Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday, May 31

We had another incredible day here in Rwanda. We are connecting and engaging more with the women.

Today we had Bible lessons about Hannah and Esther. We also had some really great discussions about Godly marriage and prayer and trusting God in tough situations. I hope it was comforting to them to see that we have many of the same struggles.

We have been enjoying their singing and today they asked us to sing for them! As faithful members of the IPC choir, Wanda and I were thrilled. We started with Amazing Grace, which they did not know. Them we started singing Jesus Loves Me, which they did know! I cannot put into words how glorious and worshipful the next few minutes were. Singing the same words of truth and praise and adoration to our Savior in our respective languages is something I will never forget. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We don't share two words in common, but the name of Jesus is all we need to know we are connected with Christians all around the world.

The guys fixed window panes at Sonrise. I don't have any pictures from their day yet. I'll post them when I do.

I will also post pictures of our very fun fellowship dinner soon!

Please pray for rest/sleep, continued health, travel mercies as we venture out a little father tomorrow, safety for the men, the Holy Spirit to guide our words in teaching, and relationships to continue to grow both in our group and with those we encounter.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday, May 30

Happy Memorial Day! We are so thankful for all the men and women who have served and do serve America.

I look around at this beautiful country, full of volcanoes and banana trees and eucalyptus trees and big smiles and monkeys and bright fabric, and it's hard for me to believe I'm actually here! 

We've had a full day here in Rwanda. After breakfast, we headed to the village of Cyankia. We met with the Arch-Deacon, Jean Baptiste, and his wife, Jacqueline. His words humbled me. He spoke of how he knew God had brought us there and was going to do wonderful things through us. He told us that he is responsible for ministering to almost 40,000 Christians in all of his districts. One of his main priorities has been starting an education program for preschool-aged children (ages 3-5). Prior to this program, these children were left to fend for themselves while their mothers went to work, which left them in a position for any number of abuses from both nature and other people. Now that there is preschool, the mothers can go to work without worrying about their children.

After our meeting with the Arch-Deacon, the men left to go to Sonrise School and we women began our Bible studies.

The Arch-Deacon explained to us that these women are pastors' wives and in charge of leading small group Bible studies. His hope was that our words would be encouraging to them and they could use those words to encourage women in their villages. Things were a little quiet at the beginning, but the ladies began to earn up to us by the end of the day. We did lessons on Sarah and Hagar, Rachel, and Rahab today. We also had a time of sharing personal testimonies - a few of ours and a few of theirs. The women loved inviting us to dance with them while they sang. It is inspiring to see their joyous, full-bodied, full-voiced worship.

The men got their bearings at the school and got supplies ready to begin doing some repairs and painting tomorrow. They got to spend some time entertaining the children at the primary school. Apparently, Kelly has an amazing coin trick!

Our driver, Mambo, thought it was so funny that Phillip wanted to drive home from Sonrise!

We shared stories of our days over a fantastic meal here at our hotel. Now we're settled in, ready for a good night's rest.

Pray for our health, that more relationships would be formed, and that God would use each of us to his glory.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

We're here!

We made it to Rwanda around 12:30pm. While we are sad that we had to miss worship this morning and our afternoon activities, we are thrilled to finally be here!

Our friend Emmanuel met us at the airport. He helped load our luggage into the pickup truck. I was very amused at the packing method, which consisted of many yards of type and a tarp. Huge praise - all of our bags arrived!

We rode about 2 hours to the Cathedral grounds in Musanze, where we were able to eat some delicious pizza and catch up with the Bishop. We loaded back up and rode another 30 minutes to Cyanika. We were greeted very warmly at our hotel (The Montana Vista). We've settled in, had showers, and are ready for a good night's rest.

Pray for our day tomorrow...that our women's Bible study/retreat would go well, that the Holy Spirit will guide us and use us, that our lessons would be well-received, and that our men stay safe while doing work at Sonrise School.

Thankful that His mercies are new every morning!

Addis Ababa

We made it safely to Ethiopia! It was a long flight (14-ish hours), but we thankfully had extra room and everyone got some rest. Everyone is in good spirits this morning.

The plane was the biggest I have ever seen!

We have one more short flight from Addis Ababa to Kigali. Pray that our luggage arrives and that we will have transportation when we get there.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Change of plans, but we're ready!

We're headed to Rwanda!

Our Chicago flight was delayed and we're traveling a slightly different route than we expected. We will be traveling from Chicago to DC tonight. Tomorrow we will travel from DC to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (see map), and then on to Kigali, Rwanda. We had no idea "be flexible" would start at our first stop! God is good!

The Lord has already answered many of our prayers:
- Each of our bags weighed less than 50 pounds and the airline accepted all our bags and supplies!
- We no longer have to worry about making our Brussels to Kigali connection.
- We were able to stay together as a group on all our flights.
- We've made our first leg safely.
- We get an extra night of sleep.
- We only have one long flight now instead of two.

Pray that our luggage will make it to Kigali, that this was our only travel delay, and that we will arrive safely in Kigali on Sunday morning.

Two of our prayer warriors, Holli and Anne, came to the airport to pray for us and send us off. We are so thankful for each prayer lifted for us!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Commissioning Sunday and Packing

"16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' "
-Matthew 28:16-20

Our team was commissioned during worship this morning. Then we had lunch together and packed our supplies. The Lord answered our prayers - our bags have enough space and do not weigh too much!

(Pictured: Kelly, Jeremy, Kristen, Emilee, Wanda, Faye, Jayne, and Phillip)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rwanda 2016

The 2016 team is leaving one week from today! We are excited. The five of us women will be leading women's Bible studies for both pastors' wives and young ladies. We will also be teaching them how to knit. The three men on our team will be working on some physical repairs to the vo-tech school.

We would love your prayers as we take this next week to prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually. Here are some specific prayer requests:

  • So thankful for the way the Lord has brought our eight team members together - Wanda Fee, Faye Griffin, Phillip Griffin, Kristen Ireland, Jeremy Ireland, Kelly McGuire, Jayne Whittington, and Emilee Garrett
  • Anxious hearts
  • That we would glorify God in every thing we do
  • Our final preparations of our teaching curriculum (Godly women in the Bible and Fearfully and Wonderfully Made) - that we would listen to God's guidance and use His words
  • Supplies provided - grateful for the generous donations already made
  • Monetary donations
  • Packing - that there would be more than enough room for all the items we need to transport
  • Travel mercies - making our connecting flights in Chicago and Brussels
  • Safety as we travel in Rwanda (they drive so differently from us)
  • The ladies who will be coming to our Bible studies; give opportunities for fellowship and relationships 
  • Knitting knowledge and our ability to teach the ladies how to knit
  • Safety for the men as they do their jobs; give the men opportunities to build relationships
  • Flexibility!
  • Our families at home
  • A fun and safe time for our children and friends at Camp Palmer
  • Health - before we leave and while we are there
  • Recent mudslides in Gankeke province - many families living there have lost everything
Thank you for partnering with us in prayer. There will be more to come!