I’d like to share one more thanksgiving, though this blog topic could continue with endless thanksgivings and praises. In mid-October, I returned to work full-time at KICS (Kigali International Community School). Josiah and Norah transitioned to being in a morning Montessori preschool very well, and in time we all transitioned to the new schedule.
Josiah is in the red shirt… 🙂
That is a thanksgiving in itself, but I want to share more. I guess you could say that I had joyously agreed to step back in at KICS as a pinch-hitter – filling in where there were gaps. This semester I worked to “investigate” the current primary curriculum. Basically, I spent my time asking teachers and administrators questions – lots of questions, observing classes, digging around in old documents, inventorying resources, researching what’s out there in the realm of standards, curriculum and resourcing and working with the Primary principal to state concerns and suggest “next steps”. It was challenging, invigorating and I hope helpful for the school in the long run. Pinch-hitting again next semester, I’ll be jumping into another role – to teach 4th grade while the teacher is on maternity leave. I’m looking forward to the time in the classroom again and working more directly with kids.
All that said, in the way of thanksgivings, I thank our loving God and father that I have this opportunity to be back at KICS. I thank God for this school, for the privilege to serve alongside others with a similar desire to know Christ and to make Him known within this community and ultimately the world. As I “investigated” the curriculum, I was encouraged to witness many instances of teachers sharing the grace, truth and love of Christ with kids. I even had the opportunity to hear the Junior class share what they learned this semester in Bible class, and was personally encouraged by their testimonies and the Truth that they articulated with deep conviction. I praise God that He is at work in each student’s life as they hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and “are rooted and built up in him” during their time at KICS.
Last week, I was also offered the opportunity to continue serving at KICS next year in the role of the Director of Teaching and Learning. Humbled by the opportunity and acknowledging that I have a lot to learn in order to fulfill this role well, I’m thankful that the Lord has given me an unshakable love and commitment to the people that make up this school community and that he has called me back to more fully participate in the work that He is doing at KICS. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I trust that He will be with me and will be my ever-present help.
Another praise we’d like to share is about a friend, Joy. Joy has been an important part of our lives over the last few years. When she returned home to Rwanda from school in India, Joy re-joined one of our church choirs – Prince of Peace. She has also been a part of the young ladies Bible study that meets in our home, and she was my Kinyarwanda language teacher for a season. Our lives are deeply connected, and she is a dear friend and sister to us, including to Josiah and Norah. On November 27th Joy had the opportunity to release her first gospel album. At the album launch Joy shared a few of the songs that she has written in over the last few years. On the whole, she testified to the grace and love of God in Christ. She truly shined that night as she proclaimed the Gospel through song. Thank God with us for our friend and His child, Joy, and the incredible gifts that He has given her as a musician. Pray that she would continue to use her gifts to share Christ’s love with this generation of youth in Rwanda. Also pray that as things return back to normal now that the big event is past, that she wouldn’t forget what God has done, that she would continually give thanks to Him and that she would never cease to unashamedly sing His 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”
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.”
We give thanks to God for the healthy birth of Emmaus Andrew Hanlon!
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.
The one and only, amazing Nonna!
Grandpa Alan and Josiah
Chooo! Chooo!! Riding the train with Grandpa John
Loving time with family in Maryland
Fun time with cousins
Recovering from a wasp sting – fishing trip gone bad
The best Mimi in the world!
Enjoying a petting zoo
A special reunion with Kari’s dear college friend, Amy, and her husband.
A fun pumpkin patch and farm outing
Someone LOVES babies!
Excited to board the Metra on our final “date night” with Gram!
Family fun in Chicago-land
Final fun moments with Gram before boarding a plane
Reminiscing on these sweet moments with baby Graham and his parents – Walker and Emily Eifert.
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!!
Attempt #2… exhausted and hoping for sleep on the plane.
So tired and ready to board.
Finally boarding the plane!! We actually flew out this time!
On the ground in the U.S.. We are already enjoying playing with our cousins in Maryland!