Muraho! That's how you say "hello" in Kinyarwada. I'm excited to give you a much-needed update to our work here in Rwanda and let you know how you can be praying for the Hale family. While you are probably familiar with what Grace is doing as secondary principal for KICS, I will also give you an update about my work with B2TheWorld and share some of the exciting things that are going on. After a long wait due to delays with the IRS (which were exacerbated by the government shutdown this year) B2TheWorld has finally received its official 501(c)(3) designation! This is huge for our ability to receive the donations that we need and to make sure that your financial support is tax deductible. Don't worry - if you donated to us last year, everything is retroactive.
Nine months in and we have settled into life in Kigali very well. It's not always easy - everyone has their things that they miss about living in the U.S. For Esther, it's the pet hamster, Sasha, that she left behind. For Judah, it's McDonalds. Things like this care package from our home church in NC are such a huge blessing! Not only were there plenty of treats for the whole family giving us a little piece of home, but the kids received personal notes from all of their friends, classmates, and teachers from last year!
We all miss family, and it's hard to miss out on things like my cousin's wedding that was this month in Florida or the annual family lake vacation that we won't be able to attend this summer. But not a day goes by when we don't look around and thank God for allowing us to serve him in such a beautiful place. And we also thank God for the blessing of having family able to visit us here in Rwanda. This past month, Grace’s mom and younger sister were able to spend the week with us. Together we were able to leave the city and experience more of our beautiful host country including the volcanoes, Lake Kivu, and a safari in Akagera game park. It was a much-needed time of rest and being close with family.
As rejuvenating as it was to have some rest and family time, it's now back to school and work, so I'll share a bit of what's going on in each of our lives.
Judah has really started to feel at home in Rwanda. He has loved playing soccer and recently finished the season playing on the school's Under 7 team as the goalkeeper. It's amazing to see how much he has improved since we first moved here and he is loving it. He's made some great friends and is even picking up a little Kinyarwanda. He has struggled with some anxiety when it comes to his school work. Even though he's very bright, he gets very self-conscious if he feels like he's falling behind some of the other students. Please pray that he'll have focus and confidence in class and be able to overcome his anxiety.
Esther has excelled in school and loves living in Rwanda but is also starting to learn what it means to be a missionary kid. She loves bird watching and trying to identify the numerous bird species you can see right from our front porch. One of her highlights was a class trip to a camp she got to go on recently. She started the year with a group of 4 really good friends which was amazing. Unfortunately, the reality of MK life is that 2 of them have already left, and the one she's closest with is leaving this summer. Many tears have been shed and I had to tell her that that is the sad part of being an MK but that she'll also make new friends as new people move here. Pray for her to make new friends and not to be too down, especially as she's at a very emotional age.
Grace has been making an impact in the lives of students and staff at KICS but has also had by far the heaviest work load and the highest stress level. There are so many different stories that we would love to share publicly but can't for the sake of individual students and families. Being a school principal is never an easy job and in an international setting there are so many added layers that make the job even more challenging. Please pray for peace and emotional strength for Grace as she often works long hours packed with intense and emotionally draining meetings and interactions.
Considering I was not sure what my role with B2TheWorld would look like before coming to Rwanda and didn't know what to expect, I'm really excited to share the great things that's been happening. As Programs Manager for B2TheWorld, my job has two main parts. The first is to plan, organize, coordinate, and run all major events for B2 outside of the U.S. Last November, I did this with our first annual Global Educators Gathering. I coordinated bringing in school leaders from 8 different countries on 4 different continents here to Rwanda for a week-long gathering to learn, collaborate, and tackle the challenges that each of them face in their various schools. It was a great success, and we received overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone who attended! Aside from serving the leaders of those schools, the event also accomplished our goal of expanding our global network of contacts and resources. Which leads to the second part of my job: researching and starting new partnerships with the long-term goal of laying the groundwork for our first new school in a country recovering from war. At our Global Educators Gathering in November, we had an attendee from Pakistan who is doing incredible work in that country for poor children by offering them a safe place, free of religious persecution along with a quality education. We made the decision to come alongside his work and offer much needed support and fundraising efforts. This month we started an initiative to help raise funds to send their high school students to college. In the next few months, I will be traveling to Lahore, Pakistan to see the work first hand. This partnership is the first of what we hope will be many such collaborations as we strive to provide quality education is war torn areas while sharing the love of Christ. The next countries I am focused on are Burundi (our neighbor to the south) and a Middle Eastern country that cannot be named publicly right now. I am excited to see what God will do through B2TheWorld in the years to come. For me, you can pray for safety as I travel to some potentially dangerous areas and also for wisdom as I work to form new partnerships and eventually determine the location of our first B2TheWorld school plant.
For our whole family you can pray for continued health and that we will be able to reach a level of monthly financial support that will allow us to continue to work in Rwanda. Thank you for all of your prayers and continued support we appreciate having you on the Hale Trail team!