Friday, 11 April 2014

Down Home

Shivering, I put my hands between my knees to warm them. A strand of hair blows loose from my ponytail and whips across my face; the wind is getting steadily colder, but still I stay, not wanting to seek the warm refuge of the car just yet. I’m fascinated by the sight in front of me.
It’s early April in Newfoundland, and far from what most people would consider a pretty time of year around here. Blustery winds seem to cut right through you and, with the sun scarcely showing his face long enough to thaw us all out, it can seem downright miserable. A carpet of dead, yellowed grass underfoot and a leaden sky overhead seem to go hand-in-hand. Looking up, I can literally see fingers of gray clouds reaching across the occasional patches of blue, like great wolves’ teeth chasing the white cloud-sheep across their pasture.

Looking out at the ocean, which matches the sky, I see a couple of herring gulls playing tag. They don’t seem to mind the approaching storm, cavorting like a couple of youngsters and screaming insults at each other.
Looking around, I have to wonder what it is that draws people about this place. There’s just something about it that pulls one back… it’s common knowledge that every Newfoundlander, or “Newfie” as we’re sometimes known, will find his way “down home” at some point or another, no matter how long he’s been away.
As I gaze out at the grim, frowning cliffs, with their faces eternally washed by rains and  decorated by moss and gull’s nests, I wonder what the early settlers of Newfoundland thought of their first glimpse of the rock they would come to call “home”. What possessed them, I wonder, to stay and eke out a living here?

The sensible part of me, of course, knows the answer to that; a wealth of fish. Early settlers were fishermen who made their living battling the ocean and forcing it to give up its codfish treasure. They came home at night exhausted from their work, but never too tired to enjoy a song and a few tales around the fire. Brave wives fed their families with what little they had… a bit of hardtack, (we call it “hard bread”) soaked in water overnight until it became edible, a few potatoes and turnips grown in the rocky soil out back of their houses, and salt fish from the sea. Even now, you will commonly find fish, potatoes, and hard bread cooking in many a skillet across the Island. We call this dish, “Fish’n’Brewis,” (Pronounced “brews”) and it remains a favorite with down-homers and a special treat to folks from “away.” (If you want to try cooking Fisherman's Brewis yourself, there's a recipe HERE.)
The earliest settlers of Newfoundland, my ancestors, passed down many traits through the generations; kindness, a genuine concern for one’s neighbor, generosity, a willingness to work and to work hard, and a kind of cheerful stubbornness that always keeps one looking for the sunny side of things. And, of course, a lilting accent spoken by young and old alike which instantly identifies one as a Newfoundlander.  That manner of speaking has been made fun of, had songs written about it, been captured in “Newfie Dictionaries” and everyone wants to speak it, although it’s hard to learn...
Thinking it over, it’s no wonder so many people call this chunk of rock sitting in the Atlantic Ocean “home” and why so many visitors either elect to stay or wish they had. There’s something about this place that’s magnetic… whether it’s the good home-cooked meals, the lively and sometimes haunting music, the tall tales and good old laughs, the feeling of being called, “My darling” by perfect strangers, the rugged and awesome landscape… perhaps it’s a combination of all of that.
Or maybe it’s a little something more; a sense of pride and ownership of this rock that belongs to each and every person that sets foot here.



Monday, 31 March 2014

Music Monday: Overcomer


This Monday I want to share with you a song that I only discovered a few days ago! I’d heard of it and knew that people were saying it was good, but I just never bothered to look it up. This week has been kind of a struggle for me, so a friend of mine sent me this song. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment and I think it’s become this week’s theme song for me! It’s a “get up and dance” song, so turn your speakers up LOUD for this one!
Without further ado, here’s Mandisa with her song, “Overcomer”!


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New Photo of Isimbi!

I was delighted to see that Isimbi’s photo had updated, a lot earlier than I was expecting! I’ll share her two previous photos and then her new one so you can watch her grow up.
Here’s her first one, age seven:

And here’s her second one, age nine:

 And finally, here is her gorgeous new photo! Ten years old!

I love her stylin’ sandals! She looks more grown up, but you can definitely tell she’s the same sweet Isimbi. Her name means “shining” and she does that in so many ways. I was especially excited to see her pretty pink dress… it’s the same one she was wearing when my friends visited her in 2012! Perhaps she’ll still be wearing the same dress when I see her in just seven months from now!
Here’s a photo collage of her new profile picture and her with my friends, her grandmother and her little brother (photos taken November 2012).
Have I mentioned lately how much I love my precious Isimbi Divine?

Monday, 24 March 2014

Music Monday: Prayin' For You


This week, I want to share a song with you folks that has really touched me. I often tell people that it’s the only rap song that ever made me cry. The song is called, “Prayin’ for You” and it’s by Christian rap artist Lecrae. It has a smooth, easy-listening beat, and the lyrics, like all of Lecrae’s works, are just powerful and full of truth. This song has been my heart’s cry this week. Make sure you listen right to the end… there’s a powerful twist that floored me first when I heard it. Very sobering message.
Without further ado, here’s Lecrae with his music video for “Prayin’ for You.”



May you all have a blessed week and remember to pray for a friend today!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Music Monday: Can't Get Over You


Music seems to be an integral part of who we are as people.  It’s a pervasive part of our culture; from the music played in stores and offices, to the music played over the phone while you are on hold, to the jingles used in advertisements and the poignant songs used in movies. Music is an effective way to teach children colors, shapes, and the alphabet. Our lives start with the lullabies sung by our parents and end with the hymns played at our funerals. We have stereo systems to enjoy at home, radios and car stereos for when we travel, and “portable music” has evolved from ghetto blasters to portable cassette players to barely visible ear buds. And of course, online music sharing sites attract millions of visitors. No matter what we do, it seems that our lives are twined together with music.
Martin Luther, the 16th century Reformer, must have agreed, for he wrote:
   With all my heart I would extol the precious gift of God in the noble art of music… Music is to be praised as second only to the Word of God because by her all the emotions are swayed. Nothing on earth is more mighty to make the sad joyful and the joyful sad, to hearten the downcast, mellow the overweening, temper the exuberant, or mollify the vengeful… This precious gift has been bestowed on people to remind them that they are created to praise and magnify the Lord. But when natural music is sharpened and polished by art, then one begins to see with amazement the great and perfect wisdom of God in His wonderful work of music…He who does not find this an inexpressible miracle of the Lord is truly a clod and is not worthy to be called a human being.
So, I’ve decided to begin a new series here on my blog: Music Mondays! Each week you’ll hear a new song… everything old and new, from classical pieces to modern selections, from worship songs to music from different cultures around the world. Fast and slow, quietening and uplifting… I look forward to sharing my favorite music with you all.
And to begin our series, here’s the relatively new band Anthem Lights doing an acoustic version of one of their own songs, called, “Can’t Get Over You.” The first time I heard this song, I was impressed by the beautiful way that these men harmonize together and by the pure worship that is expressed in their song. I find myself listening to this song over and over again, and I’m sure you will as well!





May you all have a blessed week and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Basomingera Feels Like Missing Me

I received an adorable letter from my 10-year-old Basomingera Ada last month!

I wanted to wait until now to share it because she said some things that concerned me, and I wanted to do an inquiry and find out more information. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing too serious!
Ada is the child that I had to wait for six months to receive her first letter, and when it came, it was an impersonal letter written by project staff on her behalf. But when her second letter came, it was amazing and overflowing with affection, so I couldn’t wait for her third letter to see if the trend would continue. Sure enough, it did… she squeezed every available inch of space full of words! I think I have a chatterbox on my hands!
   She begins by saying, “I, your child Basomingera Ada, I greet you in Jesus’ name.” She then tells me that she loves me so much, and adds, “I feel like missing you.” Then she thanks me for all the good things I do for her. She said that she thanked God for being with them during some health concerns in her family (I won’t mention them for the family’s privacy) and explained some of the details of that, but then said that they were now better. She then told me her three sibling’s names (Two sisters, also with names beginning with “A” and a brother) and what grades they are in at school. She asked me how I was doing, wished me a Merry Christmas, and asked me to read Romans 15:13.
   Ada then thanked me for the letters and photos of me around the lake (actually the ocean) and for the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11. And she says she wishes to be a doctor!
I had written Jeremiah 29:11 in Kinyarwanda for her birthday, and talked about how God has good plans for her future. Then I asked if what she wanted to be when she grew up. I’m happy to hear that she liked the verse and that she wants to be a doctor; I think she would make a wonderful doctor!
I should add that this is the third time that Ada has said she misses me… she says that in every letter! Have I said lately that I love my beautiful girl so much?! 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

His Warrior Bride

I have come to realize that there are more facets to my personality than most people realize. People see many sides of me, it’s true… but there are still sides that most do not see. People see Hannah, their family member… Hannah, their friend… Hannah, the worship leader… Hannah, the writer… but few people ever see Hannah, the warrior.
Uwimana Hannah wearing a "tallit gadol" or Hebrew prayer shawl.
Most times I struggle with my spirituality like most people do. I have faith, and I have doubts. I wonder if God hears me. I wonder if I’ve displeased Him, and it pains me that I do not love Him like I should. But when there is a cry, a plea… a desperate request for help, I have nothing but confidence.
 Because war is familiar to me, in the spirit realm at least. I may waver in confidence at times, I may sigh and complain and wonder and mutter… but when it is time to fight, I know. My head comes up, my eyes narrow, and I hit what used to be called the “warrior’s center”; when you forget who you are, where you are, and everything else that’s going on around you. I feel confident when I’m in battle… spiritual battle, that is.
I am confident because I am a trained soldier. I have been for years. I know my enemy and his tactics, I know my weapons, and I know my Captain. When I am girded with His armor, I am capable of staring into the very eyes of the enemy without fear… and I’ve done it. Because of His victory on the Cross, I have laughed at the enemy. I have come face-to-face with his demons… and I have prevailed. I may be in my mid-twenties… in wisdom I am older. The Holy Spirit is a mature Spirit… which explains why I have seen four- and five-year-old children pray with knowledge, revelation, and wisdom far beyond their years.

 People say that Uwimana Hannah is a great prayer warrior, but I know the truth… it is only when I cease to be “Uwimana Hannah” and instead become a servant of the Master, when I become empty of myself and full of Him, that He is able to use me at all.