Saturday, September 9, 2017

Lately.....

So much has happened in the last few weeks, I just decided I would throw a bunch of pictures on here to show ya what's been going on around here.

In NO particular order, whatsoever. (I just downloaded them all on, and whatever order they popped up, that's what it is!)



Tiring out Corrine.
Pick up's from the office every Friday!

Rain Season HAS ARRIVED.

Not sure who tickles me when cooking breakfast, they both
say its the other.

The third and last season started for school. Mo and Daddy
go to get their hair buzzed together. I found this pic on Thierry's
phone and it cracked me up, the look on his face.

Some dear friends who visited, brought Thierry a
guitar. So he has been loving learning to play it.

Our dear friends Kassie and Ben, who are incredibly
talented musicians came. And we got to spend a few
days with them. Always a blast!

We blew up 100 balloons for Thierry's birthday.

And I am pretty sure he thought we tried to drown him, when we
stuck him on a paddle board in the rain in the lake to celebrate
his big day!

We found some new short cuts to get to some home visits.


We had dinner with friends, well lots of meals with
friends who flew over the Ocean to come visit.

We visited the moms in vocational school, and
Ubumwe for the disabled. We have three moms,
with disability, who have an amazing chance in Gisenyi
at Jessie's place, and Ubumwe.

We were crazy blessed by a friend with two nights away
in Akagera national park. We had one amazing day, reading,
praying, connecting, napping, and listening to the monkeys
run across the roof of the tent. Hippo's in the lake by our tent.
And just some time away as husband and wife, with no kids.

We rejoined the world, the next day to go on safari with two
amazing visitors.

We got to see sponsors meet the moms, babies, and families
they have been praying for and partnering with for over a year!

Solange got some awesome jobs, from her vocational training
from Hope For Tomorrow, and a sewing machine. We love
seeing her reach her dreams!

We had some trainings at the Hope For Tomorrow office, from
visitors. Nurse GiGi was able to teach the moms about
infant care, child development, and many other things.

Program lunch is always a big day!

We got a pic with some of the moms and babies and kids.
Though we are missing 4 moms, 6 babies, and quiet a few kids.
And since this picture we have added three new babies/families to the
program! We are outgrowing our office quick!


We had good conversation and had our visitors dip their feet
in the volcanic hot springs in Gisenyi at the lake.

We took some family pictures, because we could.

Uwera and Ishimwe are both on staff at Hope For Tomorrow.
They are AMAZING, and we couldn't do it without them.

3 Bible studies, 2 literacy classes, 1 English class, throughout the week.
Investing in the future of the families of Hope For Tomorrow.

And just because Moses is just the cutest at school!

After getting our last three visitors off to their safari,
then to the airport. We decided to introduce Richard to some
friend cheese things at the Indian restaurant. He is addicted.
Rightly so.

After months of going, and so much amazing exciting things.
I spent an entire day in bed. Blaring the worship, sewing, taking a few
naps, getting into the word, listening to sermons. Refuled!

We had so many amazing donations. We got busy
arranging, organizing and getting them all put away.

Monthly, we put in a huge order for program. Our sponsors help
provide... infant formula, milk, infant cereal, porridge, sugar, and
fresh fruits to the at risk infants in our program.

Uwera the mighty mama, staff, and daughter. Helping to organize
and put away all the amazing donations for program.

And life is settling back in, as we go back to home visits,
bible studies, home life, etc.

As always, all donations are tax deductible - www.cten.org/tinazielke

Feel free to send me an email with your home address if you would like to get
our monthly newsletter. TinaInRwanda@gmail.com



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Lay it down

Written July 20th 2017....

So much has happened since the last time I updated this, that half the time I have no idea where to start! 

But in the last few years the Lord has really dealt with my heart, in the fact that I have no control over people. I know you might read this and think “Yeah, duh, of course.” But I think we often claim to believe things, that we havent really meditated on, or really handed over to Christ. Chew on that for a minute. You. Have. No. Control. People WILL say hurtful things to you and about you. You. Cannot. Stop. It. You can do all the right things, and people will do mean and hurtful things to you and about you. They will gossip about you. They will do whatever. Thats the point, they will do as THEY will. You have no control over it, so no need to try. I have learned that if I am indeed doing things unto the Lord, then it really doesn't matter what people do, or how they react. If truly, TRULY, I was doing it without expectation from them, but because of Christ, then what they do, what they say, how they react, or dont react, not my issue. I have dont what is right unto my God. And that is really all I can do. 

But the Lord has taken this a step further for me lately. I continually have people in and out of my home. Our home dynamic is constantly changing. And if you know anything about hot and cold culture climate, you my American friends, you are cold culture climate. There is many aspects of this I learned far later than I would have liked. Like how here is more relationship based, and my passport country (America) is more task orientated. 

Hot-culture climate (Rwanda) 
-Relationship based. 
-Communications must create a “feel-good” atmosphere
-Though the individual may be otherwise, the society is feeling oriented 
-Efficiency and time do not take priority over the person 
-It is inappropriate to “talk business” upon first arriving at a business meeting or making a business phone call. (This can drive an American crazy, as we just wish everyone would “get to the point”) 

Cold culture climate (America) 
-Are task orientated. 
-Communication must provide accurate information 
-Though individuals may be otherwise, the society is logic orientated 
-Efficiency and time are high priorities, and taking them seriously is a statement of respect for the other person. 

Can you start to see where acclimating from one to the other starts to get complicated. . . 
But I do have a purpose for this….

Lets look at some other area’s. . . . 

Cold culture climate (America) communication
-Direct communication 
-Short, direct questions show respect for the person’s time, as well as professionalism. 
-A ‘yes’ is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ is a ‘no’. There is no hidden meanings. 
-An honest direct answer is information only. It does not reflect on how the person feels about you. 
-You can say what you think (nicely) and it will usually not be taken personally. 

Hot culture climate (Rwanda) communications 
-Indirect
-Its all about being friendly
-Every question must be phrased in such a way as to not offend by its directness
-Use a third part for accurate information if you sense that a direct question  will be too harsh, or not get the results you are seeking. (Want to know if Joe doesn't like you turning on the like at 6am everyday, ask his cousin not him if it bothers him.) 
-A ‘yes’ may not be an answer to your question. It may be the first step in beginning a friendly interchange. Or verbal compliance may be required by the culture. Therefore, avoid yes-or-no questions. 
-Avoid embarrassing people. 

Individual culture (America) once again cold culture
-I am a self-standing person, with my own identity. 
-Every individual should have an opinion and can speak for him or herself
-Taking initiative within a group is good and expected. 
-One must know how to make ones own decisions
-My behavior reflects on me, not on the group. 

Group-orientated culture (Rwanda) hot culture
-I belong, therefore I am. 
-My identity is tied to the group (family, tribe, etc) 
-The group protects and provides for me. 
-Taking initiative within a group can be greatly determined by my role. 
-I do not expect to have to stand alone. 
-My behavior reflects on the whole group
-Team members expect direction from the leader. 

Hot culture (Rwanda) inclusion culture
-Are a group-oriented culture
-Individuals know they are automatically included in conversation, meals, and the other activities of the group. 
-Possessions are to be used freely by all: food, tools, etc
-It is not desirable to be left to oneself 
-It is rude to hold a private conversation or make plans that exclude others present. 

Cold-culture (America) privacy culture. 
-People enjoy having time and space to themselves 
-People are expected to ask permission to borrow something or to interrupt a conversation
-Each person is considered to be the steward of his or her possessions and has the responsibility to maintain and protect them. 
-In a community setting, it might be common to label ones food, tools, etc to set them apart from the group’s common possessions. 
-It is acceptable to hold private conversations or make exclusive plans with a few people, not including everyone. 

Now right there is where I want to stop…… In the inclusive/privacy culture. 

When I first moved to Rwanda, this used to drive me absolutely batty. (lets not get to the part about hospitality, where in hot culture climates it is spontaneous and desired. Imagine cousin Joe showing up, and your expected to allow him to stay for a week or two, and he just assumes he will use all your stuff. Soap, Shampoo, etc) Gah! 

But I just couldn't understand when I first came, why the girls would take my lotion, use my pillow, or I would find my stuff all over the house. MY stuff. Oh it drove me crazy to no end. It was later I learned much more on the hot and cold culture climate differences. Then it was like a stack of bricks was dropped on me, and a light bulb came on. 

Now as an American, I am apt to think of things as “MY” things. Praise the Lord my husband lived with American missionaries for many many years as their son also, because he understands this crazy cold culture American climate. So it helps when we make decisions on what we are comfortable with as a family. 

One of the things I pray about often, is that the Lord would help me also let that go. Of things! I know that may seem silly. But just as it is tempting to try and expect and then be upset in expecting people to speak, act, and respond how we desire. Because we can only control ourselves and not them. And if I am doing it unto the Lord then it shouldn't matter, right? 

These are not MY things. Once again, kind of a “duh, of course.” But lets not just say that, but also mediate on that. Your things are NOT yours. Your jewelry, your left-overs in the fridge your looking forward too, your favorite big fluffy towel, your coffee, that treat from another country you can only get occasionally, your personal care products, makeup, favorite smelly Bath and Body works soap. Use it or loose it sister, because if you dont someone else will. Are you OK with that? 

If your from a cold culture climate, you want to stomp your feet and demand, of course your not OK with that. It is yours, you bought it, you earned it, and it yours. 

I have had to have many discussions with the ones in my home. Remember when Americans come to visit, we dont touch their stuff at all. Remember it is not a compliment to an American to tell them they are fat. (here it means you have enough food, and good food to eat. I have even had people say to me “Oh I hope I can be as big and fat as you someday.” and honestly they mean it! I still struggle to get my cold cultured mind to wrap around that as a compliment though) 

But….. if it is the Lords. If this life ends, and the next doesn’t. If we cannot bring them with us, and we dont value things above relationship……. does it matter? Its hard not to feel an attachment sometimes to something or things. To take pride in things. But once again the Lord is prompting my heart “If it is all mine, then you cant get upset over someone using YOUR things.” Because none of it is mine. 

I am going to go out there for a minute too, and mention donations. Thats always risky business. I have had people make comments to me, especially if I am going to the states. “I hope I can see you, but I am not a big contributor to you, so I am sure you dont have much time for me.” People can sometimes say things, that wow, just wow. I have some people who want to be anonymous with donations, and others who feel the thanks is not sincere or big enough. 

Where in the world does that put an international worker? (Just realized the unintentional pun in that, ha!) 

I know this might be crazy to say. But its not your money or my money either. *gasp* 
If it is really the Lords, then he doesn't need you or ME. He will provide where he see’s fit to provide. He is not lacking in resources. He is not broke. I pray to God I am replaceable. I never want to put myself in a position where I meet needs or dependency, and not on Christ alone. There is NOTHING special about me. I am HUMBLED and HONORED when people choose to support what the Lord is doing through us. Do not get me wrong. 

I was telling someone the other day, how often we dont know before the end of the month if we will have enough for the next month. I used to SPAZZ about that. I would stay up at night about that. I would pace about that. 

But NEVER once have we been hungry (In fact, our table(s) and setting seem to ever increase!). Never once have we gone into debt. Not once have we been unable to pay school fee’s. I have had times where we are so stressed over finances, and it wasn't all there. We couldn't pay all the bills, and had to decide which bills to not pay. Then woke up after completely giving it to Christ, to find someone went and deposited directly into our account and we had more than needed to make the monthly needs. 

It isn't our money. It takes a huge burden off from us. We often take on burdens we are not meant to bear. 

The burden of what others say, speak, do, react, or dont react. 
That person who gossiped about you? Its NOT your burden to change them. Its not your burden to get them to stop. That person who doesn't appreciate you and what you do? Its not your burden to make them appreciate anything. If you are doing it unto the Lord, and for the Lord, then thats it. Its done. 

Your stuff? Not your burden. Finances? Not your burden. 

Sometimes when we examine the junk we have been carrying around with us. It was never ours to carry. And its often hard to lay down, because we have been taught by society, that we need to rely on ourselves. We need to stand up for our rights! “Its not RIGHT that she said that, someone should do something.” Lay. Down. That. Burden. Lay it down! 

Because carrying all that stress and all those burdens, it can dig you into the ground. Even literally. You are responsible for yourself. We will be working out our salvation with fear and trembling all the days we find our feet on this planet. But that alone is a big work. That we dont need to add more burdens onto it. We dont need to pick up more than our share to carry. Those things are God sized, and I do not have God sized shoulders to bear those things. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Do unto others.....

We always seem to find ourselves invited into some hard and personal spaces. 

We get invited to the weddings, but also get invited to the hospital. We get invited to the baby naming parties, but also get invited to the family meetings. We hold hands in hospitals, and also at the police station with a battered wife or mother. 

I always think back to the time I came on a short term missions trip. And on that trip, how I sat in the bus and stared out the window and watched people cultivating land, carrying things, and had this intense strong desire. I wanted to go into every house and get to know every family, the people, their stories. 

Now looking back I now wonder if that wasn't a burning ember in my soul that the Lord was fanning into an all consuming fire. A passion to be the hands and feet of Christ. 

In our greatest need the Lord didn't send more money, he didn't send a program, he sent his son. And he came for relationship. Perhaps that is the being of the hands and feet of Christ. Its the sitting silently in the mess, holding a hand. Its the silent prayers from a desperate heart in the scary moments of life. Perhaps its the dancing in the wedding, and tears of the divorce papers. Perhaps its the bible study, and the lingering women at the end with the questions. 

We are all a mess. 

I have found most people know their short comings. They usually know where they are falling short. And in this world, its easy to find those who will list them for you. 

Not saying that sometimes…. its in the hard conversations. I remember one of a friend who loved me so much, that she sat in the uncomfortable conversation of a young girl who was so lost in her pain, and her memories, that she sat in her bathroom with a razor blade. That she had to set those boundaries, in the hard conversations. And it was in those hard conversations that forced this women, then a young girl in her hurt, who needed desperately someone to love her. But that doesn't mean we dont set the boundaries. 

Its easy to get an invite to the party…..

to get an invite to the wedding……

to the baby shower, the wedding shower…..

and in the states its all too easy to get invited to the Lularose party, the essential oil party….

But the times we remember most is those who have accepted the invites, that most dont want to accept. 

The invite next the hospital bed, in the long hours……

The invite for coffee and tears after the divorce papers are signed…….

The invite to the police station to hold the hand of the bruised women, the crushed spirit…..

The bible says to do unto others as we want others to do unto us. . . . . 

I talk to a counselor, and sometimes I just want someone to sit. To listen. 

Sometimes I dont even want someone to fix it. Understand it. Compare it. 

I know sometimes friends and people wont understand. They cant understand this international life. They dont get the cultural differences. They wont get the individual hurts and aches of my heart. As I dont get the individual hurts and aches to others heart. And I totally get its in an attempt at trying to understand. 

But usually its the longing to just be heard. One time I was so desperate on the mission field to be heard, that I called the American Suicide and Crisis line. When I heard the lady answer somewhere in America and says “Suicide and crisis hotline, how can I help you?” 

I hesitated for a moment “I know this may sound strange. I am not suicidle. I just really need someone to listen. I am just going to unload a whole lot of junk on you. It may sound strange, as I am in a unique situation, but would you just not try to give me answers? Not try to understand it or fix it? Can you just listen to it?” 

I have never claimed to have it all together. On the other hand I am keenly aware that I am a mess. I know where I fall short. I know what I need to work on. 

We are all working out our salvation with fear and trembling. . . . . . 

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. . . . . . . 

Open the door. 

Pull out the chair. 

Ask and really be willing to hear. 

See the one who lingers a little longer. 

Accept the invite into the hard places. 

Listen to hear someone, not to answer. 

Show up for the hard, broken, messy times of life. 

Don’t just drop off the meal, go into the mess. 

Listen to hear someone, then show up in that need. 

If you aren’t in the mess with people, you aren't really with people. 
Because its all messy. When it comes to people its messy. 

So many you see today, are so desperate for it. I can guarantee it. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Holy ground, sweet Esme.

I dont even know where to start. 

It was holy….

It was messy….

It was sacred….

It was hard….

It was a long day(s)?. Of possible inductions, and possible cesarian. We followed a midwife behind a curtain, past the screams of birthing mothers feet away, separated merely by that curtain. “You know your going to have surgery right?” the midwife proclaimed. Uwera retorted back “Why do you want to do surgery? Explain to me the reasons?” When the stunned nurse replied “We think the baby can be big, and your look small, maybe.” Uwera clicked her tongue and responded “I want to try to do it myself first.” So we agree’d that labor would be induced at 6:00am sharp. (She has become such an amazing women of God, with such a strong voice!! I have been amazed watching how she has used everything to stand strong, and dig her feet into the ground in the things she is passionate about and that matter.)

We went back to the room of active laboring mothers…… 

There is a small room with three beds. It just happened to be a time with many moms in active labor. So at any given time there was between 6-12 actively laboring moms in the room. When I found out they were not going to induce here I tag teamed in Ishimwe, and decided to encourage Uwera to try and get a corner of a bed to sleep as much as she could, and I would go home and try and catch a little sleep, and then would be back by 5:00am. 

After coming home, grabbing some quick late dinner, tucking the kids in bed, and finally falling asleep…. yep, you guessed it. 3:00am, my phone rings. “Tina, Uwera was vomiting, and has the very very strong pain, she says she needs you now.” So I did what any mom would do, and hopped out of bed, grabbed my jacket and purse and started trying to find a motto at 3:30am. I got to the hospital by 4:00am, and after some assurance, encouragement, we had a spot on bed. I was a human body pillow, or punching bag. They had moved a mattress onto the floor where 2-3 women were actively laboring. One was leaned against my leg and would randomly slap my leg. I told her “Do what you got to do. Squeeze my leg, slap it, rest on me. No problem.” Uwera had her head in my lap, and another women on the other side would alternate between slapping my arm, squeezing my arm or hand, and slapping the wall. 

We put on worship music on in labor room. It was surely holy ground. Uwera would grab my hand, squeeze me… “pray mom, pray!” 

Around 5am she fell asleep with her head in my lap, occasionally being awoken by contractions. But she rested. Till she popped up and said “Something broke.” Which I retorted “Nothings broke, everything is normal.” “No! My water broke.” We thought we had a long road after that, she wasn't dialed much. Thierry came, and I tag teamed with Ishimwe so that I could go talk to Thierry, about 8:25am. Then I get a call that the Dr was going to check her and she wanted me. I went back and she was insisting they check her. The nurses were insisting they just checked her at 7am, and she was no where near dialated enough. She looked at me and asked for them to do a cesarian. Right then I looked down “Is that the head?” 5 minutes of pushing, and Cyubahiro Cynthia Corrine Esme was born at 9:05am!

They laid her on Uwera’s chest, and she gasped, with tears “Mom God is so good! God is so good!” I cannot even tell you how incredible she was. What a trooper she was. No pain meds, not even a Tylenol. She was an amazing mama, that left me in awe. She said “I did it….. I cant believe I just did it!!” “I did it!!” 

It was holy ground……

It was hard…..

There was pain….

It was Sacred…. 

It brought forth new life….

And when Esme was born, a mother in Uwera was born too. A rock star mom might I add. I have been awed to watch her. 

(Side note- she asked me to write the birth story, and post it.) 

Sunday afternoon. . . 

Hospitals here are quiet different. It took us almost
all day on Monday to run around and get everything done. Little did
we know she already started active labor. Braxton hicks got us
all confused. 

Including running around to get all her supplies,
from IV's to IV fluids, to vitamin shots, to surgical gloves. 
In active labor. Seriously? 
Worship music playing, resting between contractions, moments
before her water broke. 
Wonderfully and fearfully made.
Cyubahiro Cynthia Corrine Esme. 


Wasnt to happy about being born. 

If you cannot read that, she was a whopping 3.85kg
For those unfamiliar with kg, thats about 8.5 lbs. 

Grandma carried her back to momma from
being weighed. Though momma was getting
herself collected. 
Proud rock star mama. I am in awe!! 


Ishimwe was always there, sleeping in the hallway,
or always a step away in case Uwera needed anything.
Best friend level - pro. 




From the time I held Uwera's hand in her 6 week ultrasound,
and saw the "babybean" for the first time. She has been
the baby bean. Only natural she would now be baby burrito. 



Monday, May 1, 2017

An open apology to my friends

We sat in the airport cafe, attempting to make the last hour linger a little longer. She has been my best friend for so long. She has loved me, laughed and cried with me. We have done bible studies together, and prayed together. I have ushered her kids into my home and hugged her as her husband scooted her off to the hospital to have her precious first boy. 

“I feel like we didn't get much time together this visit.” 
“It never does, does it?” 
“No, it never does.” 

I knew the time was sneaking up on me, and soon I would have to go through security. She would snap the car seat of her new baby in the car that I just met this trip, on her 45 minute ride home. I would board a plane, and begin a travel to the other side of the world that I called home. This last trip I came home a married women. Her the mom to another baby, I had yet to meet before this visit. 

I messaged her between international flights, and she responded with “It always hits me in waves when you go. I realize your gone, and its hard.” 

She has told me this before. But this time, for some reason it hit me on a different level. 

I realized that I come in like a whirlwind, and suddenly like that I am gone. For five years, I whirlwind in with trauma, tears, and desperately needing an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on. I start sleeping again, I start to function again, and just like that, I am gone again. I come in suddenly, overwhelmed at Wal-Mart, fumbling with contrasting cultures, demanding schedules, and just like that, I am back on a flight over the Ocean. 

I have wanted to ask all those who have remained my friend their forgiveness. I realized how hard it must be to be my friend! And yet I have realized, how faithful they have been to me.  Friends who have welcomed me into their home as a homeless drug addicted teen. Friends who sat next to my hospital bed after countless suicide OD attempts, on a respirator, in a coma. Friends in whom have welcomed me into their family, into their home, into their prayers, into their lives. Friends who never laughed at the idea of me going halfway across the world. Who prayed like crazy when I boarded that first flight, scared to pieces. Friends who always saw Gods ability, never my reality. I am not capable, not able, and surely not qualified. It is all the Lord, because I am a broken stumbling vessel. 

No one ever told me, how on the mission field, you will meet so many amazing people from all over the world. You will make friends quick and form deep quick relationships. You will wonder if you have one more goodbye left in you, as another friend whirlwinds back or into their next place. But also I am thankful, as I have began to realize and trust and cling to the fact that, my residency is in heaven, on a level I would have never grasped before. 


To my friends. Thank you and I am so deeply sorry. Someday, we will all be at his feet, at the banquet table, with no more goodbye’s or even the superficial 1-2 year long “See ya soon”. Someday….. we wont have to feel the miles, and distance. And I cannot tell you how I appreciate you, and how amazing of friends you are! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter on African time

Well since I was gone for Easter, we decided to do Easter a week late. So we had Easter dinner with out friend Tara and her boys.

Our late (by American time) Easter pic
Our Right on time (by African time) Easter pic

Easter dinner cooking and baking. Uwera is concentrating
on keeping another bun in the oven for another week or two. 

The kids first ever Easter Egg hunt at a friends

So proud of every egg found!


First we let the two little ones search for their eggs,
then we let the older ones out to hunt for eggs. 

The Egg hunt is on!

No one is going to get this boys jelly beans! This picture just
cracked me up!

Because life is not picture perfect. But its about the people in it.
I may regret some things in life, but I know I will never regret loving people,
investing in people, and never regret making my family priority.


Laughing about daddy sneaking Easter Eggs into his pocket. 
It seems kind of fitting that I got to have two amazing Easter dinner's this year.
My life is pretty divided between two continents. Two time zones.
I miss America when I am here, I am down right home sick for Rwanda when I am there.

This is my familiar, America is my foreign.

I would be lying if I didn't say my heart is a bit of a mess, as usual.
But I am so glad to find myself in this amazing crazy international life.