So good to be with friends

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Rindiro is a good friend to me and our global reach team, he has been hard at work preparing for us to arrive and facilitating opportunities. We are all here and believing God to do the great things. We may be getting a late start but God will more than make up for it. All the team is doing well ready for sleep in a bed and to get started in ministry. Its a great day. We have great friends here and are looking forward to seeing them all and helping all we can.

Home Sweet Home

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I absolutely love traveling. Especially for mission efforts. Global reach is a real passion for me.

This latest trip was fantastic. Our plans were accomplished, and God showed up in so many ways.

Africa is a beautiful continent and Rwanda and Uganda have a special place in my heart.

As I sit here in the JFK airport I feel like Dorothy, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. As a matter of fact I could use some red shoes right now if clicking them together would get me home quicker.

Once I get in the states I’m ready to be with my girls so this last few ours are a real bother to me. Patience, I need it bad.

One thought I share with all short term missionaries on our teams is the idea of coming home with a mission. I think it’s worthy to share with you here.

The thing that makes a global reach effort so powerful for those on the team is that every day has a mission. You are not distracted by all the “stuff” of the day and every day has a specific purpose. I always ask the teams, how would this play out in our every day lives if we took that home.

I want to encourage you and myself, let’s begin to live every day like a mission. Living life for a purpose. What if we didn’t let the busyness distract us and decided each morning that we will have a mission for the day.

If we were to really do that, we could reach so many people, and change so many lives, and make the name of Jesus famous. So it’s good to be home but I’m home on a mission.

What will your mission be this week?

T.I.A

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There is a saying in Africa. It’s T.I.A. It means this is Africa. It is used in most cases in reference to the lack of timeliness.

Example: where is everyone, isn’t it time to start? TIA

The funniest example of this happened yesterday. We were waiting for our flight to Uganda. We were in the Rwandan airport. The announcer came over the P.A. and said. We are sorry your plane is late, it will be here later.

The whole team cracked up. Not one person was phased. That’s just the way it is. If that had been an American airport, people would have protested, whined, stood in line to gripe and complain.

I say all that to say when traveling in Africa be prepared that you will do a lot of waiting and things run late. But also to say, we as Americans need to chill out. It’s all going to work out.

We all made it safely to Uganda none the worse for wear. Our fast pace, and immediate access to everyone is breeding a contempt in us for patience.

People just can’t wait anymore. There is a spiritual component here as well. A lot of faith has to do with aggressively waiting. Believing that what we can’t see happening is happening no matter how long it takes.

Just a thought

Team Thoughts

The following are thoughts from our team. Enjoy…

I have been on a lot of different trips, and this one has been different having my husband with me. God has been challenging me to be even more honoring to him and to let him into this area of my world and learn to work with him. With our different strengths, God will use us differently, and that’s okay!!! We are believing for fresh fire in our marriage as a result of this trip and for God to show us His plan for our marriage. -Nicci Miller

Let me help. Those are the words that have come to my mind the most while being in Rwanda. Whether it be as simple as holding a child or teaching the kids how to make bracelets those words continually come to my mind. The need is obvious and great, we could easily say “we haven’t made a difference” but that is a lie. Seeing one child accept Jesus means one more life has been saved and that is amazing and we have made a difference in that child’s life. That child will bring the presence of God into their home which will spread throughout their village and country. We HAVE made a difference and we will continue to make a difference. – Rachael Woods

This is my 5th year to come to Rwanda and each year my love for the country and the people grows stronger. There are some many thoughts and emotions that it is hard to put into words. I see hope and dreams growing and developing in the children and young adults like never before. As I played with the children in Gahanga and shared the love of Jesus with them they completely stole my heart. They would hold my hand and play with my hair and we made such a connection. They are the hope of Gahanga and and taking the love of Jesus to their community. There is no church in this area but they are being the church to those they interact with. I shared Jeremiah 29:11 with them and reminded them of who they are and that God has great plans for them. I will never be the same after my time with these children. God continues to expand my heart beyond anything I could ever imagine.
Cindy Carreno

I feel like I had a glimpse of living with true grace. We met a couple who runs a fish farm in southern Rwanda who employe around 100 people. Some of the same people who could have possibly murder her family during the genocide. I don’t know that I could do that. But it’s encouraging to see that with God you can. Praise God for the work He continues to do in all of us.
Sam Laymon

Returning to Rwanda is a mixture of emotion, excitement of a foreign land coupled with the knowledge of past events mingles to create a unique experience that forces you to rely solely on God for guidance and protection. It is in these trips that I have come to realize His providence and vastness. Looking around at this land of wonder and beauty, knowing the horrors that occurred in 1994, and seeing the renewal is a testament to God’s ability to heal and restore. Forgiveness exists in many cases between perpetrators and victims who work side by side. The events of the genocide will never be forgotten but the future is bright for these people as they continue to press forward to a better tomorrow. I am so grateful for the opportunity to come and serve as we partner with the missionaries on the ground here in working to achieve that goal.
– Matt Wilkes

My heart for this trip has been to show God’s love to the women and children of Africa. I was given that opportunity to do so this week in Rwanda as I prayed for 2 precious young mothers yesterday.
Janie Burba

My time here in Rwanda has been an incredible experience. I’ve met some people who have come from some of the darkest circumstances and yet has been able to overcome with the help of Jesus. The shining light here (other than Jesus) is football. Football is the language that these people speak and when they see you on pitch playing with them, they love it. There is so much joy, fun, and passion in this sport that I can’t imagine a better platform to share Jesus on.

Nick Miller

Rwanda is so beautiful! I feel so privileged & blessed to be here to follow through on God’s calling. I know each & every connection has been a part of his plan. The people are so amazing, peaceful & beautiful! There are many hearts waiting to hear God’s word. God is definitely moving in Rwanda! Praise God!

Janet Work

…more to come

Happy Trails Aren’t so Happy

As I begin to share things with our team this morning a wave emotion came over me unexpectedly.

All I can say is Africa gets in your heart, more accurately the people of Africa.

As I spoke tears filled my eyes and my heart swelled with love, appreciation, a little sadness, and true compassion for our American team and the significant relationships God has given us on this great trip.

So we leave Rwanda today with joy but a bit of sadness like when you were a kid and had a great summer vacation staying with your grandparents and having a blast with your cousins then having to say goodbye and go back to real life. For this reason I truly appreciate technology for allowing us to stay daily connected internationally.

So now for what I shared.

1. I leave this year having a clear defined vision for our long term role in Rwanda. Exactly what type of ministry, how, what and where we will do it. This kind of clarity has been six years in coming but I’ve never been more sure. What freedom it gives me. In other words I’m certain of our role in the over all purpose of God in this place at this time, and with whom to do it. Praise God. What we’ve done to this point has been valuable and powerful, but now it will be refined and singularly focused. (some times I think you have to go through a season of figuring out what you won’t do to find out what you’re supposed to do)

2. The training we do and the heart of our teams are invaluable. This team has been so involved, flexible, and engaged. I have taken the time to step back and watch our team in action. All I can say is my Senior Pastor Kirk and Nancy Pankratz have invested in our people such a heart of service and ministry and it translates internationally. Flexibility is the key to international activity and ministry and we are flexible.
Every team member no matter what role they played, put there heart in it and excelled at it. Lives were changed.

3. I have come to realize God has given me a voice to Africa. Through many conversations with leaders this trip I realize that the things God gives me to communicate are timely, transforming and challenging to leaders here.

Many leaders coming here to help are doing what they do out of love but in some ways worsening the situation by creating entitlement in ministry leaders. The mistake in that is its done out of love but is an assumption that these people are like children and can’t get the real issues of leadership and the responsibilities of a leader. Not only can they understand but want the challenge and want to contribute to the purpose of God here, and other nations as well. They want to give not only receive. They want to be used themselves not have western leaders come in and attempt to do it for them. They can learn and teach others, they can disciple and mentor others. They can lead. They are rich in insight and wisdom and need to be treated with that kind of respect, not placated by western leaders who want to say “we are doing such and such there” but not really changing things for the better. Church we are the church not mere humanitarian do gooders. Let’s remember there is a difference.

Honestly however, I have just been speaking to them, loving them, doing what we do, but for some reason who God has created me to be relates to the leaders here. I’m just glad to be used by him and to finally realize that.

Seeing and producing potential in people is why I’m here, no matter where in the world those people are. My home is the world.

Thank God for you, people who have supported us financially, and prayerfully.

Thank God for our pastors and our church.

Thank God for this team. What a fantastic, loving, diverse precious group of people who see the need to do what we do. Love you all.

Most importantly Thank God for Jesus who makes all things possible.

So happy trails to you Rwanda, we leave you with love in our hearts and a longing to meet with you again.

Place of the Skull

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Today we went to an outreach that was created in order to salvage the young generation of a community that had been abandoned and burdened with the problems of the generation that had gone before it.

My friend found these kids in a poor state. Many of them orphans
or on their own. You see this place gehanga is translated the place of the skull.

This is where the genocide started. So many of these young ones parents are in prison because of there atrocious crimes.

When he found them they were completely messed up. They were
Drunk most of the time, they would fight each other and were full of hate, were eating from dumpsters.

He pulled them together took two soccer balls and started playing soccer. When they started they had twenty five. Now they have 200. He has introduced them to Jesus. They all were receiving no education and now they are all in school. They were receiving no health care now they all have health care. They have created five teams and a choir. They teach them English and they teach them the bible. there is no church within miles. He has turned this into a church

The turn around in these young people is unbelievable. Yesterday we ran a soccer clinic with them, shared Jesus with them.

It was rewarding to me to set back and observe our team leading in ministry. I was so proud of each and every one of them. It was moving how they connected, taught, loved. Many kids were saved yesterday and will be discipled by this program.

We are so blessed, and so glad to be a small part of helping these precious people.

Reunited

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Reunited with the team tonight. The pastors conference was a huge success and the beginning of a long term relationship. Special things are happening in that community and we made good headway. Some special people with a heart for God and people.

Talking to the team they had a fantastic day. Helping at the orphans home. They did some great work on the home and also played soccer with another outreach.

Tomorrow is a new day of ministry and adventure.

Tonight I’m tired, but feel so satisfied. God is doing great things!

Gonna get some sleep then attempt to get up and listen to thunder game. I hope they appreciate my commitment as a fan.

Missing my girls, the people here love to see pictures of my family so I show them but it makes me miss them. I so appreciate their support for ministry on this level.

Love you girls