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The Spirit is the Same

A Letter from Kay Day, serving in Rwanda

December 2019

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Greetings to all,

Thanksgiving is over and many of you are beginning the rush for Christmas. Life in Rwanda is very different from that in the States at this time of year. First, the country does not celebrate Thanksgiving, but that didn’t prevent me from doing so. The menu was a bit different (no turkey or cranberries or pumpkin pie), but the spirit was the same. Since I am not close to any Americans here in Huye, I invited folks who were far away from home and family. There are two visiting German professors teaching at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) at present. Both have traveled and studied in the States, so I invited them. Then, two of our masters’ students and former students of mine are studying here and are far away from their families, so I invited them. Because one of the Germans was traveling on Thursday, we ate our meal on Wednesday evening. None of these differences prevented us from having a great feast and enjoying a time of sharing our blessings and thanking God for them. It was a great time.

There is no Black Friday here, either. In fact, shopping and gift-giving are not emphasized at all. Most people will shop a day or so before Christmas for special food and new clothes for Christmas Day. There is no elaborate gift-giving. The shops are not decorated with Santa or trees, and there is no “White Christmas” or “Jingle Bells” music in the background. No one decorates their houses with lights or trees. It is business as usual until December 24. Then it will impossible to get a bus ticket, because everyone will be traveling home for worship and food together.

For me, business as usual is teaching. I will begin an intense weekend course with the new English course. This means teaching our Education students Friday evening from 6-9 and Saturday all day, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner. There will be 50 students packed into the multimedia center designed for 30 students for an interactive, multimedia class. I have just finished this course with the Theology and Peace students, and they enjoyed the format. We’ll see about the education folks.

My pastoral duties are much the same as any pastor in the States. They are Advent focused and encourage folks to keep their eyes on Jesus’ coming rather than on the activities around them. While Advent is not widely observed throughout Rwanda, we in the English chapel, celebrate it. The chapel is really a “lab school” for my students, since I teach preaching and worship leadership. Interestingly, I have gotten text messages from several of my former students who are now serving churches, asking for Advent liturgy. That gives my heart encouragement.

However you occupy time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I pray that you are drawn closer to Christ, the one who gives us light and life and joy this season and always. Thank you for partnering with me and making it possible for me to be here. You bless me by your support. Without you, I could not be here. May this Advent open your eyes more fully to the love of Christ.

Merry Christmas,

Kay (Cathie to the family)

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