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.

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.

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Christ is Risen!

Thank you for your continued prayers for us. We have had a busy two months, and it won’t let up until mid-April.

Language

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This is our primary job right now. We have a language tutor, Philemon, come to our house every weekday for two hours to work with us. Then, we take what we have learned and apply it, in our neighborhood, on walks, at church and in the market. It can be super empowering to actually have a conversation with a Rwandan. The look on their faces is priceless when we speak Kinyarwanda to a stranger. They are amazed, and so eager to help us learn more. Although, most of the time, their help is unintelligible because our vocabulary is still meager.

Church

We have set down roots in a Rwandan Church. The service is 98% in Kinyarwanda, and every so often, they sing a song in both Kinyarwanda and English. Sometimes a helpful Rwandan will sit next to us and translate the sermon, but most of the time it is us trying to catch words that we know. However, every now and then, during worship, we catch enough to enter in to worship with our Rwandan brothers and sisters and feel our souls restored, and we begin to feel at home. The church service is about 4 hours long and has not children’s church, if kids come to church they are expected to sit quietly through the service. About two to three hours into the church service Grace and Krystal migrate outside with the other children and color or play games.

Meanwhile, we are listening to podcasts of sermons to get fed.

Team

We were staying in the house of our friends, Greg and Tori Finley. When they came back to Rwanda, it was to say good-bye and sell their things. This was a hard good-bye for us, as we had really connected with them in the US and when we visited Rwanda four years ago.

IMG_1472When they returned, we moved in with Gary and Barbara Bennett. We ended up staying with them for three weeks because after the Finleys left, we had walls recemented and repainted (a repair is needed about every four years here). What a bittersweet time of saying goodbye, and living in community with some of the sweetest people. We are blessed to join the Bennetts on this team ministering in Rwanda.

While we were there, they had a team from Fargo, ND, come and help build desks and chairs for our second CLIR classroom. The workshop was in the Bennetts’ yard, so we did language study with lots of background noise, but also got to know this sweet team so much better.

Through it all, our team has been very supportive and encouraging. We’ve surprised them with our resilience and independence.

This week I (Nick) am attending the Shepherd Leadership Conference, a pastor’s conference sponsored by New Creation Ministries. On Saturday, we fly to Kenya for World Venture’s East Africa Spiritual Life Conference, an every three year event. None of this is impossibly hard, and Kenya promises to be quite fun, but life is very draining. Pray for health and safe travels.

Culture

IMG_0743Our colleague, Gary Scheer, a 30+ year missionary in Rwanda, has been meeting with a few of us to give us insights into Rwandan culture. He has said, “In Rwanda, some things look different, and some things look the same, but actually EVERYTHING is different.” How families work, what friendship looks like, expectations of employers and employees, hopes for life, everything. Because everything is different, normal daily activities take so much more energy.

One interesting part of culture, people offer hospitality by coming to visit you rather than inviting you into their home. You never know when a visitor will show up.

Grace

IMG_0010In the market, it is not unusual for a complete stranger to grab Grace and give her a hug. Everyone wants to touch her beautiful blonde hair. God blessed us with a resilient kid. Even though she is shy of this attention at first, as we establish proper boundaries with these strangers, and as we interact with her and Rwandans, she opens up and is able to interact.

We were blessed to find an affordable preschool for Grace to learn while we focus on language study. She learns to read, write, count and play in a multi-cultural environment from Kenyan teachers. They have a snack time and serve lunch before we pick her up. Every day, her teachers write two or three sentences in a little book to let us know how Grace is doing.

After a month of school, Grace came to us and said, “Can I bring a snack to school?” “No. They give you a snack.” “But all the other kids bring snack from home.” “Not today, but I’ll talk to your teacher,” we conceded. Apparently, snack time is optional, and only if parents provide snacks for their own kids. The teachers told us that with many classes only a few kids have snacks, but in this class we are the ONLY family who does not send a snack. Her teacher informed us, “All the other kids have snacks, so I tell Grace to go to her backpack and drink from her water bottle so she will not feel sad. But sometimes even her bottle is empty of water. If you could even send a carrot, she would be happy.” Yes, we moved to Africa, and OUR kid is the one without food and water. The irony is not lost on us.

Rayna

20160315_141257_resizedIn the last month, she has taken leaps developmentally, meeting some of the usual milestones we look for. She loves to be talked to and she babbles back. She laughs when Grace sings to her and when she can kick the mosquito net. She is pushing down with her legs, responds to her name. And in the last few days she has started purposefully grabbing things and rolling from back-to-front. We thought that Grace was an easy baby, and feel extremely blessed God gave us another one. She has been so flexible, and doesn’t mind others holding her; since women love to pass her around at church. The only draw back is that it has been super hot and that full head of hair has been like a winter hat on her head.

Noella Anesti

10549981_10204205340189941_6531066651760752849_oWe adopted a dog!  A family leaving for the US gave us their dog.  They got her on Christmas and named her Noella.  We got her on Easter and named her Anesti.

Again, we are blessed to have you as part of our sustaining team.  We are blessed by your sacrifices of prayer and finances to enable our work here.