Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Surprised by joy

Perhaps we are wrong! Perhaps, when we think we need more. Want more, we are wrong. I think we all pretty much "know" that is not real joy. We all say those phrases. We all remind ourselves when we see that "thing" we really want and cannot have "Things don't make you happy."

This week I have been hard at work at clearing out my apartment. I have found treasures that I probably couldn't give away if I tried, but are so dear to me. Hidden away in a box, or in the corner of a closet, I had forgotten about. Poured over old journals, and remembered how faithful the Lord has been! I have stacked boxes upon boxes in my little storage area in my apartment, to take to a yardsale to help with finances for this move. And tonight my friend Jessica Drake came over (Remind me to tell you how awesome she is! Always so eager to get her hands into whatever God is doing. Be it in India, Africa, being a voice for the unborn, this girl wants in! She is amazing!) And we packed the back of her truck with a bunch of stuff.

And as I watched a truck full of my "things" pulled away. I was GRINNING. Yep, ear to ear GRIN. My things are not as dear to me as I always thought they were. And I sure didn't think when I watched a truck pull away carrying so much of my stuff, that I would be standing there with a big cheesy grin on my face. I LOVE how opposite God is! The last is first. He will raise up the humble. He will make humble the proud. Give away your life to find. Try to preserve your life and loose it. Die to self to live. So, why would it hit me as a big surprise that as all this "stuff" pulled away, I would be so happy?!

And that was just round 1 of filling it up.

Proverbs 28:27a "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing."

When I first read that, my first initial thought is "stuff". I will not be lacking in more "stuff" It sure is easy to accumulate more "stuff", I am sure I could in a hot second.

But, I am pretty sure God is more concerned with my Holiness than my comfort level. So perhaps, I was wrong in how I have read that verse in the past. Perhaps what I wont be lacking in, is joy. Like a big cheesy grin when a truck full of my stuff pulls away. And that joy in Christ, well, you cannot put a price tag on that!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Meet my sponsor daughters.... Part 2


Oh, my sweet sweet Josiane!!! When we went to Noel Orphanage back in August, Josiane's hand slipped into mine immediately. She is not good at English. We did not have much way of communicating. But love has no official language. Everytime I looked at her, she just looked at me with this contended smile. She would put her face in my arm, and just smile. We went to tour the orphanage, and Josiane was with me. Always waiting for me outside whatever place we happened to have gone into. As I walked to tour the orphanage, she sang some songs in Kinyarwanda. I would attempt to sing with her. She asked me if I danced, and I laughed. I tried explain I can, but I am not that good at dancing. (or singing! But she didn't seem to notice.) But she attempted to teach me anyways!

Attempting to teach me traditional Rwandan dance in August 2011.

Normal Josiane! Just happy to be along, and a part. This is when
we were in the guest house kitchen at Noel Orphanage, getting
ready to bake birthday cakes. One of my favorite memories
is baking bday cakes with my girls.

Baking cake's!

Enjoying a Fanta at Valentine's bday party.

New dress that was in her new backpack with school supplies. :)

Just hanging out with her sponsor Mum.

I cannot tell you how much I love this girl. She slipped her hand into mine the moment my feet hit the hard red ground onto the orphanage grounds. Ever since when I am near, she is always close. She is so much fun! She is not pushy, or demanding in the least. She is just happy to be with you. She has a very sweet demeaner, and is as sweet as apple pie. My favorite memories of her, is her just saying "Mum?" "Yes?" "I love you!" and curling in a bit closer. I am ever comitted to this sweet girl. <3 I just found out today, that she may be facing some uncertainty soon. Please pray for Josiane. When Alysse told her I will arrive soon, she said "Josiane cried a lot of happy." Cannot wait to see you again soon sweet girl!! We will cry all kinds of happy together!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Meet my Rwandese daughters.... (Part 1)

Alysse Uwera

On my first trip to Rwanda in August I met Alysse. And it was totally a God thing. Normally you will find me coo'ing with some babies. Chasing toddlers. Dancing with kids. I am normally not one drawn to teen ministry. Our team had left Noel to go to Pfunda (a tea plantation down the street) for lunch. When we came back, I did not see Josiane. (I will share more about her next!) A fellow team member had nail polish and handed me one so we could divide and counqure. Instantly you are surrounded by out streached hands. Doesn't matter boy, girl, they all want to add some bright colors to their fingernails. At least a dozen or more sets of tiny hands were reached out toward me. My gaze divereted over for a moment and I saw about 6 teen girls sitting back watching all the action.

(This is where they were. This is a picture from April though.)

For some reason I felt drawn to go over to them. I felt a tug in my spirit to go to these teen girls. So I held up my hand to the other kids surrounding me, and pointed to other people painting nails. I walked over to the teen girls, held up the bright pink sparkly nail polish and pointed to their hands. They shyly smiled, and extended their hands. I quitely began to paint their nails. Then Alysse broke the silence. She asked me my name, where I was from, questions about America. I told her how beaitiful Rwanda was. Then she asked me something that took me aback. She asked me where the scars where from on my arms. I was able to give my testimony, and Alysse was translating to the other girls. I think in that moment, looking up at her from painting nails as I spoke. And that was that! Alysse was never far behind after that. I had a baby wrapped on my back, a toddler on my hip, and Josiane holding my other hand. Alysse would come to me "Tina, you must be tired. Please, sit." At one point I saw her chatting with my team leader with a bunch of other girls. And I hate to admit I often was not idle long enough the rest of the day to sit and talk more. (700 kids in a orphanage keep you moving!!)

When we were about to board the bus, Alysse said "I will see you tomorrow mum." I was a bit caught off guard, and did not know how to respond to that. So I just gave her a hug and said "Yes, I will see you tomorrow." (We visited 7 orphanages on this trip in August, in two countries in Africa. We spent two days with the kids in Noel) Later that night at the hotel, we all gathered together to pray, and discuss the day. We also were talking from this book "The Blessing." and how parents can bestow the blessing upon their kids. How we all desire to be loved and known, and ways to express love to these kids. My team leader mentioned she was sitting with a bunch of girls, and Alysse asked her "Why do you come visit us?" and she responded "We cannot take you all home with us, but we can come be your mom for a day or two." All of a sudden it clicked, why Alysse had called me Mum before I left.

A friend set Alysse up with a facebook account. And I was utter flabbergasted to have had recieved a couple texts from her as well after I came home to America. As they were doing to reunifications, Alysse was going to go to a family member, that was not a good situation. So then she was going to go to her grandma. In the midst of a bunch of chaos there, and aching for her. I had this front row seat to a time of uncertainty for her. I was able to talk with her via facebook from time to time. My heart was aching and breaking for this teen I bonded so much with on this visit.

I was able to sent her to boarding school with the help of some friends in Rwanda. Who are amazing and incredible. Alysse was so happy to be able to go to boarding school. And I was so thankful to know she was alright, continuing her education, had food, water, etc.

I was happy to know that when I was coming back at the end of March that Alysse would be on break from boarding school. I was not planning on seeing my sponsor daughters the night I got into Nyundo. I would have traveled from Syracuse to DC, DC to Addis Ababa Ethiopia, Ethiopia to Uganda, Uganda to Kigali, Rwanda. Then a 3 hour drive from Kigali to Nyundo. I would be arriving in the evening, and smelly (from traveling and showers on planes, just has not happened yet!), and jet lagged. But of course I could not contain myself. I could not know they were so close and I had yet to go see them.

As soon as I walked into the orphanage gates, kids along the walls, and sitting by their dorm rooms saw me. Instantly the girls started to scream "UWERA, UWERA! YOUR MUM! YOUR MUM!!!" I think she could have won a race! That girl came sprinting out of absolutely no where, and it was a sweet embrace of reuinion. Josiane was fast behind Alysse, and ran up to my friend Tara jumping up and down saying "Is Tina here? Is she here? Is Tina here?!" It was a sweet reunion, and I think we all slept better knowing we were all on the same continent and even country and even village once again!!

That night I saw Alysse, the first thing she did after we hugged for a few minutes is say "Mum, do you want to see my marks?" OF COURSE!!! So she RAN to her dorm to go get her grades from her first term in the boarding school. She was THIRD in her class. Yep, she is one smart cookie. (And she is fluent in four languages! She can speak English, French, Kinyarwanda, and Swahili!!) I have a very smart and sweet daughter!!

It was a very sweet time of bonding with my girls when I was there. The next day I took Alysse and Josiane out to lunch (we couldn't find Valentine to come with us.) to celebrate their good grades!! (Both third in their class!) I am one proud Mummy!! We had baga (burgers), Coka (we say the last part, "cola" they say the first "Coka") And I of course had a Citron (a citrus fanta), and amafiriti (French fries) at White Rock on the shores of Lake Kivu, where you can see outlets of Congo as well.

Happy to all be together, waiting for our burgers and fries.

The view of Lake Kivu from our table.

Alysse is the sweetest girl, who has a beautiful laugh. She is so silly. And I love when I get to see her be carefree. The two weeks I was there, we baked a cake together. (we were power walking down a random Rwandan road carrying two birthday cakes, melted icing, to get to New Life for Valentines bday lunch with all the girls in No. 41. I think I nearly knocked sugar cane off someone's head on the way!) We laughed, sang, cried, talked about hopes and dreams, prayed, discussed concerns and fears, the past, the future, beaded necklaces, watched a movie together, jetted all over Rwanda on motobikes, visited her grandma, went to market, she does A LOT of translating for me, went to Genocide memorial services, and just bonded a whole lot more!

School supplies.. (And a pink backpack of course!)

On our adventure collecting supplies for Birthday cake's!

  Today Alysse sent me a email and said -
"I talked to Josiane yesterday and told her you are coming soon. She cried a lot of happy."

I am so glad my girls can cry all kinds of happy! I cannot change the circumstances for the 163 million orphans in this world. But I can change it for a few of them. And I can love a few well. I am so glad that I listened to that tug in my spirit to go to her in August. Because now I have this sweet, kind, smart, loving, silly, Rwandese daughter.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Love at all costs...

Today I was praying for some of the sweet faces in Rwanda I am totally in love with.
For the lives behind the faces like her's....

And His...

And His...

And when I was praying for these faces I cannot get out my mind.
These little lives that I cannot shake.

I opened my eyes and saw...

What else can I say but.....



Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sometimes it just gets silly!

I tried to teach the girls an American song, after they drilled me on my Kinyarwanda.

We had no music for Josiane to do her traditional Rwandese dancing,
so Alysse helped out. :)

Some of my favorite times in Rwanda, is when you forget you are in Africa.

You forget you haven't eaten yet that day.

You forget you are sitting in a overcrowded orphanage.

Because the laughter is so loud, and your cheeks hurt from smiling.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

I have no idea what I am doing...

Maybe I have gone off the deep end. But I wanna drown in his presence.

This video, explains how wonderfully and beautifully God has crushed my heart,
interuppted my life, and thrust me far from my comfort zones for His glory.

I want to stay.
I want to live it with them.
I want to be proud of their good grades.
I want to read bedtime stories.
I want to listen to their fears.
I want to cheer them on in their hopes and dreams.
I want to laugh so hard milk  water shoots out our noses.
I want to watch that toddler do a somersault 100 times.
I want them to know God.
I want to watch the awe of them realizing how loved by God they are.
I want to be willing.
I want to invest in their lives. 
I want to see them succeed.
I want to love big!
I want to offer my hand to hold when times are scary and uncertain.

And so once again in this crazy life, once againI take a deep breath, and am ready to jump in the deep end.

Why in the world would I want to start getting comfortable here on earth anyways?
I might start to think this place is my home.