It has been a busy two days here in Rwanda. On Monday we packed up and left our guest house in Nymata (just north of Mbyo) and traveled back to Kigali and the Diocesan Guest house. While waiting for the bishop and some of his staff to arrive we ran into two groups from PEARUSA, one from Bishop Thad Barnum’s church — led by Micah his priest associate and a member of our Network’s executive. In the same group was the associate priest from the PEARUSA church in Hawaii. It was fun to greet both teams and to share our stories (it was also fun to tell the guy from Hawaii that we had his lead pastor at our church for the past two weeks- Heath Hale and his family). It really is a small, but wonderful, world.
Our meeting with Bishop Louis and some of his staff was very productive. We heard all about the diocesan structure, vision and plans, and were able to share our reflections on our time in Mbyo. It seems that there are two primary areas where we feel led to participate in the developmental work in Mbyo: Education (they have 750 students in the school presently with only 50 graduating and 300 new students ready to enroll in a month’s time. Currently they have space for all present students by having over 70 kids in each class! You read that right; 70+ students in one class with one teacher! Debra made contact with the head of School and exchanged email addresses. The partnership has officially begun.
The second area is the obvious one of agricultural development. Rob will lead the charge on this, and we had many good conversations with all of the key players in this area — at the Diocesan level, the Archdeaconry level, as well as the parish. Even small steps carefully taken will make a world of difference in this very poor, but very capable and hard working community. In addition, Bishop Louis talked about the Diocesan Cow Project and told me that they have saved all of the funds that CtR and the Church of the Outer Banks raised last year, and, having learned some valuable lessons from the epidemic at Mbyo, is now prepared to begin the project with the poorest of the pastors in the Diocese. We were able to help them tweak their policies and make some suggestions, such as communication, which will help immensely in sharing the news about the project with others.
Some of the younger members (and Kim) went to the market while the others met with Bishop Louis and came back with stories to tell and ladened with gifts. It gave the rest of us a foretaste of what to expect on Thursday. We then said goodbye to Kim and Rob and sent them off to the airport. The rest of us spent a relaxing night at the guest house with much laughter and great, and very deep conversations.
Tuesday, Debra, Jordan, Scotti and I went back to Mbyo for two services in two of the five satellite churches — one in the morning, the other in the afternoon. I was asked to preach at both and everyone was able to give a greeting. It is stunning to see how appreciative the people are to welcome us into their ‘home’ and to join them in worship. The joy of the choirs, the crush of the kids, and the formal speeches from the leaders was very touching and humbling. I wish you all could experience this.
Claire and Maggie stayed behind in Kigali and met with Winnie Muvunyi and the head of Mother’s Union. At the end of the conversation they had concocted a plan to start the microfinancing of a pilot start-up business. Very exciting stuff! They then spent the afternoon touring the city (and the market again!) with Vincent, one of the two interpreters who are accompanying us.
Tomorrow we leave bright and early (7 am) for a trip to a cooperative in Bugatere (and some touring of the King’s Palace site nearby). We will end the day with a special dinner at the Muvunyi’s. Then Thursday has all of the things we have not yet been able to get to: a meeting with the Education director for the Diocese; a tour of the secondary school and the Vocational Training School run by the Diocese; perhaps a visit to World Vision headquarters in Kigali, and THEN the market for those of us who have yet to see it.
I have included all of the details (as much as we know at present) in this email since I do not know if I will find the time to write another update before we leave late Thursday evening.
We are enjoying ourselves immensely, but miss you all as well. Keep us in your prayers as we will for you.
Peace be with you all. See you on Sunday.