Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's all so familiarly foreign.

The best thing I never knew I wanted. 
Hey, I miss you. You my best friend that I have laughed so hard with. The ones that we got kicked out of a public lake because we were laughing and talking too loud, too late, by some random old grumpy man while eating our ice cream. You friend, who we used to pack the guitar and worship lyric book, and go sit by Lake Ontario and sing our hearts out on the flat rocks. You coming up to give me a tight hug with a friendly smile at church every single Sunday. You at Womens bible study, who we have shared our hearts, and dove deep into the word, and tightened the connections of friendship and sisterhood. That friend who we would curl up with blankets in front of your fire place with our coffee and chat for hours, and laugh, and cry. 


From time to time, even though I have been here in Rwanda for almost four years, a tinge of homesickness sets in. It is not as often as it used to be. And now when I get to be there in the states, the homesickness for Rwanda sets in so much deeper and quicker. But no matter what continent I find myself on, I find there is always some homesickness, some sense of not fitting in anymore, or yet, lingering just behind the surface. I know that this is the life I have chosen to persue. And I am far from complaining. I know many missionaries that fear to share the struggle because we dont want anyone to think, we are regretting our choices. We are wanting to change how we live this divided life. But cant I say the same for you? You tired mama, with the blood shot eyes, and trying to juggle family, church, work, and life. I am sure you would not change it for anything. But there are the days, the days were you are just tired. All good things, do not come without a certain amount of exhaustion, a certain amount of sacrifice. Our dreams, our passions, they cost us something. If they didn’t, they would be cheap and insincere. 

So this morning as I was scrolling through facebook. And I just longed to jump through the screen and grab a coffee with you. To laugh with you. To curl up in front of the fire with you. To sit in the pew next to you. I wondered what I would say, what you would say. 

I would probably plop down on the chair or your couch and let out a big sigh. I would try to gather my thoughts, and my heart. I would hug you extra tight, and probably close my eyes, and take a mental picture, remember the feeling of your hug, because it is from YOU, and store it away in my memory bank to pull out on a hard rainy day. I would probably choke back some tears, or perhaps for those closest to me, you might feel a few tears drip on your shoulder. 

It would feel strangely familiar and foreign to me all at the same time. Even hearing a snow plow or a lawn mower, would jolt me back to remember, I was in my American home, not my Rwandan home. The smells, the lights, the buildings, the stores. By the time I saw you, I probably would have already done my normal walk around WalMart or Target. Not to buy anything, but just to wander aimlessly, and try to reacquaint myself with my surrounding back in the states. And spend an extra long time in the cheese isle, because that always blows me away, and I always eat way too much cheddar cheese. 

I notice the changes you have had in your life. That baby announcement, might be the baby in a carseat next to you now. Or that baby I saw last time, is now toddling around. Your kids that were in my sunday school preschool class, are now in grade school, and have become little people developing into teens. Some faces are missing, as I scan the church. Some who were just freshmen, or going into High School, have spread their wings and gone off to college. I wonder how your daughter got so tall. I notice the empty spaces, of people who have passed that I never got to be there for. A grief tinges in my heart, as I wish I was there to comfort you. As I wish I was there to cry at the funeral. I wish I had some closure on some losses that have happened since I have been gone. And you new wife, your beaming! Your belly is swollen, and you have settled into your new place in life. I wish I was there at your wedding. I feel strangely connected and disconnected all at once. My heart aches and rejoices all at once. I wonder if life will always feel so divided. If my heart will always feel so many emotions at once. 

And once we sat down with that coffee and you asked me how I was, and how things are going, and I replied “Oh things are good.” You know me well enough, to give me that look and say “Tell me everything.” 

I dont even know where to start to catch you up on life. So I search my mind and my heart on where to even begin, and wonder if you have the time, to really listen to it all. How I have longed to sit next to you, and share a coffee, or a meal. 

But perhaps catching you up is for another post. But once we got past the casualties. I would tell you….

I would sit up to the edge of my seat to tell you about the new programs. I would tell you about the girl who wants to be a Dr, and despite the odds, how she is rocking life. I would tell you about the girl who lives with her grandma, and how her name means “One who has much love.” and how she runs to greet me. I would tell you about the mama’s and babies and caregivers and foster moms. I would reveal in the community, I would probably say a few things a few times, because I just am shocked and awed at their strength. 

You would ask me about my boyfriend, and I would laugh. You might remind me how I said I really never cared to date, and how many thousands times I said I would never get married. I would tell you how it all started with us both sharing in a odd moment for no apparent reason about how our mothers died. How we both were in tears on the front porch with our coffee’s, after a long day of meetings and running around. How somehow that turned into silence, that turned into us worshipping together, which turned into a relationship. How our first date, we went out to dinner, and shared our pasts with each other, and how when he took my hand, my stomach suddenly had a thousand caterpillars erupt from their raccoons and the butterflies were all a jumble in my stomach. How I felt like a giddy school girl. I would laugh, as I told you about our dating being anything but normal as we do full time ministry together. How our dates look more like devotions and the Word in the morning with our coffee and Moses running around pretending to drive a car in a cardboard box. How our dates consist of home visits and hospital visit, getting pee’d on by babies. How the hospital stresses him out, and some home visits stress me out. How we often remind each other to breathe. How we sit together in the Eno and talk about our pasts and dreams of the future. How sometimes I catch him watching me run around like crazy. How he tells me I am beautiful in the midst of the stress and the paperwork, and I am still in my sweat pants and old t-shirt trying to wrangle everyone to the table for dinner. How he tells me I am amazing. How he kisses my hand, and looks in my eyes. How he makes me feel like the most beautiful, women in the world. And how I blush when I catch him staring at me. How I often will stop when I am walking into a room and see him playing cars with Moses on the floor. How Moses and Rebecca run to hug him as soon as he walks in the gate in the morning. How I sit and watch him tell his stories, and he calls me his “Sweetie” and I call him my “cheesy” because he can get quiet cheesy sometimes. I would tell you how I catch him talking to the kids and older girls, and is trying to keep a mothers day surprise from me, and I am pretending not to notice. I would tell you how he is the best thing I never knew I wanted, that has happened to me. How I love his knowledge of the Word, and how he reminds me often when I get stressed “seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you. Sweetie, thats our only job. We need to seek the Kingdom, and His Righteousness and everything else will come.” I would tell you about worshipping at night, and how passionate he is about worship. How in the dim of only a few working lights in the living room, Moses in my lap, and Rebecca curled up next to me in the chair. The girls deep in worship. Sometimes I just stop and open my eyes, and watch him leading us all in worship, and I feel so blessed that this strong man of God, see’s me as beautiful, who thinks I am amazing, even when I am running like crazy still in sweat pants, and old shirt, sometimes with pee still on me, because there is no running water and we climbed and hiked to multiple home visits to the babies that day. 

I would tell you I get stressed sometimes. Like really stressed. How I dont know how things are going to come together, how point A is going to meet point B. And how God keeps working on my heart and reminding me that he will provide our daily portion. I would tell you how often I ask the Lord, “cant it be a weekly or monthly portion?” And how somedays I tell myself over and over again “TODAY we are OK. Today we have what we need. Today, we have our daily portion. Today we have what we need to accomplish what the Lord has set before us for today. Today I just need to love the one in front of me.” and how when ever I look at things as a whole. I become overwhelmed and stressed. But when I break it down, and just concentrate on loving the mama, the child, the family, the baby in front of me, it isn't so overwhelming. When I concentrate on just getting that days tasks done, for that day, I am not so stressed. How I am getting better at reminding myself of that. 

I would tell you, how my first time back at church every time, I hide in the bathroom stall and weep. And I still am never sure what exactly it is. I think it is a bit of everything. The joy, the confusion, the over stimulation, the grief, the old and new faces, the missing faces. The sense of familiarity and foreign all mixed together. How I concentrated so hard on weeping silently so no one would know, and waited till the bathroom was empty to go splash some cold water on my face, and take a few deep breaths hoping no one notices when I walk out that I was weeping. But that smile when I see you, is so genuine. The happiness of seeing you is so real. That it might just take me back into the bathroom stall for another sob session. 


I would count down the days I have left to soak up my time with you, and the days I have left that I ache to get back to my home. And how that is always such a jumbled mess in my heart and soul. 


And before we parted for the time being, and we embraced in a hug once again. I would close my eyes and try to memorize it all over again. 

Play dates with my little man. 

They grow up too fast!

Home visits, somedays are our morning workout's. 

I only got pee'd on twice that day. Somedays, you call that a success! 


Bedtime stories with Tilly. 
Evening worship and devotions. A time we all look forward too. 
20 primary kids, 13 babies, and 8 mama's have stolen my heart. 
Worship or sermons in my ears, and I stop and look around,
and the Lords greatness takes my breath away. 


Somedays, I hold my breathe and my heart cries out
a thousand prayers. 



A full table, makes my heart full. 

Ester, our inspiring missionary, in the primary program. 

Cow hoofs for dinner. Though I happily ate my rice and cassava leafs. 






Sunday, April 24, 2016

We have felt helpless and hopeful.

We are coming to end of the first month of the new programs.

In these last few weeks, we have felt helpless and hopeful.
We have sat silently on a hospital bed, holding a mama's hand.
We have sang at the top of our lungs and worshipped in homes.
We have held our breath, and we have sighed with relief.
Seen the Lord move, and hit our knee's in the midnight hours.
We have worshipped in the mountains, and hiked more than we thought we could.
We have formed and began relationships with 20 primary students and their families,
and 13 infants and their families.
Laughed so hard our faces hurt, and cried some ugly cries, feeling my way in the dark for the toilet paper roll, snotty ugly cries.
We have been blessed beyond words, and frightened at times.
We have prayed with babies, kids, and mama's.
We have began to fall into a routine of this full time ministry.
We have found a house to use as an office, and began to hang curtains and make it another home.
Through the Lords grace and mercy, we have been blessed.





In Christ, 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

When we dont even know God is preparing us.....

About six months ago, I started to hike the mountains and hills around me. It was in an effort to get in better shape.








As everything ministry wise, seemed to be in a "wait" season, I hiked. I would put in my ear buds, and would climb and climb. I would get lost in the worship music in my ears, and would pray for the program that was so strongly in my heart. As I got stronger physically.














Then the other day I was going to a home visit. And as my guy called back to me "We need to increase speed to keep up with the old man!" I giggled a little to myself.















And as the worship music played into my ears. I realized 6 months ago, there would have been no way I would have been able to do this.

















Maybe it wasn't a season of "wait".

Maybe.... just, maybe......















Maybe it was a season of preparation. 

All those prayers, all those hikes. 

Maybe the Lord was preparing me. 

For a new season of ministry. 

When I didn't even know......





Monday, April 4, 2016

Awed by God.

I wish I had time to get into details about every visit. But soon the sun will burst through the window, the kids will wake up, and the day will be full speed ahead. But for now I wanted to share a few pics of the home visits yesterday for the infants. (today we meet with social affairs to do home visits to the primary kids!)

When you hear of a baby left by the river near your home,
which sparks a new passion in your heart. That becomes a new
ministry. Which becomes that baby sitting on your lap. 

Visiting the triplets. And teaching the mama how to use bottles.
She has not been producing enough milk for the triplets. 



Got milk? 

This mama of twins lives the furthest away. She is to malnourished
to nurse her twins. She met us by the road, then left me in the dust,
for the 45 minute walk up to her home. 


The amazing Theirry. Translating, being pee'd on by babies,
loving on mama's. So blessed by this man in my life. 

The twins took to the bottle instantly. First bottle feeding, and
a mama, who needs some help feeling some great relief. 

This mama and her three littles has captured my heart! 

This visit turned into church. I loved watching her heart for her kids. 


THOSE EYES! 

Abandoned 3 months ago. The widow who took this little girl,
who has found herself in some hard situations. I couldn't help but just tell her
over and over again how she is wanted, desired, loved.
The mama who took her a true hero, who is showing her love.
I have been amazed again and again, at the love, strength, courage of these mama's. Of those who have taken in abandoned babies. Of community working together. Of love that breaks down walls. Of hope, of redemption, of more than I have words for.

In Christ,
Tina