Thursday, September 19, 2013
Dear Friends and Family,
As I look at my last posting on January 2011, its been more than a year since my last posting. OMG, I apologize again as life just got ahold of me and Jean-Paul. We have had quite a time trying to get settled in America. We are finally here in Austin, Texas after spending almost a year in Los Angeles, CA struggling. We came to America October 2010 with only what we earned from selling EVERYTHING we owned in Rwanda, which wasn't alot. God really blessed us with enough to get JP's visa and our airplane tickets and a bit more to start off in an apartment.
It's been a mix of emotions returning to America. I was so happy to be back in the comforts of family and familiarity (however, my family still remained far), not to mention some American luxuries that we take for granted. However, one thing that I could not prepare for is that time has moved on, America has progressed, people have gone on with their lives while I was living in a less developed country. In order to survive in Rwanda, I (a master multi-tasker) had to teach myself to slow down and adjust to the less urgent pace of Africa. Returning to America, I've had to speed back up. I also lost some value in the job market as I was a volunteer humanitarian worker for 4 years. Coming back into the job market has been tough. Some people can value the time I've spent in Rwanda, but others cannot. I was a teacher and a marketing communications professional before I left for Rwanda. In those years, America leaped into an age obsessed with social networking (which is also invading Africa today). During my time in Rwanda, I used social networking to keep in touch with people, but the internet was so slow and I didn't have TV to keep me up on the latest industry norms.
Another challenge that I faced as a returning missionary was that I returned to another city and no longer had my church family support because apparently the mission ended as I crossed the international borders. In an instant I had to switch modes and go from a daily life with mission purpose - focused on bringing Christ and compassion to anyone around me, to a lost world of unemployment and struggling finances. Then, I had a new husband, who is also new to America, that I had to assist in getting adjusted to all the changes.
So, to make a long story short, its been a whirlwind year for us...almost 2 years back now.
However, we did successfully reach two anniversaries of marriage. We stood the newlywed test and are still madly and passionately in love and blessed. Don't get me wrong, its not perfect and we have our challenges, but its perfectly made and blessed by God. The love of God and the love we have for each other is truly the glue that keeps everything together for us. Marriage is alot of work, but a work of God. We praise the Lord for giving us strength and love. Many people have asked us about whether we have a baby yet. We have been working on it. Life in America is not easy. Financial strains and managing daily life is stressful on our physical, practical and spiritual existence. But we can and will do all things through Christ Jesus. We trust that God will bring things together and our family will be born from the grace of God. We want to make sure that when we bring a child into this world, that we are prepared to give the child the best of life. So, the answer to that question is that we and God are working on our future family. All prayers are welcome.
As I take on whatever jobs come my way to support us, I long for the wonderful days filled with purpose. I long for the days of being the vessel that God uses to bring hope and joy to the people of Africa. I long for days of sitting in my living room and sharing God's miracles with young people. We will return one day, strong and fully stocked with resources to change lives for Christ.
Life is short.Cherish the days you have. Whether you past was filled with joys or sorrows, they are days gone by. Look ahead at the things God has in mind for you.There are treasures stored up in Heaven and Earth waiting for you to surrender your path so that God can lead you towards the true path to retrieve your blessings. I thank you for reading my blogs for all these years. I will soon be putting up a new blog to start the new chapters of my journey with God. Please keep me in your prayers to seek God first and foremost. I have left the third world country for now, but my mission has not ended. In God's eyes, I am still a missionary, on special mission, on a new season, in a new place, fighting for the cause of Christ - that all may seek His face and rejoice. I pray for you all to find the joy of the Lord in your lives and to keep a tight grip on it.
With love and blessings to all,
Linda (Huang) Bigirindavyi
Saturday, January 1, 2011
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In the name of Jesus, I cover this blog and all the information and incidents in the Blood of Christ, that the projects, contents and words would be unharmed. Amen
January 1, 2011, Los Angeles, CA, USA – Dear Friends & Family, Please forgive me for not posting for so long. A lot has been going on at light speeds and truthfully we wanted to keep things confidential until they worked out. However, I have tried, so here is what I meant to post on Thanksgiving.
November 25, 2010, Los Angeles, CA, USA – Happy Thanksgiving! This is a special thanksgiving posting because my husband and I are so thankful for our Lord God for His Grace and mercy. My husband and I have moved to Los Angeles, CA. We arrived about 3 weeks ago. It’s been a project in the works that we needed to keep confidential so as not to allow the enemy any ground to complicate matters. I had been praying for a long time since we returned from our wedding for God to show me the next step of this journey.
Our hearts were definitely ready to stay wherever God called us to serve. However, for some time, funding had been diminishing because I had not been home to fundraise or organize. For some time, I had been struggling to find work to “tentmake” in Rwanda. Yet, God began to close the doors. JP’s health with diabetes was not doing well with the stress of life in Rwanda and lack of food choices or proper medications. Even my health was questionable. We could barely pay rent or afford ministry travel needs. And, the organization I founded in Houston, Urukundo for the Children was lacking organization, leadership and direction. Communication from afar began to get more and more difficult. I felt it was time to consult with God about the direction of our future.
I asked God to show me clearly what to do. God reminded me that He came first and family came next. I asked God that if He wanted us to stay in Rwanda he’d open the doors by providing a stable longterm job. As I applied for jobs, each door closed so I began to think the time was right to leave. As we decided to try to return to USA to live, God began parting the “Red Seas” to make that possible, confirming each step miraculously. We applied for JP’s green card and let God take over the rest. As soon as the paperwork got to the right place, the processing went so quickly and smoothly. We took many trips to Kenya to finish the process.
Then, we prayed about where to go in the US. Do we return to my hometown of Houston or do we go to the east coast, Midwest or west coast? Do we go somewhere new or some place familiar to me? I felt God pointing me again towards “family.” I have been so far from my family for so long and I am also starting a new family with JP. Most of my family now resides in the west coast, so that is where we decided to go. Perhaps God had some Godly appointments for us because He pointed us to Los Angeles, California. After going through all the steps (and there were many), we booked our flight to Los Angeles. The clock was ticking and we needed a miracle. We had to find a job and a place to live on limited funds. Praise God! He answered our prayers faithfully. We found a place in a weeks time and got settled in minimally. Now, I have been applying for a job in teaching or graphics/marketing communications.
We said our farewells to our church, as Pastor Lydia and Apostle Masasu prayed over us to send us out as missionaries of Evangelical Restoration Church Remera. They advised us to always remember to be examples of Christ wherever we go and to stay in unity and love. They also told us to keep in touch always with our church family in Rwanda as they will be praying for us. We sold all our possessions in miraculous timing to help us start out. JP visited his family for the last time and we bid farewell to local friends.
Back to January 1, 2011, Los Angeles, CA, USA – Happy New Years! Praise God Almighty because He is alive and faithful! When I was in Rwanda, struggling to make ends meet and missing my family and friends in America, I prayed that God would allow us to get back by Christmas. Hallelujah! We spent our first Thanksgiving in America. JP had his first turkey dinner, just the two of us. Then, we just flew back from a few days with my family for Christmas. This was JP’s first quality time with my family and it was wonderful. I had missed 4 years of their lives.
Being back in America is great. Living in Rwanda for so long really makes me appreciate my own country. It’s truly the LAND OF THE FREE! Even JP feels a true cultural freedom here. It’s nice to be able to speak and be yourself without fear of blatant persecution. Of course, there are still issues in America, but ultimately we are very FREE! In other countries, there are so many cultural taboos that you are constantly conscious of.
We’ve been here in Los Angeles for 2 months now and all is well. However, getting a job when you have become a bit outdated is not so easy. But I have faith that God has a plan. Please pray for a job to come soon. Our finances will last us only until the end of January.
Praise God! We thought we were out of JP’s diabetes meds and we don’t have medical insurance yet because of being unemployed, but God miraculously did His things and we found out his prescription still had months of refills left. God bless Dr. Su from HFBC.
We don’t have a car yet, so we’ve been on foot or bus. The transportation system here is wonderful. It takes three times to time to get places, but we get there safely. And it totally beats the ragged minibuses and motos of Africa.
We’ve been exploring churches, but haven’t really found a home church yet. This is not exactly the Bible belt of America. It’s actually the New Age and showbiz belt of America. So, churches are very different and far. But we have faith that God has a place for us, to grow us and use us.
Mostly, I’ve been really busy applying for jobs. That’s one reason I get so tired of the computer that I fail to blog. For some reason, God got us back after the beginning of the school year so it complicates things in the teaching jobs area. And things in America have moved on technologically so my graphics and marketing experiences are a bit behind. I am able to do new media marketing, but don’t have the experience in my resume. I know the job market is tough all around in America, so I try to be patient.
JP has been so in love with America and the ocean. His health is improving, although he’s caught a cold from the extraordinary cold front that has come to LA. I am also dealing with re-adapting to culture as America has changed in many ways.
JP has begun Advanced English – Adult classes and will be progressing towards passing his GED so he can have a more promising job future. He’s enjoying the teaching methods of America.
Overall, we are great because God is faithful. Our greatest need right now is for me to get a job. I am praying not just for a job to make money to live, but a safe place where I can serve God and work for long term in peace. In going to Rwanda, I sacrificed a lot of my career in both teaching and graphics/marketing communications. Getting back into the swing of things is not easy. And being in CA instead of TX…I have get certified in CA so tracking down records and letters is a task. BUT I KNOW GOD IS FAITHFUL, He has answered all prayers so far, so we continue to pray for a future for the Huang Bigirindavyi family.
For all our faithful prayer warriors, we want to thank you so much for all your support. I know you are there. JP and I love you so much and miss you all. I will try to keep you posted as things progress. This is a brief update. Please pray for all the emotional and spiritual stuff within us that is adjusting to change. It’s not easy. There have been both support and judgments about our staying in Rwanda and leaving Rwanda, but we stand strong by the feet of Jesus. I know that God’s calling was real. He sustained me through much in Rwanda and brought me back safely, with a wonderful husband. We have not folded our mission for Rwanda, but have moved onto the next phase. Only God knows who or how anything is going to happen. We just go forward according to His direction and His favor.
When I get more time, I will post some photos of JP’s experiencing LA. Love Yall!
Love in Christ Jesus,
Linda & Jean-Paul
· For our marriage
· For our safe transition to America
· For our apartment
· For great Thanksgiving & Christmas
· For answers to prayers
· For all our supporters and prayer warriors
· Favor for Linda to get the right job soon
· A church in LA where JP and I can grow and serve
· Continued health and healing for JP
· Linda’s physical and spiritual health
· Overall getting settled and getting some direction for our future
Sunday, April 18, 2010
April 20, 2010, KIGALI, RWANDA – Praise God! This is a quick blog to share with you briefly how wonderful and faithful God is and just share a few photos from the wedding trip. We have been back in Kigali for a week now (since April 12) and I have been busy cramming deadlines for a class as well as dealing with survival issues so please forgive me for taking so long to get this out. I want you to know that God worked out every little detail of this wedding so perfectly in His own timing.
HOLDING ON FOR GOD’S MIRACLE. Why do we call this a Miracle Wedding? Well, not only was our meeting and coming together a miracle, but the planning and implementation of the wedding event was beyond human hands. We began this wedding project several months before the wedding with literally zero in the bank. Even a few weeks before the wedding, that balance had not increased and we were worried. We held on with the strength of our love and faith in the Lord, persevering through fleshly temptations to take out a loan or to change the wedding plans. And God came through faithfully.
GOD MOVES MOUNTAINS. Three weeks before the wedding, things began to move. God miraculously granted us favor with God’s people. Faithful people from both the US and Rwanda began donating funds and services to make this wedding not only happen but glorify God with its magnificence. We were still tight on funds, but we had our airplane tickets and we were packed and ready to go. As long as we got to Houston we knew we could always continue to downsize the wedding. JP got his visa in two days and on March 11th our loving church family in Rwanda picked us up and sent us off at the airport with love and prayers.
A NEW EXPERIENCE. This was Jean-Paul’s first trip in an airplane and out of East Africa so I got to experience the trip through new eyes. Jean-Paul was full of mixed feelings of excitement, nervousness, and awe.
It was a long journey on three airplanes (flying through Uganda, Ethiopia, London, to Houston), 21 hours of flying, and two 8-12 hour airport layovers. We watched a few movies and tried to get some sleep, but Jean-Paul was glued to the map screen that showed our continuous flight path. He loved to see where we were flying over. He was amazed at the Atlantic ocean and the snowcapped mountains as we flew over east Canada and the American northeast.
As we finally flew over Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, JP was amazed at how huge the airport was and how far it was to the centre of Houston. We arrived on the evening of Friday, March 12th and my friend Amy picked us up at the airport. For me it was refreshing to be on highway roads without loud horns and people shouting and jumping out at you. I was home indeed.
We stayed at the house of a church family who offered to let us stay in two of their rooms during our month long stay in Houston, minus the wedding week when the church graciously offered to put us in a hotel. We took our first hot shower and picked up a missionary loaner truck the next morning (Saturday) at Houston’s First Baptist Church.
We spent the first two weeks driving all over Houston organizing low-cost decorations for the wedding reception and visiting a few friends. This was a long and difficult process, but it allowed JP to see quite a bit of Houston.
The next morning we went to service and Bible Study class at Houston’s First Baptist Church. The size of my megachurch of over 10,000 members excited JP. We enjoyed Pastor Gregg Matte’s pre-Easter message, the excellent choir and orchestra, and the wonderful hospitality of the Bible Study class.
After class we enjoyed Mexican fajitas and chili con queso at Pappasita’s Cantina. JP loved it. He said it was like African food.
DENTIST. Jean-Paul had acquired a sore jaw joint that prevented him from eating. The pain was so excruciating. I didn’t know what to do because we didn’t have health insurance or funds for dental care so we asked around the church for a referral to an affordable dentist. Praise God! We got one. This would be JP’s first dental visit ever. The dentist turned out to be a sweet Christian. He told us JP had some muscular strain from stress so he needed to take some muscle relaxers and sleep with a mouth guard. When we told him we were missionaries from Africa he didn’t charge us for the visit. We were so blessed. PTL!
MEETING WITH THE MINISTER. The next two days we met with Don Munton, our marriage minister, who coached us through the whole wedding process and writing vows. Don is the Singles Director at the church and I've known him since I joined HFBC. He is a sweet and humble soul. He had some time each of us. We had no clue what to do since we'd never been the star players of a wedding, but Don made us feel very at ease. He simply told both of us not to worry because he was in charge and would direct us throughout the ceremony, the minute we walk into the chapel. Don is quite the pro at this. Thanks, Don, for making JP feel so loved and cared for. We both love you so much! Thanks, Denise (his wife), for letting Don spend time on this.
THE GUITAR CENTER. I took Jean-Paul, a professional lead guitarist who has never owned his own guitar, to his first real guitar store. The look on his face was priceless as we entered the huge warehouse of guitars. The walls and ceilings were covered in a forest of electric and acoustic guitars, basses, effects, amps and other musical instruments and devices. For JP it was like being in a playground because he was free to test out any equipment. I think we spent four or five hours in the store our first time. He was so happy as he played like an angel. I was so proud that my fiancé was obviously the best guitarist around in the store.
WEDDING SHOWER. The next Sunday afternoon my friends gave us a small wedding shower (pre-wedding party) so they could all meet JP prior to the wedding. We had cupcakes (my first in 3 years) and punch and opened gifts. They bought us lovely corsages to wear. It was wonderful to see friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and share with them the blessing of God.
MEETING THE FAMILY. We got through the first week of organizing, running from store to store getting prices, returning things and purchasing others for the reception. I got my dress and shoes fitted, reserved a tuxedo for JP, and made my wedding day hair appointment.
Five days before the wedding, we checked into the Drury Hotel Galleria for our wedding week, courtesy of Houston’s First Baptist Church. A few days before the wedding my sisters arrived from San Francisco and Oregon. It would be Jean-Paul’s first meeting with my family.
We arranged to take my nephews to the downtown Aquarium, a mini-amusement park and aquarium museum. So, it was a double treat for JP as he meets my family and sees his first aquarium, shark tank, and amusement park. It was always my dream to see JP and my favorite nephews meet and get along. Oh, what a joy to see my dream come true. Jean-Paul rode his first mini-train through a shark tank tunnel, rode a ferris wheel in the middle of downtown Houston, won my nephew a toy in a shooting game, saw and touched live fish, and saw his first captive white tiger. What a treat and dream come true for me! My sisters loved him too!
JP GETS SICK. Two days before the wedding, JP’s diabetes starts up again and got progressively worse. My church’s Missions Pastor sent us to a local Christian doctor and covered the expense. JP’s blood glucose level was extremely high so the doctor gave him insulin injections, a glucose meter, and medication. That night JP’s migraines became intolerably explosive to the point of nausea and tears. I called the doctor and he recommended that I take him to the hospital emergency. First we quickly called the church in Rwanda to ask for prayers. After a few hours of sleep, JP began to feel better so we avoided the hospital. The next day he continued to get better so we continued the treatments as the doctor prescribed. Thank God almighty! Thanks Dr. Su and William. Later on we heard that the entire church got down on their knees and were praying for Jean-Paul to get better. Thank you ERC family!
REHEARSAL & DINNER. Friday evening we meet at the church for rehearsal. We did a quick run down of the wedding. Afterwards, we had a nice rehearsal dinner with my family and bridesmaids at my sisters restaurant Hunan Downtown. It was a nice reunion of my family members.
WEDDING DAY. It's Saturday, March 27th and it’s my wedding day. I get up early to go for my hair appointment. Farida, my favorite hairdresser at Visible Changes, puts me in curls for a sweet soft look since I wasn’t using a veil and wanted to just put flowers in my hair.
We get to the church and I begin to take a look at the table settings. Thank God for my friends Saba and Ben who volunteered to go pick up coffee. Karen was also a lifesaver with the table decorations. The wedding coordinator Debbie was fabulous. She took over everything and told me not to worry and to go just get myself ready. I went to the bride’s room to put on my makeup and dress, and do my hair. The next thing I knew it was time to enter the chapel for the wedding.
MIRACLE PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO. We had no funds for professional photography, but I wanted nice photos to testify of this blessed moment. My friend Stan had another engagement, but a few days before the wedding he found two fabulous Christian photographers, Topher and Marlo, who donated their services so graciously to capture this miraculous event. They really bent over backwards to take wonderful photos and get us a few to take home before we leave. God bless their hearts! This is God’s extraordinary favor.
A filmmaker friend from Rwanda was supposed to come take professional video and edit a wonderful video for us, but he canceled the last minute and couldn’t make it to America so we were strapped for a videographer the day before the wedding. We were down to the wire in our funds so I got desperate and reached out on facebook. My good friend Kelly came to the rescue and answered my facebook call, volunteering to shoot the video with my camera. Praise God!
WEDDING SURPRISES. I knew my sister was getting me a cake and some bouquets and boutonnières for the wedding, but when I saw the beautiful three tiered cake covered with sugar flowers and the chocolate covered groom’s cake surrounded by chocolate dipped strawberries, it was an awesome sight. Then, Debbie came to ask me what to do with the huge altar vases. Should she put them on the floor becauser they are so huge? I didn’t know what she was talking about because I had ordered some simple flower arrangements for the altar. My eyes were amazed when I went to see. In the chapel were two of the largest red rose arrangements I had ever seen. Each rose was gigantically the size of my stretched hand. They were the most beautiful rose arrangements I had ever seen in my life. Everyone was in total awe of the flowers. I was not expecting such a beautiful thing for my humble wedding. This doesn’t end. Then came the bouquets and boutonnières. They were also huge and beautiful. My sister Gigi had surprised me with the flowers and cakes and really spiced up my wedding. I was so happy because I knew God was so glorified by this act of beauty and kindness provided by my sister. Now everyone could see truly what God had done by this wedding.
THE WEDDING PARTY. Oh, the wedding party was an entourage of loved ones. My nephews Cody and Tyler were flower boy and ring bearer. My precious brother Andrew walked me down the aisle and gave me away, in place of my father who could not attend. My mom was there with my brother Justin who was the best man. My baby sister Christine was my maid of honor. My best friends Beth and Amy were beautiful bridesmaids. My niece Ella was the photo beautifier. My sisters Nancy, Shirley, Gigi, and nephew Beckett were also present to represent my family. My friend Fred and his wife Josephine (pastors of Victory Mission Church Rwanda) read opening verses in English and Kinyarwanda. All these people flew or drove many hours to partake in our wedding. Don Munton kindly donated his time as the wedding minister. And many wonderful friends from all over the globe came to bless us. This was the second happiest day of my life (the first was when I found Christ). Oh, there was absolutely no nervousness in me after I put on the dress, but complete peace when I walked down the aisle and saw Jean-Paul waiting for me at the altar. It was thrilling to see the sweet faces of family and friends in the chapel witnessing this union of love.
WEDDING PHOTOS. I don’t want to add more words so we can get to the photos. I’m going to end this blog with a few more wedding photos. You can view more by clicking this link to Our Miracle Wedding. Just uploading a few photos onto the blog took centuries and then it just reached its limit. We had a truly blessed trip and a superblessed wedding. I believe God was glorified at all the presence of love and compassion. I will come back later to describe the aftermath of our wedding trip. Love ya! Enjoy!
TO OUR LOVED ONES IN USA & RWANDA. THANK YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH! I want to thank every single person who gave us their hearts to make this event so wonderful and such a miracle of God. Thank you Apostle Masasu, Mama Lydia, Michel and all of Evangelical Restoration Church Remera for your love and blessings. You may not have been there inn flesh, but you were with us in spirit and we felt it. Thanks to all my family for making the long trip to be there for me and for welcoming JP with such love and kindness. It meant so much to me to have my family there. Thanks to Beth and Amy for all their help and encouragement. Thanks to Karen, Ben, Saba and Barbara for helping with the reception. Thank you anonymous donors for the airplane tickets. We're so grateful. Thanks to Stan, Marlo and Topher for the beautiful photos and more to come. Thanks to Harvey & Bonnie for the car. Thanks to Fred and Josephine for coming such a long way to bless us and pray over us. Thanks to the Kovaly’s for opening their house to us. Thanks to William Taylor and HFBC Missions Department for the hotel and doctor. Thanks to Dr. Su and the dentist for caring for JP. Thanks to all our friends who came to bless us and all who sent us gifts. And we hope we have not forgotten anybody. Words can’t express the magnitude of our appreciation and love for you all! WE LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!
MOST OF ALL, THANK YOU GOD!
Lord God, thank you for taking me from nowhere and showing me the love of Your Son and the love of the Family of Christ. Thanks for choosing me for this mission and taking care of me all these years. Thanks for saving Jean-Paul through hardship and war. Thanks for giving him to me now as my life partner. Thanks for taking care of our wedding. I know that you've been glorified by all the love that showed through our wedding. Bless our friends and family. JP and I love you so much and we are overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Please be with us in our marriage and family. We love each other sooo much. The road ahead is covered with strife and uncertainty, but Your Love strengthens us for the journey ahead. We know that you are with us and we are covered by the blood, the Love of Christ Jesus and destined for victory. Lord we follow you and forge ahead, focused on your Glory. Amen.
Love in Christ Jesus,
Linda & Jean-Paul
Bigirindavyi (pronounced "biggie-ring-daav-yee")
- For a wonderful wedding, trip and return
- For all our loved ones in both USA and Rwanda
- God’s plans and direction for our life together and for the ministry
- Speedy 501c3 approval for Urukundo for the Children, Inc. (we need this in order to secure grants and greater funds needed to operate the ministry and begin programs and partnerships in Rwanda)
- JP’s I-130 (US Spousal Green Card Petition) & K3 Visa
- Jean-Paul continued health - diabetes
- A job for Linda - "tentmaking" to survive in Rwanda
- Peace & safety in Rwanda especially during this year of re-elections
- Jean-Paul’s family in Burundi - health and welfare
WEDDING GIFTS THANKS: A great big thank you to all who contributed gifts to help make this Miracle Wedding such a testimony for God. The funds really made a huge difference. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
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