ACT praying thru Acts

Posted by Garry Friesen October 18th, 2014

Family & Friends,

We just finished our first Bible Marathon with Africa College of Theology (ACT) students.  Our internship team of 3 students planned it.  My schedule for the four hour marathon did not account for the slower reading pace in English.  But, the feature of reading “Scripture in community” was just what the African doctor ordered.  Rwanda is not a reading culture, but our 20 students were a constant encouragement to each other to keep reading.  We read 22 chapters from the book of Acts. We stopped periodically to respond in prayer.  A person reads a verse that was significant to them and then prays in response. The roof lifted during the prayer times.  Africans love to pray.  Add Scripture to African prayer and the mix is explosive.  As one prayed the rest urged them on. It was encouraging to hear Hassan pray with passion about Ananias and Sapphira lying about money to the apostles (Acts 5:1-11).  There is a huge lack of financial accountability in Africa. God heard Hassan’s prayer that they would practice honesty with money in the church.  What could be more fitting than students of ACT reading ACTS and praying up a storm?

Rwandan Rookie, G

“Everything is good in my world”

Posted by Garry Friesen October 11th, 2014

Family & Friends

I tell friends about my experience in Africa.  One common thread is saying, “No matter how things go wrong in my third world country, when I join 20 students singing together, everything is good in my world!”  Recently, the rutted dirt roads and the cobblestone streets finally got the victory over my tires.  My first flat occurred near my house on Saturday evening.  On Sunday morning I was preaching, but first had to replace the dead tire.  It had been 30 years since I had the privilege.  My roommate was experienced.  He guided the process and I was on time for the church service.  Several days later, I drove down a busy highway and blew another tire.  I limped to a nearby parking lot (“parking lot” is a euphemism for an uneven dirt field).  Two Africans appeared quickly to inform me of my mishap.  Then they happily joined me in changing the tire like Tom Sawyer’s friends.  The same week I needed cash, and went 0 for 4 on finding a bank money machine that worked.  But, that night our class joined another for the opening songs. The singing started and saturated the room.  The dancing started and rocked the room.  Soon the whole class was in a dance line circling the classroom in joyful song and worship.  I paused between songs, and said to no one in particular, “Everything is good in my world.”

Rwandan Rookie, G

Wrinkles on My Wrinkles

Posted by Garry Friesen October 4th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Africa College of Theology sent me and our president, Charles, to Johannesburg, South Africa.  We were visiting SATS – South Africa Theological Seminary.  This completely on-line seminary was interested in pursuing a partnership with us, and we with them.  The meetings went very well, but the high point for me was the hot showers.  We stayed in a bed and breakfast place.   I worked hard to be sure that I needed a shower, maybe two, each day.  It had been about three months since I had experienced anything, but a shower out of a bucket.  The Johannesburg shower water was hot, steady and most important, plentiful.  I lingered under the jet stream, loitered below the lovely spray, hung out in the heavenly flow, lounged in the liquid surge, and delayed under the delicious cascade, until my wrinkles had wrinkles.  The next J-Burg newspaper edition had a story about hot water shortages on the east side.  I was going to turn myself in, but I wanted to take another long shower the next day.  It was a good trip, but after three days, I missed Kigali.  When we landed at the airport, it felt like getting home with or without hot showers!

Rwandan Rookie, G

Anomaly in the Bathtub

Posted by Garry Friesen September 29th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Anyone who takes a hot shower in Rwanda, enjoys it more than you do in the States.  You can take a nice shower and think about the upcoming events of the day.   You end up clean, but not necessarily happy.  A hot shower in Kigali can make us happy all day.  The planets have to align themselves just right for such an anomaly.  Will there be water?  Will there be pressure if there is water?  Will there be hot water if there is pressure?  If there is pressure, will your shower turn from frigid to scalding.  If the pressure is steady, will a cockroach want to join in the experience.  Sometimes, I look at the shower and say, “I think I’ll just heat up some water on the stove and take a bucket shower.”  But, trust me, when the heavens align and the shower is hot and steady, it makes an American shower seem routine and uninspiring.  In Kigali a hot shower can give you an unexplained boost of joy even if you miss your personal devotions.   Americans, enjoy your shower, but I bet that I enjoy mine more . . . when it happens.

Rwandan Rookie, G

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

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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.