Decision & Transition: Redeemer / Rwanda / Relationships

Natasha and I always imagined that we would end up serving internationally at some point. The when and where of that plan and hope have been much more up in the air. Natasha served in Poland for a year; I made connections in Germany while studying abroad. For a good while, we assumed it would be those connections that would eventually lead us to pack our bags. It hasn’t worked out that way, but we know those experiences paved the way for what’s next.


Poland ’11


Germany ’11

While we started/finished grad school and began our careers, we committed to making this area (northern Chicagoland) our home. Simply “passing through” was not a reasonable option for us. We’ve invested in friendships, our church, and the community in significant ways. Not every aspect of this has been super great (there have been some difficult jobs, especially for Natasha), but we’ve also found our place here and have experienced God’s faithfulness.

Specifically, Church of the Redeemer has been a place to grow, learn, heal, and connect. We can’t emphasize enough how much it’s meant to be part of a body of believers that truly care for one another and do life together, day to day and in the Sunday liturgy. 

It was hard to even imagine the idea of leaving. That’s what’s made this process so strange — in the midst of unease and sadness, we’ve also experienced a true peace in our decision, which has affirmed our call to go. Also, in a very real sense, we’ve been comforted by the fact that moving to Rwanda is the one place in the world where we will still have deep connections with the Redeemer family. We’re thankful to have Facetime to connect with our friends and family in Minnesota and everwhere else (Grammy is currently being trained how to use Skype). I can’t imagine taking on a venture like this without strong community support. I’m not worried that we’re sad to leave. But yes, we’re definitely sad in the midst of our excitement. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We’re moving somewhere new.

We’re taking risks.

We’re also deepening relationships.

We’re not saying goodbye for good.

This is an opportunity for us to grow individually and as a couple; it’s a unique opportunity to serve together, use our gifts, and play a small role in the work that God is doing around the world.

Redeemer matters to us.

Rwanda matters to us.

Relationships matter to us.

And now we get to partner with our church, with Christians around the world, and with all those who are supporting us in order to serve others as we are all called to do. KICS has a solid mission, they have great people, and they make a huge difference in students’ lives. I don’t believe it is grandiose to claim that the work of KICS has a direct impact in the progress and development of Rwanda as a country. That’s beyond exciting. We have the privilege to join something amazing.

Alrighty, there’s a few thoughts for you. Now it’s time to get back to letter writing and Craigslist posting. Hopefully we have some time to get the grill going too. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

We are now able to receive financial support through online giving, direct deposit, or check. Please take a look at our support page. We truly appreciate your partnership in this ministry and could not do this alone. 


Relocating to Rwanda, Beginning our Blog & Other Alliteration

After polling many friends, Carlsons in Kigali rose to the top as the clear victor in our blog title competition. We’re pretty sure the alliteration was simply too fun to pass up. It’s also a pretty self-explanatory title. We’re the Carlsons and we’ll be living in Kigali (but no worries if you don’t know where that is; you can see a map here, provided by our friends who’ve been in Rwanda for years).

Our subtitle, Learning and Living in Rwanda requires a bit more explanation.


Yup, Hilda is coming too.

Purposely not the reverse, learning comes first, as we know the coming months and years must be a time characterized by our listening, studying, and desire to understand our new context. As we learn, we’ll also be living into our new roles and life as educators, serving together and participating in God’s mission in the world.

Now, to give you a bit more background on how this all came about.

We’ve spent the last eight years at school in one form or another — teaching students, recruiting students, and being students ourselves. An opportunity has come about to continue this trend, but now in Rwanda. Natasha and I recently accepted missionary educator roles at Kigali International Community School (KICS) in Rwanda’s capital city. Natasha will be teaching 1st grade and I will be filling a hybrid role, working as the college guidance counselor while partnering with the school director in the area of development and fundraising. KICS is an accredited, Christian Pre-K-12 school with approximately 270 students from 24 countries, half being Rwandese. The vision of KICS is “to impact the world for Christ by preparing servant leaders who choose character before career, wisdom beyond scholarship, service above self, and a lifestyle of participation over apathy.”

Even while on our first several dates nearly seven years ago, Natasha and I both expressed a desire to serve cross-culturally at some point in our lives. We entered our seminary and grad school programs with this is mind, and our current roles at a university, elementary school, and church paved the way. We’ve now discerned a strong call to go.


With our pastor, Jay Greener, and Daniel Hanlon, pastor and missioner, during our visit to Rwanda in March.

Why Rwanda? Our connection to the country has increasingly grown over the last several years as a result of our church’s deep relationship and history with the Rwandan church. (We’ll share more about Rwanda, the church, and its history in future posts.) When I first visited the country in 2015, I had no idea that we would end up moving there (or at least not all that much of an idea…), yet we now find our love for education, our church, cross-cultural ministry, and nonprofit leadership merging together in this new way. The roles we’ve been offered are direct answers to prayer (more on this another time) and we are incredibly excited to take this next step.

Church of the Redeemer in Highland Park, IL will be sending us at the end of July this year to join their other missioners in Kigali and to serve there for the next three years.

We expect to use this blog to give updates, to ask for prayer requests and support, and to stay connected. We’ll share what we’re learning, what we’re teaching, and what’s going on in our lives.

How are we funded?
We are thankful to receive a stipend from KICS; however, we also need to raise additional support to cover the remainder of our ministry and living expenses. Various types of support are important and appreciated (prayer, encouragement, one-time donations) and we are specifically praying that God provides regular monthly partners as well.
We humbly ask that you might consider joining our team of financial supporters and partner with us in ministry at KICS and in Rwanda. We’d love to meet up, chat on the phone, or connect over email too! We’ll have instructions on how to give (online, by check, or via direct deposit) in the coming days. If  you would like to commit to a certain amount (per month or as a one-time contribution), please email us at or message us on Facebook. Thank you.