Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter, Vol. 1

June 27, 2007 KIGALI, RWANDA – Hallelujah! God is good! I finally got Internet installed. Yes, this is the first installment of the Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter. I apologize for the period of no communications. I now know what “African Time” means – it means wait and wait and wait…until it happens. This one will be long since I haven’t written in a while. Grace and peace to your from God our Father in the Land of A Thousand Hills!

I have been in Kigali, Rwanda (Central East Africa) for 3-1/2 weeks now. It has been a while before I had any stable means of communications because I had a rocky start with no home, no internet, no classroom, no luggage. I finally got settled with most of these things, and now I can be a part of the rest of the world. Praise the Lord for answers to prayers.

[Photo 1: The teachers of KICS] I arrived on Friday, June 1st to a wonderful greeting of new and old friends. It has been a surreal whirlwind experience since I disembarked from the airplane. I got through customs and was greeted by the surprise presence of my Rwandan friend Eddy waiting for me at the luggage pick-up. We reported my missing luggage and went out to be greeted by the expatriate entourage of the Caisse Sociale KICS community. This is when things got racing away non-stop.

My first task was to venture out with my roommies-to-be (Amy and Jenny) in a taxi into town to exchange money at the Forex, set up a mobile phone, and grab some coffee and lunch at the Bourbon Coffee, Rwanda’s only simulation of a modern Starbuck’s CafĂ©. It was nicely located in Rwanda’s first mall, The City Market, with grocery store, food court and boutiques. Of course, it was only a fraction of what US malls are, but it’s a nice comfort. We had egg croissant sandwiches and coffee drinks.

Afterwards we headed to where we were to temporarily camp out as housesitters of USAID reps who are on furlough in the USA while our apartment was being fixed and negotiated. What started out to be a few days turned out to be 3 weeks of living out of a suitcase in someone’s huge home. There was minimal internet so I was able to send quick messages to my family and a few friends to let them know I was alright, but unable to sit and blog.

My first night was spent sleepless with jetlag and mosquitos buzzing in my ear. I did not have a mosquito net. I was later told to sleep with the fan on to detract the mosquitos.

[Photos 2-3: Grace runs Amahoro – Amani Africa – for widows] My second day was spent with my friend Piper from World Relief Baltimore and the World Relief Rwanda Country Director and his wife. First, we headed out to Amahoro Amani Ja Ju, a sewing coop boutique run by genocide widows - - and Kimironko market to haggle for a mosquito net.

[Photos 4-15: Nyabugogo Orphanage: 150 boys sleep on dirty mattresses on dirt floors] We also visited the Nyabugogo Orphanage with 150 former street boys of all ages. Their living conditions were very minimal, but safe compared to the street where they used to get beat up and salvage garbage for food. We heard heartbreaking testimonies. They live in an abandoned warehouse without water, sleeping on dirt floors and a few torn up and bacteria infested mattresses.They get minimal education from volunteer teachers of the government Catch-Up program. The roofs are leaky, the ventilation is minimal, and there is barely any light past sundown. My heart was heavy for them. I felt God working so rapidly to connect me with a project. I will have further blogs about this project in the future.

I also visited Mother Teresa Orphanage Rwanda, where infants and toddlers pile in like sheep. They are kept safe and fed, but they have very little opportunities for language or skills development or any mental stimulus. It was sad to see children being raised without language and therefore any hope of a future. (Photos are strictly not allowed so I could not take any for the blog.)

[Photos 16-19: KICS High School students journaling in the schoolyard] I started out at Kigali International Community School (KICS) observing on my third day in Rwanda and started teaching on my fourth day. I have High School and Middle School English for this trimester. My students are mostly children of NGO or embassy staff. There are so many students applying for next semester. I will be teaching 4th and 5th grade.

I finally got to World Relief where we meet for chapel every Friday. I have yet to start teaching English because the field workers are so busy, but it should begin soon.

[Photos 20-23: Voices of Angels Children’s Choir at Victory Mission] I explored a few churches, all of which only made me so homesick for my church. Just last Sunday I joined my friend Eddy’s church, Victory Mission Church, a real authentic Rwandan church. I know many members who were translators on my e3 Partners mission trip last year. So, it’s the closest to family I have here. And I believe that the invitation to join was God’s will. I believe I will be partnering with the church on many projects including cross-cultural exchange of worship music, technical knowledge, conference marketing, and Women for Women program (of empowering women of the genocide to assimilate into the working world).

Just last week I had the great privilege of being invited to dine and celebrate with the President of e3 Partners, Curtis Hail, and the Board Chairman, Gerald Prince, along with several local pastors of various denominations. The ministry partners led such a wonderful worship service with traditional song and dance as well as their rendition of North American worship songs. I wish I had my camera. Robert, the Country Director of e3 Partners Rwanda and I will be partnering on projects to help the orphans and train/disciple pastors/ministry leaders.

[Photo 24: View from my balcony] After 3 weeks, we finally moved into our permanent apartment and today they installed internet, a true answer to prayer. My room has a balcony overlooking the city, where my friend Turambe and I sit and share worship music and God’s vision for this land of milk and honey. Turambe has a dream of a traveling Worship Group Ministry.

So far, I have bonded with so many people and seen such great need that I must stop and pray for God’s guidance as to where to start. First, I praise Him and thank Him for Hope and Salvation and for His plans – for setting up such a blessed table of godly helpers to build His dream for Rwanda. I am astounded at His plan and I eagerly await His direction. I shared God’s message from Jeremiah 29:11 with Victory Mission, that God has “plans to prosper [them], and not to harm [them], plans to give [them] hope and a future.”

There is so much more that I’ve been blessed to experience and so much more to come. I promise to share more, more often. Please pray for steady internet and all other electronic devices. That’s another cultural surprise. I go around carrying large box stabilizers, adapters and converters to run my electronic devices so that they do not blow in a surge. Please pray for all my boxes of books and living supplies to arrive as they are traveling in various ways.

I have skype set up so if anyone is on skype, you may email me the time you wish to call. My skype ID is LHSATORI. I miss everyone very much. You are in my prayers and never out of my mind. I will be communicating specific needs as I develop projects so that anyone that wants to contribute to them in some way (prayer, finances, or other) may do so.

. safety and favor as the least expensive form of transport is moto (back of mopeds/motorcycles) which are driven very crazily, but I must be a good steward of God’s funding and trust that He will keep me safe
. a working inexpensive car that I may purchase and use for ministry. Its tough describing places you need to get to. They do not have addressses here - pure descriptive instructions to get to places
. processing of my residency and work visa
. clear communications and godly relationships with World Relief, KICS expatriates, and Rwandan friends
. favor for my students as they write their first complete research paper for their final
. God's voice and direction on starting projects to help orphans and widows in a sustainable way that brings them salvation and closeness to the Lord while empowering them to also be helpers of those in need
. protection from interference, distractions, or attacks of the enemy
. the gift of language to learn kinyarwanda rapidly
. strength and comfort to find my place or home here in Victory Mission Church and other relationships

If you want to drop me a line or send me a package, I can receive AIR MAIL at (usually takes 1-2 weeks):
Linda Huang
c/o Kigali International Community School
B.P. 6558
Kigali, Rwanda

I’d love to hear from you and we could always use new DVDs for entertainment. Please keep me and the people of this country in your prayers – that I would clearly hear God’s word, to act upon it in His way for His kingdom. I thank everyone so much – murakose cayne - for believing in God’s Dream for Rwanda.

Imana Iguhe Umugisha (God bless you)!
Murabeho (Goodbye)

Love in Christ Jesus,
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