So much has happened in the past 6 months that it is hard to know where to begin. Val left for Durban early in February for a simple surgery that should have had her back in Rwanda 3 weeks later ready to start preparations for our family furlough. As it turned out she was still in ICU after 3 weeks having been at death’s door and back. Mistakes were made during the initial surgery that left Val with 2 bowel perforations that were not detected for 5 days after which 3 life-saving surgeries and God’s intervention were required for her to survive. We are grateful beyond words to Dr. Goga who was instrumental in saving Val and the Christian communities around the world for their faithfulness in praying for and supporting our family through this time.
We would like to thank some people in particular. The people at the Morningside Vineyard in Durban befriended us and were a great encouragement to us throughout. John and Elaine Broom adopted us for 3 months and showered us with God’s love in the most practical and beautiful ways imaginable. The Westville Baptist community were just amazing.
Our good Christian friends in Kigali raised thousands of dollars to help with many of the unexpected expenses that we incurred during this crisis. Jana Jenkins flew with the boys from Kigali to Durban when we thought they were loosing their Mom. Many others in Kigali, too many to mention, were led by the Lord to bless us greatly at this time.
The sending team from our home church was very supportive with lengthy Skype calls and prayer vigils and we felt uplifted by our whole congregation at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Halifax. In fact we were amazed to hear of the global prayer chain that was active on our behalf. We received messages from all 5 continents and we wish to express a heartfelt thank you to all.
In April Pat and the boys flew to Durban to join Val as she continued to recover and to begin our furlough. We spent a week in the UK with friends and Pat and the boys visited Pat’s 96 year old Mom in Ireland. We arrived in Halifax mid May to a big heartwarming welcome at the Airport where we were greeted by many of our good friends.
We have now been in Canada for 3 months and have enjoyed reconnecting with friends and taking in the sights and sounds and tastes of the Maritimes. The boys have loved playing soccer on local teams and Joel has traveled to 5 tournaments and his team has made it to the provincials. Bayside and Malagash Bible camps have blessed us by having the boys to summer camp. We had a wonderful week on PEI where Val got to do the ‘Anne’ thing and we got to spend lots of time on the beautiful Cabot beach. Pat and Val spent a week at Dominion Hill at a Vineyard pastor’s roundtable which was excellent.
In September we are scheduled to travel and share our Rwandan story with Churches and groups around the Maritimes and in October we travel to the US to visit one of our partnering Churches in St. Louis and we travel on from there with the pastor Robert Stovil to participate in a 5 day Missions Conference in Colorado Springs.
On October 19 th Val is scheduled to have surgery to close the hole that remains in her bowel and God willing the colostomy can be reversed sometime in February 2010. The recovery time for this surgery is still unknown so we have decided to register the boys in local schools and let them complete the school year before we return to Rwanda. Brendan has entered a grade 7 French immersion program and Joel will be following the International Baccalaureate course in grade 10. Pat will go to Rwanda at least once for 4 to 6 weeks before we return as a family when the boys are finished school.
We will begin updating the blog page on our vineyardrwanda.org website with our progress while on furlough and with stories from the church in Rwanda. Thanks again to all who have blessed us this year with prayers and encouragement.
What has been happening with Antoine?
Antoine has stepped into the position of leading the Kigali Vineyard while Pat and Val are on furlough. He is managing the various small group business and projects that have been set up by the local church. It has been a very busy time for him as his wife Florence gave birth to their firstborn Nathan Mugisha. Nathan was born prematurely and is still in hospital. He is progressing well and he is expected to be home soon.
Antoine will be joining our pastor Larry at the Pan-African Vineyard Conference in South Africa in September and this will be a great opportunity for him to connect with other Vineyard pastors from around the continent. After the conference, Larry and Antoine will meet up with Beth Wood in Nairobi and travel on together to Rwanda. Beth and Larry will be doing a follow up to the training they did last fall in Kigali. This time their focus will be on health issues. Antoine will play a key role in organizing and translating for this important time of Ministry.
Antoine has truly blessed the Kigali Vineyard by his example of faithful service to Jesus and his community. May the Lord bless him and his family as they continue the Kingdom work in Rwanda
As mentioned above Larry and Beth are traveling to Africa in September. Here is an extract from Beth’s recent newsletter describing the trip.
I wanted to let you know about plans for the fall and invite you to journey together in the adventure!
On September 9th, I expect to fly to Edinburgh, Scotland where I will be visiting the Almond Vineyard. They are a new partner in the Rwanda church planting ministry and invited me to share a Saturday workshop with their leaders and a message with their church community on Sunday. As a church they are involved with the marginalized in their community and want to grow in effectiveness. They are also enthusiastic about the work in Rwanda and I will be able to bring them the latest news on that front.
Then it will be on to Kigali, Rwanda. In my suitcase I expect to have a good selection of wedding dresses! (not because I expect to need one personally during this trip!). One of the recent endeavours of some folk from the Vineyard church in Kigali is to open a wedding dress rental business in their village where seamstresses/tailors can make alterations and brides-to-be can rent the white dress of their dreams at a reasonable price. Somehow it has become common custom to wear white dresses similar to those traditional in North America. This is a service that is not currently available to those of limited means but the dream is still strong in the community and there is a lot of pressure on the grooms to come up with the funds to rent a dress at a high-end shop. Because of this and many other wedding expenses it can take many years for the grooms to accumulate enough money to get married. I think the business has great potential in many ways and I am very taken with whoever had eyes to see this opportunity.
En route to Kigali, I will connect with Antoine who pastors the Kigali Vineyard with his wife Florence and Larry who is our lead pastor here in Halifax and overseer of the Vineyard Rwanda-Burundi church planting partnership. My main responsibility once we arrive will be to hold a 3 day workshop on community health with the church. My hope is that they may find some ways to help their neighbours with their basic health needs as they become informal volunteer health agents in the village. That may sound pretty simple but it is a challenge to prepare something that will be culturally appropriate and really connect with the participants. This is a follow-up on what we started last fall. (In case some of you are wondering what I know about health, the focus will not be on medical intervention but rather mobilizing community members to share basic health information and prayer with their neighbours and help them get the skilled help they need)
One of the keys to effectiveness in this is to address worldview issues that keep people tied up in poverty. Health issues are probably the primary area where unhelpful worldview issues and the resulting unhealthy practices become clear as people try to cope with illness and death. It is our desire to see these needs addressed on all levels – natural, spiritual, mental, physical and emotional. We expect to connect with some fellow Vineyard-ites from BC who will contribute to these days of ministry. Larry will also do some Bible teaching on the spiritual aspects and we expect to see a lot of prayer for healing happening.
For the sake of His Kingdom,
As you are able, please pray with us for the following needs:
- For Val’s upcoming surgery on October 19 th and the follow up surgery yet to be determined.
- For the boys as they adapt to the first experience of public school in Canada.
- For Antoine and Florence and for baby Nathan that he may be well enough to leave hospital soon.
- For the church in Kigali that they may be able to grasp and apply the teaching that Beth and Larry bring.
- For travel mercies as we visit churches and small groups this fall.
If you would like to support the efforts in Rwanda please contact our sending leader, Sheryl Darrow at email@example.com . If you are a donor and have questions or concerns please contact Sheryl as well. She or her team would be happy to help in any way they can. Finally, if there is anything you would like to see in this newsletter in the coming months, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to those who continue to invest in this ministry.
Note: The Rwanda mission is a new mission and we as a sponsoring church are working to establish our policies. We now have a process for all visits to the Finnertys whether personal or mission oriented. We are working with the Finnerty’s to schedule and approve any visits . Please contact the Halifax Vineyard so that we may be able to guide you through this process.