Our Story

Our Story

We are Lacey Klassen and Michelle Maisonville; two Christian mothers privileged to go to Rwanda and Kenya with Home of Hope
from April 30-May 15, 2013. We've had an amazing experience and are happy to share it with all of you! For more information on all of the good Home of Hope is doing, please visit http://www.homeofhope.ca. Thank you so much for all of your support!

Lacey and Michelle

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Prayer Request

Esther & Peter
To all of our friends and followers, 

We humbly ask you to help us with a prayer request. Could you pray for our friend, Esther? We worked with her in Kenya this past spring. We have just received an email from Pastor Brian Thomson of Home of Hope. Esther, who is on staff with Home of Hope in Nairobi, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The local doctor has said she will need an operation to remove the affected breast. Thereafter she will need six months of chemotherapy and four months of radiation. The doctors have warned her that because she is so under weight that it might take a toll on her body.
Esther works for the local Word of Life church and is also involved with microloans, feeding desperate children, and the Stella project in Kayole that reaches into the Soweto slum. She and her husband, Peter, are amazing servants and so loving!
I have seen her work first-hand and she is an amazing woman! Please keep her in your prayers and share this message with others. I have written to her and promised her a prayer chain that stretches around the world. Thank you in advance.
All things are possible with God and we are believing for divine healing.

My child, pay attention to what I say.
    Listen carefully to my words.
Don’t lose sight of them.
    Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
for they bring life to those who find them,
    and healing to their whole body. 

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NLT)


Saturday, 20 July 2013

What is Love?

When we arrived in Rwanda and then again in Kenya, I was amazed by the instantaneous love I felt for the people.  It was one of the purest loves I have ever known in the fact that it was not driven by a desire to gain anything.  It was like that instant love I felt for my children when they were newborns and needed more from me than they could give, and yet through simply grasping my finger with their tiny hands, they gave me more than I thought possible.
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged." 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)
True love has no boundaries and no requirements.  I recently read this article in Charisma magazine. This passage struck me the most:
We often feel we have to earn someone’s love by training ourselves to give them what they want. Unfortunately, this kind of love isn’t “pure” at all, and it doesn’t come close to reflecting God’s true heart. But we’re so used to performing and trying to impress the people we want to love us that we treat God the same way. We go around and around in circles trying to make Him happy without ever stopping to consider that maybe His love is really, truly, pure—without any selfish or deceptive motive. Maybe God doesn't want anything from us except us.
I have struggled for a long time thinking I wasn't good enough.  I constantly want to please others and concern myself with what they think of me.  Last night, as I prayed before bed, I remembered something that I had once known, but had forgotten as life had gone on.  The only One I need to concern myself with is God.  What matters most is that He loves me; and, He does, unconditionally.  His love has no boundaries, no rules, no caveats.  He loves me (and YOU!) so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins!  What wondrous love is this!!

As tears ran down my face, I realized I had to let go of my overwhelming need to seek approval from anyone but my Heavenly Father. Sometimes I feel like the lost son (or daughter in my case).  I feel unworthy of love from anyone.  I repent to the Father and ask him to forgive me; but, I forget to listen and I miss these words...
“But his father said... ‘this son (daughter) of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He (She) was lost, but now he (she) is found.’ Luke 15:22 &24 (NLT)
True love comes from the Father in Heaven.  He is the only One we need to please, and He already loves us just because we are who we are... His children.

Photo courtesy https://www.facebook.com/gigoncrosswalk

Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Summary

We have been back from Africa now for over a month, but I can honestly say that the goggles that I view life through have changed. I have a new lens. A lens that shows how blessed we really are to live in a country that has so much. There is one main question that people ask me when they inquire about our trip to Africa. So, I figured the best way to answer would be a blog post, because answering that question in only one sentence is near impossible. The question is: "What did you do while you were there?" So, here is a summary of what I did every day that I was gone. Michelle's schedule differed a little because our group went in many different directions, but it is similar. I journal a little while I was there, so some of the details were written while they were still fresh in my mind, and others were written later.

April 30: Left for Africa!!

May 1: Flew to Amsterdam, and then over the Sahara (what a sight from the airplane!) to Rwanda. We met all the team members - bible college students, experienced African travellers, and even an energetic 70 year old woman. The man in the photo is one of our drivers, Pastor Ernest. I love it especially because my dad is a Pastor Ernest too!
May 2: This morning we toured the Rwandan genocide memorial. It was heart breaking. There were so many victims, so many of them children. I was astonished in a room full of pictures of those who died, but broke down completely in the section devoted to children. Children that died in their mothers arms with machetes and others whose last memories were of seeing their parents die. What really got me is when I was looking at a wall of pictures children that had died. There was one of three happy little children - same ages and genders as my children. Our guide, a nice man names Paco, hugged me till I was ok. It was really hard. Paco is my age, but survived the genocide because his family fled to the Congo, and then returned afterwards. 

In the afternoon we went to Jabana. It has been under Home of Hope's care the longest, and it was evident. Many of the children were sponsored - in clean clothes and not starving. We went orphaneering - which is visiting local families that are really struggling and giving small gifts to their children.
(The local toy - a ball made of plastic bags)

May 3: Today we went to Mugomaro.
There we fed 160 kids, but it was fairly unorganized because it was their first time feeding that many children. Lunch was supposed to be at 12, but because we had a massive rain in the morning (and the cooking is done outside) it wasn't ready until 2:30. We prayed for kids and they got to see a nurse. Later I went orphaneering and met a lady named Marie-Chanta. She is HIV positive and so are her two youngest children. Her kids are 2, 4, and 5. There is such heartbreaking stories, but the people are very gentle and willing to hear about Jesus.

May 4: Today we went to buhoro. There we fed a lot of kids. We dished up more than 200 plates but, many kids shared. I LOVE the dancing here. These people are so warm! We have learned a few songs like "iman izee zeeza" and "mambo sawa sawa"

We travelled back in a packed van. (About 20 people in a van about the same size as my own minivan) We sang and one of the eccentric girls behind me yelled with an unmatched enthusiasm for God. It was awesome. As a side note, the driving here is a little crazy, but definitely fun!

We went to Hotel Rwanda for supper. It was amazing just to touch the swimming pool that had been drank dry by people just trying to stay alive a short 19 years earlier.
May 5: Today we went to kibali in the mountains. It was so beautiful and remote. It is most certainly an agricultural community. After doing an impromptu children's program, we took stories from orphan children by he storied were so heartbreaking. Some parents died of HIV, others left them on the street and other parents suffered mental illnesses. It was so hard to hear story after story of these poor children. It felt too deeply personal to ask such questions as " what happened to his/her parents?" But they were very forthcoming with answers. These children's eyes were so sad, and none of them had health cards or mattresses (which means they had to sleep on the ground). A few of the kids had HIV, and one (whose parents died of HIV) had not even been tested. In Rwanda, the government will pay for your HIV medication if you have a health card. They are only $5-10, depending on your region, but these orphans are too poor to even afford that. Some had to go to restaurants to beg for food.
Midday we stopped for some goat on a stick. I must have a iron stomach because I am the only one that did not get sick.
In the afternoon, we had a crusade in a location with no christian church. People gave their life to Jesus, and immediately Brian put them to work praying for other people people. A deaf man was completely healed, and we prayed for another man whose back was in major pain, but the pain was completely gone when we finished. Thank you Jesus!!

May 6:  Safari Day!! We saw monkeys, zebras, water buffalos, wart hogs, and a host of beautiful birds. What wowed me the most was standing in a safari Jeep, driving over the mountains and plains, and seeing the beautiful creation that our God made. He is so good!

Today I also learned how to say 'I Love You" in a few more languages: 
Ndagukunda (Kinyarwanda) 
Nkwagala (Ugandan )
Nalingiyo (Lingala from Congo) 
Nalikutemwa (Zambian)
Je t'aime (French)
Nakupenda (Swahili)

May 7: Up until now, we had been visiting areas within 2 hours driving distance of Rwanda's capital, Kigali. Today, however, we flew to Kamembe. It is located on the western side of Rwanda, bordering Lake Kivu. It is an area rich in coffee and tea, but it also borders the Congo, which is very dangerous. We arrived in the local Home of Hope church and were welcomed amazingly with singing and dancing. Me and two of the students went to a local secular vocational school. One of the students, Jesse, mistakenly thought it was a bible college and began preaching. When the students began asking some very good and intelligent questions. (ie. If I give my life to Jesus and I sin again, does he have to die again?) Jesse realized that it was not in fact a bible college, but he answered their questions expertly. He did an alter call at the end, and 80 people aged 15-25 gave their lives to Jesus. 
In the afternoon we did a feeding program and I wound up at the church with no other Canadian around. It was really nice just to communicate (through gestures and some broken english) with some local moms.

May 8: I delivered pigs today! The concept is that a pig is given to the poorest of families. It will be used as an income source, and they can bless someone else by tithing the first piglet back to the church (a standard litter is 8, leaving enough to support the family). I hiked a mountain with my pig because the motorcycles did not show up on time, but it was a lot of fun!

May 9: I got to deliver pigs all day on motorbikes! What fun! It was sure amazing to whip across the Rwandan countryside on a motorcycle with a squirming pig between me and the driver. I would do it again any day, poop and all.
We had to say goodbye to our great friends. We will miss you pastors Jane, Olivier and Fidel!
May 10: We left for Kenya today. When we arrived at the Dream Center (the orphanage for the babies rescued from the dump) we were able to just cuddle and snuggle babies until supper time.
What a sight those babies are after supper! All the babies (4.5 months to 3 years old) get a little potty time so they learn to use a potty, and the caregivers have time to clean up.
May 11: Today I got the privilege of helping do a feeding program in an area where they have never done a feeding program before. There were so many children that we had to wash the plates that we could serve more, but getting clean water to wash dishes in a slum is a process. Since there had been no program done before, it took awhile to set up. So, an awesome team member (Liz) and I did an impromptu childrens program. We sang songs with them (some they already knew, like "Father Abraham") because most of the children learn english in primary school, which is paid for by the government. I also read the story of creation out of Genesis while Liz acted it out. She is very talented! We ended the day cuddling the Dream Center babies.
The photo below is a small demonstration of both the crazy driving in Nairobi and how some parts of the city can resemble garbage dumps. (In this case, the garbage helps traffic, by pointing out exactly where the traffic circle goes). And yes, that blue truck is completely submerged in mud.
May 12: Today we went to church in the slum of Tassia and cuddles babies again.
May 13: Today we visited the Dump early in the morning. I cannot begin to explain how nasty would be to live there. We visited where one of the children from the Dream Centre was rescued. He was 4 years old, and felt safer living in the dump alone than with the abusive grandfather he had been living with. As a parent of a 4 year old, it is really hard to imagine my own 4 year old doing that. In the afternoon, Michelle and I took the place of a few of the caregivers so that they could attend a training session. Those babies are just so precious!
Pastor George interviewed this lady, and she has been earning her very small living from the dump for 30 years. She has now been living at the dump for 6 years.
May 14: Today I was able to help paint and do repairs in the Dream Centre. I also got to go visit the shop of a young girl, whose mother has been given a micro-loan. We got to brainstorm with her for ways to expand her business.

 This is an entrance to a typical slum home. You must duck down to get in, and the space is very small and not ventilated. However, rent must still be paid, and the cooking is done over a fire inside the home.
May 15: Our last day in Africa! At least is was a full day.
 (The church is on the fourth and top level.)
We went to Kariobangi, where we talked to women about microloans and basics of business. Michelle got to speak with the Beautiful Women (prostitutes), and was able to help a woman who was 8 months pregnant a safe place to stay.

To end this post, I will conclude with some special photos of the Dream Centre children.

(Carter fell asleep with two cuties resting on him)

Thank you to my mom, Corrine Marti, for sending along some gifts! They were much appreciated!

Me and Evelyn (one of the house moms). She is awesome!!

Lastly, a big shout out to our dear friend Packos! God Bless you!

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Last year, several ladies from my home church and I began reading and discussing the book, Fearless  by Max Lucado.  Fear was a study topic I had encouraged my friend, and fellow book enthusiast, to look into when we first chatted about beginning a book discussion group at our church.  You see, fear has been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember.  My folks will tell you, I was not the baby who giggled when her daddy playfully tossed her up in the air.  I didn't learn to properly ride a bicycle until I was, well, let's just say there were double-digits.  I didn't learn to swim until I was sixteen and only managed to pass my swimming class by choosing to dive into the deep end on the spur of the moment, just because I was in a good mood that day.  In my late teens, I began struggling with depression and anxiety, for which I was later medicated and received counselling.  As an adult, I've been plagued by worry over finances, health and my family's well-being.  For every idea my husband has had, I can give you about a hundred "what-ifs."  Fear stinks.

I've tried so many times in my life to just "Let go and let God."  The letting go part isn't so difficult.  It is the not taking it back part that is the challenge.  So many nights, I've prayed and said, "Okay, Lord, I'm giving this to you," only to pick whatever it was back up in the morning.

The Lord tells us in His word, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)  Only a few months ago, during another discussion group, a pastor shared this word and I decided I needed to make it my word.  Needless to say, tonight, I think I may have begun to clue in.

This past Friday, May 31st, Lacey and I were able to speak about our journey on the local Christian radio station.

The question was asked,  "How did you feel going into Africa?  Were you afraid at all?" 
Both Lacey and I responded with an overwhelming, "No!"

Our reasoning was, of course, that we were there because God wanted us to be.  He had a purpose for us there and, because He was with us, we had nothing to fear.

"Be strong and of good courage, 
do not fear nor be afraid of them; 
for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. 
He will not leave you nor forsake you." 
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)

It is true.  Before we left, I was not afraid of going to Africa or anything that went along with it.  I was nervous about leaving my family behind and missing them; but, that was all that concerned me.  

As I look back on my time in Rwanda and Kenya, I miss it so much.  I miss the people and the places and the work.  Most of all, I miss the freedom from fear.  Each day as I awoke, I felt so much purpose. With that purpose, fear was pushed aside.  I literally was on a mission and it was God's will.  Knowing that gave me freedom.  

I wasn't concerned about mosquito bites and malaria.  (Later was tested for it upon my return, but I'm fine and that's another story all together.)  I cradled ill children and taught parents how to help their little ones feel better.  I hugged, held and cried with amazing women who happened to be HIV+.  I worked with a wonderful nurse and prayed over the sick.   I climbed up the steep hills and mountains of Rwanda, not worrying if I slipped down the muddy trail.  I rode in a very questionable boat taking on water over a lake that was reportedly some seven kilometres deep.  I preached for the first time, completely on the fly.  I walked through the thirty acre dump in Nairobi, Kenya, flanked by armed guards, strolled through the slums skipping over puddles of raw sewage, and I gave a testimony I had never shared with anyone before in front of a room full of almost complete strangers.  Most amazingly of all, I discovered a painful secret from my childhood, while holding a child that God told me had gone through the same thing.  Through this child and through the prayer of a beautiful sister in Christ, God released me from that pain and much of the fear it had caused me to feel for so many years.

Now, I am back in Canada.  I am back to what some may call my "real" life.  Everything I experienced in Rwanda and Kenya is indeed real life.  It was a God-given experience, meant not only to be a way He would use me in a tiny, tiny way to perhaps bring some joy and the love of Christ to others, but also to teach me something so valuable.  When God gives us a purpose, when He chooses us to do His work in whatever respect, be it raising a family to love Him or leading thousands of people to Him... He means for us to be fearless.

This may very well be something I will need to be reminded of.  I am so thankful that I can draw on these wonderful experiences.  Sometimes, I just lie in my bed and think, "Wow! I may never have gone to Hawaii or skied down the Alps (or anywhere else for that matter), but God sent me to Africa and I wasn't afraid.  How cool is that?" 

So, tonight, as I have done many nights before, I am releasing fear to God; but, this time is different.  This time, I know from experience that I am capable of living in a fearless manner thanks to my Father in Heaven.  If, tomorrow morning, I try to pick up that nasty fear again, do me a favor, convict me of it will you?  After all, a life without fear is freedom in Christ!

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)