Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home at Last!

Home at last! Over a year ago I left Rwanda with my husband and oldest daughter to travel to Nairobi for 2 weeks to find some answers to my sever abdominal pain. That journey ended up taking us to the States, where the rest of the family joined us and where we have been this last year.

As I sat on one of the four planes that would transport me back to Rwanda, I  begin the process of shifting from my life in America to my Africa life. Sometimes I feel that I live two parallel lives....It is like  all my furloughs run together with some of my childhood in America------- one continues timeline although in reality it is broken up with long periods of life lived thousands of miles away in Africa. Conversely, my time in Africa seems like it has piled up all together without the reality of several stints in America.

Recently, my son Caleb and I went to see the movie “ Inception”----where real life and the dream world sometimes blur, as we left the theater we were both struck how our life living in two worlds ----America and Africa sometimes feels similar.

As a result of this phenomena, the longer I was living in the States the further my Africa life became. I began to get into the rhythm of America life....where business sometime eludes relationships.....where you can get so caught up in your church life that you do not notice the unchurched or d-churched. Where things can become so important..... Though there were several things that I really enjoyed..... movie dates with Dave, fast food ( a little to much) and an ease to living----being able to turn water on and not have to wonder wether it is hot or going to be there. What I really enjoyed most about our time in the States was quality time with family and friends. During the last few months it was especially nice to reconnect with old friends that Dave and I had not seen in a long while.

Sweet memories to savor but now I am shifting gears and will land in Rwanda soon. I am already anticipating the smells of home---open cooking fires mixed with diesel fuel and exotic foliage. My mind races as I think about all the relationships to renew and cups of coffee to drink.

What has God in store for this tour? Fresh starts and new beginnings are a nice by- product to my parallel life!  Africa home here I come!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Dream for Vulnerable Children

It is early in the morning and I am cuddling with my youngest son, Timothy. We are exchanging our ritual morning greetings. “I am so glad that you are in our family”, I say. “I am so glad to be in this family,” he squeals. “I love you sooooo much,” I say. He says, “I love you more.” “No, I love you more,” and it goes back and forth. I am sure many of you have similar morning rituals with your children. I feel so thankful in my heart that Timothy has a family and I am saddened as I remember that there are so many children who are not a part of a family.

I believe that all children should have forever families and I am committing my time, energy and life to make this happen in Rwanda, the part of the world God has planted me.

I have a passion for adoption that has been nurtured throughout my entire life as my younger brother is adopted and as I have seen the most vulnerable up close throughout my time in Africa. Yet from this state of vulnerability I see hope beyond human imagination. I see my role in Rwanda as the culmination of the Lord's intentions to use my experience to help find families for these most vulnerable.

What can one mother do when faced with 687,000 orphans in Rwanda (total number of orphans according to estimation in 2010 by Children on the Brink 2002)?

Possibly, I can break it down smaller to 140,000 double orphans (Also done by Children on the Brink 2002.)

Sometimes these numbers are fuzzy and overwhelming. Often we can feel paralyzed to act but I am reminded, as I look back at history that individuals and communities alike can make a difference!

As many of you may know I have been helping several American families adopt these precious orphans and will continue to help. However, I recognize this is just a small solution to this crisis. I have also been an advocate for Rwandan families to adopt. Many take care of their extended families but some have not been exposed to taking a child that is not blood related into their family as their very own child with all the rights that this entails. There are several Rwandan families that have adopted but sometimes they chose to keep this quiet as there is sadly still some stigma that orphans carry. It is my hope to be an advocate for orphans ---getting the information out, brainstorming with the community, and encouraging adoptions.

Sometimes this task seems daunting but I know that with the help of our church family in Rwanda, our friends around the world, and God’s faithfulness this will be possible.

God compared His love of Israel to that of an orphan child, “When you were born, no one cared for you. When I first saw you, your umbilical cord was uncut, and you had been neither washed ...nor clothed. No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On that day when you were born, you were dumped out into a field and left to die, unwanted. But I came by and saw you there...and I said, “Live! Thrive...!” and you did (Ezekiel 16:4-7)!”

God has set the example for us in Ephesians 1: 5, “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. “

Why am I sharing this all with you? As Dave, our children, and I head back to Rwanda, I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider joining me in this task----whether you would like to give a onetime gift, help in an ongoing monthly gift, or open your home to one of these precious children; I know we can with His help find forever families for these cherished children of the King!


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Week 2

Well, week 2 of Jenkins Tour has gone well with over 2000 miles , 4 cities, 3 ROC parties, lots of fun with old friends, lots of coke with crushed ice and lots of bathroom stops!

Our family dynamics have changed with just the 2 youngest kids traveling with is odd to be such a small family of 4. We only have to get 1 hotel room and can sit in 1 booth at restaurants. We did not realize how much the older kids helped with the entertainment of the younger kids. Dave and I are really feeling our age....not quite as cool..... I have shared some older movies with the kids as we have traveled. I love Red works well as you travel across the country. " The Inn of the 6 Happiness" is one of the older movies we watched together. Very inspiring! If Gladys Aylward could travel my train all the way to China from England, I can certainly survive this Jenkins Tour! 

Little Rock was our first stop. Friday night we stayed with dear friends that use to live in Rwanda--the Brogdens. Ruth and Timothy's buddies were eager to get together. They all had that awkward few minutes but they warmed up fast and were playing like old times. Dave and I stayed up late as well visiting with our friends....laughing,remembering, and learning! 

The next day it was hard to say good-bye as we continued on our journey....till we meet again! We then got together with one of Dave's college buddies that is hosting one of our ROC parties at the end of the month. It was nice to visit and share what God is doing in Rwanda and pray together. 

Sunday we worshiped at Little Rock Church where one of Dave friends is ministering. They were having a special 4th of July day with 2 churches combined---Hispanic Church and English service----it was an interesting blend of cultures....highlight of the morning was Christian Mariachi Band! We had a nice 4th of July "Picnic" lunch with the church and then back in the car on our way to Chicago.

Dave took me to see Wheaten University ( the school that is on  the top of Sophia's list).....mixed feelings of joy and sadness as I could picture her there. We met some more dear friends ,who use to live in Rwanda, the Payes ,for lunch. It was fun seeing their kids and talking of the "old days " in Rwanda. 

We drove across town to Judson University for our ROC party. One of Dave's college friends who is a Professor there hosted the event. I had a splitting headache so the kids and I stayed at her apartment well Dave and her went on to the reception. After I rested a while I picked up a book she had called "Half of the Sky" by  Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I could hardly put it down. I have since bought my own copy and I know when I am done I will blog about it....the little I have read has been life changing.

After having Chicago style Pizza , we proceeded at 9:30 P.M. head out of Chicago.....we got lost two times and it was 12:30 before we were out of the city....we drove till 2:30 before we found a place to lay our heads . We were very very tiered! The next day  we continued our trip to Memphis. We have had several faithful supporters through the years and it is always such a joy to visit them of the highlights of these trips.  The Curtis  were so hospitable and gracious. We enjoyed our time with them . We had 2 ROC parties at Highland Church of Christ. It was fun meeting several old college friends of Dave's. We were the excuse for a mini - Harding reunion....some had not seen each other for years although they live in the same town.

Well we are now in Wichita, KS with my sister and her family. It is nice to relax and not be "on" for a few days before we hit the road again on Monday ..... Colorado here we come.....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the road again.......actually I have been away from my home now for a year. Although God provided 2 wonderful homes that we have stayed in this year as we have unexpectedly been State -side, there is an unsettledness that I have felt not being in my home....using my stuff.....sitting on my porch for quite time . you notice how many times I ‘ve said my....I sound so selfish. I guess you learn to really appreciate what you do not have. It is funny about 6 months before I left our house in Rwanda I was ready for a change and kind of tired of I can not wait to be back home to it.

Well, we are now homeless as we are traveling around the U.S. looking for more partners to join us in this work in Rwanda. Our older 3 children put their foot down and expressed that they were done with the Jenkins’ Tour so we let them off the hook. The older boys are staying with Dave’s parents in MN having a teen age boy dream summer by the lake...building some good memories with Grandparents,Aunts. Uncles and cousins. Sophia, our oldest is hanging out with friends in Oklahoma City. We are now down to a family of 4. This is really different family dynamics.

 We have been on the road a few weeks now. We stayed a few days in Oklahoma City with friends from our home church, Quail Springs and then last Sunday headed to DFW. We had a great time reconnecting with old friends and praying,dreaming and sharing about what God has done these last few years in Rwanda. After DFW , we headed down to Roscoe, Tx where my parents live. It was nice to let down and relax for a day and then we headed to Abilene for another ROC party. These parties have been going well. Parting with a purpose as we gather friends and share stories of how we have joined God in Rwanda. 

Saturday was a special day as we were back with my parents and Timothy our youngest decided to be baptized. We went to a small church near where my father works. It started out kind of rocky when Dave stepped in the baptistry and it was almost boiling as the thermostat was broken.  Dave let out several screams and leaped out of the baptistry. After several hours of draining refilling and bags of ice we witnessed a special moment of young faith expressing itself with an sweet desire to make Jesus his boss and join an eternal family.

Sunday we worshipped at 2 churches in Abilene and were challenged to " God -lead risk leads to the greatest reward" David McQueen. We had a good lunch with my brother and parents. had meeting in afternoon with an old friend and then traveled back to Oklahoma City.

Monday night we had another great ROC party at the Gooches home with several old friends and new friends. I was proud of my daughter Sophia who spoke so passionately about her school, KICS. 

Well, this is a little window into our lives right now. I wish I could report that we are always joyful and enjoying the journey but to be honest we get homesick for a home to call our own.... to all be together as a family.....having some type of routine.

But we are learning a lot through sojourning....God is teaching us new ways of relating to each other--change is helping us break some bad patterns. It has also been very encouraging seeing the generosity of God’s people. So many have blessed us with their hospitality, shared their network of friends and load us cars. 

Well It has been a long time since I posted and I am going to try to blog about our Jenkins tour so hopefully more to come!


Monday, May 3, 2010


 This is an excerpt from a letter written in March  to some of my friends in Rwanda"Well I am NOT on the flight today returning to Rwanda. You would think after being a missionary for almost 17 years now I would have learned by now that my plans are not always God's plans. Unfortunately this has been a hard lesson during this season. I thought I was being flexible and moldable but 2 weeks ago when Dave shared with me that we were not going to be returning to Rwanda in March but that it looks like it will be summer before we would return I must confess something inside of me snapped. Dave called me on the phone after he had a meeting with one of our primary Church partners....... We have lost some of our support over the last several years as we have followed God and planted CCR. ( Our primary church partner had been covering for the loss but is not able to continue covering so we are looking for additional support) This wonderful Church plant has come at a cost ----  I have often ponder the verse in Mark 10:29-31 where after one has left everything to follow Christ --- Jesus promises a long list of blessings that oddly includes persecution.  This verse has become more real to me in the last several years....... I was glad that I was home alone and I got down on my knees before God and cried out to Him. I must admit to you I had a royal pity party! I told Him that I thought I had done a  "pretty good job" of shifting gears this year but that I could not shift again--- I told Him that I had pretty much striped my gears... and thank you very much was not shifting anymore. I began to sound like a two year old....sobbing... not just the sweet tears rolling from your eyes but  a guttural cry from deep with in. The funny thing was, that the more I cried and let go of my plans and self the more  flexible I began to feel again. It was as if my tears were becoming the fluid in my gearbox ( I am glad this is being primarily read by women because I am sure I am messing up my car analogy) and I was able to shift once more. The next morning I woke up with a tangible peace and I new things were going to be alright. Now I would love to report that the last 2 weeks everything has fallen in to place--it was easy to change tickets, figure out housing both here and in Rwanda,communicate with kids about this change,change commitments ,etc but it has not been easy but it also has been surprisingly filled with God moments. Now back to Mark 10:29-31---I am starting to understand how persecution can be a blessing. It is hard to put it in words but when you are in this place you know that you are right where God wants you to be --it is raw....I guess it is where the rubber meets the road---it is purifying when you give up and let God take over.  As all of you know this is not a one time thing but a daily or should I say moment my moment thing. Thank you all who walk with me in this journey--and for those who do not know me well or not at all thanks for bearing with my ramblings.

I miss you all --even those I have yet to meet. I know that when I return some of you will be gone and that is heart breaking but hope our paths will cross again. If not this side of heaven than the other side."
Well, I finally decided to join the blogging world. I chose the title "Joy in the Journey" because this has been a theme of my husband and I as we have been on an incredible journey with God . This is a constant reminder to us that though we tend to look ahead we must find joy in today. I have that trait in my personality that loves to plan and look ahead to what is next.....I do not want to wish my life away! I want to enjoy today....this moment. There are mountains , valleys and flat plains on this journey and I want to find joy in each of these. May God show me what He wants for me and what He wants me to be!