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

“Spoken For”

Posted by Garry Friesen July 12th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Several Sundays ago, after church a group of us went out to the new Kigali Pizza Inn!  And it tasted like pizza.  I ordered the Hawaiian, closed my eyes and thought I just had left Papa Murphy Pizza in Portland.  The pastor’s family included two of his own Muzungu children, two adopted Rwandans, and two Rwandan foster children.  The final two, Moses & Gloria, are 3 and 4 years old and they enjoyed the pizza as much as me.  They looked healthy, happy and normal until . . . until I heard their story.

Their church started the “Spoken For” ministry to take in abandoned babies.  Rwanda is like the U.S.  Some overwhelmed moms somehow take their babies and drop them at a doorstep.  Gloria was found abandoned under a tree and taken in.  Moses was almost eaten by dogs.  Dogs are not pets in Kigali.  I knew this from 2010 when a pack of dogs would roam the city and wake me up about 3am each night with their howling.  Moses was about two days old and laying in a field.  A night watchman went out to investigate why a pack of dogs was barking.  In the middle of the wild dogs, he found a thin, weak, abandoned baby boy. The government contacted the church and asked, “Could you take one more?”  The church and the pastor took him in. Rwanda does not allow foreign adoption to avoid sex trafficking so these two are foster children.  But, Gloria and Moses are wonderfully, “Spoken For”.

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

Dr Gerald, Servant-Leader

Posted by Garry Friesen July 5th, 2014

Family & Friends,

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Over and over these words have been heard by my wounded heart.  Our principal & academic dean at Africa College of Theology died suddenly a week ago of a massive heart attack.  Gerald Sseruwage was 45 years and bigger than life to everyone in Africa where he was simply “Dr Gerald”.  He went from believer kicked out of his home for his faith to street boy.  He was brilliant more than his PhD revealed.  He was the heart of our growing ACT college.  He became a father to many without fathers among our students and staff.  He knew how to do everything and could get it done in Africa.  He was the best academic supervisor that I have ever had.  I am needed at ACT, but he seemed indispensible.  I needed an African to remind me, “It is Christ’s church and college and He will build it.”

His memorial service in Kigali was six hours long and it was not enough time to talk about his faith and works of faith.  He was my mentor for all things African.  Five minutes with him gave me more cultural understanding than a month of living in Rwanda.  His great knowledge did not lead to pride, but was combined with a compassionate heart to serve others beautifully and effectively.  His greatest trait was humility.  He was the apex of “servant leadership” for me. In Paul’s words, “He poured himself out like a drink offering.”  He also loved humility in others.  The African staff was surprised when my first teaching assignment was as an assistant to one of my former Multnomah students.  Gerald later revealed, “I wanted to see if you were humble enough to serve under your former student.”  When I grow up I want to be just like Dr Gerald.

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Dr Gerald, Servant-Leader

Posted by Garry Friesen July 5th, 2014

 

Sent June 28, 2014 “Four Month Wall”

Family & Friends,

Before I left for Rwanda, I was warned about the four month “wall” that all African newbies face.  They meant the honeymoon of a new place will wear off and the difficulty of living in Rwanda faces you like a wall.  I marked the four month day on my calendar – Today.  Several readers pointed me to Psalm 18:29, “And by my God I can leap over a wall”.  I started praying that I would be ready to “scale” or “jump” over that wall.  My first two weeks were the most difficult, but each week you learn the “ropes” of a new place.  And ropes are good for getting over walls.  I’m not overconfident.  Maybe it will be a six or twelve month wall, but I am happy, content and productive right where I am.  I still give a short Kinyarwandan introduction when I speak.  It says that I’m here “until Jesus returns”.  I love my students, my co-workers and just about everything in Kigali, but driving.  My goal is to teach as long as Multnomah’s founder Dr. Mitchell – until he was 97 years.  Actually, I added a prayer for three extra years and so my goal is an even 100 years old.  I did not notice the four month wall, and so now it is 4 months down and, Lord willing, 33 years to go!

Rwanda Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

Four Month “Wall”

Posted by Garry Friesen June 28th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Before I left for Rwanda, I was warned about the four month “wall” that all African newbies face.  They meant the honeymoon of a new place will wear off and the difficulty of living in Rwanda faces you like a wall.  I marked the four month day on my calendar – Today.  Several readers pointed me to Psalm 18:29, “And by my God I can leap over a wall”.  I started praying that I would be ready to “scale” or “jump” over that wall.  My first two weeks were the most difficult, but each week you learn the “ropes” of a new place.  And ropes are good for getting over walls.  I’m not overconfident.  Maybe it will be a six or twelve month wall, but I am happy, content and productive right where I am.  I still give a short Kinyarwandan introduction when I speak.  It says that I’m here “until Jesus returns”.  I love my students, my co-workers and just about everything in Kigali, but driving.  My goal is to teach as long as Multnomah’s founder Dr. Mitchell – until he was 97 years.  Actually, I added a prayer for three extra years and so my goal is an even 100 years old.  I did not notice the four month wall, and so now it is 4 months down and, Lord willing, 33 years to go!

Rwandan Rookie, G

gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

 

Night Driving in Rwanda

Posted by Garry Friesen June 21st, 2014

Family & Friends,

Night driving in Rwanda is like day driving in Rwanda, but on steroids.  The ante is raised for everything.  Walkers on the roads are just as ubiquitous, and they still cross without looking.  But, now they are 50% invisible with dark skin and dark clothes.  Moto drivers still dart in and out using both lanes and the roadside.  But, now some of them have their headlight turned off thinking that they can save on gas.  Drivers still need to get where they are going at top speed, but now some don’t use their headlights and the rest blind you with their bright lights.  No one’s headlights are aligned so you get their high beams right smack in the retinas.

The sun thinks it is the equator, so it goes down at 6 pm.  At 6:30 pm darkness has descended on Kigali and the roads are jammed.  Entering a roundabout is only slightly less chaotic then coming to a major crossroad with no traffic light.   The utter worst scenario is when traffic is at a standstill, but the on-coming lane is temporarily open.  Then a group of drivers may try to pass the traffic jam in the opposite lane.  When they meet the on-coming drivers, everyone is stopped in both lanes and it is impossible to back up since there is no where to back up to.  At this point you kill your engine, pray for the fourth fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and have a nap.  And really, with all the night driving stress, you deserve a nap.

Rwandan Rookie,

G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

Lady with the Beautiful Wrinkles

Posted by Garry Friesen June 14th, 2014

Family & Friends,

My friend Pamela Reeve died this last year after many years of passionate ministry.  She spoke at her own funeral.  But, that’s another story.  I found her alive in Rwanda in one of the Africa New Life Bible college staff.  I visited our registrar, Anna, who began to talk about her Multnomah education.  She found a mentor in the 92 year old woman who was a guest teacher in one of her classes.  She remembered her amazement as she gazed on a very wrinkled woman with passion pouring out of her pores.  From that moment, she described Pam as the “lady with the beautiful wrinkles”.  She now wanted to imitate this woman for a lifetime until she had beautiful wrinkles.  Pamela never tired of talking of the new creation that we are in Christ.  She dramatically illustrated this truth in one of Anna’s classes.  Pam wore a long beautiful black dress as she taught about the old man and its lusts.  Then quickly she slipped out of the black gown to reveal a beautiful white dress beneath it.  She proclaimed once more with passion through the beautiful wrinkles, “We are new creations in Christ!”

Rwandan Rookie,

G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

And a Free Bomb Check

Posted by Garry Friesen June 4th, 2014

Family & Friends,

I like a good monster movie every decade or so.  I just saw the newest Gonzilla movie in a theater.  Don’t look surprised!  We have a movie theater in Kigali and it’s better than any theater in Portland, OR.  Why is it better you ask?  (1) We drive to the theater and it is not raining.  (2) We don’t have the difficult decision of which theater; there is only one. (3) At the parking entrance we stop and receive a free check for bombs under the car,  (4) Most of our movies start on time since they don’t have previews! (5) Our popcorn is better. We buy it plain and bring our own butter and salt; and so we put on as much as we want.  (6) Westerners love the chance for a movie so you meet all the missionaries in the city at the movie, (7) “Gonzilla’s” opening Friday night was the same as the U.S, which means we were 6 hours before N.Y. and 9 hours before Portland. We had already rated the movie on Rotten Tomatoes and you had not even seen it yet!  Why would anyone want to watch a movie anywhere, but Kigali?

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

 

Hope Visits Turn Joyful

Posted by Garry Friesen May 23rd, 2014

Family & Friends

The Magnificent Seven had a Magnificent time in Rwanda and are heading back where worship services will seem boring without any dancing.  They all had meaningful Rwandan moments.  Shema (Austin) said he will never forget the excitement in the eyes of 60 young “dream boys” when he gave them a soccer ball.  Willie was surprised that his passion for coffee & missions connected on the trip.  One of the pastors owns the largest coffee plantation in Rwanda and Ganza (Willie) spent an hour with him.  Pastors do not get paid and must create a business to be able to shepherd a flock.  Ganza & Pastor Eleza might do coffee and ministry together some day!  Mutesi (Bethany) loved working with the same “dream boys” for four days that gave her a deeper and more meaningful love for the kids.  Karabo (Rachel) found inspiration in the mother of one of the students they visited who was hoping to get sponsored.  The woman has four children and took in three more orphans.  Rachel was amazed and inspired by her faith.

The Multnomah team made “Hope” visits to students waiting to find a sponsor.  They brought gifts to let them know that Africa New Life had not forgotten them.  Often those who make the “hope” visits become advocates for these students.  Keza (Heidi) connected with 14 year old Florence.  They only had faith to communicate with each other, but that was enough without a common language.  Heidi knew the moment they joined hands that God was asking her to be Florence’s sponsor.  Teta (Shannon) was impressed with an older mom who really loved her children including 19 year old Philemon who lost his sponsor.  The sponsor dropped him and gave no reason breaking his heart.  As Teta prayed for the family, she knew that she was the new sponsor.  They immediately informed Philemon who wept tears of joy.  For two Rwandan students a “Hope” visit turned into a “Joy” visit.  Meanwhile, we are praying that God will send us another Multnomah team in 2015 just like the Magnificent Seven.

Rwandan Rookie, G

gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org