Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Looking Back: 2013

In some ways it seems as if 2013 has hardly begun, and yet here we are already at the end of it. This year has been a life-changing one for me in so many ways. It’s been marked by changes, opportunities, trial and error, and many blessings!

In March of this year, I began this adventure called blogging. After a bit of a rocky start, I settled into my stride and have been loving it ever since! For those of you who are wondering what caused me to begin this blog, here’s a link to my first ever blog post: Following the Carpenter

Today’s post is my 50th one! What a milestone!

My Children:

This year will always stand out to me as the year that I became involved with Compassion International. This year, I was blessed with three wonderful correspondents: precious Isimbi, who calls me her parent; beautiful Basomingera, who asks that I always continue writing to her, and my brother Mbula, who said he didn’t mind if I would be the second sister in his family.

I also sponsored my first child, in partnership with my father. Beautiful Uwimana Shakira seemed destined to be mine, since we share a first name. Shakira is sponsored through Shelter Them.

This year, I have sent a total of 35 letters to my children. (I never realized it was this many, especially since I’ve only had one of them for about six months!)

This year, I have received a total of 9 letters from my children. Here is the breakdown on that:

Isimbi: 5 letters
Basomingera: 2 letters
Mbula: 2 letters
Shakira: 0 letters (but one is on its way)

I also celebrated Isimbi’s and Basomingera’s 10th  birthdays! (They were born a month apart)

And, I received photo updates from Basomingera and Shakira.

Driftwood Cross:

This year will also stand out as the year that I officially joined the Open Door worship team, Driftwood Cross. I began the year by filling in on the Cajon, before being asked to stay on as a full-time Cajonist. In June, I performed at an Open Mic night and was asked to become D.C.’s only female vocalist shortly after. Since then, we’ve performed at coffeehouses, jamborees, music cafĂ©’s, a Gideon meeting, and even a restaurant. We’ve also begun work on our first album, to be released in early 2014.

Shelter Them:

You all have heard me talk about Shelter Them, the organization started by Jocelyne and Josephine, twin sisters from Rwanda. For a long time, I’ve had a passion for Rwanda and helping these kids, and I love advocating for them. So I was delighted when the girls asked me to come on board this year as an official Shelter Them volunteer, taking over the social media platform and also helping with some editing. I’m a proud member of the team and I thank God for allowing me to be part of it!

These are just a few of the great things that happened this year, but if I were to write any more, it would be 2014 by the time I finished! I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for the New Year… I can’t wait for the adventure to begin!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

I Won the Sunshine Award!

I was so surprised and excited this week when I found out that Hannah H. over at Because of Shamim nominated me for the Sunshine Award! Hannah blogs about all the wonderful letters she receives from her Compassion children, and also includes stories about her former Sponsored child, Shamim (Sherinah) from Uganda, who has just started a ministry for disabled children in Uganda. I highly recommend you check out her blog!

Anyway, as the requirement goes when you are nominated for a Sunshine Award goes, here are ten facts about me:

#1 I love to write. Finding just the right words to express a thought or convey an emotion gives me a wonderful feeling.

#2 I love music. I agree with Martin Luther, who said, “Music is to be praised as second only to the Word of God, because by it all the emotions are swayed.”

#3 I’m a passionate reader, and some of my favorites besides the Bible are “Whose Child is This?” by Bill Wilson, “There is Always Enough” by Heidi Baker, “No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green”, and anything by Karen Kingsbury.

#4 I am a member of the worship team at Open Door, and we call ourselves Driftwood Cross. There are four of us, three gentlemen and myself. Some people find that an odd combination, but they treat me with utmost respect and deference!

#5 I am passionate about Rwanda and will be travelling there with the organization I work with, Shelter Them, in November of 2014 to meet with three of the children that I sponsor.

#6 Although I’ve never been interested in gardening, I do love trees and have three small potted ones at the moment; two Norfolk Pines and a Lemon Cypress. They’re quite good company!

#7 I’m a transplanted Newfoundlander, which means I’m an Ontarian originally. It’s a personal source of pride that I have a perfect Central Newfoundland accent and most Newfoundlanders take me as one of them.

#8 I’m very introverted, but when I’m around people I know I can be extremely silly and sarcastic, some people would probably call me childish.

#9 Some of my pet peeves are not being able to find something that I’m looking for, people who drive like they own the road, getting sick, people who consistently break promises or cannot be trusted, and not being able to sleep.

#10 It’s my birthday today! (December 28)

Here is a list of blogs I am passing the Sunshine Award to! I couldn’t find ten that hadn’t already been awarded, so I am posting my “Fave Five!” These are awesome blogs y’all; you definitely need to check them out!

#1 Curly-Headed Family. Tyler and Jen blog about their adventures as an American family raising their kids in Uganda!

#2 Desert Violet. Alicia blogs about her life as a missionary kid growing up in Niger!

#3 Nothing Left to Paint. Sarah and her husband Jeff are the parents of two, one adopted and one biological, with another adopted child on the way! (I love adoption blogs and this is one of my favorites)

#4 Once Upon a Prayer. The ongoing story of Lily Grace and her sister Mackenzie, adopted from China and currently battling many health issues… but still going strong!

#5 Pure & Lasting. The story of a family with two wonderful children… a teenage boy from Rwanda and a baby girl from Ethiopia!

Thanks so much for nominating me Hannah, I hope you folks enjoyed learning a little bit of randomness about me and some blogs that I love!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

God With Us

Oh, blogging. No one ever called it easy. There are months that you realize you’ve been posting twice a week, and there are months that you realize you haven’t posted anything in way too long. Then the guilt trip sorta gets to you, you know what I mean? And one of the “pressures” of blogging is that you’re expected to blog about certain things at certain times. Like holidays. November was National Adoption Awareness Month. I’m passionate about adoption, and I was hoping to blog about Adoption month, but it somehow didn’t happen. And then there was the Sunshine Award I got nominated for a week or so ago. I’m still trying to get a post about that pulled together.

And then there’s today. Most bloggers have some sort of great post up about the importance of family traditions, or about helping others during the season of giving, or some moving and commemorate post like that.

And then there’s me. I guess all I can say is that Uwimana Hannah marches to the beat of her own drum and does things her own way. If I’m not inspired to pull an amazing post together, then it ain’t happening.

But yet, today is still an amazing day, inspiring post or not. Oh, it’s not such an extraordinary day… we woke up to a blizzard and about more 20 centimeters of snow to add to what we’d already gotten. Supposedly there hasn’t been this much snow in our area since 1988 or something like that. I’ve spent most of the day holed up in my room, reading two of the books I got for Christmas: Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis, and Fifteen Minutes, by Karen Kingsbury. Both awesome books that I recommend checking out, if you haven’t already.

I’ve gone off topic again.

As I was saying, today isn’t such an extraordinary day, except for the fact that we’re celebrating the world’s biggest miracle. We don’t even know if it happened on December 25th; chances are, it didn’t. Regardless, we still take one day a year to celebrate a tiny Baby Boy being born in a stable to a young girl over two thousand years ago and half a world away. Fully God and fully man. And it’s something that nobody really understands and most people forget about for 364 days out of the year and too many of us take for granted.
And through all the muddle and the carols and the food and the decorations and the gifts and the clatter and clamour and glitz and glamour… if you stand still and listen, you can faintly hear the whisper; “Immanuel. God with us.”

Think about that. God. With us. Not just anybody. God. Lord of creation. God before time. He Who was and is and is to come. With us… that means you and me.

Kinda boggles your mind a bit, doesn’t it.

And today, despite the fact that it’s a quiet day and not much is happening, I can’t help but just breathe a prayer of thanks.

“Thanks… for being with me.”

Thursday, 12 December 2013


"Nothing you do for children is ever wasted."
~Garrison Keillor

His name was Dan.

I didn’t know his last name or where he was from, or even if he had a family; when you’re five years old, you kind of tend to overlook these insignificant details. I focused on the more important ones: Dan was funny, he was kind, and he made me feel important. And he was my friend.

I first met Dan when our family moved into the “big gray house” across from the train tracks. It was a sturdy one hundred-year-old house built from solid bridge timbers, but after being abandoned for over ten years, it needed a lot of repairs. Dan came to help us with the siding and the plastering; hence our nickname for him – Dan the Plaster-Man.

When he first walked in, I tried to hide behind my mom. My first impression was of Moses… a long gray beard that reached his chest and twinkling eyes. I would soon learn that Dan was like Moses in another way too… he loved to talk about his Jesus. The only difference was that instead of a long robe and a pair of stone tablets, our Moses wore work pants, scuffed boots, a worn green sweater, and carried a plaster knife.

Dan spent almost a month working on our house. He was quick, careful, and a hard worker… but he always found time for a conversation with me. I remember one warm spring day in particular. Dan was standing on a low scaffold, steadily putting siding on the front of the house. I was working hard as well, darting about the yard in pursuit of a flying saucer toy. You know, the kind that whirls and then flies away when you pull the string on the launcher?

“Look at that, Dan!” I’d shout. “See how high that one went?”

Dan would turn and shield his eyes from the sun. “I see! Be careful it doesn’t go near the electrical wires though!” he’d always caution.

Or I would hide behind the shrubbery in the yard. “Dan! Dan! Can you see me?” I’d pester.

He’d turn and look, and then laugh. “Oh yes, I can still see you!” he’d call.

Sometimes Dan would work late into the evenings at his plaster work. I’ll never forget watching him spend hours carefully working an intricate fan design in the wet plaster across the living room ceiling with a brush. He would do a few strokes, get down and move his ladder a couple of feet sideways, then climb up to repeat the process again. On many occasions it was long past my bedtime before he finished work. On those nights, my mother would give me a bedtime snack and say, “Run out and say good night to Dan now!” I would dash out to the living room, stepping over drop cloths and empty plaster buckets, and call, “Good night Dan!” And he would climb down from his ladder to tell me goodnight.

When I lost one of my first teeth, I couldn’t wait to show Dan. When I saw his old blue Chevy van with the ladder on top pull into our driveway, I flew down the stairs and out the door, meeting him halfway down the walk with an ear-to-ear grin. His first words to me were, “Hello, princess! I see you lost a tooth!”

One day, I had a special treasure to show Dan. I scampered outside, calling, “Dan! Dan!” I almost bumped into him as I rounded the corner of the house. “Look what I got!” I opened my hands to show him a jagged rock about the size of my fist. The top was streaked with sparkly yellow.

“Do you think it might be real gold?” I was almost breathless with excitement.

Dan leaned over to examine the stone. “Maybe it is. Maybe it is.”

My father rounded the corner of the house then, and I’ll never forget Dan’s words as he straightened up to look at my dad. “You know, your daughter might have found something pretty valuable there. You never know.”

For some reason, those words have stayed with me all these years later. Dan knew as well as I do now that the rock I’d found couldn’t have been gold; but he listened to me. He didn’t brush me off or laugh. He paid attention and took a few minutes to affirm my discovery. He even spoke of it to my father. I think what really made me feel ten feet tall that day was that Dan treated me like a grown-up; like I was somebody special.

On the day that Dan left, I remember feeling sad that my good friend was going away. The job was finished, and Dan was leaving early the next morning to return to his home in another community. But before he left, he took a few extra minutes to give me a special goodbye.

“You know, I’ll see you again one day,” he told me, pointing towards the ceiling. When I looked back at him, mystified, he explained, “I’ll see you up in Heaven one day, when the Lord comes back.” And then I understood.

The next morning, when I came downstairs for breakfast, I found that Dan had left before I woke. But he left a special letter just for me.

I still have the note in my possession. I’ll never throw it away. On rough beige paper, in penciled block letters, is this message:

Zephaniah 3:17
Dear Hannah; Good morning sister. And He does love us greatly. Your a good friend and helper too. Our Lord loves that. I will see you again soon.
Keep happy. It is the glory of the Lord.
Your brother in Jesus.

I wonder sometimes, if Danny ever knew the impact he had on my life by just taking a little time to care. And I wonder where he is; if he’s safe and well. Wherever he is, I do wish him well and hope he has happiness. I pray that his love for Jesus is as strong as it once was, and that perhaps his last words to me might come true. If that happens, I look forward to walking the streets of gold with Dan and reminiscing on good times.

Until then, I'll always remember with fondness the short time I spent with my good friend Danny.