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Rwanda, 2017, Finally Here

November 8, 2017

After many prayers and many months of preparation we are finally here in Kibogora, Rwanda. We are here to fill in for some missionaries, at the mission station run by the Free Methodist Church, who are returning home after one year of service. We will be host and hostess for visiting Doctors, Teachers and Missionaries, We will be helping with the accounting, maintenance, grounds upkeep as Station Managers.

We arrived in Kigali the capital city after three flights that took a total of a 24 hours and taxied to the Good News Guest House for a couple of night of rest before resuming the long ride to Kibagora which is on the western side of the country next to Lake Kivu. The lake separates Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On our trip from the capital city of Kigali to the mission station we could enjoy the beauty of Rwanda. You can see why they call this the “Country of A Thousand Hills”. We stopped to see the water falls and were given a show by two young boys with their home-made fiddle, singing “Jesus Never Changes” in French. The house you see in the picture is our temporary house until the current missionaries leave for their home.

Country of One Thousand Hills

Our temporary mission house

We are enjoying the beautiful tropical setting while we are working with the current missionaries who are working to show us our responsibilities for the next 8-9 months while we are here in Rwanda. The mission station has many houses, apartments and single rooms for visiting doctors, nurses, missionaries and other world help organizations. As we learn the job we find the people to be pleasant friendly and patient with us which makes it a pleasure to be here. We look forward to the many blessings the Lord has in store for us as we serve here.

Beautiful views of Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu borders Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of the Congo

We give thanks to the Lord for our many blessings we are receiving through the missionaries and national people here in Rwanda.

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Nepal, 2016, Going Home

October 12, 2017

Our work is done and we are starting the journey home. Since we still have a couple of days to see some of the sights of Nepal, it’s off on a bus heading east toward the center of the country. Our first stop is at the Pastor’s house to say goodby to him and his family. We were offered some tea and snacks to start our journey.

Pastor’s wife and daughter were nice enough to fix us a snack

Then it was back on the bus and through the country side where we traveled through valleys with many rice fields. Then up into some low forested hills where we stopped at the Bardia National Park. The park has a surface of 968 square kilometers and hosts many different mammal species and hundreds of different bird species.We were able to see many animals, monkeys and birds as well as a museum showing some of the old way of life in Nepal.

Endangered crocodiles being raised for re population

One of the many exhibits in the museum

Some of the old craftsmanship of the past

After a little lunch it was on down the road heading east. We traveled most of the day and stopped for the night in the town of Kohalpur near the district of Lumbini.  In the morning we were off to see the birthplace of Buddha, which is a World Heritage Site. There were many Buddhist temples build by many different countries to honor Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. Among the pilgrims was the Indian emperor, Ashoka, who erected one of his commemorative pillars there. The site is now being developed as a Buddhist pilgrimage center, where the archaeological remains associated with the birth of the Lord Buddha form a central feature.

Building covers the original ruins of Lord Buddha’s birthplace

One of the many beautiful temples in the park

From here we board an airplane back to Kathmandu for a day of sight-seeing before returning home. The next morning finds us aboard another airplane for a sightseeing tour of the Himalayan mountains including a fly by of Mt. Everest. We were flying at 16,000 feet (4877m) with the top of Mt.. Everest at 29,029 feet (8848 m). We were looking up to see not only Everest but several peaks in the mountain range.

Our next stop was at the Buddhist temple described as the holiest temple in Nepal. The welcome Nepal website describes it as: “Find peace and prayers on the little hillock of Swaymbhunath in the northwest of the Kathmandu Valley”. Also known as the “Monkey Temple” among visitors from abroad, Swayambhunath sits atop its hill, overlooking most parts of the valley. This is a good place to catch panoramic views of the city. The site itself has stood as a hallmark of faith and harmony for centuries. The glory of Kathmandu Valley is said to have started from this point.

Next we were off to visit the Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Headquarters in Katmandu. We were hosted by the District Superintendent and his family. They gave us a tour of the facility and served us a very nice lunch.

A view from the roof

The Chapel

The D.S. and his family

Next it was off to visit the largest Hindu temple in Nepal called, The Eastern gate of Pashupatinath Temple. According to Wikipedia, “The temple is described as the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. It is not known for certain when Pashupatinath Temple was built. But according to Nepal Mahatmaya and Himvatkhanda, the deity here gained great fame as Pashupati, the Lord of all Pashus, which are living as well as non-living beings. Pashupatinath Temple’s existence dates back to 400 B.C. The richly ornamented pagoda houses the sacred linga or holy symbol of Lord Shiva.”

What a wonderful trip this has been; visiting a country that has a rich history and seeing things that were built over 2000 years ago. To see the Himalayas in the north in all of their grandeur and then the rice field in the valleys of the south was truly spectacular!  When God said in Genesis 1:31, “God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good”, I have to agree that Nepal is a wonderful example of God’s work at it’s best. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met so many friendly people and to be welcomed wherever we were in Nepal.

It is a wonderful thing to see the Christen church growing in Nepal, learning the message of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

 

 

 

Nepal, 2016, Part Five

September 7, 2017

We were given a little history of the Nazarene Church in Nepal by the District Superintendent. In 1998 a missionary from the Nazarene Church in India brought the Jesus film to Nepal and as a result several churches were started. There are now 15 churches in western Nepal and a total of over 140 Nazarene churches in the entire country. Many of the churches are still “house churches”, like the one we attended but they are slowly building church buildings, like this one, as their congregations grow and more pastors become trained.

It’s Sunday but this is a work day in Nepal. We celebrated the Lord at the Dhangadhi Church of the Nazarene yesterday with all of the local congregation. Back to work we go, after breakfast and devotions at the Hotel. Our three-quarters of a mile walk, as usual, shows us many sites we are not used to seeing at home.

I don’t usually paint my cows but it seems to fit in here

We continue to help laying bricks for the church walls and the local workers bring frames for windows and doors. These had been built in advance and were ready to install.

Door and window frames are held in place with ropes to keep them plumb and level

The walls continue to grow and the local workers start to assemble the scaffolding so we can reach the top of the walls.

The walls go up

Friends come to see us daily

Some of the women come daily to help with the mortar.

As we finish our part of the project the side walls reach to where the second story will start. The balance of the walls will be finished by the local crew.

The top of the wall.

Sharing a meal with the host family and the rest of the crew.

Sharing dinner of rice and fish.

As we prepare to leave on our last day at the job site there are many fond goodbyes and a final time of prayer. Many of the local workers and some of our team gathered for a final group photo.

Fond goodbye’s

We leave the job site counting our blessings. It has been a privilege to work alongside these beautiful, spirit filled people of Nepal. In Mark 12:31 (NIV) Jesus said “…..‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” We felt this was a way of life with the people we met in Nepal.

Tomorrow we are off on an adventure to see some of the beauty of Nepal as we start the journey back home.

 

 

Rwanda, 2017, The Begining

September 4, 2017

Another adventure begins! We are off to Kibogora, Rwanda (Officially the Republic of Rwanda) in the middle of October, 2017. We have been asked to help manage a mission station for the Free Methodist Church. The mission station is part of the Central Africa Healthcare Association (C.A.H.O.). Kibagora is in the very South West corner of Rwanda. It is situated on a hillside overlooking Lake Kivu.

One of the smallest countries in Africa

The sunset over Lake Kivu

Rwanda is a landlocked East African country with a , verdant mountainous landscapes. Its renowned Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park encompasses 4,507m-tall Mt. Karisimbi and 4 other forested volcanoes. In the southwest is Nyungwe National Park, with ancient mountain rain forest that is a habitat for chimpanzees and other primates. Rwanda has a population of about 12,000,000 people. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The mission station has a Hospital, School of Nursing and Bible College, as well as the large, district Free Methodist church. Guest houses are maintained for the many guests who come for visits or to assist in the many outreaches of the national church. Part of our responsibilities will be to host visiting missionaries, doctors and guests that visit the station. We will also be helping the local residents with tasks like construction, maintenance and bookkeeping. Our hope is that we can share what abilities we might have with the local people while we partner with them, and participate in their lifestyle and traditions. We also hope to share our walk with Jesus, to be His Hands and Feet to help further His Kingdom.

 

Nepal, 2016, Part Four

August 4, 2017

It’s Saturday here in Nepal and this is the national “day off” for workers, so today is the day we will worship in the Dhangadhi Church of the Nazarene. Because the new church is still under construction services are held on the porch of the Pastor’s house. It is a short bus ride to the outskirts of the city where the Pastor’s home is located. On the way we are close enough to India to see the border.  Arriving we are welcomed by Pastor Rudra and Assistant Pastor Roshan.

Arriving at the Pastor’s House

Pastor Rudra and Assistant Pastor Roshan.

The team was welcomed by the congregation and given gifts of national scarves.

Like most church services this one started with singing some hymns.  As they were sung in the local language we did not understand the words but did recognize some of the hymn tunes. (Amazing Grace) We sang along with the rest of the congregation in our own language. The sermon was given by one of the team members and translated from English to the local language by one of the national Pastors. In Matthew 18:20 it says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” This has always been true where ever I go in the world and His presence was there with us in this service as well.

After services we went to lunch at a local restaurant and then took a little tour of some local sites.

The first stop was at a Buddhist Temple near a River. We were told this river is where the church baptizes new members.

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Saturday is the national day of rest for the people of Nepal so there were many people here for a day out enjoying the sights. We found we were an attraction because they do not see many Americans here! All of the young people wanted to have their picture taken with us.

A group of students posing for a picture with me.

After we returned to the city we found out we were invited to attend a showing of the Jesus film being shown at a rice farm an hour’s ride from city. We arrived for the last half of the film which was in the local language. After the film several people expressed their desire to hear more about this “Jesus”.

Watching the Jesus Film

We were then invited to dinner with the farm family where we enjoyed a meal of nicely seasoned rice and fish.

Getting ready for a delicious meal

All of the beds and bedding were set aside to make room for us to eat

A special thanks to our host and hostess for allowing the showing of the Jesus film to the community and for the hospitality shown to us with a great meal. It was an appropriate end to a wonderful day knowing that God is working in Nepal. It says in Ephesians 19-20 (NIV) ” 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”

We certainly see this in the People of Nepal.

Nepal, 2016, Part Three

April 18, 2017

Today it is back to work laying bricks for the new Church of the Nazarene in Dhangadhi, Nepal. We start off with a walk to the job site where we see many sights that are strange to us but common here in Nepal.

Local vegetables for sale

Local vegetables for sale

Each day we arrive at the job site we find new people who come to help. As we do not speak the language we communicate with a smile and a hand shake. Everyone seems to know what to do so we pitch in to help and continue to see the wall get higher as the day progresses.

The wall continues to grow

The wall continues to grow

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The local workers start adding door and window frames to the wall

Nepal is a country where most people are Hindus or Buddhist, but there is a growing Christian population in the country. In or near the town of Dhangadhi in western Nepal a missionary from India came a few years ago showing the Jesus film. As a result,  and from other showings of the film there are now 15 Nazarene Churches in this region of the country. Most of the churches, like the one we are helping build,  are currently house churches.

As the walls continue to rise we are in need of scaffolding to be able to reach the top of the wall. The next day when we arrive at the site we find materials have been rented to build the scaffolding. It consists of bamboo poles and sheet metal to walk on to be tied together with rope.

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Material for building Scaffolding to stand on

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The Scaffolding starts to take shape

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We are finishing up the week and preparing for the weekend. In Nepal, the day off from work throughout the country is Saturday. As a result, church groups meet on Saturday when people are free from work and able to attend. After the day’s work we returned to the Hotel for supper and a good night’s sleep before church tomorrow. Following supper we meet for devotions and are able to reflect on the day’s work.

We have found that the people we meet are always polite and friendly and most of all they seem happy and make us welcome. The more we get to know them we find that many of them know some English and begin to communicate with us making us feel at home here in Nepal.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to church services at the pastor’s house and some sightseeing around the city of Dhangadhi.

Zambia, 2016, The End and Trip Home

January 19, 2017

We were privileged to hear a concert from a recording star, Ephraim, known through southern Africa for his gospel music and this is his story.

Ephraim with missionary Gary Sidle giving us a concert

Ephraim with missionary Gary, giving us a concert

Ephraim had wanted to be a musician since he was a little boy.  As he entered his teen-age years, he had given his life to Jesus.  God gave him the gift of a beautiful voice and soon he was being sought after to sing in many venues.  He desired to sing on the radio so that his voice would be heard all over Zambia!  He was approached by an agent who promised backing financially and publicity….if he would not sing Christian songs!! After much soul-searching he knew that his voice had to be used to sing praise to Jesus so he contacted the agent to tell him he could not accept his offer.  Despite a feeling of wondering if he would ever fulfill his dream of singing “on air”,  he knew in his heart that he had made the right decision.  Some time later he was approached by a Christian agent who offered funding and his career was launched!  Today he is a much-loved and popular singer, heard all over Zambia and in to South Africa, singing songs that share the gospel message!  What a blessing his music was  to us…and to our national brothers who knew his songs by heart and sang along with him!

Our last day was full of packing then saying good-by to the local people we worked with while in Zambia. A trip to Lusaka and good-by to the our missionary friends. Then it was off to Dubai in the United Arab Eminence. Most of the team continued on to return to the US, but four of us had arranged a short stay in Dubai.

Once out of the airport and off to a hotel for the night we arranged for a tour of the city the next day. We were amazed at the opulence of the city which can best be described in pictures.

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We visited the Burj Khalifa It is the tallest structure in the world, standing at 829.8 m. tall. The bottom floors are a mall which is also the largest mall in the world. The highlights of the mall were a huge indoor aquarium, a spectacular water falls and over 1500 stores and shops. We also toured one of the Palm Islands called Palm Jumeirah.

palm-island

Palm Jumeirah consists of a tree trunk, a crown with 16 fronds, and a surrounding crescent island that forms an 11 kilometer-long breakwater. The island itself is five kilometers by five kilometers. It adds 78 kilometers to the Dubai coastline.

Residents began moving into Palm Jumeirah properties at the end of 2006, five years after land reclamation began. The Palm Island address is considered a status symbol in Dubai.

It all seemed a bit overwhelming to us but it was an experience we will always remember. In the end we were happy to return to the U.S.A. and our own home!

We thank God for all the blessings we received on this trip and express our appreciation to the Chicago Heights Church of the Nazarene for the opportunity to participate in this adventure and opportunity to do God’s work.

Nepal, 2016, Part Two

January 18, 2017

Our first work day started with breakfast at the hotel.

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Soup and flat bread for breakfast

It was a three-quarter mile taxi ride to the job site the first day. After the first day we walked to the job site. We passed many shops and witnessed a lot of traffic on the way.

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A typical taxi

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Other transportation was a common site.

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One of the many shops along the way to the work site

Once on the work site our task was to help the local people lay brick walls around the newly built foundation.

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We started with a water level around the building to be sure all the bricks would be level

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Bricks had to be hauled to the site in wheelbarrows.

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Mortar needed to be mixed by hand

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Starting the first row of bricks

Everyone pitched in carrying, stacking and laying bricks. By lunch time several rows were in place. The bricks were placed two bricks thick with alternating directions for overlapping joints.

The wall starts to grow

The wall starts to grow

We always had an audience of neighbors passing by or the children of the neighborhood trying to see what was going on. Everyone we met were very friendly and all seemed happy to see us. Throughout our stay in Nepal were met by friendly and happy people who have made this trip one of the most enjoyable experiences I have encountered.

Even though many of the people we met were Buddhist or Hindu we find they treated us as the bible tells us in Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Some new found friends came to visit

Some new-found friends came to visit

After the wall reached a height of about two feet tall a layer of cement with reinforcement bars was added to give the wall more strength.

Adding re-bar to the wall for strength

Adding re-bar to the wall for strength

The ladies of the group found a restaurant where we could eat lunch, in the neighborhood, for the first day on the job. After that they went shopping at a local market and brought food to the job site each day.  As we ate the first day it was evident that some things are the same world-wide. (see below)

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John tells us in 1 John 4:7  “Dear  friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”