Sunday, June 4, 2017

What an Amazing Weekend

This Saturday, I spent my day with Independent Film Maker, Director and Screenwriter, Sister Tina Batten and her team. I was given the opportunity to preview her new film “Second Chance”. Sister Batten’s films are all Christian based with an inspirational concept of overcoming the many obstacles of life through Christ.  Take a sneak peek at the trailer of her new film below.
Trailer for Second Chance  by Tina Batten

 Me and the Batten team
 Me with Tina Batten
 Bring Sister Batten's films or plays to your area

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Mission Trip to Rwanda

My Mission Trip to Rwanda
March 2017
My friend Lisa is part of a team ( Leverage Leadership) that goes to Africa every year teaching leadership skills to pastors and their wives. Lisa asked me to join her on their mission trip to Rwanda in May 2017.  She asked if I could share my personal testimony on marriage.  I wasn’t sure if it was something I could do, I only had five weeks to raise enough funds to pay for my airplane ticket, hotel stay and the immunizations required for that country.  There was a lot of money to be raised in such a short period of time, but if God is calling me to share my testimony in Africa, He will provide!

I started a Gofundme account and posted it on Facebook.  The money slowly trickled in from close friends and family.  I was so grateful to see the support from people that I hadn’t seen or spoke to in years.  I was especially grateful for those family and friends who didn’t have much but gave anyway. My prayer is that God triples their contribution.   

Over the course of five weeks, God had provided for me to go to Rwanda with the help of family, friends and my church (The View Church). They all made the sacrifice of donating so that I can go and share my testimony to the people of Rwanda. What blessing.

May 1, 2017
On our way! 
Lisa, Melana and I took a flight out of LAX on May 1, 2017, to Seattle with a connecting flight that would take us to Amsterdam only to catch another flight from Amsterdam to Kigali Rwanda. Unfortunately, our flight from LAX to Seattle was late, which caused us to miss out our flight to Amsterdam. Needless to say, Delta provided us with a hotel and food vouchers so that we could catch our flight the following day.

I was very happy with how things worked out because I had never been to Seattle before, so this was a pleasant surprise. While at the airport, this violinist was performing in the food court. I was amazed at his talent. Please take the time to listen.

May 2, 2017
On our way to Amsterdam
We traveled 8hrs from Seattle to Amsterdam and now we are In route from Amsterdam to Kigali Rwanda. Another nine hours!

May 3, 2017
We made it to Kigali, we arrived in around 10 pm, it’s dark, we’re tired. Pastor Dale and our driver were standing outside with a huge smile to greet us.

May 4th
My first morning in Kigali

We were staying in Bed and Breakfast with about ten rooms. We all had our own rooms with our own bathrooms and a bed with a mosquito net.  We had an early pick up to join Pastor Dale train upper "district pastors" of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. There will be around 45 leaders who serve as pastors but also as "Arch-Deacons" (pastors to pastors) who oversee the nearly 500 "parish pastors" in Rwanda. Each "parish pastor" is responsible for oversight of several "lay pastors" who lead smaller congregations, especially in the rural areas of the country.
I had the privilege of speaking to the pastors about my marriage to my husband who is now a quadriplegic. I gave a testimony of how God gave me and my husband the strength to preserver by taking our eyes off of our problems and placing our eyes on God and His mighty purpose in our lives. The title of my testimony is: "Marital joy in the midst of challenges".

May 5th 
Day 2 in Rwanda

Another early start day. Our driver was scheduled to pick us up at 8 am, so I made it downstairs for breakfast at 7 am with the hope of getting on the internet to update my friends and family on Facebook and to call my husband on Messenger. This was a frustrating task because the internet was not consistent. I tried logging on for about a half hour without success. Finally, I decided to order my omelet. I discovered it didn’t matter if I ordered an omelet or just eggs, either way, I would end up with a very thin saucer-like fried egg with onion and tomatoes. It was very tasty and the hotel always had a buffet of coffee, tea, fruit, and toast. Breakfast was always enjoyable.

The driver showed up right on time and took all five of us to the World Relief Headquarters. The plan was to have prayer with the World Relief team and then attend a class to learn about their philosophies before we go into the field. This training from World Relief was empowering and life changing for me.Their Mission Statement is to " Empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable."

World Relief believes that the church is God's chosen and ordained instrument to bring mankind back to Him to protect and help the vulnerable. However, in many cases, the Church does not fully realize its calling, or its potential to serve the vulnerable. World Relief's goal is to help the church have a clear understanding of their calling- the integral Mission of the Church, so that they can participate more fully in their role as God's ordained means to bring transformation and restoration to all of creation, to fulfill His purpose on earth and also in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 3:10-11).

Prayer and song with the staff of World Relief

The Leverage Leadership team with the World Relief Team

May 6th
Day 3 

It takes a Village

World Relief took the team on a field trip to a village in the Bugesera District. They wanted to show us firsthand how God was changing lives through the empowerment of the church. World Relief calls it the Church Network Community (CNC). This network consists of Inter-denominational Pastors that come together to meet the basic needs of their community, one of which is teaching the community how to purify their own water. This helps to cut down on disease and allows for a more sanitary environment. The other project is the Savings for Life Program. This program allows a community living in poverty to become self-sustaining by becoming their own Savings and Loans Bank.

Bugesera Pastors that are in partnership with World Relief are being rewarded for the successfully completing CNC program

After meeting with the pastors of the Bugesera District of Rwanda, we went into the village and personally met two married couples that had been participating in the CNC. One couple spoke of how a pastor came to their home and asked if he could pray for them. The couple wanted the pastor to pray for the husband's alcoholism and domestic violence. This couple spoke about how the pastor not only prayed with them but invited them to his church. Once they became members of the church, the husband worked through his alcoholism and domestic violence issues through the church programs. They then join the community savings program.

Since then, this couple has grown spiritually together and are active participants in the church.  After joining the savings program, they managed to save enough money to build their own home, a garden with fresh fruit and vegetables. The husband was very excited to tell us that they now have their own toilet and clean water. Their lives were completely changed by the efforts of World Relief and the local church.  

The second couple tells us a very similar story of how God changed their life through the efforts of the church. This is a true testimony of how the church can impact a community of people by teaching them to care for themselves in a self-sufficient sustainable way. I am inspired to encourage the local churches in America to do the same. 
This wife is giving a testimony about how her church changed her life.

A garden of fresh fruits and vegetables grown and maintained by the community

Water purification system built and maintained by each household

These beautiful people blessed us with a Christian song about how wonderful Jesus is

May 7th
Day 4

It's Sunday morning and we’re being picked up by Pastor Francis who also serves as the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Pastor Frances drove Lisa, Malana and myself to his Sunday morning service. Our team leader Pastor Dale and his wife Becky will be speaking at another Church. I’m extremely excited about this service because my friend Lisa will be speaking on: "Knowing your True Identity." This is a powerful message that I have had the privilege of hearing before. I can’t wait to see how God will move in her message today!

Malana, Pastors Francis daughter, Lisa, Paster Francis and myself after church service

May 8th

Day 5

Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
  The day started at 7 am with breakfast and a scheduled ride to pick us up by 8 am. This was the first day of our Family in Ministry Conference.  The conference was held at the YWAM headquarters in Kigali. Doors opened at 8:30 and ended at 4:30. The conference resumed at 6 pm for couples in the community. Lisa was scheduled to speak at 9 am on:" Who are you? Finding your identity in Jesus."  with Dale speaking at 11am on: "Communicating Love and Respect." Becky and I are both scheduled to speak after lunch.
 Me speaking about Love, Respect and Marriage.

  With the YWAM Rwanda founders Method and Mary Kamanzi

 Me and Emily, a native Rwandan who works for World Relief,

 Breakout sessions during the Marriage and family conference
May 9th
Day 6th

We were picked up by a married couple who works for YWAM. They are taking us to the shopping district so that we can purchase items for our love ones in California. We only had several hours to shop before we meet up with Dale and Becky at the last conference of the trip. This conference was a leadership conference that was specifically for the Pastors and leaders in Rwanda. Pastor Dale would be the only one presenting, but it’s important that we go to support Dale and to get to know the Pastors participating in this conference.

Native dress making shop 
 Leadership Conference

Time for Dinner

May 10th
Day 7th

 Today we are visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial. I'm not looking forward to seeing the atrocities that took place from April to July in 1994 by the members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda. They murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority. My friend Lisa and I cried as we read each story about family's who lost children and children who lost their parents in the genocide.

 Rwanda is such a beautiful place, filled with tropical greens and rolling hills. The people are so humble, soft spoken and loving. I would have never believed that most of these people are survivors or related to survivors of this genocide. I can honestly say, that God has healed this land and it's people from one of the worst atrocities in history.
 Image result for rwanda genocide museum

After visiting the memorial, the mood was somber on the drive back to our hotel until we saw this...

Yes, it is a biker holding a dozen chickens!

May 11th
Day 8
My trip to Rwanda has come to an end. We will spend the day having lunch at Hotel Des Mille Collines. Later that evening we fly out of the Kigali airport heading home.

 Goodbye Kigali Rwanda, I will never forget your beauty, humbleness, and hospitality. I came to share the love of Christ in my life and in my marriage, I left with a new understanding of forgiveness, perseverance, and what community really looks likes. You have changed me and increased my faith in humanity by forgiving your oppressors and rising above the hate that killed thousands of your love ones by showing what the love of Christ really looks like.