Tony left yesterday and Danielle departed today. So with us going tomorrow Peace Guest House is going to be very quiet for Jonathan, although at the moment they have a group of Americans working for a Christian NGO; World Relief.
So we all went down to JillBarhamSchool to look at the water harvesting system which had various issues which needed sorting out. Then we met with our friend; itinerant Rwandan singer and children’s evangelist Stella who we had lunch with and who sang for us and told us some more of her story. Then still waiting for the water man from the mayor’s office. Our dear friend Mustac the builder arrived he discharged himself from hospital so he could come and meet Rob he is in a very poor way having got renal and cardiac failure caused by his poorly controlled diabetes. Then more packing and final fairwells.
Spoke to pastors this morning about diabetes we had fun measuring their tummies to see who has at risk. For half of them the tape measure did not even meet in the middle.
So at lunch time they were all drinking water instead of Fanta and the bowels in the buffet were half empty. However I doubt if that will last.
Jan and Rob had a meeting with RwandaAid and the mayor to bring a proposal for water filters in Nkombo . So yet another iron has been set in the fire.
In the afternoon we met with the bishop and then waited for somebody who did not come.
Then a lovely supper sharing the buffet with the pastors.
Another fine day we went to see the Compassion project and then along a very muddy rough road to our Compassion child we sponsor with his ten brothers sisters, mother, father and rather splendid goat and welcoming us into her. All living in a tiny mud hut with a tin roof. They were overjoyed to see us and greeted us with great hugs.
Then back for soup and toasted sandwiches then off to the border to deliver some more filters to Eciaba our man in the Congo, actually head of the Pentecostal church in DR Congo. Then of to Gashiorba to inspect a water filter and water harvesting project which needed some repairs.
Finally up to the tea plantations near the forest to visit a group who are trying to build a new church they have a tiny little leaky hut they meet in at the moment.
Then dinner with the all the pastors who were having a meeting.
Finally back to our Rondavel to be greeted by white fluffy towels recently purchased by Jonathan in Kiglali.
I hope all your houses have withstood the storm. The Rwandans have all been praying for you.
Ian and Mary
Sunday; awoke to another beautiful Rwandan day, birds singing and flitting brightly from tree to tree.
Then to 8am English service at the cathedral we had some lovely choruses and I preached on the parable of the lost son, trying to ram home the message that God is a loving father calling the repentant sinner to himself, not a man with big stick.
Then to Cyato a lovely little church run by our dear friend Ephraim. Their old church had been partially destroyed in a storm, they had constructed a new larger church but not by any means complete with a mud floor and no glass in the windows. However the service was lively with all the African rhythms played out on a single large drum, and joyful singing and dancing. Again I was asked to preach, and preached the same sermon but simpler and more homely for a different congregation. Pastor Obadias said it improved the second time round. Then came testimonies of how God had helped them; one being carried into the prayer house close to death and being healed and another whose husband had been falsely imprisoned being released.
Then brioche roll and a bottle of water for lunch, and a long bumpy ride to drop Bertha off at a Christening, then back to Peace Guest House for milky African tea and a rest.
Ian and Mary
Hi Today is Mganga community work morning so we went with Guest house staff picking stones then to clinic to teach diabetes to nurses and finally to nutnutrition clinic with Faith and team. Following which lunch cooked by Speciose our house keeper from previous visits who was very glad to see us and afterwards showed us her house
Then a walk along the lake watching birds fishermen and wedding processions
God bless you Ian and Mary
Set out for Nkombo Island with Bertha and Danielle today. Another new road down to the landing stage and even a motorised boat to take us over. Not quite as picturesque as the rowing boat with the singing oarsmen. Then we walk through a new building project government buildings and guesthouses. Then climb up to the small school were the feeding starts.
This was a mother’s union funded project originally for 30 children but when we came today 170 turned up apparently sent by the government clinic as they could not cope with them. The children are fed big plastic mugs of a grey coloured sweet nutritious porridge. Many of the children were in rags with the thin sparse hair and pot bellys of malnurished children with scalps full of ringworm.
The saddest part was the pastor having to send away some of the poorest looking children once the porridge had run out
The island was a very poor and needy place someone had put water harvesting but in a pipe had been disconnected and no one seemed to be capable of simply mending it.
The land was sick with a particularly nasty pest some sort of bug which lives in the soil and eats the plant’s roots so the plant just collapses and dies. No one seems to have an answer. Then we are invited into the pastor’s house and given a meal of fish rice and bananas which seemed deadly ironic.
Then home to a quiet afternoon punctuated by a moment of excitement when the broadband was connected. Then in the evening Faith and the team came over for dinner Faith looks well and he team leader is a lovely Rwandan guy called Valentine who wants to be a missionary in England.
And so to bed.
Ian and Mary
We were delighted to see our lovely driver Modest arrive having driven down from Kamembe, that morning Charles waved us off with a prayer.
The road down is so very much better, so we had a good journey down.
We stopped at Nyanza for our yoghurt and delivered John and Chris’s filters to Francis at Kigeme he did not get to Canada because ov visa problems.
So I was able to examine him. We caught up with the lorry which we had been chasing down from Kigali because he had gone off without an essential letter to get the filters over the border to the Congolese pastors. Finally arrived at Peace guest house to a lovely welcome from Jonathan and his team.
God bless Ian and Mary
We met a couple who are working with TearFund in Goma DR Congo.They were very helpful to Rob in providing a contact with their logistics department so they could help getting the filters out of customs in Bukavu.Mary and I were both under the weather yesterday but still up and about, we are both much better this Tuesday morning, also Rob is looking very tired. Hopefully as we travel down to Cyangugu things will be less frenetic.We received a bit of a bombshell on Monday evening in that one of the partners Water for people or at least their American bosses are threatening to pull out of the project as they have heard some bad rumours about the filter. Rob thinks this is a totally different filter so do pray that this can be sorted out otherwise the study at one clinic may be stalled however the Solace clinic is still on board and ready to distribute the filters.We are especially praying for Richard Prilla and Di as Dan’s funeral is tomorrow.
From Ian & Mary:
Mary asked one of the Australian ladies from Adelaide if she knew our dear friend Woody who was running a biker’s church down there. She replied ” Oh no that’s not the sort of church I go to.” Probably a good job I doubt if he would fancy a load of beauty therapists mixing with his bikers!
We polished our shoes and got into our smart clothes for church, (Murial thinks Muzungus look shabby).
Then to Charles and Juliette’s church which is in Solace. We went at 10 and it was in full swing, real lively African worship. All the women came out to the front singing and dancing and Mary joined in, she fitted in well in her African skirt. Julliette preached a very good sermon and Charles translated for us. Then we had a very good chat at the end and Rob got all his tools from Charles. Charles’ daughter who had been ill was well again and they sang a praise song together at the front, which was lovely, one of their daughters is a talented singer.
Then a small lunch and back to finish labelling the remaining Aquafilters. A big celebration when we had finished.
This is the first day Rob has been able to eat a substantial amount since Wednesday, and had to be restrained from carrying the boxes of Aquafilters, which are quite heavy although Simeon came in with two!
So a happy dinner of soup, beef stew with potatoes rice and lots of vegetables, then fresh pineapple which is so jucy and tasty so much better than the cardboard copy we get in England.
So even earlier to log bath and bed.
Ian and Mary
Onwards and upwards….slowly!
This week has been even more of a challenge, especially for the “girls” as both Ian and Rob have been ill. Fortunately, Ian bounced back after one days’ sick leave and was able to help with the 2 days training at Busanza Clinic. He attributed his speedy recovery to Simeon (our restaurant manager) praying over him “with such fervour it would raise the dead”!
Rob proved more difficult to “raise”, needing 5 days to regain his appetite.
All but the community size filters destined for DRC were released from customs, exempted from tax, on Friday. Phew! The DRC filters have to be sent to the DRC customs depot in Bukavu and the Congolese friends they are for will have to negotiate their release. Prayer needed there! So on Saturday and today, we (Ian, Mary, Jan, Rob, Enock + 3 Rwandans) checked and numbered 950 family filters. We do not want to see another filter!
Today we met with our very good friends Charles and Juliet Semwaga who hold their Church service in a room at Solace Ministries.
Tomorrow we train the remaining 42 health workers based at Kabuga clinic and then on Tuesday we start our journey south to Peace Guest House, Cyangugu, where “many people are waiting to see us”!!
And there begins another chapter……
We rushed down to breakfast before a large gathering of Australian ladies had gobbled the lot as they had the day before. They were masseurs and beauty therapists who had come to pamper some of the women in the villages.
Probably a novel experience for both parties! They were soon being introduced to the Aquafilter with a quick demo on the terrace.
Then commenced the massive task of numbering the Aquafilters which involved moving boxes emptying the filters uniquely marking, cross checking and repacking each box of ten. Our little team ebbed and flowed with various people coming and going such as a lovely man from Rotary with two small daughters happily playing with two top of the range iPads. The difference in affluence between them and the people we were packing the filters for was very evident.. However these people are prepared to give up there time to help and such people with drive and flare will raise Rwanda out of it’s poverty. More than any foreign aid.
So after 9 very busy hours we had processed about 900 units. We retired to dinner and bed exhausted.
Mary and Ian
The filters are out of customs and sitting in a room at Solace all ready to be numbered tomorrow. Not quite plain sailing as the ones for DR Congo have to be transferred in transit to a bonded warehouse in Bukavu Congo until the Congolese pastors get tax exemption or pay the full import duty.
Rob is up but not well, still not eaten much yet, such are the joys of living in Africa. For the rest of us Jan was catching up with various administrative tasks.
Mary and I were asked to attend a World vision conference Rob simple not being well enough to go. We were faced with a room full of very impressive Africans in suits sitting behind there laptops including some very experienced water engineers and development specialists; however as soon as we produced the Aquafilters all decorum was lost as they crowded round enthusiastically asking questions. As usual there was a demand for Aquafiters we could just never meet.
About 12-30 we bumped our way back to the clinic in the little green minibus which Solace own over a very precarious bridge into the health clinic which looks set to collapse at any moment. As usual we arrived at the appropriate time only to find nobody was there, people slowly floated in over the next hour. We were training a different set of health workers who had been previously trained so more of a refresher. We were in a proper room today yesterday we had been in a sort of lean-to with sacks of cement at the back so we were frightened of getting water on them and if we got too near the front were being baked by the African sun, We finished in jovial mood and spent time photographing each other with a pet dog Stessi had bought for a niece’s birthday.
Back to the wonderful haven of Solace for supper and bed.
Wednesday 16th/Thursday 17th
Wednesday for me was spent in a feverish feverish fog with the dreaded tummy bug. Thanks for people who prayed much better today and out and about. Mary went with Rob sampling water sources which all looked pretty brown and disgusting today the three of us with Enoch Peter Muriel and Stessy were doing the aquafilter training with Rob still in bed with the bug he is a little better tonight but still in bed just taking fluids.
It was very interesting to hear the community health workers stories they are all volunteers trained to provide the first port of call for the sick and train them in preventative health. Most drank water from the swamp and many could not afford charcoal to boil the water so they had many cases of diarrhoea which was the commonest health problem. They were all very pleased and interested to learn about the aquafilter. They were soon proficient in its use. So dinner was very welcome followed by a little cloths washing and early to bed.
Love and blessings
Monday 14th/Tuesday 15th
Busy if frustrating two days. Spent yesterday in various meetings at Water for People and ministry of health trying to get accreditation for the study to start and for the filters to be released. Still not a lot further on more letters to be written and delivered to various ministries. So lots of prayer needed.
Happy last supper with Jonathan before he left with Jimmi and Enid and a car completely stuffed with purchases for the guest house and four brand new tyres. Unfortunately we heard that the two back tyres had blown up a few miles down the road, because they had been fitted with faulty inner tubes, yet another example of the many frustrations you have to overcome when living in Africa.
Charles did not turn up for dinner last night because his daughter was ill in hospital, but we hope to meet him later in the week.
Lots of love from us all.
Monday October 14th
We all arrived safely, including our luggage, and are keeping well. We are being very comfortably accommodated in Kigali at Solace Ministries.
Things are the usual roller coaster here! We thought we had all the training (over 3 days) organised this week for the health workers, only to be told late on Sat that the Ministry of Health has called over half of them to their own, week long, training. Of course that trumps us! So we have decided to continue with those that can make it this week (Thurs & Fri) and compress things into one day next week (Mon) , for the rest. This will delay our departure for Cyangugu by a day, pity!
All this is more than compensated for by having Enock Luyonza and Jonathan Lamb with us. Enock’s creative writing skills were spotted by the director of a journal and he has commissioned Enock to write 3 articles on development issues in E Africa. So he’s coming with us to shadow Rob as he thinks either the Aquafilter studies or rain water projects in Cyangugu Diocese might fit the bill. So we have the paparazzi on board and now have to watch our Ps and Qs!
This afternoon we (11 people in all) had a meeting at the Ministry of Health …… we went around in several confusing circles, finally rescued by the clear thinking of the chairman of the Gasabo Rotary Club, a local partner responsible for administering the grant. We need yet another letter to be written!
Now you get the flavour of things here! With our thanks for your encouragement and prayerful support. Your are part of our team!
With love from Rob & Jan, Ian & Mary, Enock & Jonathan.
Sunday October 13th
Awoke to a much sunnier day. Lovely to have a quieter day with not so much of meetings and things going on.
Jonathan was keen to take us to the English language service at the Anglican cathedral. As Jonathan had come down with Jimmi the driver in the mothers union car we were driven in style to the cathedral which is perched on top of a high hill with wonderful views.
The service although African was more subdued than we were used to and the sermon was given by a visiting lady professor of New Testament Theology, which was actually very good. We had coffee at another local vantage point with again wonderful views of hills extending into the misty and mysterious distance. We caught the tail end of the service at Solace, which was very different very emotional and lively , as the service ended all the widows crowded around to embrace and greet us we felt drawn into a huge loving family which grieved and rejoiced together. They all seemed to remember us and genuinely were extremely happy to see us.
After this we met Enid from the guest house who had come down with Jonathan to do shopping next week for new equipment for the guest house. She very proudly presented her new young man to us.
After a banana and tea lunch we were video interviewed by Enock for his youth groups.
Because many of the people he is working with he wants to get videos of older people giving the experience of their years and key advice for a group to discuss. Mary and I spoke about our experiences of married life. After Enock left Teddy came for supper. After a tea we soon all when back to our rooms to bed.
Ian and Mary
Saturday October 12th
Full and eventful day. Breakfast on the terrace Then training the trainers for our sessions next week. Mary Peter and I were dispatched on a bus to buy 10 buckets for the Aquafilters. Peter explained these buses in Rwandan are called squeezy buses because you can always squeeze one more on to a seat as no one is allowed to stand. Alighting from these buses is not easy. We were amazed to see one lady get off walk around the bus and have her tiny baby posted two her through an open window. We also had to go and have our sims unlocked at MTN as now these all have to be registered to a passport so they are all can be traceable. Came back to find Rob and Jan had had a successful meeting all the details of the other clinic’s community health workers program when we had the rather shattering news that the government had suddenly decided one clinic’s health workers had been called away for a weeks training so our whole schedule has had to be revised to do the final training on Monday week, so one less day in Kamembe.
Enock arrived this afternoon as well he is looking very well. His speech and swallowing is now very much better after the operation and he has got a job as a reporter on a specialist journal and is here to do a story on us as well as meeting all his friends. We all had breakfast together and Jan had the brilliant idea of having a Saturday night film however my projector would not speak to Jonathan’s Mac. So we had a pleasant evening of tales and laughter, and a real chocolate bar Jan had brought from the UK.
Going to sleep with the sound of drums and dancing outside, all very African.
Friday October 11th
Just to say we have arrived in Kigali. We spent yesterday just acclimatising and recovering from the flights. We were greeted with a wonderful lunch at Peace guest house and met up with our old friend Peter Nsabimana who is acting as our translator and general minder. Today we awoke to the sounds of urban Kigali the morning chorus of African birdsong blended with cocks crowing dogs barking and the sounds of thousands of voices as the city awakes. After a fruity and filling breakfast we were dispatched in the Solace transport to one of the health clinics where the Aquafilter study is being conducted. We had a good meeting and the training has been organised for Thursday and Friday next week. The head of clinis is very heavily pregnant with a very imminent arrival expected so no leave before delivery hear!
We then went with the vice president of the local rotary club (who are the local sponsors of rotary international who are sponsoring and funding the project ) to the Rotary weekly fellowship meeting where Rob gave a presentation and we were entertained with a very nice buffet lunch.
When we got back to Solace Jonathan Lamb (dear friend from Southover church who is living down in Kamembe for two years seconded to Bishop Nathan) arrived he was looking very well if a little hairy, he doesn’t trust the Kammembe barbers, and has gone off to have a haircut at a hairdressers in a local hotel. Tonight we are going out for a meal at a pizza restaurant. We have more meetings tomorrow, please pray especially that the filters get speedy clearance through customs, and for a meeting with our contact at the ministry on Monday where we have to obtain a crusial letter of accreditation for the project to go ahead.
We are all well if still a little weary.
Mary Rob Jan and Jonathan all send there love