Sunday, January 31, 2010

First Sermon

I guess my sermon today went well. If you were to ask me I would say it was ok, but sure nothing write home about, or even blog about. Of course everyone was nice and said I did a good job. The kids all thought it was good, so maybe I am not the best judge of my own work.

The whole experience was very interesting - from the robes, to the processional, to the liturgy - and the music is very different from what I have experienced in the past and that is a good thing. I am learning a lot about the Anglican Church in Rwanda and it is an experience that I will remember the rest of my life. Since the scripture was set, I had to develop a sermon based on Psalm 116. While this might not have been a problem for seasoned preachers, it presented me with several challenges. These challenges included culture, language, and denominational differences. The denominational thing did not bother me and I think I handled that aspect well. The culture and language were different matters all together. While this was an "English" service, most of those attending were not fluent, so I am sure that my brand of Tennessee English left some wondering what I was saying!

There was one point during the service that gave me a bid of a jolt. I was prepared to speak about 15 minutes because that is about as long as I can speak at a single stretch, and because I thought that is about as long as anyone would want to hear me speak. The pastor walked over to me during the hymn before the sermon and told me I should speak for 25 minutes. I looked at him and ask if 15 would be ok and his response was that it should be longer. Well this was some what of a shock and the only thing I could think of at the moment was that my slow southern speech would have to get slower. I was able to stretch it out to a compromise of 20 minutes by going into a little more background on the scripture itself, but if I am asked back next time I will know better.

Overall it was a great experience and I will do it again if asked. If they do ask, and I am not sure they will, I hope that I get to pick the scripture. It sure would make coming up with a 25 minute sermon easier.

I have a lot to this week. Work on the chicken houses is progressing and I am finishing the design on the water well, piping, and storage at Sonrise School. I have also stated looking for somewhere to buy the materials we will need for the well. At this point I am not sure when my next blog update will be, but at the moment I am shooting for Wednesday.

I want to say a special thank you to everyone who is praying for me and my work in Rwanda.

Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Friday, January 29, 2010

This morning I am sitting in my “office” (see picture below) working on my sermon for Sunday. The scripture for the sermon is Psalm 116 with an emphasis on verse 12. The pastor told me that the theme for this Sunday is thanksgiving and that I need to be at the church at 7:15 (the service starts at 7:30) to get my robe (I hope they have one that will fit me) and march in the processional. Thanksgiving should be an easy subject to talk about, but I am concerned about cultural references that might not be understood. “Lost in translation” is a real concern and I want to do a good job since it is first “official” sermon. My “office” should help provide the needed inspiration.

The “kids” all went to Kigali yesterday afternoon, but promised that they would be back Saturday afternoon so they could go to church and hear me preach on Sunday. I don’t know if I have said it before, but they are a great bunch and it is fun playing surrogate father to them.

There are times when I wish I were a story teller, and this is one of those times. A rather humorous incident occurred this week and I am not sure I can do it justice in my blog, but here goes. It occurred on Tuesday morning as I was leaving to go to Hotel Gorillas for breakfast. I had just walked out of the drive onto the main road when two young boys said bonjour. Being the great language person I am, I answered them, but apparently not quite correctly because a little Italian nun who was walking by at the same time took it upon herself to try and help correct me. Since she did not speak English, and I didn’t speak anything else, it became quite a sight with her smiling at me, shaking her head while trying to give language lessons to the dense American. I found out later that she is the head of the convent that is next door to the Bridge2Rwanda house.

I had better get back to my sermon. I think my next update will be on Sunday after church. I will let you know if the robe fits.

This is where I worked on my sermon.

Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Yesterday did not start well.

First, the shower in my bathroom broke and when I went to purchase a new assembly, the person at the hardware store dropped the box, and I found that it was broken when I got it to the house. Returns are not something a non native wants to get into, so I took parts for the old unit and fixed the new one. Most plumbing fixtures here come from China and are very easily broken, so I had to be extra careful installing the new fixture. I got it in and it works for now.

Second, I was just told that the washing machine is broken, and now I will need to see if I can fix that as well. I think I will go to La Palm hotel and have lunch and send some e-mails. You just about have to go to one of the hotels to get internet service.
I am back from lunch. The La Palm has a great grilled ham sandwich. It comes with french fries and a salad all for $4.35, but don’t expect to get in and out in a hurry. It usually takes 1 to 2 hours for lunch or dinner depending on what you order.

It is 3:00 PM and I need to get back to work. I guess I had better start on the construction estimates and see if there is any way we can reduce the cost. Hopefully, I will be at Sonrise School tomorrow and can take some pictures to post to Facebook. I also need to start working on the water well layout.

I did get a call tonight from the pastor in charge of the Anglican Cathedral while Bishop John is out of town. He asked if I would preach this Sunday at the English service. I don’t know what to think. The first preaching gig I get and it is at an Anglican Church - in Africa! I am looking forward to this opportunity, but I am nervous as well. Please pray that things go well and that they can understand me!

I guess you could call this my office since it is where I normally work.

Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I attended the English worship service at the Anglican Church (Bishop John’s church) in Musanze yesterday. It was an experience that is some what hard to describe. The underlying pattern for the service was Anglican with many of the prayers a true Anglican would recognize, but in addition there were modern choruses with the words projected on the wall at the side of the alter. There were also some standard hymns again with the words projected on the wall. On top of this there was a slight charismatic feel with some hand raising and some clapping. The service started at 7:30 am (don’t get any ideas Pastor Richard) and was attended by about 50 to 60 people. The majority were Rwandan with our group of seven Americans being the only ex-pats there. Overall it was a great experience! I think that I have found my church for my stay here in Rwanda and will mainly attend the 7:30 service, but I do plan to attend the later services at least once even though they will be in French.

After church yesterday was the first time that I felt really lonely. I missed family and friends and going to church at home. While I do have the “kids,” the generational difference does present an emotional gap. The problem however, went away this morning after I had a chance to talk with Susan. (Skype is a wonderful thing!)

For those of you who are into Google Earth, let me give you some coordinates so that you can find some of the areas where I will be working.

1. The Bridge2Rwanda House in Kigali - S01d 57.251’ E30d 3.909’

2. The Bridge2Rwanda House in Musanze – S01d 30.203’ E29d 37.894’

3. Ikiraro Chicken Houses - S01d 29.491’ E29d 40.606’

I will list coordinates for other locations later.

Today is a meeting and planning day. Hopefully I can get started on the water well at Sonrise in a few days and have that system installed soon. Thank you to everyone who is praying for me! It helps more that you can imagine. I want to say a special thanks to Sue Stancil. I wish you could be here - I know you would get a big kick out of “the kids” and would love the people, scenery, and culture in Rwanda.

Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


We made it to Musanze on Thursday afternoon and I was able to unpack and feel a little like I will be here for a while. I have gotten most of my things arranged in my little apartment, but I need to find a table I can use as a desk and a small book shelf. Hopefully I can find those in Musanze in the next few days and settle in for the long haul.

We (the “kids” and I) went to breakfast today at Hotel Gorillas and then drove around Musanze to see the major landmarks - hospital, market, hotels, ect. I am not sure when work will start in earnest, but it will take a few days for me to get my bearings. The next few days will be spent learning my way around and meeting the Rwandans that I will be working with on my projects.

I am looking forward to attending Bishop John’s church on Sunday and will let everyone know the how this American Baptist faired in a Rwandan Angelican Church.

Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I just got back for City Market (the mall). I walked there to have coffee at Bourbon Coffee Shop (Starbucks – Bourbon was actually started by a former Starbucks executive) and to look around Nakumatt (think small Walmart) for some appliances to furnish the guest house in Musanze (Ruhengeri – if you are looking on Google map or Google Earth or if you are a native of Rwanda.) After getting to Kigali on Saturday night, we rested all day Sunday and tried to recover from the trip. Brussels Air managed to lose the luggage of two of my fellow travelers, but they should get their bags today, or at least that is what the airline is telling them.

So far we have been playing tourist and taking care of mundane things like bank accounts and cell phones. We have seen the Genocide Memorial (a must see if you are in Rwanda). It is extremely powerful and makes you wonder how something like this could happen. There are over 250,000 people buried in 14 different mass graves at the Memorial and more are being opened as they are still finding remains of genocide victims to this day. We also visited a sewing cooperative staffed by women with AIDS. They are making all kinds of things from dresses to laptop cases in traditional African fabrics. These items are sold to a distributor in Memphis (I will get the information on the distributor and post it later.)

I am definitely the “Old Man” in this group of early twenty somethings. Kat (Kat Watson from Little Rock even called me Daddy Bob last night since I had to lend her the money to open her bank account; she left most of her money at the Bridge2Rwanda house in Kigali. In many ways I felt right at home almost like giving money to Mary Beth or Shealy. I let the “kids”( see for who is here and their profiles ) have a day to themselves today and stayed home to catch up on some reading for school and to do a little planning for the work ahead. We will be leaving for Musanze Thursday morning, and I plan on writing my next post Saturday.

Isaiah 58:12 - Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Pictures of the Bridge2Rwanda house in Kigila