Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter, Vol. 9

December 23, 2008, KIGALI, RWANDA – Dear Friends & Family, I want to take this time of remembrance of our Lord's birth to thank God for you and your support, whether they were through prayers, funds, emails, supplies, or whatever.

My mission for God in Rwanda has been quite an adventure mixed with hopes, joys, struggles, blessed miracles, and disappointments, but God has been with me all the way. I bear all for no other reason than to be obedient to my Lord and to please Him. You are my people in Christ and your prayers have touched me as God listens and brings me through trials. This Sold Out Single has gone through many seasons and learned so much. Being a lone missionary in a unfamiliar culture is something this child of God never imagined for herself. Some believe it wise, others don’t, but I serve a great God. Everyone has their own expectations, but only God knows for what purpose He sent me to Rwanda. In my time here in Rwanda, I have loved people who don't reciprocate to the point of heartache. And I have been blessed to experience those who love and hunger for God. I have been so blessed with friends in Rwanda that have touched and changed my life. And, finally, I have prayed for those whom I have not even met. I have seen suffering and experienced sufferings of my own in the name of Christ Jesus. All in all I have obeyed my God.

As the year takes a turn, I am prayerfully assessing my next steps and seeking God’s will. I won't lie and tell you that it is easy or ready to go. This has been the toughest faith journey of my life and I thank God that he has brought me through much in my life. And in all this He has protected me and I remain pure in my heart for Christ. All I am and do is for Him and to glorify Him.

As you may know, I just returned from a furlough in November to return home to Houston, Texas to establish the beginnings of an organization with a vision to change the lives of children that change the world. I also went home to raise more funds for the new year of missions in Rwanda. I still await for God’s blessings upon this. Unfortunately, my living support goal is below 50% and I do not have funds to remain in Rwanda beyond March, although there are so many open doors of need to serve Him in Rwanda. So, I will be prayerfully re-assessing to see if I can actually remain in good faith and safety in Rwanda to serve. I have faith in my Provider that He shall provide according to His will. However, I seek to be a good stewart of the sacrifices made by existing supporters and any commitments that I make to the people of Rwanda. I also have to assess my strength as trials have taken its toll on me. Please be in prayer for me as I prayerfully seek God for his plans. My first priority is always to obey my Lord whether He calls me out or in to a mission field. Whatever happens, Urukundo for the Children belongs to God and it will continue to serve God in His timing and way wherever He directs it. As for me, I have given my entire life, every safety and comfort, to God and I will continue to do so all the days of my life and into eternity. Praise God that He entrusts me, even in all my unworthiness, to serve Him.

Praise God! I thought I was going to spend this Christmas alone (long story), but I have some new friends that are such a tremendous blessing, especially during this lonesome holiday season. I was rescued by my friends at EA, a wonderful organization that is making a tremendous differnce in the lives of young people in Rwanda. We spent Christmas Eve feeding and entertaining impoverished school children and showing the Nativity Story to their Worship Center. It was a blessing from God to have the support of new friends in Rwanda. (Sorry, no photos. Didn't have my camera).

Nevertheless, I thank God for you and pray for a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. Pray for the generation of children that God has appointed to bring in the year of Christ Jesus. This was the vision of hope in Christ that He truly entrusted to me. Pray for those who suffer in silence daily. They need our prayers first and foremost. Please pray for my assessment and decisions, that I may always hear His call and follow. God bless you and your family abundantly in the new year.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14

Love in Christ Jesus, Linda

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE: If you have not already done so, please subscribe to “Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter” by entering your email address in the subscription field to the right. FeedBurner will send you a CONFIRMATION EMAIL that you must REPLY TO CONFIRM in order to activate your subscription. Please, pass the subscription and blog site on to others to share the testimony and raise support for the mission. God bless you!

To sustain just my living Jan 2009-2010, $24,000 per year, currently at 10% of goal

  • Staff Development (technology & child development) at World Relief through end of May
  • Serving in partnership with other organizations (TBD) to train educators of children - Jan 2009-2010
  • Possible position assisting with local coordination of Andrew Palau Festival with Hope Rwanda
  • Developing Urukundo for the Children ministries in Rwanda

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter, Vol. 8

November 4, 2008, KIGALI, RWANDA – Dear Friends & Family, God bless you all for your support of this mission for God. Praise God for His watch and His provision. This is a quick newsletter to update you on God’s mission in Rwanda. A lot has transpired since my last newsletter. I have battled many odds and prayed over the steps.

I am leaving in a few hours to return to the USA, Houston for a visit. It’s been 1-1/2 years since I have been home. My trip is not only to visit family and friends, but mostly to register a nonprofit organization that will allow me to continue to serve children, starting here in Rwanda, where God has called me to serve at this time. I am spending my last dime in faith to go home and to register. I also will be fundraising for the year, for more in-depth ministry, and for the startup of my ministry.

The organization is Urukundo for the Children. Urukundo means “love” in the native language of Rwanda. Our vision is that through love we bring hope to vulnerable children who suffer in silence. The vulnerable children we are currently targeting at the moment are homeless street children, school children, children of disabilities, and orphans.

My time with World Relief is coming to a completion as of May 31st, but I have decided to remain in Rwanda as long as it takes to finish what God has called me to. However, I need to raise funds in order to remain living here and to conduct ministry that focuses on the who have fallen through the cracks of larger organizations.

I will be speaking at various events in Houston. Please, come see me to hear about what God has been bringing me through in Rwanda and what God is creating. So far, I will be speaking at:

• Sunday, Nov. 16th at 9:30am, Houston’s First Baptist Church at Toolz Bible Study class (formerly The Shed)
• Friday, Nov. 14th at Noon Inspire Women’s Luncheon
• Saturday, Nov. 15th at 5:30pm at Beth Richard’s house at 4020 Bluebonnet (off Stella Link at Bellaire), Unit G, 77024

I will email more specifics as they are confirmed. My phone number is 713-385-3349 or email me if you have any questions. If you have a ministry group or church that you would like me to speak at or would like to just meet me to discuss involvement or support, please email me at LHSATORI@YAHOO.COM. Please pray for the registration and for the fundraising to do more.

Please pray for my long flight home and for more opportunities to share God’s work in E. Central Africa.

Please pray for all the provisions for registering Urukundo for the Children. Please help me to spread the news and the cause of Urukundo for the Children. We need funds and support to do more.

I have a special request to anyone who may be able to help, I am in great need a car from Nov. 7-23 to get around for meetings so if anyone has a spare vehicle, rental discount ability, or can just provide rides, please email me. It would be such a blessing.

Praise God for His love and mercy to us all. Please pray for the vision of Urukundo for the Children to reach many children in need. God bless you all, my friends!

Love in Christ Jesus,

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE: If you have not already done so, please subscribe to “Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter” by entering your email address in the subscription field to the right. FeedBurner will send you a CONFIRMATION EMAIL that you must REPLY TO CONFIRM in order to activate your subscription. Please, pass the subscription and blog site on to others to share the testimony and raise support for the mission. God bless you!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter, Vol. 7

August 23, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – Oh, my goodness! Please forgive me again for this late newsletter that is supposed to go out monthly. God just has me hopping around with activities and time runs away from me. I keep adding to this newsletter without getting a chance to send it out. So, better late than never…Thank you for your patience.

Imana ni nziza! (God is so good!) Much has happened since my last blog. God has shined His light upon me and shown me favor. I finished off a year at Kigali International Community School, started a guitar class, traveled back to Uganda for fruitful ministry, taught English and Computer classes at World Relief, moved to a new house, and am now starting a Bible school. My time here is like the thousand hills of Rwanda. There are peaks and valleys, but I press on for the prize of Christ.

KICS, Kigali – My time at KICS has been sweet. I taught both primary and secondary level classes, weathering through the challenges, crossing many cultural gaps and startup pains. As I read the journals of my Grade 4 and 5 students, I was amazed at their prayers and reflections on our daily devotionals. They are so deeply yearning a relationship with God and Christ. I was touched by their deep thoughts and attention to the lessons. And I did not water down my teachings. The beautiful evidence of their growth was amazing.

Our final week of the school year was filled with special activities. My Grade 4 and 5 merged with Miss Lauren’s Grade 2-3 for a field trip to Peace International School, a local school for impoverished Rwandaise and Congolese refugees. The purpose was for the KICS students to exchange cultural experiences and have a chance to serve God. The tables were turned and our students played the role of teacher to the primary level students at Peace International, teaching English, Arts & Crafts, and Music. It was quite a challenge physically, mentally, and culturally, but we endured, being blessed and blessing others.

Afterwards when our students reflected on their most memorable learning experience of the year, most of them responded that they learned first that God said despite their youth they had something important to contribute to others (1 Timothy 4:12). Secondly, they said the experience at Peace International School taught them that its difficult to be a teacher and that they should cherish and listen to their teachers because it was most difficult when students would not listen. They were also appreciative of being in a school where teachers listened and cared so much. I was so proud that they had learned such huge lessons on their own and grown closer to God for it.

At our end-of-the-year program my students joined Grade 2 and 3 to present three songs devoted to Christ with sign language movements. This was my final year at KICS as I will go on to teach at World Relief and minister in the community, but I will miss the kids. Nevertheless, I will now be more available to work on World Relief projects and other ministry opportunities that directly benefit the Rwandaise community and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

GUITAR CLASSES, Kigali – I was also privileged this year to start a guitar class with my friend Francis, enrolling 5 of my students from KICS. We helped some purchase their first guitars and completed 10 weeks of Beginning I level classes, ending in a recital of “God is so Good” in English, Kinyarwanda, French, and Spanish. I have hopes of continuing and expanding these classes. There are not many places here to learn music.

UGANDA, Kampala – Just as school ended I hopped onto a bus with my ministry partner Francis and set out to re-visit our Ugandan pastor and to minister in Uganda. We started off on a 10-hour ride to the slums of Kampala where we ministered at Pastor Bizimungu and Pastor Shyaka’s Kisugu Christian Fellowship. This time I requested small groups. The first night I met with the church leaders’ group and taught about servant leadership. The next day I met with the women’s group and discussed biblical love. The ladies were blooming with good questions. One lady asked me what kind of love does Satan have. I had to break the news that Satan does not love in any way.

The third evening I taught the men about love languages and relationships. They sat on the edge of their chairs as I shared with them the secrets to their spouses’ hearts. Everyone was eager to go home and discover their spouse’s love language. Again, God knew just what they needed. Even the pastor was ready to go check out his wife.

We were also privileged to visit and minister at a men’s prison. God led me to share my testimony of salvation and change in my life to serve God. The prison was definitely not like those of the USA. The men were lacking in shoes, food, and privileges. However, we brought them a supply of soaps. This was a working low-level prison farm. The men worked the maize (corn) fields.

UGANDA, Kihihi – The next day Pastor Bizimungu, Francis, and I got on another 10-hour bus to a small remote village southwest of Kampala, near the Congolese border, called Kihihi. It’s so remote that I am the first so-called muzungu (white person) ever to visit Kihihi and it showed. Everyone was starry eyed as I got off the bus. We got there and checked into the most modern hotel we could find. Thank God there was one in the town area with modern self-contained amenities. I’m afraid the village latrines are rather primitive. I still had to use the cornfields as they were safer from the ravaging chickens that surrounded the hut-like outhouses in this village. I learned very quickly on this trip to clear the bush, stoop down, and hide under my skirt.

Pastor Bizimungu helped to build three churches in this area of Kihihi, Rusharoza, and Chabahanga. Since we were tight on time, we visited Kihihi and Rusharoza, but the leaders of Chabahanga were present at Rusharoza. The first evening I spoke with the leaders of Kihihi church in the pitch dark of the evening and then shared a meal with them. What a humbling experience! This must have been what Jesus and the disciples did many times in the olden days, preaching by a lantern. In the morning we continued on to Rusharoza whcre the leaders of all three churches convened to hear us speak.

Rusharoza has a female pastor with a miraculous testimony. She wondered into the church one day with a dead son. She prayed and vowed to God that if He would bring her son back to life she would serve him tremendously all her life. God brought her son back to life and she now pastors the church. Her son, who is now about 6 years old, is alive and running around, but he still does not speak much. The pastor is a precious and meek woman, as most women in the Ugandan culture are required to be. I noticed that none of the women could look the men in the eye when they spoke. And in Uganda it is a customary act of respect and submission that a woman must get down on her knees and below a man to greet him. The men don’t really like it, but no one has dared to change the custom. I felt an oppressed spirit in the women that God called me to address in my teaching to the church.

First I spoke with all the leaders. I shared my testimony and background and my experience with leadership in the secular and Christian world. I taught them about being a visionary leader with a mission or purpose for God. We discussed the difference between dream visions, false prophesy, and a vision from God. We talked about authority in your gifting and the importance of each role in leadership. It was a great discussion.

Afterwards, we had lunch and then I taught the church. I talked about Future Hope: Life in the Spirit (Romans). It was a miraculous experience. God impressed the plight of the submissive and oppressed women in my heart as I was teaching. I told them to be confident and proud that Jesus is in them. They must look up as they speak to all people to show the light of Jesus. As I spoke this, I saw their heads immediately rise and eyes glowing in the church.

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF RWANDA, Butare – When we returned to Kigali, it was time to drive to visit Butare where Francis attends the National University of Rwanda, the only university in Rwanda. I wanted to see what a real university campus was like in Rwanda. I was actually surprised at the size of the university. The university is spread out across this small college-town. There are so many departments and buildings. And the most impressive is their forestry department. They actually have a forest where they have planted all kinds of species of trees and plants from which to study. It’s like a huge forest park of which all the students get to take advantage. Many go there to jog or pray or other things. This college town however is only a fraction of Austin, but its more than I expected.

WORLD RELIEF, Kigali – When I returned to Kigali finally I was notified that I had to find a new house. At first I was worried, but I prayed and prayed and God found me a great house near the World Relief office in Kacyiru, behind the American embassy. This one is closer to town so it may save me some gas money. All in all, God always turns my disasters into blessings. He closes one door to open a better door. I developed a plan to teach 3 levels of English classes and 3 levels of Computer classes. There were actually 2 more classes, but we ended up combining them. It’s been both a pleasure and a challenge getting adapted to teaching adults English at varying levels. It’s not at all the same as teaching kids. I look forward to further developing curriculum to enhance the skills of the World Relief staff. Praise the Lord for his opportunities.

During my life in Rwanda, I hit a few small challenges daily and a few large ones periodically, but God pulls me through each mountain and valley. God has me covered and under control in all the changes. His plans are mysterious, but perfect. So, my time has been filled with life’s seasonal changes and just moving on to where God wants me. I am still very focused on His vision. I have weathered through false accusations, rejection, and viscous attacks of the enemy. Meanwhile, He works to teach me, grow me, and connect me to the people and places that work into His perfect plan. Each day I miss my homeland, my family, my friends, my church more and more, but each day I press on for Jesus. With many distractions that come my way, I ask God daily to refocus me and show me what I am here for and each time he tells me that its about the kids.

GOD LISTENS– Last Sunday, I was in turmoil, feeling like many things were overshadowing me and things were going in a different direction. The church and everyone I knew were partaking in ceremonial activities that disturbed and confused me. I felt that my life had been stripped bear and placed on the chopping block. I was missing home so very much and just feeling lost. I ran outside of the church to pray around the corner. I wept and pleaded with God to affirm my path, to tell me why I am here. If they worship these other people and things that come for a visit, and I can’t seem to get their attention for anything while living here, then why was I sent here to endure trials and be away from my family. As I was weeping and pleading with God, He sent me a sweet little girl who came along. First, she came as I was crying and praying, reached out her hand, and gave me a piece of candy. She, then, walked a few feet away and watched me continue to weep and plead with God. After a few minutes she came back to me and said in her sweet broken English, “Don’t cry…” I took her hand and hugged her. She walked away again and continued to watch me from a distance. I continued to weep and ask God, “Why me and what for?” She returned the third time and took my hand. I prayed with her and asked her what her name was. She told me it was Grace. I knew then that God had sent her as my answer. I was sent here not to be glorified as some great white preacher to be raised on a pedestal or someone with money or power, but in all humility to be entrusted with the children, the future of Christ’s Kingdom. Many will try to raise their flags to take power and credit, but I am to push for the flag of Christ – the Lord as our banner. No one will applaud me or raise me up high for the task, but the reward will be in the hearts and souls of the new generation. It’s not going to be glamorous. I may not be thanked, noticed, rolled out red carpet, or given awards or accolades. I will be neglected and persecuted by disbelief, but I will be pleasing to Jesus and the hearts of children. They will know who I am when they see what God provides. And God will bring me through every step of the way. So, I continue to press on for God’s will and for the children, to magnify God and de-magnify myself. The pain is just a shadow over the great joy that awaits me. My treasures are in Heaven. This mission is all about the Grace of God to save nations on earth.

Friends and Family, I pray that my journey blesses you. I want to thank all of you who are supporting me financially and spiritually through all this. Your support is definitely appreciated and being used to bear fruit. I wish I could take each and every one of you on the journey with me, but this blog will have to suffice. I am blessed to be at the forefront of God’s movement in Africa. Please feel free to email me. I welcome encouragement, questions, suggestions, or even visitors. I cherish every word and contact from home. God be with you all. Please pray for Africa.

Love in Christ Jesus,
Linda lhsatori@yahoo.com

• Praise Him for finding me a new home in good timing and within affordability. The new house is a blessing.
• Praise Him for blessing this trip with my spiritual mentor
• Praise Him for the connections and relationships He has brought
• Praise Him for the health and safety of my family in the U.S.
• Praise Him for his wisdom and protection and honing me for the mission
• Praise Him for smooth transitions into my 2nd year and a half in Rwanda.
• Praise Him for his daily love

PRAYER REQUESTS: Please help me pray for the following…
• God’s provision in securing more funds for serving in Rwanda and starting up the vision project (leadership school for orphans).
• God’s provision in releasing my tongue and mind for learning conversational Kinyarwanda,
• Please pray for funds and opportunity to visit US to register a nonprofit ministry
• Please pray for God’s Direction – for God to continue to show me where, what, and how to accomplish His will, His vision. God’s favor in my spiritual and leadership growth and strength to persevere
• Please pray for continued Protection in everything I do and everywhere I go, for my health, my new home, and for these blogs that I share.
• God’s wisdom and favor at World Relief
• God’s favor and direction with my local church
• God’s wisdom in my decision about seminary (DTS). Whether I am to withdraw or continue, and if I am to continue, how it may happen while I am still in Rwanda
• God’s protection and favor in relationships that are developing here in Rwanda

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE: If you have not already done so, please enter your email address in the subscription field to the right to continue receiving THE BRIDGE TO RWANDA BLOG NEWSLETTER. FeedBurner will send you a CONFIRMATION EMAIL that you must REPLY TO CONFIRM in order to activate your subscription. Also, pass the subscription and blog site on to others to share the testimony and raise support. God bless you!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mission Support 2008

April 27, 2008 • Dear Beloved Friends and Family,

Muraho (hello) from Rwanda. I am writing this letter as an urgent appeal for support funds. I confess that I have allowed myself to get so busy with work and ministry activities that I have neglected to consistently fundraise from afar. So, here goes.

In the past few months, I have incurred some large one-time expenses due to the blessing of acquiring a vehicle and a house that have drained much of my support funds. The car became a necessity for safety and reliability in and around the city, but also allows me to travel out to villages for ministry. The house allows me privacy to conduct ministry activities, build relationships, and room visiting ministers. These are truly an answer to prayer, but setup and fix-up costs have drained much of my funds (new tires, battery, clean engine, car insurance and registration, furniture and appliances, etc.). My monthly living expenses are now streamlined and I am preparing for my second year in Rwanda.

My goal is to raise the budgeted amount of $24,000 to sustain my living and serving in Rwanda for another year so that I can focus on the ministry without having to worry about the fundraising. Anything over the budgeted living expenses will allow me to further the efforts of building the leadership school and child advocacy organization that God has called me to build. Also, as my school summer break approaches, God has called me to venture out into deep Rwanda and surrounding areas to build more relationships and begin implementing His vision plan. This will all add some unbudgeted expenses for travel and supplies to my needs. God has brought some wonderful trusted helpers and guides who will direct and guide me in my travels. Nevertheless, note that petroleum in Rwanda is double the cost that of the USA, but I must reach out in order to progress God’s ministry. My mission is to build something of perpetual peace for God. I trust God “will supply all my needs.” Please pray with me for obedience and guidance to do His will.

Beloved Friends, it is my desire to share with you the blessings of partaking in this outreach endeavor. I appeal to you not only to ask you for your continued or increased support, but also for you to be my advocate. Please speak on my behalf about God’s mission in Rwanda to your friends, churches, and ministries. Use my blog. Hold collective fundraisers or ask for a special offering in church to collect funds for the mission. Every penny allows me to remain obedient to God and be His servant. I know that God will honor your efforts and place a burden into the hearts of those He calls to contribute. Refer them to my blog to contribute individually if they desire. It’s set up for a one-time or monthly giving. You can also sign people up to receive my newsletter. Help spread the news of God’s work to bless more people. The more I raise, the more I can do. Currently, the funds must still be counted as supporting an individual missionary, but eventually I plan to set up an official ministry or NGO to receive funds to build and operate the organization and school. But this can only happen if I stay in Rwanda and continue to seek out God’s will. As per my original agreement, I am also continuing a second year as a teacher at Kigali International Community School (KICS) to bless missionary children, local Rwandans, and children of other nationalities.

My focus is foremost to follow God where He leads me, to plant a strong seed on fertile ground that will sustain peace in this country, and to establish a model that will inspire seeds in other war-torn areas of the world. For “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor. 1:27)

Here are some of what my supporters have enabled me to do (and will continue to do) beyond my own basic cost of living:
  • Purchased clothes and treats for over 140 orphans in Nyabugogo district of Rwanda for Christmas.
  • Purchased a Projector and accessories that serves many purposes at KICS and Victory Mission Church, and elsewhere including bringing the Gospel to the orphans of Nyabugogo at Christmas.
  • To serve and teach in local Rwandan church - Victory Mission Church.
  • Purchased many DVDs to use as teaching aids at KICS and for Gospel ministry.
  • Purchased a few Bibles for some godly servants God is raising up.
  • Purchased, repaired, and maintaining (buying petroleum) of a double cab pickup truck that allows me to travel around Kigali and to remote villages.
  • Purchased teaching supplies for my KICS classroom.
  • Purchase of an internet connection allowing me to communicate and seek curriculum for KICS and other classes.
  • Allowed me to help in a music ministry with Enric Sifa (former street boy).
  • Allowed me to minister to 19 orphans in Ndera district of Rwanda (transporting them to music ministry events, teaching the Bible, teaching English, and leading them in professions of Salvation)
  • Purchased language lessons so I can learn the native language of Kinyarwanda to better communicate with the Rwandans.
  • Allowed us to contribute to some local disaster relief of a local Rwandan family of 5 children. House roof was torn off by storm leaving the family homeless for a few months.
  • Allowed me to furnish and rent a house that provides space for living and ministry.
  • Allowed me to travel to Kampala, Uganda to explore needs and build a relationship with Kisugu Christian Fellowship and Hope Prison Ministry. While there, we learned a lot and were given the privilege to minister to their congregation for a week.
  • And there are many more ministry involvements developing…
It seems like a lot, but I am very focused. Again, my focus is to FOLLOW WHERE GOD LEADS ME. And as God works through and leads me, He is teaching and developing me to implement His plan for Christ Is Our Hope International child advocacy organization and Christ Is Our Hope School Rwanda, a full scholarship Leadership School for orphans, with a specially tailored biblical leadership program that will shape and equip post-war children into future leaders of peace and progress in Rwanda.

This is God’s ministry in which we are called to participate. I am just a servant-leader. I am what Nehemiah was to the wall of Jerusalem, what Moses was to the freedom of the Israelites, what Abraham was to the promise land, and what Paul was to the Gentiles. We are just empty vessels that God pours into and called to serve and carry out His plans.

And besides funds, I always need prayer support. The enemy doesn’t like it that we are trying planting seeds on fertile ground here in Rwanda. I feel like Paul in that I am buffeted at every turn, but I also know that “greater is He that is me, then he that is in the world.”

I asked God why he chose me to come to Rwanda alone, without the backing of large ministries and funding behind me. With all the NGOs that are here and have huge funding and organizational pools, what is it that he wants a small person like me to do? Why would He take me away from my family, my students, my income, and my employment to come here? This is what he told me. “I have chosen to send someone like you who can only depend on Me for everything.” Yes, I am alone, but God is with me. And He must be foremost Above All that I Do. The Bible tells us not to despise small beginnings.

Please continue to support our efforts and ask the Lord if you can do more. If you are new to this mission, please join us on this journey to build something miraculous, to bring the impossible into being in the name of Jesus. The truth of the matter is that I am not sent here to share the Gospel, shake a few hands, and disappear in 2 years. I will be here to the end, or until God no longer wants me to serve here. I press on for the sake of those whom He has called me to serve.

For all of you that will send cash donations, please note that my funds are now being managed through my family until I can get a nonprofit ministry registered to receive funds. This move was necessary because World Relief is not set up to manage funds for a full-time long-term totally immersed missionary. However, I will still be a World Relief Ambassador and a commissioned missionary of Houston’s First Baptist Church.

Thank you for your love and support. God has called me to be bold in the midst of unfamiliarity. I am asking you to seek your heart for God and be bold in your faith for Him. I love you and keep you in my prayers.

Amahoro ibane namwe. (Peace be with you). Imana ibahe umugisha. (God bless you). Murakose cyane. (Thank you very much)

Love in Christ Jesus,
Linda Huang

Payable: Linda Huang (World Relief Missionary)
c/o Shirley McMillan
2027 NW Langley Ct
Portland, OR 97229

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bridge To Rwanda Blog Newsletter, Vol. 6

April 12, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – God is good! He is forever faithful. I witness this every day in my walk here in Rwanda. He keeps me strong and hears my prayers. Forgive me if there are not as many photos of people in this bog, but we went to visit sensitive and dangerous places where taking photos were not appropriate. [NOTE: To see larger photos, Click on photos enlarged and Backspace to return to blog]

As I enter another season of my mission in Rwanda, I asked God to refresh the vision and to stretch my understanding of the needs and solutions here in Africa. I asked God to show me the truth behind what seems. So, I decided to venture out of Kigali, to see more of Rwanda. I was on a week and a half mid-year holiday from KICS. I started out to places I have heard much about and had yet to see – Gisenyi (west Rwanda) and Goma (the Republic of Congo). My good friend Francis was my guide and guard. He was an appropriate guide because he grew up in Congo and Gisenyi area as a child and knows much about the locations as well as their past history and current status.

We drove about 3 hours out of Kigali, through beautiful rich green land covered with banana trees. We passed through Rhuengeri to Gisenyi. I had heard much about Gisenyi from many muzungus (white people) and Rwandans. Its been described as one of the most beautiful areas of Rwanda. Many muzungus travel to this area to visit the gorillas that Diane Fossey studied, but I did not go see the gorillas because it costs a huge fee to visit them ($500 for foreigners and $250 for residents) and I am on a modest missionary budget. Nevertheless, there was plenty for me to see as God led the way. I purposely did not make any specific plans because I wanted to allow God to lead me where He wanted me to go. I just asked Francis to take me out to see the land and visit the people.

Oh, this entire week turned out to be Genocide Memorial week. So the first day everything was closed. The rest of the week places opened, but in the evenings people gathered to watch movies about the genocide. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stop to see any of them.

This border area of Rwanda (Gisenyi and Rhuengeri) faces many physical challenges (volcano eruptions and land erosions) as well as continued frequent attacks by Interhamwe rebels (those responsible for the genocide) who hide along the border and sneak in to kill innocent people. Rhuengeri is heavily guarded 24 hours by military forces because of these attacks. Apparently, these and other areas of Rwanda used to be separated into Hutu and Tutsi villages, but today the government has mixed them up so that there is no distinguishing between the two – all just one Rwandan peoples.

We arrived in Gisenyi by early afternoon and after exploring several lodging options, which turned out to be very expensive, we checked into a quaint hotel called the Diane Fossey Lodge. Then we had just enough time to explore awhile before it got dark.

We visited the beach and then Francis showed me where he used to live with his brother, before his mom joined him from Congo. He truly lived less than modestly. Gisenyi is a beautiful place that is now growing into a resort-like area because of the beaches along Lake Kivu. But amidst all the wealth are areas of dire poverty. What would look to us like abandoned buildings with squatters is a normal home for them. The streets are unpaved rocky black volcanic rocks. Francis and his older brother literally squatted (claimed stake) on a small part of a building that was left after the genocide. He said after the genocide, many buildings and homes were left abandoned because owners were killed and some fled. So, everyone that came afterwards just staked a claim on the homes (rent-free). Francis and his brother came late so they didn't get any homes, but found a section of a building. They put doors and windows on it and called it home. He grew up selling candy and stuff at the taxi-park (bus park) kinda like a street boy, but Francis refuses to call himself an orphan or street boy because he always had hope and worked for his living. He said he lived in Gisenyi about 3 years. He did a few years primary school, which he showed me, then a year of secondary. Then, he had no school fees for a few years and had to sell candy on the streets for a few years without going to school.

In Gisenyi, I just told Francis to take me to see places and to meet people and that God would show me the rest. I told him I didn't want to be a tourist. I wanted to see the real thing. I didn’t want anyone to expect this muzungu or to prepare any kind of special welcome. I told him he could show me hospitals, orphanages, handicapped people, street boys, and stuff. So, we did just that.

On our second day in Gisenyi, we visited a hospital. I was a bit nervous because I didn't really know exactly what I was doing there. I had only ever gone where people planned and told me what to do. Here we were just walking into a hospital without any direction. But Francis gave me a bit of space and a moment to pray alone in the car and I just gave it to God.

Francis led the way as we toured the hospital. We toured parts of the hospital where they treat lepers (no one allowed to enter) and new moms. We visited the pediatric room and then two other rooms. We prayed together with mothers for their babies - some suffering from meningitis, malaria, etc. The environment was minimally sterile (not really at all). It was mostly beds and doctors and nurses. People bring their own food. Its pretty open, kind of like army barracks. We prayed for one little girl about 7 years old who had HIV and was abandoned to die on the street. A humble man found her and took her to the hospital. She was wasting away. I told the man that he was a blessing and God would bless him for his goodness and mercy upon this child. He was a true Good Samaritan.

We prayed for a woman whose stomach burst and she no longer has a working stomach. Her body literally looked like a deflated balloon. She's been in the hospital for a year. We prayed for an infant (1 year or less) who was suffering from malaria and had an oxygen tube in her nose because she couldn't breath on her own. We prayed with several elderly women who were paralyzed from unknown reasons (my guess is undiagnosed diabetes because its common here). One woman was paralyzed and could not hear nor speak for unknown reasons. There was a set of triplet newborns whose mother is mentally ill and keeps getting raped and impregnated. This is her second set of babies. The first was a set of twins. The triplets were being cared for without their mother. All these people I laid hands on and prayed for. Afterwards my spirit was very tired. I had to rest so we went to have lunch.

We also visited a Catholic run orphanage. This one was much more hopeful than some of the orphanages I visited in Kigali. The Director said the orphanage dates back to 1954. I was able to ask her many questions about how she gets her kids and how she identifies them as orphans, what she provides them etc. They used to take just babies, but after the genocide they had to take older children. They work with the local government to affirm a child's need and orphan status. Some have parents, but were abandoned because of poverty. She was very helpful. Then, we went to meet the kids. They were very healthy and loved. She gets trained staff from a catholic organization. She encourages them to be like nurturing and loving parents to the children. The children learn social skills and language etc. I was very pleased. They sang songs about the love of God and being rescued. They were happy children. They care for about 400 kids and even have a trades training business where the older children are trained to make furniture to sell. They also have a clinic and hospital with a doctor and full-time nurse to care for the kids. They also have partnerships with other hospitals for more serious needs and socialize with other orphanages. They send the older ones out to school, but have a real nursery for the little ones. I shared a little of my vision and she welcomed me any time and wished me well. We were going to visit an orphanage for street boys, but it moved to another location because of growth.

Francis showed me one of the two very first Catholic churches ever built in Rwanda. This church was also a place where Interhamwe murdered many who sought refuge there during the genocide war. Now it has been rebuilt.

OK, then there is Goma, Republic of Congo. On our third day we ventured into Congo. This place was scary. I almost got arrested and taken by thieves for taking a photo. So, I didn’t take many photos. Oh, it was horrible. For the first time since I have been here in Africa, I was truly scared for my life. And Francis was so busy trying to get us out of it that he didn't translate much to me and I got even more scared.

First, it took us four hours just to get across the border. We tried to go with the car, but it turned out impractical (you have to buy special insurance) so we walked. I believe the car would not have been safe there so God placed obstacles. Everything here in Africa takes multiple paper tracking and multiple fees. They also have separate visa fees for different colored visitors. The border patrol is unfriendly and intimidating to foreigners. They kept taking my passport and disappearing and then making me wait. Everything I touched or did was forbidden and I got screamed at a lot in a foreign language and looked at suspiciously. Thank goodness Francis was around. I realized that there was no way I could ever travel on my own in Africa, unless I did it the expensive luxury resort way.

Now, Congo is a place plagued by about 5 volcanoes (one which erupted only a few years ago) and rebel wars. There were many soldiers in trucks all around because they were having a rebel convention or meeting. So, the city of Goma looks like a disaster and a ruin. It actually reminded me of Juarez, Mexico. There are a few signs of wealthy builders coming in, but most of it was huge black lava boulders and dirty sewage. There is little sign of organization or modernity. Few paved roads, no traffic lights. And it’s infested with corruption that includes the police. The main language is Swahili and French plus many other indigenous languages. Francis actually grew up in Goma before going to Gisenyi. But when he lived in Goma, he was with his father who was a wealthy coffee producer. It was when his father dies that this little rich boy was thrown into dire poverty.

We began by visiting the hospital where Francis' father died. We met with the Director, who spoke French and Swahili, to ask permission to visit the pediatric ward. He was welcoming and commended me for my work and said that the need to care for street boys is tremendous in Congo. He said that he looked forward to seeing how i could help his country. I told him that I would do and go where God leads me and God has told me to start in Rwanda, but more will come out of it. We were escorted by a nurse into first the premie ward where all the premature babies are. They do not have incubators like US. The premie ward is a small room that is just kept very warm. Babies are bundled in multiple blankets and just placed on the beds, but kept in open air. Its sterility is very minimal. Many babies had their own mothers at their sides to care for them. Here, we joined hands with the mothers and prayed. Mind you, each time I prayed in English and Francis translated. We prayed special blessings upon each child and mother and families. The mothers had hope. We prayed over a few other babies in other areas and then we left.

OK, now came the trouble. Francis started just showing me the city and landscape and I started taking photos. He took me to the port area, which is a tiny water area with one boat. Then 5 people, including one old lady in police uniform, but led by other non-uniformed men came and started questioning us and screaming. They asked to see my passport and I showed them. Then, the non-uniformed man wanted to write an infraction on my passport. I pled with Francis not to let him write on my passport. They started arguing in Swahili and took my camera. I kept asking Francis what was going on. They said it was forbidden to take photos of the seaport. I told them we didn't know. There were no signs. I told them we could show them the photo and delete it in front of them. They insisted on taking us across the water to the police station. I kept telling them we didn’t know. Francis argued with them. Then, we started walking. I was scared and angry. Who were these guys and what did they want? We walked up a steep hill and I was ready to call World Relief and the U.S. Embassy. Finally, we stopped and Francis finally told me to pay them $5 to let us go (saying that the police would charge us much more), but it took a while for me to get clear with Francis what they wanted. I took out $5 and they said it was too little. They wanted $5 for each person. We didn't even know for sure where they were taking us, but the guy had my camera. I kept telling them they were evil and I was a missionary with no money. Finally, one man told them to take the $5 and let us go. So, we went. I was so furious with this country. I was now scared to take any photos. I was a bit angry at Francis for not translating, but he said he couldn't. They kept him talking and arguing. He said he was afraid for me and my camera. He wasn't sure where they would have taken us either and the police are also corrupt in Congo. I was also a bit upset that he hadn’t warned me enough how corrupt this country was. I guess I got my harsh warning. I was so afraid that I wanted to leave, but didn’t.

We got on a moto to ride to the market. As I was riding, I prayed. God reminded me that I was a bit spoiled by the safety and cleanliness of Rwanda. This Congo was actually what I expected Rwanda to be like, dirty and corrupt Africa. It was what most people imagine Africa to be. So, I was brought back down to the reality of whom I was. I have been protected from all this by God. I committed to live in a place like Congo, but God gave me Rwanda, much safer and more developed than Congo. So, now I was able to suck it up and continue to see Congo. I was no longer afraid and angry, just careful. Truly, this place is horrible. There are barely any muzungus around because no one will serve in a corrupt and unwelcoming place. The only muzungus I saw were riding around in UN trucks and one World Vision truck.

Francis took me to where his some of his relatives live. Most of them were at work, bu the woman we met was nice. They lived in a very slummy area. Later Francis showed me an even more slummy area. Houses are piece-mealed spare rusty found metal parts nailed together. Children run around barefoot on the ground that was a mixture of black lava mud and rocks with sewage. It was worse than the slum areas of Uganda.

Later we walked into the main area of town, which is a far cry from Kigali's town. There are no "gas stations". The gas stations were boys on street corners with large jugs and water bottles filled with petrol. This is their gas station. Besides cars and motos, the transportation included makeshift wooden bicycles which were wooden pieces held together by rags, tape, and pieces of tire treads. There are also old-fashioned wooden pushcarts used to carry supplies, but powered by human efforts, not animals.

This city (which is only a small portion of huge Congo) is even more of a paradox than Rwanda because its markets have newer and more modern products than that of Rwanda, but the physical city and the moral culture is far below that of Rwanda. Rwanda has very little corruption because it is strictly forbidden by the government. The Rwandan culture also shuns theft. Strange to hear from a country where people just started killing each other. Hugh?

So, as I returned from Congo and Gisenyi I got an alert from the US Embassy not to travel to Goma because of the ongoing rebel conflicts. Wow! Kinda late. And a good friend begged me not to go back because it was unsafe. Wow! I guess God allowed me to be ignorant because He wanted me to see the truth. Nevertheless, He covered me in His protection.

So, this was my April adventure in Africa. God continues to teach me so much. He brought me a guide and a protector in my friend Francis. Please continue to pray for our safety and our relationship as we venture out into other areas of Rwanda. Pray for God to lead me where He wants me to be. Continue to pray for this country as the reality that there are still Interhamwe rebels coming into the country secretly to kill and influence people is a harsh awakening that things are still not as safe as it looks. God says that it takes just a little bit of yeast in the dough to spread and ruin the whole bread. These are the same rebels that once influenced the entire country into mass killings – genocide. Pray for Congo as they get very little hope and help due to the ongoing rebel conflicts. There are still children in that country that need rescuing. Pray for them. I thank God that He allowed me to enter this area unknowingly, and protected me.

I am afraid that I returned with a fever, the chills, and other symptoms so I am going to the hospital to get checked for malaria. Pray that whatever enters my body shall disappear because it cannot live where Christ resides. [Praise the Lord! My blood test came out negative for Malaria and my fever is gone]

Please pray for my blogs as I send them out because the enemy attacks everything as I report on them. Truly! I do not exaggerate. The enemy does not like that I share the mission. But I will not stop him from allowing me to share God’s truth and miracles. God bless you for your support and for not forgetting me. Thank you for reading my newsletters and for all your prayers. I love you and appreciate you all! Imana ibane namwe (God be with you)!

Love in Christ Jesus,

PRAISES: Yesu ashimwe! (Praise the Lord!)
• God is strengthening me and my relationships
• God’s protection in Congo
• God continues to grow me and enlighten me spiritually
• God continues to protect wherever I go and whatever I do

PRAYER REQUESTS: Please help me pray for the following…
• Please pray for God’s Protection of my equipment (camera, instruments, appliances) as this is where the enemy likes to poke at me.
• Please pray for God’s Provision – for my Support Fundraising for my 2nd year so that I may continue to serve God here in Rwanda.
• Please pray for God’s wisdom and direction as to where to explore and how, where, and when to set up the child advocacy NGO and leadership school for orphans (Christ Is Our Hope School).
• Please pray for funds and opportunity to visit US to see my family and to raise funds to start God’s vision for the kids. For 2 round-trip tickets so I may bring a Rwandan friend to testify.
• Please pray for the spreading of God’s Word and maturing of saints – for donations of NIV/NASB Bibles for Rwandans who can read English and thirst for the Word of God.
• Please pray for Language & Communication – for me to learn Kinyarwanda faster. It’s a tough language with many irregularities. And to get more fluent with my French.
• Please pray for Help – for strengthening of Rwandan friendships and confidantes.
• Please pray for the remainder of the school year at KICS.
• Please pray for smooth transitions into my 2nd year in Rwanda.
• Please pray for God’s Direction – for God to continue to show me where, what, and how to accomplish His will, His vision.
Please pray for continued Protection in everything I do and everywhere I go, for my health, and for these blogs that I share.

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Journal Blog: Friendship in A Foreign Land

As I immerse myself deeper into the culture of Rwanda I discover great hardships in discerning trust and friendships. These are the same challenges that I would find in my homeland, but with the added difficulty of differences in cultural meanings and language. I have many Rwandan friends whom I have become very close to and we've come to a place in our relationship where I am examining truths. There is alot here in Rwanda that is quite misleading and one can be fooled or blessed without knowing which. So, in my turmoil, I always seek God's Word and prayer for some answers.

I began by examining friendship in the Bible and this is what I found in order to measure true friendship. JONATHON was a true friend to DAVID:

"After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt." (1 Samuel 18)

"And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God." (1 Samuel 23:16-18)

"Saul and Jonathan—in life they were loved and gracious...I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women. " (2 Samuel 1:23-27)

So, to summarize, a true faithful friend 1) loves you as himself and gives everything to it (Jonathan gave his robe, tunic, sword, and belt - literally the "shirt off his back" and his protection - to David) 2)helps you find strength in God, 3) is a love that is different and more wonderful than romantic love. With these I shall guage what I can.

Secondly, I was steered toward a faithful servant-friendship, that of Eleazar (the "faithful stewart") to Abraham. Eleazar was the most trusted servant of Abraham, whom He trusted to send out to find the right bride for his son Isaac. But there is more to this story. When Abram was barren, Eleazar was the first born male in the house of Abram, which in the Jewish law, makes him legal heir to his estate.

"And Abram said, ‘Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eleazar [Lazarus] of Damascus and lo, one born in my house is mine heir.’" Genesis 15:2–3

But Abraham sent Eleazar on an assignment which would disinherit him from the fortune and blessings of Abraham. Eleazar did this willingly and unquestioning. He was faithful and did not waver in his efforts. He trusted God and prayed for God to point him to the bride for Isaac. Later on in Luke 16, Jesus tells the parable of the Lazarus and the Rich Man. Lazarus is a transliteration of the Hebrew Eleazar which means "God has helped". Lazarus was the "beggar" who ate scraps from the Rich Man's table, while the Rich Man (Judah) inherits everything. In life, the Rich Man inherited "good things" while Lazarus received "bad things". But in Heaven, Lazarus ends up in the "bosom of Abraham" and is "comforted" while the Rich Man is in "agony".

So, from Eleazar I learn that a true faithful friend puts his own blessings aside for the sake of friendship, risks everything for his friend. And in the end, a true friend receives his treasures in Heaven.

This is what the Lord has taught me. Friends, I ask for prayers that God would show me how to use this knowledge to make decisions and discern who are my true trusted friends and who are not. I cannot exist in a foreign country without true friends. I need help to interpret the culture. I have to have someone to trust that will care to rescue me when there is danger, that will care about me despite what I can give them. I need some kind of safety. This is tough because my love language of receiving is giving time and actions. My love language of giving is things, time and actions. This is how I love people. So, I struggle and I focus my attention on Jesus, for if I keep my gaze upon Him I will be safe. I don't want my friends and family to be afraid for me, just pray for me. God will make a way for everything. He has shown me miracle upon miracle His great protection over me. Right now, my heart is being tested in strength, and perhaps I am being taught and taken further in my ability to discern.

You [God] will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, Because he trusts in You [God]. (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

I welcome any encouragement and prayer. I thank you for your trust and support. God will bring me through this. I love you all sincerely. Be blessed by His Word and cherish true friendships. Please pray for me for I am here to serve Him to the end. God bless you all, truly!

Love in Christ Jesus,

P.S. Pray for this blog as its packed with truth as I perceive it and the enemy does not like the truth. I pray protection over this blog in the name of Jesus, that it would only bring blessings.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bridge to Rwanda Newsletter, Vol.5

March 18, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – This is an extended issue - reporting from December 2007 through March 2008. I apologize for the tardiness. You will see that God continues to keep me so busy. I can barely stop to write and sort through multitudes of photos. So, in this issue I will attempt to catch you up on the many activities that God has brought along my path. Again, God bless you all for your patience, for not forgetting me and for all your support. [Note: Click on photos to enlarge]

February 23, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for His love and mercy! For me, the theme of the year 2007 was “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.” God’s message of the year to me has been “I am with you.” I got through both a tough year and a blessed year. 2007 will always be the year God sent me off on a new and climactic season of my life to start my mission journey in Rwanda (East Central Africa). I’ve only been here for 7 months, but it’s been quite a journey. I can’t imagine what else God has in store for me, but I know it is good. I thank Him for every battle and every victory for I have grown so much more in love with my Jesus and so much more stronger.

First, I could never have imagined the welcome that I have received from Rwandan friends and the adopted family that God had prepared for me. From the moment I stepped off the airplane and saw the warm face of my friend Eddy, the Lord has shown me many more good people who help me transition into life in Rwanda. They have helped to ease the culture shocks, going out of their way to make sure I am not alone, and are a comfort to me when I miss my family and friends. It’s been a tremendous blessing. And I am deeply aware of the special privilege and honor that has been bestowed upon me.

Secondly, there have been tremendous hardships to endure. There are many cultures that I have had to acclimate to and not all were easy or welcoming, but God stood by me all the way and has taught me to press on past the pain and towards the blessing. The longer I am here the more intricate the cultural adaptations are. There are ways that all people of all cultures are alike and ways that each culture is unique. There are ways that we are accepting and ways that cultures are exclusive. Then, there are the usual deceits of human flaw. But best of all, “God works all things for the good of those who love Him”. So, I am blessed.

Let me now share the activities of my journey since my last blog. Again, please forgive me for the long duration in between blogs. God keeps me so busy with so many tasks and responsibilities, beyond my own capability to accomplish. Perhaps this is His way of keeping me humble and dependant on Him.

December 2007 KAMPALA, UGANDA ¬– UGANDA MISSION: As the first term of school ended for the Winter Break, I was privileged to have been invited to visit the ministries of Pastor Everest Bizimungu in Kampala, Uganda. This was my first trip out of Kigali since I arrived in Rwanda and definitely my first venture in another country of Africa. [PHOTO 1: Pastors Bizimungu and Shyaka’s family and home welcoming]

I took a 10 hour bumpy and rainy bus ride escorted by the pastor and my dear friend Francis. First, the enemy tried to thwart our plans by delaying Francis’ passport for 2 weeks and sending news of an ebola quarantine in Uganda. We prayed and prayed and nothing could stop us. After days of waiting in line, Francis finally got his passport and we crossed the border.

My trip to Kampala, was such a blessed growth experience. I learned so much about God’s will and power. Pastor Bizimungu and Pastor Shyaka hosted Francis and I in their homes in the Kisugu slum district of Kampala. It was amazing! His wife, children and household were amazingly gracious. This is the most humble pastor I know as he surprised me by giving Francis and I his pulpit at Kisugu Christian Fellowship to teach every night and one Sunday for an entire week. We taught about the Heart of Praise and Worship. This is no small thing as it is not common for an African pastor to give the pulpit to lay people. I prayed for God to bring me the words and lessons and He did. We also taught the worship team English worship songs. And God had me share my life rescue testimony with the church. Now I am blessed with a Ugandan family and church. I love them so much!!! [PHOTO 2: Streets and children of Kisugu district, Kampala UGANDA]

The pastor also took us around Kampala to visit families of his Hope Prison Ministry, which serves families of women whose husbands are doing time in prison and are left alone to support their children financially and spiritually. Some are suffering with HIV and struggling to feed their children or provide school fees. Their weathered faces told of their hardships, yet they yearned for hope from Jesus. I hope to help collaboratively with this ministry to find a sustainable future for these people. [PHOTO 3: Wives and families of Prisoners of Hope Prison Ministry]

December 2007 KIGALI, RWANDA – CHRISTMAS NYABUGOGO MISSION: When we returned from Uganda, it was time to prepare for my first Christmas in Rwanda with my church family. Spending the holidays with Victory Mission Church was a blessing, but not without challenges and lessons.

First, God blessed me with a move to a miraculously affordable house of my own across from my church in Kanombe district. Now I am not only close to my appointed church, but can now have the privacy to fellowship and conduct ministry business. This would also now allow me to partake in more activities without fighting transportation challenges.

My first task was to plan our first outreach mission activity as the officially elected Worship Team Missions Outreach Coordinator. My co-leaders and I went to the market to purchase food and clothes for 140 boys. Then, on Saturday, December 20, 2007 we visited the Nyabugogo Orphanage to bless the children with Christmas greetings from Jesus. We praised and worshiped with about 200 boys and girls, shared some treats with them, gave them the gift of clothes from Jesus, and showed they the movie The Nativity Story projected on the wall with a Kinyarwanda translator. They loved the movie. You could hear ooh’s and awh’s and the grand applause as Jesus was born. [PHOTO 4: Rwanda Victory Mission Worship Team Bring Christmas to Nyabugogo orphans]

December 25, 2007 KIGALI, RWANDA – CHRISTMAS EVE AT RWANDA VICTORY MISSION CHURCH: Next, we prepared for a very special Christmas Eve Praise & Worship and Overnight Prayer program sponsored by the Worship Team. This was the first time the worship team would lead a special event. We planned both English and Kinyarwanda Christmas songs including a rendition of O, Holy Night which ended with a beautiful spontaneous churchwide candlelight vigil. We showed The Nativity Story to a huge turnout of church members and people off the street. Again, a grand applause from the crowd marked the climactic birth of Jesus. It was an amazing birthday celebration for Jesus. This was followed by a morning Christmas service. It was a long night, but blessed. Thank God I lived nearby. [PHOTO 5: Worship Team leads worship for New Years; Crowd watches “The Nativity Story”]

The holidays in Kigali were peaceful and quiet, like a ghost town. All muzungus and tourists were out of town visiting resorts and family in Kenya, South Africa and the US. The city was peacefully barren and shut down.

January 1, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – ROLLING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH RWANDA VICTORY MISSION CHURCH: After a few days of rest, we were onto the New Years Eve overnight prayer service at church. An exhausted worship team again served in the service.

January 7, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – NEW SCHOOL TERM: The holidays were finished and it was time to get back to work as the new school term began. KICS increased in student population to nearly 100 in the student body. My students shifted and increased. It was time to get busy again. [PHOTO 6: KICS Enric Sifa visits KICS students]

March 2, 2008 KIGALI, RWANDA – ENRIC SIFA CONCERT: As I started to write my next blog in February, God brought me a new challenge. I was connected with a local musician with US backing who was releasing his first US produced CD Just A Moment and needed help with promotions and management. Since I have some experience in the music and entertainment industry in the US, I signed on to promote his album in Kigali and produce his first live concert. This was a full-time endeavor (while I was also working at the school), but a blessed learning experience. I partnered with my friend Francis who knew Enric as a friend and is involved with the local music scene. Promoting in Africa was an interesting learning experience that differs much from the US – different market and limited resources. We placed his CDs all over town, got radio promotions and spots, did a mall appearance, visited several churches, and booked a venue for his concert. We also gathered musicians for his band and booked rehearsal times. I organized the budget, scheduled the program, designed creative lighting and projection, hung posters, sold tickets and CDs, booked some live promotional appearances, organized VIPs, and chauffeured musicians and equipment around.

Enric is not just an artist, but also a music ministry in that he shares his testimony rescue to give people hope. Enric became an orphan in his teens just after the genicide. He lived on the streets surviving off his music and eating trash. Africa New Life Ministries found Enric and sponsored him for school and living while he toured with the group the Hindurwas. Now, Enric and his US sponsor/agent produced his first solo album and were trying to build his own ministry. (Visit http://www.enricsifa.com)

My students at KICS all got involved and were blessed. The middle school volunteered as ticket and CD sales people, stage door security, and VIP hosts. Many more students and their families attended the Enric Sifa Just A Moment Concert hosted at Christian Life Assembly (CLA) on March 1, 2008. Even the mayor of Kigali joined the concert. It was a truly international event and testimony of God’s miracles. After the concert Enric set out for a 6 month US tour with the Hindurwas and Africa New Life Ministries. [PHOTO 7: Enric Sifa at rehearsals and in concert]

March 7, 2008 AKAGERA, RWANDA – AKEGERA WILDLIFE PARK: After three months of non-stop work I needed a rest and to see more of Rwanda and refocus on God’s plans. I also wanted to get some African animal photos to show my niece and nephew in the US. So, Francis (the African Diego the Exploreer) and I (Jungle Linda) took off to see the animals of Africa at Akagera. It was amazing. Jungle Linda set out in her double cab pickup truck (an acquisition that was a miraculous answer to prayers) to explore the wilderness.

We drove about three hours outside of Kigali to reach a reserve park where wild animals are contained and protected. With our park guide, we roamed the wilderness with antelopes, baboons, buffalos, elephants, deer, giraffes, and hippopotamuses. We actually got out of our car and roamed around near the animals (except for the buffalos). It was an amazing reminder of God’s wonderful creations. I also got to visit the villages in between where I was greeted by many children screaming “agachupa!” (water bottles they use to play games). And I got to see the lavish farmlands of Rwanda. [PHOTO 8: Animals at Akagera Wildlife Park]

So, now I am back in school and finishing off the second term of my first year in Rwanda. I plan to venture out more to reach out in the heart of the land. So, keep an eye out for the next few issues as my special Rwandan friend Francis Kambale (the African Diego the Explorer) takes me to the heart of the Rwandan land and people. I still have many more projects that I am working on and will share with you as they come to fruition. Your prayers are always appreciated and felt. God bless you for caring and for reading this.

I invite you to email and write to me any comments, questions, or concerns. Or, just to say hello. I miss my home country, friends and family very much. Please continue to pray for my support and ministry, safety and strength. Pray for me to continue to uncover and learn the true ways and needs of Africa. As you can see, your prayers have been heard as God has provided me with a car and house on what little funds I have. He gave me manna and I will use it to serve Him and the people. God bless you in whatever situation you face. Please know that I appreciate you. I too am a testimony of God’s rescue from darkness and now I serve with joy in hardship as well as abundant blessings.

Love in Christ Jesus,

PRAISES FOR PRAYERS ANSWERED: Yesu ashimwe! (Praise the Lord!)
• God granted me a house near my church and an affordable vehicle
• God brought me special friends for help
• God got me through 1st and 2nd term of school

PRAYERS NEEDED: Still praying for the following…
• I’m praying for my keyboard and all electronics that keep getting attacked and zapped by the unstable electricity here, even hooked up to stabilizers and adapters. I have spent a lot of money in repairs.
• I’m still praying for more support funds for my initial 2 years of service. Please note that new funds will be administered by Grace Deposits at Network for Good.
• I’m also praying for the strategic plans, funds, and provisions to start the child advocacy NGO Christ Is Our Hope International and the leadership school.
• I’m praying for a donation of 2 round trip tickets to US for me and my Rwandan friend Francis (for this summer) so that we can share testimonies, the vision proposal, and begin raising support and foundations for the child advocacy NGO and leadership school. Also so I can visit my family that I miss soooo much!
• I’m praying for Rwanda Victory Mission Church and my Worship Team. To grow them in their walk of faith.
• I’m praying curriculum/books for KICS
• I am praying for donations of NIV and NASB Bibles to share with my precious English reading Rwandese friends and worship team who are hungry for God’s Word. The Kinyarwanda Bible does not translate well. I have given away all my spare ones and still have many thirsty friends.
• I’m praying to learn Kinyarwanda faster so I can communicate on my own. It’s a tough language.
• I’m praying for my university friends who are no longer getting full government scholarships, but must now (starting this term) pay partial tuition. For many in this country this is a huge change and hardship in their lives. Their free education is their only hope of elevating their lives and country. Most students are either orphans or one-parent families. A lot of their parents are elderly and no longer earning income.
• I’m just praying for spiritual and emotional strength as I persevere through life in Africa. I am blessed, but it’s not easy. Cultural intricacies and financial strains are starting to challenge me, not to mention that I am missing my family very much. My faith is strong, but I am still human. God takes care of me, but prayers are always appreciated.

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I LOVE YOU ALL DEARLY. May the Lord shine his face upon you.