Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Moses and a puppy.

I seriously tried to come up with some kind
of witty title.
A title that would capture you, and
draw you in to my blog.
Yeah, I totally failed.

Look who is sitting all on their own now!!!
I am ridiculously proud of him. 

And introducing the newest member of our home. 

We haven't come up with a name for him yet. 
I have been thinking of naming him...
Ushira ubwoba. (Which means brave in Kinyarwanda!)
Or Amos. 
But really the dog has no name, yet. 

And I may have to actually admit I am officially out of Jiffy peanut butter. 

BUT, round two of mail day is TOMORROW!
I know because packages where on there way to Gisenyi. 
So by tomorrow afternoon, I should be able to go get mine. 
Although I am pretty sure there is no Jiffy in any of em. 

Hmmm... Maybe I should name the dog Jiffy......


Thursday, October 25, 2012

A babbling mess of babble.

So I wrote this a couple days ago. And since then, even though I totally got off track. I tried to "clean it up" a bit. To make it easier to read. But, it is what it is. A babbling mess of babble. Welcome to my mind. I know, scary. And this morning as I was on the back of the moto, I was thinking. So many people have asked me "What changed it all? What moment did it all start to turn around?" And I always try to come up with a adeqieut answer. But today on the back of the moto....

I realized I never knew anyone to come to Christ because they felt condemned or judged. I honestly cannot think of a single person who my spiritual pride, has brought to Christ. In fact, I get rather fired up and angered when I see Christians do that. I remember once at a party, there was a bounce house outside. (It was a kids party!) and a bunch of us adults where being goofy outside in it. And one said (rather loudly!) "Do you realize its all the Christians who are out here having fun, while all the non Christians are inside being BORING." I seriously had to bite my tongue and go inside with the non judgmental people. And sit on my hands, least I be a Christian who punched another Christian. Since when did one person come to Christ because a Christian made them feel like a outsider? I vowed to not be that Christian. 

 "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~Maya Angelou

On another note, I do know quiet a few people who have come to Christ, been ablaze for God, and done radical amazing things, because they where loved. And so now if you want to know what changed it all around for me. It was love. Simply love. 

So this is what I wrote the other day. That pretty much, is as cleaned up as I can get it. Which is like, not cleaned up at all. If I take one thing away, it just doesn't portray right. Though I am not sure it portrays right, right now. So again, it is, what it is. 

Proverbs 27:17 states “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

This is not just for them. This is God sharpening me. This is God stretching me, this is God pruning, molding, and sharpening me. This is God teaching me. And as I get to be pruned, taught, molded, and sharpened. I hope that the girls I get to live alongside are sharpened as well. Sometimes it’s a bit like sandpaper, and we squirm, and it hurts. But it is smoothing us. And sometimes the girls call me out on something as well.

Sometimes they see things I have been dulled to as an American. And vice versa. And *chink chink* one sharpens the other. That was probably mistake number one, that I made on my first trip. I thought I was coming here to help them. I thought I would make a dent in their lives. Little did I know, I might have left a dent here, but I came home a train wreck! And a train wreck in the most amazing way possible.

Then I came on the second trip, by myself. Hello stretching and growing. And I remember honestly, and literally SKIPPING over James 1:27 when I came across it again. Thinking I had drained that verse of all its meaning. Thinking I knew it front ways and back ways. Thinking I could not possibly get anymore from it. I am sure you know what’s coming next. Something in that verse hit me like a semi-truck. (Maybe I left a small nick here, and here I am being hit by train #2!)

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

And as I read it again for the millionth time. God lifted some veil over my eyes and said “Do not get comfortable. Do not go back to America and fall back into comfort. Do not forget. Do not become polluted by ease, comfort, commercialism, peer pressure, temptation, and everything else.” And regardless if I stayed in America, or the fact that I now live here. I am not to allow myself to be polluted. I am not to allow myself to become polluted by thinking I am saving anyone. Because I cannot do that. God has clearly laid that one out to me. That all I can do is love people, that’s it. He does the saving. I am not to become polluted by pride or praise. I am not to get polluted by what I allow into my mind. Here, there, God is telling me, just don’t do it. It is not worth the price. It is not worth loosing closeness with Him. And not on His part. We all know that nice little sign in the Christian book stores, “If God feels far away, who moved?” It’s true though. When we take a step toward Christ, he barrels forward toward us.

I remember when I first start to truly surrender to Christ in my personal life. For me, there is two distinct times in my life, spiritually. When I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. And when I surrendered my life.  But, for me, it took lots of time of watching. Like a ridiculously long time of watching. For those of you who know me, you know right now is when I pull out the baseball analogy. Yep, here it is.

Imagine you met someone who had never seen sports in their life. Never watched it,  never saw sports equipment. And you know baseball, is what they were created for. They are failing miserably, and fallen into a deep depression, because they cannot seem to find meaning. Well, they are not suppose to be working in this factory, they are meant to play baseball!!!! They were created just for that!

So you plead with them. . . “You got to play baseball. It will bring you purpose, It is what you are created to do!! It will fill the void in you. Baseball!!! Play baseball!!”

Of course you know, that person will stare blankly at you. Baseball? What, that what? Well that all nice and dandy that you know what is going to bring me purpose, but how in the world?

Now replace baseball with Christ. I had many people telling me I needed Christ from time to time. I had run across the passionate Christian time from time, before I committed to Christ. I acknowledged and knew I needed someone else to run the show because I was failing miserably. And a few times I let others who had no good intention to run the show. But, I didn’t know HOW to let God. I didn’t know how to read the bible. It did not make sense to me, and I would get flustered. I didn’t know how to pray, but say a bunch of prayers someone else wrote, over and over. I didn’t know what half the things these “Christians” said, meant. They were just weird.

I asked Jesus into my heart. I asked forgiveness. But then I watched. I watched for years. And some people who where long suffering in my life. They took me to the ball field. I sat in the dugout and I watched them play baseball. When they were not looking a few times, I mimicked a few of their actions. I would go home, and feel empty. I would self harm, even OD’ed a few times. As I could not get a grasp on life, and was not doing what I was created to do. ICU…. Respirator…. Charcoal… inpatient… back to the ball field. Ball players sat by my hospital bed, more times than I can tell you. “Baseball, you need baseball.” GREAT! HOW?!

So then with those who refused to see the reality, and chose to see the potential of Christ in my life. They took me to the batting cages. They showed me how to hold the bat. They showed me how to swing. They explained discernment of knowing when to swing, and when to stand still. Back to the dugout. Back home, taking 11 pysch meds. Back to inpatient. Back to intensive out-treatment. Again waking up strapped down to a bed, hearing the beeping of machines, unable to speak with a tube down my throat breathing for me. Slamming my restrained wrists again the metal of a hospital bed. The baseball players kept showing up. Kept picking me up to go to the baseball field.

They fit me with a glove. They kept reminding me I was an incredible baseball player. And really it had nothing to do with how good I played the game. They already knew who was going to win. I need only show up.

Then one day I lay in a hospital bed, and a knock at the door. The whole baseball team showed up (AKA all of women’s bible study at my church!) and sat around my bed and they show me the gameplan (aka had bible study right there in my hospital room) Something changed that day. I guess I realized I was loved enough, that even though it was scary. I would begin to loosen my grip on all the things I felt stabilized me. As crazy as it sounds.

And I cleaned out the alchohol. And I walked away from the drugs. I quit smoking. I kept showing up at baseball practice. I kept watching. I kept trying to learn to swing. The team was cheering me on. I knew they wouldn’t let me fall. I was not sure yet if I could trust an unseen God, but I knew at that point, I could trust this baseball team. And I remember there where times, I wanted to run back to what I knew. What was destructive but comfortable. I remember as I started to learn to die to myself, I told another ball player “Man, it hurts to die.” As my flesh began to die, and I continued to choose not to run to the victim role. Not to run to the drugs. Not to run to even mental health.

Then I will never forget the moment. I was sitting in the living room, in my chair, in the word of God. I felt his presence, and I felt His leading. I was confessing, I was walking with Him, I was starting to trust him. And I screamed “IM IN THE GAME!” The grass green beneath my feet. The glove on my hand.

Of course it was never really baseball. And really I stink at all sports, so it is kinda funny I use that analogy. But for me, I had to watch those around me live a life of abandonment to Jesus. I had to watch them lead, disciple, minister, and serve. I had to be on the receiving end, and have been insanely blessed to have chances now days to be on the giving end of that. To get to serve those, who served me at some pretty low moments in my life.

Those people chose to live it alongside me. I remember the day I sat in my psychiatrists office. Over 50 inpatient stays later. Died on the way to the ICU basically twice. Scarred up. Grinning that cheesy grin. And I remember Him saying “Well, you are off all your meds, You are doing good. I guess we don’t need to make another appointment, unless you need to call and set one up again.” I remember walking out those doors, practically skipping away. I was done.

Don’t get me wrong. Life never became a bowl of cherries. But I finally began to do what I was created to do. To have a relationship with Christ. And that’s what I hope I get to do where I am. I want to live it alongside them. I want to play baseball in front of them. I want to bring em to the dugout. I know some all-star players, I would love to introduce them to some day as well. Who to me, are in the baseball hall of fame.

I spent more years, walking in this redemption. This sanctification process, that every Christian goes through till the day they die. Then I went on my first trip, my second trip. And I realized I wanted to come to Africa and play baseball here. I wanted to live it alongside them. I know how it feels also to have no one show up. I know how it feels to be scared and alone. I know what it is like to be homeless.  And I know all I can do is love them.

And someday God really gets in there and prunes me. And I squirm, and I kick and scream. And then I feel Him. I feel how close He is to me. And I quiet myself, and listen to Him as he woo’es me. As he comforts me. As his words seep into my very marrow. And I rest in Him.

So, I have no idea where this blog post just went! It was suppose to be how this is an iron sharpens iron experience here. But I guess it ended with baseball…. Welcome to my mind, it never stays on topic. :p

Well, I guess I will just say then. . . “Let’s play ball!!” 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where did the time go?!

Wow, I have been in Rwanda now over two months! 
How in the world did that happen?! 
Time sure is zipping by like it is nobodies business. 
So, I figured I would just show you some of the stuff 
going on here in Rwanda.
I have been......

Trying to convince a bunch of chickens to stop
following me because I am not their mama. 

Catching chickens... 

Adoring my neighbors kids. 

Enjoying scrambled eggs and ketchup, breakfasts! 

Getting really excited to spot things like this lizard. 

Spending hours stuck somewhere in the rain...
(That time it was in the market in Gisenyi....)
And rain season is only halfway over. *sigh*

Learning to make new things....

Letting the girls take over, so it is done right.

Being a tad obsessed with Sombusa!!

Amelie the master chef!! 

Having bible study to find out what God says about us. 

Praying together. 

Heading to Kigali for a weekend,
and missing the girls something ridiculous!

My breath getting taken away at many turns in a day,
at the beauty and splendor of God's handiwork
in this GORGEOUS country!!

Hiking down from church, and being side tracked by beauty. 

Getting home from Kigali, getting ready really fast,
and then heading into Gisenyi so my internet is fast enough too....

Go to church in New York, while I am in Africa.
And being blessed beyond words expression!!!

And then watching the sunset over Lake Kivu!!!

Hanging out at the orphanage,
and covering cute babies in kisses and prayer.

Loosing power a few times a day. 

Having a donut and breakfast burrito for breakfast in Kigali.

Finding a recipe book in Kigali of recipes and cooking in Rwanda.
And nearly squealing in joy about said cookbook. 

Still enjoying the goodies from the packages I got a few weeks back. 

Having long raw and real conversations at night. 

Long phone calls home to friends. (Lee, you are missed SO MUCH!)

Getting tired of every cut, scratch, hangnail, and burn, becoming 
a battle of me vs infection. 

LOVING my mosquito net, because I have not woken up
covered in bites. And it feels like climbing into my own tent.

Getting encouraging email from home, and crying. 

Being ridiculously, amazingly, and overwhelmingly BLESSED
beyond what words could begin to express.  

As always...

Lots of love from Rwanda, 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scaredy cat....

Want to know something? I just might be the most scared and anxious person you ever meet.

I am no stranger to trembling hands, knocking knee’s, and a heart rate that increases 100 beats a minute in a matter of a few seconds.

I at one point in my life, let this pretty much rule my life.

But one thing I learned, well a few things really.
  •        Nothing on earth lasts forever, this includes our emotions. Anxiety has to end. You cannot stay anxious or scared forever. It HAS TO pass. Just like every other emotion. 

  •         Emotions lie…. A LOT.

  •        It is alright to be scared. But it is NOT OK, to let it stop me from doing what needs to be done. Or from doing what is right.

In case you are wondering. I do A LOT of things scared.

Your actions determine your emotions. But sometimes my emotions are a little slow moving. But they always eventually catch up. My emotions always catch up to my obedience.

I think God is alright with that.

And even if I am probably one of the most scared people in the universe.

I would rather live with temporary fear, than regret. I would rather say I did it scared, than never did it at all.

I never want to let fear stop me from taking a step of faith. Even if that step is done trembling.

Being the obsessive planner, over thinking, deep feeling person I am. Sometimes I have to stop and laugh, that me of all people is living in Africa. It must be God, because me? Me? I am a mess for real. 

Thankfully God uses messy people. 

The moment I think I got it all figured out, and that I know what I am doing.  The moment I think I can do it all myself. That is the moment when God cannot use me. 

But scared, God can use me scared. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mail Day!!!

So after much anticipation of a package coming from my brother John, 
I got a call from the man at the post office today, that there was THREE 
packages awaiting me at the post office. 
I had just gotten home from Gisenyi, but I called Jerome to come back, 
because I could not wait. He said he would be here in 10 minutes, 
and it felt like the longest ten minutes EVER!! 
Diane came home, because we needed to get some stuff
for lunch, since we have like no food in the house and it was
downpouring yesterday. So I told her to hop on a moto too, 
and we would stop at Habibs on the way there too. 
As we where riding on the way there, I was thinking where do I go first. 
If I get the packages first, I will be anxious to get home and open them, 
and if we go to the store first I will run through the store like a crazy lady. 
When we got to the Y in the road, one way to the store, the other way
to the post office, Jerome turned toward the store. 
Thanks for making the choice for me Jerome. 

Three packages of goodness!!

I let Amelie open this one because I knew there was
cake and frosting in the box. LOVED her reaction. 

As we opened my brothers package, with every item
Amelie and Diane said "Thank you Uncle John and Aunt Sheryl!!" 
Do you see all that mac n cheese!!!
And since I am pretty bad at making a fire to cook, 
this is how I made some ramen noodles a few days back. 

Yeah, I either need to buy a stove/oven
or learn to build a fire better. 
Or, just write a book called "Coffee Pot Cooking" 
and sell it for my next fund raiser....
To buy a stove/oven.

Mac and cheese, 
STARBUCKS via coffee, iced and Hot. 
Truvia, Crystal light, protein bars, 
PRETZEL M&M's!! So much goodness in here!!!
And silly me when I packed to come, I packed 3 conditioners and 1 shampoo.
So glad that is evened out now!! :)

Always helpful. . . 
Especially me being the most accident prone 
person in the world!

Oh, lets face it, God has been thanked so much
for the contents of this shelf!!
Many a birthdays will be celebrated (some for the first time!)
(The funny thing is, I personally do not like cake! More
for the lovelies here!)

My neighbors where pretty happy too, 
and enjoyed some delicious candy. 
Thank you John and Sheryl from my neighbor kids!
(Oh, look at Nono's hair!!!)

My big brother John and his lovely wife Sheryl. 
Crystal Decker, and Michelle Myhro!
So much goodness, we are more excited
than a kid on Christmas morning!!! <3

Lots of love from Rwanda, 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Then and Now

                So in a course of events, this morning I found myself reading some things I have written in the past. And as I was riding on the back on the moto in today, I was thinking of all the things I would tell myself back then. And reminding myself of all the things I need to remember that God has taught me. And this is what I would say to me, back then.

Dear the past me,  

I know right now you are just starting to crawl out of some pretty dark places. I know freedom is a bit scary to you right now. You have hurt yourself for far too long. I am not sure what ever made you feel the need to self harm. Where you trying to make the outside match the inside hurt and confusion? You wonder if you will ever fit somewhere, and just so you know. You won’t. You will never feel secure and accepted here on earth. Because we are all created for fellowship with God and everything else, really never makes the cut.

                I know you desire control. But it is in your surrender, you will find wholeness. It is in the surrender that you will find hope. Control is not the answer. Because, let’s face it, anytime you tried to be in control, you messed it up big time. And that is alright. Because you cannot take charge of this, only God can.  I know some bad things have happened, you have been used in ways no one ever should be, you have felt deep pains of loss already. You question if those who say they are there for you, really are going to stick it out with you. And some will, and some won’t.

                But you are in a good place right now, weather it seems it or not. You are learning. You are learning the complete peace and joy of surrender. You are learning to still let go of the past. You are learning you do not need to live the victim role forever. You are learning that there are far better things out there, than what the scale says. You are learning that only God can tell you who you are. Not even you know that, only the one who created you. I know it is still scary to let go. As you learn to step out of some dark places in your life, you are bumping around in the light a bit. Light is flooding into the darkest places as you surrender, and your eyes have not adjusted to it yet. So you are tripping over a whole lot of things, and just being a plane wreck! It’s alright.

                I want you know God has never loved you more in your past, nor will He in the future. Weather you surrender, or you hold on. Weather you turn to other things to numb your soul, or you bear it all at the cross. God loves you, despite yourself. And He is going to use all this one day. One day he will use every scar for His glory. One day you will have sweet orphans in Africa, brush there tiny brown fingers across your arm, and ask you “What are these scar from?” and you will be able to tell them, of your surrender. And one day, you will fall so head over heels in love with the kids who those tiny fingers belong too. And what you eat, wear, or even who is sticking it out with you will matter anymore. You will sell all the things you are feverishly now trying to accumulate, to go love on them all the time. And hope that they will know the same surrender, and new life that you have. You will brush the scars on your arms, and you will think “It doesn’t even seem like those things where me. My life is so different now.” The scars will remind you some day, that you didn’t just watch it on some movie, but it was you. And a very real and a very big God showed you a relentless love that changed it all around.

                So past Tina, don’t fret. And just rest in the surrender you have been learning. Because pretty soon, God is going to tap you on the shoulder, right when you think you got it all figured out, and he is going to flip your world upside down. And you will be on the most incredible ride of your life. There is so much more to come…… and you will sit down and write this letter to yourself in Africa. As you remember that some day, all of this fades. And you will stand before your God, and bow. And your faith will be your sight. Which you know, how real what you cannot see is. Because girl, you are waking up every day in a new surrender to a big God, who will break every chain. And as long as you keep surrendering, He will continue to break every chain. You are beautifully broken.

You in a few years, much faster than you ever thought.

And on that note, the me in the past would remind me today:

Dear me today,

                You don’t have to have it all together. You are a work in progress. Don’t ever think you are not in need of Savior daily. Do not think you do not need his grace still, every moment. Remember, you still need to surrender every day. Remember what God has done in your life, but do not stay there. You do not have to attend every argument you are invited too. And don’t forget, He could not love you more, yesterday, today, or tomorrow. It is not based on what you do or do not do. It is all about what He did at the cross. It is done. Do not get too far ahead of yourself. Remember you cannot save anyone, you can only love them. And you can only love them, because He loved you first.

You years ago.