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A Note for New Readers

Urukundo Village is an independent home for Rwandan children created and funded through Hope Made Real and its incredibly kind donors. We are not funded by any particular denomination or organization and welcome all who seek to help the children of Rwanda and create a better world not just for a child, but for us all. 

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Friday
Oct052007

Arlene in Rwanda: October 2007

Volume #6 September/October
Urukundo Home for Children
ARLENE IN RWANDA
The vision is a Children’s Village on a beautiful hill in the heart of Gitarama. Rwanda, Africa. This mission is truly a dream that will become a reality with “God in Charge”.

URUKUNDO VILLAGE
built with love
dedicated to nurture children
There is no limit to the number of children who will pass through our gates in the years to come. Think of the difference you can make in one child’s life… and multiply it by the hundreds. I invite you to make God’s dream a reality.

Each child is a future leader of Rwanda. To that end, it is my dream that every child in Urukundo Village will be given the gift of unbounded love, learn to honor a God of peace, and receive an education that equips them for a better future.

HOW DID URUKUNDO (LOVE) BEGIN?
"God in Charge", has been the motto for this mission since my return to Rwanda in April 2006. I am in awe of a God who answers prayers even before they are prayed. Only “Divine Intervention” explains the accomplishments of the last 17 months; a girls’ home, a boys’ home, a guest house, a chicken farm, and a small house for me. We currently rent these houses. But now, with the land God has given us, we can use rental money toward a permanent home for the children.

I all began with a need to house the chickens and provide a play area for the children. I had some money in a mutual fund in the U.S. for “my old age” and decided that this was “my old age”. I figured there was at least $10,000 in the fund. After all, I wasn't saying to God, "Okay, I trust you. But just in case you fail I have some money in reserve.” How is that faith? As I prepared to sell my stock to buy the parcel of land a friend e-mailed me that if I promised not to cash in my mutual fund for the $10,000 and save it for my old age that she and her husband would personally give me $10,000 to purchase the land. We excitedly purchased land enough to build chicken houses, a garden, a Children’s Chapel, a nursery school, and ten cottages to house 100 children.

As the vision grew, so grew our need for more space. The property beside us was to be developed into a 4-star hotel complex. I met with the project manager to ask if they might sell us the hilltop. Without hesitation he declared we could purchase the entire lot and they would sell it to us for what they paid. Unbelievable! I asked for a hill and God gave me a mountain. Now I knew God was in charge. This doesn’t happen in Rwanda, but it did.

The cost of the land was 70,000 US$. Now, we needed $35,000 in two weeks to secure the sale. I spent a lot of hours on my knees. And I contacted my bank about my mutual funds. To my surprise there was $45,000 in the fund. It is my turn to show faith—as well as keep my word to my friend. I had the $35,000 wired through Spiritworks for the land and kept $10,000 in the account for my old age. The money was wired through Spiritworks and the land is secured. We have six months to come up with the remaining $35,000. I don't know where the money will come from, but I always remember, “God in Change.”

A VISION FOR THE LAND
Chicken House and Garden
It is the rainy season in Rwanda and so we have already planted our first garden that will give us vegetables for the season. We started our chicken business with sixty-three Chickens and fifty-three chicks. Rwandan chickens are small and produce very small eggs but the eggs sell for $1.20 each locally. The new house has been constructed to house 500 chickens. These will be imported chickens and will cost $2.60 each. The larger eggs from these chickens will sell for much more and the market is the hotels in Kigali. The market is available as soon as we can produce. The projected income after expenses will be $7,973 the first year. We have a breakdown of expenses should anyone want to see it and advise.

Children’s Home Cottages
Each of the ten cottages will house thirteen children. Inside is a central room for relaxing, an family eating area, a kitchen, 3 bedroom each housing four girls or boys and one room for the house mother. Each will have big front porch to play upon in the sunshine or the rain.

Play Grounds
The children will have a place to play. To this end a grassy area for tag and soccer and another area for basketball hoops will be prepared Fencing will protect the children in our care.

Central Kitchen
A cost effective main kitchen will supply the children nutritious food three times daily.

Day Care
When the community leaders were told we would have a Day Care one of the leaders asked "can I bring my little girl to your school." I did not take her seriously, but said of course, it isn't built yet". She replied "I know. But I need a safe place for my child while I work". Three weeks later we transported her little one to the hospital. She had been abused and rape. We can prevent this from happening to other children by providing a safe place. I have the blue prints and the cost estimate for the Day Care is 16,719687 rwf or $33,000 USD

Chapel/ and Flower Garden
We need to care for the spiritual needs of these lovely people. Setting in an area easily accessed by the children from inside and the community on the outside will be a Children’s Chapel surrounded by a flower garden. This house of worship will invited all to come.

Staff House
We have staff members, such as our medic and cooks, who need a place where they belong and can call home.

Missionary House
A house must be built for the mission person(s) who will come to serve after me. I will use it as my home base while I am here. It will also house the medical clinic for the sick.

Learning Center
A library and computer room will be the center piece of our English Primary School. Yes, English is the international language and we need to equip our children for the world of tomorrow.

Guest House
Presently we rent a guest house complete with Wifi to welcome international guests. This business employs and provides healthy insurance for two Rwandan families. Now, we need to build our own guest facility so that work crews and others can come who wish to respond to the great needs of the world.

Children’s Chapel
This interdenominational house of worship will be a place to praise God for all the Spirit has done and will do. I have the blue prints and the cost estimate for the chapel is 16,719687 rwf or $33,000 US$

Other Visions and Dreams
With the additional land, dreams are endless. Could there be a College or University to train community leaders and pastors for the future? Incredible as this may sound, today we started an English class for pastors in the small classroom at my house. There were four students. The seed is already planted. We cannot limit God but pray for wisdom and guidance.

Bit by bit the plans are being drawn and coming together. I sense that there are others like myself who feel the tug of God to work here in Rwanda. Could it be you? I also sense that this dream is just the beginning. We cannot limit God, knowing all that is possible.

In Closing, my love to you all. Please remember to keep the vulnerable children throughout the world in constant prayer. Will you consider becoming a partner with me with the Urukundo Village for Children in Rwanda, Africa? Blessed be, Arlene
Gifts can be sent to support this mission through: Spiritworks-Rwanda Fund, 823 West Cremona St., Seattle, Washington 98119, pdbrown@spiritworks.org; http://www.spiritworks.org.
or Rwanda Support, Saint Johns-Newberry UMC, 2101 Newberry Street, Williamsport Pa 1770. If you wish to work with a particular project add a note.
Support for Arlene’s personal expenses can be sent: Spiritworks-Missionary, 823 West Cremona St., Seattle, WA 98119.
Spiritworks is a non-profit Christian Foundation. Statements are sent on a regular basis and these can be used for exemptions on your tax returns.

Chicken HousesChildrren on the hill top of the new land.
Tuesday
Sep112007

Exciting Message from Arlene in Rwanda

"OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD" Today September 10th we learned even more what an awesome God we have. As you know and are a witness to it's purchase, the land we have bought is beautiful. The land above ours and to the right of our property is even more beautiful. The top of the hill has a view that takes your breath away. It is the perfect place for a Guest House or a House of Worship. The Lord Will decide which. That land was earmarked for a hotel by important men in government. Our President Paul Kagame is one of the group. God did not let that happen any more than he let the Friends Fellowship build a church on the land we now own. That land was being guarded for us. As you know we needed more land because we are going to have a Nursery School, a Primary School and one day a Secondary School with Dorms. God knows, maybe a university. We will not limit what God can do. John and I had a meeting today September 10th with the spokesperson of the group. I shared with him the vision for the land we now have and expressed an interest in the land to the top of the hill. We shared with him about the schools, the playground for the children and community, the guest house built to house teams and visitors, the Chapel where all would be welcomed to worship, the chicken house for income and most important cottages for the children we now have and those yet to be added. He listened to my proposels and looked at the project blue print and agreed to let us purchase the land. I asked for the hill top and God gave us the whole land. This was way beyond my expectations. He said he had authorization to speak for the group and because he believed we were there working to make life better for the children and the community we could have the land at the price they paid for it. I am thinking the top of the hill. This man was offering the whole parcel. That was when he asked would I be interested in all the land with a token payment and an article of agreement. I could not believe my ears. "God is Good." With this land our land will be about ten times the size it was. The price is 35 million RWF. which is about $70,000 USD. Yes it is a lot of money here but with God all things are possible. We can take the time we need to pay for it. The present need is for $20,000 as soon as possible to bind the deal. I am putting my life savings into this God directed project and I know I will not be alone as I pray others will open their hearts and want to help. It would be a blessing to have 6 millionaires who love the Lord. "God in Charge." I do not have 6 millionaires, not even one, but I know the widow's mite is greatly valued in the eyes of God. Working together we can serve God and the children. Each giving our mite can make a difference. Thank you for what I know will be a great future for the children at Urukundo Home for Children. Shalom Arlene Arlene D Brown BP 179 Founder Urukundo Home for Children Muhanga District, Rwanda Cell 08769422
Saturday
Sep012007

Arlene in Rwanda Newsletter - September 2007

Urukundo Home for Children Newsletter – September 2007
Arlene in Rwanda
NOTE: See eight (8) photos at the end of the newsletter.
Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ and Partners in mission:

The New Urukundo Children's Village
Thanks to you, the land for the Urukundo Children’s Village is now purchased and the chicken buildings are almost completed. God is faithful. Now it is time to move to our first building project. I believe that it is vital to welcome the community to our Christian home. Therefore, our next project is a chapel. I am reminded that the early settlers in America first erected the church building and the community was then built around it. This is our hope for Urukundo Village.
If it is God’s, will we hope to begin building the Children's Chapel in mid-September. The completion of the chapel will then be surrounded by the children’s cottages. The Chapel will be both for the children and the community. The importance of building the Chapel now is to let the community know we are a Christian Village and that we love children and serve the Lord in everything we do. The Chapel will sit in the center of a flower garden with paths leading to the entrances and will greet our visitors in Jesus name. The garden will be designated as a Honor/Memorial Garden in honor of those who have supported Urukundo Home for Children with prayers and gifts.
Inside the Children’s Chapel: "The Vision"
Go with me on a virtual tour. As you enter the chapel you immediately come upon the baptismal and must go around it to get to your seat. This says, "It is time to slow down. This is a special sacred space." Next you see the big Christ Candle on the stand that reminds children that Christ is the "Light of the World". It is lit for all services. We will need a simple wooden stand for the LARGE house Bible. NO PULPIT. People can speak from the center table. This says that all God's children are invited to surround the banquet table of God now and in the kingdom to come. Nothing goes on the table except when communion is served. Then a white cloth is draped. A single cup and a single loaf are on the small stand until it is time for communion after the lesson.

Every service, including Sundays, is to be "Children's Church" filled with music with motions, drums and shaker instruments, and telling a Bible story. Prayer times will be kneeling times for children with their concerns prayed. I think a woman pastor assigned by the bishop would be good for us.
Toddler and Infant area: A simple low railing and little gate will keep it designated and the toddlers’ safe. Rocking chairs and a mat to crawl upon and some toys that are washable are needed.
Chairs and Benches: Older individuals need chairs with low backs. Some benches can also be used. We must make sure the benches are of different lengths so they can be arranged with everyone not looking at someone's back. People should be able to see each other's faces.
BUT... this is important... each child who is a family member of the orphanage will have his or her own individual stool with his or her name on it somewhere. "Belonging" is so, so important. Our children need to know that something belongs to them. It is children who are never allowed to have their own possessions, who later in life don't know how to share and give. It is as we have been given abundantly that we are then able to give in the same manner.
BIG Gates: These, at the rear of the chapel, facing the lawn next to the road can then be swung open so that we can seat more people; it will serve as an overflow seating area. This also allows us to build on later when adjoining property becomes available.
Windows: Again, these will be long and high to give light to the building but not interfere with the seating. The height also serves as a protective measure.
Book Shelves: These sit in the back for bibles and song books or what ever needs to be set here. This can be a built-in shelf when the building is constructed.
Lighting: I want anything but bare bulb florescent lighting! We could create our own hanging ceiling lights in cans. Or, we could build wooden boxes along the ceiling to use fluorescents that would illuminate upward. But, I don't want to kill the feeling of holiness of the room by creating glaring light.
Our Present (Rented) Home

Home for the Girls
There is no more room at the Home for Girls with the new addition of Esperance Savoronia We have no more beds. There are many orphans who want to come live with us so it is hard to say “there is no room at the inn”. The new site will provide for many more of these needy children. With the increase it was necessary this week to move the dinning room into the larger of our two main rooms of the girls’ home. Visitors also eat at our tables when they come. Each table has a name: The American Table, The African Table, and The Canadian Table in honor of David Ottier and Kirsten Cavendish & Bill Ginter, our visitors from Canada.

“Puppy”, one of our new guard dogs is a four-week-old African mix. The second, “Babe” is a four-month-old German Shepherd. Babe is already a good watch dog and when grown Puppy will be a strong dog as well. The dogs intimidate the children who will learn to trust them with time.

Home for the Boys
The boys have decided to get serious about the Chicken business. They, with the guidance of Papa John, have set about ten hens and we have over fifty chicks in the shed with more hatching every day. Chickens don’t thrill me, but the boys love the project. Bill Graf a visitor from Colorado introduced them to the Frisbee and it has become a new pass time. Bill also witnessed the signing of the property deed. God has blessed us by having Americans present at all our transactions. Creditability is very important.

This week the boys were challenged by a school soccer team so they are excit4d about Saturday’s game. I am learning more about soccer everyday and will be there to cheer them on.

The Chicken Project
This to has been a learning experience. I have discovered how much I don’t know about construction and chickens in Rwanda. I think in terms of chickens on my Grandfather Stiners’ farrm. The metal roof is ready to be put on thanks to Pastor Ed Wentz his wife, Norma and his brother Bob in Hanover. Thank you all!

United Methodist Woman Gitarama
It gave me great pleasure to meet the President and Secretary of the UMW in Gitarama. Together we presented twenty goats to an HIV/AID Association in the United Methodist Church. This is the fourth church group we have been able to assist in helping HIV/Aids affected families. The churches are: Mpushi Presbyterian Church, Byimana Pentecostal Church, Gitarama United Methodist Church, and Gitarama Lutheran Church.

Bishop of East Africa Conference: It was my pleasure and honor to meet UMC Bishop Daniel Wandabula of the East Africa Conference. The worship service took place in Kigali City. It was a privilege to hear him speak and to listen to his plans for the future of the United Methodist Church in Rwanda. This unscheduled service was attended by several hundred Christians.
Rwanda UMC continues to struggle after the unfortunate events caused by the past district superintendent, Jupa. He did so much harm to many supporting church families and the UMC Rwanda in general. The Bishop is working to have the UMC once again registered with the government. Please include him in your prayers as you pray for all the churches in Rwanda.
IN CLOSING: In closing, I am asking for your help to make the vision become a reality. There are so many dreams that God has set before us and I thank each of you for your continuing faithful support of all that is happening. So, have fun and choose a project and support it. Designate on your gift where your heart is and how you want to help. You can direct questions to me at Arlene@spiritworks.org I love hearing from you. Remember to pray for the vulnerable children in Rwanda and throughout the world. There are so many. If you would like to be a partner with me in mission I would be happy to welcome you as would my Lord.
Gifts can be sent to the mission through: Spiritworks-Rwanda Fund, 823 West Cremona St, Seattle, Washington 98119 Web site: www spiritworks.org
OR -- Rwanda Support, Saint Johns-Newberry UMC, 2101 Newberry Street, Williamsport Pa 17701
Arlene D Brown, Founder
BP 179
Urukundo Home for Children
Muhanga District, Rwanda
Cell 08769422

img_0004.jpgimg_0018.jpgimg_0019.jpgimg_0022.jpgimg_0033.jpgimg_0042.jpgimg_0046.jpgimg_0064.jpg
Wednesday
Aug082007

Arlene in Rwanda August 2007 Newsletter

Volume #4 July/August Newsletter
ARLENE IN RWANDA

Greetings Sisters, Brothers, and Other Partners in mission.
July has been a wonderful month with visitors from Pennsylvania. Our visitors from America included Ms. Marilyn Ely from the Williamsport District of the United Methodist Church and Rev. Sharon Landis from the Altoona District of the UMC. They witnessed the deed signing of the new site of the URUKUNDO HOME FOR CHILDREN, were guests at the Liberation Day Celebration that marks the end of the Genocide, worshipped with Christians of different faiths, and taught and played with the children. Six of our boys and I enjoyed traveling to the Akagere National Park in Rwanda to see Zebra, Topi, Impala, Giraffe, and Cape Buffalo. I had a fight with a baboon and, believe it or not, I won. It was one of those times when you don't know what you are doing until after it is over. Yes, it could have been serious and God is kept busy looking out for me. This baboon left some black and blue marks and a bad memory, but there no permanent harm done.
The purchase of the land is is the newest development in the ministry here in Rwanda. I am praying that those back home will catch the dream and want to be a part of this 'God happening". I thank the couple who gave the money for the land to build. They took a step of faith and believe, with me, that it is "God in Charge". I know this is God’s plan and that God will provide. Yet, there are times when I tremble at the magnitude of the task. It continues to grow in faith and my spirit knows I must not put a limit on the awesome plans of God.
Our next step is to acquire an official Project Permit from the Sector. This requires a general plan for land development. A Rwandese Technician and Architect has measured the land and looked at the vision God has given and is now working out dimensions. Of course, in order not to limit God, we already see that we need more land.
Now, I need your input. Here is the initial basic vision. Our first project: is the chicken house. Sam is a Christian architect and builder who works with various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO). He has measured the land and is drafting a proposal for a the hilly section of the property. He will level the land and use the fill to make bricks for the base of the structure. Locals will be employed which will help the economy. We will use Core Stone a local commodity, for the foundation. Other building materials have strange names: lake sand, swamp sand and stone aggregates. The project will also use spades, hoes, wheel barrows, nails and bricks. This equipment can also be used when we build the cottages for the children. After our initial investment the chicken house will be an income source for further construction and maintenance of the Home for Children.
Our second project is the garden. We must clear and terrace the land to prepare it for planting immediately before the rainy season. Seeds can be purchased here, but I would like to try some seeds from the United States. I need some help from farmers back home who will come to my assistance with advise.. and perhaps even seeds. We need to grow vegetables and fruit for our children. We also hope someone will help us to purchase a cow, thus eliminating the need to buy powdered milk for the children.
Our third project are the cottages for children. We will pursue the construction as God provides. Our architect, Immanuel Hitmana, is a Christian and Rwandese. It would be great to find an American architect to come and work with him. Combining American know-how and local wisdom could make it happen. In the meantime we will continue to house the children in the current rental properties that you so graciously provide with your contributions.
Please continue to pray for me and all the vulnerable children in Rwanda and through out the world. There are so many. If you would like to be a partner with me in mission I would be happy to welcome you as would my Lord. Gifts can be sent to the mission through:
Spiritworks-Rwanda Fund
823 West Cremona St
Seattle, Washington 98119
OR
Rwanda Support
Saint Johns-Newberry UMC
2101 Newberry Street
Williamsport Pa 17701
pdbrown@spiritworks.org
http://www.spiritworks.org
If you wish is to work with one particular project add a note to your letter. A memo on your check is not enough. It can be overlooked by the counters.

Support for my personal support can be sent to:
Spiritworks-Missionary
823 West Cremona St.
Seattle, WA 98119
Spiritworks is a non-profit Christian Foundation. Statements, sent on a regular basis, can be used for an exemption on tax returns.
I pray that God will continue to bless you and yours every day walkas you walk with Christ. Shalom, Arlene

Arlene D Brown
BP 179
Founder Urukundo Home for Children
Muhanga District, Rwanda
Cell 08769422
Monday
Jul022007

The July 2007 Newsletter

Newsletter #3 Volume #3 June/July 2007

ARLENE IN RWANDA
It is unbelievable but true! The number of children in our homes has grown to twenty-eight. We now have fifteen girls and thirteen boys. We have room for two more girls and three more boys. Those places will be filled as soon as God sends children our way. This brings our total, counting the staff and myself, to forty. We make quite a picture walking to church on Sunday morning.

The need to care of one’s own soul became my deep need as this population explosion took place. Living with forty people on a 24/7 basis can be wearing. II realized that I needed more solitude in order to remain healthy and to do the job God means for me to do.

As always God presented me with the perfect solution. A house opposite the girls home became available. When the owner approached me to rent it I was shocked. This small house would give me a quiet space to rest and still allow me to remain close to the children.

I now live in the house. The little ones love it because they can come and have time alone with me. The house has a three-room attached apartment. One room is now a classroom, and the other two rooms house a medical clinic and our staff nurse.

This has been a month with many changes for me and for the Urukundo Foundation. We celebrated National Children's Day in Rwanda. Urukundo was issued a special invitation by the mayor to bring five boys and five girls to the District Office. It was a delightful celebration for John Kevin, Juilette, myself, and Hope who accompanied the children. It was awesome to see hundreds of children dressed out in their school uniforms.

Kevin is now in United States. This is the sad song my children sing. They are happy for him but miss their big brother very much.
Yes, this is the same Kevin who has been with me since the day I arrived in Gitarama. He has been my constant companion as driver, interpreter, bodyguard and all around right-hand man. I consider him a co-founder of Urukundo. Without him I could not have accomplished the things that God has sent me here to do.

Kevin is a very intelligent young man who, with education, can return to be a leader in Rwanda. Praise God, and thanks to several people in America who have come to know him, Kevin has been given the opportunity to attend University in Kentucky. It was hard to let him go but his welfare is what counts and I look forward to the day when he will return to Rwanda to work with Urukundo and me again. Please keep him in prayer as he adjusts to a new culture.

BOYS HOME
During April we found and rented a house where we could keep orphaned boys. Each time we met people and told them about our home for girls we were asked why there were no boys at Urukundo since it was a home for children. We rented a house close by and the District brought seven boys who were found begging in the streets. Our number is now at fourteen.

Along with the boy’s house we purchased the chicken business that was on the property. As it becomes profitable it will add income to support the education expenses of our children as we prepare to send them to secondary school and later University. The problem is that the chickens live inside the boy’s compound running free and for me this was too close to the boys. (As many of you know I have a weird fear of chickens that I think goes back to my childhood.) I proceeded to fence off an area for the chickens, but that cut down on the boys’ play area. They love kick ball (soccer), basketball and running games and now there was no room. Fourteen active kids need a yard. I tried to think of a solution to grow the poultry business and still have space for the children to play. This was when the thought of owning land. John, our administrator, began to investigate the region for property where we might build a play ground and move the chickens. He located a possibility. The land was owned by the Friends Church in the Muhanga –Gitarama District who had changed their building plans and needed to sell this property.

THE GOOD NEWS is that I have now acquired this land to be given to Urukundo. It is designated as a farm (an acreage to be developed). The land is prime meters (acreage) situated in a developing area where values are going up. Everything about this land is two good to be true—but then, “God is in Charge.” The property line is close to a paved road that leads to Kigali and south to Burundi. And the road far enough away so that the noise of heavy trucks will not bother us. It is close to the water source, phone line, and electricity. This is hard to imagine in Rwanda. There is additional property adjoining ours that could be purchased at a later date. And the Rwanda government is considering giving us the land on our side of the road that is presently government owned. The large gift to purchase this land was made possible from Christian friends of Urukundo.

Now I need a lot of help and am praying for teams to come clear the land and begin construction. We need an architect to design our buildings and help us create a plan for the best use of the land. We need planners, gardeners, construction workers and laborers. There is enough land to build a chicken compound, to cultivate a large garden, construct a play area where the children can play in safety and build a home for our current children and those to come.

I also pray for someone to come and give me a hand managing Urukundo, long-term or short-term. Please pray for this mission and me. I know God will provide a way but just now I need encouragement and affirmation from you

May God continue to bless you and yours in your everyday walk with Christ. Amen and Shalom, Arlene