Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Hello Sacramento! Cyprien is comin' your way

Cyprien boarded a plane early this morning to bring his journey to Sacramento, California.

When he left our house last night I gave him the best words of encouragement I could muster as I fought back the tears... 'Remember that God is already where you're going, He will always be with you and no matter how hard life may seem, God will always provide a way through.'

Cyprien is a refugee. He has no family.
I first met him in 2003 and liked him from the beginning. He was eager to see how International Teams could bring benefit to the Kiziba Refuge Camp. He would sit in the back row as we talked to the pastors in the camp about living in unity and doing ministry together - they could do more together than separately.

This birthed an idea in his mind...and he ran with it.

By 2006, he had unified 15 different denominations within the youth ministry community in the camp.

Cyprien loves God and desires that everyone knows God. When they ( the formed central youth committee - JCM ) asked us for money to do ministry and we told them that they needed to find the money within the camp, Cyprien led the way in figuring out how they could tap into the economy of the camp.

Today, they have a successful cell phone charging business (no more walking 2 hours to charge your phone!), a hair cutting salon, have harvested vegetables twice to give to the poor in the camp and are planting their third crop , have rebuilt some homes for the poorest of the poor refugees ... and they're sharing the gospel.

Kiziba will miss him dearly but he has raised up many leaders to follow in his footsteps so we know the ministry will not suffer.

We will miss him dearly as well. Cyprien considers Serge and I his parents. Our hearts were torn between being so sad to see him go, to being so nervously excited for him as he walked out our gate last night for the last time.

I need to trust that words I spoke to him... God is already where he's going... May Sacramento be gracious to you Cyprien - Please God!!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Isabelle is back!

One week ago, I received a text message from Maman Deborah late in the night saying that Isabelle had showed up at her door. 

Isabelle was one of the first street kids I met at Vivante back in early 2005. She along with her two young brothers, Theophile and Celestin were day street kids. They had a dad and a roof over their head at night but not much else. Their mom had died giving birth to Celestin, their dad was  / is a complete drunk, they were not in school and food was a problem.

I remember that I fell in love with Isabelle the first moment I saw her. Here was an 11 year old girl who had been the mother and sister to her two young brothers longer than she could remember. She watched over them, protected them and wanted the best for them.

The story is long... but it's because of them that we now have six homes with former street kids who are going to school and striving to live a better life one day at a time.

A couple of years ago, their father came and took Isabelle back to live with him along with Celestin, the youngest. Said  he needed a wife to look after him. I remember feeling so helpless... and praying many times since that fateful day that God would have mercy on her life, that He would protect her emotionally, physically and spiritually.... and that we would see her again.

I immediately sent a text message back to Maman Deborah and asked to see Isabelle the following morning.

It was SO good to see her. She has grown up so much but she still has the most beautiful smile. From what we have heard so far, the years have been hard on her... and she's done living like that. She SO wants to go back to school and we'll be sure she does in January when school starts again. We've also been able to talk to the father this week and he's agreeable. He's also willing to send Celestin so he can go back to school as well.

Isabelle is now 17 years old (thinking that is a few years older than we knew before... but that's pretty normal for here!) and she's going to start in Grade 4. That would make Celestin 11 years old. The father took him when he was in grade 2 and I don't think he has been to school since.

We never know who is going to come across our path in a day.... or how God is working.

The immediate... we need to find a suitable home for them to be part of... God please find us a good mom who's going to love on them!

(BTW... the other brother Theophile has been living with Maman Deborah and is doing great!)
Isabelle and Isabella

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Nathalie is 39 years old, has 5 children, her husband left her when she was pregnant with the last children - twins in 2000. She lives in the Kiziba Refugee Camp.

Serge, Nicola, Isabella and I had a great day with her.

Nathalie started an association in the camp a number of years ago for women with HIV/AIDS. They started weaving bags and then baskets. She is now crafting paper bead jewelry and giving the proceeds to the JCM Youth group in the camp which she is also a leader ... and we their ministry as well through various means. 

It was  a great day to catch up, check out what she has made, give her pointers on where to improve and tell her what I would buy. Lots of encouragement all around. 

I am headed to Canada in early November and plan to take some handicrafts made by Rwandan women.
I am SO excited that God has given me this opportunity to give this refugee woman a 'lift' in life for her hard work and diligence in trying to do something with nothing. We're praying for lots of multiplication on her efforts!

If you'll see me in November or December... I'll have some great Christmas gifts to buy... hint, hint!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

New intern in Town!

Nicola arrived from the UK last Tuesday evening!
Our first Brit... so exciting!
God has never disappointed us with interns and teams and again... no exception. We are blessed.
She will be with us through May 2011.
Pray for her as she continues to adjust to life in Rwanda, her new roles in ministry, and learning Kinyarwanda.
Looking forward to how God plans to bless us through her!

Nicole is modeling her new found fashion accessories!
Have her blog posted ... check it out to read of her journey.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Why we do Short-term

These thoughts have been rolling around in my mind for well over a month. They started when I received an email from someone who reads this blog wanting to know my thoughts.

Is short-term mission really worth it?
Do short-term teams and individuals really make a difference in the ministry?
Isn't better to just send the money?

She was confused. She has been on short-term mission experiences before and believes that God is calling her and her family to do it again.  She had some correspondence from someone else here in Rwanda giving some negative feedback on short-term... What were my thoughts she asked?

WELL... time to get up on my little soapbox again :-)

There is so much to say about this, but in brief - maybe... :-)

- If short-term teams and individuals are prepared, orientated and hosted well... they are amazing opportunities.
- Hosts need to believe that short-term teams or individuals will and can impact the ongoing ministry in the location. If hosts feel like short-term is just something they should be doing and not something they are passionate about, of course they are going to feel like short-term takes too much time away from 'real' ministry and that they cost money AND they should NOT be hosting short-termers!
- How else does a long-term missionary have a chance to recruit other long-term workers? Best they come and see and give God the space to allow their passion to grow for a certain country or people group.
- Spend the money to come! Sure you could send us your $4000 and get a tax receipt but then what? That would most likely be it. If you come, I know we have gained an ambassador for the ministry here. We've gained prayer partners, financial partners because someone has come to minister alongside of us. We've gained lifelong friends.. not just us, but fellow Rwandans as well. This would not have happened if you had not come.

We are just coming out of  summer where we hosted four interns and two short-term teams, over three months. All a bit wild and crazy for sure - we didn't sleep enough, spent more money than we had to live a bit more conveniently so we could function in sanity, we forgot to pick Prince from school more than once, we didn't have much family time... but oh, the benefits!

Our kids still pray for interns and individuals on teams that were here last year, they talk all the time about the new friends they made this summer, again we've had SO many email from this years 'batch' of short-termers of  how their lives were changed because of their time with us... and how it continues to challenge them in their day to day life (gosh we're privileged that God entrusts us with his children!), but most of all... they loved on Rwandans, they gave more than what they thought they had and they learned from their brothers and sisters here.

SO... if anyone out there is thinking that all this short-term stuff just isn't worth it... just give me a few minutes of your time.

I'll tell you what has been my experience for over 15 years .... lives changed! lives transformed! lives being lived with a greater sense of the world that God has created.

What more could you want!?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Inauguration Day

As I'm sitting here writing, the rest of my family is gathered around the TV watching various presidents arrive at Amahoro Stadium for the Inauguration of President Kagame. Last count that I heard was that 15 presidents were in the country for today... who knows what the count will be  today.

It's a great day for Rwanda.

Last night they were encouraging people to start coming to the stadium by 5am this morning. It's packed and thousands are outside as well. I am sure there are few Rwandans that are not gathered around a TV or listening to the ceremony on the radio. Later today there will be parties in all the umudugudus - villages - every 150 houses. The rumor is that tomorrow will be declared a holiday as well so people can recoup from today! :-) I'm liking the sounds of that... 

The slogan for the day is 'The Journey Continues...' and yes it does.
Rwanda is indeed on a journey. I believe that God has Rwanda on a journey which includes healing and development in the form of unity. It's an exciting place to live in this world. Our prayer is that God continues to bring favour to this small nation and its people.

Now to get my kids away from the TV long enough to get out of their pyjamas!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Alain's Married!

Yesterday was a grand day for Alain and Delphine.
The day went without incident and at the end, I could see that Alain was well pleased.

Serge was busy co-ordinating everything and I made the cake. Never made a wedding cake before but it seemed to turn out and I know it was enjoyed! Maybe I should start a little business... mmmmm....

We always have a little joke here that we can tell how good the wedding was by the number of Fanta... it was a good wedding!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Last team of 2010

Been wanting to put some pictures up from this team... Philpott Church from Hamilton, ON. This team of 9 was a blast. They had lots of energy and jumped into everything with hearts and minds wide open. Once again we were privileged to see God working in and through them. 

Thought I'd share some pictures to give you an idea as to what their experience with us looked like.

They went to the 'top of the world' with Serge to experience the Kiziba Refugee Camp and make sure that our 19 students were ready to go back to third term in school.

They also checked out the gardens, the cell phone charging and the hair salon.

Looks like the cabbages are growing just fine!

They then came back to Kigali and spent most of the rest of their time loving on our street kids.
Each day about 60 kids showed up to worship, learn about themselves and God, eat and play.
SO much fun!

Every day started with peeling... potatoes, matoke, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, onions... and then the slicing and dicing. 
Kids comin'  
Pastor Joe had the kids spellbound by his magic tricks 
Always football 
And volleyball
Amber learning new games
Dan serving lunch
Denice loving on Isabella... thinking our kids go through withdrawal everytime a team or an intern leaves. 

They also shopped at the market to assemble 80 bags of food for the Ubuzima group - 80 households affected by HIV/AIDS. They did amazing at batering for sugar, beans, rice, sosoma and oil.
Somehow I have no pictures of this... mmmmmmm...

I am always amazed as to what happens from when we pick a team at the airport to when we take them back to board their plane home.
They love on Rwandans and all the while God is moving.
So great!

Wonder who God will bring our way in 2011?