Sunday, July 14, 2013

America bucket list

So, I leave in 54 hours to go visit America. But whose counting?! And so the last couple of weeks, randomly I would think of something, and add it to my American bucket list. So without further ado, the America visit bucket list.


American bucket list

 

·         Have a prayer and worship night with the girls.

·         Watch the fireworks over lake Ontario at harborfest

·         Eat a fried snickers at harborfest

·         Get a endless ride thing, and ride most all the rides at harborfest

·         Get over the jetlag in the first week back. (1pm back in the states and I am ready to crash! Got to get over that quick)

·         Farmers market...enough said.

·         Go to a broadway show in NYC (I think me and the girls have been watching far too many musicals)

·         Night away with just the girls.

·         Cheesecake at the cheesecake factory

·         Spread awareness of the ministries in Rwanda and how home can partner with God here.

·         Spinach artichoke dip and salad bar at Ruby Tuesday's.

·         Eat a whole block of REAL cheese. (no judgement is allowed)

·         Meet the Lord back at some of our places, the Oswego Tea Company, and our spot at the Lake.

·         Breakfast at Wade's diner. Don't judge all the food things on my list!

·         Go to the movies.

·         Borrow some of my favorite little's for some special days No one told me these kids would grow up so much in my absence. Not cool, really not cool.

·         Find a real cheap iphone or BB for Rwanda.

·         Walk the breaker walls at the lake.

·         Make at least 3 pinterest meals, that the ingredients are just not avail in Rwanda.

·         Spend a entire day at Barnes and Noble drinking coffee, and reading. (Oh be still my heart, be still)

·         Smores at a bonfire

·         Surprise some people at their front door.

·         Speak at church without my hands trembling.

·         One on one time with the besties.

·         Minister to my community back home, (Babysit for a date night for a couple who need it, make a dinner for someone in need of some encouragement, and leave random encouragement cards)

·         Skype dates with the girls.

·         Swim in Lake Ontario

·         Lunch and ice-cream at Rudy’s.

 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The relentless pursuit


Sweet Alice,

                I felt compelled to write this letter to you, because of all you have come to represent to me. You have come to represent the very real, relentless, and determined pursuit of God. You have come to represent his provision, his love, and how he will always make a way. I met you back in August 2011, at a orphanage. And instantly we clicked, as you took no reservation to come and sit down next to me, and begin to chat with me. We found so many things in common, and that bond was quick and intense. I remember going home and hanging your picture up on my wall, along with Josianne and Alysse. I would always say "And these are my two Alice's."

                What I did not know that day you came and sat down next to me, how the Lord would bring us back together in some incredible ways. I never knew the challenges, tears, laughter, and hope we would someday walk through together, the honor the Lord has permitted me to walk alongside you in. I never knew, but he did. He knew that day you sat next to me and said "Hi, I am Alice, what's your name?" that, he would do amazing things years down the road. It was by no accident, and the Lord had so much in store. I can only imagine the expression of the Lord, the smile, as he knew his plans for the future.
 
 

                Randomly one day on the bus, you saw me. I hate to admit that I did not recognize you. It had been so long, and I just assumed I would probably never see you again. Little do I know of the plans of God. But instantly you recognized me, once again sat down next to me, and our conversation took off. You remembered all about that day, and again I was excited, and praised the Lord to have contact with you again. I thought the miracle of just seeing each other again had happened. But bigger and better things, bigger miracles did the Lord have in mind. Never once taking his gaze off you, never once faltering in his desire to work in and through your life. Never once having stepped away.

                Then you came to live in my house. I remember you had been there maybe a week, and surprisingly there was no stress as the next school term was approaching, and I had no idea, no clue, how in the world the finances would be there for you to go to school. I had not seeked out a sponsor, I had not seeked out to provide in my own means. But trust alone, and I knew somehow that God had it covered. And he did. As a friend from America was staying at my house at that time, and approached me about sponsoring you. His provision continued to cover you.
 
 

                And then the laughter that we shared soon turned to concern and worry. As you had gone to the doctors a few times at school, and apparently you were not getting better. You came home, and within an hour, I knew something was terribly wrong. I knew something was not right, and my concern for you rose. I prayed, and sought out medical help here, in which as you knew from just my facial expressions in those clinics, I was less than pleased. Getting you on the back of the moto, and finally back to the house. The next day we were going to Kigali, to find some answers. I wanted you back, back to your smiling, talented, witty self.

                I once had a dear friend tell me, how intimacy is formed the strongest through trails. There is something to be said for the bond that is formed in laughter, and similarities, or even drawn through differences. But there is a strength in the bond that is formed in both laughter and tears. And this my girl is the bond that was beginning to form. As you layed on the ER bed in the hospital in Kigali, my heart sank, my voice raised a few times, as a determination filled this girl, to find some answers, to have you back to healing.   

                The next day, they found some masses on a ultrasound, and then a CT scan confirming, and then other tests. You dear sweet beloved of the Lord, had four large tumors, causing all kinds of damage, interfering in all kinds of things. I slept in a plastic lawn chair next to your bed, tears fell on your hospital sheets, and I utter some desperate cries in that plastic chair, and got a little bit of sleep. Up, down, tears, claiming scripture over you. Surgery was scheduled, and you were going to go in for surgery.


                Never before sweetness, have I ever felt so helpless. Knowing all I could do is trust the Lord, and trust the medical system in a third world country. As I paced that surgical floor, as you were in surgery for NINE hours, as I stared at the light in the surgical theater. My mind went all kinds of places. But one thing that has stuck with me, is that, that day you sat next to me in that orphanage, crocheting, smiling, making chit chat, the Lord knew. He knew he would burden my heart, he knew I would come back, and he knew that he would bless me and honor me, and use me, to be his vessel. Because he just loves you so much, and has such huge plans for you. He knew. It blows my mind to think that on that day, he knew. He knew.

                I remember when the word cancer was being tossed around. I remember sitting on your bed, us crying, and reminding you, that God is going to deliver you. That we just didn't know how yet. And how he had provided for you thus far, and will not leave nor forsake you. I remember that so clearly, so vividly, so strongly.

                And now the bond has been cemented much deeper, through prayers, trust, tears, and laughter. And sometimes when you are not paying attention, I catch myself staring at you, and overwhelmed at what you represent. You my dear sweet girl, represent the relentless pursuit of a big and loving God. You represent to me his provision. And you remind me how his gaze never diverts, his love never falters, and his plans always bigger than we know. And then you notice me staring at you, so I make that face, you know, that face, that always makes you laugh, and I thank the Lord for His goodness, his provision, his relentless love.
 
 

                And for me, you, every person God has lovingly, fearfully, and wonderfully knit together. Everyone of us who God has formed, he did so with a purpose. And for each of us, his heart longs, and he is jealous Alice. He is jealous for every last one of us. In a way I know a tiny fraction of. And I rejoice, I rejoice in his provision and relentless love. And I look at you, and I remember. I remember just how big, how incredible, and how loving our Abba father is. And I praise him, for the gift of you. And the bond cemented in much more, than it ever would have been, had it been forged only in laughter, and chit chat. But forged together in intense prayer, trust, tears, and seeing the very hand of God.

Lots of love,

Tina
 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ponderings and pages changing.

 
Alot has been on my mind lately, as the dynamic of the house has went through a revolving door yet again. I stare at Moses almost everyday and wonder how he has grown up so fast. Five months home, and he is not only walking, but running, his personality blossoms more everyday. (Kid is HYSTERICAL!) Trying to get a thousand things marked off my to-do list, as well as thinking on the fact that in two weeks from now, my feet will be on American soil for a few weeks. It is a lot to ponder for this mind of mine.

Going back to the states to visit. Yesterday I called my pastor to verify he had gotten my itinerary for the short term team coming back with me, for two weeks. Excited to see my home church come to Rwanda, the excitement is just not even explainable. I called him from a packed, hot, I think we are all so sweaty we are sticking to the seats and each other bus. And sometimes you cannot articulate the words, that have been pondering in your heart, till sometimes you hear yourself saying them. "It is going to be so weird being back, or so I think. I have no idea. But I feel like God is going to have so much for me, back home this time. Last time I came to visit here, now parts of this culture have meshed into mine. It is home here, it feels like home. And I think now, that this has become home. It is going to really shine a light on life before Africa, and in Africa. It is going to be more of a contrast." I think I articulated it better on the phone. Perhaps crowded sweaty African buses help me to proccess thoughts better?

I cannot explain the excitement of getting to see everyone. My mind just cannot wrap itself around this. Yet, part of me knows, coming home will never be the same as it was before. That old saying "You can never go home." I have found has rung true in many different aspects in my life already in the past. And this time, its.....its just different. I have been a mix of so many emotions when I think of it. So many emotions on the spectrum. Including a bit of anxiety thrown in for good measure. Sometimes I think about it, on the back of a moto, in a crowded bus, running around town, and the excitement is so intense, I feel like I am just going to burst. And other times, I look at the girls and Moses, and think "I am going to miss home so much in a few days time." And I start to wonder if I should chop a few weeks off the time at home. I know this will probably be the rest of my life, torn between two countries. Torn between it all. And knowing and accepting that my heart will always be split between the two. It is a odd place to be, when your heart is so divided in that way.

And as my mind ponders so many things, as it always does. I am a INFJ, thinking is just always a mode our brains are switched too at all times. I have also been thinking on other things as I stare at Moses, as he runs around, says more and more words, gets more teeth, and adds more skills to his list all the time. It hits me everytime I go to the orphanage. When I see the kids his age there, and think of when he was in the orphanage, and where he is now. Everytime I go to room 2 now (where he would be if he was there), I cannot help but feel overwhelmed and think "This is where he would be." Do not get me wrong, they care for these kids as best they can. It is hard work, and my hats off to them, for what the house mama's do in a single day. But it is not plan A, it is not how it is suppose to be. Orphanages are never how it is suppose to be, no matter how hard they work, how much they care, it is not the way the Lord made it. It is always plan B. And I see the difference in my son, from his personality there, and now. Of course part of that is just coming with his age, and his personality just becoming more apperant. But everytime he does something, that comes with time with adopted children, my heart cheers, and my eyes water. Like the other day, we were all sitting outside working on the baskets. He would walk away a bit, and then return to me, Hug me, and look to me for reassurance. Then off he would walk a bit farther, and then come back to me, looking to me for reassurance. Kids do that with their parents, and with kids who grow up in a setting like a orphanage, it is a huge deal when they do that. It means they see you as the parent. It means they see you as the one who protects and cares for them. You alone, not a parade of people coming and going, and every adult a potential parent. Or when he meets someone new, and looks at me, the guage my response to that person, before offering his own. I often wonder how much his bonding to me, is because I met him at 3 weeks old, and then again when he was about 6 months, I was a daily face that showed up at the orphanage to see him. I wonder if that created the foundation of a bond for us, before he ever came "home". And if you are wondering because I get asked a lot, no he is not coming back to the states with me, as he cannot. I am fostering him, and cannot take him out of the country. And currently Rwanda is closed to international adoption, so the option of adoption is off the table. But as long as I can be in Rwanda, I will be here with him. If adoption is a option, I will jump on it faster than you can say the word "adoption." and if it doesn't, I will plant my happy self right here, till he is ready to start his own life away from his mama. (that day might break my heart in a thousand peices) But the girls and a American friend moving in, next week, will be caring for him while I am gone in the states.

My mind I guess has been stuck on contrasts lately. Trying to prepare my heart to be back in the states, and see so many in which my heart has missed, and my arms have ached to be thrown around in a hug that just might squeeze half the life out of those people. I am sure I am going to be the biggest emotional mess the first few days, just overwhelmed with the emotion of seeing everyone. I keep joking with my friend Lee, that when I see her on the other side of the security part, I might just stop, stare, and cry, and have to be coaxed through, overwrought with emotion. (Lee is the besty, and will probably hold that place for, well, forever. I miss us talking and saying "Me too!" a thousand times, because we are just two peas in a pod personality wise. Oh that girl, miss her!)

And I am anxious to see what the Lord has for me in this teeny little season. I am anxious to see what all is in store for this really over feeling heart of mine. And knowing things are going to be different when I come home again too. The dynamic of the house itself having changed yet again. And even friends in the area having gone back to the states, making that home again. Seeing my church get to love on the kids here, and get their hands dirty with Rwandan soil. I feel like it is the turning of the page. And being as sentimental as I am, those pages turning, always make me want to flip the page back, and just wander a bit longer on what God has done, how blessed that page was, and ponder the next page, before it is flipped, and the ink is ready to dry into new adventures on it.

I know for me it is just a visit, some changes in dynamics, and some awesome new relationships to be formed between home (US) and home (Rwanda). And I feel like I sit here on the verge of that page being flipped. And I just long to linger a bit on the previous page. On the pages of the jump and coming here. The raw dependance I have been blessed and forced to experience on God that I have never had before. The changes in me, in Moses, in everything. And wonder and dream a bit for the next page, before that page is flipped over way too fast.


Lots of love from Rwanda,
Tina


P.S. Alice's test results came back last week, and she tested positive for TB. I know it is weird to be sooooo excited for that. But when the word "cancer" had been whispered so much, this was a big cheer of joy. It is very easily treatable, and I cried like a big emotional mess when the DR told us the results. Cried in a big mess of relief and joy. Never before had I been so excited for someone to test positive for TB. God is so good.