Stress Reduction

Posted by Garry Friesen January 24th, 2015

Family & Friends,

In Portland I used to have a time/money ratio.  How much was a hour worth to me?  I decided that I was willing to pay $50 to save an hour.  I would buy a DVD on line before seeing it and give it away if I didn’t like it.  My logic was that it would take me nearly an hour to go rent a movie and return it or $50 by my time/$ ratio.  I would hire someone to clean up my apartment for $100 and go speak at a retreat where I would earn more than $100, and enjoy ministering more than cleaning windows.  In Rwanda I’ve had to make a paradigm shift.  Time is always an issue, but in Rwanda stress is the greater issue.   Now I ask, “How much am I willing to pay to save an hour of stress?”  For example, I can run off my class syllabus for free at church, but I know that there are five stressful reasons that something will go wrong.  Power might be off, the copier is on the fritz, or out of ink, or not available, or the office is closed for a holiday I never heard of.  Instead, I take the notes to a print shop and pay 50 francs per page almost stress free.  I visit a coffee shop if I need to wait for the order.  So, I thank you for your financial support, because it is paying for a lot of Kigali stress reduction on my new stress ratio.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Scriptural Fireworks Display

Posted by Garry Friesen January 17th, 2015

Family & Friends,

I’m texting these days.  I have no choice.  African phones won’t record messages so texting is your only option.  Last Saturday I got two phone texts.  “We are done, it was the most wonderful time ever.  We had 17 members ooooh what a move of God, thanks a lot for bringing this in our country.  God bless u emensely.” And “We were blessed by these epistles and had  atime of interaction.  People were excited!!!” Emmanuel and Andrew were referring to our fourth African Bible marathon.  It may have been the best one yet, but how would I know. I was home sick.  But, I was praying for them and reading along with them in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  God knew it was time for Andrew and Emmanuel to lead this marathon on their own without the old guy.  Africans don’t read much which makes Bible reading as rare as the back legs on a Rwandan chicken.  But, once you get Africans together and read Scripture in community, they explode with faith, joy and prayer.  Our Bible marathon team has concluded, “The difficulty in Africa will be getting people to a marathon.  Once Africans arrive, the Scriptural fireworks will always begin.”  Now, to start inviting some people to the next fireworks display.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Greaser Shoes

Posted by Garry Friesen January 10th, 2015

Family & Friends,

People often ask me, “What do Africans wear?”  Actually, no one asks, but now that the subject has been brought up, I’d like to say a few things.  American men are easy to spot because they are sporting colorful African shirts.  Kigali men, however, are wearing American shirts and jerseys with the names of every American college in the contiguous U.S. of A. The women are 50/50.  Half are wearing beautifully colored African dresses.  The rest are dressing to look like an American woman they saw at the movies.

The most obvious African characteristic is that they dress nicely for most occasions.  They may not have ten sets of clothes, but they have one for dress up and it looks “smart” as they say.  At church they dress like Americans in 1955 used to dress for church or a wedding.  If the temperature goes below 80 degrees, the winter coats come out.  On a day of 80 degrees sweaters are often worn. The Kigali motorcycle drivers are dressed in winter leathers all the time.  They drive fast so they don’t sweat to death.  And shoes!  Do you remember the long pointed men’s shoes that were around in 1960s?  At my junior high, the “greasers” all wore them.  The shoes were so long and pointed that they had to walk up the stairs sideways.  Somehow, these shoes arrived in Africa and found their way onto Rwandan feet.  Meanwhile, I’m wearing American shirts so I can fit in with the African men.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“A Gridiron Worm goes farther”

Posted by Garry Friesen January 4th, 2015

Family & Friends,

In 2008 the Detroit Lions became the first professional football team to go 0-16 or as the Detroit newspaper headline said, “PERFECTLY AWFUL”. The NFL football playoffs have begun and I’m at full alert since the Detroit Lions are in the “second season”. Fan’s biggest complain this year is that one division had no team with a winning record.  The Carolina Panthers took first with a miserable 7-8-1 record and all division winners are automatically in.  They quieted our grumbles with a suffocating defense that held the 11-5 Arizona Cardinals to a new playoff low of 78 yards gained for the whole game and only 12 yards in the second half.  A gridiron worm goes further on a rainy day and it was raining that day.  Arizona actually had gained 96 yards, but on the last play of the game, they started lateraling the ball backward to teammates to avoid the final tackle.  Their maneuver netted a loss of 18 yards and some dubious pigskin history.

BUT, the biggest news for us Detroit fans was that San Francisco missed the playoffs and their great coach was without a job . . . for several minutes.  Coach Jim Harbaugh is now the new coach of the Michigan Wolverines football program. After 38 winning seasons, Michigan had fallen on hard times.  Ann Arbor, MI has been renamed Ann Harbaugh, MI and the greatest rivalry in sports (Michigan/Ohio State) will soon be back.  Maybe Jim Harbaugh vs Urban Meyer will be as great as the famous rivalry of “Bo vs. Woody”.  But, first they must get some good nicknames.  “Jim vs. Urban” does not sound like prime time.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Because they are Goats

Posted by Garry Friesen December 28th, 2014

Family & Friends,

A few thoughts on goats.  I’m not a farm boy like my dad.  When I looked at a room to rent, my housemate said, “We have chickens, rabbits, five goats, two dogs and a cat.”  In deference to their Creator, I will call goats interesting rather than strange.  Our daddy goat was tied up so he would not abuse the younger goats.  One day I heard some neighborhood kids making bad imitation sounds of goats.  I looked out to realize it was the goats.  They sound like sick sheep.  Like whinny petulant children when they don’t get their way.  One day I heard crash on the metal bars across my window. After I got over the fright.  I whipped open the drapes to catch the intruder.  I immediately was face to face with a goat.  It had leaped up three feet to stand on a six-inch window ledge.  Goats like to climb.  Why?  Because they are goats.

I looked out one day to see mama goat nudging something on the ground.  I finally concluded she was cleaning up a slimy new-born baby goat.  Apparently, the rope around papa’s neck did not stop his romancing.  I watched in amazement.  She was cleaning the new kid, stopping to munch some grass, and then while she stood there, number two was born.  It crashed to the ground or rather oozed to the ground.  Once cleaned up they were unbelievably cute.  They started following mom around hours later and days later were scampering after her when they wanted milk.  My father would be proud that his son is at least a little countrified.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“Home please, Moses”

Posted by Garry Friesen December 20th, 2014

Family & Friends,

During my last year in Portland, night driving got increasingly more difficult. I got a routine eye exam.  The doc said, “You have cataracts on both eyes. Let’s get a calendar to see if you can get them done before you leave for Africa”.  We used four different offices that had openings for the eye prep, left eye operation, right eye operation and final exam for new glasses. My eyes have arrived in Rwanda.  I was very disappointed to learn that my two cataract surgeries did not make enough difference to allow me to drive at night.  But, that may be God’s grace and a blessing in disguise.  I now hire a driver at night.  My classes end at 8:30pm.  Then 17 students ask for a ride home.  My driver does triage and only five get the nod.  Then we head home with stops along the side of the road for each student.  Finally, we call ahead to have two metal gates opened by the night watchman.  Then the driver gets paid and heads out to find a moto to get him home.  In the U.S.  I was just another old slow driver trying to look younger in a Mazda Miata, but in Rwanda I have a chauffeur, close my eyes and say, “Home please, Moses.”

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Miracle at the Bible Marathon

Posted by Garry Friesen December 13th, 2014

Family & Friends,

We just had our third Bible marathon and enjoyed all of 2 Corinthians and Galatians.  A new “miracle” named Shaban joined the marathon.  I noticed our newest reader.  He read and prayed in Kinyarwanda.  Everyone reads their verses in the language they are most comfortable.  At a break one of the student leaders introduced him to me.  “He is a miracle” Emmanuel told me.  He used to be a thief, on drugs and physically harming many people.  He had nothing to offer God, but open hands that said, “I need grace and plenty of it.”  It was a marvel to watch him as we read Galatians and its theme that salvation is only by grace through faith.  He was a poster child for the power of the gospel in Galatians.  He is renewing his mind for a new life.  He spent four hours with us reading Scripture, but recently he memorized John 1-4.  That is chapters 1-4 not verses 1-4!  He joins a 5:00am prayer group daily.  We have breaks from reading Scripture to read just one verse and pray a prayer of response.  He prayed in Kinyarwanda and I did not understand it, but I can make a pretty good guess at what he said,  “Thank you, thank you for grace and thank you.”  We remembered 2 Corinthians 5:17 as we looked at him, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“Unlimited Internet”

Posted by Garry Friesen December 7th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Rwanda has internet!  This means you can pay for internet anytime you want.  Sometimes you can use it.  Rwanda’s appetite for internet is growing, but our capability is shrinking in the on-line traffic jam.  I needed a manual to figure out how you “pay” for internet, but there is no manual.  You pay for one day at a time or choose from 12 other confusing plans.  You get onto the internet by paying and then praying.  So far, my prayer life is no match for the internet. You have to buy a card to load in a day of internet.  One day is “unlimited” which means limited.  It used to be unlimited, but the company said people abused their service by using it like it was unlimited.  So they changed their service to limited, but found that it helped sales to keep calling it “unlimited”.  I’m spoiled.  I’m forgetting the days when my Kaypro computer had a four inch screen and took a minute to execute a command.  When I needed to buy a part, Kaypro went belly up.  I’ll get this update out as soon as I pay 800 francs for unlimited service and my prayer life gets up to snuff.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Aslan is on the Move

Posted by Garry Friesen November 30th, 2014

Family & Friends

My Narnia Sundays are a joy.  Our 15 kids form a semi-circle and get settled.  I summarize the earlier chapters with a pause here and there to let them fill in the blanks.  Last Sunday, we read 2 chapters with a break between episodes to discuss “symbols” in literature.  I gave examples of symbols including the ACT emblem on my shirt which is a Bible with a flame.  They suggested the Bible meant Bible college and the flame was the Holy Spirit.  Not bad.  I give them symbols from our Narnia book:  fur coats and a robin.  I asked what these symbols might mean.  Aaron said the fur coats showed that the children were going to be kings and queens.  Why?  He remembered that Lewis said the fur coats were so long on the children that they looked like “royal robes”.  Sarah had lived in snowy Indiana for while and said that the robin was a symbol that spring was coming and the witch’s winter was ending.  I was going to give them a literary explanation, but the kids beat me to it.  I memorized the ancient Narnian “rhyme” and quoted it to the group several times.

Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight.      At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more.      When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death.     And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.  (British “a-gain” to rhyme with “mane”).

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Literary Death Grip

Posted by Garry Friesen November 23rd, 2014

Family & Friends,

The Oregonian quoted me wryly saying that the “Kigali Kollection” project loosened up my strangle hold on all my books.  It was true.  Now I am a man who owns about a dozen books. That literary death grip, once loosed, freed up my C.S. Lewis collection to the Multnomah-ACT Library in Kigali, Rwanda.  It was given with the hope that Africa would learn about my favorite author and get as much joy and wisdom as I did.

Step One in the CS Lewis conversion of Africa has taken place!  Every Sunday 15 children gather in an ACT classroom to hear an old guy read about Narnia.  The youngest is three and only entertained by my antics.  The rest are 5-12 years and listening to my best attempt at dramatizing “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”  Step Two involves my three interns.  They will read the same book and discuss it in our Wednesday meetings.  The CSL Collection is in a container trekking the high seas for Kigali at this very moment.  When it arrives the soil will be tilled and the CSL seeds scattered as fast as a farmer’s son can toss them to the rich African soil.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com