“Mechanical Mosquitoes”

Posted by Garry Friesen July 25th, 2015

Family & Friends,

SECOND Top Ten Reasons that I Know that I’m Back in Rwanda

20. When you change $100 to Rwandan Francs, you need a suitcase to hold all the bills.

19. The line in the middle of the road is mere decoration, but feel free to use either side of the road for going either direction.

18. Seeing cargo trucks piled 20 feet high & several workers precariously perched on top.

17. The Moto taxis are like mosquitoes and swarm erratically around you as you drive.

16. Everyone has a big simile even if they are having a bad day.

15. Everyone has a cell phone even if they can only afford two shirts and a pair of pants.

14. The back of your shirt is the only way to dry hands after washing them in the restroom.

13. Buses are plentiful in Kigali, but they don’t leave the bus stop until every seat is taken.

12. The sun goes up and down at the same time all year.  I love the equator.

11. Group singing is always passionate and changes a bad day into a good day almost immediately!

It is good to be back home,

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Ten Top Reasons

Posted by Garry Friesen July 18th, 2015

Dear Family & Friends

Ten Top Reasons that I Know that I am Back in Rwanda

10. My car is covered in red dust just hours after getting washed.

9. My room had dead cockroaches on the floor.  “Help, I turned over and can’t get up!”

8. My drinking water consists entirely of bottled water. (I am hiding from the parasites)

7. My students think I’m going to fall over comatose if I walk up stairs with a briefcase.

6. My car brakes screech no matter how many times I take them in for repair.

5. My room constantly has dust balls that form in hours rather than months.  In months, they grow into soft tumbleweed.

4. The roads are filled with thousands of people walking and carrying heavy loads on their heads.

3. The prices double for me, as soon as they see my peaked face and bulging back pocket.

2. Worship turns into dancing before you can say, “God is good, all the time!”

1. My church announces prayer and fasting days and all-night prayer meetings regularly.

Ahhhh, it is good to be back home,

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Keep Your Boots On

Posted by Garry Friesen July 11th, 2015

Family & Friends,

Before I left Portland for home in Kigali, I had the joy of lunch with my missionary mentors, Norm and Muriel Cook.  We went out for Chinese, of course.  I was interested in longevity and they model keeping your missionary boots on for the long haul.  They asked me how old I was.  68.  “You are just getting started,” they said. Norm said he used three biblical characters as models to encourage faithfulness for the long journey:  John the Baptist, Caleb and Barnabas.  John feared God more than he feared the king.  He lived out the truth, “He must increase, and I must decrease”.  Caleb had a different spirit infused with faith.  He believed God despite hearing a nation grumble and doubt for 40 years.  Barnabas believed that God can work through anyone if they are encouraged.  He redeemed John Mark after his failure and stood up to Paul to do it.  Later Paul wanted Mark with him for “he is useful for ministry”.  John, Caleb and Barnabas.  Fear God, Believe God, Encourage God’s people.  I left the Cooks and the Chinese restaurant ready for the next 32 years.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Bibliophile Heaven

Posted by Garry Friesen July 4th, 2015

Family & Friends,

I walked into the storehouse cavern and thought “iboombo”.  Not only, “candy”, but a huge “candy store” for a bibliophile.  And this book lover was in awe.  The rafters had international flags including Rwanda with its yellow star on sky blue background.  That was the sight as I trekked from the offices of Theological Book Network into their book storehouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I met Wayne who vetted which books were good enough for the shelves.  Greg explained how they made sure 300,000 books went yearly from TBN to the majority world Bible colleges and seminaries.  Justin showed me the huge board that chronicles how many books to which countries.  They pick a “hub” college and send high-end theological books to a group of 10-15 schools in a region.  Then the schools come to the hub to pick up the library candy.  They first interviewed me to learn about Africa College of Theology.  Then, they sent me out with a rolling library cart to select books that will be a part of our gift from TBN to ACT.  They are only 11 years old, but already scholars are donating their books at retirement and key Christian publishers are sending them extras of new books.  The receive donations of books and amafaraga to buy books to give them away.  I’ve already tried to say “thank you” to them by donating a box of Decision Making and the Will of God.  In August, a container will be leaving Grand Rapids and heading for Kigali and I will be in bibliophile heaven all over again.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Elder on Mission

Posted by Garry Friesen June 28th, 2015

Family & Friends,

What do you say to a church after 15 months in Africa and four minutes to report?  (1) Four minutes is enough since if you want more there is the “Friesen Fortnightly”.  (2) I am “elder on mission”.  It is a good title, but also embodies a paradigm shift.  I am sent and my final authority is the local church.  The mission agency is our facilitator on the ground. (3) Keep your missions theology simple.  The great commission is a clear call and no second “call” is needed.  Every believer is under the commission and must ask, “Where do I best fit in?”  (4) According to mission experts, the future strength of Christianity is in the south (Asia, S. America, Africa?).  My money is on Africa.  It has evangelism, full churches, bold faith, prayer and fasting.  It still needs those strengths united to Scripture truth.  (5) My role is in Scripture for Africa at ACT (Africa College of Theology) under Africa New Life Ministries where I am the main Bible teacher.  (6) The tragic death of our principal, Dr. Gerald, moved me to academic dean and the creation of our new academic programs for a year.  (7) My goal is to wipe out biblical illiteracy in the nation of Rwanda.  Thank you for making it possible.  I am thrilled to be your “elder on mission”.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

 

 

Theologian of Genocide, part 2

Posted by Garry Friesen June 20th, 2015

Family & Friends,

My last posting called “Theologian of Genocide,” raised a question for some readers.  What is a “theologian of genocide”?.  The conundrum of how a good God could allow evil has always been with us.  It is quickly on the lips of those who think that belief in God is a harmful deception.  Genocide is evil, so evil, that it is hard to conceive.  A genocide of nearly one million people killed in 100 days is almost impossible to understood.  A genocide using mainly crude machetes rather than bullets is too gruesome to ponder.  A theologian of genocide must tackle straight on the questions every Tutis had before his demise.  “Where is God?”  “Why me?”  “How could people be so evil?” “I believe in God, why does He not rescue me?” “Are we cursed?”  “Is there any hope for my family and nation?”  As we look back, we further ask, “How do forgiveness and justice fit together?”  “How does a nation heal from a gash this large?”  “How can we avoid another genocide?”  God is Redeemer.  Someone must rise up with Scripture in hand to give us hope that He can Redeem anything.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Theologian of Genocide

Posted by Garry Friesen June 14th, 2015

Family & Friends,

I’m on the theological prowl.  I know my target, but I don’t know how to get there.  It is too politically sensitive. It is too difficult to fathom.  It is too troubling to ponder for long.  But, it is too important to ignore.  Rwanda needs a theologian of genocide.  They must be Rwandan.  They must have a brilliant understanding of God’s sovereignty and human depravity.  The paradox of the cross must have captured their soul. The cross was the curse of all curses and the blessing of all blessings. It was the worst thing that every happened.  It was the best thing that ever happened.  It was vivid picture of God’s grace and God’s wrath at the same gruesome moment.  Jesus’ cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” has mystery and depth that may illuminate the cries of Rwandans slaughtered in churches with the same anguishing words on their lips.  Finally, they must be able to demonstrate that the Redeemer can redeem anything.  Anything, even the worst history and give hope for the future.  I am now reading the Scripture anew with genocide in my theological cross hairs.  But, I know I cannot be the person.  I only pray I may have a small part in encouraging this theologian to come.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“Richer, wiser, stranger and ancient”

Posted by Garry Friesen May 31st, 2015

Family & Friends,

My new Kigali existence is 15 months old.  My old life seems distant.  I now call Kigali home though I am still an alien.  But Christ followers are aliens anyway and looking for better country (Hebrews 11).  I’m now extremely rich.  Everyone assumes I could fund their dream or pay their school fees.  I hesitate when someone claims me as a “friend” for I know they may have in mind that I now will pay their next hospital bill or late rent bill.  I am now respected just for the fact that I have grew hair, but have not died yet.  In the US you disappear when you get old, but in Africa you become “umusaza” – elder with wisdom.  I am now educationally elite.  There are very few PhDs in Rwanda and one earned in the US or UK is highly respected.  I am now strange. I have no wife and no children.  I have money, but still am single.  That makes no sense to an African.  I am now unbelievably old.  After a children’s Bible lesson, I opened the time for questions.  “How old are you?”  I said, “67” and there was an audible gasp.  It is amazing to me to realize that in 15 short months I became richer, wiser, smarter, stranger and ancient.  I now return to the US for five weeks and will see if anyone notices all the changes.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

A Reminder from Alzheimer’s

Posted by Garry Friesen May 24th, 2015

Family & Friends,

The other day I was day dreaming and remembered a scene in Michigan.  I spent a year caring for my father and his Alzheimer’s.  We had an old experienced doctor looking at my memory-less father.  After talking to dad for a few minutes he assessed what we already knew.  “He has no past”.  His memory went back about 2 minutes.  “He is unable to think about the future”.  Then he added some wisdom that might seem simplistic or obvious, but at the moment I knew it was deep and wise. “Bill has only the present.” He looked at us and added.  “You can help him enjoy the present.”  All of the sudden I was not frustrated about dad’s memory or his bliss about the non-existent future.  I was determined to just be there and help him enjoy the present.  That was not that difficult because of his easy-going nature.  And I might as well enjoy it with him.  I do not wish loss of memory on anyone.  Every month as the memory fades you are dealing with a different person and must adjust.  But, Alzheimer’s is a good reminder.  It is best to not fret over the past or be anxious over the future.  Just enjoy God and others in the present.  This is my goal today in Kigali.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Proverbs from Achebe

Posted by Garry Friesen May 17th, 2015

Family & Friends,

An oral culture like Africa is bound to be rich in proverbs.  African novels are often fond of peppering them into the characters’ conversations.  The following proverbs are woven into the fabric of Chinua Achebe’s novel Anthills of the Savannah.

A wise man agrees with his wife and eats lumps of smoked fish in his soup.  A fool contradicts his wife and eats lumps of cocoyam.

Procrastination is a lazy man’s apology.

[A fool] will dig a new hole to get sand to fill an old one.

Don’t’ disparage the day that still has an hour of light in its hand.

A man whose horse is missing will look anywhere even on the roof.

If you want to get at the root of murder, you have to look for the blacksmith who made the matchet.

If you cross the Great River to marry a wife you must be ready for the risk of the night journey by canoe.

A man who answers every summons by the town-crier will not plant corn in the fields.

An animal whose name is famous does not always fill a hunter’s basket.

A totally reasonable wife is always pregnant.

And my favorite, “Age gives to a man some things with a right hand even as it takes away others with the left.”

Rwandan Rookie,

G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com