Training grand finale

What a wonderful day we had yesterday! Each of the 3 groups entered wholeheartedly into the task of writing a Bible story and acting it out. They had all read the scripture passage overnight, ready for this. All but one that is. On the first day, we noticed that one of them did not own a Bible. You can’t imagine her joy and delight when she was presented with one, given to her by the Cathedral. She held it up high with delight, and every spare moment she had, she spent reading it!

The groups prepared and presented the 3 stories – Samuel’s call, Moses in the bulrushes and Solomon’s wisdom two wome’s dispute over a baby. A huge amount of imagination, enterprise and energy went into them, plus a lot of personal interpretation! But the stories came across powerfully well. We loved them!

Very exceptionally, all 20 participants came on both days. It is common for people to come one day and not the next, or leave early during the day. These were totally committed.

The day ended with prayer and the lively, but very moving song, beautifully harmonised. Each person was presented with a ‘starter pack’ in a shopping bag, containing materials they could use to make their garments.

It’s all about empowerment. Life in Abundance monitor all their projects, and they will follow up how these wonderful young people will use what they have learned.

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Mud slinging, school and clinic

This is yesterday’s ‘blog’ which I missed.

Yesterday morning we made a second visit to the house building project. Things had moved on – the outer walls were nearly complete, so some of us helped finish that work, whilst others enjoyed throwing large balls of mud onto the wall framework. Dirty work but very therapeutic!

Lots more children arrived, as we expected, and our team entertained them with face painting, threading beads to make necklaces, and many other activities.

In the afternoon, we visited St Matthew’s School. We sang a couple of songs to them which they joined in singing, having learned them very quickly. Their singing to us showed us up!

We followed this by a visit to the Health Clinic nearby, and noticed a vast improvement since our last visit two years ago. Both the school and the Clinic are run by the Diocese.

We’re going back!

It was a great joy to welcome back Jonathan Lamb to Blakeney last weekend in preparation for our fourth trip with him to Rwanda in January 2019. He is now the UK director of Life in Abundance International and we are delighted to be going out under their auspices. You can find out more about them on their website.

As we always do, we are planning to take water filters out with us – 10 boxes this time! We are pleased to have raised just over half of the £3000 needed and we are continuing our fundraising efforts.

Watch this space for further updates.

House building completed with water harvesting system

When we left Denyse’s house on January 27th, there was still work to be done! We were able to leave enough money behind for a water harvesting system to be installed. This was done by our friends from Southover Church, Lewes led by Rob Hoy who has installed many of these. Here are some pictures of the work being done.

By now, Denyse will have been given one of the family filters we took over. So, she can collect rain water, store it safely, filter it and use it straightaway for cooking or drinking, without having to boil it. We are sure that many of her neighbours will benefit from this facility!

Thank you again to everyone whose generosity has made all this possible.

Hand over of the house

This blog is two days late and is being written from Blakeney! We’re safely back after an excellent journey. Thursday, our last ‘working day’ in Kamembe was so busy , I just didn’t have the time to write anything. Friday we were travelling up to Kihgali to catch an overnight flight to Amsterdam and onto Norwich.  And here we are!

On Thursday, as we approached Denise’s house, it started to rain. The red soil got muddy and then it poured  –  really poured. Our shoes got clogged with mud and our clothes got splattered with red splashes. We couldn’t perfotm the ceremony outside and so 50 people crammed themselves into the brand new house. The mud walls were very damp – it will take some time to dry out. The noise of the rain on the tin roof was deafening. But it eventually abated and we had various speeches – the Rwandans love their speeches! They began with a short homily from the local pastor followed by other contributions from representatives of the Mothers Union including the Bishop’s wife who is their President,  Avega, the Genocide Widows organisation, and myself.

We then went outside for the formal handing over of the keys from Zachary the foreman – fortunately, the rain had stopped by now! It is a simple but very moving little ceremony. Then the formal opening of the front door to present Denise with the keys to her own house (see photo). Denise then made her speech. In a very dignified way, she told us her story and said how much this house meant to her and her family. All 5 of them were there and the eldest made a speech in English which he had learned off by heart, to thank us. He presented us with a gift – see photo.

But we hadn’t finished. We had 60 pairs of shoes to present to the local children! This took some time to manage. Some put them on straightaway, but others clearly didn’t want to dirty them with the muddy soil! Here’s a photo of a little one just pondering over his gift!

That’s just the morning! In the afternoon, after a quick turn-around lunch, we went to St Matthews School and ‘performed’ our Easter Story drama. About 300 children were there. We repeated it with children taking our parts – they loved it! See photos.

In evening we had our farewell dinner, with Bishop Nathan and his wife Esther as our principal guests (but there were others, too). More speeches, of course! The bishop made an excellent speech putting into context the significance of our visit to them. Our physical presence there clearly means as much to them as the gifts and the other contributions we had made. He used the phrase ‘Sacramental Presence’ to sum itup. We think this ‘says it all’.

He also told us that the Diocese had 22 new catechists (trainee pastors) and, (looking at me) that they would need training……’you must come back next year, and the year after that….’

This has been a most memorable visit. Thank you all for your support, interest and prayers. We return humbled and uplifted.

Home visits

This blog is about Wednesday.

This morning, whilst Jill, Edward and I completed the Pastores training, the rest of the group visited 4 homes. The first one was the home of Taciana which we built for her 2 years ago. It was lovely to see her again well established in the local community. Here is a photo imageof Debbie approaching her front door. Unfortunately, her cow has been stolen which is a big setback for her. But she has bought a piglet in place of it. The amazing thing about her is that a church group was started in her house by a trainee pastor who lives in that area. This  began in a small way but now there is a church congregation of 35 people and they hire a room in the village to hold their meetings. But it is too small. The Diocese is hoping to build a church there! What a story!

The group visited three other homes and were warmly welcomed. These are poor people and their houses are small and dark – it was a job to get us all in. But we found their joyful commitment to their faith deeply moving. The women we met were usually very modest and quietly spoken, but when they began to pray they did so with a strong voice and with an obvious confidence  in their Lord. A very humbling experience.

In the afternoon some went into town to buy tools for the workmen plus 60 pairs of shoes and stationery for the needy children living around Denise’s house. We have come to know them and feel part of this community.  It will be lovely to give these out when the house is formally handed over.