study Kinyarwanda, or time to exercise, or much time for devotions. Important things and activities that feed her soul are on hold for these intense training weeks.

Pray also that we can establish a reasonable new normal after the training.

Language Helper

Philemon got another job! After working with us for 11 months, our language helper let us know that he was hired into a ministry position discipling Sunday school teachers. It is an answer to prayer for him and for us as we prayed for his future in ministry.

img_3769Now, we need another helper, part time. We have several leads, but we need wisdom choosing a new helper. Even as we begin more ministry, we need to keep studying the language or else it will slip away from us.

Matching Funds

Through our GoFundMe account along with email and Facebook campaigns to raise awareness, we received $11,400 in matching funds! Praise God for bringing in so many to partner with us, and praise God for the anonymous matching donor who shared of his abundance. This funding allows poor, rural pastors to receive training at our Pastoral Training School.  If you would like to sponsor any of them, here’s the link.

ncm-pts-2016Keep praying for these pastors.  Many struggle as we undo years of false doctrine and help them to study the Bible for truth.

Family

img_5928Girls keep growing up!

img_5841Rayna is walking on her own and has been cutting molars! She loves to drink amata (milk) out of a straw cup like her big sister. Crazy girl loves to smile, wave and blow kisses; she LOVES being tickled. Saturday, she even said, “Hi. Da.”

img_5761Grace loves school, visiting our neighbors, and coloring with Mom. One year ago, she was terrified of trampolines and swings. Now, our brave girl jumps from a chair to her swing. She’s going FAST on her balance bike. If we could find a safe, flat road, we’d start teaching her to ride a pedal bike (unfortunately for her and us this is the land of a thousand hills and driving here is chaotic to say the least).

Thank you for your continued prayers for us and for Rwanda.

Here!

Thank you all for your prayers, and keep praying.

We arrived safely on Thursday January 21, with most of our bags. Five bags, including our desktop computer, did not make our crazy 35 minute plane transfer in Doha. Gate A9 to Gate E25 (the exact opposite end of the airport!)

Doha

Doha airport is so beautiful, and bigger than this map lets on.

Fortunately they arrived on the next flight, the next day, intact.

Upon our arrival, while I was waiting to fill out missing baggage papers, Krystal and Grace peaked around the corner and saw our entire team waiting for us. The kids had all skipped the end of school to meet us (especially Grace).  What a great team! (Pictures to follow.)

Sleep

Krystal and I were exhausted and settled ourselves into our new normal sleep pattern: 9PM-5AM. Grace, however, had slept on the plane and wanted to nap 10PM-1AM and then be awake. She’s had a tough sleep adjustment.  Rayna adjusted pretty quickly, but Sunday night was the first night she slept through the night; given, we did stay up until crazy late: 10:30 PM.  As of Monday, Grace has slept through the night, alone, in her own bed for three nights! Hallelujah!

The joke here is that 8PM is “missionary midnight,” but after a day of negotiating a new culture in unfamiliar weather, terrain, driving, language, etc., going to bed early just makes sense. Also, there is no TV to speak of, and streaming videos is both too expensive (paying for data by the megabyte) and too unreliable (our router says 4G LTE, but drops its signal frequently).  I’ve tried to upload this letter for about three days!

Home

We were able to ship many of our household items from the US to Rwanda, and they are set to arrive about March 20. Until then, we are living in a borrowed house with borrowed furniture. Praise God that we did bring our toothbrushes, pillows, computers and clothes on the plane.  We can make it work, but each of us wants to “nest” in our own way, and we can’t do that until we have our own place.  After living with Krystal’s mom for two years (a blessing in so many ways), we are READY for our own place. (Pictures to follow.)

On the other hand, every time we come back to the US on home assignment we’ll feel like we’re in borrowed space.  This is just another in a long list of little things that remind us that this world is not our home.

Over the last few days we’ve been learning to drive, find our way around the city, scoping out places to buy daily food (bananas, milk), our core fruits and veggies, the odd prepared items, and cheap Chinese (BPA/Lead included) products.

Also, we were able to go to a 4 hour service in Kinyarwanda!  Three sermons were hard, but the music was great.  They did praise choruses; by the thirteenth time through, we were able to sing along!

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This was the offertory.  Those baskets are traditional “gift boxes.”  How cool that they are used for gifts to God!

The Pastors

Our team leader, Tim Brubaker, gives this report from our Pastoral Training School:

“We have 20 new pastors studying in our Pastoral Training School. We are two-thirds done with their first term, studying “The True Gospel” (with me) and “The Christian Life” (with Joseph). These courses require a major realignment of perspective and previous understanding. Pray for these guys!! Consider some of the men that we have been teaching these weeks:

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  • One has been utilizing strange spiritual powers to heal sicknesses. These powers were given to him before he became a Christian and have continued with random visitations from a spirit. He is praying that the Lord will release him from these things if they are not from him. (We are too!)
  • One is a 27-year-old widower. His wife died two years ago, possibly from poison. He leads his local congregation while caring for his 
three-year-old son. His eyes well up with tears when he talks about his wife.
  • One is becoming more aware throughout these courses that his adult son has possibly 
joined a cult. This morning we were praying together; his eyes were full of tears.
  • One is realizing for the first time in his life that being the son of a pastor is insufficient to 
save him. When I asked him to share his testimony, he said he only has his father’s
  • One is a newer Christian, having been saved out of Islam. Although he has given his life to 
Christ, he is becoming increasingly burdened for his son who is still in Islam. He is planning 
to visit his son shortly after this term to share the Gospel with him.
  • One is an older man who came out of paganism many years ago. Although he clearly loves the Lord, he is very nervous about studying. He only finished two years of primary school 
and his wife is illiterate. He is not sure how he will make it through our program.

These are the men who will be catalysts for change in their local churches. As you pray for these men, pray also for the provision of additional financial sponsors to help underwrite their studies. (If you are interested, let us know, and we will send information.)”

Update: At a group prayer time, five pastors stood up to confess Christ as their savior for the first time.  After an interview with each, Tim discerned that two of them just had issues with sin in their life, but three of these pastors received salvation this week.  Amazing!  Click here for more information via Tim’s update.

Our First Work

On Tuesday, Grace started Preschool and on Wednesday, Krystal and I began with our first work: language learning. We start together with our language tutor, Philemon. We are excited to have words. We are extremely discontent with our limited vocabulary and know that these next few weeks will be hard but very good and rewarding. Pray that Krystal and I will get into a workable pattern of life to study, learn together, and practice while caring for Grace and Rayna.

Again, thank you so much for praying for us.  We’ve been blessed and amazed at God’s hand on us in this transition to Rwanda.  We are FINALLY HERE!  Now to work!

Last Minute Things

We ask for your prayers as we tackle the hundreds of last minute details, decisions, purchases, packing, etc.

Meanwhile, we praise God that we are so close to departure for Rwanda: 6 weeks from today! We need only about 5 more financial commitments before we can be cleared for departure. If you haven’t made a commitment to give and want to, let us know.  If you have made a financial commitment but haven’t started giving, now is the time to start!

ISO Personal Newsletter Secretary
phone-girlIf you have the gift of office working, we may need your help! While most of our partners have email, a good number do not. We committed to these folks that we would mail a physical letter to our partners 3-4 times a year. We recently realized that WorldVenture will print these letters for us, but cannot stuff and address envelopes. If you could help us stuff and label envelopes for our prayer updates four times a year, we would be very grateful. Please let us know ASAP. We have one coming out this week.

Opportunity for Farmers and Ranchers
texas-longhorn-steer-300x225Are you a farmer or rancher, or do you know a farmer or rancher interested in missions? If you want to give, but don’t have the financial resources to give, you might be interested in Steer, Inc. Donors provide funds to purchase seed or livestock, which you raise, donating feed and time. When the crops or livestock are sold, the proceeds go toward the ministry to Rwanda. If you know someone interested, contact us, and check out http://www.steerinc.com.

Meanwhile in Rwanda

We train these women to be co-laborers with their their pastor husbands. Picture from 2011.

We train these women to be co-laborers with their their pastor husbands.
Picture from 2011.

August 1 – 13: Joseph Muyombano, our new Pastoral Training School Director, has been leading leading two weeks of intensive teaching for the wives of the pastors in our PTS program.  They come once each year for two weeks.  If all attend there will be 50 women.  This is a precious time for these women who never have opportunities like this, and key to them being capable partners with their husbands in ministry.

August 10 – September 4: Our university program has been studying a short intensive course on English and study skills taught, a very important course for these who have English as a second (or third or fourth) language and who have never had to study at this level before.

September 1 – 18: Our fourth year PTS students will study Old Testament 5 and The Kingdom of God, an important class that draws together much of what these pastors have studied for this four year program.

Please pray for both teachers and students.  God is transforming lives through these classes!