Friday, 26 August 2016

News From My Kids!

I haven't been updating this blog very frequently lately, so it is with joy that I share THREE new letters from my beloved kids!

Since Compassion implemented some of their new letter-writing policies, there was a bit of a backup with letters stemming from some glitches with the new system. Things are getting back on track though, and I am finally starting to hear from my kiddos again!

First up is a letter from Mbula! 

He starts every letter with "Hi! My dear sister in Christ." He says he hopes that I enjoyed the Christmas holidays well. His was "really wonderful" and he really enjoyed it. He responded to a letter I had written quite a while back about my job situation, and adds that he is praying for me and knows that God will answer his prayers. He also asked for prayers since this is his last year in secondary classes. One more reminder that he will be graduating Compassion's program next year! (Cue teary sponsor moment).

I had written about Richard Turere, the Maasai boy who invented a way to protect his family's cows from lions, and Mbula responded, "I also appreciate the story of the Maasai boy. Actually, I have never heard it but it was interesting to go through it." He also says he is keenly and actively participating in church.

Mbula closed his letter with, "Remember, if you believe, all things are possible to him who believes as it is stated in the Scripture Mark 9:23." Thank you for that reminder my dear brother!

He also drew me this beautiful picture, the first drawing I have ever received from him!

Next up is a letter from my beautiful Basomingera! 

This was a "first letter" template, since I recently became her financial sponsor. I was excited to learn some details that I hadn't known before, such as her mother's name and her siblings' ages (I knew their names). I learned that her favorite color is yellow, her favorite food is meat, her favorite game is football (soccer), her favorite toy is a doll, her favorite subject is math (good girl!), and her favorite Bible verse is Job 28:28. She then said, "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? (cue sponsor tears... again.) I wish you God's peace and blessings. Pray for me to perform well in school the National exams, November 2016."

She also drew me her first picture ever, an adorable cow!

Lastly, a letter from Miriam! 

This was written on the "My House" template. In this letter, I learned that she sleeps with her siblings, she gets water from the river, her house is made of mud with an iron sheet roof, she does not have electricity in her house, and she washes her clothes in a basin. I also learned her parents' and siblings' names.

Miriam's tutor wrote some exciting news on Miriam's behalf, "Miriam greets you in Jesus' name. She says she is fine and doing well at home and at school. She loves you and thus informs you that her mother has a new-born baby boy (Mbulu) who is 2 months of age. (Cue excited sponsor dancing up and down moment!) She is looking forward to meet you one day of her life. (Heart-melt!) She says that she loves going to Sunday school and prays for you and your family members. Wishes you a happy life."

And she drew this awesome, colorful picture!

I'm so glad to be hearing from my kids again! Now I'm just waiting on long-overdue letters from Isimbi and Papi, and of course Shakira, whom I don't hear from as frequently since she is through a different organization.

Have you gotten any fun letters lately? 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

One Less Broken Heart

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you'll know my Basomingera Ada from Rwanda. My sweet girl that I've been writing to for almost four years now.

Four years. That's a long time.

So when I logged in to my Compassion account and noticed that her precious face was missing, alarm bells went off in my head. I immediately contacted Compassion, and learned the news that makes every correspondent sponsor's heart sink. Ada's financial sponsor had dropped her.

Logically, I tried to look at my finances. But thankfully for all of us, your heart doesn't always follow the dictates of your bank account.

Because I remembered the first time I saw this precious face.

I remembered the overwhelming joy that flooded my soul when I looked into those melting chocolate eyes and felt like I'd found a piece of myself. I remembered that night, lying awake and loving this child that I didn't know, but yet felt like I had known forever. The words of a song by Christina Perri rang through my mind that night... they played over and over. I have come to call this song "Ada's Song", and whenever I hear it, I think of her.

And as I stared at the blank spot on my account, where my darling girl's face used to look back at me, I remembered her words.

"I thank you for your previous letter you wrote to me and many more other letters you keep sending me and tell me that Jesus is a Friend Who can never forsake me. I thank you for the nice pictures. Please continue writing me."

"I feel like missing you."

"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."

"I pray for you to be with God all the time."

"I thank God Who connected us. I wish to be a doctor and I wish to see you."

"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."

And lastly, I looked at this precious face.

And the rest is, as they say, history. Welcome to the family Basomingera Ada... my fourth sponsored child. My own. My heart, my world. God willing, I will sponsor her until she graduates out of the program.

You've come home, beautiful Basomingera. I will be the last sponsor you ever have. And I will love you for the rest of my life.

And to quote Matthew West's song One Less, "There's one less broken heart in the world tonight."

Saturday, 23 January 2016

I Am Free

Before you begin reading this post, it's important that you realize it's gonna be a long and ramble-y one. (Is that even a word?)

So. Hmmm. Where do I even start. It's been such a crazy long time since I posted anything here on the Path of the Carpenter. Not that I haven't wanted to, it's just been, well, life. I could blame being busy or working a lot or whatever (although those things are all true) but to be honest with you all, that hasn't been the real reason for my prolonged absence.

The truth is, I was getting a little depressed in my blogging life. Not just my blogging life, but my online (social media) life in general. You see, I'm a raw and real person. Unlike some, I don't try to "filter" my life to make it appear more rosy... I've always been pretty brutally honest about myself and my struggles, my dreams, my fears, my emotions. In person, I'm quiet and introverted, but online, I feel more comfortable sharing abut myself.

But as I'm sure you all know, when you put yourself out there on the internet, or anywhere really, it generally leads to attacks. Big ones.

So to be honest, I haven't been on here in a long while because I was tired. Tired of feeling like everything I posted was being criticized, picked-apart, over-analyzed, and over-reacted to. Tired of people praising my blogging one day and then slamming it the next. Tired of people calling me up saying, "Why did you post this, that didn't sound right, people are going to be offended by that, you're this, you're that, you're something else..."

To be honest, I considered shutting the Path of the Carpenter down. Far from being a sanctuary, a safe place for me to be myself, I felt like I had to post everything perfectly and live up to a certain number of expectations and be politically correct and please everyone... and ended up pleasing no one, least of all myself.

So, over the past year really, I haven't posted anything much about my personal life at all; on my Facebook page or here. I haven't posted anything political or controversial. I haven't shared my opinions on much of anything. I just stayed quiet and kept my mouth shut and let the emotions roll off me "like water on a duck's back."

And was I happy?


Not at all.

You know, when the first of January rolled around, I did some serious thinking. I've never really been one for making (or breaking) New Year's resolutions. But a group of people I've come to consider as my friends (all fellow Compassion sponsors like me) have a... well, a tradition, I guess you could call it. To pick one word to focus on for the year. (You can read more about One Word, One Year HERE)

Last year, my "Word for the Year" was "Joy." I was feeling a lot of stress when 2015 came in, and I wasn't feeling much joy... I'd lost my job, lost my grandmother to cancer, and underwent an extreme personal attack all in one month. Plus my Seasonal Affective Disorder was in full swing, and depression was rearing its ugly head again. So I really felt like it was time to go on a prolonged search for JOY in my life. It wasn't easy, but I did, eventually, begin to find a measure of joy in my life again.

So, when 2016 rolled around and my friends began posting their words for the year, I began to think seriously about mine. And it didn't take long for me to find it. Or perhaps I should say, my "word" found ME.


On January the first, I decided that it was time to make a decision. Am I going to live the rest of my life constantly suppressed by others' opinions and expectations of me, or am I going to be myself? Am I going to speak up when I don't feel something is right? Am I going to wear what I want to wear (I've been finding creative expression in hippie/boho/gypsy style lately) , sing what I want to sing, say what I want to say, post what I want to post, and generally follow the leading of the Spirit... or am I going to back into a corner and shut myself off from who I am, because some people don't like me for it?

I finally stood up and said, enough. I am who I am... I am who God created me to be. I am silly. I am strange. I am a fiercely protective sponsor mom/big sister. I am that crazy redhead who sings in a band and wears long flowing skirts and dangly jewelry.

I Am Free. Free to live, to laugh, to love.

The above song is one that I haven't been able to listen to for years. There are a lot of painful memories attached to this song for me... memories that made it impossible to hear it without wanting to weep... or break something (there's honesty for ya).

This year, I can listen to it and believe it. Because I choose to put those memories behind me and say that they do not define who I am... God does.

I am free to run. I am free to dance. I am free to live for Him.

I am free.