Thanksgivings and Praises

It’s been months since we posted a blog. But, I just want to take the time to share a number of thanks and praises over the next few days, and to invite you to give thanks to the Lord with us.

First, a little over a week ago we welcomed a new nephew into the family, Emmaus Andrew Hanlon. We give thanks to God and rejoice with Dan’s brother, Tim, and his wife, Joanna, for this wonderful gift!! Tim and Joanna shared this message to give a little insight into how they chose Emmaus’ name:

Emmaus~ “When he [Jesus] was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him”
Luke 24:30-31

Andrew~ “One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus.”
John 1:40-42

We give thanks to God for the healthy birth of Emmaus Andrew Hanlon!

We give thanks to God for the healthy birth of Emmaus Andrew Hanlon!

to be continued…

Did you like this? Share it:

Stateside Adventures

These last few weeks have been rich with re-connection, renewal and reflection, and of course some kid sized adventures too. As ministry continues in Rwanda, we have been enjoying some rest and play in the US. We began our stateside adventures in Maryland to visit with Daniel’s family and to reconnect with the community of believers at Church of the Resurrection on Capitol Hill – a church that we have enjoyed relationship with over the last few years. From Maryland we flew to Dallas for time with Kari’s side of the family, and we are currently on the final stretch of our trip in the Chicago-land area. In each of these places, we explored parks, zoos and discovered the joys of carousels and kid sized trains, which are all ten times more fun when enjoyed with grandparents or other special people. We have overcome fears of big park slides and swimming pools, and have come face to face with a pair of lionesses (of course with a thick piece of glass serving as our shield). We found complete delight in boarding our first child-sized train and then later graduated to a huge train with a real-live conductor (the Metra in Chicago). We’ve delighted in seeing the beauty of God’s creation in unique animals like the Mandrill at the Dallas zoo, common squirrels scurrying about looking for acorns, dogs in almost every home we visit and we even enjoyed an up close encounter with the very familiar Mountain Gorilla at the National Zoo (which has its natural habitat in Rwanda!). There are many highlights and special moments we have shared with people along this trip. A few of these are included in the pictures below. However, a significant part of this trip was an opportunity to debrief our first 5 years in Rwanda and seek the Lord for his leading.
A few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to enter into an intentional series of debriefing sessions. As we reflected on our time in Rwanda so far we were mutually struck with the goodness of the Lord through all the joys and challenges of cross-cultural ministry, the strong relationships he has built in our life together, the many lessons learned (sometimes the hard way), the Lord’s faithful provision in each season, our shared desire to invest deeply in other’s lives, and our desire to continue to grow as a family seeking to serve the Lord. Our debriefing counselors were so gracious as they listened intently and spoke into our lives as they felt led by the Spirit. We are still processing this time of debriefing, but are so thankful that it was possible.

Finally, there were so many exciting moments on this trip as we experienced things through the eyes of Josiah (3yrs) and Norah (almost 2yrs). We tried to include a variety of pictures to capture some of these moments.

Did you like this? Share it:

Eventful Travel

Our travel to the U.S. was one of our most eventful journeys so far. We were originally scheduled to fly through Turkey on Turkish Air – stopping over to visit Daniel’s youngest brother and his family for almost a week. Due to the recent events in Turkey, much prayer, and some loving advice, we decided a week before our departure to cancel our tickets and find another way to travel.

Ultimately we found tickets that left last Saturday night at 8:20pm. We arrived at the airport around 6:30pm and after a long delay, we finally boarded the plane just before 11pm. Norah and Josiah were so excited to fly that there was no chance they were going to sleep until the plane was in the air. Sadly, we sat on the plane until almost 1am. I’m sure you can imagine two tired, hungry and hot little people at 1am surrounded by over 100 similarly tired, hungry and hot adults. I think everyone wanted to throw a tantrum, yet Norah cried for all of us.  Ultimately our flight was canceled and we were put up in a hotel in our home city – a true stay-cation. Despite the lack of sleep, we had a lovely 24 hours as a family enjoying Kigali as though we were somewhere new.  We assume Josiah and Norah thought we had traveled since we were on and off the airplane. We flew out the next night and arrived in Washington D.C. on Monday evening. We thank God for his provision throughout the travel – financially, safety, and even a little sleep.

The next two months we will be seeking rest, time with family and friends and also to debrief our first five years in Rwanda. It has been two years since the last time we were Stateside as a family, so we are looking forward to reconnecting with many of you.

So excited to fly!!! This became Josiah and Norah's first all-nighter. Heads hit the pillow at almost 4am - oh my!!

So excited to fly!!! This became Josiah and Norah’s first all-nighter. Heads hit the pillow at almost 4am – oh my!!

Attempt #2... exhausted and hoping for sleep on the plane.

Attempt #2… exhausted and hoping for sleep on the plane.

So tired and ready to board.

So tired and ready to board.

Finally boarding the plane!! We actually flew out this time!

Finally boarding the plane!! We actually flew out this time!

Enjoying playing with cousins already!

On the ground in the U.S.. We are already enjoying playing with our cousins in Maryland!

Did you like this? Share it:

Auntie Sheila

It’s not always easy to make friends cross-culturally. Honestly, I can at times feel like a fish out of water, yet the friends I have made I hold dear.  A few weeks ago, a dear friend and sister in Christ got married and soon after moved with her husband to Nigeria. As we anticipated Sheila’s wedding, I had time to reflect on the last five years that I’ve known Sheila – all that I’ve learned from her, all the moments we’ve spent serving together in ministry and her friendship.
My kids love Sheila, “Auntie Sheila” in our house. Very regularly, Josiah begs to stay up late to see Sheila and the other ladies who come for Monday night Bible study. Of course he does! Sheila has a heart that exudes love, compassion, humility and joy. She holds him, plays with him and is even comfortable scolding him gently when scolding is necessary. Sheila is, somehow, family to Josiah and Norah.

Auntie Sheila playing with Josiah in his tent

Auntie Sheila playing with Josiah in his tent

I remember our first year in Rwanda, meeting Sheila in cell group and getting to know her in a larger group setting. She was obviously gifted at organization and communication and was trusted with much responsibility in the group. One evening, I was driving her to visit a friend at a local hospital and I remember sharing testimonies of how we came to know and follow Jesus. I quickly found a kindred spirit in her in our similar testimonies of how from a dark place in our teenage years, Jesus called us to receive His love and work on the cross, and follow him.  We also shared a desire to see young single ladies in our local Rwandan church fall in love with Jesus. Sheila was also especially accepting of me, an awkward American “missionary,” and she has at times shed light on the culture of Rwanda and the church  that I wouldn’t have otherwise understood.
Early in knowing Sheila, she shared her desire to reach out the the young ladies in our church. Over three years ago, on Sheila’s initiative, we started a Bible study together to reach young women in the church. On occasion we organized other events to try to connect the older generation of women with younger ladies. The Lord truly gave her a vision for this ministry within the church, and I had the joy of trying to support her and help her see some of her ideas to fruition. I’ll miss her visionary heart and relentless faith already!
Most recently we had an overnight to connect with some young ladies from the church, have fun, fellowship and grow together. Sheila named the event, “Beautifully Messy.” We made a few messes to illustrate the point, but mostly this was one of Sheila’s last opportunities to share her heart with the girls. She shared that our God is masterful at taking our hurts and messes and turning them into something beautiful for Him – something that will bring Him glory. And as he does that redeeming and renewing work, he then calls us to reach out to those around us with the message of Christ’s love. Within her message, she also shared a lot of her own testimony of God redeeming her and calling her to trust Him and live for Him through much struggle, uncertainty and pain. I was so honored to host this girl’s overnight and to hear Sheila share from her heart.

Beautifully messy_Pic

Beautifully messy girls!

13198613_10208128917372417_7112991760721244282_o
Please pray for the young girls in our church. As Sheila leaves, pray that the Lord will raise up more young women to lead this generation to the cross of Christ. Also, please pray for Sheila as she begins this new season of life in becoming a wife and moving far from home.

Sheila, I love you and miss you already. You are absolutely beautiful in Christ!!

Did you like this? Share it:

Banana Oat Bran Muffins

I’m sure you’ve tried the tiny bananas at Whole Foods or some other grocer. The ones that are about a quarter the size of a typical Chiquita Banana and usually much sweeter. They are a common fruit especially in South America, South East Asia and Africa. I remember when I was a kid, whenever saw those tiny bananas at the grocer, I so badly wanted my mom to buy them so I could bring them in my lunch. They are the perfect size for packed lunches. “Baby bananas” as I would call them as a kid – what a seriously amazing creation!

Another few days and these bananas will be our next loaf of banana bread!

Another few days and these bananas will be our next loaf of banana bread!

Here in Rwanda, these small bananas grow in abundance. We have a few trees in our yard with imineke (in kinyarwanda) and we recently cut down a bunch as well. The kids and I love a banana or two for a snack, but often the bunch starts to turn before we’ve made it through. When that happens, I will often try to find a recipe to make use of them. Recently, I chose to make muffins that could include the last few bananas from a bunch we cut down in the yard. This was another one of the recipes I had made as we prepared for Jay and Ethan’s arrival, though I’m not sure if the kids left any to share.  I used this King Arthur Flour “Banana Muffins” recipe as the base recipe and made only a few slight changes – specifically adding a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 C of chopped walnuts. Sorry for the blurry pics 🙁

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

Josiah and Norah loved these muffins!

Josiah and Norah loved these muffins!

Did you like this? Share it: