Sunday, April 13, 2014

Closing Entry Rwanda 2014

In closing, we want to share with you about the phenomenal power of Christ that filled the hearts and minds of the pastors this past week. With provision and guidance, the Lord led His men as they taught the scriptures and the doctrines of grace to the Rwandan pastors who were humble and hungry to know God’s word. These fine men of Rwanda were so eager to learn and to know how they themselves, could better teach and serve their people. The dialog about the sovereignty of God and how they could hold on to it encouraged these pastors.  Bowing submissively to Gods supreme authority, the Rwandan pastors find the confidence they need to share the comfort of God’s providence in a country that has so recently been ravaged by the Genocide - with sensitivity and gentleness. We witnessed these pastors of Rwanda singing their laments. One such song, movingly declared, “We kneel before You in our sadness”. Oh to see them  pray and weep, as we wept with them, flooded our souls with the Light of Christ.
 We were enriched by these impoverished pastors who “having nothing, possess everything” and “though poor, make many rich” (2 Cor. 6:10).  Romans8:28 and the God-ordained sufferings of Joseph, Job, and especially Jesus - these truths brought comfort to the pastors who in turn will comfort others with the same comfort they received from the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4). 

Through translation, they absorbed God's word each day. Beginning early morning and dismissing very late in the afternoon  these sessions continued throughout the week. The Rwandan pastors returned day after day with vigor,  asking deep and thoughtful questions.  Chris Treat, with his church planting experience, was just what these men needed in sessions about developing Christian education strategies and new outreaches to their communities. Gary Clowers taught Old Testament to students who devoured his every word.  The Holy Spirit is at work in Rwanda!

We applaud and thank each of these Godly men - Chris Treat, Gary Clowers and Paul Husband. Their labor in the name of Christ reached deep and it reached far.

The entire team Rwanda 2014, praise and thank God for our congregation at IPC. You, our family in Christ, our friends, teachers and loved ones are dear to our hearts. We thank you, we love you and could not have done this without the power of your prayers. We so appreciate you generous support, words of encouragement warm embraces upon our safe return.

Let us not forget the work the Lord has done over these past four years in Rwanda. With thankful hearts pray for the Rwandans. We pray they will build upon the love of Jesus and mindfully walk in His light one day at a time.

To God be the glory!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We are Home!

We are HOME! We praise and thank God our Father for his blessings of safekeeping in all of our travels.

We part for our separate ways tonight to be with our families and to rest. We will miss each other and the routine that had become so uniquely familiar to us this past week.

Please check the blog later for additional information, the Pastoral summary, notes of recognition and thanksgiving.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Days 7 & 8... 2014

Day 7 was an exciting day for us. We met in the lobby Sunday morning packed and ready to go. We boarded the bus and left to go worship at the Presbyterian church. Several us had been on previous trips and were thrilled for the others that had not. Truly a worship and praise experience like no other. Being surrounded in a foreign land by brothers and sisters in Christ and seeing the the love of Jesus shine thru them as they lift their hands to him in song, touched each of us. Hearing them pray in a language that we could not understand yet could feel, was a blessing. Sharing communion with them, was an honor and something we will always remember. 
Loading up before church
The Treats and Dick before church.

Afterwards we enjoyed a great lunch and a beautiful  afternoon together. Afterwards it was time to say goodbye to both Emanuel and Emanuel...faithful young men of God and special friends of ours. We prayed together in the parking lot of the airport before departing. 

Lunch time

Kigali Airport
Prayer and Goodbye
We had a long wait for our 8:30 flight to Entebbe but as always enjoyed the company of our team. We left a little late, but gave thanks to The Lord for taking us safely to Amsterdam on schedule. We are now on the second to last leg of our journey home from Rwanda. At about 4.5 hours into our 8.5 hour flight to Chicago, we just flew over the southern tip of Iceland and now are crossing over the Labrador Sea. Making way toward Canada, will be landing in Chicago at 2:00pm.
Chris Chris Chris
Headed to Amsterdam
The flight we've been looking for!
Landed safely at O'hare....thank you God.....Customs were a breeze...automated now of course...flight leaves @ 5:55pm. Headed for MEMPHIS!

Day 6, Saturday "Safari"

Morning came around  at 4:30 for us this a.m.  We met in the lobby at 5:00 a.m.,  boarded 4 safari vehicles and left for our 2.5 hour drive to the National Park to begin our 7 hour Safari tour. Bordering the west side of the country of Tanzania and separated by a vast lake this national park is the home to an incredibly vast number of wildlife species. With rich vegetation, the different breeds locate or nest accordingly. So with that being, we saw something different and exciting with each turn we made. 

However, The safari was not without event. One vehicle carrying Kelly, Kristen, David, Phillip and Faye had a flat. The driver and guide fixed it by doing what the Rwandans do best; using whatever they have. With a lil help from Diane (vehicle behind us) and a local who only asked for something to drink to help us, we were back on our way. Then if course there was the group that got stuck in the mud. And again the Rwandans came thru with the finest of their repurposing skills. Anyway...glorious day of fellowship as we took in the miraculous wonder of Gods perfect creation. Such a bold reminder of how AWESOME our Heavenly Father is!!

We all enjoyed a great dinner tonight at The Urban Bistro. A super restaurant, over looking the city lights of Kigali. Great food, fellowship, and fun. And good night it was.

Fun on the Safari with Tom, Janet, and Elsa

Flat tire jack Rwanda style!
Kelly doing a magic show for our "rubber neckers"
Stuck in the mud

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Day 5 Friday Cont... 2014

Well, we said so long to Sonrise and Musanze today. The construction team was pleased to be able to remove the forms from the newly poured concrete support columns. With the completion of the block walls, the buzz onsite began to quiet. We spent much of the morning collecting our tools so they could be dropped off at the vocational school. This donation will greatly help provide the education local Rwandans need to work and contribute not only to their families but to the community as well. We enjoyed some time of fellowship with our friends as we wrapped up. We presented a bible to our brother in Christ, Aloys. Aloys is a senior this year at Sonrise School. Orphaned after the Genocide, he has been at Sonrise for 15 years. Leader of his student body and a fine Christian man, he has been such a blessing to us over the years. We continue to pray for him as he faces a new crossroad in his life. He told me he has faith in God and knows his needs will be met. We said our farewells and left Sonrise with reflection.
With Praise
Forms off 
Sonrise construction sight on Friday
Matt packing up
God bless you Aloys!
Goodbye for now
Back to the hotel to pack and load the bus for Kigali. Once in Kigali, we visited the Genocide Memorial. The story was told and illustrated very well. Disturbing as well as sobering as we realize the depth of satans persistent force. We pray for the nation of Rwanda and the thousands of lives that were forever changed.

Dinner at Republica

Memorial in Kigali
Outside Memorial

Day 5 Friday VBS 2014

Friday we traveled to Gasamari. It was truly a case of Jesus calling the little children to Him. When we arrived there were about 200 children, mostly preschool-aged. Today is the last school day before the school break. But in no time the number of children swelled as the Headmaster of the village school brought all the students to hear God's story today.

We received more wonderful news after presenting the parish with gifts. We were told they would use them not only to share Jesus in the churches, but also in the schools.

This was our last VBS of the trip. God has blessed us with the opportunity to meet and see many, many children over the past five days. Please pray that each and every one of them has or will give their heart to Jesus. We can't wait to hear stories in the future and in heaven of how God has used this opportunity for His Glory and His Kingdom.

Amen from Sonrise
Kids crowded around to hear the story of Noah

Walking into Gasamari
Walking back from Gasamari

Friday, April 4, 2014

Video- "Good Morning IPC" from the Sonrise Construction site.

Day 4 Thursday 2014

Thursday we traveled to  Ntarama where we were greeted by over 300 children. The program was much like the other days, so today I will describe some different details of our trip.

We travel to the various VBS villages in the Sonrise School 30 seat bus which we fill with ourselves, the friends who go with us, and our supplies. We travel on smooth roads most of the way, but the final part of each trip includes bouncing over dirt roads. Today's road was several miles, but we have great faith in God for our protection and our bus driver, Emmanuel.

As we arrive children line the entrance to the parish churches, then they rush inside to worship and learn about Jesus. We are always treated with great honor and ushered to the front for our time in each church. 
Each church has a choir that greets us and worships with several songs often accompanied by dancing.

The Noah story is told to the children by Everest who is in charge of youth and children education for the diocese and interpreted for us by Pastor Magisha. The drama of Noah is performed by children from the Cathedral led by Vestine who is in charge of Sunday School at the Cathedral.

A highlight of our visit is the songs led by our friend and translator, Charles. The children sing, clap and dance with great joy. Our VBS team dances with the children too.

The children and even the adults are often amazed by our talking puppets. They clap during the creation story every time "God says it was good!" and at the birth and resurrection of Jesus.

Today we were again honored by the presence of the Archdeacon and were delighted to find that this church was pastored by Pastor Tito who attended our pastor training last year and is attending again this year. We were very grateful for the hospitality they showed us by serving us refreshments of muffins, rolls, eggs, sodas, and water before we left.

Friday is our last day in Musanze district. We have been blessed by our time here and pray that God will use our feeble efforts for His Glory. We will be sad to leave our forever brothers and sisters and look forward with joyful expectation to our reunion that will require no translators.
Faye with a student from Ntarama

Sock Puppets made by Allison Coates' students
Today we began our day very mindful that our time here in Musanze will soon be coming to a close...tasks to finish...and thanks to be given. The Lord made so many things possible. His grace is amazing! While the VBS team held an appreciation lunch at the Cathedral, we continued pushing forward to complete as much as possible at Sonrise. However Sam, Holli and Millie didn't forget us. We had an awesome hot meal prepared and served on the hood of an suv. Priceless!!

Edward on Quality Control Patrol
This is Eric in front of the supply shed.
To the top
Here's Flo! She is great!
With joy and honor
Pouring cement into the forms
Almost there
Say hello to Odette
Millie Millie Millie!
Dig in DD!
God's Men
With love they shared
This evening we were treated to a incredible dinner at Bishop and Chantal's home. We enjoyed a wonderful time of reflection, laughter and prayer. As the evening came to a close, warm embraces and yes a few tears were unavoidable. We love them so.

Sam pointed out this old cemetery as we walked to Bishops
Laughter with Bishop
Such a pleasure to know this dear couple