Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I love to hike now.

Something it does to my head.
Its like defragging your computer.

Normally I put on my earbuds and listen to podcasts or worship.
Sometimes I have to pull out the ear buds,
put the phone away,
and just walk and admire.

Yesterday was four hours of hiking.
And it did not disappoint.
So I thought I would just share a few images from my hike yesterday.

Because it really was and is....... Rwandaful.

It's hard to go hike to a home visit, and not pass through tea planations.

Psalms 95:4
"In His hands are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peeks belong to Him."

Brick baking 

Romans 1:20
"For since the creation of the world Gods invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." 

This cracked me up. As we were walking, and I saw this heard of mixed goats and sheep coming down. I thought "oh that would be a cool picture of all the goats and sheep." But was waiting for random passerby's to get past. Once I stopped, no joke ALL the goats and sheep stopped, and stared at me. It was like they were wondering what this random white girl in the middle of nowhere mountain villages. They all stood staring at me, till I walked past, then they all started to continue on their way. I never laughed so hard, me and Theirry were nearly on the ground laughing. 

Found a new place to get my coffee!! 

Does it not just take your breath away?! 

On the way down the mountains these guys nearly knocked me over, they were bolting down the mountain with this hand made sugar cane transporting device. We caught up to them at the bottom of the mountains in the plantations. 

I would have totally bought some sugar cane to munch on, on the way home. 
But didn't bring anything with me but my water bottle. 

If you heard this before, you will probably have heard it 100 times already. 
I remember on my first trip to Rwanda with VO. 
As I sat on the bus passing all these houses, and people, 
I just longed to have the bus stop, go into their homes, sit down, and chat. 
Just to get to know them, personally. Their life. 

Now home visits are one of my favorite things. 
Who knew I would forgo the motto's one day, and rather hike 4 hours to 
get to sit in a home, chat, and shell a few coffee beans. 

I love the relational aspect of what I get to do. 
I love the time I have in prayer when I hike. 
I love how it calms the mind. 
i love how up every hill, and around every turn, there is always something that takes my breath away. 

I have been living in Rwanda for almost four years now (in August). 
The beauty of Rwanda, is surely un matched. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Love wins

I used to say she had a sixth sense. She always knew when I was coming to the orphanage it seemed. 

And it was pretty well known she had dibs on some part of me. My hand, my back, 
or my hip. 

I often saw these eyes staring up at me, as she grasped my hand in the crowded orphanage. 

Occasionally we could get some time together without hundreds of others. 

Then this 9 year old girl, who wore clothes of a 5 year old moved into my home. 

It was a new adventure for the both of us. 

And somehow she has grown into a pre-teen! 

And her joy is contagious!

I call her my rainbow bright girl, and my pinky brewster. 
She loves all things sparkly, mis matched, rainbow, and extreme. 

And if she is happy, sad, excited, whatever emotion it is. 
She feels it with every fiber of her being!
When she laughs, she throws her head back, and you almost see it 
go from the bottom of her feet and just explode. 
When she is angry, her looks could turn boiling water to ice. 
She she is happy, I do not think her feet touch the ground. 

She is surely starting to come into her own. 

And its been a rocky road. Anyone who has parented a child who has a trauma history
knows, its a journey all its own. I remember the first time she told me she was hungry
and asked me for something to eat, and how I swung her around and hugged her so tight
and told her how proud I was of her. There are some silly little milestones sometimes you can 
point back too, and realize bricks where coming down from the walls. Other days just 
seem like normal days, but you dont realize the routine, the structure, that is laying groundwork
into the bonding. 

I dont know what spurred me to write this blog. 

Oh yeah I do. After I got myself ready and the kids all fed and off to school, 
and was going to the office to meet with the mama's and babies from the village. 
I forgot something in my room. 

I ran back into my room, and found this and a piece of candy Rebecca left on my bed. 
I cried a happy snotty my face is leaking in many ways cry. 
And when I got to the office, I taped it up on the wall, right where I can see it
when I meet with the mama's. 

To remember......


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What's new..

My friend Lauren is coming to Rwanda in January. She sponsors a set of triplets in the infant program and we just adore her. I love when I go to visit the family and hear them ask about Lauren. She is selling these t-shirt to help support her family get into a safer home. You can read more about her family and her trip here.  Any proceeds over 71 shirts sold go into an emergency fund. Which this first 6 weeks of ministry has surely been a learning curve, of having babies sick, resuscitated, ambulances, transfers to Kigali, moms, babies. So anything over 71 shirts, will go into an emergency fund, that when these situations come up, we are not grasping at straws, or running home to grab our grocery money. And I am super jealous y'all. I can't get mine till January!! And I just love them! You can directly to purchase a shirt here. 

I am so excited to say that this mom is SPONSORED! 
We met her a few weeks back, when we were visiting another mom when her twins were in the
hospital. This mom had been living in the hospital for 6 months, left there 
beaten, abandoned, and pregnant. We were able to foster her twins ourselves, 
before another foster home was secured, and send the mom to Kigali for more specialized
care. And we are so glad that once the mom is discharged soon. 
That we will be able to help her steady herself on her feet, and see her reunified with
her precious little twins. 

We still have these two twins who need a sponsor. We are grouping them together
for sponsorship because of age, and level of need. (no need for formula, baby cereal, etc) 
$75 a month covers health insurance, and basics of porridge, sugar, powdered milk, home visits, etc. 
If you would like to sponsor them, shoot me a message at thenannytina@gmail.com or TinaInRwanda@gmail.com it is really easy to set up, and is tax deductible. 

A few other things from lately.....

Guys, we are still floating on clouds that this girl is smiling. 

We love Giraneza, and we adore her foster mom.
When everyone else said "Not my problem." she stepped up,
stepped in, and constantly amazes us!!! 

Because you can never beat the views when hiking to home visits. 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of banana tree's,
I will fear no incline. This visit to Gato and Gakuru (the twins above in need of sponsors)
I thought for sure I had stumbled upon the land of never end banana tree's. 

We stopped along the way to play some soccer football.
My attempts left most all the kids, parents, passerby,
in hysterics. I never knew my attempts to bounce a ball on my foot
would provide so much comedy. :p

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The smile I waited for....

When we first met Giraneza she had been abandoned 3 months prior.

She had not spoken, her age was guessed, and her past a mystery. 

The first home visit, I just kept telling her over and over, 
how wanted, loved, cherished she was. 

Her amazing hero of a foster mom, a widow with a young teenage son at home. 

Giraneza would play with other kids, would even get caught smiling shyly or laughing. 
But when it came to adults, there was certain fear. 

Oh, how we all longed for her to know she was wanted. Chosen. Cherished. Pursued. 
We all longed, for that huge wall around a little heart would come crashing down. 

Every time I would do a home visit, or she came with her mom to
the office I would tell her before parting. "I can't wait to see that smile!" 

Yesterday we had all the moms come to the office for a meeting. 
Which could be five more blog posts in itself. 
As I heard one share an issue she was having, and the others
encouraging her. I just sat back, and held back the tears. 

But as I was trying to explain something to them, and encourage them. 
(basically a example of worth. Taking a bill, asking what it is worth, 
crumpling it, stomping on it, and then uncrumpling it, and asking 
what is its worth? And explaining things in life can do that. They can 
leave scars, they can dig us in the ground, but that does not change our worth. 
Our sins can leave marks, and impact, and others sins can leave marks and impact
but it does not change our worth. It does not change our value.) 

But as I was saying one part of it, for emphasis I was cringing my face. 
And we heard a little giggle. 

Let me tell you, that room erupted with cheers. 
Of course we all stopped in our tracks, and kept trying 
to keep those giggles and smiles coming!

I was so honored I got to be there for her first smile, 
since she was abandoned. 

I loved how the other moms, jumped in to encourage the foster mom. 
Encourage her to keep engaging. 
To keep loving. 
That her past will not determine her future. 
That none of our past's will determine our futures. 

I dont think my feet have touched the ground since. 
Its a smile the foster mom waited 5 months for. 
A smile I waited 6 weeks for. 

And that smile.... so worth it. 
That giggle..... music. 

3 moms and and 8 babies not present in this pic. 
(we have triplets and three sets of twins in the program!) 
One mom in the hospital, one set of twins at a Dr appointment, etc...

And getting a picture of all of us.... was a bit comical all in itself. 

But watch out world. 
These women, incredible!
Their strength.... intense. 
Their hopes..... high. 
Their dreams...... getting bigger. 
Their God...... active. 

Raising the next generation of world changers. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away."

And just when you think you might impart a thing or two. 
You just sit there blown away, at all they are teaching you. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The most courageous moms I know

Dear moms in our program, 
You probably woke up early this morning, and had no idea today was mothers day. 
I couldn't help but think of you, all that you do in a day, and how you have inspired me. 

You sweet mama, who was orphaned yourself at 2 years old and found yourself in a crowded refugee camp, alone. A family took you in, only to leave you alone as a street kid at 6. A solider in another country told you lies in your teen years, spoke what he knew you wanted to hear. You bore him 3 children, till he threw you out of his house. A shame to be thrown out, like dirt to be swept from the floor. Another man stepped in, and you bore him a child. You left back to your home country with your kids in tow, a newborn at your breast, and no place to go. You dream to someday learn to read and write. We keep encouraging you to dream a little bigger. To think of what you enjoy and would like to learn. You walk everyday 10 miles with tables, chairs, baskets, luggage, whatever you can, to earn a little bit of money to make sure your kids have enough just for that day. You rise early, and go to bed late. You momma, are my hero. You have refused to give up, to walk away. You dug dip and found your strength. And as you wept in our office, and shared your heart, your struggle, your past, I saw courage beyond words! 

You amazing mama. You are a widow, with 4 children at home of your own. You found out a lady in your village with mental disability, and the mentality of a 6 year old, was pregnant. No one knew till this lady in her 40's, and minimum ability was pregnant till she was 8 months along. Your hands already calloused from the days toil in the dirt, to grow another crop. You could have shrieked back, and shut your door. But you stepped up and stepped in. Not just for that mother, but her baby. You fought with the mama with the most gentle touch, to try and get her to nurse the baby after it was born, yet the trauma of the rape and her mental disability, always made it a struggle. I will never forget our first home visit to you. I was drenched in sweat to make the long hike up the mountain. When we got there, we just hoped we caught you at home. And you were sitting outside on a blanket, feeding the mom, and the baby on your back, while your kids were just coming home from school. You have taught me to refuse to shrink back in need. You have taught me to step up and step in. You have taught me what it looks like to open your heart, your arms, and your home. You sold your first crop, just to buy a bottle and powdered milk for the baby. I am so glad we were able to provide you more bottles, and formula. Overtime I see you, this strong, confident, women walks in. And when your tears fall, you are all the stronger in my eyes. Thank you for refusing the shrink back in the face of need of a women who you had no obligation too. Thank you for showing love. You are a hero beyond words!

You mama, a widow also. Your feet stomp the ground, and your arms twist in ways I have no idea how, when you find work as a traditional dancer. Your son at home, and your husband's loss you still grief. Yet when a one year old was left abandoned, scared, alone. When others shrinked back, you stepped up. When others said "not my problem." you said "I will take her." I see your pain, when this sweet precious girl, still shrinks away from all adults. She cannot speak a word, and none of us know her trauma. Your love, your vision, your hope, has encouraged me. You came up with a plan and presented it to us like a boss, for mushroom farming. And I am so excited to watch you start on this endeavor. You are smarter, more couragous, than you know! 

The baby was left by the river right after birth, and laid there for two days, alone, and crying. It was a miracle she survived. When you heard, as your own baby nursed at your breast, in an unfinished house, with rocks of the foundation on the floor. You stepped up and stepped in. You took this precious newborn into your arms, and nursed her alongside your own baby. Till you got sick and could not nurse either baby. A neighbor boy who only had his mom, and she died. You stepped up AGAIN and took him into your home as well. You dug deep into your pocket, and deeper into your heart. I see the kids surround you, and I see the sweet baby now a year who was left by the river, burry her face in your chest, for comfort. I see how the young boy and this sweet girl, are treated no different than your own children. I see them reach their arms to you for comfort, for love. And you know just how to calm their cries, to comfort their hearts. You could have stepped back, shrieked back. But you choose love. You choose action. You chose to give hope. Do you know you are a life saver? You have literally saved lives? Do you know how amazing you are? I will tell you this with every visit, and every tear. 

You mama, who is in the hospital right now in Kigali. You know the sting of abandonment. You were left beaten and pregnant at the hospital. Now you are getting the care you need, and the hospital was your home for 6 months! You gave birth to beautiful twins, who wake me up in the night, as so many moms have shown me how to refuse to shrink back, but to step up and step in. Next week you will come home, and live again in community. I look forward to getting to know you. To getting to know your heart. You have changed me in more ways than you know. You have stolen my heart!

You mom, in a one room home you rent for just $6 a month. Your preschoolers running around, and your triplets. Two are asleep on the blanket on the floor, and one you are bottle feeding. Too malnourished yourself to have been able to produce enough milk. Your husband with epilpsy, and having 3-5 seizures a day. You wake up early to go fetch clean water for the home. You mop the dirt, rock floor. You have yet to have a good nights sleep, and I wonder how long it has been. You take care of not just two preschoolers and three newborns, but a sick husband. Your commitment is strong! Your loyalty a thing to admire. Your hard work, makes me feel like a wimp! 

You mom who has a toddler, and newborn twins. We sat on your hospital bed, and held our breath as they resuscitated one of your babies. I prayed harder than I knew I could. I saw the strength, and fear in your eyes all at once, as you gripped my hand, with your other baby asleep on the bed. You stepped outside comfort zones, and traveled further than you ever have in your whole life. You ran out to find the medication needed to save your baby girl. You never left their sides in the hospital bed. I dont know how you make that walk everyday up and down the mountain to bring goods to your village, to make a little money. You do it many times a day with a baby on your back, and clean water for home on your head. You never stop. Your love, dedication, loyalty and love has challenged me. And when your baby left the hospital and we still watch and wait to see if one of your precious babies has brain damage from the lack of oxogen. You have not missed a beat! You have taught me to face trails with courage, with tears, and with prayer. You have taught me to dance to life. You have taught me love without limits and hesitation. You have taught me what it looks like to step outside your comfort zones, go further than you ever have, because love drives you. Life drives you. Hope drives you. Christ comforts you. 

You new teen mom, raped, and rejected. You are coming into a program, with other moms, that will encourage you. Encourage you in your strength for choosing life. Who will applaud you for stepping up. Even though your rapist is in prison, and the baby now nurses at your breast. Your still a baby yourself. In a situation I am sure you never dreamed of. Your scared and alone. But if I know the community, this little group we have had come together. I know you will find hope, courage, strength, and vulnerability. You will be welcomed with open arms, and open hearts. I cannot wait for you to meet the other moms, the other babies. 

Today mom's. You have no idea mothers are celebrated. And I can think of no other moms more worth celebrating. And as I type this, and the rain falls, I am sure your day has already begun. I am sure you are already rushing around fetching water, collecting firewood, getting the babies bathed, and kids ready for the day. Your hands have already been hard at work. 

Thank you for your gifts of hope. For refusing the shrink back, but to choose to step up and step in. Thank you for teaching me about love and courage. You are heroes more than you will ever know. 

Happy mothers day to the moms in our program. 

You really do leave me in the dust!

We are trying to raise for an emergency fund. 
Our program provides formula, health insurance, porridge, sugar, and powdered milk to these moms
and babies. But we have found in the first month of the program, we need an emergency fund, to cover ambulance's, to Kigali. Medications, and other dire situations that come up. We also currently have 3 babies in need of sponsors. 

If you would like to sponsor one of the infants, please email me TinaInRwanda@gmail.com 
for the information on how to sponsor. 

If you would like to donate to our emergency fund, you can do so at

www.cten.org/tinazielke  (All donations are tax deductible) 
paypal- thenannytina@gmail.com