~ ~ where some see a hopeless end, others see an endless hope ~ ~

Monday, May 28, 2012

HOPE. IT CONQUERS: #1: a Daddy's Girl...


It's a simple word.  But broken down, digested, truly meditated on ..... it's actually a pretty big word.  Full of meaning.
If there's one word that could sum up the different places I've seen while on this trip, it's just that.  Hope.
  the spirit of Hope.
  the motivation of Hope.
  the lack of Hope.
  the pressure of Hope.
  the POWER of Hope.

Our team of 11, from all over the country, have so amazingly united as a big happy, qwarky family, walking out the mission of James 1:27 as one body... nothing short of astounding to watch happen.  Everything I've witnessed, watched, and experienced thus far with each of them has given me the true value of word Hope.

We had the opportunity to start the trip at the Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali before we even visited any orphanages.  This is where I hesitate to write about, on my first update of our trip, because I honestly haven't put two words together about the experience since I left.  In all honesty, I've put it to the back of my mind so I could even continue going about my day to day.

The History.  Pictures.  Testimonies.  Gravesites.  A wall of names.  Stories from survivors, friends, family....children.  Millions of innocent people just massacred because they simply: existed. 

Children.  There were enough children murdered to prepare an entire room for their memory.  Children.

Each child.  11. 4. 15. 8. With a story.  Who they were.    How old.  Their hobbies.  Likes. ....and how they were taken from us.

"Two Girls.  Age 7.  "DADDY'S GIRLS"........ taken by an explosive grenade in their shower."

I'm a Daddy's girl...

I always have been.

A country, so rich and prosperous completely torn to shreds by this destructive and massive wipeout.  Gone.

And what continues to just blow my mind.... it didn't happen but only 18 years ago.

Our mission is to actively live out being the hands and feet of Jesus, so as a team we had to continue.  So on we went.  We were blessed with an overage of donations, so before we stopped on our first orphanage visit, we stocked our bus full of rice, and beans, flower, oil, salt, .... about $800 worth of food that would feed the 80 kids for almost 2 weeks.  We we were making a difference.  We were all smiles.  We were feeling good...

And it wasn't 20 minutes later that reality hit.

Kimisagra sits on top a hill.  Ya know, your everyday hill made of rock, sand, trenches, potholes, mudslides...and, naturally, inclined almost vertically.  So we hiked.  And we climbed.  Trudged, walked, and crawled.  And when we finally reached the top, it hit me--HARD--that this is what those kids have to do every day.  Carrying their water.  Carrying their food.  Anything they wanted or needed from the city, they had to carry....And my feelings of hope started to fade.

And only continued to fade as we explored around the facility.  Empty concrete bedrooms.  3 large cauldrons for their 'kitchen', where the smoke pipes were broken and the place filled with smothering smoke every time a meal was prepared.  Bathrooms...well, where they could find an open area near the corners.  About 9 bunks short, so about 18...or 36... kids making cozy on their floors.  Not your typical slumber party if you ask me.

And what hit us all the most was there wasn't a piece of food around.  A tiny bag of rice sitting on the counter.  The only food they had was what we brought.  What if we weren't able to come?  We weren't supposed to come.  It wasn't in our agenda at first... but God knew.  He knew we needed to be there.

So collectively as a team, we swallowed our inside pain and just dove in.  Hugged kiddos, held babies, played with lil guys, danced with big kids, shared with olders, laughed with young'ins.  Their situation didn't phase them.  They laughed and sang and smiled and giggled....

And as we had to load up for the day, leaving them to again fend for themselves, all I could think about was how being a Daddy's Girl was what got me through most anything in life today.

The way my family has supported me, encouraged me, laughed with me...and AT me, smiled with me, provided for me and just truly loved me... it was material things that made it easier...  but it was their LOVE that made it possible.

Their love that gave me hope.

These children don't have that here.  They don't have someone constantly reminding them that they can BE somebody.  That the boy who could belt a tune could use that for a career.  That they were special.  That scholarships for soccer to go the 'University' were possible.  That they had a purpose.  That they were loved and cared for and protected.....

A team member described it best when he said he just felt....Defeated.

I left feeling.... empty.  I selfishly prayed that the visits to come would lift me up, give me hope.  I mean, if ANYone was going to be able to make a difference, it'd have to be someone who could be there internally.  For the long haul.  Reaching to the depths of their hearts, committed to reminding these precious children that they mean something.  That they're cared for.  Supported.  Encouraged.  Protected.  Loved.

Someone who could give them eternal Hope..

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13

Friday, May 18, 2012

“Let me drive, Huh?” -God.

“We were honestly second guessing ourselves and our decision.  We were about to just give it up.  Knowing it was just going to be too hard.  And then the Lord rocked my world the very next day when I heard him say to me, “Christine.  Do you feel less equipped today than you did yesterday?  Do you feel less confident, secure, and less in control today than you did yesterday?  Then good.  Then maybe you can let me take over and be in the driver’s seat for awhile…”

Hearing this story from a friend about how she and her husband were losing hope from some of the adoption classes they were attending just stuck in my mind.  Like that song you hear on the radio in the morning, and then for 3 days later, it’s in your head on repeat?  “Then good.  Then maybe you can let me take over and be in the driver’s seat for awhile….”……………..   Wow.

I would be lying if I said I felt like this trip I’m about to take has ANYTHING to do with me anymore.

I know that sounds funny.  It shouldn’t be about me.  Well when you have control issues, it may not be about you, but it’s definitely about your way.  Well.  God definitely wanted and DID reiterate, time and time again, that It’s NOT UP TO ME…

When the idea to host a music based mission trip came up, it was almost two years ago.  Since then, I’ve had it in my head how I wanted it to go.

It was going to be huge.  It was going to be big.  A production.  Think: American Idol + Carrie Underwood meets Africa style.  Reach for the moon big.  Popular artists.  Bands. Concert style.  Stage, lights, sound…. Yeah.

As a staff, we finally put the trip on the calendar last November and started the wait period for team members to sign up.

and nothing.

and nothing.

I wrote emails.  I contacted artists.  I wrote agents, managers, pulled favor cards I hadn’t used in years….

I was up to my eye balls in recruitment and promotion mode.


Days and weeks went by when I literally felt the air being choked out of my lungs, as I started to second guess myself.  “God, did I hear you right?”  “Am I really supposed to be doing this trip?”  “God, why aren’t musicians wanting to come on board and share their passions with orphans?” “God, I thought I heard you loud and clear, but what am I doing wrong?” “God, WHERE IS EVERYONE??????”

When He finally said to me, “Amanda.  Do you feel less confident about this trip today than you did yesterday?  Do you feel less equipped, secure, and in control today than you did yesterday?  Like maybe, the vision of this trip wasn’t yours in the first place?  Then good.  Then maybe you can let me take over and be in the driver’s seat for awhile…”

and it wasn’t but a day or two later we had the first sign up.  And then the second.  And then the team of worship leaders finally started trickling in.  Then a family of four.  Then, a newfound dear friend of mine right here from Nashville signed up last minute….

It was almost like I HAD to start laughing.  There was no way to explain it… except

God needed me to sit down.  Take the passenger seat.  Stop being in control so HE could orchestrate who was going to be on the team.  So HE could handpick, personally choose, who he wanted and needed to be on board with this mission.

And take over He did.

Not only has he woven together a team, uniting from all across the United States.  He is bringing together the likes of everyone from musical artists, to worship leaders, to Crossfit trainers and dancers…

And it’s today that I’m so thankful He took the wheel.  I can’t WAIT to meet these people.  I can’t WAIT to pour out the love to those we’re going to meet in Rwanda together with these empowered, ignited, amazing team members of mine…


THANK YOU to everyone for your encouraging support and prayers for this trip!!  We’d all love for your prayers as we venture on the first ever, MUSIC + MISSIONS: Rwanda trip with Visiting Orphans!

Tom, Jessie, Josh, Renee





:)  I Just love this pic.  Tom and Jessie Bradley again



and yours truly,

Stay tuned !
Over n’ out for now.