Monday, 7 August 2017

Pleased To Meet You: Basomingera

Welcome to the third installment of my series "Pleased to Meet You!" I'm really enjoying being able to introduce my sponsored and correspondent kids to you!

Today I want to introduce you to my second correspondent child!

Name: Basomingera Ada
Age: 13
Birthday: September 10
Country: Rwanda

The first photo of Ada that I received! 8 years old.

OUR RELATIONSHIP: Basomingera came to me in a very special way. At the time, I only had one correspondent child that I was writing to on behalf of our youth group (Isimbi). I really wanted another little girl from Rwanda, someone close to Isimbi in age, so they could be friends if I ever had the opportunity to travel to meet them. I had requested for my name to be put on the correspondent waiting list for a child (any age, any gender) from Rwanda, but as the months dragged by and there was no response, I began to fear that my name had somehow gotten removed from the list ( it had). Several of my friends had gotten assigned new correspondent children, and I mentioned that I had been waiting a very long time for a child in Rwanda. Imagine my surprise when I received a private message from a friend saying that she had just gotten assigned a girl from Rwanda, and would I like to have her instead? She assured me that she didn't mind at all going back on the list for a child from any country, but perhaps I would like to have this little one? Of course I immediately said yes! Although the only things I knew about her were her name, her age (9, exactly one month younger than Isimbi!) and that she lived with her mother, I somehow knew that this child was going to become very special to me. And indeed she is my "heart child." I love all of my children, but Ada has connected with me in a very close and very special way.


Ada, age 10

ABOUT BASOMINGERA: Ada lives in the eastern part of Rwanda with her mother, her two older sisters Anitha and Amina, and her brother Olivier. Her father is deceased. Ada is an above-average student in school who loves mathematics and dreams of being a doctor one day. She loves to write letters and crams as many words as she can into the space she is given! I call her my little chatterbox! She loves stickers and photos, the color yellow, and helping her mum with the garden. She is very affectionate in her letters and always thanks me repeatedly for the little things I send her. She is a young lady with some big dreams and big hopes for her future!

EXTRA PHOTOS: In April of 2013, a sponsor visiting Rwanda from the US offered to take a quart-sized baggie to Ada with some little gifts and toys from me! Several months later, I got this beautiful photo of her holding the little stuffed dog that I had sent her! Her big brown eyes never fail to melt my heart!



LETTER EXCERPTS:

"I have my best friends, we share food and play different games together. My best friend is Sandrine."

"I miss you, I love you and I keep you in my prayers."

"I thank you for the nice letter you wrote me and many other letters you keep sending me and tell me that Jesus is a Friend who can never forsake me."

"I first of all greet you, wishing you the peace of God and thank you so much for your having accepted to be my sponsor. It reminds me of how Jesus loved me and accepted to be my sponsor."

"I am so glad to hear from you and know that I am part of your family."

Ada's very first Compassion photo at age 6


"My name Basomingera means to go deep in water."

"Have peace from God and a Merry Christmas. I thank God Who connected us. Me and my family there is no one sick. Continue having a Merry Christmas. I wish that you show me your father and mother and I wish them a Merry Christmas. I wish to be a doctor and I wish to see you. Merry Christmas."

"I thank you for being a good parent and i was happy for the good things you always do to me. I believe to have a better future."

"Thank you so much for taking care of me in my daily life. Thank you for keeping me in your prayers."
"i appreciate your letter and the photos that were many! And it was so nice. I wonder when did God give you such a love that you show me?"

"I am thankful to you for your letter, I am glad you love me. Here I have your three letters with encouraging words and giving hope to my soul and hope for a better life. A Compassion worker is the one who took this photograph of mine, which you sent back with stars and cakes which is good and it has given me hope."

"I always feel so glad to see photos which you send to me. I wish to see that church which you pray from."

"In the last semester I got good marks, 61%. I keep on praying for good marks. Please keep me in your prayers to improve on my marks. I continue to pray for you too, and may God bless you and family."

"I thank you so much for your letter you wrote me with all the beautiful touching words. In Rwanda, we do not have a Christmas tree. I also thank you for the decorations you sent me. I had a wonderful Christmas and my family was all well."

"How are you doing there? Am also doing well with my family no problem. Thanks for praying for me and I do pray for you as well."


"I thank you for the letter you sent me. I was so happy to hear that you receive my letters, and that your parents are doing well in Alberta. I liked your picture in a heart style. It shows how much you love me and that picture will always be a remembrance in my life. Thanks!" 

Ada's most recent Compassion photo


Monday, 17 July 2017

When God Says Yes

There is a saying that you may have heard me repeat from time to time. It's just this... when God says Yes, don't say no!

What this means to me is, when God decides that He has a "mission", or something that He wants you to accomplish, He will make sure that you do it! There's no point in saying "No", or "Not now Lord", or "I can't afford it", or "it's too difficult"... believe me, God will find a way of gently nudging you (or hitting you with a thunderbolt, whichever you prefer).

I'm sure He chuckles at us.

Anyways, I have felt for a long time (more than five years, in fact) that God was calling me to sponsor in Ghana. And it just didn't happen right away for whatever reason... I ended up taking over the financial sponsorship of a couple of my correspondent children, and then requested other correspondent children from different countries, and Ghana just kept getting overlooked for whatever reason.

A few of my friends sponsor in Ghana, and some of them have had difficulties in building a close relationship with their children there... one of my friends has gotten the exact same drawing from her child over 20 times! I'll admit, that saddened me a bit. I'm a relational person... I'm all about the personal relationships.

"But God," I argued. "I have children in Kenya and Indonesia that write me amazing letters. The need is so great in so many countries. I have friends in Rwanda. I speak some of their language. I feel connected to my kids there. Why Ghana? I don't know anybody in Ghana. I don't know anything about the culture. Why Ghana?"

And my heart continued to be broken as I read about how common the practice of child slavery is in Ghana, and as I saw how rampant the poverty and how dire the need. During this time, my heart was really moved by the account of another Compassion sponsor who has traveled to Ghana several times to meet her children and raise funds for a library in her children's community... here's the link if you want to read for yourself. Compassion Can ~ Beyond Measure

And still I felt God wanted me to sponsor, or correspond, with a child in Ghana. "I'm having a hard time coming up with letter ideas now," I told God. "I have already replaced the two of my children that are graduating with new correspondents. Surely You don't want me to go back on the waiting list again?" And I put it off yet again.

And then, I checked my Compassion account to see if there were any letters on the way to me... and I saw a new face!



A 15-year-old girl. From Ghana.

Wait a minute... I wasn't even on the waiting list! Then it must be a mistake... she must be meant for someone else.

I refused to get excited. The office was already closed for the day, so I had to wait until the following day to find out if she was actually my child and if I could actually keep her. I told myself I wouldn't get attached to her... she may have been assigned to me by accident, maybe through a computer glitch or someone entering the wrong account number, and perhaps she already had a loving sponsor who wanted to write to her themselves.

And as I continued to tell myself I wouldn't get attached to her, I tried to ignore the fact that I had already fallen head over heel in love with her sweet, patient face. That night was a difficult one... I got about two hours of sleep as I tossed and turned, trying to convince myself that she might have been assigned by accident and knowing I would be heartbroken if she wasn't mine. I have never spent a more restless night in my life!

Of course, you already know that the news turned out to be good, or I wouldn't be writing this post! She was indeed mine... after my last child, Gifty, had been assigned back in March, someone simply forgot to remove my name from the waiting list. And of course, they were overjoyed when I begged (yes, I was desperate at this point lol!) to keep her!

So, I have my long-awaited child in Ghana... who has had only one sponsor for her entire time in the program and has never received a letter or gift. That has already changed, of course!

So without further ado, please meet Jessica, who sometimes goes by the nickname "Sister" at home. I have all of her photos since she was registered in the program.... isn't she precious?


Welcome home Jessica! 


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Passing The Torch

Those of you who have followed my sponsorship journey for a while, know that I place a big emphasis on discipleship. I long for my children to grow into men and women of God, and who become adults with a passion for learning and a passion for helping others. I love sending letters with a moral or lesson that they can apply in their everyday lives.



With this in mind, I recently sent a letter to all of my children, telling them the famous "Starfish Story" and including the graphic above. If you are not familiar with this story, you can easily do a web search for it!
Along with the Starfish Story, I included this paragraph:

"The lesson behind this story is that every person has been gifted with the ability to make a difference in the world. Maybe your gift is telling others about Jesus. Maybe your gift is teaching and mentoring children. Maybe your gift is caring for the sick, or praying for others, or encouraging leaders (pastors, teachers, and others) or maybe your gift is making friends with people who have no friends at all. No matter what your gift is, I hope you know that no one is too small to make a big change in the world! 
I love you and I am so proud of you! God has big plans for your life!"

Of course, as many sponsors do, we tend to wonder if our children are grasping the lessons we try to teach; if we are making an impact at all.

And yesterday, I received this letter from my young man Papi, in Indonesia.

I sponsored Papi when he was 19... he is now 22 and preparing to graduate, if indeed he hasn't already. I am expecting to see him disappear off my account any day now, which is why I was so thrilled to receive a new letter from him! Papi was my first child to ask if he could call me sister, and we share a love of sunsets, the ocean, long walks on the beach, and the Newsboys.



I am always excited to hear from my Papi... but this letter, brought me to tears.

Dear Hannah,
Shalom. I am thankful for writing my sister again. I am blessed with your letter told me about the starfish. I see starfish here often. What you told me made me realize that God has a great plan for me through what He gives to me to make a big change in this world. I find out now that I am precious. I want you to know that what He gives to me is being a teacher. I want to be a teacher, not only to teach knowledge, but also to build a character building of my students, to make them to be a leader who fear of God. May God be with you and bless you my sister. Love, Papi.

Floored. Speechless.

If you have ever wondered if our letters make a difference, if we are really changing our children's lives... this. This is it.

I cried when I read his letter... because I felt that in someway, I had passed the torch. My greatest desire is to see my sponsored children, grown up and making an impact in other children's lives. And now, I am seeing that come to pass, right before my eyes. And by the way, Papi is an above-average university student who is just completing his courses in Civil Engineering... I would not be surprised at all to see him become a professor some day. And I could not be more proud of this wonderful young man, and amazed at the fact that God has allowed me to influence his life in some small way through sponsorship.

This is what makes the sacrifice ALL worth it!


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A Plethora of Letters

There's a quote that my Dad sometimes uses when things are gearing up or getting interesting. He says, "Hang on to your ears!"

That's about how I feel right now... after receiving nine (yes, you read that right, NINE) letters from my Compassion kiddos recently! After a system-wide glitch that caused letters to be "stuck" for several months, the floodgates have finally opened and the letters are pouring through! So be prepared for a long post... because there's been a LOT of happiness arriving in my mailbox!

I'm actually going to divide this post into two parts because it would be too long to read in one sitting!

Let's get right to it shall we?

First up were two letters from Papi, my oldest boy in Indonesia who will be graduating this month!



I also got a photo update of Papi... isn't he looking happy and handsome?!

A while ago, Papi had written that people were staying away from one of the beaches in his area because a crocodile had been cut loose in the area. I questioned him on this further, asking whether crocodiles were common in his area and were people afraid of them? His reply is, "There are many crocodiles here. Actually the crocodiles in our place are not disturbing, but since they are disturbed by people they turn fierce." Papi also said that he got the picture of the Cardinal I sent him and "it is very beautiful. Yes, God's creation is very beautiful." He then told me that the weather is "in transition here now. Sometimes it rains and some other times it is dry and hot." He also said, "I really hope we can meet one day." Me too Papi, me too!

In his second letter, Papi talks more about his family and said he enjoyed reading the letter I sent about my uncle who plays the saxophone. He says, "I know saxophone but I don't know how to play it." He then lists his uncle, aunt, and cousin who live in the area and how much he enjoys seeing them. He says that he most likes spending time with the children of his cousin because "they are active and smart, they are also dancing hip-hop, and I am very glad when they call me Uncle J (First letter of his real name) I feel as I am adult." (This made me chuckle for some reason, especially the part about hip-hop and feeling like an adult when he is called uncle.)



Next up are Ada's letters!

I love this girl so much.... she always squeezes as many words as possible into the writing space, and these letters were no exception!

In her first letter, she greets me in the name of Jesus and says she is doing well with her family. She says she has completed her Primary education and advanced to Senior 1! She also asked for prayers that she pass with good grades when she reaches Senior 2. Then she says, "I thank you so much for the letter you wrote to me, telling me about your news with your parents." She also says that she is praying for God to continue protecting me in the name of Jesus Christ.

In Ada's second letter, she asks how we are doing and says, "In the last semester I got good marks, 61%. I keep on praying for good marks. Please keep me in your prayers to improve on my marks." (This girl is taking her education seriously!) She also adds, "I thank you so much for the letter you wrote me with all the beautiful touching words. I also thank you for the decorations you sent me. (Stickers, coloring pages, etc.) I had a wonderful Christmas and my family was all well."



Moving on to Isimbi's letters! I am so grateful that Isimbi is sounding a little more "chatty" in her letters... I've been a bit concerned for her for a while now!

In Isimbi's first letter, she tells me that she is on her school holidays and is helping around the house by sweeping and fetching water. She also says that they are in the rainy season in Rwanda, and "we are preparing for commemoration period for our fellows who died in genocide 1994." (All of my Rwandan children take part in this commemoration and I'm so glad they do!) Isimbi also says that she is doing well in school and adds, "We are preparing for the Easter. I wish you a happy Easter. I love you so much." She then says, "I thank you for the letter you sent to me, it pleased me very much. I loved the calendar you sent me."

In her second letter, Isimbi shared that her school break went well and she has started her second term in school. She then says, "It is rainy here in Rwanda, it is so cold, how is weather over there?" She also adds, "I know you pray for me. I always pray for you to be protected by God with your whole family." She closes her letter by saying, "I thank you for the letter you sent to me, thank you for the toys you sent to me, I was happy for it, it is really good, thank you."

I am so glad that all the letters I have sent for the past six months have gotten to my kids safely, and it feels like a rainshower after a drought to finally hear from my beloved kiddos again!


Have you heard from your kids lately?


Monday, 24 April 2017

Holding On To Hope

Sometimes it's so much easier to struggle in silence. Sometimes it's so much easier to paste on a smile when people ask how you've been, where you've been, and find a quick and cliché answer. I'm a private person anyways.... I don't like talking about myself. Years of hurt have taught me that most people don't really care how you are... they just want to satisfy their own sense of curiosity. So when I hurt, I do it alone.

But I will say, this past year has been wonderful... and at times very, very difficult.

This blog is called The Path of the Carpenter for a reason... I started it to chronicle my journey as I follow the Carpenter of Nazareth, the man named Jesus the Christ.

But when self-proclaimed followers of the Carpenter leave you without a support system, without an identity, without a word in your defense, with your foundation crumbling... sometimes things start to look a lot different, and you begin to wonder if anything you ever believed was true.

When your head and heart go to war with each other, you start to feel like you're slowly going insane... like you are two separate people trying to co-exist in the same body. Your head believes in the Truth-That-Is, but your heart wants to run... as far and as fast as you can. Numb the pain. Scream for help silently. Rage at the world in anger, behind the smile on your face.

I have come as close to losing my faith as I ever have.

I'm being honest with you.

Not because I ever stopped believing in the Truth, but because I was driven from the place where I first learned that Truth. I've somehow made more enemies than I have friends, because I learned another "truth"... that Money, and Power, and Pride, are the gods of this world and some people will sacrifice anything for their gods... even their fellow believers.

Many times I feel like I've been flayed alive and laid on the altar.

And sometimes I've wondered what, exactly, I've been trying to hold on to.

And in the darkness, 8 little lights shining from the other side of the world, reminding me that I'm holding on to Hope.

Uwimana Hannah Photography

It's my daughter Isimbi reminding me that Jesus knows my name.

It's my brother Mbula asking me to pray for him to keep believing.

It's my daughter Ada telling me that my letters give her hope for a better a life.

It's my sister Shakira telling me that she loves me for ever and ever.



Somewhere in the world, there is Love. There is Peace. And there is Hope. For my kids in poverty, yes... but if only they could know, that the little physical provision I am able to give them, is nothing compared to the spiritual strength they give me.

Maybe you have a hard time imagining my kids, especially my tiny munchkin Miriam, forcing anyone to do anything, but yes... my kids have forced me to hold on to my faith. They have forced me to refuse to give up. They have forced me to see that there is still good in this world. And they have forced me to remain in contact with Hope Himself.... the Carpenter. Because of them, I have a reason to never give up. Because of them, I pray, and read, and study, even when I don't want to.


Because of my kids, I'm still holding on to Hope... and I don't plan on letting go.






Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A Gift From God

Some days are hard.

I know we all struggle, but sometimes I feel like I struggle more than most. Sometimes there is just so much bad that it's hard to see the good. I'll admit it's been hard for me to see the bright side lately... car troubles that I can't afford to fix, stress, anxiety, anger from being constantly stressed and anxious, negativity from everyone around me, some health problems, and just general constant worry about how I'm going to make it through and keep my head above water.

The day before yesterday was like that. The official "First Day of Spring" arrived with 15 centimeters of snow and an ice storm to beat the band. I got stuck just trying to get home from work. My car isn't the most reliable to begin with, and armed with only "baloney-skins", which is what we call worn-out tires in Newfoundland, I floundered at the bottom of a hill. Trucks, jeeps, vans, and even little sports cars zoomed past me while I slipped and skidded, backed up, gunned her forward, slithered and slid, backed up, pressed on the gas and slid further backwards... the slushy ground was full of skid marks from trying to avoid the ditch.

Kind of like my life at this point.... sitting on black ice while the rest of the world is driving with studded tires.

To make a long story short, a generous stranger in a pickup stopped and offered to tow me up the hill... with a good set of chains and another gentleman lending salt, he deposited me at my front door in no time. But needless to say, I was worn out. Sick of winter, sick of fighting, sick of pretty much everything.

I practically crawled into my bedroom, too tired to even attempt to make dinner. I idly logged into my Compassion account, mainly to check and see if I had received any letters from my kids. But I stopped abruptly when I saw a little face that hadn't been there before.



And then I saw her name... and I burst into tears.

Gifty.

My own precious little Ugandan princess... my little angel sent as a sign of His grace.

My Perfect Gift from God.

She is six years old and lives in Northern Uganda... a place filled with hardships and suffering, with war and turmoil and terror and disease and poverty. And somehow, in a place where children are often thrown away, the Grace of God was enough to let a Ugandan mother name her child Gifty.

And somehow, God saw fit to "gift" this little warrior to me, on the very day that I so needed a Gift of mercy. God in His lovingkindness never fails.

Welcome to the family Gifty... I love you so much already!

And in closing, I quote these lyrics by John Schlitt:

"It's a blessing every day I get to see her face;
I could never ever ask for more than this,
She is such a gift.
Lord, thank you for the Gift." 

Friday, 10 March 2017

God Always Knows: Welcome Elijah!

Have you ever had a God-moment so big that you just had to stop and step back and try to take it in? One that filled you with awe, and maybe brought tears to your eyes? One that made you laugh and cry a little at the same time?

I had a moment like that recently.

But let me start at the beginning.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you will know that I sponsor a truly wonderful young man named Mbula in Kenya. You may also know that he will be graduating from Compassion's program very soon; this month, in fact. He has received his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (the equivalent to our High School diploma) and is beginning his studies in Computer Technology. To say I am proud of him would be a massive understatement!

So as Mbula is preparing to graduate, and as I am preparing my heart and mind for the fact that I will be "losing" him very shortly, I have also been praying about expanding my family again. I knew a long time ago that I wanted another correspondence child from Kenya, since my experience with Mbula and with my little girl Miriam has been exceptional! So I recently requested that my name be added to Compassion's waitlist for a child from Kenya to write to. Any age, either gender... I just wanted a child from Kenya.

But with that being done, I began to question my own decision. Wouldn't it be better, I thought, to request a correspondence child from a country I have never sponsored in before? And perhaps... perhaps, I thought, I could instead sponsor another young man from Kenya, in Mbula's honor. Seventeen would be a good age... Mbula was eighteen when I began corresponding with him, and twenty when I took over his sponsorship.

I went back and forth on it for a while and finally decided to leave the request as it was. If I got assigned an "itty-bitty", or an older girl (both of which would have been more than fine in my books!) then I would think about sponsoring another young man. Maybe from the Maasai tribe... I've always had a deep interest in their culture. I even saw a seventeen-year-old young Maasai man on the website that tugged my heartstrings... but he was sponsored the next day.

And that was when God decided to step in. I opened my Compassion account one evening to check for new letters... and saw a new face instead.



A young man.

Age seventeen.

Maasai.

Tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor.

And here's the kicker... his name is Elijah. A name that when I was a little girl, I wanted to name my future son.

God ALWAYS knows!

And of course, the addition of Elijah brings my family up to the perfect number of 7.

Welcome sweet Elijah... my miracle son!

Elijah's previous Compassion photos




Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Why Compassion?

If you've been following this blog for any amount of time, you will know my passion for helping children in poverty. Although I have donated to and worked with several other organizations in the past, there is one ministry that I have chosen to become closely affiliated with. And that ministry is Compassion International.

I've often been asked the question, "Why?" Why Compassion when there are literally hundreds of other sponsorship organizations out there? And why do you choose to sponsor?

Today I want to answer some of those questions.

Photo from Compassion International Media Gallery.


INTEGRITY FIRST

I've always been a firm believer in the adage ,"Investigate before you invest." If I'm donating to any charity or organization, I want to know exactly where my money is going and how it's being used. I've heard too many stories of scams that used photos of abandoned, ragged children to garner sympathy (and subsequently, donor dollars). When I first started looking into Compassion, I was pleased to find that they have consistently gotten very high ratings by Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, and other third-party reviewers.

In the spirit of integrity, I love Compassion's decision to refrain from using photos of starving, skeletal children to raise funds. Although the poverty is quite obviously present in photos, it's not the main focus. The main focus is to portray all recipients, both children and adults, with dignity and respect. Compassion will even provide children with an outfit to wear on photo day if the families have nothing for the child to wear. These photos can then be treasured by the family and are not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Children stand in the doorway of their house with life-saving malaria nets from Compassion.
Photo taken from Compassion International Media Gallery.

But there's more than just financial integrity, although of course that remains important as well. A program can be financially stable and still not have results. As they say, "The proof is in the pudding" as I have witnessed over and over again. This isn't about hungry children showing up for a feeding program. This is about children's lives being completely transformed from a spiritual, social, physical, and economic standpoint, helping them to become healthy, well-rounded adults capable of making a difference in their countries and communities.

I want to share with you this short video that touched my heart deeply. I can't help but tear up whenever I watch it, because it's so close to my heart. It's only about 8 minutes long and tells the story of Jimmy Wambua, who went from being an abandoned child on the street, to having his life changed through Compassion. You will witness Jimmy's first meeting with his sponsor, and finally, meet Jimmy's new sponsored child in Haiti. This video is for me, proof that Compassion really does work!



SEEING THE DIFFERENCE

For me, of course, the evidence that Compassion works is in my hands every day through my children's letters. I have one child in university, studying to become a civil engineer. I have another who just graduated high school and is hoping for college. I have three who want to become doctors, and one who wishes to become a teacher. These children would not even be in school if it wasn't for Compassion.

Mbula age 5 and now at age 21

In the above photo, you can see the difference that the years in Compassion's program have made to my "little brother" Mbula. He will be graduating Compassion's program next month at the age of 22. I have only to look at my children's photos and see the difference in their attitudes; chins held up, shoulders squared, smiles breaking through... to know that Compassion works.

Basomingera age 6 and age 12

If you would like to make a difference in a child's life, and release them from poverty in Jesus' Name, will you consider sponsoring today? You can contact me with any questions you have about sponsoring, or you can go directly to Compassion International or Compassion Canada to learn more!


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Waiting Children: The Valentine Edition!

Since today is a very special day, a day of showing our love in action, I want to give you all an opportunity to show the Love of Jesus to some very precious children! Click on each child's link if you want to learn more about them, their families, their community, and how you can help!

So what day is it anyways? Valentine's day of course!



And what is Valentine's Day? A day that's all about love!



Valentine's Day is all about finding your special Prince...



...or your special Princess! 



Valentine's Day is about giving your heart to someone special...



...and telling them how precious they are...



...and how dear they are to you...



...and of course, asking them, "Will You Be Mine?"



How do you celebrate? Do you give the traditional roses...



...or perhaps another special gift?



However you choose to celebrate Valentine's Day, ask Jesus to make you a blessing to someone today!



And I'm sure that you will have a very Happy Valentine's Day!