Monday, September 26, 2011

Living for moments like these...

Honesty… Reality… getting out of your comfort zone… waking up to what really God wants for your life… stop being selfish… being confident in who I really am… these are thoughts that keep running through my mind. I want to be something more for the kingdom of God and make a difference in peoples lives. Am I really following the will of God for my life?

Today I was able to go to a nearby village with some people to put on a little bible school for the kids. It was an amazing experience and it made me realize that I am in the right place. The moment we pulled up the kids were waving and screaming in excitement. I stepped out of the car and began shaking hands with about 30 kids. They brought chairs out for us and we sat under this shaded area. I counted almost 60 kids sitting on benches with big smiles on their faces.  I started to take pictures and just watched as the Pastor (who we brought with us) lead some songs in their tribal language and the kids were so excited. They danced, clapped, and sang with such joy.
The Pastor told the kids how Jesus is with them and is their friend. When he was done the kids were able to do a craft. They were supposed to draw a picture of them with Jesus. It was adorable to see their faces light up when they saw markers- they never get to use markers or crayons or do art projects. A little girl was beside who was probably 4 years old and I motioned her to come to me. She had no idea even how to hold the marker so I put her hand in mine and we drew a picture of her with Jesus. She smiled and kept that picture close to her. I walked around and told the kids that their pictures were beautiful and took some more pictures. Then we got to take a picture with them. They all piled up with two girls from Germany (who I am serving with) and I.

After we finished the service the Pastor of the village had us come into the dirt floored church to drink coffee and eat bread. The Pastor who came with us started asking us questions like where are you from and what not. He translated for the village Pastor in thanking us for our time. I started to tear up as I said it was a pleasure and blessing to even be in the presence of these children. They asked me how long I was staying and I told them that after this trip that I will be moving back to Mexico. The village Pastor said, “we need a full-time missionary here in this village.” My heart ached from that comment—So, many people need help but so many of us are not answering the call that God is sending.

I started talking the Germany girls, Anne and Judith, and I told them that if God told me to move to a village here that I would but that I would need His complete strength to do it because they do not have electricity or running water… and you would be living in a hut with a dirt floor constantly. That would very much out of a comfort zone. I am honestly open to whatever God has in store for my life and He will reveal to me even more in time exactly what He has. I need to keep remembering to live for today and not just for tomorrow. Moments like today with those kids in the village or hugging the babies in the baby room are the moments I live for. 

My mom and I decided to sponsor one of the babies from this orphanage and I love her so much. Her name is Marie and my heart just melts every time I see her. So many of these children need sponsored on a monthly basis so they can have food, clothes, medical care, and go to school. Pray about what God is laying on your heart. I am really working hard on trying to get people to sponsor these beautiful children and to help this orphanage/ministry.

God is here and working. Islam is HUGE here in Burkina Faso. I heard that about 85% of the country is Muslim. The other day I was in the capital and I saw streets that were blocked off and hundreds of people were kneeling on mats in lines praying to their god. It was intense to see. Every night we hear a Muslim man praying loudly in a microphone system of some sort from a temple nearby the orphanage.

I praise the Lord that He brought me here. I can feel that He has a plan. Thank you for your prayers. God is good and faithful. My selfishness gets a hold of me sometimes and I think ahhhh it’s hot and I am so sweaty… or why am I sick… Or I am tired of getting bug bites… or I wish that I could have a diet coke haha but I keep remembering that I am here for the Lord and I don’t need anything but Him.

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”- Ephesians 6:10

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My first days in Burkina Faso, Africa!

On Friday September 9th I headed out of Omaha to my first connecting flight in Chicago. My first flight was delayed for a while but I had a long enough lay over in Chicago that it didn’t affect me much. Then from Chicago it took me to Brussels Belgium. It was a long plane ride but surprisingly not to bad. On that plane a Children’s choir from Uganda joined us and sang for us during the end of the trip. It was pretty amazing and the kids were adorable. As we were flying into Belgium I saw how incredible green it was and the beautiful stone old houses. I waited for a little while in the airport and couldn’t really talk to anyone because it seemed no one spoke English.  I stepped on the plane that was going to fly me to Africa and it still hadn’t hit me yet.
The person I sat by was a middle aged Belgium man who was going to Africa as a director for a government film. We talked for a long time about everything. I asked him about the spiritual aspect of Belgium. He was telling me how their heritage was Catholic and most people would consider themselves Catholic but only go to church for funerals and weddings. He said I think that the church is in important for tradition and heritage but I don’t believe in God. My heart broke… he shared how most people in Belgium don’t feel a need for God or that religion is important. He said there are very few Christian Churches but he had visited them before and enjoyed them more because it was like more of a family and not just rituals. He said, In America it seems religion is was more important to people than here. My heart was aching as I saw just a glimpse of the darkness of Europe. I had heard about it before… how people really don’t know Jesus. Most are not physically hungry but definitely spiritually.
At that moment I sat there thinking… my heart is breaking and I haven’t even made it to my “destination” and I felt a strong vibe that I wanted to do more. I thought, Lord are you calling me to help the spiritually lost in Europe? Are you just opening my eyes up even more? What is this pain I feel so deeply? The song “Hosanna” by Hillsong came into my mind where it says, “Break my heart for what breaks yours” and I felt that in that moment. I know that I can’t myself feed every hungry person, hold every orphan, or reach every one that is lost BUT I can help as many as possible and challenge people to GO!
Why aren’t more people willing to step up for the name of Jesus? I feel that its selfishness, being scared, and never opening your heart completely to be willing. Every one of us has a calling whether it is in the states or in a foreign country BUT most are not listening to the voice of God. He is not just calling some but every one has a purpose in the Kingdom of God. He said for all of us to GO and make disciples… not just some.
I stepped off the plane into Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and it was 95 degrees out and this red dirt coating everything. I got my bags and was bombarded by all these men trying to sell me things or trying to get me to pay them for helping me with my bags. I found Ruth, the director of the orphanage, and we headed to the car. Young men followed us all the way trying to help us so they could get paid. Finally we let one lift things up into the car and it was super intense. As we drove around I couldn’t believe the amount of people on bikes and motorcycles, they lined the streets. It was a bit overwhelming and honestly not real yet even though I was finally here. My dream of Africa was in front of my eyes and I was surrounded by these beautiful black people carrying things on their heads, riding in carts pulled by donkeys, and selling things on every corner.
A lot of things reminded me of Mexico in how they do things but stuff was very different too. Ruth and I started talking about the culture and it is very male dominant. Women really have no value whatsoever and they have to summit. Men will seriously ask a woman to be his wife and they have no dating process. She shared that I will probably be proposed to often and that I need to be careful because these men want a white wife.
A lot of people are Muslim here and very few have an Education. Most women have never been to school or they only went for a few years. They don’t want their women to have a mind of their own. Ruth and I have been staying here in the city for a few days getting some things done and having this house fixed up for missionaries that come into town. We have work crews of African men coming in to fix things. Yesterday one of them was trying to talk to me. I was trying to explain that I don’t speak French or the tribal language. He didn’t care he just wanted to really talk to me. Ruth translated something he said and he had asked if I was going to be here tomorrow. She told him yes and we laughed that his hopes were going to be up. Today he came back with some of the other workers and they asked if I would like to be this guys’ wife. I was like NOPE! I’m all good and I’m taken! Which is a lie in one sense but I guess I am taken by Jesus Christ. I am on my 6th day and I have already had lots of men give me looks and attention. It is a little intimidating and gross actually. We can’t even speak the same language and they want you.
The other night I was able to go with Ruth and another girl who stays here named, Becky, to the United States Embassy for Burkina Faso. We went to a meeting and got to talk with the Embassador and main workers. It was amazing actually. The people were extremely nice and want to help the orphanage. They also tried to talk mostly Becky into coming to work for an Embassy. They talked about the highlights of the work and all you get to do. It sounds super exciting and a great opportunity to help people and travel.
I have enjoyed my time so much already and I know God is working. My heart goes out for these people. I found out that in this culture they are not huggers, which is hard for me since it is one of my favorite things to do. And I always want to hug the children especially. It’s going to be an interesting time to be in such a different culture and to meet all these interesting people.

I have been now at the orphanage for like a day and a half. It has been a great time of holding beautiful babies, whom most are sick with Malaria, and getting to know the workers. J I was able to sing today with the lady baby caretakers. They sang in Morre (their tribal language) and I sang in English- Amazing Grace and How great Thou Art. The village I live in is called Yako and it definitely looks like the site I thought Africa would look like- farm animals running the dirt roads… houses made of sticks and mud… naked children running around… and so much more. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Following a dream while completely in His hands.

I am sitting in Omaha, Nebraska's airport thinking wow.. is this really happening? Could my dream of Africa really becoming true? It is surreal but also I am in complete awe of our great Father who had a plan all along. For around 6 years I have talked and prayed about going to Africa. I have watched movies, read books and articles, prayed for the people, looked at pictures, and longed to see/be in this place. I have even applied through different missions/organizations and it just never worked out. I don't really have expectations but I am just along for the ride. I know the Lord has chosen me. And everyday I praise Him for that.

People keep asking- what all will I be doing, aren't you scared, and what do you think its going to be like? My mind seriously has not wrapped around the fact that by this time tomorrow I will be on a totally different continent, in a culture I have never seen, with people I have never met.. and the only one who is literally with me in this travel is the Lord. I don't have fear but complete peace. I don't know exactly what I will be doing... but do really any of us? I mean I have a little bit of an idea.. But I am just excited that the chance has finally came up in my life. I want to take in every minute of it. I don't want to worry about political uprising or the "dangers" that everyone keeps reminding me of... our God is way bigger than any problem that is going on in this world. AND I am completely in His hands.

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, 
the one I love, in whom I delight; 

I will put my Spirit on him,    
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
                               -Matthew 12:18

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Surprise Tijuana!

On this last Monday I left at 4:45am Nebraska time to head out on a shuttle to the Denver Airport. 12 hours later I was finally in Tijuana! I wanted to surprise almost everyone that I could in Mexico, so Aaron (our office guy) picked me up at the airport and called Sergio to say, hey im going to stop by cause I have something for you. As we pulled up to his house I was very anxious and excited. He was very surprised but said, i had a feeling you couldn't stay away for very long :) I spent sometime with him and then he took me to the orphanage. I was REALLY excited to get there. It was like I was counting down the blocks until we pulled into the parking area. I snuck in and saw that all the kids were in the dining room eating. One of them saw me and starting screaming my name. They were just about to pray for their meal and a few ran up to me to hug me. I told them all to sit down and we prayed. As they were praying, Ana, a 10 year old girl grabbed on to me and held on tight. They all couldn't believe that I was there. They kept saying... TENIELLE!!! HOW?!?! I went around to every kid at each of the tables and hugged and kissed them all. It was a sweet time. Then I hugged all the workers. It was such a great time. One boy said, i just can't believe you are here... I really didn't think I was going to see you for a long time. :)

It was an exciting rest of the day getting jumped on and lots of hugs. They had to show me everything new and tell me ALL about their lives. It was amazing. The next day I spent with the kids and helped them just with their everyday lives. My favorite parts of the days.. are waking up and seeing all their faces, them coming home from school and sharing about what they learned, and saying goodnight. All the hugs! :)

The Josues (4) starting preschool 
One of the days I was helping cook and in the kitchen there is the main telephone. One of the 4 year olds, Armando, came up and said, Tenielle we talked on that phone! I remember and I liked it :) I was so surprised how much they remember. All the kids were asking me about Africa and when I was going and exactly what it is like. I told them what i know and that I would show them everything when i get back and bring them gifts. I loved spending time with the older girls as well. It seems that I get to become even closer with every time I come. 

I talked to my sweet Jeovany who is going to be 13 this coming week. I said I was sorry I wasn't going to be in the orphanage for his birthday. He said, he wishes I was here but he understands. I told him how he is a son for me and how proud I truly am of who he is! He is incredible special to me. We have 7 new kids at the orphanage. And they are super cute and I got to know them a little bit in the days I was there. I think they felt they knew me right away b/c all the rest of the kids were freaking out. haha.

Christian (10) and I
The time went so fast and it seemed like I just got there and then my last day came. I was able to have a meeting with the staff of Baja Vision Ministries, which is Sergio (main founder), Israel (director of the orphanage), and Aaron (office administrator). They invited me to come on staff with them as a mission trip coordinator and lots of other stuff. They said it would be completely different than what I was doing before and I would be living at Sergio's house and have my own room. But I can visit the orphanage as much as I want. It would be a full time position and that I need to commit for at least a year. It is an amazing opportunity and I feel so honored. They told me to take a couple of weeks to think and pray about everything. If I do take the job they would want me in January to move down full time. I would have to raise my own support which I am not to worried about b/c if its of God, He will provide. :) I will also have to buy a new car that is higher off the ground, like a jeep or something- so please pray about that for me!

After the meeting I headed to see my friend Jesus, he had just gotten out of the hospital. When I walked into his house he was sitting in a chair and waiting for me. I went up and kissed him on the cheek. I sat down and we talked about some stuff. I brought him a framed picture of him and I. He said he liked it a lot and it was wrapped in bubble wrap so he had fun popping that haha. The doctors told him that a transplant will never be possible cause his body is so bad. He wouldn't make it through the surgery and lots of other things. He said he was angry at God. I didn't know really what to say except that I love him and that I am here for whatever he needs. We talked for awhile longer and then he was getting tired so I decided to go. He told me how much he loved me and he hugged me. He hugged me so tight like he was never going to see me on this earth again. He said, I will see you in january if I am still alive. I left crying and feeling helpless. I am crying selfishly b/c I want to keep him but honestly I just don't want him to suffer anymore.

Daniel (10) and the dogs.
Thank you all for all your prayers and support. The Lord completely raised my support for Africa! I am so excited :) I leave friday but will get there saturday. I know that this time will be a growing time in Him and a time to really realize exactly what He wants. I am so thankful that I was able to go to Tijuana this last week even if it was just for a couple of days. What a blessing it was to hug them all. They are all growing so fast! My prayer is that God is glorified completely through my life.