Thursday, April 2, 2015

Trusting in His name

My job in the beginning here in Mexico was loving on kids, helping out around the orphanage, helping groups, and visiting the hospice centers. Then three years ago, God opened a door for me to serve the mission here in Mexico in a different way-- I started doing all the fund-raising, marketing, communication, and some administration for the whole ministry. I noticed that when I started to really focus on getting as much food and support for the orphanage that my own personal support would go down to almost nothing, but then I would watch God bring it back to more than I imagined it would be. But there are always times of feast and famine, at the moment it is down. I believe whole-heartedly that these times are for me to just look to the LORD and trust Him constantly more in each aspect of my life.  

Recently I have been so focused on making sure the orphanage is all good, that each group is taken care of, that my fiancé can come and all the money for his visa will be here and that our wedding is planned and ready...  but sometimes I forget to just look at my normal living costs which are super important. This morning I received an email that my support was down a lot from the previous year. I started reading the word and this verse came up, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."-Psalm 9:10. 

It gave me peace today, knowing that trusting in our great Jesus is what we need to do, in all aspects of our lives. I know that God is faithful, He always has been with me and in all the work that He has allowed me to do. I know that our great Father has us wrapped in His arms, and He loves us more than we could ever imagine. I am praying always for the LORD to cover each need. I was reading in a Francis Chan book, "You and Me Forever" and there is a part that came to my mind this morning-- just because we are children of God doesn't mean we will not suffer or have problems... Jesus suffered and we will too. We will need to trust, and know that God is in control, not us! I believe in these moments when fear comes into my heart, Jesus reminds me that I am not in control but HE is the one working in peoples hearts to give! 

Like I said before, I am usually asking for help for the orphanage, hospice centers, old folks home, house building project, or anything else... but today I am just putting my heart out there to say that personally I need help so I can always continue to do all that God has put in my hands to do. You can contact me for more information if you would like to help! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sponsorship around the world...

When I was young I remember someone came to my church and talked about the Compassion Sponsorship program and we were looking at the profiles of the beautiful children around the world, and I told my mom “please can we have one?!” My mom agreed and we got this little boy from Indonesia named Jordan. I paid half of the sponsorship and we would write him letters a couple times a year. I loved the little boy so much and I prayed for him but I didn’t know really the impact that the program was having on his life.

Later when I was in high school, I took on another little boy from Mexico named Albaro through World Vision, which was in 2008. He was adorable and I wanted to help more kids, then in 2010 I went to a huge conference in Atlanta, Georgia and I got to meet a man who had grown up in Kenya and was helped through the Compassion program, he told us his story and how he treasured each and every letter. He also shared how without a sponsor he would be living in the slums or even dead. My heart was impacted so deeply in that time, I knew truly how important sponsorship could be in someone’s life. So, that year I took on another little girl named Maryory from the Dominican Republic through World Vision as well.

When I moved to Africa for the first time in September of 2011 I fell in love with this little girl named Marie and she was a treasure to my heart, I got a hold of my mom and said, I know that I already have two kids of my own and we also have Jordan but I think we should split this little Marie as well, I love her so much. She agreed and we started to sponsor this precious angel who was less than 2 years old through an organization called Sheltering Wings in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The next year when I moved back to Burkina, my little Marie was going to be adopted so we switched to a little 4 year old named Gelilu who had stolen my heart as well the moment we met. Being these little ones sponsor was such a joy to my heart—because I knew the money was going to an amazing mission that is impacting so many lives in that area of Burkina. I saw first hand the kids and how they were being taken care of! It was a huge blessing, a few months into my time there; I was talking to a young man who was 19 years old and living in the orphanage. He was in school and trying his best to have a good life. He asked me one afternoon, Tenielle would you be able to find me a sponsor? I want someone to write letters too! That day I wrote my mom and said, okay mom, Aristide this precious young man who I consider my brother needs a sponsor and I believe we should split this one too. She said, I believe he should be a part of our family too! So, the next day I went to him and said I found you a sponsor! He said, really?! Who? I said, my mom and I, you are now in our family! Having him as a sponsor child has been such a blessing because we get to talk even more and I have a deep relationship with him from all of my time living in Burkina. He is such a precious young man, he always tells me how much he loves being my brother and how he wishes to meet dad and mom! Haha

This last year Gelilu was adopted to a wonderful family in the states so we switched to a young man that I have been so closed to since my first year in Burkina, he is 16 years old now and his name is Faycal. He is top of his class and is just amazing. I have always called him my son and now that I get to sponsor him to be in school and help out with his living costs, my heart is just so happy! When I was able to see them in January it was such a blessing. I love spending time with them, bringing them gifts, and just laughing with them. They are such precious angels! I definitely feel like they bless my heart more than I get to bless them!

So through all of this, we now have 5 children that we help and I am so blessed to have each of them as a part of my life and family! They are all so amazing and I am happy to be a part of their lives too. To be able to write, bless, pray and help them is a huge joy of my heart!

When we started this sponsorship program in Tijuana with City of Angels, I didn’t know how well it was going to work and I did know it was going to be a lot of work but finally people convinced me that it was what we needed to stabilize our everyday living for the kids in the orphanage. And wow we have gotten such a great response in the last 1-½ years. The children are really enjoying it more and more—and the sponsors have been such a huge blessings not only to the kids but also to the whole orphanage. Since we are so close to the states people can come more to visit and people can send gifts!

I want to challenge you all to sponsor a kid! All of these organizations are amazing—and you should choose one. I know I am working for City of Angels full time and my job is promote all that we need and do, and if it Is in your heart to help a child in Tijuana then we would love to have you! But maybe your heart is in another place in the world, which is great! I know I personally sponsor kids all over the place, and I don’t feel like I could ever choose just one of my own kids here in Tijuana since I know them all so well and live with them full time, haha! But pray about what the LORD is calling you to do! If you are interested in City of Angels Sponsorship, email us: or if your heart is in another place, check it out! I mean what is $35-50 a month to all of us in the states really? Not much in the scheme of things but that money to those children can change their lives dramatically!

I sponsor because I know it makes a difference in the lives of so many children and people around the world. YOU TOO can make a difference, it will change your life too! :) 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

God always has a plan

God is so good and faithful each and everyday. I love him so much and I always thank Him so much for guiding me in each step of my life. Recently I was able to go to Burkina Faso, West Africa again to visit. WOW what an amazing experience it was. I always love going to visit all of the people that I love tremendously. It seemed at each day of the 3 weeks was filled with smiles, laughter, joy and love! Being with all of the kids in the orphanage, playing with the babies, visiting the widows, doing TOMS shoe distributions, visiting with the Pastors, or visiting with friends is always a joyous time of my life. It is such an amazing work that they are doing in the mission there and I can always see Jesus moving a lot there.

My fiancé, Barto, is in Burkina so it was truly a HUGE blessing to visit him again. He is a joy to everyone! I thank the LORD everyday for Barto's life and I cannot believe that I get to spend my life with such a blessing of a person. I am so excited for him to come to America and meet everyone, I know He is going to lead so many to Christ with just his way of loving others and his joy for life.

When we were together this last time we were praying for the future and for God's direction... I have been struggling some in my job in Mexico and I just needed time to revaluate my life. Going to Burkina help me find rest, peace, and to feel loved again. It refreshed my whole body! In being together truly I just realize no matter where God wants us, as long as I get to be with Barto, I know I will be happy. I have known for probably 6 years now that I am suppose to be a missionary and to have a husband who has the same heart and calling is SO amazing! Such a huge answer to prayer!

When I got back to Mexico, it was so busy! Full of groups, building projects, catching up on emails and work... it was overwhelming. I would find myself just crying to Barto on the phone saying, do you think I can do this?! He said, Tenielle you are a woman of God, you can do anything with Him! I battled in my mind for a few weeks... I wanted to see Gods plan NOW for the future after we get married this coming fall... Because of Barto's paperwork, I know that after we marry he cannot leave the US for time until he has his green card. So, we thought about moving to San Diego and me crossing a few times a week to work and working the other days from home, Barto said, Tenielle lets just take 15 minutes to pray and ask Jesus what He wants with us! Ask him if we should continue to work in Mexico after we marry or if we should move onto something else... He will show us. In that time I started to pray and this verse came into my mind... "Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”- Matthew 8:20. I was on my knees begging the LORD to speak to me and that verse wouldn't get out of my mind. After 15 minutes I called Barto to talk and he was laughing a lot with joy. I said okay so what did God say to you. He said "Tenielle I could hardly pray I kept having this verse in my mind... that one that says. "Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” And I said, what?! That is the verse that was in mind! He said "well God is speaking to us. And I think He is going to always take care of us and we need to serve the people in Mexico for the first part of our marriage. You love them so much and have devoted so much to them, I want to do the same!" 
So that day we decided to leave it in Gods hands, and we would move to San Diego after we get married this coming fall. I know we want to spend a few months in Nebraska with family right after the marriage but after that we are back to work full time! I don't know all that is going to happen or where exactly we are going to live or how we are going to have the money to pay for it all but I do know that God is calling us and He will take care of us. People had suggested to me that we take a break from ministry to focus on our marriage, but I found that the more Barto and I focus on the LORD and serve people, the more we fall in love with each other. It is who we are, and what we have been called to do! The kingdom of God is the most important thing in our lives, and that should be our focus and perspective, the rest will fall into place the way God wants. 

I have seen the LORD work in miraculous ways throughout my years, I know that I am still young but I have seen Him move, work, and heal! He is a great God and I am so glad to be beside a man of great faith who believes constantly in miracles. We are praying so much for the future, for what the LORD holds. I have such peace in my heart-- we are over 7,000 miles apart and I miss him, but I know God will bring us together in His timing. Please be praying along side us as we are in the fiancé visa process, and the paperwork can be crazy at times, I am praying for God to provide for all the needs and to speak to the hearts of the people who have the papers in their hands. When I sent off the petition for the fiancé visa at the beginning of last month, I was praying over the papers and just started to cry KNOWING our God is great and has a plan! 

At times, I feel overwhelmed with my job but then I just look to the LORD and say okay this is Your ministry and show me what you want! I know I get burnt out if i try to do things in my own strength so I just need to give things to Jesus and let them go! God is working a lot here in Tijuana and I am praying so much for the sponsorship program to grow. We have 81 sponsors right now and I want to get it too 200! I want to really try to find a connection with powdered milk, bread, fruits, and vegetable so we can save money and have even better food for the kids. So please be praying for us as well in finding all of those connections and for the LORD to speak to peoples hearts always ! 

Recently one of our teen boys here in Mexico left the orphanage, it was really hard on my heart. He was my boy, we were super close. He was just making bad choices and didn't want to fall the rules. It is really hard to let go of the kids you love so much. I pray for him each and everyday-- and for all the kids that have left. It is really hard to lose the ones you love to difficult situations. But I know God has a plan and that He is going to touch their hearts in His timing. 

Our God is always faithful and has His way in doing things, maybe it is not what we think it should be but He sees the big picture. When we focus on Him, He will give us the peace, endurance, patience, and all to make it through... I was reading someones blog the other day and there was a quote that i thought was interesting..." Most missionaries are having a tough time feeling like they are always failing because they live in a constant state where people are pulling on them with tons of needs."  ... so that is kind of spot on at times! I feel that a lot of times but thank goodness the LORD sends people who encourage and help out in times of need. And praise Jesus that He is always with me. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

All I have to offer... a snotty mess!

I wanted to hear the LORD speak; I wanted to know what He wanted from my life. I wanted to feel alive again and feel His awesome presence. When I was talking to Barto (my fiancé) on Facebook chat there was a message that he had written me and it kept sending randomly throughout our conversation,  “It is so good to cry in the presence of God.” The first time it repeated it, I thought oh Barto that was random, why are you sending this but I just went on with our conversation, then it happened again. I asked him why… he said, I don’t know, my phone is being weird.

After we talked, I got on my knees to pray to the LORD. I started out praying just to leave Barto in the hands of God, since He is in Africa and I am in Mexico…  And there are problems in his family in this time. I was praying for his schoolwork, his health, and all of his family. I was praying for the Pastors and children that I love so dearly in Burkina and all of the ministries. And I started to ask the LORD to cover for my trip in January—for each moment to be in His hands and for all the finances to come so I can go. And I was asking him to show me what to preach to the people in the churches, and I started to cry when I asked him to shine through me. I asked him to make me alive again, to really be alive and not in this state of depression and nothingness. All of my heart started to poor out on what is going on in the orphanage in Mexico and I was crying for each thing that burns deep in my soul; each child that has left and is out of this place, and all of the changes being made. I have felt broken, lost, unimportant, and completely alone most days asking myself, how am I truly helping these people? And how can I get them to realize the importance of what we have instead of wanting something better? I had this image of something so beautiful on the outside but on the inside it was so dirty and disgusting that I couldn’t even look at it, I wanted to vomit. I have been so disgusted by so much. And I wasn’t standing up for what I believed is right. I don’t want new couches or a new kitchen; I want children who love Jesus! There are days where I want to scream because the children do not appreciate anything they have, it is like a throw away toy that doesn’t matter because tomorrow comes another one, and I want it to be done. How can we teach them?

In that moment I thought about… how does God feel? Do I just throw away all of the blessings He gives me expecting that the next one will come!? Or am I in awe and praising Him because I am unworthy of even one blessing? I was sitting on my cold floor with my face stained in tears and my hands covered in snot… and said, “LORD this is all I have to offer you… me… a snotty mess! But I am all yours. I don’t believe I have ever questioned your existence and I know that you love me, and I really love you. So please make me alive again.” I sat there crying and asking Jesus to help me, and to fill me, and to wake up this ministry.

Then I started to read Mark 7:24b “He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet HE COULD NOT KEEP HIS PRESENSE SECRET.” Wow… what a statement… He could not keep His presence secret… 

I know my Jesus lives, I feel Him even in the darkest of times. I felt Him all this year when my best friend Chuy died, when both my grandpas died the same day, when the old director of the orphanage and his family left the ministry, when some of the children walked out of the orphanage and into a bad life, and when parasites and infections filled my body. I KNOW He is real, and He is good. I have also watched Him take this ministry from living week to week to being able to cover every meal, every bill, every foot with a shoe, every back with clothes, every child with a bed, and every backpack filled with school supplies. In those moments, I am in awe. With each new day I see Him working and providing. And I see the children changing little by little—when I get their hugs, see their smiles, and feel their kisses I am complete.

Im praying for ways to make the children to appreciate what they have.. and value... but mostly I am just praying for their hearts. 

When I was talking to Barto today, I said Barto I have to be honest… I don’t know what we will do after we are married or where we are going to live or what money we are going to have or when you are going to have all your paperwork! He said, “My love, when are you finally going to trust Jesus with all of that?” WOW what a statement… I have a smart man with me. I don’t know what is going to happen next, or where God will send us. But all I know is, we will shine HIS light wherever we are!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Even though I am weak, YOU make me strong!

These last couple months has been some of the most shocking and emotional months of my life. Towards the end of July I was suppose to head back to Mexico but one Saturday night before I was about to leave, I felt in my heart that God wanted me to stay with my family for another week. I prayed and told the Lord if you provide today for me to buy another plane ticket, then I know it is your will for me to stay with my family. That day the Lord had opened a door for me to visit a church in McCook that I had never visited before, but I knew some people in the congregation, they had me speak about my mission and were praying if they should support me as a missionary. At the end of the service, the Pastor asked if people would give a special offering to me for whatever I needed. At the end the Pastor handed me the money and it was exactly what I needed to buy another plane ticket! I looked at my mom and said, I believe I am suppose to stay, she said I believe so too and I am so happy.  I went home to call the mission in Mexico to ask if I could stay another week since my grandfather was so bad, and they said, stay as long as you need too.

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

For the next 3 days I spent all day at the nursing home with my grandfather as I watched him stop eating, talking, or even really able to do anything. I would ask him if he wanted me to sing for him and he would shake his head yes. But every time I would start to sing, I found myself just start to cry. We talked to him and held his hand, on Wednesday evening I kissed him on the head and told him how much I loved him. And then walked out with my mom, feeling like he would be going home with Jesus that night. After midnight, the phone rang and I knew what it was, that he was gone. Even though I knew exactly where he was my heart hurt so much to let go of someone I love so much. A friend came over to be with me, to help me through the difficultness and I couldn’t sleep. At around 5am, I finally fell asleep and at around 7:15am I got a call from my mom in a panic that my other grandfather was dead in his bed at home. I couldn’t believe it!! How could this be? What do you mean the other one is gone? That just doesn’t make any sense. She said, I know but I can’t do this, please call the family and get here now. I then began trying to call everyone but no one was answering, finally I got a hold of a cousin so he could help me tell the others. Then I finally got a hold of my dad to tell him that his father was dead. My friend came back over to pick me up and at that point I was hysterical. She took me over to my grandparents so I could help. I saw the police car and it became even more real, as I walked in the door I happened to know the police officer, he hugged me and told me how sorry he was for losing both of my grandfathers in the same night. I went to see his body, and he was gone. I just couldn’t believe it.

We began to plan for both funerals and decided to do them on the same day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I went to the church that day to record the songs for the funerals because I knew I wouldn’t have been able to get through it on the day. Watching both sides of my family grieve through the losses of both of grandfathers was incredibly difficult. All the images stick so clearly in my mind. I do know that it is only by the grace and strength of God that I was able to stay strong through the whole situation. I left for Mexico the day after the funerals, and I came back to a lot of work and difficulty. Soon our directors will be leaving, and others will be taking over. A lot of people are leaving, and at times I feel like I am going to be alone in my work. But I know the Lord will give me the strength and I love these kids more than anything. I know with all of my heart that they need me to be here, and to love them through each day of this transition. I believe that God has big plans for City of Angels, and I am honored for all the days the Lord gives me in being here.

“You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not gave way.” –Psalm 18: 35-36

Through all the difficulties and a lot of work, we have gained 7 amazingly beautiful little kids who joined our orphanage family. We are truly so blessed. And having all the children back and starting school is always a joy-- even though it is so much work, seeing them all again brings me such happiness. Please be praying for us through this whole transition, and for this new school year to be prosperous!

When I got back, I thought Oh Lord, we need a huge amount of money for uniforms and shoes, plus tons of school supplies and we are running low in our pantries on food and toiletries. I was praying so much and hoping the Lord would cover each aspect of the orphanage. He starting touching hearts and Lord has covered all of our needs for uniforms and shoes! And He has been speaking greatly into people to give donations of food, supplies, and so much more! My heart was just bursting with happiness!

In all of this last month, and even this whole year.. I can see God at work in my life. Through the last couple of days as I watch our directors move their things out and I am completely in the dark to know what is going to happen next I felt Gods voice whisper in my ear.. "Do you trust me?" And I thought.. yes, yes I do! I trust my Heavenly Father more than anyone or anything.. And I know He loves these kids more than I. Thank you to everyone that has surrounded me and my family through all of this difficult time. Continue to lift all of us and this ministry up in prayer.