When you cry out, the Lord helps you.

20 May

“When we cry out, The Lord helps you.”

On August 6th, 2012 I cried out, I cried tears of uncertainty, tears of pain…I was in Uganda at a home (an orphanage) that housed hundreds of children. I was on day 10 of my trip and feeling like God wanted me to hear, feel and to discover the reason I was in Africa. On that specific day I cried out because I felt so much pain and uncertainty; so much sorrow. In such pain I didn’t know what to expect but God was faithful. He comforted me and gently revealed what his plan was. From that day of crying like I have never cried before to this current moment, I have never felt so much confidence and determination about why I was sent to Africa. It was not an inward journey but a revelation that my heart and soul was meant to heal and to lend hope to the hopeless. Even more so, it was to provide stability; to be a constant, a solid foundation of unconditional love to two boys specifically. Yes, Trevor and David. I am often asked “Why Trevor and David”? That question is not easy to answer because I don’t know! I just know that I cried out, and my prayers were answered in a wonderful way!

“When you cry out, the Lord helps you.”

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Uganda, March 2013

30 Mar

Memories are gifts that keep us from forgetting all of the moments in our life that have made a significant impact. They mold us, shape who we are, and can have tremendous influence on how we live our lives.

I am once again grateful for the opportunity to travel to Uganda, Africa; to learn, to inspire, to create life-long relationships, and to lift the spirits of children creating a little light in their lives.

Each time I visit Africa I am inspired by what I learn and what I observe in the the culture. The way of life is so different and it really makes you appreciate how easy life has become. From washing clothes, making deliveries, walking to school, gathering water, building structures, working in the fields, growing their food; it all is hard work that takes up hours of their day. Nothing about these things is like home in the US.

What is like home is the need for positive human connection and interaction. Children are playful and want to know you, they hold your hand, and are truly excited to see you. They go school, play soccer (football), sing songs, scream and get frustrated with their peers. They are children.

I think about the impact I alone have made and what my 16 other team members made. I am inspired by the potential that can continue to be made if we stand together with our eyes open and our hearts ready to help.

Whether called to help individuals in the United Sates, Africa, Mexico, the Philippines, China….one thing I have found to be true is there must be a high value on life to create change. If we can help instill this value in others and empower them with confidence, hope and respect for each other positive changes occur. Changes in all aspects of life don’t happen by simply standing on the sideline and hoping things will change. It takes a willingness to stretch beyond our comfort zones and be part of the change. Together, our team has truly done that on our trip to Africa. We have each given up something for the benefit of helping others. We came together as a team for the purpose of lifting light from some very dark places and to build relationships. We did so because we each felt called in some way to make a journey to Africa.

In many African villages the concept of community is essential; it is how they live. Living in community doesn’t bring monetary richness but it does bring connection and survival. While great to see at many levels, this way of life doesn’t lend itself to much change or improvement.

On this trip our team was blessed to provide new insights, opportunities for growth and new ways of thinking, in addition to hope, love and laughter.

We stepped into a village and worked side by side with locals to mud a school, we worked in community with another village to repair a bore hole that had not been working for almost two years, we talked to a village mothers group giving them new insights and knowledge, we fed lunches to the children at a local school, we played sports and games and loved on children of many ages, and we delivered our individual expertise in business, marketing, computers, jewelry making, counseling, finance, parenting, mechanics, ministry, and restaurant management.

Most importantly, we built relationships! We laughed, shared life stories, developed new friendships and opened our hearts to individuals living halfway around the world. We felt not only compassion but connection and purpose.

We also learned a little bit more about ourselves. We grew in spirituality and we discovered new strengths. We gained new perspectives and appreciation for life; what we have. We learned that giving of ourselves really isn’t that difficult and being adaptable and flexible lends itself to wonderful opportunities.

While it is sad to be leaving beautiful Uganda, I will keep in prayer the new friends I have met and will continue to build on these relationships.

My visual memories are filled with seeing children wave to you as you pass by smiling and excitedly shouting Mazungu. Riding basic bicycles everywhere. Downpours of rain accompanied by the loudest booming thunder I have ever heard. The termite hills exploding after the rain and swarms of winged termites flying everywhere (eek)! Bicycles used by locals to transport everything (three wooden children’s beds balanced perfectly was tops!). The most delicious pineapple I have ever eaten! The hardest working women, tending to fields while carrying babies in a pack on their back. Driving through the beautiful countryside on the way to Jinja to see my sweet Trevor and David and spending three days loving on and being loved by them. I will write more on this developing relationship later and the boys I am so in love with. And on our final day, going on an unexpected Safari seeing so many wonderful sites and animals.

We are all part if this wonderful world no matter how many miles separate us! My prayer is that more people open their eyes to the world, looking outside of what is familiar and comfortable digging deep to find compassion and love for those places that darkness has set in. Your light is meant to shine for the world to see. Resist the temptation to hide in your own darkness and instead let your light shine bright.

I can’t wait to return again! Maybe you will come with me. Thank you to all of you who supported me on this trip, for you have also made a difference.

Much love,

Tina

Listen to the call and press on!

18 Jan

Have you heard a call to go on a mission trip, to travel to a third world country to help the poor, diseased or orphaned, to build homes or schools for those in need of them, to teach English or other subjects to those where school is not available?  What has been your call and why haven’t you listened to it?  Often times, it is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not having enough money, fear of stepping outside your comfort zone, fear of what other’s might say….  It was for me!  That and also simply not listening to the call.

Fear is one of the most common things that keep us from achieving our dreams.  When we let go of fear and put our faith in God and His mighty plans, our lives become just a little more meaningful.

My church asked me to put together “my story” and while much of it is within the pages of this blog, I never really delved into the fears I struggled with and had to overcome.  It was not easy for me to go on my first mission trip and certainly painful to come home after having experienced and witnessed with my own eyes such poverty, despair and so many lonely children.  Despite the fears, I went and hope that my story helps to free you from fears so that you may have the courage to press on.  Remove those roadblocks and begin your journey.  It will undoubtably change you forever.

As I am now planning for my next trip to Africa (March of 2013), I am less burdened with fear.  My children tell me “you have done this before and you can do it again.”  What strength and courage these little ones have.  My best advice for those feeling a longing and desire to go on a mission trip (or do something that is not within your comfort zone) is to simply listen to the message (the call)!  You are hearing it for a reason and have likely been hearing it for some time!  Once you embrace the message, the fears and obstacles slowly find ways of working themselves out and they aren’t as big as they once seemed.   Your fears are in your head!  Let God illuminate your path and guide you.

 Find comfort in knowing HE will guide your way.

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Let your light shine!

Much love,

Tina

Tina’s Story (Click here to read)

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Africa 2013: Here I come!

21 Nov

 Facts about Uganda’s Population

0-14 years: 49.1% (male 8,229,045/ female 8,280,499)      
15-64 years: 48.8% (male 8,158,822/ female 8,252,120)
65 years and over: 2.1% (male 320,237/ female 400,110) (2012 est.)

2.43 million of the 17.1 million children in Uganda are orphans. Some 32,130 children between the ages of 10-17 years are heading households. Nearly half of the country’s orphans have lost one or both parents to the AIDS pandemic.

Number of orphans in Uganda: 2,500,000 = 20% of the child population and 2% of the entire population

Number of children in foster care in the entire United States: 500,000 = .0067 % of the child population and .0016% of the entire population.

In March, 2013 I will board a plane and after 24 hours arrive in a place that suffers deeply.  Poverty, homelessness, disease, illness, abandonment, corruption, hunger, millions of mothers and their babies dying during childbirth… Of all the places one could visit, why Uganda, Africa?  For one really big reason, I was called to and I am listening to that calling. Crazy? Maybe but the message has been so clear that I cannot ignore what is being asked. Sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zone to really open our eyes to what reality is.  This reality is not a TV show, but real lives suffering; sometimes living in physical pain, sometimes emotional pain and sometimes both.  In March I will open my heart to this pain so others can feel love, valued, respected and be seen. I will bring hope and encouragement, and inspire a life that is full of possibilities.  March couldn’t come soon enough.

When I left Uganda in August, I was broken-hearted. There was so much that could not be changed. In some ways that was discouraging, but also inspiring. What could I do, what was I to learn from this present trip?  What I learned was while I could not change everything, nor was that my purpose, I could help to change something. And that something, is why I am going back.  I am so excited for this new adventure and would love your support.

To learn more about the trip I will be taking with my church in March, and the work I hope to do please click on the link below.

Click Here>>>Africa, March 2013

Much Love,  Tina

Dare to Dream Big: Dare to Dream Bold!

“You are not here on earth by accident. God has a plan and a purpose for your life.”

Thank You!

11 Oct

It is with heart-felt gratitude that I thank you for supporting my mission trip this summer to Kenya and Uganda.  It was possible only through your prayers, encouragement, physical help with fundraisers and financial support, that we were able to touch so many lives. In addition to providing love, spiritual guidance and connection, we also blessed orphans with fruit, maize, medicine, toys, clothes, shoes, school supplies and baby formula. My heart will never leave Africa. I hold the memories close and am committed to help ease the pain of so many children who are suffering, who are broken-hearted, who are lonely, who feel forgotten and abandoned; who are struggling on the inside but show joy on the outside.

You helped create this opportunity for me to see Africa beyond the traditional “National Geographic” mask…to really feel some of the pain this country suffers from and for that I am so thankful.  I am thankful to know their pain, their suffering first hand so I will never again take for granted all that I have.  But more important, through this experience I am filled with deep compassion and a desire to make their suffering part of my life; to help where I am called to, to build relationships and lift these children from their emotional struggles.

So again…thank you!

This one event has affected me more than anything in my life

11 Sep

Quickly browsing through all of the FB Posts honoring those who served and died in the terrible 911 tragedy I came across and inspiring story.  I have included the link to that story below.  The story reminds me (us) that compassion and kindness go a long way.  We never know how paying attention to small details, being kind to one person, helping someone, teaching someone, extending a hand; a listening ear…will help another.  I am taking this day of remembrance to remind everyone that you can make a difference.  You do not have to be rich or famous to make a difference.  YOU is all their needs to be.

For me my trip to Africa has opened my eyes to so much.  Though I was only there for two weeks (it seemed like a month), this one event has affected me more than anything in my life. I will write more on that later but I encourage you to open yourself to acting, doing what your heart is calling you to do.  Don’t think too hard about it. If it is put in front of you, there is a reason.  It may be that one event that affects you more than anything in your life!

May your light shine on someone’s darkness.

http://christianity.about.com/od/lossanddying/a/davidtestimony.htm

Tina

I am listening…and ready to hear the plan!

2 Sep

Today I was reminded that God has a plan for each of us. I was reminded that it doesn’t do any good to rush this plan but rather trust that the timing will be perfect and the promise will be fulfilled. Having said that and knowing this to be true, it is still so hard to return from a country where your heart was broken completely and sit back and wait. I can’t explain the fire inside me. I have seen so much and want to get my hands dirty and do more!  I want to help…I want to ease the pain of so many children who are suffering, who are broken-hearted, who are lonely, who feel forgotten and abandoned; who are struggling on the inside but show joy on the outside. I am ready God and wait for the perfect time, for the Blessed Plan to unfold.

You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.   (The Pursuit of Happiness)

I love this quote.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson