Thursday, 24 October 2013

Self-Talk: Destruction vs. Development

Lately, it seems I’ve been struggling with negativity a lot. It’s difficult to focus on the positives when so many things seem to be going wrong… and even when nothing’s going wrong, our minds can still find something to be negative about!

With that in mind, I’m going to share an article that I wrote about two years ago about Self-Talk. I need to remind myself of this every day, and I’d like to share it with you all today.
    “If you're anything like me, you know that your mind is always talking to itself. Making decisions, remembering stuff you have to do, thinking, planning, daydreaming, going full throttle. I want..., I need..., it seems..., how come..., when..., I have to..., did I...? Unfortunately, if you're anything like me, a lot of your self-talk is negative. Most times we don't realize it, but did you know that negative self-talk has the same effect as someone saying something negative to you? In other words, if you tell yourself, "I'm so dumb. I'll never get this right," your mind takes it as seriously as if someone said the actual words to you. Sounds pretty serious, doesn't it?! With that in mind, maybe we all need to pinpoint some of the destructive, discouraging self-talk in our lives and exchange it for positive, encouraging self-talk!

"I'll never be like..." Why do you want to be? Imitating good traits from a positive role model can be a good thing, but God made you with your own unique personality...don't try to change!

"I can't..." Why can't you? Are you trying hard enough? Do you even need to? If it's an area of development, resolve to work harder at it. If it's something you physically cannot do, or an area you don't excel in, tell yourself, "I may not be good at this, but I have strengths in other areas!"

"I never..." Really? Or does it just feel that way right now?

"I'm so stupid." God gave you a host of talents in all sorts of different areas. Just because you struggle in one or two areas, does not mean you are lacking in intelligence.

"I'm going to fail." How do you know? Just because you've failed in the past does not mean you're going to do it again. You have at least a 50% chance of success if you try... and a 0% chance if you don't try.

"Nobody cares about me." That's an easy one to believe, but trust me, it isn't true! Lots of people care about you, even if you can't see them. For one thing, God definitely cares about you. For that matter, so do I!

"I always mess up." No, you don't. You do a lot of things right. Even if you do mess up on occasion (and trust me, we all do!) tell yourself, "What can I learn from this? How can this make me a better person?" 

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Sunday, 13 October 2013

SPONSORSHIP SUNDAY: Meet Philbert Mukunzi!

Hi everyone! Welcome to the fourteenth post in my “Sponsorship Sunday” series. I love showing off our beautiful children to you, and giving you a glimpse into their lives in Rwanda.

This serious fellow is Philbert Mukunzi. Philbert is seven years old, and his birthday is June 5.

Philbert and his older brother Zephilin were living with their parents until the death of their mother. Their father soon remarried, but his new wife refused to accept the two boys are her sons. Sadly, this story is all too common among our children. Philbert and his brother were taken in by a relative, but she lived in such extreme poverty that she found herself unable to care for the two boys.

One day, this relative heard of an organization called “Shelter Them,” a place with a reputation for rescuing children. She brought both boys to the Shelter Them office and asked if someone would take them. Philbert and his brother Zephilin now live in “Bryan’s Home,” (named after baby Bryan) with a loving caretaker and three other boys, where they are fitting in and finding a sense of belonging. And you should just see them play marbles!

Here Philbert shows off his new school uniform that he received through Shelter Them.

Well, what do you know… behind that serious little face hides a great smile! This is Philbert shortly after arriving at Shelter Them.

And here’s one more photo of our quiet little fellow.

Would you consider bringing a smile to Philbert’s face by sponsoring him? Imagine how excited he’d be to receive a letter from someone halfway around the world that loves him and cares for him. Sponsorship is just $40 a month (we welcome U.S. sponsors as well) and you will receive regular letters and photos from your child. You are also welcome to visit them in Rwanda!

If you’d like to sponsor Philbert Mukunzi, or if you would like to view the rest of our children available for sponsorship, you can visit us here: Shelter Them Child Sponsorship.

Feel free to share this page with your family and friends so we can find him a sponsor!

And don’t forget to visit the Path of the Carpenter on Facebook!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My First Letter From Mbula!

Today I was so excited to receive my first letter from 18-year-old Mbula, who lives in Kenya. Mbula was assigned to me when I requested a correspondence child aged 14 or up from either Africa or Asia. He was assigned to me on May 31st. Four months and one week later, I received his first letter. I was excited to see that he responds to several things I mentioned in my first letter. It was also my first letter in English, which I was thrilled about; no worries about translation errors! Although a translator did look at the letter to check for errors, of which there were none. Mbula writes English very well!

Here’s the letter:

“Dear Hannah,

Hallo my friend! It’s my hope that you are fine with your family members. On my side, I’m fine too. I thank you for being my sponsor. I thank you for the letter you send to me.

In our family, we have three brother and one sister. I would not mind anymore if you would like to be my second sister in our family. (in my first letter, I told him I had no brothers or sisters and asked if I could call him my brother. I’m glad he said yes!)

In our school, I am doing well in my studies. I would request you to pray for me in order to go on well in my studies. In my school activities, I like participating in volleyball as well as football. (the translator added, “soccer.”)

In our church, I like participating in singing and dancing. (me too!) I would like also to share the same verse from Joshua 1:9. It says, “Be strong and of good courage, don’t be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (This is the same verse I sent him in my first letter. I’m glad he liked it enough to share it again!) I would also request for you to pray for our Kenyan athletes who are participating in athletic competition in Moscow. (I asked him to tell me more about Kenya, so this is interesting! I’ll have to look it up online and see what else I can find out.) May God bless you and honour you.

This letter was really exciting in so many ways: my first letter from Kenya, my first letter in English, and the first letter that responds to questions I’ve asked in the first letter. I’m glad to see how much room is on the Kenyan stationery for writing… Mbula sounds like he will be a chatty and interesting young man to get to know!

I love my Kenyan brother!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Hurry Up and Wait

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not the most patient person in the world. When things are going to happen, I want them to happen now. If I get word that a letter from one of my kids is coming, I’ll make the drive to the post office every day for two weeks until it arrives. When someone is coming over, I’m pacing the floor, looking out the window every two minutes. If something is taking longer than usual to download, I’m growling at the computer and restarting the process a dozen times. Like I said… impatient.

It just seems to me that the longer you wait for something to happen, the more chances there are that something could go terribly wrong. I’ve experienced this on a number of occasions. For instance, my upcoming trip to Rwanda. My trip has been cancelled twice for various reasons, and now that the date is set (again) I’m getting more and more anxious to just get going!

The truth is, God has placed Rwanda in my heart in a very special, irreplaceable way. Why, I don’t know. I didn’t choose Rwanda… Rwanda chose me. It grabbed ahold of my heart like a baby grabs your finger, and it’s not letting go. In truth, waiting for this trip to happen reminds me of an adoptive parent waiting for a referral. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s overwhelming. It’s nerve-wracking. And you know it’s going to be life-changing, but how, you just can’t fathom yet; not until it actually happens.

And I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to gaze out over the green, sun-dappled hills, embroidered with terraces and quilted with patches of farmland.

I can’t wait to taste rice and beans cooked African-style over a smoky open fire.

I can’t wait to be surrounded by throngs of curious, chattering children, reaching out with innocent curiosity to touch the girl with pale skin and hair like chili peppers, as I reach out and touch them back.

I can’t wait to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of a busy Rwandan marketplace.

I can’t wait to see my three precious girls, hold them in my arms, look into their eyes, and tell them how much I love them. “Ndagukunda cyane,” I will tell them.

I can’t wait to dance outside in a Rwandan rainstorm. I can’t wait to smell the air, to travel the dirt roads, to walk barefoot in the Rwandan soil. I don’t just want to visit Rwanda. I want to smell it, feel it, taste it, breathe it, and absorb it so completely that it becomes as much a part of me as my own soul.

I look at pictures of hard-working women who struggle daily to heal from the wounds of the past while providing a daily existence and a hopeful future for themselves and their families, and I think, “They could teach me so much about life… about giving… and about loving.” And I long for the day that I might sit at their feet and learn from them. They know what it means to be real women.

I can't wait, I said? But I can. Because right now, I have to. It isn’t my choice to make. But in the waiting, something else happens. I heard someone say once, “Man does not really appreciate what he gets too easily.” In the waiting, we learn to really value what we’re waiting for. Similar to the nine-month waiting period before a new baby enters the world, I believe that this waiting time is a gestation period of sorts, a prelude to the birthing of something new and glorious in Rwanda. What that may be, I don’t know yet, but I can’t will wait to find out!

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Welcome to the thirteenth post of my “Sponsorship Sunday” series! We currently have 22 children in Rwanda, ranging in age from 1 to 19, available for sponsorship through our organization, Shelter Them. (You can read more about Shelter Them and its founders, Jocelyne and Josephine, by clicking the “Shelter Them” tab at the top of this page.) Sponsorship is just $40 a month, and 100% of your funding goes directly to your child. We also welcome sponsors from the U.S.

Now, I may be a bit biased, but six-year-old Kevine has to be one of the most adorable kids I’ve ever seen. Kevine is the youngest sister of Florence and Olivia (click on their names to read more about them), and her birthday is April 24.

But the first time our team ever saw Kevine, that dimpled smile was nowhere to be seen. Kevine lived with her mother, father, and two older sisters, one who is handicapped, in a tiny mud hut barely big enough for the five of them to squeeze into.

Here you can see Kevine sitting on the thin piece of dirty sponge that all five family members slept on at night. They had no blankets and covered themselves with the clothes that you see lying around. Kevine’s father is an unskilled labourer who was unable to make ends meet and provide the basics of life for his family. Her mother had to stay home to look after Olivia, Kevine’s older sister, who has what we believe is cerebral palsy.

Kevine’s eyes are heartbreaking in this photo. She was so shy and overwhelmed when the Shelter Them missions team first visited in November 2012. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a sadder looking child, and no wonder; the family had no food, no proper clothing, and no hope for a better future since there was no money for education or for medical care. The Shelter Them team knew they had to do something. And thanks to generous donations from people all across Canada, we were able to move the family into a rented house with a bedroom for Mama and Papa, one for Olivia, and one with bunk beds for Kevine and her oldest sister, Florence.

And here’s our sweet baby-doll girl now, in her new dress and shoes provided by Shelter Them. Isn’t she the cutest little thing? I just want to scoop her up and hug her! That impish little grin says there could be a little mischief in this next-to-youngest of all our kids. And she has hope for her future now; she can run and play in a clean, spacious environment instead of that crowded hut, and she has good, healthy food to eat and clean water to drink. She is also able to go to school now, and reach for her dreams.

Will you continue the cycle of giving, and make sure that Kevine and her family never have to go back to the slums? Your sponsorship will provide all the care this precious little angel needs, and your letters will be a blessing in her life. You are also welcome to visit your sponsored children in Rwanda.

If you’d like to sponsor Kevine Mutoni, or if you would like to view the rest of our children available for sponsorship, you can visit us here: Shelter Them Child Sponsorship.

Feel free to share this page with your family and friends so we can find her a sponsor!

And don’t forget to visit the Path of the Carpenter on Facebook!