Kinyarwanda Baby Blues

Posted by Garry Friesen September 20th, 2014

Family & Friends,

For the last six months I’ve been trying to learn the hardest language that I’ve ever tackled—Kinyarwanda. People who know the grammar say it is one of the most difficult languages to learn.  Native speakers don’t know its grammar, but they do tell me confidently, “It is an easy language to learn.”  When I say, “Easy?  It has ten categories of nouns which means that it has ten ways to say “this”, ten for “that”, ten for “these” and ten for “those” and only one will work in a particular sentence!”  They give me a puzzled look, ponder for moment, and then say, “But, it is an easy language to learn.”  Rwandans love it when you try to learn their language.  Rwandans laugh when you try to learn their language.

At our weekly staff prayer meeting I always bring my Kinyarwanda Bible.  They asked me to read our passage for the day in 1 Peter.  This was literary suicide.  I did not know most of the words.  I read.  Shortly after, our president arrived and learned that I had read Kinyarwanda aloud.  He said, “Read it again.”  I took a second torturous run through words I did not know.  They clapped and then they laughed.  The clap said, “Thank you for trying to learn Kinyarwanda.”  The laugh said, “You have a long way to go.”  In Kinyarwanda, I’m a baby, about 2 years old.  It is hard being a baby after teaching college for 38 years, but there is nothing wrong with humility!  I’m hoping and working, and God willing, I will soon be a 3 year old in Kinyarwanda.

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

More Dr. Gerald Golden Rules

Posted by Garry Friesen September 13th, 2014

Family & Friends,

After the death of our beloved principal, Dr. Gerald, I asked many students and staff a question.  “What did you learn from Dr. Gerald?” What they told me, I wrote down.  I got about 20 truths worth repeating.  Here are the second ten which I call “Dr. Gerald’s Golden Rules”.

11.  Have a two-table office: one for work and one for people.

12.  Be generous with your finances and your time.

13. Know the language of the people you serve.

14. Be a student of God’s Word your whole lif

15. Regularly encourage team members around you,

16. Love God above all else.

17. Let the joy in you greet others with a smile.

18. Preach the gospel & Scripture with words and with your life.

19. Accept your weaknesses and learn from everyone.

20. Be close to students and incarnational in your ministry.

We ask all our faculty to sign a values and doctrinal statement from ACT.  We just added the signing of “Dr. Gerald’s Golden Rules”.  We are hoping that every faculty member will help reflect our fallen warrior Dr. Gerald.

Rwandan Rookie, G

P.S. I’m still raising funds for purchasing African authored books.  If you have interest contact me at the email below.  Thank you for those who have donated.

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

Dr. Gerald’s Golden Rules

Posted by Garry Friesen September 6th, 2014

Family & Friends,

After the death of our beloved principal, Dr. Gerald, I asked many students and staff a question.  “What did you learn from Dr. Gerald?”  What they told me, I wrote down.  I got about 20 truths worth repeating.  Here are the first ten which I call “Dr. Gerald’s Golden Rules”.

  1. Humility is the first qualification for a Servant Leader.
  2. Believe in your students until they succeed.
  3. Dream big, pray big and plan carefully for the future.
  4. Discipleship is the main purpose of a good education.
  5. Model every virtue that you want in your students.
  6. Work hard to be faithful, but trust God for everything.
  7. Teachers should love students more than they love their course material.
  8. Sacrifice to provide for the students.
  9. Aim for quality down to the smallest detail.
  10.  Education is the key for ministering to the best of your ability.

Like Abel, though dead, he still lives.  Dr. Gerald lives on in what he taught us.

Rwandan Rookie, G

P.S. I’m still raising funds for purchasing African authored books.  If you have interest contact me at the email below.  Thank you for those who have donated.

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

So Many Books, So Little Time

Posted by Garry Friesen September 1st, 2014

Family & Friends,

Like a kid in a candy store.  Or better.  A big kid in a big candy store.  God has supplied ACT with $6,600 for books to meet the standard of accreditation for “Africa-related books”.  Since our library is very large by African standards (22,000 titles), we are required to get about 1,500 of these books and more as we grow.  I have been looking on Amazon under many subjects, but “Africa Theology” has given me 20 pages of potential books.  Rwanda has none of these books.  Our plan is to order on Amazon, and send them to Kristina & Kerri in Portland (our book czars).  Then the books will make a slow journey to Kigali with a container and with Portland teams coming to Rwanda.  This process will cut costs dramatically.  I love buying books and now I’m required to buy them as fast as I can until the $6,600 pot is empty.  I got carried away and VISA closed my card down.  Now the gate is open again and the big kid is in a big candy store with money in his ministry pocket.  I’d tell you more, but so many books, and so little time!

Rwandan Rookie, G

P.S. I’m still raising funds for purchasing African-related books.  If you have interest contact me at the email below.  Thank you for those who have donated.

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

“Walk, but don’t Talk”

Posted by Garry Friesen August 22nd, 2014

Family & Friends,

Rwanda is not a land for old men who like to talk as they walk.  The culprits are stair steps everywhere.  In the U.S. you become so bored by the uniform size of every stair step that you don’t even notice them.  You walk, you talk and you forget as you go up a flight of stairs.  Rwanda has variety and diversity.  Every stair is a different size.  It is an architectural marvel. Some are so big that a man with a hip replacement looks awkward as he navigates these precipices.  Meze Fresh, my favorite restaurant, has stairs up to the second floor where you get the view and the nice breeze.  I tell people, “Don’t talk as you go up, don’t do anything, but concentrate on the stairs.”  One stair is higher than the rest, and many an old Muzungu has tripped on it.  This ruins their meal and sends a flurry of Africans apologizing profusely.  And finally, there is the occasional one inch stair right in the middle of a room.  Why?  Well, my theory is cockroaches.  These little critters tumble onto their backs when they go down these small stairs.  Once on their back side, they are not able to flip back to their feet.  And bingo, they are easy to exterminate.   I’ve memorized the unwritten Rwandan Rule: “When you walk, don’t talk” and all old guys will be safer.

Rwandan Rookie, G

P.S. I’m raising funds for purchasing African authored books.  If you have interest contact me at the email below.  Thank you for those who have donated.  We have already ordered over 200 books.

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

Umusazi on the Loose

Posted by Garry Friesen August 16th, 2014

Family & Friends,

I finally put on my big-boy pants and ventured downtown alone to the high-priced Muzungu store in the KCT – Kigali City Tower.  Since we don’t use street names KCT is the most recognizable landmark.  A week earlier I had spent 45 minutes trying to learn all of the downtown roads on a Sunday when traffic was sparse.  Despite the advantages I went down a one-way street like an umusazi on the loose rather than a umusaza (crazy person vs. wise person).  Other drivers let me know with African gestures.  I hope never to learn what they meant.  I shopped for about 45 minutes finding many things that are very hard to find in Kigali.  My cashier was ready with the highest-tech machinery found in Rwanda.  He scanned my stuff and swiped my card. They could not get my Visa card to work.  I bought books on sale.  Buy 3, get one free.  They had to print out six separate sales receipts. One for every four books!  One hour later they finished, but I ran out of cash since I was expecting to use my card.  They helped me take the cart to the parking garage.  This is the garage where you get a free bomb inspection for your car every visit.  Then I remembered I had some cash in my briefcase.  Back in I went to get a gift certificate for a newly wedded couple.  No one knew what “gift certificate” meant.  I tried to act it out, but my charade efforts only made them think “umusazi”.   Next time, I thought, I’m going to the small shop near my house.  They don’t have anything I want, but I know I can get in and out very quickly.

Rwandan Rookie, G

P.S. I’m raising funds for purchasing African authored books.  If you have interest contact me at the email below.  Thank you for those who have donated.

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.or

The River Between

Posted by Garry Friesen August 9th, 2014

Family & Friends,

I love reading.  At one time I owned about 5,000 books and could not let go of any of them.  The Kigali Kollection for the Multnomah-ACT Library loosened my grip on my books.  Now I own about 10 books, but love reading is as great as ever.  My library interns are directing me in my reading of African literature.  James said, “Read The River Between.” It is by Ngugi wa Thiong’o and is perfect for a new missionary.  It tells the story of the clash of missionary and white culture with tribal culture.  The author breaks your heart as you watch the chaos and the people caught in the crossfire. Waiyaki is the hero and he loves the best in both cultures. He sees and deplores weaknesses in both cultures.  The author comments that if you destroy something bad in a culture, you better replace it with something good.  If you eliminate female circumcision as genital mutilation, then you better create a meaningful right of passage for girls to become women.  Waiyaki tries to bring reconciliation between the conflicting cultures for the strength of his people.  He wants to flee to Nairobi, but he stays to reconcile the people he loves.  Waiyaki is the great peace maker, but there is no peace when both cultures turn against him.

Rwandan Rookie, G

P.S. I’m raising funds for purchasing African authored books.  If you have interest contact me.  Thank you for those who have donated.

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

Grizzly Adams finds a Barber

Posted by Garry Friesen August 2nd, 2014

Family & Friends,

Why should I fear a simple trip to the barber?  Because, this is Africa and anything can happen.  I had nightmares about what an African barber might do to a Muzungu head of hair.  I put it off until I was looking like Grizzly Adams.  Before, venturing to the barber, I took some clothes to the cleaners.   I looked at prices.  I noticed that a “loin cloth” was only 2,000 rwf.  Seemed reasonable.   I looked down the long hall to the barber shop.  I slowly trekked to possible haircut doom.  I thought, “I want tapered hair in the back” might not communicate, so I showed him the picture on my passport.  And said, “I want that”.

He said “Ntakibazo” (No problem).  My anxieties were not relieved.   He went slowly, carefully and every snip calmed my concerns.  At five minute intervals, he took out his scented brush and cleaned off my hair from the cloth covering.  He finally finished.  My hair was just right (except for the gray and a bald spot).  I gladly paid about $8 (5,000 rwf).  A quick check revealed that this was more than double the normal price.  It was the Muzungu price, but this Muzungu was happy anyway.  I turned down a hair wash and neck massage, but later learned that these were included in the price.  I am happy to say that I now have chosen a cleaners in case I get a loin cloth, and my new barber is Mustafa.  Whew!

Rwandan Rookie, G

P.S. I’m raising funds for purchasing African authored books.  If you have interest contact me.

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

Book Meister of Rwanda

Posted by Garry Friesen July 26th, 2014

Family & Friends,

I got kicked out of John Brown U’s library and Multnomah’s library for talking too loud.  Ironically, it is now me who is “Shhhhhhh”ing others in the “Multnomah ACT” library.  I’ve prepared for my next classes and our librarian cannot come until December.  So I volunteered.  I suggested a title for the position like “Book Meister of Rwanda” or “Grand Puba of Publications”, but had to settle for “Interim Librarian”.   They explained that this title gives everyone hope that a real librarian is on the way.  Earlier I had created a 3,500 book reference section at the dean’s direction.  That sounded like a good idea until I became “interim”.  Now 3,500 books need a yellow “Reference” sticker on the book spines.  The sticker looks good, but turns your thumbs an ugly mustard color.  Oh, yes, and those 3, 500 books all need to have “Ref.” added to the computer record, one at a time.  And, I didn’t know that I was stiff-necked as an Israelite in the wilderness, until I tried to search for books on the top shelf.  I would tell you more, but at this very moment a student in the library is “Shhhhh”ing me!

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

P.S. I’m raising funds for purchasing African books.  If you have interest contact me.

“Double Portion”

Posted by Garry Friesen July 20th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Since the loss of Dr Gerald at Africa College of Theology, two Scriptural images are flooding my mind.  The one is Job who had suddenly lost everything.  “Job feel to the ground and worshipped. ‘The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the LORD’” (Job 1:21).  Only the faith of an African could so quickly speak these words.  They, like Job, know how to grieve.  Africans also know how to believe that if you lose everything, God alone is enough.  Alan, our U.S. director, joined us this past week to help us sort out our new strategy.  He was struck with the image of Elijah and Elisha.  It did not seem possible to continue the fight against Baalism without the mighty Elijah.  Then God took him suddenly.  Elisha was not Elijah, but he knew how to pray big.  He asked for a double portion of the spirit that was upon Elijah (2 Kings 2:9).  Then the text records Elisha performing twice the number of miracles as Elijah.  What can we do with the absence of Dr. Gerald?  We need your prayers for we are trying to respond to our great loss by worshiping like Job and praying like Elisha.

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org