Posted tagged ‘Friends’

Meeting with Friends

February 16, 2014

In a few hours, Friends at North Valley will have their worship time.  Following worship will be the annual chili cookoff.  Sadly, I will miss the event this year.  I enjoy making chili and I do enjoy entering a new chili into the competition each year.  I also enjoy sampling the various chili dishes that others bring! I am sure that many will join in and have a great time of food and fellowship.

Today, I had the opportunity to worship with Friends at the Ramallah Monthly Meeting.  This meeting had about 15 people in attendance.  Friends from Palestine, Germany, USA, England and Sweden gathered in the meeting house that was built in 1910. 2014-02-12 04.50.51After the meeting, we had a time of fellowship in the annex, where tea was served and  lively conversation ensued.  I went to do a little shopping and then met up with Jean Zaru, the clerk of the meeting, and about 10 Friends at the Nazareth Restaurant.  The menu was in Arabic so Jean helped us order.  The falafel was great, as was the entire meal! Jean shared with me about the history of the meeting and of the Friends School in Ramallah.  I enjoyed visiting with the others gathered around the tables, including a German fellow who was working on a project to introduce animation as a teaching and learning device into Palestinian schools.

The meeting for worship was unprogrammed, with the clerk giving a brief introductory comment and greeting.  We sang two songs during the meeting, one was a hymn from the mid 1800s and the other was Song of Peace, to a Sibelius tune, Finlandia. The sense of the meeting, and confirmed through vocal ministry was that the love of Christ is manifest as people step out to represent hope, justice and peace to their world.  What a blessing to be a part of this time of worship.

I will be leaving soon to begin my long journey home.  I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends.  I am also looking forward to learning more about what is next for me in my journey along the path.  I am grateful to have had this time to serve with Friends in Africa and in the Middle East.  I am grateful for all that I have learned and for what has been given to me.  I have been welcomed as an honored guest and I accept that welcome with appreciation and joy!

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Singing and Dancing

February 9, 2014

Sunday afternoon in the guest house in Musanze

The celebration for the opening of the Rwanda Friends Theological College is over and what a time it was!  I heard signing coming from down the road at about 0830 this morning, signaling the call to worship.  When I had left the church building where our in-service program had concluded yesterday evening, some men were setting up a tent on the road-side of the property, but it was the only preparation I actually saw by the time we left.

I walked down the road this morning feeling quite a bit better than I had felt the morning before.  I was not quite sure if I could sit through a four-hour worship service, but I was ready to give it a go.  My friends and colleagues had gone on ahead of me, as I needed a few more minutes of rest after breakfast.  I did have a little breakfast this morning, and the passion fruit was excellent, as was the African tea with ginger.  Ron and Carolyn Stansell joined us for breakfast.  Ron was invited to give the main address today.  He and Carolyn are on their way to Burundi and the Congo for consultation work there with the Friends churches.

As I arrived at the church site, the music continued, upbeat chorale music with dense harmonies.  I noted all the additional preparations that had occurred, with benches set up in the grassy compound, and already many people seated.  There were scores of people milling around the front of the library and the church building.  As I looked under the tent, I spotted some white faces on the far side and so I walked a little further down the road and entered the church compound through an archway festooned with balloons. I saw my colleagues sitting in the front row.  I went to sit down next to Debbi, who was on the left flank of our row.  A man approached me and moved me further toward the center on the row, next to Ron Stansell, with Nicodemous to my left. Carolyn sat on Ron’s other side and to her right were the mayor of Musanze and David Buchura, the yearly meeting superintendent.

Nicodemous had participated in our workshop and it was obvious that he was a well-educated and studious man.  Ron told me that he would translate for Ron when he brought the message.  I sat behind a table that had floral arrangements on it.  I sat on a very comfortable couch and my feet rested on a carpet.  I looked around me and behind me.  The entire tent area was filled with visitors and honored guests.  On the one hand, I was surprised that we had been designated as honored guests, yet, on the other hand, I realized that the typical cultural expectation here required us to be considered as such.singing

The singing continued, interspersed with a greeting from the presiding pastor and some prayers from various people.  The choirs performed to the accompaniment of electronic keyboards and so we got a very nice lilting, rhythmic effect from the music.  Many of the songs, Nicodemous told me, were composed just for this occasion.  Most of the choirs did wonderful dances as they sang.  At one particular moment, I noticed a young girl, probably about 4 or 5 who was dancing enthusiastically along with the choir. The joy of the Lord welled up inside of me and all I could think was, “My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior”.  I recognized the significant blessing of the Lord in that place, the excitement of a gathered group coming to give thanks and celebrate the goodness of God.

Part way through the celebration, the master of ceremonies called honored guests to stand and walk to the steps of the Bible College building.  We were included in the delegation.  I realized that we would participate at that time in a ribbon cutting ceremony.  As the crowd of honored guests made it down the roadway of volcanic rock, I positioned myself at the bottom of the steps.  Habimana, the Principal of the College, called my name and brought me up to the top of the stairs.  The ribbon was cut and we proceeded into the building, receiving a tour. I am so glad we had taken the time to walk with the entire group of faculty in our workshop through the building on Friday morning, praying for each room.  This brief tour was like icing on the cake, the ceremonial opening.  I feel as if the faculty themselves actually dedicated the space as we did our prayer walk on Friday morning.  The tour ended with a peek at the library and a prayer for it.  We returned to our seats.

The ceremony went on with various prayers, messages and songs.  Remarkably, the program maintained the schedule and I thought I heard a joke from David Buchura referring to them being on Mzungu time for this celebration.  RonRon’s address was taken from Paul’s second letter to Timothy.  He did a nice job of working with his translator and the message was quite stirring and appropriate.  The worship time ended with a speech from the mayor of Muzanse and one from David Buchura.  The mayor was given two bibles as gifts, Ron Stansell was given a plaque in the shape of Rwanda with two hands clasped as a gift to be taken to EFI.  Lon Fendall was given three gifts, a floppy straw hat, a traditional eating bowl and a carved boat.  All were symbolic gifts to reflect the appreciation of the Rwandan Friends to Lon for his years of service in support of them and the RFTC.

At the conclusion of the service, the honored guests were sent back to the steps of the building.  It was to be a time of prayer, I thought.  It was a second ribbon cutting ceremony.  Once again, Habimana called me up to the front, this time, asking me to hold the ribbon as the Mayor cut it.  We entered into the building and there was lunch laid out for us!  I took very small portions.  We sat and visited in the same room we had eaten dinner on Friday evening, this time in a much more formal manner.  I asked Ron to tell me about the roots of the Friends work in Rwanda and he filled me in quite a bit.  Carolyn told me that a book he has written has chapters on this region.

Through the Open Door

March 23, 2009

When we open the door, even a crack, the light comes through and we cannot ignore it. I realize that I ignored an opportunity to participate in an event that would have been quite meaningful and lovely this past week when I did not register for the FWCC meetings that were held at the Canby Grove Conference Center in Canby Oregon.  I could not figure out how to free up my schedule, as I had just returned from a conference several weeks ago and had much to do at my desk.  However, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Canby, pick up four participants from the conference, bring them to Newberg to attend meeting for worship and then to visit with our family at home for lunch.  We had Harry from Britain, Dudu from South Africa, Valerie from Australia and David from Rwanda.  David had two friends at North Valley, Verna and Hector Munn.  Therefore, he spent the afternoon with them.

After our lunch (fish chili with rice and guacamole), we had a nice visit.  Debbie and Ruth and the younger girls entered into conversation with the Friends from other regions of the world.  I appreciated the brief time we had together, yet I hope that I will have the oppotunity to continue to relate to Friends from around the world, including those I meet in Second Life (which deserves a post of its own).  

I drove the folks through Portland, stopping at the rose garden near the Portland Zoo, which overlooks the city.  In the rain, we got out and walked around a bit.  Then we continued on through Portland to Camp Menucha, where I left our friends so that they could participate in their next set of meetings before returning to their homes.

One of these friends reminded me that I had the opportunity to participate in the meetings through my service of providing transportation and hospitality to them. I now recognize that to the extent that I opened the door, light came in. Our family’s lives were touched by Friends from overseas. I want to continue to reflect on how our lives will be enriched as we seek to open the doors and windows of our lives so that a fuller spectrum of light and perhaps a brighter light will shine into our hearts.