Pictures of August

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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.

Season of Goodbyes

Thank you, all, for your prayers on our behalf.

They say with raising children, “The days are long but the years are short.” We are feeling that as we raise our beautiful girls in the midst of orienting ourselves to culture in Rwanda and spending a sizeable portion of each day on language learning.

East Africa Spiritual Life Conference

IMG_1607For a week in early April, our team joined other World Venture missionaries from Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya for this conference in Mombasa, Kenya. We had a great time of prayer and spiritual rejuvenation with a preaching team from Denver Community Church, and the 3-12 year olds had a special team come out from Peoria to run a Vacation Bible School.

One highlight for us adults was the “first termer’s” debrief. We connected with about 8 other families who were in their first term as missionaries in Africa. We rejoiced that others understood our struggles from personal experience, and we heard stories of rejection, disappointment, fear and loss as well as joy, friendship, and “baby step” successes that illustrate the path that is before us in this first term.

Building Relationships in a Climate of Distrust

In a conversation with an embassy employee, he said, “I’ve lived in 7 different countries and always make it a point to hang out with nationals. And I’ve made life long friendships in every country…except Rwanda.” An Asian professional who has lived in 9 countries said, “More than any other country, I am amazed at how little trust there is in Rwanda between people.” A missionary veteran, “Even the Rwandans know that this systemic distrust of others, even in marriage, is a stronghold; it is a harmful aspect of their culture.” We have heard this confirmed by several Rwandans.

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Playing soccer at the Pastoral Training School: pastors, teachers, missionaries and their kids.

It can be daunting to think of this climate of so much distrust and think about building relationships and doing ministry. As we serve in this context, pray that we meet the right people, leaders able to be change agents who point Rwandans to Christ and the power of his resurrection.

 Season of Good-byes

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Janzens

This month we say goodbye to two teammate families. The Janzens are “visiting” the US for a year of “home assignment.” We are thankful it will only be a year without them, a much bigger sting for us is that on July 5th we will say goodbye to another family from our team, the Scheers. This family, who put Rwanda on our radar 6 years ago and hosted us in this country 5 years ago, has served in Rwanda since 1979. They were instrumental in starting New Creation Ministries. And now they are moving back to the US and retiring from full-time missionary service. Many in Rwanda will mourn the loss of the Scheers, their understanding of the culture and language, their experience as teachers and missionaries, their friendship and proximity. We will miss them as neighbors, mentors, and friends. In the classroom, Gary has left big shoes to fill.

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Scheers

Four Months

We have been here for four months! Other long termers have noted that the 4-6 months is usually the most difficult. These last 6 weeks have indeed been hard:

Returning from Mombasa, Grace developed full body hives, which recurred 3 days later, worse, while on antihistamines.

After 6 doctor visits and a blood draw allergy test, we still conjecture Grace has and allergy to some form of mango and/or pineapple products.

We determined that we will need to do a skin allergy test in either Kenya or South Africa to determine the true cause.

Also, we caught “the Africa Cold,” as a family and as a team. Several team mates’ kids were sick, Grace got sick, passed it to me and Rayna, and then Krystal. Grace got the worst of it, in bed for four days with a fever and body aches. Rayna, thankfully, was only mildly feverish for two days. Even three weeks later, we all have the signature lingering cough.

Noella and Shadow

Since our last update we have added a second dogs to our household. We are quite pleased with our dogs. Noella has turned out to be a good mouser, killing two rats and a mole/shrew in the last three months.  And two mice in the kitchen this week.

IMG_1659We got a second dog, initially named Lovey, but we renamed her Shadow. Shadow isn’t a barker, but she does bark at things that climb over the wall!  Shadow is a great name for her, because she is always underfoot. Another curiosity, in Kinyarwanda, Shadow is igicucu (iggy-chewchew); but igicucu (iggy-choochoo) means idiot.

Special Week/end

This week we were blessed to host our friend from Colorado and fellow East Africa missionary, Melissa. She has been serving at a Christian school in Gulu, Uganda, for several years, the last two as its director. Since she is one of the few missionaries to be “sent” by Scum of the Earth Church, our church in Denver, we decided to call this reunion our East Africa Scum Missionary Conference.

IMG_4403This weekend, while Melissa climbs an active volcano, our family gets to travel to the south west corner of Rwanda to visit the home of our language helper, Philemon. We are excited to take this step in friendship with him, see places special to him, meet and stay with his family, and to preach at his brother’s church. I will preach in English, and Philemon will preach in Kinyarwanda. Pray that the message of the Gospel will reach and transform lives. Pray also that our children will stay healthy and enjoy visiting, “Philemon’s world.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.52.44 PMStay tuned, as Krystal soon shares about several opportunities she has had to practice nursing here.

Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support!

Busy

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.

 

 

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!

Introducing Rayna Sparrow

On November 9, 2015, at 7:21 AM, Krystal gave birth to our second daughter, coming into this world at 8lbs 8oz, and 22in long.

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The Story of Her Name

We have had many people ask us about how we chose to name her Rayna Sparrow. As a background, the past three years have not been easy and more specifically, this pregnancy has not been easy. From the time we were appointed to be missionaries to Rwanda to now, we feel like we have been on a difficult journey of transition, change of identity, and preparing to get to Rwanda. During this time, we feel like we have had many joys, answers to prayers, times of questioning, disappointments, trials of faith and learning to trust in God’s perfect timing.

One of these trials and disappointments was the time it took to actually get pregnant with Rayna. Call me (Krystal) crazy, but having grown up with a sister close to my age, I had always hoped to have my kids close together and really wanted to have our second child shortly after having Grace. This, however, did not happen. In fact, it took much longer to get pregnant than I expected and along the way there were some serious times of disappointment and heartbreak. Nearing our expected departure to Rwanda, I began to think it would be a good idea for us to wait until we arrived in Rwanda before we continued to try for baby number two. However, I was shocked when 9 months out from our expected departure date I learned I was pregnant!

While we were thrilled to learn we were expecting a new baby, this has not been an easy pregnancy. We spent the first half with concerns about a miscarriage and the last part with serious concerns about preeclampsia and preterm delivery. Additionally, because of my diagnosis with preeclampsia we had to delay our departure date and I had to stop working as a labor and delivery nurse, an occupation I love.

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Yet, God has been with us. Early on, in this pregnancy God comforted us with the verse Matthew 10:29-31:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

She is our Sparrow, and throughout our pregnancy and especially in taking her to Rwanda we must trust God to care for her.

Later, as we were looking at names, Krystal looked up the Hebrew meaning of Rayna: pure and song of the Lord. We liked the name, but we weren’t compelled by the meanings. We weren’t sure how “purity” fit the journey we have been on to being blessed with her or if it fit who we hoped she would become. The same morning I had looked up the meaning of Rayna and was praying over what we should name her, we went to church and heard a sermon that gave a whole new meaning to her name.

mark 6The sermon that day was on Mark 6:45-52 where Jesus walks on water. The sermon however, talked about how Jesus sent the disciples out on a boat into a storm and sat on the hillside watching them as they struggled against the wind all night. The main point of the sermon was that sometimes the Lord places us in the middle of storms on purpose and allows us to struggle so that we maybe purified for his glory. The pastor used the illustration of a silversmith purifying silver.

When a silversmith is purifying sliver he places the metal into a hot fire where it is melted until the impurities are separated from the pure metal. When a silversmith was asked how they knew when the silver was pure and should be pulled out of the fire, he answered, “I know it ready when I can see the reflection of my face in it.”

[It’s great sermon.  Check it out: Sent Into the Storm]

As we reflected on the journey God has brought us on thus far and the journey that we will walk once we arrive in Rwanda, we can see how there are times of trials, disappointments, suffering and hardships. However, we also know that God watches over us. In the midst of trials, we can trust him to be watching. We can know that he has put us into the crucible to be refined, that we might finally reflect his image and for that we are grateful. May our Rayna, also, reflect the image of Christ as pure silver.