Medical ministry

We have discovered a new aspect of our ministry here.  It has come to us unexpectedly, through different circumstances.

We have ourselves made several trips to the doctor here – always a bit scary in a foreign country because of unknown standards, and unknown costs.  However, there seems to be quality care available here for a low cost.   (For example, you could go in  with an infection, see a doctor, and leave with a prescription for less than ten dollars.)

There is also some kind of health insurance that everyone here is supposed to have.  It seems, though, that there are some complicated rules regarding how to use it.  (Surprise, surprise.)

So we have been baffled when people with medical issues that obviously merit professional attention put off going to the hospital.  (Or simply refuse to go.)  As we tend to do when confused by something, we have persisted in asking questions:  Is it because you don’t think your condition is bad enough to see a doctor?  Is it because you think that going to the doctor means you don’t have faith to be healed?  Is it because you are afraid of doctors?  Is it because you don’t have the money to go?

Bingo.  Almost every time, people put off going to the doctor because of cost.

  • A young woman who we discover has been weeping instead of sleeping at night for several weeks because of the pain in her chest.
  • Our DTS translator who has collapsed on several occasions for unknown reasons (and it was happening more and more frequently).
  • A young woman who fell HARD onto cement, landing on her head and back.

So as we ask questions about why people aren’t going to the doctor, and recieve answers that it is merely because they can’t afford it, we have thought,   “We can meet this need. Surely we have 30 or 40 bucks that we can carve out of our monthly budget to help our friends get medical care?!”

Its not a “ministry” we planned to have, but we are privileged to do our bit.

Discipleship Training School

I (Amanda) love Discipleship Training School (DTS) because it is designed to be a greenhouse environment with many classroom hours learning biblical concepts BUT the focus is really on healing, character change, growth, serving, and helping others know God. Its hard to staff DTS’s because they require so much time and emotional energy. I have staffed 8 DTS’s in three different locations prior to this one.  (In terms of official hours, this doesn’t put me at the 10,000 practice hours required to be an expert at something, but I’m getting close.)

This is the first DTS with both a totally new team and new environment. It has required a lot of adapting, evaluation, flexibility, creativity, and work.

It has made me think a lot of the first DTS I staffed. At the end of that school it seemed like I was a total failure. Yet, I had done my best every day (ok, most days), and at the end there were very few things I could concretely identify as mistakes. I felt like I had done a very poor job, but I couldn’t even learn from it. What a waste.

With a few years of perspective, I could identify a few things that had contributed to this: a main one was that I wasn’t as good at asking questions of the right people – but also at this time there was a shortage of people to ask, so I often felt like I had to figure it out myself. My co-leader and I were both on a steep learning curve, and though we wanted to work together and be kind to each other, we didn’t always know how. (We did come away good friends, though). We agonized over sending a student home from outreach. (Again, looking back, it seems an obvious choice, but at the time the situation seemed complicated, impossible, and cruel.) I had been taught that evaluation is an important tool, so I agonized as I tried to identify how I had failed, but I without any success.

But staffing this school, I am recognizing that it wasn’t so much that I made big mistakes. However, my skills, character, and confidence needed to develop. I’ve gotten better at some practical skills like communicating and classroom management. But more importantly, I think, I treat people differently: more kindly, more patiently, more graciously, and more wisely.

I’m sure any of you who’ve ever spent much time with me don’t imagine that confidence has ever been a huge issue for me, but my confidence has changed and grown: Now I am confident that I will make mistakes (and thats OK). I am confident that no matter how hard I try, other people still might get hurt and will definitely make bad decisions. I am confident that God will work with me even when I make mistakes, and that it is more important to care for people than to be right. I’m confident enough to tell people when I don’t have answers.

I think I take the responsibility of leading more seriously than I ever have, yet it doesn’t weigh on me in the same way: I work hard to do what I know to do with the abilities I have, and the rest is out of my hands.

I ache when I think of some of the students and staff I was with those first few years: I would be so much better if I could work with them now: I would enjoy them so much more and be a MUCH better leader, teacher, and friend.

It makes me wonder how I will grow and change in the next 10 years (20? 30?). (I hope I continue to grow in kindness, graciousness, patience, etc.) In some ways I wish I could be that person now: but so much of how I have changed has been earned through experience: heartache, joy, failure, triumph, and of course, walking through life with others. I can’t have that instantly.

I wrote this before we got the information about our visas last week, and it has been an incredible difficult week, with obstacle after (ridiculous) obstacle, and we have been really close to packing it all in and coming home several times.  While  I wouldn’t wish for these challenges, it has been going through circumstances such as this one that have refined my character.

We’ll keep you posted when we know something.

@#%$*!!! – a small update

When we were planning to come here, we anticipated that many things would be difficult, but one of the things that should have been easy was getting visas.  However.  After 10 weeks of processing (should take 3 days), during which our base leaders had a meeting with one of the higher-ups at immigration (during which they were told that the visas would be put through, and misunderstandings were cleared up), and we recieved a personal visit from some of the people there (during which we were told we would have the work permit on the next business day), we finally got a call on Wednesday saying that our visas were ready.  We rejoiced, we celebrated!  Finally!

This has been a long month of not only trying to deal with our own visas, but trying to get our student visas, too.  One of our Rwandan students is having trouble getting a passport: her parents are dead/not in contact with her, so they cannot verify her identity by theirs.  And there is a discrepancy on her ID about her birthdate…  so they won’t give her a passport.  (One of many messes that continue to cause practical issues in a country torn apart by war.)  So this seemed like the first of several victories after a long struggle.

So it felt like I had been kicked in the head when I went to pick up our visas on Thursday and they looked like this:visa pictures-610477848

For those of you squinting to read the numbers in the box, the visas are valid until Feb. 15, 2013.  Meaning Friday.

So, after crying a lot, discussing, prayer, and encouragement from others, we decided not to just pack up and go home.  We are going to try again, we’re not sure how yet, but there are a couple of options that might work.  We’ll keep you updated when we know something.


This past weekend we took part in our first community development event called Umuganda (I could be spelling that incredibly wrong but it sounds like this – oo-moo-gan-da). Umuganda happens the last Saturday of every month and everyone that is able is expected to show up. The city of Kigali is broken up into areas and each area has a local leader (called an Umudugudu – say it out loud for fun – oo-moo-doo-goo-doo). Each area organizes a little differently. Rubirizi, our area, has a truck with a loud speaker that goes around and announces the details of the project a few days before it happens. The project begins around 8:30 am and continues until the particular project is accomplished (usually a couple hours). This is followed by a community meeting where the local leaders

challenge, encourage, and update the community on future projects, finances, security, and information from the government. This is also an opportunity for the local people to air any complaints, requests, or opinions about the community.

This particular Saturday, we took our fourteen students and four staff, grabbed some Koopakoopas (long blades used for slashing grass by hand) and headed for the bush. We live on what, a few years ago, was the edge of Kigali and so there’s still a lot of pasture land, farms, and even dairies in the area. We walked about three or four blocks and found ourselves in a densely brush-filled pasture with a path through the trees. The project was to clear out the brush, grass, and tree branches along the path so that tractors could get in and turn the path into a dirt road. When we arrived we found about 200 people gathered up and down the length of this kilometer of path, hacking away to clean it up.

Our crew got to work with much zeal! Maybe a little too much since most of the foreigners had never used the koopakoopas before and were swinging with wild


koopakoopa: for an idea of its size, the handle is long enough to hold with two hands

abandon! This made me a little nervous because a small area packed with lots of people and just as many sharp blades seemed to me to be a recipe for disaster.

The locals, it turned out,

were pros at using the blades and clearing the scrub and so after working to counsel our guys to work more on their accuracy and a little less on their golf swing I became far more relaxed.

After only and hour and a half, the project was completed, having made a big enough space for tractors to fit. Everyone was called back up the hill to a plateau under a huge tree to start the community meeting.  The leader addressed many issues, encouraged the people for the large turnout, and welcomed us (the YWAM group) to our first Umuganda. We left before the meeting was over and headed back to the base to get cleaned up. Over all, I enjoyed the fellowship I found there and the spirit of community ownership that the people worked with. I met many new people who I expect to see around the shops and look forward to continuing to participate in future Umugandas.