Spring

Spring

We were spoiled in Colorado. The weather was often good enough to exercise outside, and when it wasn’t we had 24 Hour Fitness five minutes away. It feels good to have weather cooperate with us this month as Krystal and I restart our fitness goals.

http://imgur.com/xtaW7WF

I have always aspired to “dig deep wells” wherever I live, to invest in the people and things under my care. As much as we plan, we never know how long we will be anywhere, or when God will have us pass through this place again. We have taken it on ourselves to beautify our home and plant a garden. We hope that by practicing gardening here, we can better cultivate some type of garden in Rwanda.

Rwanda in Mourning

Krystal noticed that NPR had a whole week of interviews/news on Rwanda’s 20th anniversary of the Genocide. If you only listen to one: Finding Peace After Genocide (7 minutes), a Rwandan pastor talks about grace and forgiveness.

Grace Update

At 22 months, she is a firecracker! She says no when she means yes. She wants to wear big girl underwear, but doesn’t want to use the big girl potty. She is poking and (very lightly) hitting when she doesn’t get her way. She bites when she gets excited. She still loves to read, “see friends” at the “why-berry” and church, and gives puppy and kitty kisses. Her best friend is still her cousin Hayden, who helps her catch frogs in our back yard. And we still love her very much.

How to Help: Prayer

PrayingAt my request, a friend of mine told me how she prays. She doesn’t have a prayer list or journal, but seems to rely on the Spirit to guide her in prayer. Of course she has the prayer cards for the missionaries in her Bible, and says a quick prayer as she sees them, or a long one if she feels led. She has items around her house that remind her of specific friends or family members, often gifts from them. When she sees those items, she prays quickly, or at length if she feels led. Her time in the car is spent praying for immediate family.

God invites us to pray without ceasing, to continually commune with the almighty creator of the universe. He invites us to draw near to him. What a privilege to pray!

He asks that we bear each other’s burden, and to make our requests known to him. However you pray, remember us. Here are a few key prayer points:

  • Health
  • Good meetings with people who want to know more about our ministry
  • Spiritual growth (ask us about being in the land in-between)

Blessings,

Nick and Krystal Pirolo

Remembering

Real+Salt+Lake+v+Seattle+Sounders+FC+l1IFfiBphOblKrystal, Grace and I were able to attend the first game of the season for the Seattle Sounders FC. Before the kick off, a local ROTC marched on the field and unfurled an enormous American Flag in preparation for the singing of the national anthem: The Star Spangled Banner.

The 15 star, 15 stripe banner from Fort McHenry

The 15 star, 15 stripe banner from Fort McHenry

While everyone loves to cheer as the singer reaches the high note (“free”), few remember what we are remembering. Francis Scott Key originally titled his poem In Defense of Fort M’Henry, writing his first draft on a boat in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814, part of America’s War of 1812. Few can personally identify with ramparts, rockets and bombs, so we focus on the easier parts: flag, free, brave. September of this year marks the bicentennial for the writing of this poem, and an American victory in a battle long forgotten.

Remembering the genocide, 20 years later

Remembering the genocide, 20 years later

April of this year marks an important milestone for Rwanda. On April 7, Rwanda marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide. Fresh memories of the failure of humanity, lost family members, death, imprisoned loved ones who participated in the killing. Pray for the people of Rwanda in this time, as they collectively mourn. They mourn and swear, “Never again!” We know that until we are changed by God, we are slaves to sin. Pray that the Holy Spirit would change lives in Rwanda.

Family Visit

Krystal shares that she was the first Christian in her family, but not the last. We regularly pray that God would draw on the hearts of those that do not know him, using us if possible.

We went frog hunting!

We went frog hunting!

Last week, Krystal’s brother’s family from British Colombia came to visit on their Spring Break. It was chaos, and fun, and special. Krystal’s brother is a former atheist and his wife is a former Catholic, and they self-identify within the zone of agnostic/spiritual but non-religious. They, however, are very deliberate about letting their 12 year-old son, my nephew, make up his own mind. He and I had a few conversations through the week. At one point, his parents both entered that conversation, and we talked about the problem of evil, and why an all-powerful God would allow suffering, focusing on starvation and disasters in the developing world. I gave my best answer and an interruption changed the topic. I love having deep conversations with people I care about.  Join me in praying that God would continue to work their lives.

Grace

Grace Dances-with-Frogs Pirolo

Grace Dances-with-Frogs Pirolo

A few of observations at 21 months:

  • When she wakes up in the morning, I hear in the baby monitor, “Daddy, [where] are you?”
  • She grabs my finger and says, “Walk,” to indicate she is ready for the transition.
  • She likes to use metal forks for meals, even when it is finger-food. (Must be the British in her).
  • She likes to give doggie treats to the dog and has used them to learn to throw.
  • We’ve retired all the 18 month clothes and now wear only 2T and size 6 shoes.
  • She is definitely an extrovert. She loves church and the library because she will see “friends.”
  • She loves books. Her favorite books: The Boy Who Went Ape, Llama Llama series, Bear About Town series.

Way to Partner: Financial

We recently had dinner with a family, and told them about our call to minister in Rwanda. I shared with them God’s challenge to the Church from 1 Timothy 6:18-19, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” His response amazed us: God had already been working in his heart on the matter of finances. He confessed that after making several large purchases recently God convicted him of being materialistic and moved in his heart to invest in God’s work around the world. This happened right around the time I called him to set a date.

ImageThere are many ways “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous.” Perhaps like our friends, God is working in your heart to use your money for God’s work in America and around the world. If so, respond to Him. We would love to have you invest financially in God’s work in Rwanda. But more than that, we want to stand together with you when our Master says, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”

If you would like to give one time or regularly, click here.

Blessings,

Nick and Krystal Pirolo

The National Museum and A genocide memorial: meeting people with stories of conflict

National Museum

Up until Tuesday, we were getting an orientation to local time (jet lag), Rwanda history, the NCM faculty, and our agenda for the next 7 weeks.  We stayed with the Scheers for most of that time, but had one night with the Finleys, too.

Last Friday, yes over a week ago, we went on a trip with the NCM staff and their wives to the National Museum in Butare, in the southern province.  While it is not far from the traditional capital of Rwanda, where the King lived, it was a two hour drive from Kigali.  Since I (Nick), don’t get carsick, I sat in the back row of 15 passenger Nissan Urvan (don’t think youth group 15 passenger van, think VW bus on steroids).  I spoke with Benjamin for two hours on the way.

He pointed out the papyrus, pineapple, corn, sorghum, sugarcane, coffee, rice.  But he also spoke of his desire for there to be reconciliation in Rwanda, among the people, but especially in the church.  Many churches work in competition with each other, meeting next door to each other and preaching against each other.  Some local “Pentecostal” churches even preach that if one is not a member of THAT local church, he or she cannot be saved.  I suppose only a few will get to heaven, by their thinking.  If the church cannot be united, what hope is there for the country?

Benjamin works for NCM to help develop the University program.  They were working with another local organization to build the program together, to share many resources, and it appeared that everyone was happy for the cooperation.  However, the united effort fell apart, setting back the process of building a university program.

The Cultural Museum was enjoyable, complete with dancers, drums, dioramas, grass huts, artifacts and pictures.  But Ben’s story weighed on my mind.  Please pray with me, for unity in the church of Rwanda.  May we be an image of the reconciliation offered by Christ.

At the end of the dance, they pulled each of us up to learn to dance with them.  Am I sunburned or embarrassed?

Genocide Memorial

The next day, we took a short drive with Gary Scheer out to a rural genocide memorial: a church in Ntarama that had been attacked, killing the refugees inside.  While there is an official memorial in the city of Kigali, one can get a more visceral picture in one of the many memorials that dot the countryside.

I (Nick) don’t know what I expected to see when we arrived at the church, but as we approached, I could see a normal brick building with a tin roof, holes in the side from grenades, and doors hanging loosely from the hinges.  I rounded the corner into the church and was met by row after row of human skulls.

Purple is the color of mourning in Rwanda. No pictures allowed inside, but you can see a glimpse.

I was reminded of the pictures released from the Pol Pot genocide in Cambodia.  Each skull a person, a woman, a child, an old man, who had fled to the church for safety, for sanctuary, but had been trapped by an angry, indoctrinated mob of their neighbors.

We entered an saw not just the skulls, but pelvises, leg bones, and arms displayed on metal shelves (6’ x 12’).  Looking around we saw clothes, stained, displayed on the walls and from the rafters.  Toward the altar of this catholic church, we saw their possessions, suitcases, shoes, pots and pans.  Our guide, a survivor from the next village over, explained that the victims within the church could not be properly buried because they could not be identified.  In an effort to survive, they discarded their identity cards that proved their tribal identity.

Clothes of the deceased.

The tour continued, and our guide told  us his story of how his father was on the black list, and so was sought out and assassinated.  He saw his father killed, ran through his house to warn his family, but only he and his youngest brother escaped.

This man is a survivor of the genocide.

July 4 commemorates my sister-in-law’s birthday (go, Kendra!), the independence of the United States of America, and the marriage of Andrew and Andrea Ramsey, but also the last day of the genocide against the Tutsi.

Where there are officially no longer tribes in Rwanda, it seems difficult to remember the genocide against the Tutsi if there is no longer Tutsi….

Please pray with me for the reconciliation in this country between neighbors, and between the government and its people.

Next post: Our week apart