The morning is bright and sunny, it feels refreshing to go out on the porch, bath in the sun and breath
the clean air. I can look down the valley – this area has transformed over the 10 ten years we have
been coming. All of the mud block houses have been torn down and monster houses with tall gaited
fences, even by MA standards, have taken their place. The facade on the house next to me is so clear,
oh, but that is because they are only 10 foot away from my nose – big houses and right next to each
other. I really don’t know who lives in them – the one we live in is owned by a Rwanda ex-minister. We
live two blocks from the main Harvard Christian Church, where we will celebrate Sunday service and
In the afternoon, we can hear the church choirs practicing – it can be very beautiful – but there is a
noticeable reduction in volume, from the choir and in-fact everything. This country has had a
crackdown on noise pollution. Saturday was always a time of extreme noise – people traveling down
the streets with blaring speakers – preaching, political and sport, you were bombarded with noise
seeking your attention – now it is relatively quiet.
Today Neal, Theo and I went out to help a small MA prosthetics company get their first orders in
Rwanda. We met with the Director of a small pharmacy. This director was a former Minister of Health.
What may be interesting to you is that during the introductions, it was clearly important that we were
Christians and how long we have been coming to Rwanda – all of this helps the Rwanda business
consider if these are people that we can and should work with. At the conclusion of the meeting, the
Director asked that Neal pray for our potential new partnership. Now that simply never happens at
In the first days, we need to buy the blank notebooks and pens that the pastors will use in the teaching.
This began 10 years ago with a 1.5 day trek around Kigali finding only the best prices and the correct
number of units needed for the 60+ pastors. Think of 100 different stores all selling the same products,
each negotiating. Mercifully, this time, we accidently did the whole job in one stop. Then there is the
money changing, I changed my modest $300. Neal changed $4,000. into Rwanda francs to pay for
mission pastor expenses. Doesn’t seem like much. Well, except that right now the conversion rate is
about 937 Rwanda Francs per 1 dollar. And the largest Rwanda bill is 5,000 Rwanda Francs. Even
$4,000 dollars equivalent looks like you have robbed a bank – literally a sack full of bills. $4,000 =
3,748,000 RF = 1,874 two RF notes. And the final shopping duty is to pick out the type of shirts that we
will give the pastor as parting gifts. Shall it be solid colors or stripes, what color – I leave this to Neal and
Theo – how do I know what they would like best? Decisions, decisions…
Joel Gray flew into Kigali airport at 2:30pm from India. Joel is a husky man, everything about him feels
warm, friendly, and a smile that tells you he could be a best friend in minutes. He was greeted by a
bouquet of flowers and warm hugs – Joel interned under Neal many years ago – before Joel left for the
missionary trail. The afternoon was spent by Neal catching up and I had the opportunity to get to know
Joel. He has quite a story – both inspiring and unnerving what he and his family have been through as
missionaries. But the heart of the conversation revolved around getting to know the Rwanda pastors,
what are their needs, fears, wants. Joel is going to teach leadership – but to do this properly, he needs a
context. His approach to the teaching of this set of pastors will evolve over the next few days as he
refines his understanding of our pastors.
As Neal bids goodnight, going upstairs to prepare his morning sermon, he says “remember John and
Joel, you will be giving greetings from your churches tomorrow”. Then he disappears from sight.