Archive | August, 2012

Nakupenda (I Love You)

19 Aug

A team member put this video together recapping our trip to Africa! Thank you Brittany Brown for capturing some of this trips memories.

Click here for Video: Nakupenda (I Love You)

 

I Love You Mamma Tina!
This is my sweet Trevor from Uganda!

Filling my heart with so much love

14 Aug

Even though the work was hard on my heart, there was no doubt that I absolutely loved it.  Perhaps I couldn’t change their circumstances, but I felt I had an abundance of love to give these fatherless and motherless children.  Everything cannot be changed at once.  Staying in the moment and making a child’s day a little brighter for a few hours, a day, a few days was why I had come to Africa. I don’t look back and regret not giving all the love and attention I could to these children.  I poured my heart out and more!  Thank you God for giving me the strength, health and ability to love on the children of Kenya and Uganda fully.

I remember one day the children were desperately trying to win over who would hold my hands. They would speak in their own language to each other.  While I didn’t understand what they were saying, the facial expressions they gave to each other was clearly saying “she’s mine”.  I quickly let the children know that Tina’s heart is BIG enough for all of them!  I encouraged them to hold my hand, my arm, get on my back….  At one point I had three children on each side of me and one on my back!  Little did they know, they were filling my heart with so much love and joy!

I haven’t fully figured out what is next, what I am to do with all that I have learned from these children, from each orphanage, from observation… but I do know that there are great things in store and I will pray and wait patiently!

Jeremiah 33:3, Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Tina

Reflection on Africa

11 Aug

As I am sitting on the plane trying to figure out just how I am going to summarize the trip I have been on, I read the following in a book titled “Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage”

(Adapted a little to reflect my experiences)

Children abandoned, left in ditches or other horrible places, some raped and abused, some begging for food, some living on the streets at very young ages forced to find a life for themselves, some placed in orphanages because their parents have died from HIV Aids…”most of us will live our entire lives without witnessing such blatant cases of emotional or physical child neglect. Instead, we live in relative comfort, far removed from such conditions and horrors and doing our part to help suffering children by sending an annual tax-deductible check to a charitable organization. While this is certainly a worthy undertaking, there is much more that needs to be brought to the world’s attention. I used to be one of those people, sympathizing at a distance with the plight of less fortunate humans the world over while tending to my own personal dramas in my middle class neighborhood of Kirkland, Washington. I was perfectly content for my family to continue its slow crawl toward the American Dream – or so I thought.”

Less than 6 months ago I realized God had other plans for me. Scared, uncertain of what I was getting into, what was expected of me I began preparing for this unknown journey to Africa .

One month ago I was really scared as violence in Kenya had made the news. After a few days of praying and a couple emails from locals in Kenya, I felt a sense of comfort.

Some, I suppose thought I may have lost my mind going to a place so far away, filled with corruption, violence and despair. But I was at peace. I knew there was work to be done and I was blindly following that call. I always knew God had a plan for me and was embracing the opportunity to do something wonderful and fulfilling with my life.

Arriving in Kenya was a relief (the flights had all gone well) but I was immediately taken aback by the poverty that was everywhere. How could this be? There were so…many people, so many children. This was true in both in Kenya and Uganda. Uganda seemed a bit worse.

The often uncomfortable and trying times and experiences of visiting 10 very different orphanages left the team emotionally drained at the end of the day. Yet, a new day came and by the grace of God we gathered our strength and gave each new group of children our full love and attention. Some of these children embraced the love willingly, some were not use to the love and took time to warm up, others observed from a distance.

Having an “I can fix this” belief of most things in life, I often felt a bit defeated and depressed. A challenge had been set before me. I wanted so desperately to change the lives of those who were motherless and fatherless. I prayed and cried so many tears and then realized that while I can’t fix everything, I can do something. I began to breath a sigh of relief. “Yes, I can do something”, I kept repeating to myself. I AM doing something by just being here and sharing the most authentic love for these children of God. Showing them how it felt to be loved and to be nurtured. I was filled with a genuine sense of purpose. Little did I know there was more to be asked of me.

In Uganda, on August 4th I met the most precious boy, Trevor. His smile touched my heart immediately. We connected hearts from day one and from that moment forward I knew God had something planned. A little shy at first, he quickly let down his guard and we had so much fun together. He taught me games, we played cards, we sang together and we danced to American music and I cleaned and put a bandaid on a cut when he fell running. The children gathered around as I did this as if they have never been taken care of like this. Perhaps they haven’t. The children prepared a program and when Trevor’s group got up, I felt like a proud parent watching him perform. Crazy? Perhaps from an outside perspective but not according to my heart. He looked for me in the audience and would smile proudly as if it was the first time someone had really noticed and paid attention to him. One evening when listening to music, he cuddled into my arms and just pressed his head against my heart. I sat there thinking and wondering what this child had gone through in just 10 years. That night, I went to bed in tears. I woke up very early that next morning, went just outside our sleeping area and sobbed. It hurt to know that something traumatic had happened in his life. I asked God why Trevor was on my heart. I prayed that he would tell me how to help. After about 30 minutes, I went inside to get ready for the day.

An hour later, my good friend Beth found me and said that she sponsored a child (Stella) and that the counselor thought Trevor was also sponsored. However, one of the older gilrls who had taken a liking to Beth said Trevor was not sponsored (Claire seemed to know a little bit of everything about the happenings at Canaan). Interested, I explored this a little further and found out that Trevor had been sponsored but no payment had been received since January (over six months). Somehow he had fallen through the cracks. So I immediately requested to sponsor him. I was thrilled and filled with joy to no end. I was able to tell him that I would be his sponsor and he was so happy. Later, I received an email from Annet, the social worker to the sponsor coordinator which said the following: “Its my prayer that we consider Tina’s sponsorship. Tina and Trevor bonded so well. I have never seen Trevor that happy. Trevor has always been in the background.. this is the first time i saw him stand out and shine as he did the last few days.”. As you can imagine, my heart jumped for joy reading this! I made a difference in his life short-term. And will also long term. I cannot wait to get home, to write and send him his first package. I never want him to think I have forgotten about him. I am committed to be his rock. Someone he can count on to be there for him.

I also met an older boy David. He is also very sweet, a very good student and both he and Trevor have their heart set on becoming doctors. As I always say, “if there is a will, there is a way”. David is 15. I will write and correspond with him as often as possible.

And it doesn’t stop there. A seed has been planted to create and teach a program to the children at Canaan and to the caregivers (maybe other locations as well). I am so excited about this. And will expand on that another time.

While this is MY story in brief, you can begin to get a glimpse of the two weeks I was in Africa. No words can explain completely as seeing is believing. I have seen, I have experienced and I am committed to inspire others to see, to bring awareness and personally do more.

As I am about an hour away from landing in Seattle, I am very excited to see my own family. I love them so much and have missed them tremendously. I will miss the team that I have grown so fond of and learned so much from and will miss the children of Africa.

I am prepared to do more and to “let my light shine” further in Uganda and wherever else I am called.

May God Bless all the children in the World. They are our future; they are deserving of love and of life!

Nakupenda Sanaa!

Tina

Sent by Tina from my iPhone

Africa Update: Uganda

8 Aug

“These children have all come here because something bad has happened to them. None of them are here because good has happened.” ~ Pastor Isaac, Canaan Children’s Home

While these children at the orphanages are no longer suffering and in a better place, the trauma they all have endured is heartbreaking. The emotional confusion and disconnect they are struggling with is hard to embrace. My heart is broken and tears just roll down my face thinking about this. My heart aches and I pray to God that he tells me how I can help.

That was yesterday morning that I wrote the above, today I have been blessed with an answer and I am so excited to sit more with it and to expand the vision that will hopefully bring me back to Africa many times. I look forward to sharing this vision as I develop the idea further.

2 days left. It has been an amazing trip. My heart has been broken so many times but also filled back up with joy. I know why I was called here. Our work was plentiful.

Tina

Sent by Tina from my iPhone

Africa update: Kenya

4 Aug

Just a quick update! I cannot believe I am in Africa. It has been the most unbelievable experience so far. I cannot begin to explain the brokenness and the poverty that is here. Coming from an area of plentiful to a world of nothing is very challenging and yet humbling at the same time. So many children are orphaned in Africa (3 million). Just in Nakuru there are 15,000 orphans and only 75 homes to house them. That means there are so many living on the streets; begging and stealing and living and unfortunate life. It is really so sad. The children have nothing but the clothes on their backs. Some of them have no shoes. Yet with all this poverty their smiles and generosity compares to nothing else I know. They are joyful and their smiles warm my heart. Why are they joyful? Likely because many of them have been saved from the streets, are safe, and being fed. I can only assume.

I am with wonderful, loving people to experience these new environments which I am very thankful for.

We leave for Uganda today. I am open to all experiences that come my way. I look forward to touching more lives by a simple touch and hug and my loving heart.

Ps. On the way to the airport we saw a heard of baboons, zebras, and my favorite…2 giraffe.

We had an amazing visit and lunch at and orphanage on the way to the airport where I was blessed to hold three babies; Esther, Abraham, and Amos. You fill my heart little babies and I pray that you will always be taken care of.

Goodbye for now.

Tina

Sent by Tina from my iPhone