Saturday, December 29, 2012

Moving Continents-- from Tijuana Mexico to Burkina Faso, West Africa!

“Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” –Romans 15:17-20

I haven’t written on my blog in a really long time. I could say that it is that I have been busy, and it is partly that but to be honest it is also me being lazy haha. Well at the beginning of November I left the place that I called home for over 3 years. City of Angels in Tijuana, Mexico truly will always be in my heart until I go home to be with the Lord. I cannot lie, I miss the kids each day but I know that God has a plan beyond what I can see. The whole year was a roller coaster of emotions, difficulties, crying, laughter, joy, growing, learning, love, and grace. I would have never thought in all of my life that I would have been the administrator of an orphanage and mission in Mexico but God surprises me each step of the way in my walk with Him. I was stretched in every way possible.

My last couple of weeks in Tijuana were probably my most difficult. I moved back to the orphanage for my last six weeks or so to be the caretaker of the toddlers and babies at night. I literally shared my bed with a beautiful 16-month-old named Abram. I was able to wake up every morning to him hugging my head and smiling at me. I fell deeply in love with that child. Then in the day I did all of the administrative work. I loved living back with the kids full time. I was incredibly tired but to be with them constantly was something my heart needed. Now on to hard times… Our teens decided to have an uprising against all of us workers! In that time I didn’t really understand what was all going on but I knew it was deeper than what we were seeing, so I took each child one on one and just talked to them about their lives, their hearts, their feelings, and their troubles. Each one broke down in talking about the pain they really feel for their families and some difficulties they were having with everything.

I got to know the kids even more in those moments, we would pray together for their attitudes and their families. I told each of them how much I loved them and that Christ loves them so much more. So much happened with each day, I would find myself in tears almost everyday just praying for strength and words to help these children. More love! More patience! On my last morning, all of the kids were still in bed. I went bed to bed to hug them all goodbye. I kept myself together until I hugged one of my older girls. Then the tears came rolling in… as I hugged our director goodbye, I was bawling. My mom had come to help me move my things back to Nebraska, she was crying as well along with all the workers. We prayed together and I looked over at 4-year-old Antonio with tears streaming down his face as well. I hugged him one more time and told him that I loved him with all my heart. I got in my car to drive away and all of them waved goodbye.

Driving the 20 some hours back home was long and I would find myself crying at random times but it was a great time with my mom. About 5 hours into the trip my mom got sick with a horrible eye infection and couldn’t drive anymore. The first night I only drove to Flagstaff, Arizona because the weather got bad. The next day we drove all the way home to Nebraska and my moms eyes were horrible, for the next week she was home sick. I felt so bad but it was good to be back with her and see all my family and friends. I tried to see as many people as possible and my church prayed over me as well. I was only in the states for less than 3 weeks and wow did it go fast. The week before I was about to come back to Burkina Faso, West Africa, my friend Edouard from Burkina who was in the car accident last August, died unexpectedly. It was a shock and a blow to my heart that I can’t describe. I found myself crying the whole week as I prepared for my trip. I know my sweet brother is now with Jesus and dancing in Heaven.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” – Isaiah 60:1- 2a

On December 1st I stepped off the plane back into Burkina. With the hot wind and red dirt hitting my skin, I felt in my heart that I was right where I’m supposed to be. The director of the orphanage and another missionary came to get me at the airport, and then we stayed in the capital for the night. I was so out of it; I only slept maybe 3 hours since I left the morning before from home… then my first night I couldn’t sleep. Finally around 4am I fell asleep for 3 hours and then it was time for us to go. I was so excited to get back to the orphanage about two hours away. When the gates opened to the orphanage my heart jumped in excitement. All of the kids were at church but I went to visit the babies first. They were SO big! I got to see my sponsor baby again, Marie! She is now 2 and half years old… and super sassy! After a little bit, she figured out who I was again.

After a little bit the older children started to come back from church! They all walked in, so incredibly tall and grown up! With big smiles the greeted me and asked how I was. It was a joyous time of catching up! Over the last month, God has really been working. And I feel so blessed to be His daughter and to be able to be here in Burkina. It is difficult to not have Edouard here but I know right now, he is perfect and in the glory!

So much has happened and each day I am in awe of God’s goodness. I love all the new babies and children with all of my heart. There are so many that seem to have captured my heart the moment I met them. One little 4-year-old named Gelilu really has me. He is incredibly loving and so smart! Each day he runs to me for a hug and tells me so many stories. His cute smile and chubby belly captures me more and more. He is one of the children at the orphanage who is HIV+ and it breaks my heart to know that, but I am so thankful to be part of a place that can care for children like him.

I will write again soon with some more stories of food distribution to our sponsored children, worship, adorable little ones, buying bibles, evangelism, and Christmas in Africa! Thank you all so much for your constant prayers, love, and support—I am overwhelmed by how great God really is! He is moving and working constantly… open up your eyes and heart to MORE of our Savior and what HE has in store for your life… He will surprise you and take you places you would have never dreamed! Happy New Year!

“But I trust in you, O Lord, I say, You are my God. My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine upon your servant, save me in your unfailing love.”- Psalm 31:14-16

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My first experience in the Hospice in 2008

I wrote this paper for my English class in my first year of Bible College about my first experience in seeing the Hospice in 2008. I thought I would share how the Lord changed me in just a couple of moments.
**The picture here is of my first patient that passed away when I started helping more in 2009- he was a young man my own age. Was found in the street beaten almost to death and we didn't even know his real name.

Death and Despair vs. Hope and Peace

My forest green t-shirt and blue jeans swayed with the steps of my weak, sick, emotionally drained, and sleep-deprived body following my heart.  Shaky from a long week of building I knew I had to keep moving. My lime green and white tennis shoes, covered in Mexican dirt and sawdust, stepped down into a room that I was hesitant to see.
Cement floors covered in dirt, wooden ceilings falling in, beds lining up so tightly that walking was a challenge. The stench of sewer, dust, garbage, and sickness filled my nostrils. The taste of dirt surrounded my mouth and grime coated my skin. The sound of people chatting away and cars driving by bounced off the run-down white paneling.
My eyes glanced over to my right as I saw a Hispanic man lying in a poorly padded hospital bed. IVs hanging from coat hangers stretched over to his arms.  His body was motionless as each breath was a gasp. He was disconnected from the things around him. He seemed to be in a coma of some sort. The owner told me he needed surgery to be able to make it.
Next to him laid a man whose eyes have stayed vividly in my mind since the first moment I saw him. As I gazed into his bleak eyes I saw a look of terror and concern. It seemed like he felt he needed to hide everything but his head from us. His dirty brown hands clinched tightly to an old blue blanket as he held it up to his chin. He peered at me with wonder and hope. His black and gray hair was short and almost clean cut. His skin seemed frail and thin. I heard that he couldn’t walk, but I felt as I looked at him as if I was further adrift than he was.
To my left sat a shirtless young man. His smile brought warmness to my heart and he touched my hand gently as I passed by. His fingers were folded in, paralyzed from a drug deal that had gone awry six years before. After being stabbed in the neck 14 times with an ice pick, his life was spared but his suffering from one night was still prevalent in his life today. His hair and mustache were a caramel brown and he was covered from the waist down with white sheets. Appearing in his dark eyes I saw a chance of hope and happiness. I asked him if I could sing for him and the other bed-ridden patients. He looked at me and nodded with a great big smile.
I stood at the foot of his bed, focusing on the five patients in the room with only two in an apparent state of awareness. A friend, Andy, stood beside me: a tall boy with curly brownish-blonde hair and a light wooden colored acoustic guitar hanging from his shoulders. I looked at him for the start of the song. I gazed over around the room, seeing another man in a coma and a lady that had a stroke not too long before we came.
The man lay stiff in a white hospital robe with blue triangles spread out all around the fabric. His mouth was wide open, a breathing tube stretched from his nose to a tank helping him survive. His legs were long, brown, and dirty hanging out of white blankets. IVs hung from a tall metal stand next to his small-gated bed.  I wondered what his story could be. I longed to hear about who he had been before this ailment had set in.
The lady’s head cocked to the side snuggled into a pillow. She laid covered in white blankets from her neck down. Her gray and black, curly, shoulder-length hair covered most of her face. I assumed that she was either asleep or in a coma from the stroke. Her body faced mostly to the side, cradled in her hospital bed. She was the only woman that the facility was holding at the time.
The owner, a short middle-aged man, took people in after the hospital in Tijuana rejected them. The hospital would throw patients on the curb to die for not being able to pay or not having family. He had a smile and persona that made me feel comfortable the moment I met him. The power and love of Christ seem to shine through him. He leaned in the doorway awaiting our song with his bright orange shirt glowing through the dimly-lit room.
I stared in disbelief as the guitar chords reverberated through the room. I came in for my cue and the words flowed from my mouth. Each word became harder and harder to verbalize as I thought about them. 

“This is the air I breathe… this is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me. “ I thought Do I truly let God’s holy presence dwell in my life?

“This is my daily bread… this is my daily bread, Your very word spoken to me.” Do I let God’s words speak to me? When I read the Word, do I take it to heart?

“And I… I’m desperate for You.” Am I desperate for God? Have I ever been desperate for God?

“And I… I'm lost without You.” I don’t know what it means to be lost without You oh Lord. What is lost?

             More thoughts tore through my mind. What does it mean to be desperate for God? What does it mean to be lost without Him? Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at those abandoned people. With no family, no friends, no home, no money, and even the hospital didn’t want them. Who am I? I’m not faithful! I don’t have faith!
The man gripping his tattered blanket staring at me as I sing, waiting for a 4,000-dollar operation, so he can walk again, has faith. I have nothing close. I don’t know this God of the Bible. I have no idea what it means to suffer. I have a home. I don’t live in a place full of 35 terminal patients living their lives out in peace. This place is smaller than my house. Who am I? Why do I say the name of Jesus but don’t see Him for who He truly is?
Tears flowed down my face. The words filled my heart and I felt like a ton of bricks weighed on my chest. I looked at these people, longing for their faith. I closed my eyes to keep some of my emotions down so I could at least finish the song. The atmosphere was sweet and almost peaceful.  I felt helpless and like a hypocrite to say I am a Christian along with these people. The words became more and more clear as the song finished.
I sang the last note and waited for the guitar to finish. My eyes were almost glued shut in tears. I opened them to see, through blurry vision, the man in front of me smiling and clapping. He was thanking me over and over for coming in and singing.
 I went over to the man whose eyes still burn into my soul. I held my hand out to hold his. He looked surprised, but he quickly let go of the blanket and reached out. His warm, dark, dirty hand met mine and I was changed. With a shaky voice and tears blocking my view I said, “Cristo te ama,” which means ‘Christ loves you’ in Spanish.  With a smile, he squeezed my grimy, tired hand and said with confidence, “Cristo te ama.” His eyes looked straight into mine; they became relaxed and at ease.
I said my goodbyes and hugged some of the men. I walked out thinking I never wanted to leave.  I took each step carefully while leaving the hospice center and smiled at the man who held open the metal gate for my team and me. I wiped the tears off my sun-burned cheeks and headed over to our van. I looked back wondering ‘Why am I so blessed? All I did was visit with them and sing them a couple of songs. How is that a big deal?’ I wanted to do more. I wanted to be something more. These 34 men and one woman captured my heart in a matter of hours. I will never be the same.
Stepping up into the van I found my seat and planted myself next to one of the kids in my group. My tear-stained face hurt and I became completely drained. I peered out the back van window to the hospice center.  It stood as just two little buildings, made of ply- wood, with a blue tarp in between for cover, some old boards tacked onto the roof, and a tall metal gate protecting the individuals within. The atmosphere brought a sense of hope and belonging to my heart. Instead of being a place of death and despair, it seemed to be a place of hope and peace. Jesus is walking in Tijuana and He showed me what it means to truly have faith through those people and I never want to go back to who I was before.  

The Hospice now has a new home! In January of this last year 2012 they moved into their new facility that Baja Vision Ministries built with many groups! Truly a blessing beyond words. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Glimpses of Faithfulness

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." -Philippians 2:1-4

I haven't written in awhile, life seems to be going so fast. In the last month I have decided that I will be leaving my mission here in Tijuana and heading my way back to Burkina Faso, Africa this coming December. I have such amazing peace in my heart to know that I am on my way to help more people in need. It wasn't an easy decision, I still find myself crying in not being with the kids here in Tijuana but I know that God has a plan for me in Africa that I can't even imagine or see.

God has been so faithful in every little thing lately in life, and for that I am constantly grateful. My friend Jesus is doing so much better! He is going to be 25 years old next week, he is such a miracle of God. I just count everyday more with him a blessing. Thank you Lord, for your constant love towards my friend and I know you have a deep purpose for him! He is still very sick and his kidneys don't work at all.. but he has such strength in his spirit and he comes to the orphanage now all the time.

At City of Angels a lot of our kids are off with family for vacation so we are down to around 15 children. It has been nice rest for the staff but I am so ready to see all the kids again! Last weekend some groups came down to take the kids to the beach in Ensenada for 4 days. Sleeping was not very much fun for me, for I shared my sleeping bag with two little boys who are 4 and 2 year old.. and had the feet of 5 little girls basically on top of me in the tent. But in the end it was all worth it, I would wake up early in the morning to the smile of little 4 year old Josue, telling me that he was ready to go outside and that he loved me.

Some of our children were baptized that weekend in the ocean. It was such a beautiful time of them showing their faith. 13 year old Luis is the one who got my heart the most, for I knew deep down that he knew exactly what he was doing and he is going to be an amazing soldier for the Lord. The whole weekend was a great time of fellowship with other believers and just enjoying the kids laugh and have fun in God's creation. We would literally have to drag the kids out of the water to eat and to sleep. They just enjoy it all so much.

That sunday we got back to the orphanage exhausted and sun-burned. I was so ready for a shower and a bed! After a nap, I woke up to check my emails and saw that there had been a horrible car accident in Africa with the older kids from the orphanage that I worked in. Tears filled my eyes and my heart literally stopped as I was trying to get all the information that I could to see who was hurt and what was even going on. After a little bit I found out that two young men, who I worked with and are actually two of my best friends, were severely injured and in the hospital. Edouard, who is 19, had a skull fracture and Barthelemy, who is 21, had a severe concussion... that night I kept waking up through the night crying and praying for the boys.

That next morning I got all the information about everyone in the wreck and that everyone else was either back in the orphanage or back in their villages except these two boys. I decided to call of my friend in Africa to see how he was. He just happened to be at the hospital with the boys and I was able to speak to Barthelemy for a little bit. It was such a relief to hear his voice! He said that he was in a lot of pain and he thanked me for all the prayers... we talked a little longer but he was so out of it. I got off the phone and just bawled... To be so far away is so difficult for me! But I knew that I needed to get everyone to start praying and that both of the boys were going to be okay!

Over this last week, the boys have improved tremendously... little by little they are getting their strength back. Edouard has a broken nose, can't see out of right eye, and the other eye is still blurry. His head is healing but is still in bad shape. Barthelemy can't hear out of his left ear, can't see out of his right eye, and is still very weak. He was sitting outside today and talking to different people. They are both eating some and moving around a little. Yesterday afternoon I was able to talk to them both on the phone... their love for the Lord shined through each word. They both said that God is so good and that they are waiting for me to come back. I love them so much!

It is literally only by the grace of God that it wasn't worse! Please continue to pray for boys and ministry in Africa. For the Lord to heal the boys completely and to have relief of the pain that they are in. They are both such lights to this dark world, and I know that they are touching lives in the hospital.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. We are excited here in Tijuana for this coming school year, we are still needing help with the cost of school uniforms this year. We know that God will provide! He has us all in His hands!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

With tears...

You are incapable of "true love" on your own.

The other day I was in my car bawling my eyes out and praying fiercely for the people in my life to know Christ. This pain came into my chest and I knew it was the burden for the people. I pray so much for the children I work with here in Tijuana, and their families. The selfishness of a lot of their parents sometimes breaks my heart, why can’t they just love their children and clean up their lives? Drugs, alcohol, relationships, etc… are put way above their own kids. I can’t imagine how God must feel in watching all of it.
“I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.”- Acts 20:31b
So, many times the evil one has defeated us with lies and stole from us our identity. He is screaming at us constantly how worthless we are and any kind of lie to get us to believe that God doesn’t really love us or that we will never be capable of anything. But the truth is… is that if we are Christ’s children then we can keep walking on the road to Him. We make the choice to listen to the devil and his demons. We let him come into our life because we are not covering ourselves with the armor of God. The Lord has faithfully given us clearly in His word how to live and how to sustain ourselves from falling back… but we are so stubborn, lazy, and ridiculous that we can’t just listen to the father who loves us.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…” –Ephesians 6:12-13

I have to admit that I fall down in that road just stuck there at times, listening to the lies of that I will never be good enough for anyone or how could He chose me to work for His kingdom? And it’s my fault because I am not constantly in the word, praying and listening to the Lord. Putting myself in temptation because I think I can do it on my own. I not only need to continue to walk down the path straight to Christ but I truly want to strive in that. Seeking more of His face is going to show me what He wants, I don’t need to keep asking what He wants… but He will reveal in time, but He just wants me to know Him more and sing His praises with all my heart.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

My biggest struggle has been that my heart is divided. Half of it is definitely with the beautiful people in Africa and the other half is with the people here in Tijuana who I have called my family and home for the past three years. Lately people have been saying something that has been catching me off guard. I will be heading back to Nebraska in July for a couple of weeks, I tell the people here, “hey I am going be heading home soon for two weeks.” And they say back, “and then you will be coming back home to Tijuana.” Different people who don’t know me really that well have made that comment and it hits me. “Your home in Tijuana.” This place has definitely become a huge part of life that I just can’t walk away from, I have been asking for the Lord to reveal if I am finished or if I should continue with my work here at this time.

I made the comment at the beginning of this blog “you are incapable of true love on your own” I had written that on a page in my bible a long time ago. And it makes sense. I know that the love I have for people and children is not of me. There is no way that my heart could be filled with such overflowing and continuous love for people that I don’t even know unless it is of Christ. When I look at the children at the orphanage I am truly filled with a deep compassion and love that I can’t even explain. It’s sometimes so overwhelming that if I don’t see the kids for a few days something is missing in me. I have to drive to the orphanage just to hug them, see their smiling faces, and tell them that I adore them!

The Lord wants us so badly to live in the freedom that He has given us in Jesus Christ. To not listen to our enemy and to love unconditionally the people around us. “The death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ secured forever the final authority for Jesus. That authority was extended to all believers in the Great Commission so that we may continue His work of destroying the works of the devil.”- Neil T. Anderson (The Bondage Breaker) I love this quote because God has put it into our hands as followers of Christ to do what HE says, which is to go and make disciples of all nations. Where is your mission field? Do you really love the people around you like Christ does? So many people that I love are definitely spiritually dead but I have to keep myself in prayer for their souls, and I believe one day God will touch their hearts.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” -1 Corinthians 1:18

Monday, May 14, 2012

Listening to a call

To be called? What does that even mean? What does that look like? How do I know if I am in the will of the Lord for my life? Am I really open to the option of serving the Lord with all of my life even if it means that I have leave comfort or step up?

I was sitting in my car the other day thinking about my life… If I would have stayed in college I would be graduating this month with a degree in Bible and Music Ministry but the great thing is that God had different plans for my life. The thought came into my mind—what would I do if I were not here? If I were not a full time missionary… in what work would I be in? I can’t see anything… I thought well a nurse maybe or a teacher but really I am already those things without a degree.  I have been a nurse to the people in the Hospice and Old Folks Home. And I have been a teacher to the kids at the orphanage. You don’t have to be super intelligent, have a lot of money, know how to do everything, or have a degree in something special--- If you are following the call that the Lord has put on your heart then He will take care of the rest. I am not saying to not be prepared but I am asking for us to just listen to the Lord. He speaks so clearly but we are so worried about ourselves that we can’t see the awesomeness that He has in store for our lives.

I remember when I was in Bible College in 2008-2009… there was something missing in my heart and I was searching the whole year for something else. I didn’t hate it, I loved the people and I grew in a lot of different ways but deep down I was miserable. I loved the times in going to the homeless shelter, singing at the men’s prison, going on a mission to Trinidad, speaking to the homeless in downtown Omaha, and helping in the projects—my heart SOARED in those moments. I wanted more! I was sitting in Trinidad (the lowest Caribbean island) on a mission trip at a camp for teens… I was covered in bug bites, so tired, and had a sun-burn… And I looked at my friend and I said, I am so happy! She looked at me, and said you are crazy! I said, no, this is what I have been missing! I haven’t been this happy since I was on my last mission in Mexico—I have to go on another mission… my heart is longing for it! THIS is the desire of my heart, to serve those in need.

I thank God everyday for waking me up in February of 2009… He had been calling me for years but I finally really listened. My first calling to missions was at a conference in the summer of 2006 in Indiana with thousands of teens worshipping the Lord. It was the first night of the conference and the speaker was a young man who was called to the homeless in Philadelphia—he talked about his experiences and he told us about his time in Calcutta, India working with Mother Teresa and the ministries. He said, we went to this home of people who were dying… and just held them while they died. There was a sign coming in that said, I am on my way to Heaven and on the way out it said, Thanks for helping me get there. From that moment I wanted to do that! I still long to go to Calcutta. 

I was a person that would see a picture of an African child who was starving, sick and abandoned… and I would bawl for hours thinking I have to do something! I wanted to not just send money but I wanted to be the person who handed the food to that child, hug them and know their names personally. A lot of people have made the comment, Tenielle, why don’t you help the people in Nebraska and in America? I look at them straight in the face and say, why don’t you? What is stopping you? And then I say, I have been called very clearly to foreign missions… and if I didn’t go then who will? I know my calling and at times I struggling with where God wants me—well in what country that is! My heart is definitely split in two… Tijuana, Mexico and Burkina Faso, Africa are fighting for me. There is not a night that goes by that I don’t dream of the kids in Africa. And when I was there, I would dream of the kids here in Tijuana. I would find myself crying for both. God has a plan beyond what I can see and understand… I trust Him completely.

Listen to the sweet voice of God to know what He has in store. He might be calling you to something beyond your understanding but trust in Him… its not easy but its definitely rewarding.

Tijuana has been interesting lately and there have been storms but the hugs of the kids always seem to make things tremendously better. Every time I walk into the orphanage I am reminded of the greatness of our Father and that He loves these kids so much more than I do. The kids had a Mothers Day Program at school this last week. I went to it and enjoyed watching them dance. One of our little boys was talking to me after and said that he wasn’t feeling well. I think he really just wanted to held for a while. We talked for some time about school and then we got the topic of Mothers day. I said to him that he has lots of moms here at the orphanage that love him so much. He said, I don’t know who raised me. I looked at his sweet 7-year-old face with tears in my eyes as he named all the people that were in his life but he said, I can’t think of anyone who has always been there. We try so hard to be like parents for each of the kids but in all honesty we are not their parents—we can just try our best and love them through it all.

The other week I was watching the kids play a game and I noticed another little boy, who is also 7, he was blinking a lot and I thought maybe he is not seeing well. So, I asked him to come over and he said that he was fine. I looked at the director and asked if we could take him to the doctor because maybe its allergies or maybe he needs glasses. The doctor began to tell us that this was a reaction of him being nervous and stressed. He said, remember that little kids can get depressed, stressed, and other things just like adults. He needs more individual attention and don’t let him lose his identity, remind him who he is. I left that day crying and thinking… we are missing it! We as a staff need to be more aware of each child, I know that it is difficult but it is our responsibility to raise them… not just feed them, clothe them, and send them to school but to really love them and talk to them. Pray for us to be aware of each child’s needs.

Thank you for your prayers! And be challenged--- if pictures and stories of orphans or those in need touch your heart… its for a reason, maybe it’s the Lord speaking to you to help in some way. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Surrounded by Your love and protection

"Those who cling to worthless idols, forfeit the grace that could be theirs."- Jonah 2:8 

I read that verse this last Sunday and it was like a smack in the face! How many of us get so caught up in our everyday lives and the "things" in our lives that we just don't stop to listen to God. When I was journaling last night I wrote down the thought "aren't I worthy enough of your attention?" I felt like the Lord was trying to remind me that I need to focus on Him more... and HE IS worthy of all of my attention- thoughts- strength- love- and my life. What else truly matters? Who am I really without Him? He isn't just worthy of all of my attention but He deserves it! What an awesome and powerful God we have who not only created us but wants to have a real personal relationship with us! I am in complete awe that the God of the universe lets me talk to Him and hear His voice.

I wanted to update everyone on what is going on in Tijuana and in my heart in the past couple of weeks but first I wanted to write about something that is deeply on my heart tonight. Our God is calling us to step up and to make a difference for His kingdom. That means wherever you are.. that you are called to be a missionary and help those in need. God didn't just call a few but EVERYONE of His followers to GO and make disciples. I know that I will never be able to hug every orphan or feed every hungry person but just going one by one can make a difference. I know that when you look out at the world and see all the needs... you think... how can I truly make a difference? Where do I start? Begin on your knees in front of the Lord, begging for forgiveness for not really listening and finally opening up completely to the will He has for your life. I know that it is scary to think that some might be called to a foreign country or to even go talk to our neighbors about the Lord but Jesus calls us to die to ourselves and take up our cross daily.

One time I was sharing with a friend my dream of one day opening up a home of girls/women in sex trafficking. He told me, but just taking them out of the situation is that really stopping human trafficking and affecting the whole thing? I told him, even if I just saved one girls life then all the work would be worth it because at least one became free. I want to always think about the relationships and not the numbers... so many times as a missionary we are asked... numbers... how many go to the church? how many kids are being feed in the ministry? how many people are you reaching? how many houses have been built? But really... the relationships take time and a lot of missionaries don't see the fruit of their labors for a long time.

Lately I have been overly blessed by seeing some fruit of my past two and half years in Tijuana, Mexico. One of the boys at the orphanage came up to me last night and hugged me really tight. He is now 13 years old and is becoming a teenager... scares me! He said, can I talk to you about something serious? I told him yes of course... he said, "I miss you so much lately. I feel like I don't see you as much anymore and I want to be with you. Then he went on to say.. my family is struggling. Can you please pray for my family? My grandma is always yelling, my aunt is saying bad things, and my mom is pregnant again.. i don't ever want to visit home. Please pray for my family." After we talked a little longer I felt like wow, he felt truly comfortable enough to ask me to pray for his family and to just hold him for a little while. That is fruit! The hugs... the sweet words... talks... seeing the kids falling after the Lord! In those moments I am reminded why the Lord put me here.

One of my little 4 year olds named Josue was sitting by me and asked me to share with him about the kids in Africa. We talked for awhile and then he said, "Tenielle, you have so many children... here in Mexico and in Africa but where is your husband? Did he die?" "I smiled and said, no sweetie I don't have a husband- these are all the children in my heart but they are not all actually mine." Then he said, "Oh, cause I have always wondered where your husband was." hahahaha I love it!

My home church from McCook was here a week or so ago.. it was extremely encouraging and such a blessing! I didn't know that it was something I was missing... to have my home church come down and see my heart. It made me feel so surrounded by love and made me realize more in my heart that at this time Tijuana is where I am suppose to be. And then this last friday I was able to visit my friend Jesus (who has kidney failure) at his home for awhile. We talked for over an hour about everything. I felt like for the first time in a year that I had my old Jesus back! His spirit has been so good in the last week. So full of life and strength. It is humbling and when he hugged me goodbye that night I started to cry, thanking the Lord for my time with him. I don't know how much longer we will have him but I praise the Lord for those awesome moments where I get him :)

Thank you so much for your prayers- at times this job is difficult and honestly I would love to walk away but God just won't let me! haha I know He made me for this. It was a difficult week with being sick with a cold, finding out one of the babies in Africa passed away, and having a dog attack my leg-- horrible bite... but its healing. I was thinking... are you serious? WHAT! But He has me in His hands and protects me each day.

"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."- Isaiah 7:9b

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tijuana 2012

I have be back in Tijuana, Mexico almost a whole month and I can't believe how the time flies. It has been an interesting and stressful month but I can see the Lord working. I have become the Director of Communication/Assistant Administrator/Mission trip Coordinator of Baja Vision Ministries and City of Angels Orphanage. It is a quite a long name for a job but it holds so much more than that! HAHA

I came down with a friend, Emily, in the middle of january- we drove 26 hours in my car- My car is holding up well here and I am so glad I have it. I asked God to give me peace while driving here and in San Diego and he has tremendously... BUT I do live with my GPS next to me at all times while driving in the US. I don't know what I would do without it.

The Orphanage has changed a lot but is still such a vibrant place that still has my heart. The other night I was sitting in the patio area while all the kids were inside watching a movie. It was dark and cold but I just wanted a little time alone. I began praying out loud for courage, strength, passion, more love, knowledge, and guidance for my life here. I know that this job is a huge responsibility and I have a lot of people relying on me. I have messed up some already in just small things but it keeps humbling me everyday haha. But I try to take every step careful with the hand of God holding mine.

We are starting up a sponsorship for the orphanage-- for each child AND some University kids that really need help. It is going to be a full time job by itself but the benefits that it will bring in will be huge! I am excited that it will make a difference in the lives of these people. I am trying really hard to help them be more organized here and to be in contact more with the supporters that we do have along with adding new ones! Sergio (the main missionary I work with) keeps saying the quote- "out of sight, out of mind" and it is tremendously true. If people don't know that there is a need how can we expect the help?

I promised the mission that I would be here until the end of year. I have no idea if I will be here longer... live in Africa for a little longer... come back I don't know but I am trusting our awesome Savior to lead me. I have to remember to enjoy where I am and take it all in. Each hug, kiss, smile, laugh and "I love you"-- I am here for the Lord. I was reminded recently of why I do missions as my full time job... It brings me the most joy I have ever experienced and I can't imagine doing anything else.

I was able to sing and speak for the youth at a church here in Tijuana called "the Arena" it is a church of like 17,000 people. We go there every Sunday. They asked me to sing 3 songs and share about my time in Africa. It was a great experience and I am going to be joining the youth worship team. It is definitely stretching my Spanish and sometimes my comfort zone. I love the friendships that I am building through it though. I know that is the main reason I am involved.

I truly believe one big reason I am here right now is to encourage the people of Tijuana. To come along side the main people of this mission and stand next to them with words of encouragement and really helping them. Also, with the youth here. I have been building some friendships with kids my own age to just talk to them... be here for them.. and to remind them of who they are in Christ. I have been extremely blessed by my times with them.

I am also leading worship every Thursday at the orphanage for our Jr. High age kids-- they are inviting kids from school to come and hear the word of God and worship. It is such a sweet time and their faith is growing more and more. I love singing in Spanish with them.

We have lots of new kids at City of Angels and they are all precious. I hope to keep everyone updated more on here at what is going on in the orphanage, the mission, and my heart. Thanks for your amazing support and prayers!