My Heart is Glad & My Soul Rejoices!

“I will declare Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You” ~ Psalm 22:22 

With my husband, my travel partner for life! Juneau, AK

My husband recently told me that the travel bug bit me. May be he has a point? Looking back though, I don’t think I remember when I first got interested in traveling. Growing up in Rwanda, you can easily drive from one end to the other in less than a day. It’s that small! Many Rwandans don’t necessarily vacation outside their homes, and still a few do get the luxury to travel outside Rwanda today. Like most, my first plane ride was later in life. While in college in Rwanda, I was awarded to attend an international conference organized by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) in Cairo, Egypt for young IT engineers. It was a huge deal!! First time on the plane and outside the country!

High Falls, Rochester, NY

Couple years later, when I first moved to the United States, its size and opportunities it had to offer must have stirred something in me. The idea of flying for hours inside one country left me puzzled! While I took some history and geography classes in high school (least favorite topics then for a Math & Physics major), I was still clueless about the world map and where countries were located on the map. For example, when I first moved to the States, in Rochester, NY, that’s when I found out that Canada was right across Lake Ontario just north of me. How shocking!

Hanoi, Vietnam. 2019

While in grad school @ RIT, I didn’t get to travel much even during breaks; while it may be normal for students not to have a lot of money, my situation has always been unique. Even after I got a full time job that paid relatively well, I had already been used to splitting 4 ways every blessing that ever came my way. The more I had, the more I felt compelled to make sure that my siblings didn’t need anything in this life. Although I very well know that our parents will forever remain irreplaceable in our lives, but I have come to believe that I was spared for a reason. If it is to play even a small role in their healing process, I have no regret in this life!

Amsterdam, 2016

Honestly, it never bothered me that I couldn’t have everything other girls around me had. It was no different when I had my first job: to this day, one of my greatest fond memories is when I received my first paycheck as a Teaching Assistant, a job that was offered to me at the same college I went to in Rwanda. Prior to graduation, the College chose a few of graduate candidates with top grades and offered them a Teaching Assistant job. I didn’t have to wait, or do job hunting; I felt so lucky! After a month, my first paycheck, about $400 (in 2005), all of it, was mine! I couldn’t believe it. This was the largest amount of money I have ever owned.

Downtown Kigali, Rwanda, at night!

As soon as it was deposited in my bank account, I called my siblings, with the most exciting news: I was taking them shopping! This very first time, they were not going to be wearing hand-me-downs. Up to this time, a cousin had been picking clothes that were too small for him and handed it down to my brother. I shared clothes with my sisters. But this time, they were all going to pick whichever ones they liked, brand new. I sat down, watching their excitement; I got emotional! I told them to pick anything they wanted. I didn’t really care, that a half of it went to their clothes, and I gave them the rest for school. I knew I’d get more next month. To this day, this personally remains a fond memory that I treasure all my life. The joy of my siblings I call my kids has been my greatest gift! My heart rejoices in the Lord of my Salvation!

Duomo di Milano, Italy

While memories like this one are an absolute treasure, I have tons others that I wish I could blot out completely and erase forever. Memories like that of relatives who have hurt and abused my siblings and I instead of being there for us. An aunt who told me that I would never amount to anything in life, and later burned all my clothes and high school diploma. She was so sure that this would stop me from attending college where I had been awarded a full scholarship. She probably thought this would mean the future filled with uncertainty for me! Read Beyond Broken Memories or Hope; God is Real!

The Pont des Arts. Paris, France 2012

But some of the most humbling experience were my early days of college where I lived off campus. Since there were no rooms on campus for incoming freshmen, I had to figure out where to live, a place that’d allow me to walk to school everyday. While this was absolutely a concern, the major challenge was $50 to register for college. Miraculously, I got that money and started college. However, the next 2 years would bring days where I had to visit people I knew around lunch time, in hopes to eat with them. It was my last resort, after not eating for couple of days. I had been close to becoming homeless, or worse!

Food in Croatia was the best. The country and its people stole my heart ❤

Recently, my husband and I traveled to Alaska, It was my first time there. I was struck by beauty and nature found in its capital, Juneau. We participated in a few things as any tourist would do, without going crazy. We hiked to the Mendenhall Glacier, visited Nugget Falls. However my favorite part was whale watching. While it’s an incredible experience watching those creatures showing off their water skills, my favorite part was when our tour boat was cruising around Juneau (for 4 hours). There were about 40 or so people were onboard. My husband being like me instead of sitting inside, we went out back and rode on the deck. As we cruised chasing whales around, the engine was very loud at 30 miles/hour. Since a conversation was not an option during that time, I got time to reflect.

The Glaciers in Juneau, Alaska 2019

With the water as far as my eyes could see, perched between beautiful mountains designed to perfection by the Creator, I couldn’t help but praising the Lord! I marveled at their beauty and got lost in their gaze. The water was so beautiful, and waves splashing, clear blue sky, warm weather that Juneau has not seen in 112 years, it was a dream! Somehow my brain raced back to when I had nothing, and no one. I couldn’t believe the beauty, majestic creation that surrounded me, while in the embrace of the most amazing man that only God could have created just for me! I thought of my siblings, my past, my nonprofit, my life, my husband, my adopted parents, my friends, my blessings!

London Tower Bridge, 2016

As if in a prayer, I whispered to God, my Father & Provider, counting my blessings: I could afford to be in Alaska without breaking a pocket. I experienced luxury without my siblings missing a meal or school. I can eat or afford anything I want. I have stayed at 5-star resorts and luxury hotels, flown first class without spending a fortune. My travel & hotel statuses often afford me a treatment that is more than I anticipate or expect. I have traveled almost everywhere, from small towns to big cities and everything in between. I am truly grateful!

At the United Nations Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland!

I have been blessed with a job that had allowed me that opportunity for the past 7 years. I didn’t ask for it, but perhaps God knew that I enjoyed traveling but couldn’t afford it so He gave it to me! Yes, I did work so hard in school, but so did/do many people. However, while things may seem like it’s going great, there is something that I had asked God long time ago: not to allow my heart to be too merry to forget my painful past.

“Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food allotted to me. Lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:8-9

Downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018

Just like Moses pleading with Israelites & cautioned them against disobeying God after entering the land God prepared for them.

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Deuteronomy 6: 10-13 

While my daily prayer is that I am able to forgive and love others as Jesus has loved me, I never want to allow myself to forget my beginnings; I want to use my suffering, tragedy, loss, hunger, struggle, and wounds of my past to help and be a blessing to those who aren’t as fortunate. I have been given a chance, not because I am better or righteous; it’s far from it! It’s only God’s Grace! For that, I am forever humbled & amazed by His love!

Beautiful downtown Kigali (on the top of the hill), the Capital of Rwanda

It is for this the reason that I weep for people who are hurting, I can relate to them. People in need, poor, homeless, move me with compassion! I have been given a chance, a voice, and an opportunity to serve God. I eternally pray that I always seize opportunities God makes available for me to act! Simply put, I am able to truly love, because I am loved so well, by the Lord!

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.” 1 Samuel 2:8

A Great Privilege, that I got to be Named One of Them!

Sometime in the Fall last year (I’d say August or September?), I received an e-mail in my work inbox. I don’t remember every word in it, but it was a mass e-mail asking employees to nominate their peers who have gone above and beyond to make an impact in their communities and around the world, for the “Be the Bridge” Award. The content was especially appealing, and I flagged the e-mail for a follow up on my part so I could nominate some of the amazing people I knew. Unfortunately it got busier, and the deadline passed. I didn’t do my part. I was bummed!

I am the Bridge between Street Kids in Rwanda and a Chance to Dream! SJC, Nov 2018

Sometime later, I received another similar e-mail, this time a very different message. “You have been nominated for the Bridge Award“. The e-mail also revealed the name of the colleague who nominated me, and I reached out to him immediately, in awe. As it turns out, he wanted to remain anonymous! Perhaps a check box he may have forgotten to tick/untick, but I was glad I knew whom it was. I later found out about another colleague who also nominated me, but I didn’t get notified for that one. These 2 incredible people, had previously worked on a year-long project that featured my nonprofit in 2017-2018. I was very humbled & thankful!

With our very own Fran <3, the head of HR!

A month or so later, I received another e-mail;

Congratulations! We are thrilled to let you know that you have been selected as a Grand Prize Winner of The Bridge Awards! On behalf of the entire Cisco community, we are truly inspired by your actions and proud of the incredible contributions you have made. In recognition of your achievements, we are pleased to offer you a trip to the Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. Your prize will include airfare, accommodations and, a VIP experience at the Global Citizen Festival.

Kelly & Maxine, cheering, after my video shoot interview at Cisco in SJC! Love these 2 ladies very much!

I was too excited that I couldn’t even hold it down to read the rest of the e-mail, that urged me to keep it to myself until every Winner has been notified. I saw that after I shared it with at least 10 people (my family, fiancé, adoptive parents, my manager..). I was like oops, sorry guys! I couldn’t help it. Fast forward to November, the Winners (later I found out it was 10 of us) were invited to the Cisco Headquarter in San Jose, California to attend the company’s meeting where the Winners were going to be revealed.

Making it to San Jose in the morning of the event, I saw a dear friend there, Joy. I know her from church, Cisco & a gala that my nonprofit hosted in 2016. None of us knew that the other was a winner. Everything was a secret, obviously, until the official announcement!

With my dear friend Joy, in SJC, CA before the Winners Reveal!

Then I got to meet more people, and learned the amazing work they did. I couldn’t believe my ears, eyes! Please allow me to proudly brag about men & women (in no particular order) that I got an honor, great privilege and an opportunity of a lifetime, to be named Cisco Bridge Award Winners with. I cried, felt encouraged, and humbled! Now my lifetime friends! Cisco has greatly empowered me, my family and now many more people, our kids in Rwanda!

Make sure you watch this YouTube Video: We Are the Bridge! It’s also embedded into the post!

7 of the 10 Winners, with our head of HR & head of Marketing

Joy, through Habitat for Humanity rallies Cisco as a company to help build homes for the homeless around the world; she hails from North Carolina. Rajeev helped organize relief goods for victims of flood in Kerala, India in addition to founding two NGOs dedicated to hunger relief for children in slums and on the streets of India!

Vanessa founded the non-profit Love Never Fails, which works to rescue and empower human trafficking victims & survivors; she is based in the beautiful California. Cathy, in Johannesburg, South Africa, dedicates her personal time to take care of kids in need, feeds them and gives them basic essentials.

Claus in Germany, works with Refugee School for Digital Integration (ReDI) to teach courses like Cloud Security and IoT to refugees, via Cisco.

Scott, a long time volunteer firefighter & ski patroller, developed technology (that won award) to keep firefighters and skiers safe in the US and around the world. He hails from Seattle. Shawn, in Atlanta, works with Women Orthopedist Global Outreach, (an all-female team of orthopedic surgeons) that replaces joints for people in developing nations.

Daud, in Pakistan, created the SAYA Welfare Society by donating a family owned land to create a basic medical facility to provide free healthcare services. Ramachandran leads a program that partners with Step Up For India to teach English to kids using technology near the Cisco office in Bangalore.

@ the FNB Stadium, South Africa

In addition to 10 of us, Cisco extended the invitation to 10 Runner Ups. 7 of them joined us, and a total of 17 people (plus our leadership teams, including our CEO & Chief People Officer), we all went to South Africa. For the Global Citizen Festival, Mandela 100 (Mandela would have turned 100 in 2018)!

Global Citizen Festival, according to their website, is a concert that brings together musicians, world leaders, and global citizens in an effort to influence positive change on a global scale. In South Africa, 70% of the tickets were given away for free, to recipients who took action, to help advance the mission of the Global Citizen to end extreme poverty by 2030. The FNB stadium was packed, close to 100K people. Knowing that I was surrounded by people who care about the humanitarian work, gave me hope.

There were so many famous people, artists, humanitarians, activists, world leaders, global citizens; Beyonce & Jay-Z, Tyler Perry, Trevor Noah, Oprah, Ed Sheeran, and so many more, all to support causes around healthcare, education, fighting poverty & diseases etc. It was absolutely incredible!

After the brunch with our CEO & Head of HR, South Africa

It was an experience of a lifetime, but my favorite part was getting to know the winners and runner ups. The runner ups represented Belgium, Lebanon, Nigeria, Italy, United States etc. Hearing their stories and work they are doing, in addition to their Cisco job was truly humbling. How do they do it? There is no simple answer but here is a fact: Cisco makes it possible for its employees to do what they love doing outside work. For example, full time employees get 40 hours a year, paid time off, for Time 2 Give (community give back). For every hour spent volunteering for qualifying organizations, Cisco donates $10/hr.

Moreover, Cisco matches donations, dollar for dollar, up to $10K a year, by employees to qualifying organizations and nonprofits. All the above, is really what has encouraged and helped my nonprofit continue its operations and grow. Cisco employees’ donations to Rising Above the Storms constitutes somewhere over 80% of our annual funds. That’s huge!

The bottom line, I now have colleagues around the world, that I am humbled to call friends. They are changing lives, and it gives me an encouragement and hope, just knowing them. And I am proud to work for Cisco, a company that deeply cares about a cause close to my heart, and empowers me to be succesful!

Will you join us?

Rising Above the Storms: a Name and a Personal Story!

With some of our kids at the center in Rwanda. Jan 2017

Never in a million years have I ever thought that I would start a nonprofit, leave alone sharing personal, painful wounds of my past with strangers on the cyberspace, or in person for that matter. It has always been a challenge for me to comfortably talk to people I just met, and it still is the case today unfortunately. The idea of starting a nonprofit first came to mind in 2012. I felt urgency and a desire in my heart; I could sense something bigger than I had ever imagined was about to unfold. Soon, it became clear to me that this was what God Has been preparing me for all along.

Losing parents at 13, surviving a genocide with younger siblings who were all under 10, juggling life, pain, loss, poverty, betrayal, disappointment; it has been a long journey to recovery! However, from the very beginning, I perhaps understood that the idea of starting a nonprofit that is centered around my personal journey may possibly mean opening up about my past and personal experiences, something that is extremely difficult for me to do.

You see, I come from a culture that is famous for keeping things to themselves. In Rwanda, you don’t talk about your personal life to people who aren’t your close friends or family members. When you make a casual conversation with a Rwandan around their personal life, they’ll become suspicious of your motives in asking. It is still true today.

Kids in our program during the celebration of International Day of the African Child, July 2017

In fact, more than a decade here, the thought of learning about a stranger’s marital issue or not getting along with a boss during an hour plane ride is still appalling to me today. Don’t get me wrong, I really love listening to others and learning more about their personal stories. My challenge is the other way around; talking to strangers, especially in a group setting, about anything, especially sensitive topics such as 1994 in Rwanda. It doesn’t matter if those people seem harmless. So, when God laid this idea of starting a nonprofit on my heart, I felt equally scared and excited!

RAS Facilities in Rwanda

Summing up my life story and what God has done for me and my siblings, I couldn’t imagine a better name to call my nonprofit: Rising Above the Storms. I chose “Rising” instead of “Rise” as many tend to think of R, to emphasize on a continuing journey, a work in progress. The journey began when the most devastating atrocities of the 20th century hit my beautiful home country on April 6, 1994. By the end of 90 days, my parents and 2 of my siblings have been killed. You can read more on my recollection of their final moments that I wrote on the 20th anniversary of their death: In A Garden of Fame Where Their Treasured Memories Grow Fonder: Two Decades Later.

I like how some people think S means Stars. I will take it 🙂

It’s been a wild ride since the official launch of RAS, in 2014. Combining the expectations of what it takes to get a startup off the ground with my busy engineering career has been close to impossibility to say the least. I now understand why every person I have met who is an executive director of a nonprofit is their full time job. It’s impossible to do anything else.

Earlier this year, we launched our first partnership with a local organization in Rwanda to start a mobile based classroom for street children. We currently have 17 kids in our program, 11 of them back in school. It’s been an incredible journey to get to know these kids, through our team on the ground. The kids who visit the center on weekly basis receive care through therapy sessions after a meal. This allows them to express their challenges and struggles as we walk with them through life.

Group Photo after Launching Treasured Learning Center

There are multiple ways you can become part of this amazing experience: you can sponsor a child for $50 a month. This amount covers their school material, tuition, school uniform, therapy sessions, meals and clean cloths they receive when they come to the center on a weekly basis. Click here to pick one of the 9 children we have remaining that need sponsorship on our website: Sponsor a Child. Or you can simply donate on our website: Donate to Rising Above the Storms.

Rising Above the Storms is my personal story, my non profit and my life’s calling and God’s mission for my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is without a doubt what I am meant to do for the rest of my life. Caring and loving vulnerable children & youth is something that moves me to tears and keeps me up at night. I weep just looking at hungry, abandoned children that I don’t even know; it could be on TV or newspaper. I could have easily become one of those children; it’s not because of anything I did to be very fortunate.

As the Bible quotes in Isaiah 61, I hope to spend the rest of my life striving to be their voice!

Will you join me? Add your name here!

God bless you

Re-Blog: [When God Re-Booted Creation]

” Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27

I wanted to re-blog this article {and I hope Pastor J.D Greear & his team don’t mind) that points out what the Kingdom of God is about and shows important facts that most of us often miss out. In the end, it’s not how eloquent one is at quoting Biblical verses or religiously righteous as much as it is for how our love and actions should put the LOVE of Jesus on display! This is my opinion but Matthew says it so well too: Matthew 25: 34-40

47115-ExcellentQuotations.com-Mother-Teresa

© Mother Teresa Quotes

Enjoy the reading..

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I have one solution for every computer problem I encounter. Reboot it. And if that doesn’t work, reboot it again. The worst moment in my technological existence comes when I’ve rebooted four or fives times and the problem is still there—because then I know it’s going to be a long, painful process on the phone…

http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2016/03/when-god-re-booted-creation.html

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~Mother Teresa

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Mathew 25:37-40

You may have read one of the famous Bible verses on love in the book of the first Corinthians chapter 13: “Love is patient, love is kind” etc. There are a few lessons I recently learned from it that challenged and convicted me. I plan to share some details in a separate post. For now, I will simply say that I am naturally sensitive and passionate, which can be good and bad. However, I will try to focus on the good part for now.

I cannot stand injustice. It hurts so much when people are not being fair. I don’t like when bad things happen to good people. I cry when I see cruelty against innocent people. I weep in front of my TV, computer or out in the open when I see homeless children who live off of the dumpster and in the streets, homeless grownups against their will, poor and hungry people. It is heartbreaking to see people who once had it all together and wars/tragedies suddenly turn their lives upside down, into refugees, homeless, helpless and starving. Life is so unpredictable.

On Tuesday this week, a woman that I have always looked up to and admired for her courage as long as I have known her, surprised me with the news I was not expecting to hear. I was already aware that she has lost her job several months ago and had been unsuccessful to obtain another one, but I had no idea as to what extent she was struggling. I wept as I read line by line. I was very sadden by the fact that she may lose her home, a home she built by herself, along with raising her young children after she lost her husband during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the minority Tutsi group in her late 20s.

Rwanda

Rwanda

My heart was torn. I was at loss for words! I haven’t cried so much in a while like I did as she explained it to me over the phone. As I felt sorry for myself for being so weak and hopeless, I remembered how Jesus felt when He arrived at His friend’s house, Lazarus. As many people gathered and mourned for Lazarus who died 3 days earlier, Jesus wept, too! (John 11:35).

The Son of God wept, NOT because He was helpless like I was or often am in situations like this. In fact, His main purpose there after His intentional 3-day delay, was to raise Lazarus from the dead and glorify His Father! Jesus was moved by the pain and weeping around Him because of Lazarus. I remembered that very moment that Jesus understood my pain and indeed cared for my friend more than I did. Although I still wish I was super rich to be able give to my friend all the amount she needs, I know that a little bit can go a long way.

I launched a GoFundMe campaign for my friend Rose. I accepted that I may not be able to raise all the money that she needs at the moment, or that I may be surprised. Either way, I am being obedient, and trusting the Lord for His provision and compassion for His children. I have not really done any other fundraising campaign, and I absolutely hate asking money from people. Nonetheless, I also believe in God’s miracles and the way He uses His own people!

Please click here to join my campaign: Help a Rwandan genocide Survivor Widow!

I cannot change the world; in fact, God knows that I am incapable of even changing a single soul. However, I am determined to do something small whenever I get an opportunity. And then, I want to leave the rest to God who is capable of answering prayers and being everything to those in need!

God bless you

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.James 1:27

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Sometime during my graduate studies at RIT in NY, a friend of mine asked me to help translate for a teenage girl that had been hospitalized but didn’t speak English. This girl fluently spoke one of the languages I understood from one of the East African countries. Her and I immediately connected and later, I was invited to their house to meet the rest of her family.

On my first visit, I was shocked to see how much preparation and trouble they went through to make it look like nothing close to a  simple gathering. It was like a royal dinner, composed of food varieties from East Africa to represent a feast that was apparently prepared for me: beef stew, plantains, homemade French fries, rice mixed with various spices, vegetables and many more. I didn’t know what to say. I normally have a disappointing appetite but this certainly did the trick.

As months went by and I visited the family again, it was exactly like the first time I was there. Since then, I figured that I should not tell them ahead of time that I was coming, after all we are Africans. Back home, you can simply show up unannounced! Even with short notice, they would distract me while I chatted with others, unaware that they were cooking. I couldn’t believe how generous they were.

An East African dish. So delicious!

Truth to be told, I can tell that this family barely makes their living on possibly minimum wages. How do I know? Because of their employment type. It is also interesting that they always have a house full of people, literally; some of them are relatives while some others are just strangers they shelter until they can get on their feet.

If I didn’t know what they did for a living, I would just have assumed that they were rich. In fact, this girl who is my connection to them is not even their biological child. They actually met her somewhere along the way in Africa, and took her in because she had no family or anyone else to raise her. Personally, I am always amazed by how positive they are about life. They love God, others and they are hopeful people. Their home is always open to everyone.

Watching their way of life challenged me: how can someone like them be so generous, loving and positive when they live on minimum wages with a house full of people? Each time I speak to the wife, she quotes the Bible a lot and encourages me with Jesus’ promises and hope that is found in following him. I’m always amazed by her love for God even when I can easily see that the family struggles to make ends meet!

This family reminds me of the story of the widow’s offering where Jesus commented on her offering which was two small copper coins while rich people poured gifts in the offering box. Jesus saw that the widow has put way more than all of them because rich people gave out of their abundance but the poor widow contributed out of her poverty and put in all she had to live on. It is a challenging example that we often ignore!

A Rwandan Cabbage Salad. I made this one by myself🙂

A famous Bible verse about the way of love in 1 Corinthians 13 raises a very important question about generosity.

 “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Does this mean  that people can indeed give without love? The answer is possibly. Generosity works hand in hand with love. If they are separated it’s like faith without work. When this dawned on me, I desperately asked God to fill me with love first!

Honestly, it’s not always easy to be generous, especially with money and time. In fact, it is a human nature to be inclined to give or help people that we know well or care for. Of course it’s very important to ensure that your donations go to credible recipients but we sometime cling on it that we often forget that our giving shouldn’t necessarily be dictated by how grateful or recognizing our recipients are.

Also, for those who give often wonder how much is enough to give!

But I have learned that it’s not about the amount, but the heart of the giver. And that it is much more blessed to give than to receive.

I don’t know about you but I often want to hold onto what I have with excuses that I don’t have enough or that I have to enjoy the fruits of my hard work after all. Nothing is wrong with that, but after I was reminded that “it is blessed to give than to receive“, it changed the way I approached giving, loving people and generosity.

I have been praying and asking God to make me like the man that David cites in Psalm 112. Verse 5 states: “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends“, and verse 9: “He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor.”

I want to love and be generous to everyone God brings my way, and not expect anything in return. I am not the one to judge the character and be selective on whom to be generous to or not. I will leave it to God who will judge all the nations and reward everyone according to their work in this life. God is love and He sees everything. Everything I do is between me and Him, people easily forget!

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.’ ~ John Bunyan

The Power of A Small Act of Kindness!

You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan

I have had the privilege of living both in the first and third world countries. Although the cultural differences are too significant to ignore, all human beings have a lot in common, regardless of their racial or ethnic origins, language, or lifestyles, just like Joshua said it well in the below snapshot. Whether poor or rich, strong or weak, important or nobody: we all get sick, feel hungry & thirsty, desire to be loved and respected, and eventually die. This life has an end; even the most wealthy person on earth cannot vouch to bypass death.

The other night I spent time with friends from church, having a great discussion on the wonders of God. We talked about many things including faith that moves a mountain and trusting in God. One man shared a story about a couple that I personally know too. This family recently decided to start giving to church and God’s ministries not only 10% of their household monthly income, but 20%. Shortly after they made this commitment, the husband got laid off from his job.

Surprisingly, they decided to continue on giving the same amount, even if it meant exhausting their savings. Several weeks later, the husband was offered a job that was way better than his previous. I was deeply touched! This couple remarkably puts God on display. I have seen it with my own eyes. It takes a special person to have that kind of faith, that God would still provide even in tough times like during the loss of employment.

Children Autographs at the Museum of Life and Science

CHILDREN AUTOGRAPHS @ THE MUSEUM OF LIFE & SCIENCE

I have witnessed God’s provision in my life, too. Right now I won’t be able to list every door that God opened in my life only because of the “YES” I put on the table. Jesus is my witness. As I pour my heart out to God, I am eternally honored to be His messenger to my siblings I love with all my being. Seeing a poor person or someone in need breaks my heart, especially when I cannot do anything about it. I simply cry. Out to God!

Long time ago in college, without a job or any income, I cried to God and He answered my prayer for one of my two other boys I call my sons. His name is Gilbert and you can read his story here. I humbly praise Jesus each day for the last 8 years, for this young man’s life. Gilbert is now a senior student in college. Yes God listens and answers our prayers, even when we just cry or don’t know what to ask. My life has been changed, for ever!

And I see God’s miracles everyday. This next story, I am only sharing it to encourage you who are reading this, to trust God. If boasting, I will in Jesus Christ, for it is written: “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6: 2-4

Like many middle class citizens, I have my own financial struggles to make ends meet. However, I am thankful, very grateful beyond measure, for every blessing from heaven in my life. Recently though, I met someone who did not ask me for a help but I knew that this person was struggling after losing a job. I closed my eyes and gave more than I normally can afford to give at once. I trusted God for the next part of my regular responsibilities. After that, to make things even worse, a personal need immediately arose, that changed many things in my financial plan. Honestly, I wondered if I would be able to take care of another project that I had previously committed to and there was no other way around it.

Just a few weeks later, out of nowhere, I received a message stating that I was expecting an amount, that turned out to be over 10 times more than I had given away, and NOT as a loan. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe what just happened. While what I gave away wouldn’t be nearly enough to sponsor this other project, God gave me what I spent and way much more, just like that. All other doors I fixed my eyes on were shut the same way they opened. GOD DOES NOT DO IT MY WAY, BUT HIS WAY! And this is the God I willfully share and worship, as long as I breathe!

The Reeds & I, 07/04/2013. Their beautiful faces melt my heart, to this day.

WITH THE REEDS CHILDREN, 2013.

HONESTLY, I am not saying that it feels easy to freely give. BUT all acts of kindness you do are eternally engraved before God in the book of life. I hear many people being skeptical about giving to charities and non profit organizations. I came to a conclusion that if I give and the recipient misuses the donations, they will face God one day, there is no doubt about it.

If I give to a homeless guy across the street and he turns out to be feigning it, it’s his problem, not mine. My part has been done, and the Lord sees it. Of course it’s important to use your own judgement and see if an organization does what it claims to fund raise for. However, in the end, it’s between you and GOD.

I HAVE SO MUCH RESPECT FOR PEOPLE WHO ADOPT CHILDREN, ORPHANS. I selfishly tear with joy when I hear their stories. I have been dying to share some of the stories, and I am so honored and grateful that they graciously gave me the permission to write about them.

ONE OF THEM IS THE REEDS. I met them about 5 years ago, and they had already adopted 7 kids then, ranging from 9 to 15. They are currently in the process of finalizing the process of adopting 4 more, to make it 12, ranging from 4 to 20. I remember when I first heard some of their children’s stories when they were first adopted. Some would hide food under the bed, afraid of it being taken away.

I immediately pictured the dialogue between these wonderful parents and their children, assuring them that all their hard work is for them, that all the food in the house is theirs and that they are there to stay and be loved all their lives. During the visit when I first met them, I excused myself to go to my room to cry and thank God who placed my little brothers and sisters in the hands of the most amazing parents: SCOTT & DEBBIE REED. They are incredible. God only knows how much I love this family!

WITH THE TUMEYS, 2013.

WITH THE TUMEYS, 2013.

I AM ALSO HONORED TO WRITE ABOUT THE TUMEYS. I met them about 3 years ago through mutual friends. As of this writing, they had already adopted 5 children in addition to their biological 5. You can call them daring, I call them brave, amazing, selfless, loving. Through the eyes of these children, you can clearly see God.

Without their obedience and brevity, those 5 children might have died in the Ethiopian orphanages. I praise God, for the compassion He bestowed upon ROBERT & MAUREEN TUMEY. I always pray for patience, strength and grace upon all those who are moved with compassion to extend love to those who have no one to love them. Blessings will follow them all their lives.

THE BIBLE HAS ALREADY GIVEN US A SNEAK PEEK INTO WHAT GOD HAS FOR ALL THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO DO GOOD IN THE NAME OF LOVE!

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to meMathew 25: 31-40

Be encouraged, and eager to help. It will be returned to you, in abundance!