October 2007

Newsletter
October 2007

It is now autumn or fall where most of you who are reading this newsletter live and here in Rwanda we are about to enter another rainy season. In the west of the country they are experiencing flooding and in the east, drought!! Despite the peculiarities of the weather God’s work here in Rwanda is moving ahead consistently and we feel encouraged with the results so far. It has been hard going with many struggles and challenges not least the many health issues that have plagued us; Val with continued bouts of intestinal parasites and the boys with staph infections resulting in styes and boils.

We were very blessed in August by old friends in England who provided us with plane tickets to have a much needed holiday there. It was wonderful to reconnect with friends from our old church who showered us with love and catered for all our needs: accommodation, transport, outings, meals and treats. A number of people made generous donations to the boy’s education fund and a present of an Antonio Lamag guitar blew Patrick away. We took the opportunity while in England to see doctors and an optician (another friend). Val tested on the low end of the scale for natural resistance to intestinal parasites (a score of 8 to 20 is normal and Val scored 7). Another friend in England agreed to be our webmaster and we hope to have our own website up and running in the near future.

We spent 3 weeks in England and passed through Nairobi on our return trip to drop Joel off at Rift Valley Academy where he will be boarding this year. We were able to spend 3 days and 2 nights for parent orientation and to settle him in and we were all very impressed with the high standards and the loving atmosphere at RVA. All the 100 or so members of staff are missionaries and raise their own support to bless other missionaries in Africa by teaching their children. Joel will be home for 5 days from Oct 5 through 9 and we are really looking forward to spending some quality time with him. We have been able to talk with him weekly and keep in touch by e-mail and chat so he hasn’t felt that far away. He loves school and has been able to maintain a high average. He just recently was selected to play on an “A” team for soccer and after break they will be traveling to other schools for games. He has finally managed to persuade his mom to let him stop piano for awhile and is learning trumpet with the hope of being in the school band. The school encourages outreach projects and Joel spent last Saturday helping to build a local church.

Brendan is also thriving this year in his little home school co-op. Our two teachers decided to stay for another school year to cater for the eleven children and so far they are having a great time. Brendan is still learning piano and trying to keep up his violin without formal lessons. A friend has started a soccer outreach program with local children and Brendan is trying it out. He loves the children in the village and is such a little encourager.

On the home front we were pleasantly surprised to find that Antoine with the help of a number of people in our congregation had constructed an extension to our building where we now hold our Sunday meetings. It is big and bright and airy and can seat about 125. It has depleted all our financial resources for ministry but we are confident that God will stir people’s hearts for the replenishment of funds.

After the success of our Farming God’s way project, our Wednesday small group decided to rent a small plot and try a cash crop using this method and they began planting tomato seeds last week. They work in the field during the day and have their small group meeting afterwards. They are also praying about starting a ‘Tea House’ in the village. There are many bars in the village and one in particular is run by a lady who told God that she would come to church only if He brought one to the village. She now visits our church but feels convicted about her lifestyle and is praying for a new direction for her business as well as her life. Her husband is a backslidden Christian who told the Lord that he would return to Him if his wife would become a Christian. Please pray for this family to find the joy of the Lord in their lives.

Antoine is putting the final touches to the AVC Rwanda constitution. It contains 33 articles in 3 languages and our goal is to have all our documentation ready for submission at the district office by the end of October. He and Pat have been meeting for prayer and study on Tuesday mornings and their times together have been blessed. Our small group leaders meeting on Saturday mornings continues with a number of new people joining us.

On Saturday September 22 we baptized 15 new believers. We gathered at 10 a.m. at the ‘ Friends Church’ where they have an outdoor tank. Innocent and Hakiza led worship and Pat did the baptisms in Kinyarwanda. A fun time was had by all. Afterwards a celebration was held at our church building and we catered for 200 family and friends of the ones who got baptized. The new extension was full of guests and provided much needed shade for all.

On Sunday morning we had 10 people give their testimonies and it was a powerful time of sharing. Many talked of being set free from alcohol and drug abuse. One man said that after years of being known as ‘drunkard’ he is now known as ‘born again one’ after 1 year of being dry. Another man said that he was made to feel important by Antoine who visited him in his home and ministered to him. He had never found this personal interest in him from a Christian before and after many months of being free of alcohol and drug abuse has now built a house on a plot of land he owned. Another told us of the criminal activities he was involved in and on September 22, 2005 was sent to jail. While in jail his wife became a Christian through our church and began a home group in her house. He began to seek God in prison and was released early on September 22, 2006. When he arrived home and found that his wife had become a Christian and was hosting a small group in their house, he saw this as a confirmation from God that He was really reaching out to him. On September 22, 2007 he and his wife were baptized and the joy of the Lord just flows out of them. There were many other testimonies and great applauds and shouts of joy were heard. It was like Psalm126 come to life.  

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He, who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy,
Carrying sheaves with him.

Already classes have begun again with 5 candidates for the next baptism ceremony which will take place in December.

In July we had two teenagers from the UK, David and Faith with us for 3 weeks and it was a very successful trip all round. Amongst other things they organized a day of fun and teaching for 200 village children. David taught 5 sessions of basic computer skills to a group of youth from our church.

We are looking forward to receiving some more short term missionaries over the next few months. Val is again coordinating and organizing things in preparation for their arrival.

In October we have a group of 4 from the St. Croix Vineyard, New Brunswick who will be with us for 4 days following their trip to Mozambique. The pastor of the Soweto Vineyard, South Africa will be leading a team of 27 people in November and we are planning to connect with them while they are here. There are also a couple of groups tentatively booked to come in the spring.

Our ‘Development Group’ has started up again and we will be studying Beth Wood’s book ‘The Kingdom Among Us’ in the month of October. While in Nairobi we spent a night with our friend Wendy who is introducing a small business training scheme out of South Africa to communities in Kenya and Val is looking into ways that we could perhaps plug into this and other ways of ‘teaching people to fish’ as opposed to the more common form of outside help which is to just ‘give people fish’. We firmly believe that the gospel message is designed to help people cater for their material needs as well as their spiritual needs.

Please continue to pray for the following:

  • Health for our family especially Val’s intestinal problems
  • For funding to come through for the boys education. Joel’s next term fees are due in December.
  • Our planned move to a smaller (much cheaper) house in January will go well.
  • For business and development ideas to help people break out of the cycle of poverty.
  • For God’s light to break through in the village where we work and for more people to be set free from alcoholism and find new hope in Christ.

 

Your prayers and continued support are much appreciated. Fond regards and blessings from Rwanda (and Kenya).

Patrick, Valerie, Joel and Brendan

Dear Friends,

I am having a great time at R.V.A. I want to thank all who helped me get there greatly.

It is an amazing school all about helping other people who serve in Africa. There is a wonderful sense there of love and compassion. Things are much like many boarding schools. I live in a dorm with 15 other people. All from a variety of races which is really cool. I have 7 periods of school a day. School starts at 7:45 and goes until 3:25. My first period is science which I really love. Second is bible, but when I go back to school tomorrow it will become P.E. My third period is study hall, which is basically 45 minutes where I can do homework. After third period I have chapel and chai break. Chapel is only 15 minutes and it is usually just talking about what is coming up. Chai break is a 15 minute break where you can do what ever you like. And also they have Chai (tea with a lot of milk and sugar) that you can have when ever you like. After Chai is forth period. I have computer during that time. After that is lunch, which is 1 ½ hours. The first half hour I spend chatting with my family on the computer. Then I go eat and do homework. After lunch is fifth period which for me is Geography. Then I have English. Right now we are doing I chapter in poetry. Then for my last period I have math. I am in eighth grade math, so that is the hardest subject but I like it lots. The teacher is really nice. Then after school I have soccer practice. I made A team so I practice lots, almost every day. It is really good and I enjoy it tons. Our bible teacher is also our soccer coach. He is funny and we all like him. After soccer practice I go to supper which is usually something good. The food does get a bit tiring, but it is all healthy and tastes good. After supper I have an hour before I have to be back in the dorm which I usually spend playing soccer with some friends. Then when I get back to the dorm I have study hall. That is when I get the most of my homework done. After study hall I have Devotions which is really great. Our dorm dad is the 9 th and 11 th grade bible teacher so devoʼs is always great. Then we go to bed.

As you can see my day is pretty packed but it is an amazing school and I really love it there. On the other hand weekends are very relaxed. There are tons of fun activities to do.

A few weeks ago we had a day called outreach. It is a Saturday after noon spent helping the community around us. Our whole dorm spent the afternoon cutting fire wood for families that do not have a male that can cut wood for cooking food. Some people help plant trees, cleaned bathrooms, or even built houses! It was a great day and we blessed many people. There is many other things do to though. For example every 6 weeks there is senior store. Senior store is where all of the 12 graders cook food that you can buy. It is almost like a carnival and there is also a soccer game going on against some other school. Then in the evenings some times we have movie night. That is a really fun night where you watch movies and eat popcorn. One other day that is really fun is caring community. That is where 6 students from grade 7 get together and we play games and eat food.

Sunday is great too. First we do Sunday school and then everyone gets together to do the R.V.A church. On the first Sunday of every month we go to a local church, and worship with local people. We also have youth group meetings in the evenings.

Over all I am really blessed there and I am very happy that I get to go to R.V.A. once again I want to thank all who helped to make this possible.

May God bless you,

Joel