November Update

Well, as I often do, I look back over my recent photos I have taken to see where we’ve been and what we’ve done since I last posted a blog. Here’s what came up:

Now, THAT’S a crooked back. This is a boy who came to our Bible Study in Musanze, with his parents, asking for help. When we saw his back, we saw why! He came to the hospital where I work in Kigali,  where I was able to orient him, and they saw the pediatric orthopedic surgeon, who recommended a brace. Getting the back brace has not been so easy-apparently it doesn’t fit well, and he is coming back to Kigali tomorrow to get it re-fitted. As an example of how ignorance, fear and sickness intersect, the family, who are quite poor, spent a lot of money on traditional medicines because they believed that there son’s scoliosis had been caused by poisoning. We pray for their minds to be awakened out of the darkness by the Truth that sets us free.

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I was recently at a meeting at the Medical School, and I ran into Frederick, who studies at the nearby Technology Institute/University, and whom we have sponsored ever since secondary school. We were glad to see each other. He told me he is doing well in school, but needs glasses.  I was touched to see that he is still using my somewhat worn computer  bag that we gave him several years ago, along with the computer we also gave him.

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We were back in Musanze recently for church, and we were impressed by how many children were there-we couldn’t fit them all in the photo; it must have been over half of the congregation! I was glad to see that the children’s ministry is thriving, despite the fact that many Sundays we are attending church in Kigali. I am hoping to help arrange a Sunday School teachers’ training later this year at our Musanze church.

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I have been helping to host a Palliative Care teaching team from the UK. They have had many thoughtful discussions with our residents, involving end of life care-never an easy topic, but an important one, with spiritual significance. img_3226

Kids everywhere, even with burns at my hospital in Rwanda, like to ham it up for the camera, and show off their superpowers!

Here are our Prayer Requests :

  • For Caleb’s development  projects, that the doors would open for him, so he can break ground.
  • For the Rwandan students who have finished their school year, and for us as we decide how and which students to sponsor next year
  • For the upcoming holidays, and the arrivals of Caleb Jr and Lydia from RVA, and Sara and Hannah later in December. For Moses, as he finishes his first semester at his school, KICS.
  • For my (Louise’s) work, that I would be an effective teacher, and a good mentor

In closing, 2 Bible verses from our daily reading that recently “jumped out to me”:

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.Proverbs 27:19

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:24

September Update

We are back in Rwanda, after a short trip to the US. Well, some of us are back in Rwanda. In fact, only 3 of us-Caleb (Sr), Moses and I are in Rwanda. Sara has safely settled in Paris, and is enjoying her studies, which include a course at the Sorbonne, and an internship with a Public Health NGO; and she has even found a church, mostly attended by French Caribbeans; Hannah is in Wheaton and seems to be thriving, after a challenging first week, on crutches, due to knee problems. Caleb Jr and Lydia are at RVA, starting 11th and 8th grade, respectively.

In the meantime, I have started working at the Rwanda Military Hospital within the context of the University of Rwanda, teaching Internal Medicine residents and medical students. In fact, I just heard last night that we might be having as many as 22 extra students, due to larger numbers of students than usual (they start tomorrow). The first week I was at this new hospital in Kigali, I unexpectedly ran into people I knew every single day-nurses who had worked with us at Shyira; a teacher at Shyira who has a daughter Lydia’s age who had been treated for cancer; a young doctor from whom we had rented a house in Musanze to house boys we support; a devoted patient from Ruhengeri Hospital who greeted me with what can only be called a bear hug, despite being a frail 75 year old lady. I really had the sense that people were praying for me. I have been enjoying teaching, and learning, a lot. I am happy that the other Rwandan doctors are capable, helpful and include some strong Christians.

Caleb has been finding more than enough to do here in Kigali, going to meetings, arranging financing for projects, attending to people here whom we support. In some ways he is finding his work easier to do here.

Moses has started at KICS, Kigali International Community School, which is a Christian international school in Kigali. We are enjoying being part of that community. Moses does;t have quite the freedom he had in home school, but overall he is enjoying KICS and is playing soccer and the trumpet.

We have been back to Musanze briefly, in time to make a wedding cake (I think the word has gotten out), host friends visiting from Germany, have a 6 am Bible study at our house (with sweet prayers for our transition to Kigali), and for Caleb to preach.

Please keep our transition, and our far flung children in your prayers.

In Him,

Louise

Here are some photos:

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Hannah at Wheaton
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Moses go to celebrate his birthday a couple of times in the US, at the beach and in Chapel Hill, with 2 different cakes!
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Saturday morning Bible study, in Musanze
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As usual, Caleb takes the cake! The wedding cake, that is (I made it this time, though)
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We continue to support students with the help of friends near and far-thanks! 
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It was fun to be together, all 7 of us!

 

Forced Rest

I had a little enforced rest this weekend:

First, for the first time in several years, I was laid up with a stomach illness, likely a virus, that left me wiped out. I was supposed to preach on Sunday at a local high school, but that was out of the question. Ironically, the topic I had chosen was “Come to me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Caleb, fortunately, preached in my stead. I lay in bed and slept, and read a little, and slept more. I am usually not a late sleeper, but I managed to sleep about 14 hours. I gained a certain amount of empathy for my patients!

Secondly, my phone broke, at least partially. The screen seems to function somewhat autonomously, calling numbers, deleting emails, etc. at random. I noticed today that a nice tune was playing in the maternity ward; then I discovered it was from my phone in my pocket! Anyway, I discovered the best way to deal with it is to use it as little as possible, which has been difficult at times, but has freed me up to do other things.

At the end of the weekend, though, I felt rested and reassured-happy to know that the world keeps turning, even when I rest!

On the other hand, Sara and Moses were doing anything but resting. They, along with 4 others, took a long, hilly bike ride, over 2 days along the coast of Lake Kivu. Fortunately no one was hurt and Caleb had the foresight to arrange for a car to follow them along the way, with an extra bike, which they needed.

We don’t have a bike rack, so Moses stacked up the 7 bikes, pancake-style, which happened to be what I fixed them for breakfast before they left!

Bike tripThe kids are back safely, and I am back at work, hoping to keep that sense of rest and peace that passes all understanding in my heart and mind.

Good-Byes

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Lydia, Hannah and Caleb Jr at the Kigali Airport

 

I thought since I had a post entitled “Hello” , I might as well have one entitled “ Good-Bye.” As anyone in the mission field can tell you, there are far too many “Good-byes” in your life. The hardest ones are your own children. I wish I could say that it gets easier, but it doesn’t. Hannah, Caleb Jr and Lydia just left after a month here. All too soon, Hannah will leave for college (Wheaton College, by the way, for those of you who know she was trying to decide.)

We celebrated Easter together; went to Kumbya, an old mission retreat center; walked on The Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest; did puzzles; watched movies and read books. The house seems rather empty now, though we are thankful for Moses who keeps things lively.

What does it say in the Bible about Good-Byes? Abraham must have had some when he left his family in Ur; Ruth refused to let Naomi say Good-Bye and moved with her. In Ecclesiastes, it says that there is a time for everything; children leaving is definitely a season in life, as all parents know, but it’s painful nonetheless. Jesus told his disciple John to take care of his mother, anticipating his departure; He also said, And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. We do appreciate the friends we have made here, who have become like family, but we look forward reunions, on this side of heaven or the other, with all those to whom we have said Good-Bye.

Here are some photos from our vacation with the kids:

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We took a Sunday boat trip, for a fresh-out-of-the lake fish lunch
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Canopy Walk in Nyungwe Forest
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Hannah, Lydia and I went to the wedding celebration of their former choir teacher.
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April is a somber time in Rwanda, as it is the time of commemorating the 1994 genocide. Lydia and I went to a rainy memorial at a gravesite near our home. 

 

Hope Deferred, Good News, and Easter!

I had this blog post in mind a while ago, but I had not gotten around to writing it, and now it strikes me as the perfect Easter post:

Last month, I helped take care of a young woman, Clementine, who had a serious heart problem, a leaky valve that could only be helped by surgery. Fortunately for her, Team Heart, the Boston based cardiac surgery team screened her and accepted her for surgery in Kigali, though she was last on the list. Several days before she was supposed to receive her surgery, someone called her and said that in fact she wouldn’t be operated on. She came to see me the next day, hoping against hope that it wasn’t true. I called someone, who called someone else, and they confirmed that she was not on the operating list. When I told her, she couldn’t hold back her tears. Hope deferred makes the heart sick,  as it says in Proverbs 13:12. Her hopes for a new life were dashed. I almost couldn’t hold back my own tears, especially as I know only too well the fate of these young patients with severe heart disease who don’t receive surgery. I did pray together with her, for God’s protection and that next year when the team came, she would get her needed operation.

Inexplicably, a few days later, I got an email that she actually was on the list-she had the green light. I was delighted to call her and give her the good news. This time, she couldn’t hold back her smiles. We agreed that “Imana ni nziza.” God is good. Her mourning was turned into joy.

I suppose that’s the Easter message-the darkness of disappointment, sickness, betrayal, and even death is not the final word. The mourning of Jesus’ followers on Good Friday was turned to joy on Easter Sunday. May you find also that Easter joy, through Christ who gave us the victory on the cross.

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Clementine, after hearing that she was going to get her operation after all