Friday, April 30, 2010

OC Graduation Today

The news is coming fast. Today is the day that the first 10 Presidential Scholars graduate from Oklahoma Christian University. Rwanda President Kagame will be speaking. You can find more news at

We’ll send a more comprehensive story in a few days.

Dave and Jana

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sister Cities

It is going to be a very busy and interesting week for our ROC Partners team. Kigali Mayor, Dr. Aisa Kirabo is in Oklahoma City for the signing of a Sister City agreement with Oklahoma City.

You can

Please pray that this Sister City agreement will be more than just a ceremony and piece of paper. May it be a lasting covenant to promote partnerships and blessing for both cities.

Dave and Jana

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

President Kagame Visit

Dear Family and Friends,

This week will be one in which many of our hopes and dreams come together for our ROC Partners Team. After the year that our family had as Visiting Missionaries at Oklahoma Christian, OC President, Dr. Mike O’Neal and John Osborne, the Director of International Studies at Oklahoma Christian University were able to successfully negotiate the beginning of Rwanda’s Presidential Scholarship Program with then Rwanda Minster of Education, Dr. Romain Murenzi. Since, then Bryan and Holly Hixson, and I have facilitated the scholarship program.

This week will be the Graduation for the first 10 Presidential Scholars. You can read more about the upcoming graduation at

We will send you news throughout the next few days about these events.

Dave and Jana

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Run to Honor and Remember

Dear Family and Friends,

Today I’ll tell a story that for those that no me well may seem rather redundant. I have a genetic struggle in which discs in my spine on occasion rupture. I run to overcome and cope. On occasion, I run a race. However, there’s a bigger story to tell. God has been very kind to me in recovery, and in running I attempt to give him glory. Also, I’ve on occasion understated or even hidden a few matters.

This coming Sunday, April 25 I intend to run a Half Marathon at the Oklahoma City Marathon. It seems an appropriate race for a missionary to Rwanda to run to celebrate God’s healing. Allow me today to tell the story of these God marks in my life.

A few weeks ago, I wrote my memories of 1993 and 1994. In closing those memories ended with my family in the US on July 4, 1994 as an accuser had for a season succeeded in creating confusion, we lost our financial support, and we began a season of rebuilding.

It was one of the more difficult seasons of my life. The season of support discovery lasted almost a year. During that season a familiar pain entered into my life. I began having pain that began in my back, intensified in my left hip, and shot down my left leg. I had seen my dad, Lloyd Jenkins struggle with a similar pain that went down his right leg. I did something I never should have done. I went into denial for 2 years. I took lots of ibuprofen and Tylenol. I continued to believe that my dad’s struggle would not be my struggle. I vacillated between exercise, rest, doctors, and denial for two years. I suspected that since my support was tenuous if I disclosed my struggle; my support would collapse. I propped up an illusion to myself and to others.
Discerning God’s will in the midst of pain and struggle is always a challenge. I had several moments that still leave me pondering.

We returned to Uganda in 1995. At one point in Uganda in 1996 I thought we had found an answer. Mulago Hospital had a respected American orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Rodney Belcher with them. I went to see Dr. Belcher and was thrilled with his initial prognosis. He concluded I was “fit,” and the pain must just be a pulled muscle. Fifteen years later, assessments that build my ego and offer an easy solution still are appealing. I started physical therapy and hoped for the best. I even pondered if it was “God’s will” for me not to have my dad’s struggle or to be healed by doctor in Uganda. Again, my “spiritual” assessment was largely just looking for the easiest route.

A few weeks after I began therapy tragedy struck. Dr. Belcher was shot and killed in senseless violence. He was well respected and Uganda mourned, but my memory does not include an explanation for why his life was lost in what appeared to be a carjacking gone astray. From that point on I was on a downhill slope.

We launched our Kampala church plant in January, 1996; and had a great first 6 months, but I was in continual pain. By July, I was at 29 years of age walking with a cane. Denial and false hope had failed me.

My son, Ethan was born on August 12, 1996. I stayed in the same hospital room with Jana and Ethan. On August 14, 1996 I hobbled onto a plane and went to the US alone to seek healing.
I arrived to be met in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Airport by my parents, Lloyd and Lois Jenkins. I remember hobbling with a brace and cane to hug my mom, and her weeping. I guess my pain was too familiar.

I followed my old habit that has always been good for me. In a jam – find a friend and go back to what works. I had no clue if I could find a doctor who would understand my life or desire to return to Uganda. I prayed and hoped. In 1987 I had broken my left hand in a construction accident. I returned to the orthopedic office that had put my hand back together. They referred me to their spine specialist, Dr. Richard Hadley. As I hobbled into the examining room he offered assuring words that I likely had a herniated disc that could be repaired with surgery. I explained a bit about my life in Uganda. He began asking very detailed questions about Kampala. It included people and neighborhoods. I thought perhaps he had been in Uganda before. He disclosed that in 1971, in the early years of Idi Amin’s regime when Mulago was still Africa’s premier hospital, he had done his residency at Mulago. What were the odds that I would find a doctor with such experience? God had gone far ahead of me. Dr. Hadley was supportive and skilled. God gently spoke to me to be at peace.

I rested at my parent’s home. I read history and watched the history channel. Dr. Jim Conner, the pastor at my parent’s church (Valley Christian) came and prayed for me. Jim had gone through the same surgery as my dad. Though in pain, I was finding hope again.

A few weeks later I had surgery. I remember coming out of surgery and lifting my leg. The pain was gone. For the first time in 2 years there was no pain going down my leg. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and not recognizing what I had become. My youthful pride in my strength was gone. I looked the way I anticipated I would look in my 70’s or 80’s. Limping and lying in bed had taken a terrible toll. I made a decision that I’ve kept to this day. When in pain seek help. Denial is worthless.

In the third week of September, a few days after surgery; Jana, our children at the time – Sophia, Caleb, and Ethan; and Jana’s parent’s, Gaston and Jan Tarbet arrived at the Minneapolis / St. Paul airport. Jana’s parents had cared for her and the kids in Uganda while I sought healing in the US. Now that Jana was recovered from child birth they joined me in Minnesota. Jana did not expect me to be strong enough to make it to the airport, but with God’s help I was on the path to recovery. Jana remarked that when she saw me it was the first time she had seen me without pain in my eyes for 2 years. We had both grown too accustomed to the pain. I realized in hindsight how much the pain had colored my perception and memory. Jana helped restore my sanity of mind as the Lord restored the strength of my body.

I made some changes. I exercised in a gym, swam, and walked. I decided never to deny physical pain again. If this story was written by me instead of God writing with marks upon my body the story of this journey would now conclude. It did not.

A disc herniated in my neck in 1998. I had pain going down my left arm. I accidently cut my fingers and watched them bleed while I could not feel the pain. However, again with God’s help I had surgery and recovered.

I thought I was out of the woods, but in 2001 as Jana was recovering from surgery I felt the old familiar pain, and again had surgery on my lower back.

By January 2001 I had 3 marks of God upon my life that were the physical scars from spine surgery.

Besides learning that God was bigger than my struggle and with exercise I could deal with the small amount of residual pain I noticed another phenomena. I had a genetic disposition to spine problems. There were some things I could manage and some that were beyond my management abilities. The herniated discs usually came at a time in which my stress levels were high. With too much stress my body would break at its weak link which was my spine.

In 2002 curiosity got the best of me. For 6 years I had started my day with a walk. On this day, I decided to try running. I had not run since 1994, but something inside me wanted to try again. I tried and rediscovered what Eric Liddell called “the pleasure of God.” It was inescapable. Running became my place of quiet solitude to wrestle with God in prayer and as He defeated me to discover daily grace. I told no one. It was my secret for months. I ran in the early morning hours in Kampala when my family and friends slept just a little bit longer.

Jana and I made a trip to Nairobi and while running at Rosslyn Academy I shared the track with my friend, Ian Shelburne. I realized my secret could become public. I came back to our room and confessed one of my secrets to the bride of my youth. (In hindsight, waking your wife with a guilty conscience is probably not the best for marital relations.) Jana was shaken by my words, “I’ve been doing something for months that I’ve kept hidden,” but almost relieved when I confessed that after an 8 year absence I was again running.

Now that the secret was out I began running in races and found that wonderful spiritual blessing of both solitude and community. I’ve never looked back with regret.

For 8 years Jana and I were remarkably healthy. However, there have been some moments in which our stress level has been high.

The academic year of 2004-2005 found us at Oklahoma Christian University as we wrestled with our Uganda departure and God’s call to Rwanda. In many ways it was a season of high stress, but we found a faith community at both Quail Springs Church of Christ and Oklahoma Christian University that nurtured our transition. Also, Oklahoma City provided an opportunity to do something that I had always been curious about – run a marathon. Oklahoma City’s Memorial Marathon which remembers the loss of 168 lives on April 19, 1995 seemed especially appropriate for someone like me who had ministered in a recovering Uganda and would minister in recovering Rwanda. I ran it and contemplated its implications.

We entered Rwanda in 2005 and had 2 personally delightful years. We experienced a season of discovery, new friends, dreaming for the future, and our support was solid.

On March 4, 2007 CCR was launched. We’ve been amazed at the growth. However, it has been several years that have taken a great personal cost. It took me 16 years to start blogging about my accusers in 1993 and 1994 so I’ll wait a few more years before I am explicitly candid. The part I will disclose is that we had 2 ½ years in which it seemed we relived the Apostle Paul’s struggle with Jewish rule keepers in his Galatian church plants. Another historical similarity may be Barton W. Stone’s struggle with his denominational hierarchy during the years following the Cane Ridge Revival. Though I tried to pastorally love and preach all that I perceived God wanted to say there was persistent opposition. I spent many sleepless nights. In the back of my mind I wondered how long we could last without eventually our health failing.

Jana began experiencing pain in her lower abdomen in January 2009. She went back to the US in June 2009. I stayed with the kids. When it was discovered that she had a tumor it was decided that our son, Timothy and I would return to the US to be with her.

On July 19, 2009 I felt a familiar pain. Something was knotting up in my left shoulder. I hoped it was just a pulled muscle and spent a little over a week before I told anyone. Then I let Jana know in a phone call. A few weeks later, after swimming and taking ibuprofen with no relief I clued in a few other trusted confidants. This didn’t seem to be going away, and pain was starting to radiate down my arm and I was losing feeling on my thumb and fingers.

Jana had surgery on July 30. The tumor was benign. I saw a doctor and tried to persuade him to just give me some muscle relaxers, but as he had me turn my neck it was obvious that I could “dial in the pain.” This pain was originating in my neck. I needed to see an orthopedic surgeon.
The familiarity brought both calm and concern. We had been through this before. God had been faithful. These seasons would try our faith and character. Upon their completion we would see God in a new way. Also, He would use this season to shape and mold. Something different and new was coming. However, it is a step into the unknown. Our plans would be flawed. We could count on debt, misunderstanding, and turmoil for months to a year.

We started as we usually did – looking for help among friends and places of past success. We were clueless so we called our insurance to find orthopedic surgeons. The mentioned several in north Oklahoma City, and then we heard a familiar name, Dr. James Odor. We asked a friend and found that Dr. Odor was the brother of one of our Quail Springs Church of Christ elders, David Odor. We made a phone call and found there were no openings until October. We called David Odor who called his brother and thing sped along.

As I went into the doctor’s office my biggest fear was that we would not diagnose the source. Some were praying that I could avoid surgery. I was praying for a clear diagnosis and path forward. We hopped through a few insurance hoops, but I was actually very relieved when Dr. Odor called me as Jana and I were trying to discern the future with the news that I had 2 herniated discs. We hopped through a couple more hoops and then surgery was scheduled for September 29.

Though for me this felt like a familiar path that I knew upon completion would be one of blessing for others it was one of turmoil. It seemed that our 2 ½ years of Galatian turmoil was near the end as we left Rwanda in the summer of 2009. KICS after a season of internal conflict over creating a sustainable Christian ethos had reached closure. CCR was on the verge of a boom. Our children had all found Kigali to be their home. We had new colleagues planning to join us. However, our expectations were not to be realized during the fall of 2009. God had something different in mind and would use our health as His means of direction.

We would need to at least spend the fall in Oklahoma City seeking healing. The three children that remained in Rwanda – Caleb, Ethan, and Ruth traveled with Duane Jenks back to the US late in August. Tom and Sue Gooch traveled to Rwanda to cover for us and help the Hixsons while we stayed in their home. We enrolled all the kids in school in the US and hoped for the best in a year of transition.

My pain level was increasing. I knew that to recover well I needed to stay as physically strong as possible, but almost everything I did hurt. My arm at times felt like an exposed nerve on a tooth.

The coming surgery sounded scary. Dr. Odor would come in from the front of my neck and move my trachea. He would go to the spine and remove 2 herniated discs, put a plate onto 3 vertebrae, and then fuse them together. A few suggested that maybe this was “too risky” and I should “live with the pain.” I share my struggle not only with my dad, but with my two brothers, an aunt and an uncle. My brother Tim’s counsel to those who out of fear suggest the choice to live with pain resonates, “But I must live.”

Life for me included not only a call to Rwanda, but a call to play with my kids, laugh, celebrate, dance, and run as I wrestled with God. I would not trade my journey of struggle and celebration away out of fear. If I did not face surgery I would choose a life in which the parts of life in which I find the most pleasure would be gone. It was God’s choice to remove these treasures in my life. I had surrendered my treasures before to Him. However, I believed my treasures were His gifts. I would fight for them until it was obvious that God had told me to surrender.

On the morning of September 29 we went to the hospital. My pastor, Dr. Mark Henderson came and prayed with me. Jana and he were with me as the anesthesiologist gave me the injections that made me giggle and sleep. A few hours later I awoke to see Jana with me as she had been for 2 of my previous 3 surgeries. I was incredibly hungry, but vomited each time I tried to eat. I had a brace on my neck that prevented me from moving to see if I could dial in the pain. However, I could lift my body from the bed by doing a modified dip. The pain on my arm was gone. Recovery was possible.

I needed to walk so the following morning before check out I went to see my friends, Mat and Nathalie Tremblay and their new son, Axel who were a few floors above me. It was a unique season at Mercy Hospital. Axel was born on the day my neck was restored.

The next couple weeks were quiet ones. I walked and prayed. In my prayer time I found mercy for those in Rwanda and in the US who had acted out our Galatian like conflict. I had the good fortune to stand in solidarity with the Apostle Paul. I knew history well enough to know that in the future history would be kind to me. I doubted it would be so kind to my opponents. I prayed for their hearts to change so they could be restored to community.

I greatly missed Africa. I knew if I was sick in Kigali my home would be filled with visitors. In Kigali, I would rest at home, but many would come to visit, encourage, and pray. I only remember my friend, John Osborne visiting me during the first weeks of recovery. I don’t know why others did not come. Maybe, it was busyness? Maybe, they thought I wanted solitude without community? However, I did miss people.

As soon as possible I went back to my office at the Quail Springs Church of Christ and tried to teach. Some call me Mwalimu (teacher) and I needed to be at my vocation in order to discover what God had next. I could not heal in isolation so I sought community even when the community did not come to me.

I kept a quiet pace until early November and then Dr. Odor told me what I had wanted to hear for months. I could run again. I started swimming, exercising, and running. I only had about 1/3 of my strength, but I was back in the game.

I ran a few 5km races and found I was slow, but improving. I noticed that it took me until early January to be back at a pace where I could work 8 hour days 5 days per week, but slowly by slowly the Lord was restoring my strength.

Now, my curiosity began to get the best of me. Would it be possible to try the Oklahoma City Marathon again? The race and distance fascinated me. Resilience from tragedy seemed to be a mark of the communities God had given me. I wanted to be part of this run.

As my physical strength was returning and we planned to return to Rwanda in March we discovered our funding was lacking, and we delayed our return to Rwanda. Maybe, God desired for me to run the OKC Marathon again?

I began the long runs. I was quickly up to 10 mile runs. However, my editorial committee kept a persistent theme – You are trying too much too soon. Just do the Half Marathon.

On Sunday March 28, my editorial committee spoke clearly through a car accident. We were rear ended. I was in pain for a couple weeks. Everything slowed down including my running. I decided that on April 25, 2010 I would attempt to run the OKC Half Marathon.

Tomorrow is the day. I believe by God’s grace I’ll finish. I’m eager. I still have some unfinished tasks in the US. In running may God be glorified. He has taken me through surgery and struggle. With His healing we have hope. The story is not finished, but we are in the race.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What About Vulnerable Children?, Rwanda Dispatch, March 17, 2009


I've gone on a long journey for many years wrestling with what is our responsibility for vulnerable children. I've adopted 2 children, been an advocate for more adoptions, at one time sponsored 200 children to attend school, employed lots of people, facilitated many university scholarships, and started a school. I could make a nice CV about what I've done, but I find it has been short.

Though I've done what some may consider a great amount I emotionally avoid engagement. I don't go to orphanages and pretend I don't see street children. I've grown weary of unending problems and dependency. I'm weary of short sighted projects. I'm weary of expatriates who are unwilling to commit themselves, but put band aids on problems and snap photos to send back home as they request more money.

I've thrown my life in Rwanda into a vision of developing leadership that will be a source of transformation for generations. I'm convinced I can't be an advocate of the poor if I am not for the establishment of the middle class.

I tend to work with statistics to discern if my intuition is correct. I put some startling statistics together 2 months ago.

• 1 % of population has attended any type of Post-Secondary Education.
• 3% of Rwanda's population could be considered middle class (A/B audience) by Rwanda's media. (About 300,000 people or 50,000 households)

• 34 % of households are headed by widows.
• 13 % of households are headed by children.
• 26 % of the population under the age of 14 are orphans (Somewhere between 825,000 and 1,000,000 children).

Do you see the problem? I don't think it will be possible for Rwanda to become a middle income nation if we don't effectively deal with these vulnerable children. They will become an economic weight that will break all gains. Also, many are under the age of 15 and thus were born after 1994. Given the genocide was a major factor that created this dilemma, but we are now dealing with the second generation of this phenomena and a cyclical problem is developing.

Though some may consider me seasoned, I’m not an expert. However, let me offer three principles that may have some merit in addressing the issue of vulnerable children.

The first comes from the UN Geneva Convention. It is “Every child has a right to a family.” This seems to make perfect sense. In fact a popular African proverb states, “There are no orphans in Africa.” The extended family is to take care of all. None should fall through the cracks. However, children are falling through the cracks. I advocate adoption as a partial answer to the problem of vulnerable children in Rwanda. However, raising the issue of adoption raises certain questions. A few may even whisper, “Can a parent love his adopted children as much as his biological children?” Let me from experience say clearly, “No. Jana and I love our adopted children, Ruth and Timothy, much more than our three biological children.” (Please tolerate my humor, but I really am proud of my adopted kids.)

My second principle is programs can not undermine community institutions such as families, churches, and schools. It is far too easy to in a hurry set up a program that inadvertently undermines the community institutions that have the capacity to solve the problem. A few years ago, a colleague of mine said, “If you want to increase the number of orphans in a community start an orphanage.” Though we may chose that a new institution is required to solve this problem, we cannot in any way set in course a chain of events that undermine the fundamental institutions of community.

The last uncompromising principle is that this problem requires commitment for the full education of children and their incorporation as proactive members of society. We should do no projects that are not comprehensive in scope. Thus my solutions would be about the building of three basic institutions – families, schools, and businesses. Vulnerable children can not be isolated from community. Values are taught in families and we must creatively find ways for vulnerable children to become part of families. Schools provide the intellectual tools of knowledge and creativity. Vulnerable children must be in school and learn the tools of self-reliance instead of despair and dependency. Lastly, this issue will not be solved quickly. The creation of new businesses to generate wealth, jobs, and cycles of economic growth are fundamental. Donor dollars, emotional appeals, and short-term projects have failed. It’s time to find an answer within our community with our own resources.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Memories of April 7, 1994

Some days in history are never forgotten. On December 8, 1941, the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said these words, “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Those Americans a few years older than me can tell the exact place and feelings they experienced on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.

One of my earliest memories is March 30, 1981 when President Ronald Regan was shot.

 April 7, 1994 is one of history’s greatest tragedies. On April 6, 1994 Rwandan President Habyarimana was returning from Arusha, Tanzania following negotiations to end the war in Rwanda. His plane was shot down over Kigali, and the Rwandan Genocide began the following day, April 7, 1994.  It is a date that must live in the memory of humanity. Generations following us must remember that a million lives were lost. We must continue to say, “Never again.”

My family is an oddity. We have lived most of our adult lives in the Great Lakes Region of Africa as traveling story tellers. Sometimes we are asked, “Where is your home?
Us at Brooklyn Center Church of Christ preparing to enter Uganda

We are unable to respond with a specific place. Instead, we tell stories. Home is a place with a warm bed and a gracious friend. We journey through many places, make friends, and tell stories.
In 1993, Ugandan playwright Alex Mukulu wrote his history of Post-Colonial Uganda, 30 Years of Bananas. In the opening scene there is a search for an unbiased narrator. The only one who can be found is a Rwandan refugee, Kaleekeezi.

Maybe, today it would be good for memories of the events of 1993 and 1994 to be told by foreigner such as myself? Maybe, I can speak with the voice of Kaleeekeezi to foreigners like myself?

In doing so, I bring bias. I also will share some secret places, wounds, and actions – a few things I’ve not told publicly. I recognize the events that created my personal wounds are miniscule compared to those who survived the Genocide. I ask forgiveness if my stories wound again. I tell them to share our common humanity. I will share a few names and places. At other points I’ll conceal. My concealments are to protect those who may prefer anonymity. I hope the best for all my friends and even for those who chose to be my enemies. My hope is that love will heal all our wounds that cause bitterness and hatred to reign.

The Rwandan Genocide was a tragedy of the world fueled by our oldest of sins – jealousy, hatred, and untrue mythologies. Today should be a day where we examine our hearts deepest darkest places. In this examining we must wrestle with our responsibility and resolve to change our thoughts, emotions, and actions. By offering our repentance we seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Hopefully, it will be found. Generations who follow us will hopefully live in a world of peace and unity. When ugly voices of prejudice and hate arise our prodigy will respond, “No, never again.”

Photo from National Geographic, November, 1971
My first interactions with the people of Rwanda were a foreshadowing of what my life would become. My grandmother, Minnie Sophia Jenkins and I shared many things. One was a common birthday. Another was a love for reading and writing. A third was a sense of hope in adversity. My grandmother read National Geographic, and kept the magazines in her home. In an article published in November, 1971, "Uganda: Africa's Uneasy Heartland” was a photo that struck a lasting image in my young mind. The photo was of Rwandan refugees in Uganda dancing. They were described as “aristocrats living as refugees.” I was captivated by their beauty and dignity. Somehow I hungered to hear their songs and celebrate with their dance.

In 1990 and 1991 I studied Theology at Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Abilene, Texas. While there I met my future in several individuals. The best known and most influential is my wife, Jana Tarbet Jenkins. However, one of great influence who few remember was a fellow student from Western Uganda, Charles Guma. In 1993, Guma returned to Uganda, and I simply followed my family and friends there.

Upon our arrival in March, 1993 we began the task of settling. We rented a home.  We needed a staff to manage. We knew few people we could trust. While looking for a home we met a woman named
Lydia Bagira.

 She was watching the home of an expatriate who had left Uganda in tragic circumstances. She was “only the maid,” but I was struck that her employers must have found her trustworthy if they left their home to her management. She inquired if we would need help. As it became apparent that we did need help I remembered both the counsel of my father, Lloyd Jenkins, and my master, Jesus of Nazareth, “Entrust more to those who have shown they can well manage the small.” We found Lydia and offered her a job. A few other expatriates thought we were nuts to entrust someone we did not know without references. However, something inside told me to trust my intuition as the leading of the Holy Spirit, and I’ve come to have my deepest life regrets when I did not trust that intuition.
Lydia Bagira and her sons, Joel and Emmy

Lydia worked with our family for several years. As we shared our stories we became friends. Lydia was the child of Rwandan refugees. She was very intelligent. She was loyal, kind, and compassionate. She also like almost all of my most trusted friends had a very strong spirit and will. Discussions were always honest and on occasion a bit heated, but duplicity was non-existent. Lydia shared stories of suffering and misfortune. On her time off, her friends would come by our home. Most were like her, Rwandan women making the most of poor fortune. They had more ability than the medial jobs they had acquired as refugees. They shared common relationships and hope. Most had brothers, cousins, husbands, and boyfriends who had joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) army. They told stories and waited for a day in which they could return to the land the land of their parents and grandparents. A little gossip was exchanged with news from the war front, prayers were said for safety, and they waited in hope. Lydia had recently given birth to a son, Joel that was the same age as my daughter Sophia.

Once, Lydia Bagira decided she needed to go to the border to try to find some news. She left her infant son, Joel in the care of a young Ugandan girl with baby milk bottles. In hindsight, I don’t know if Joel had ever drunk from a bottle. As the day went on we heard Joel’s cries and they never stopped. He would not be satisfied with a bottle. Jana was still nursing Sophia. Joel’s cries continued. We’ve never done well to listen to the cries of children and not respond. Eventually, we broke taboo. Jana collected Joel and nursed him back to calm and sleep from her own body. In some African cultures this was a braking of taboo. In others it was a mark of community. We were naive and just made the best decision we could to help a friend’s child. Again, our empathies for Rwanda people in dispersion increased.

Shortly after our arrival to Uganda I visited my friend, Charles Guma’s home in Western Uganda. We traveled to Mbarara, and then went southeast to Guma’s family home. The scenery became drier and full of hills and scrub brush much like the scenery of Abilene, Texas. As we neared Guma’s home we slowed our vehicle and he began visiting with his village neighbors. One in particular struck me. She was old, but tall and graceful – full of dignity and beauty. After Guma spoke to her, he turned to me and told me that the old woman was a Rwandan refugee that had lived many years in his home village. As I watched her walk away I noticed very unique phenomena. All the men’s eyes followed this graceful old beauty. No matter what misfortune and suffering had befallen her she had never surrendered her dignity. It was thoroughly captivating.

Then we entered Guma’s home. His parents were thrilled to see him. The hospitality was gracious. Dance was celebrated and food shared. However as the celebration ended and life was discussed this home was one of tragedy. Many of Guma’s siblings, friends, and peers had died or were dying of AIDS. In the midst of this tragedy another death had befallen Guma’s family. His nephew had joined the RPF and lost his life in Rwanda. I never heard bitterness about the loss. It was accepted. My understanding was and still is limited. However, he seemed to be a young man seeking adventure that was loyal to his Rwandan friends and simply followed them in their journey to return home.

The following morning, Guma and I climbed the hill above his home. I looked to the east and saw a river. Beyond the river was an encampment with an artillery piece. I inquired and Guma told me that it was a training camp for the RPF. Hope was spoken and I realized how personal the Rwandan struggle was to Guma’s village.

As we returned to Kampala, my brother-in-law and co-worker, Greg Carr made a friendship. Uganda was awakening after years of state controlled media and terror. Peace in Kampala had come in 1986, but the explosion of the consequences of peace and freedom began in the early 90’s. The private media explosion was beginning. Greg established a friendship with one of the upcoming disc jockeys, DJ Barry. He was tall, loud, and flamboyant. You had to try very hard not to like DJ Barry. (Though agreeing with him might be a different matter.) As we discovered that DJ Barry was a Rwandan refugee I did what my training at ACU missions training taught me. I asked questions about language, culture, and ethnicity. DJ Barry did something very out of the ordinary for most Africans I had met at that time. He rebuked me. He refused to see his world as one of ethnic division. He was a Rwandan and not a member of an ethnic group. Eventually, he would share the details of his journey, but they were told through the cultural lenses of unity of the Rwandan people.

Greg found an office space in a Kampala office complex called Black Lines House. We rented a space and began discovering ministry possibilities. We opened a small library. We kept a guest book. Our first registered guest was a Rwandan refugee seeking to learn. (I’ve forgotten his name, but I have the records somewhere in my boxes of memories.) Around the corner from our office was a small restaurant. For some unique reason there were a few Rwandan gentlemen who frequently stopped and had lunch. I always enjoyed our short conversations.

During this first year of ministry discovery in Uganda, Greg and I became embroiled in an ugly church conflict. I was 26 and very naive. We were accused of the most ridiculous and inflammatory actions. It may have been the defining conflict of my life and career. I thought in coming to Uganda I would be welcomed as a messenger of peace. Instead, an old church and political leader from a previous regime had an ax to grind, and Greg and I would be the stone. He wrote letter after letter to my old professors, supporters, Ugandan government officials, church leaders, and anyone else who would listen. The strangest thing is that some considered his flagrant untruthfulness as “smoke behind a fire.” We were always on the defensive and in continual turmoil for a year.

One day I picked up a copy of New Vision, Uganda’s Daily Newspaper, and found an article concerning a press conference by a political party who ruled Uganda from 1962 to 1971 and from 1981 to 1985. The news conference focused upon Rwandans living in Uganda. I noticed some strong similarities between the accusations directed at me and the accusations directed at Rwandans in Uganda. A little while later I did something as embarrassing as if I bought a National Enquirer copy at a grocery checkout line in America. I walked a couple blocks down the street and bought political propaganda from an old political party who no longer was ruling Uganda. I skimmed to its sections on Rwandans living in Uganda. I noticed a unique writing phenomenon. If I removed the word “Banyarwanda” (people of Rwanda) and replaced “Bazungu” (people with white skin) it appeared to be the same document. If I removed the names of the leaders of Rwandans in Uganda and replaced them with the names of Greg Carr and myself it seemed to be almost the same document. Hatred and mythology are always dangerous. We all struggle with prejudice and convenient stereotypes. However, it appeared that I had discovered the original source of my accuser’s mythology. He either was the editor or he was highly influenced by the editor of this misguided political propaganda.

My empathy with the Rwanda community in Uganda was solidified as I found we had the same accuser. (Seven years later Rwandan friends would confirm my suspicions as they told stories of being chased out of Uganda’s civil service by my accuser in the early 1980’s.)

As 1993 became 1994, hope filled my Rwandan friends. Negotiations were taking place. It was hoped that a final and lasting settlement would soon be reached. Many thought their return to Rwanda was imminent.

Then in the evening of April 6, 1994 our radios told a surprising story. As Rwandan President Habyarimana returned from negotiations with the RPF in Arusha, Tanzania his plane was shot down over Kigali. All was tense. The next day rumors began to be heard of mass killings. It seemed completely unbelievable. I thought “surely not.” The stories continued. They sounded like some cross between the Jewish Holocaust of World War Two and the most gruesome horror movies of Hollywood. Civilians were being slaughtered. Killers saw no differentiation between civilian and combatant, child and adult, nor male and female. The tools of murder were the most gruesome of humanity – clubs and machetes. The killing fields were the churches of Rwanda. Roadblocks cut off all hope of escape. Could those made in God’s image so mercilessly destroy other image bearers of God?

Panic seemed to strike our Rwandan friends. What was happening?

Shamefully, I never wrote my US senators or local papers. I was paralyzed. My missions training    taught me to be unengaged with matters that had political consequences.  My reading of the Old Testament spoke that the role of the faith community is to be a prophetic voice. I chose my reading of mission’s theory over the words of God in the Old Testament. My repentance for my silence in 1994 is to have an active prophetic voice where ever I land. I still have my failings, but as best I can I speak for those without a voice and seek out friendships with the media so I am never silent when I should speak.

Weeks later a Rwandan women came to a Bible study for expatriates that Jana attended. She was in Rwanda during the Genocide and somehow escaped to Uganda. She told unbelievable stories. When Jana shared them with me I had to close my both my ears and my heart as they were too painful to bear.

At least once per week I would walk down to our local lakeside market to buy fish. Uganda is downstream from Rwanda. Her Kagera River runs into Uganda’s Lake Victoria. The corpses of the genocide victims were dumped into the Kagera River basin. The corpses began washing up on the shores of Lake Victoria. Our fish market was closed. Water and fish from our fair Uganda lake became inconsumable for humans.

In hindsight as we ask the question why the world did not act I’ve pondered.

“If Red Lobster had been shut down in the US; if it was impossible to get a fish sandwich at McDonalds; if there were no more catfish restaurants in the Southern United States. Would we then have acted?” Does our concern and action always have to be driven by selfish consumerism? When do the interests of the developed world simply mean we respond believing that all men are made in the image of God?”

A few months later, my Ugandan accuser had seeming victory. My family lost our financial support. We returned to the US to discover partnerships and funding anew. I followed the news from my African home while living in my American home.

On July 4, 1994 the RPF captured Kigali. It seemed that a million lives had been lost in the chaos of 100 days. News seemed to tell that most of Rwanda was now secure and the genocide was history.

Our family went to a fireworks display to celebrate America’s Independence in Lakeville, Minnesota. I sat still and watched the fireworks over my head. I visited with old friends and thanked God for my American freedom.

Inside, something was changed forever. Rwanda was an inescapable call. Uganda would be our home for several following years, but we were entangled in this region. I could never get out of my heart and mind my Rwandan friends and their stories.

Today I remember, grief, and repent. Will you join me? Where were you on April 7, 1994? What will you do about it today?

Monday, April 5, 2010

April 2010 Prayer Bulletin

Dear Family and Friends,

We have been on a very interesting journey the last several years. For some reason, we seemed to have lost the ability to communicate well about all God was doing in our lives and ministry. News from us was infrequent and scattered. We’ve pondered if maybe the Lord’s honor was best seen through a season of silence from us.

It is our hope to begin anew communication. We’ve got a new blog. We are trying to improve our web sites. We plan to do monthly prayer bulletins. We hope to do at least quarterly postal mailings.

This month we ask your prayers for the following items:

1. May the Glory of God be abundantly seen in all our thoughts, words, and actions. May all that we hold dear be for His honor. May His work in our lives be seen clearly. May we become less and less in a greater pursuit of God’s Sovereign will.

2. The last year has been a unique and unexpected one. However, we especially thank the Lord for two matters of answered prayers:

a. Our recovering health. We had our last doctors’ appointments in January and February and are cleared to return to Rwanda. We still have a few residual issues, but we’re in our 40’s and sometimes Dave is asked about Senior Citizen discounts. God has been very good to us. Dave is running again. Jana is active in our community. May our restored health be used to bless our community and honor God.

b. In our absence, Christ’s Church in Rwanda (CCR) and Kigali International Community School are thriving. CCR is averaging over 300 in Sunday attendance. KICS is strengthening its Christian ethos. New leadership is arising in both organizations. May God be praised for kingdom growth.

3. New co-laborers:
God has answered these prayers in abundance. Brett and Keli Shreck have arrived in Kigali (but still are in fund discovery process). Rusty and Onawa Linden are in the process of discovering their needed funds before departing. KICS will need new teachers in the coming academic year. May God continue to empower those He has called to serve in Rwanda’s harvest.

4. Wisdom: The tasks before us are simply beyond our plans and abilities. They can only be accomplished with a large measure of the Lord’s wisdom. May God fill us with His wisdom to have both visionary foresight and practical common sense.

5. Like minded partners: Our family has lost approximately 1/3 of our monthly support. Thus we have delayed our return to Rwanda as we seek to discover more like minded partners. May the Lord bring together more churches, individuals, and organizations to continue the tasks before us.

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement that sustain our family and ministry.

Imana ikurinde (May God Keep All of You),

Dave and Jana

First in Faith

As we begin a new blog we want to remember the highlights of the old, from January 2008.


We know it must look like we have fallen off the face of the earth. President Kagame says, “Other countries can walk. We must run.” Our pace has been so fast that it has been a real struggle to catch our breath long enough to communicate. We want to briefly share some good news and then speak of a huge answered prayer in our lives.

Our effort at a church plant among Rwanda’s current and future thought leaders is going well. This past Sunday we had 170 in attendance which was our highest Sunday attendance since our Grand Opening on March Fourth 2006. One of the most vital statistics was that we had 21 cars in our parking lot. In a nation where the Per Capita Income is in the neighborhood of $300 it is imperative to plant a sustainable church that it is composed of those with the capacity to manage complexities and lead others. Regular attendees include those from leading Rwandan government offices, embassies, businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Also, Kigali International Community School (KICS) opened this term with 87 students from 23 nationalities. We never would have guessed the diversity the Lord would bring to us when we entered Rwanda. The Lord has taken our struggle to make a sustainable educational environment for our children and from it brought a new mission field to us. We can only ponder what the Lord intends to do with this surprising endeavor.

To keep a presence in our Kigali community, Dave still teaches an Ethics course at a local university, Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. Last year, he had over 250 students. He also writes a weekly column for a local impendent paper (“Focus”), and many of the articles can be found on our blog.

The whole endeavor in Rwanda has humbled us and caused us to ask many questions. We have only been in Rwanda for a little over 2 ½ years. We are far ahead of what we ever could have anticipated. Under the best of situations we would not have anticipated to be where we are currently at even after being here 5 years. Surely the Lord has done something truly out of the ordinary. It is He who deserves all the glory and honor.

However, He does work through people and prayer. Some are worthy of special honor in order to tell the story of our faith journey to Rwanda. We want to dedicate this newsletter to our overseeing congregation, Quail Springs Church of Christ. Allow us to tell their story in Rwanda.

In 2004 our family was nearing the end of our contract to stay in Uganda. During a season of deep struggle Dave wrote a prayer crying out for an answer when the Lord had been almost silent for years.


It seems you have asked me to shepherd many others, but who will shepherd me? I know you are a shepherd by nature, but I need one with flesh by me. I am lonely and confused. Please bring a shepherd to me.”

In a certain way it seemed rather selfish, but the deepest cries of the heart are that way. We are now convinced the Lord heard the prayer and responded immediately. It just took us time to let go of what we held dear in order for Him to bring to us what He held dear. Also, it took Him some time to prepare our future shepherds.

The united journey began in earnest in September 2004. We arrived at Oklahoma Christian University (OC) in the Fall of 2004 as a typical burned out missionary. The OC community was a true Sabbatical Year for us, but we needed a church home. We made a decision that since our time at OC would last just 9 months church shopping would not be an option. During our first Wednesday evening Bible class we observed our 5 year old Ugandan daughter, Ruthie in a Quail Bible class where she could celebrate her African dance skills, and we knew this was the church for us. Thus we had a natural transition to Quail overseeing us when God called us to Rwanda.

During May 2005 Quail had our commissioning Sunday. Dr. Mark Henderson spoke pastoral words that both terrified and inspired us. “If you are in trouble, we will come and get you.” Did Mark mean Quail’s standard of missionary accountability was so high that a screw up would cost us a on site visit with a return plane ticket, or that Quail would personally evacuate us from an African crisis? He’s never told us, but it was Quail’s message of love.

In hindsight it all makes sense, but also we are amazed at our “foolishness.” Truly, Quail and we were fools of the cross. No church had been registered by the Rwandan government in over 3 years. How would we even stay legal? When we arrived we tried a local school for months, but our kids knew within a few hours that it would not work. How could our children live in a healthy social and educational environment? We only had a few Rwandan friends. How would we learn the ropes and adjust?

However, the Lord repeatedly did the surprising. In fact, the more desperate we became the more likely time would show we were on the right path.

Through out this time we our Quail supporters displayed an immense sense of faith in the Lord’s providence. They are always the first to commit. Let us tell a few high lights:

As we came to Rwanda, Bryan Hixson was assigned to be our Missions Liaison. During the summer of 2006 Bryan, Holly, and their two beautiful daughters Alexis and Grace were with us. They were part of the celebration when we were the first church in Rwanda in years to be granted a new registration to operate legally. Also, during that time we selected the first OC Rwanda Presidential Scholars. Holly particularly took an older sister role with the students. Upon the Hixson’s return the Quail Springs Church of Christ families adopted all of the Rwandan students and made Oklahoma their home.

The OC Rwanda Presidential Scholars program has been directed by our Missions Committee Chairman, John Osborne who also is the Director of International Studies at OC. At every positive turn that has been taken for our ministry in Rwanda John Osborne has been one of the driving factors.

As Christ’s Church in Rwanda was granted a legal registration it came with the instruction to quickly develop property. Thus the Quail Missions Committee decided that they would send two elders, Tom Gooch and Sue Gooch and Larry Schwab to help us assess the best option. Prior to their arrival we became aware of a school and hall for sale that was part of a model community designed by the Rwandan government to set an example for all their hopes in the year 2020.

When the Gooches and Larry arrived in September 2006 we cautiously showed them the property, and they were sold on it. At one point as we looked around the property, Dave jumped over a fence assuming the gate was locked when it was not. Sue Gooch humorous rebuke of, “Stop jumping over open gates” has summarized this journey. It is a lot easier than we anticipated if we would just trust the Lord to open gates.

The Gooches and Larry were with us for the first opening day of KICS. We only had about 25 kids, but the dream was alive. Tom repeatedly spoke that though we were not sent to start a school it was very apparent that was the Lord’s intention. We just needed to be prepared for all that was the Lord’s intention.

As the dream to purchase our current facility began to get off the ground, the Quail leadership rule of first to commit continued when their leadership decided they would raise 20% of the capital from Quail internally and began forming the ROC foundation as the means to acquire and manage the property.

When tough negotiations needed to be done, Dr. Mike O’Neal; and Quail member and Oklahoma businessman, Steve Clark were sent to Rwanda in February 2007.

One of the blessings of being associated with Quail has been their sensitive eyes that see our limitations. As it was becoming apparent that to manage the property would be more than we could handle they knew we needed a property manager. As we surveyed the need and available people there became an obvious answer to this problem. Those who gave first in faith would need to give their very best. Though painful to do, we asked for our Missions Liaison, Bryan and Holly Hixson to join us in Rwanda. At the time Quail was financially stretched and for both Quail and the Hixsons their entrance into Rwanda was an action of complete faith and trust. The Hixsons arrived in August 2007, and immediately lightened the load on our weary shoulders.

During our Grand Church Opening on March Fourth, 2007; Quail sent their Senior Minister Mark and Sharon Henderson to help us launch into new territory. During their week with us, Mark and Sharon visited an orphanage and saw over 40 infants. Mark told the Lord, “This is unacceptable.” Mark is like us and rarely hears messages that he attributes directly to the Lord, but felt in his spirit that God said, “I agree. What are you going to do about it?”

Thus, the adoption journey began. Mark and Sharon returned to Rwanda and spent 7 weeks with us as they adopted Zach and Nate. They were followed by another Quail family, Dave and Melissa Osborne who adopted Ethan. Our most recent adoption journey was Brett and Keli Shreck who like the Hendersons also adopted Benjamin and Nicholas. Again, the rule with Quail and Rwanda is always first to commit in faith.

Now besides all the stories let us tell a few statistics:

1). Quail Springs has invested over $400,000 in Rwanda in the last 3 years. This includes the support given to our family and the Hixsons, short-term mission teams, adoptions, and property acquisition.

2) Besides the investment in finances, we know of no other church in our fellowship who has invested so heavily in people as Quail has in Rwanda. Quail has had personnel on the ground in Rwanda 46 of the past 62 weeks that we have been in Rwanda (74% of our time). We are unaware of any missionary who has ever had such a continual presence of help and encouragement as we have experienced from Quail.

3) If you were to attend Quail Springs on an “average” Sunday you may see 18 of Rwanda’s brightest scholars. Also, you may see 5 former orphans that now call Quail families “mom and dad.” This has truly been a relationship of reciprocity with Rwanda. Quail’s presence in Rwanda has been a reflection of Rwanda’s presence at Quail.

Now a few of you may be thinking, “Well this makes sense as Quail is a large, influential, and wealthy congregation.” Please allow us to tell you a painful truth of our faith. The Lord works best through our weaknesses. The last two years have not been easy ones at Quail. In fact, Quail has made new commitments to Rwanda during times when money was tight and involved members few. So though this newsletter is an attempt by a humble missionary to shout from the mountains the answer to a desperate prayer it is an attempt to honor God more than Quail.

Weakness teaches us many things. One is that God is our sustainer. The other is that God works most clearly through partnerships with like minded individuals. To be honest, each day from our office we see many who the Lord has drawn to this endeavor in surprising ways. We could not be where we are at without their willing spirits and hands. Again, we feel much like the Lord and we pray for Him to send more workers into the rich field of Rwanda.

We hope the best for all of you. May all of you find shepherds in your life like the ones we have found at Quail.

Dave and Jana

Thursday, April 1, 2010

International Christian K-12 Teachers Needed

Our family is beginning to renew our habit of sending prayerful news. We ask for you to prayerfully consider if you may know available teachers for Kigali International Community School.

Following is a note from our colleague, Bryan Hixson about next year's need.

Dave and Jana


Friends of Kigali International Community School (KICS),

KICS is seeking Christian teachers to join us for our school year beginning August 2010. This unique opportunity and experience for K-12 teachers is in Kigali, Rwanda. KICS currently serves 185 students from 34 nationalities and is seeking accreditation from ACSI and MSA.

KICS will provide housing, health insurance, visa, transport to/from Rwanda, use of a school vehicle, and an international professional development conference for those staying for a second year. Christian teachers afforded this special opportunity are asked to raise additional support to address other needs like food, travel, and student loans. KICS projects that each teacher will need to raise a minimal $200-400/month.

Attached you will find an application form and the mission, vision, and philosophy statements for KICS. See the list below for available positions. For further information please contact or find us at

We are happy to provide more information to anyone that might have an interest in this unique international opportunity. Below this list you will find a couple of quotes from current KICS teachers and a student from online posts.

• KG
• 1st Homeroom
• 2nd Homeroom
• 6th Homeroom
• MS/HS Science - Physics/Biology 1 and 2/Earth Sci? (not Chemistry)
• MS/HS Math
• MS/HS Social Studies
• MS English/HS (1)
• MS/HS Bible
• Physical Education
• Art

"I relish the privilege of teaching at a Christian school in Africa. God continues to work in my heart and give me joy in the work He has called me to do. Each day I get to teach Rwandan children, missionary children, children of non-Christians from various parts of the globe, and children of prominent people in this country’s business and government. It is awesome to start first period social studies (7th grade) with prayer and devotional in an environment where students can ask real questions about life and God, and we can freely discuss what the Bible teaches. Teaching elementary students about the music of J. S. Bach, sharing how he devoted his music to the glory of God, and learning about Handel’s Messiah and watching the kids rise—according to tradition—during the “Hallelujah Chorus” in honor of Christ, have been other blessings. Being not only free but encouraged to bring God into each class is an awesome opportunity." Micah (Music & History Teacher)

"I like KICS because the teachers are really kind and I am learning a lot. It is really cool to experience all the kids from so many different countries and seeing kids who don't believe in God become believers. I also like how easy it is to make friends." Alexis (5th grade)

"Before I left on holiday, I told the Headmaster of KICS my intentions of returning next year; upon the basis I could think during the break. I did not have an uneasy feeling at the thought of another year during the break which was a nice confirmation. As I thought and prayed about next year and what I would be leaving in both the States and Africa, I decided I would stay as previously stated. I do miss family and friends more and more each week, but I believe it is the place for me to be next year....I truly enjoy teaching at KICS. It has been a wonderful break from not to be loaded down with meetings, endless paper work, and other responsibilities that stifle the energy I can put into teaching... I thank God for such a great group of students who are unlike any other I have ever taught." Douglas (Grade 3 Teacher)

"After much prayer and thought, I will be returning to Rwanda in August (after a 6-week visit back to Canada this summer) and plan to teach in Rwanda as long as the Lord allows. I love being here: the people, KICS, the culture, and relationships that I have formed." Vicki (5th grade)

Bryan Hixson mobile: 0788232699
ROC Partners - Ex. Dir. - RW
KICS Board Chairman
CCR Admin. Min.

Bukago Lost and Found


Many generations ago, at the top of Mount Elgon lived the father of mankind, Muchwezi. This father of old had 3 sons – Kintu, Zungu, and Kago. Each was a strong boy with a stubborn streak. They would carry stones and sticks as Muchwezi built his home, but throughout the day Muchwezi would need to take a stick and beat each boy into obedience. They were the type of sons who would try a father’s patience, but also whom a father knew would each rise to lead a nation. All of the boys were fascinated by the streams of Mount Elgon. Where did the water run? Each knew his future would be discovered by following the streams of Mount Elgon.

Kintu was a gatherer of people. He slowly pondered and only acted when he had seen all the possibilities. He was fascinated by stories, traditions, and rituals. He loved the soil and would spend his days digging in the banana plantation. He journeyed down Mount Elgon and followed her streams to the nearest lake. There in the lower elevations between the world’s great lakes among fertile soils, Kintu built his nation. He loved many women and produced many children. His children became the Bakintu, their nation the Kikintu, and their land, Bukintu.

Zungu was an active child. In fact, some thought he was actually a mad man. He ran in circles. He seemed confused in his constant activity. Some thought he was lost while he thought he was discovering. Occasionally in Zungu’s activity he would discover a new tool. However, he left a trail of broken people and hopes in his mad activity. Zungu followed the streams to their source, and then to the oceans, and then disappeared for generations. While gone he also became a nation. His people were the Bazungu. They spoke Kizungu. Their land was called Buzungu.

However, those of Bakintu who traveled to the land of Buzungu found the Bazungu never seemed to be at peace with their land. They hungered for more while neglecting what they had. A few Bazungu returned to Bakintu. Some came as traders, some came as diplomats, and some came as tellers of fables.

One of these Bazungu story tellers took the Bakintu name Agaba. He was tall and strong with the capacity to suffer and endure. He felt most at home in paradox. He loved the open plains of Bukintu, but in the boredom of the Bazungu dwelt among the large Bakintu villages. He had many friends who represented all the diversity of both the Bakintu and the Bazungu. He had a daughter named Namulindwa. She was true to her name and born after a much awaited and difficult labor. Upon her arrival the world was blessed. Since she was born and raised in Bukintu she shared a Kikintu heart held within her Kizungu skin. Namulindwa was wise with the wisdom of both the Bazungu and Bakintu. She hungered for knowledge from both the story telling of the Bzee and the modern schools.

Kago was the lost son. He hungered for the water as did Kintu and Zungu. He was a gatherer of people and digger of the soil as Kintu. He was also an artist. As with all artists his ways are difficult to understand for those who must understand through reason. Zungu had a method to his madness. Kago only seemed to have madness. He made trails on Mount Elgon that wrapped in circles. Even Zungu would become lost on Kago’s trails. Kago was a builder. In fact, he built and built and built until Mount Elgon no longer had stones or sticks for his building. At this moment Kago’s hunger needed more. He followed the streams. Then he disappeared. No one knew where Kago had gone. What was most remembered was his slight speech impediment. Before Kago left Mount Elgon, Muchwezi blessed him.

“Kago you shall become a great city. Many shall gather to you. You shall build huts that reach to the sky. You shall gather the produce of the land and sell it to far traders. Your strength shall be known by many people.

However, because of your ever growing appetite you shall be under an eternal curse to keep you humble. Though you will have many successes there shall be one game in which success will elude you. You will be the home of the Bakubi. Their prophet shall be Hari Kari. The Bakubi will sing and dance to the words of Hari Kari, but the Bakubi shall never rule over their foes.”

Kago argued with Muchwezi. As he argued his language became slurred. Muchwezi spoke again, “Your culture shall be Kikago, your people Bakago, your land Bukago.”

Kago responded back, “No, my culture shall be Chicago. And my people will forget their name
and origin.”

At Kago’s curse, Muchwezi pondered. Kago’s anger had created a speech impediment. How could a son forget his father and home? How could Muchwezi answer? Muchwezi spoke one final word, “Kago you shall forget your home, but never lose your hunger for knowledge. Great schools will arise among your land. Even with those great schools your language will become cluttered. You will forget how to speak. However, in a distant day you shall be found. You may call yourself what you choose, but to your relatives you will always be Mukago, your people Bakago, your culture Kikago, and your city Bukago.”

Kago left Muchwezi’s home on Mount Elgon. He followed the streams. He found a new land. He forgot. But the children of Zungu and Kintu always hoped to again see Kago.

Generations later Agaba and Namulindwa went on a journey. The season had come for Namulindwa to study away from the Agaba’s home. Agaba trusted his daughter, but did not trust the far schools. Thus he would journey with Namulindwa until he was convinced her new home would be a safe one for Namulindwa’s gentle heart. Namulindwa heard tales of a school called Witoni. The rumor whisperers told stories of Witoni being home to many like Namulindwa who had a Bakintu heart contained within Bazungu skin.

Agaba and Namulindwa boarded an iron kite to fly to Witoni. All went well. Then as they landed they noticed a marker in the trail “Welcome to Chicago.” Had they found lost Kago?
Agaba and Namulindwa rode the trails of Chicago. They were always lost. The trails took turns that made no sense. Yes, this was the culture of Kikago. Finally, they found an iron horse that took straight paths. Maybe, a lost Muzungu had given Kago some wisdom in generations past to build a trail for iron horses?

Agaba and Namulindwa took an iron horse to be near Chicago’s lake. Upon the way they saw huts that reached the sky. Kago had found a place where his building dreams had enough sticks and stones.

At the place where Chicago village met the lake was a great palace of art. Namulindwa was fascinated. Agaba was weary, but this was the art of Kikago.

Finally, they found the records of old. Chicago was home to many strong athletes. Kago was strong and so were his sons. One game of Kago’s even had a strong Ankole bull rule over their opponents with a mythical hero named Mikali Jodani. Yet Muchwezi’s curse had fallen upon Kago. The Bakubi were in Chicago. They danced to the songs of Hari Kari, but they never ruled over their opponents.

Agaba and Namulindwa had found lost Kago. Kago called himself Chicago, but Agaba and Namulindwa knew the truth. He was a Mukago. His people were Bakago. His city was Bukago. His culture was Kikago.