Hi Friends and Family!
It’s hard to believe I’m halfway through my time in Rwanda! It seems to just have flown by, but I think I always feel that way when viewing something in hindsight. It’s amazing how much has happened in just December. As usual, I’ll give you the overview. I stayed with a Friends pastor and his family for a week, a few weeks later I was extremely sick, and then the Carpenters and I went on vacation in south Rwanda. Boom! Done! Update finished.
Ok, but in all seriousness, here are the details and the rest of the update. During the last few days of November and the first few of January, I stayed with an Evangelical Friends pastor, Nicodeme, and his family. I was (and am) so grateful for all of their hospitality. They were amazing in how they hosted and cared for me. Also, during that time, the Friends church in Rwanda was fasting, and I was able to join them in the fasting and prayer gatherings at Pastor Nicodeme’s church. (It’s kind of a Ramadan-style fast where you don’t eat when it’s light out and only eat one meal at night.) I was so encouraged to see the faithfulness, passion, and joy of the members of his church who were at the daily prayer gatherings, and I’m so thankful for those who translated so I could understand the gist of what was going on.
Towards the end of the month, I became very sick. It was the sickest I’ve been since I’ve been here, and I’m still not sure what caused it. I went to see the doctor on Christmas, he prescribed some medicine, and I was doing much better within a few days. Can I tell you, though, how amazing of a community there is in Musanze? Although I was too sick to go over to the Carpenters on Christmas, they, the Millers, and Amanda Gibson brought me all the things “sick Thomas” needed that day and spent time with me even though I couldn’t go to any of them. I was reminded of Jesus’s words in Matthew 25 where he says, “I was sick, and you visited me” and “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” They were absolutely his hands and feet to me that day.
When I was almost all the way better, the Carpenters and I went to Kibogora (which is in southwest Rwanda on Lake Kivu ) for a week of vacation. It was very peaceful there, and the Carpenter kids were having a blast. It’s a beautiful compound that they can explore and play in. We also managed to get over to the nearby Kumbaya Peninsula on one of our days in the area, and I got to do some kayaking on Lake Kivu which was so restful for me and good for my soul.
Now it’s time for some more broad ideas of what the second half of my time in Rwanda looks like. The first half of my time has been focused primarily on language learning. I still have a long way to go with that, but I’ve also learned a good bit. The second half of my time here will be focused on homestays with Friends pastors so that I can learn from them (like what I did with Pastor Nicodeme and his family). I’ll get to learn more about family life in Rwanda, see how ministry is done here, and see how they do both of these things together. I’ll get to learn more about Discipling for Development (D4D) through their stories about it. I’m excited to learn all these things, but I’m even more excited to go deeper into relationships with those I know here and to meet new people here in our Friends churches. There are so many gracious, loving people here, and it’s an honor to get to spend time with them. In fact, as you read this, I’m in Kigali for two back-to-back home stays with two different pastors and their families, but more on that in the next update.
Thanks again for coming with me on this year of on-the-field training. I’m only able to be here, stay here, and thrive here because of all of you. Also, feel free to shoot me an email back. I would love to hear about what’s going on with you and your part of the world.