The Art of Trust: Our Assurance!

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.Jeremiah 17:7-8

Sometimes, when I share my experience during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi and its aftermath, my audience often asks me what I struggled the most with after the loss I endured. I have talked about the pain of watching my siblings especially my youngest sister Mireille who doesn’t recall much about our childhood or our loved ones we lost during the genocide against the minority Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda. This truly breaks my heart. I also talk about how God enabled me to forgive my family members’ killers. However, there is something else I don’t say often.

Trust2

Trusting people does not come to me easily. As I talk more about my personal life, my failures and fears, although I must admit that it has been both challenging and thrilling, it has certainly helped me with healing and forgiving. I am very thankful for another chance I have been given to life and the great opportunity to be able to share my story with all kinds of people. It may help someone. However, I still struggle to trust people.

It’s still painful to grasp that neighbors who spoke the same language, whose children we attended the same school and played together, worshiped at the same mass every Sunday, would murder their fellow neighbors, people who meant the world to me. It hurts so badly to feel abandoned by relatives when you’re young and need them the most. It changes everything when love is taken away from you at a very young age and people who should care don’t feel empathy toward your horrifying circumstances.

It absolutely hurts when a friend you trust so much lets you down or people you rely on are not there when you need them the most. It is disappointing when you share a personal struggle with someone but they don’t take it seriously. It hurts when you have expectations for certain people and trust them but they turn their back on you when you need them. It is heartbreaking when a religious leader you look up to turns out to be your worst nightmare.The list goes on..

trust

The truth is that, people will probably let you down. Unfortunately some people change and we often make wrong choices. We are human beings and the devil takes advantage of our weaknesses. But also, Timothy explains what is to come:

“But understand this, that in the last days, there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Nonetheless, you’re not meant to place your trust in your friends; there is not a single person in this world who is perfect. On the contrary, you are called to love everyone unconditionally and put your TRUST in GOD alone. He is the only one who will NOT: disappoint you, let you down, turn his back on you, forget about you, leave you as orphan, irritate you, or delay.

You can trust that God understands your pain better than anyone else and that He will come to your rescue. Even though people may not be there for you, God will never let you down! You can trust Him fully and fix your eyes on Him! When you feel all alone and disappointed, remember that you are not into this alone. You can trust God with all your life!

Although it is a great weakness of mine to open up and trust easily, God Has been patient with me. He Has enabled me to trust Him completely first and foremost, and to forgive when people I am able to trust let me down. His Grace has also been overflowing through seeking forgiveness when I am not there for those who need me the most. Thank God for His wonderful promises we have been given:

Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” Isaiah 49: 15-16

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” Psalm 125:1

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”. Isaiah 43: 2-3

Grief is NOT Cowardice, Forgiveness is NOT Being Defeated: APRIL 1994

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13-14 (ESV)

Dear Father GOD in heaven, thank you for accepting me for who I am. Since no creature is hidden from your sight, this is the truth in my heart: APRIL reminds me of the terror that engulfed my beautiful country, the shameful death my loved ones died 21 year ago: April 7 (Marie Claudine, age 11), April 17 (Dad, 43), April 24 (Mama, 40 & Jean Felix, age 15). This month brings back horrific memories to relive nightmares that filled the emptiness followed their departure from this world.

I often wonder why they were gone so soon and how could anyone harm them!! I tearfully wish they lived to see and be proud of who I am today. I truly hate when doctors here ask me about my parents medical history or how they died; what am I supposed to say? It’s hard to let go of the fact that my parents weren’t there to see their youngest son Eric getting married last December. When I am struggling, I miss Papa’s voice telling me that everything will be okay.

My Dear Parents!

Mama (photo taken in 1976; she was 22) and Papa (1985: he was 34)

Dear Lord, it’s not easy to accept that their grandkids and later generations will only meet them in my pages. My heart wanders each time I need someone to remind me of things from my childhood. I can’t help but wondering how my parents would have loved to see my place, meet my friends, see my new car, and hear about my job and stories of places I travel to on business. Father, I think that they’d have been proud. I am so sure of this!

Jesus, I very well know that where my loved ones are in your heaven, they’re no longer worried or suffering!

Will You please tell them that Miette, Alice, Eric and I miss them so deeply and love them very much!! Will You delegate your angels to narrate to them everything You had done for us for the past 21 years? Will You please assure Mama that You have been everything we ever need, that Your richness in us surpasses all our understanding? Will You tell Papa how your Protection keeps us safe, Your Love is our shield, Your Glory our success, Your grace our happiness?

Will You tell them that You have been our Provider, Defender and a shoulder to cry when we miss them? As I wrote last year this time that You and I would take care of their son’s wedding, will You please tell them for me that everything was perfect because You were our Guest of Honor? You are able to explain it better than I could ever do.

Father, will You again read the below TRIBUTE I wrote last year to Mama, Papa, Marie Claudine and Jean Felix? Thank you so much for putting an end to their pain and suffering of this life, and for making them dwell in your heaven and resting them in your eternal peace! And thank you for enabling me to honestly forgive their killers! You alone can make broken lives beautiful!

A Tribute to my Loved Ones on the 20th anniversary (2014)

In A Garden of Fame Where Their Treasured Memories Grow Fonder: Two Decades Later!

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24

Expatriate Moments of Brevity: Life Abroad!

When you relocate to a new country, there are many inevitable awkward moments you run into, whether you’re extremely cautious or simply go with the flow. I’m not even talking about the food where it is apparently normal to add sugar to baked beans or meat, or eat jello with turkey.

It’s not about eating raw fish or crunchy little lifeless animals from the water! And I won’t go into details about a story of someone I know who yanked treats from kids as they rang the door bell for tricks or treats on Halloween. This new comer thought kids were handing out candies!

In the fall of 2006, I said goodbye to my dearest siblings and many friends who gathered at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda to send me off halfway across the globe. I was very excited about the opportunity to continue my studies and experience a new culture. My next stop? United States. The next paragraphs are my observations and experience!

With my bro and sisters on my brother’s Rwandan Traditional Wedding Day!

  • Comparison & Conversion

When you arrive in a new country for the first time, in order to adjust, you start first by comparing everything around you to what you were used to in your home country. You compare buildings, cars, people, dress fashions, you name it.

When you make a trip to the store to buy milk and realize that it’s sold in gallons, yes a gallon (what is that?), for $3.21, you immediately convert it in your own currency to see how much that would be, for example, in Rwandan Francs. Oh, before you figure this out, you first wonder what is a gallon compared to liters etc. Then you do the math to make a decision if your purchase is ideal.

In my very first effort to get my hair done when I arrived in the US, two friends (white and Asian) took me to the best place they knew. The stylist lady who was either white or Latina (definitely not black) assured me that she knew well how to work with black hair. I was ecstatic! The whole process lasted about 30 min. I was very impressed because it normally takes no less than an hour in Rwanda.

To my dismay, not only did my hairdo look as if they didn’t do anything to the hair, but it also cost me around $80. The hairstyle I was looking to get would normally have cost me around $10 in Rwanda. That was the last time I tried…well, until an African friend took me to an African beauty salon where someone finally knew what she was doing!

  • Translation

Oh, yes! You definitely think in Kinyarwanda at first (or whichever your native language is) and translate into English before responding to someone who just asked you what courses you are taking or your major at RIT or how long you have been in the country or simply what you do for a living.

Researchers say that you will know that you are comfortable in a new language when you no longer need to translate in your head from your native language to your new one before you speak or answer a question. Caution: At some point, you may become too comfortable in your new language that you might need to translate back into your native language before you talk; isn’t that funny but true?

Few months ago at my brother’s wedding, I vowed to myself that I’d make an effort to use Kinyarwanda only during my 5 minutes speech. Howbeit, in front of our honored hundreds of guests, as I searched in despair how to say “on behalf of” in Kinyarwanda, I feigned a smile as I apologized to the audience because I had no other word to replace it in order to complete my phrase. I indeed felt betrayed by the language I have spoken my whole life 😦

  • Moments of Boldness

As funny as this may sound, it is a moment of truth! Most likely, casual, humorous conversations and jokes will be different in your home country from your new home. For example, in Rwanda, weight issues are not only an icebreaker to start common daily conversation but also a way to let people know that you pay attention to their size.

People are not afraid to remind you that you’re fat and that you should probably start exercising. This is not a private conversation. It’s in the open for everyone around you to hear. Or perhaps that you are too thin and someone fears you may not have enough food in your home.

A woman carrying a sac on her head!

So, take a person from that context and into the United States. Also note that the only English words this brave person knows how to say related to weight is skinny and fat. Well, you can connect the dots. This creates an awkward moment when you tell someone in the US, especially women, that they are fat (they didn’t just “put on a few extra pounds” because you probably have never heard of such an expression).

I think that the cultural influence, in addition to the language barrier, may bring embarrassing moments for newcomers!

I am normally very careful in what I say to people because I am afraid to hurt their feelings, but once a dear friend poured her feelings out to me and some friends. I went on to tell her it was a first world problem. YEP! I sure did! Back then, it seemed like an innocent comment to go along with our fun conversation. Now I know that it was not the case.

Oh! Did I also mention that I once told a friend I had known for a few years that it was probably about time he started thinking about growing up, because after all, it was a new year and his sense of humor wasn’t amusing anymore! Who in the right mind says that? Fortunately, this gentleman found it funny and laughed about it! A word of advice: DON’T DO IT!

      • Weird obsessions

When you move to another country, at first you tend to stick to what looks familiar. For example, when you spot at the grocery store the powdered milk NIDO used a lot in Africa for tea, you want to jump with excitement for all shoppers to know that you have found a hidden gem in your new home. Similarly, when you go back to visit your country, everything looks so amazing that you want to snap photos of women carrying baskets on their heads or babies on their backs, in the streets, or just a typical traffic jam in the city.

You cherish everything that keeps you close to things you grew up seeing. You want to take everything back with you when you return to your new home…food, clothes, traditional decorations, everything. Likewise, if you could take everything you started liking in your new home on the trip with you, you would just do it. In the end, sometimes people will notice some obsessions that seem all too unfamiliar to both cultures.

You see the first picture with my siblings where my sisters and I are wearing Rwandan women traditional outfits? Those outfits have been around for ages. They’re basically worn by women on special occasions in Rwanda. Married women can own and wear them anytime (for parties etc.) but single women mostly rent them for special occasions.

Now, I am not entirely sure why I am beyond excited to own not one, but two of those, for myself, which are the gifts my brother and his wife gave to me on their wedding day. I cannot wait to wrap one of them around me and walk in it. And why am I obsessed with this? I have no clue!

Speaking of obsessions. I love everything about this photo. Why? Every detail in the background!

      • Where are you from?

This one will probably follow you always especially if you move to a new country at an older age. Your accent will always be such a giveaway. As soon as you open your mouth, at least in the United States, people are eager to ask where you’re from. Some people are funny enough to conclude that every black person with an accent must definitely be from Jamaica, and that’s probably one of the states of Africa, because after all, Africa is one country with many states just like Unites States.

      • Challenges on both ends

As harsh as it sounds, when you go back and forth between the two cultures, you will definitely realize that you blend in neither culture. You just choose what to adapt to and what to ignore. For example, time is very important in western countries, while it doesn’t mean anything in Africa at least. When in Africa, I often find myself annoyed by people who are late for meetings, especially when they don’t call to let me know that something came up.

When that happens, people around me wonder if I just fell from another planet because being late is normal in Rwanda. Similarly, as much as I try very hard, after several years, I still struggle to find the food that I like or adjust to the cold/hot weather in the US. Rwanda is a tropical country and the weather is close to perfection: (high 50s – low 90s) all year around.

      • Language butchering

In a country that speaks a different language than yours, you will realize that when you don’t pronounce their language the same way, you may be asked to repeat. Shortly after I arrived in the United States for the first time, I asked someone a question that had “learning” in it but they definitely heard “running“. Only then I realized that, “R” is pronounced differently from “L” in English while in Kinyarwanda they are identical.

Downtown Kigali in the distance on the hilltop!

Downtown Kigali in the distance on the hilltop!

      • Lagging behind

If you visit your home country, no matter how often you do that, you will realize that you live in the past (or at least the last time you were there). You will be amazed by how much everything has changed: new fashions, buildings, roads, sayings, new obsessions. Even if little has changed, it’s a big deal to you how everything looks. The excitement may plunge you into long explanations, only to realize that you sound like you are speaking a foreign language to your own people.

Believe me! Your efforts to describe that new beautiful tall building they just built where the bus station used to be won’t seize the moment for those who have seen the building under construction the year before. The breathtaking view from the hill where you can see most of the downtown Kigali at night with its beautiful lights? It’s just in your head, no one else finds it that stunning! It’s just life, you go into a series of emotions, whether young or older.

      • Embracing the new culture

This is very important and the final phase in the process of adjusting to the new culture and definitely a big deal if you want to enjoy your expatriate life. Some people tend to stick only around the community of people from their home countries. This one may render you bitter toward the new culture when you’re faced with a situation outside your community.

I once met a man from Rwanda who had been living in the US for 12 years at the time, but this man couldn’t speak English for a whole minute, literally. I was heartbroken! Take time to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Be patient, humble and respectful. Explore, learn, master the language, and adapt to the culture. This will definitely make your life easier.

How about you? What has been your experience in a foreign country?

God is Exalted: My Blogging Experience So Far!

When I started this blog back in July 2012, unlike most bloggers and writers I know, I honestly didn’t have a goal in mind that I wanted to achieve with it; for instance, reaching a specific type of demography, audience, how many people per month/year, or what type of posts to focus on, not to mention that English is not my 1st or 2nd language, can’t you tell ;).

Back then, I didn’t know how to work on a website, leave alone writing a blog that people would be interested in visiting and reading. I didn’t really have an exciting adventure to share with the world. I didn’t just move to a new country or enter a new era such as motherhood, a new career or discover a hidden talent. I was not a blossoming writer who was embarking on this journey with skills to enlighten people’s ears, hearts and minds.

Thankfully none of my friends asked me what I wanted to achieve through this blog. I honestly wouldn’t have had an answer to that. I mean, who else starts something without short/long term goals in mind? Anyway, now you know who I am, a blogger without blogging goals. Well, may be not so fast. There is one important thing that I haven’t noted here yet, it can may be help you judge then?

Part 1: Most visitors on this blog are located in United States, then Rwanda, India and so on.

Part 1: Most visitors on this blog are located in United States, then Rwanda, India and so on.

As a genocide against the Tutsi survivor and orphan by definition, God Has done so much in my life that I was feeling selfish to keep it to myself. If I started writing one by one, it will not be just one book, but multiple. Because God is great in me, that’s why I started this blog. If you look close, I have no talents! The credit goes to GOD.

I hope that this is convincing enough to you; I am very grateful for your time reading this. Oh by the way, although I must say that I have been learning a lot about blogging since 2012, I am still a work in progress. My full time job? I am an engineer, hopefully that explains it, or may be not.

What the above stats mean, it’s not about numbers; absolutely not. It’s a prayer to each and everyone who reads this blog that they will learn and/or be encouraged by the God who changed my life for good. I am so thankful to all my readers in the listed and unlisted countries.

Part 2: Continuation from Part 1

Part 2: Continuation from Part 1

My prayer today is that God who has been amazing to me in Rwanda, United States and other places, that He will build his kingdom wherever you are as you read this, win all the nations back to him and that his name will be lifted high.

Am I allowed to have favorites since I am the one who wrote these articles? May be! I love every post I have shared but here are the top 10 among my readers (statistics) and myself. Click on any of these below to read details and you will understand the reason I blog:

  1. In A Garden of Fame Where Their Treasured Memories Grow Fonder
  2. “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” — Maya Angelou
  3. Inconceivable Heroism Amid Horror
  4. Rising From Ashes: Beyond Broken Memories!
  5. Is it Always Possible to Forgive? This is how I understand it!
  6. Hope
  7. God is not “Fair”, He is JUST!
  8. The Truth Behind My Smile
  9. It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa
  10. My Soul Magnifies the Lord: Now & Always!

God bless you,

Alphonsine

My Soul Magnifies the Lord: Now & Always!

For He Who is Mighty Has done great things for me, and Holy is His name.” Luke 1:49

Is it just me or 2014 flew by? I cannot believe that in just few hours 2014 will be in the past! Reflecting back, this year has been an amazing year for me personally for several reasons that I cannot be able to mention here all. I got to celebrate a lot of life achievements for my siblings that I call my children, among other things. I will share a few of them; as you read it, would you please praise God with me?

It has been indeed twenty years since we lost our parents and two of my siblings during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi but God Has been everything for us. He is our Father, Provider, Comforter, and everything we ever need! Overwhelmed by His love and Mercy, I can humbly quote what Hannah prayed to God after her barren womb was healed and she bore a son, Samuel:

My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord.                                                                                 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.” 1 Sam 8: 1, 8

In 2014

  • My children and I managed to take a rare vacation for just 4 of us. Flying in from different corners of the world, we were able to enjoy our time together. Saying that it was the best week of my life would be an understatement!
Alphonsine, Alice, Mireille  & Eric. March 2014

Me, Alice, Mireille & Eric. March 2014

  • My little sister Alice who has been studying in India for two years graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a second Master’s Degree in International Relations. When I sent her to school there, she was required to get just one degree, but she surprised me with taking a second program in parallel. This is just her character: she is a hard worker. I am very proud of her accomplishment and I praise God for being with her all the way.
Alice on her Graduation Day!

Alice on her Graduation Day! May 2014

  • My brother’s fiancee, Redempta Ingabire, graduated with a Master’s Degree in Information Technology from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Kigali Campus. I’m a very proud sister in law!
My brother and his fiancee on her Graduation Day

My brother and his fiancee on her Graduation Day! July 2014

  • My adopted son, Gilbert Shyaka, graduated from the University of Rwanda with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology. Words cannot express my gratitude to God for everything He has done for this young man. To read his story, follow this link: A Story of Hope.
Gilbert on his graduation day.

Gilbert on his graduation day! August 2014

  • In November, my brother Eric completed his Master’s Degree in Information Science from Mount Kenya University. He’s currently waiting for the graduation day that will take place sometime next year.
  • My baby Mireille Noella (Miette), the youngest child of our family graduated from Kigali Independent University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. Privileged to have witnessed the ceremony, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and pride as she walked the stage.
Mireille on her Graduation Day!

Mireille on her Graduation Day! December 2014

  • My brother is now a grown up man. Him and his best friend Redempta tied the knot 11 days ago. I am privileged to have been there along with my Mom whom God placed in my life to be exactly a replacement of my Mother Colette I lost twenty years ago. I will never be able to thank God enough for His wonders.
My bro gets married!

My bro and his wife on their wedding day! December 2014

Mireille, Eric, Redempta, Alice, me and my Mom Glori

Mireille, Eric, Redempta, Alice, me and my Mom Glori. Dec 2014

I truly praise God for everything He has done for my family this year. The rest of my life is not enough to share about the work of His hands and live for His Glory! I look forward to 2015 with anticipation.

Happy New Year to you and all your loved ones.
God bless you,
Alphonsine

She Is A Princess! The world deserves to know!

If you have visited my blog more than once, I’m sure you have met my siblings that I honorably call my children. This is not by coincidence. Since after God spared my life during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi, He entrusted me with the 3 most amazing siblings on this planet. Although they were all less than 10 years old at the time, I cannot imagine my life differently. Even though I have never been young and never got a chance to be selfish, I don’t have a regret.

This year, 2014, marks 20 years since after we lost our parents and two siblings, and how long I have been raising my siblings: Eric, Alice and Mireille. If I had to start all over again, I would do it in a blink of an eye. These 3 are the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Every single moment and breath I take, I praise God for honoring me with such great and important responsibility: to love and be a mother to an incredible man and two beautiful women anyone can ever wish for in their lives. I call them my TREASURE! Just shortly after the genocide against the Tutsi ended, the day I learned that my 3 siblings had survived, too, was my first sunshine of hope to give me a reason to live for, thrive and strive in this life.

It was the best day of my life!

My Adorable Baby. Isn't she a beauty?

My Adorable Baby Mireille Noella. Isn’t she a beauty?

You may have read the article I wrote about my brother Eric “Inconceivable Heroism Amid Horror” and another post about my sister Alice “She is A Pure Beauty. And a woman of God“. However, this specific post is unique in its own way, because I get to talk about my youngest sister, our princess Mireille Noella. She is my baby and I don’t feel any different than if I had birthed her myself!! This is very true. During the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Mireille was only 3 years old. I certainly owe everything to my little brother Eric who, at 8, kept both Alice (6) and Mireille (3) safe, when it was a matter of life and death and everyone running for their own lives. He sure is my hero!

When I share my story, people often ask me what I struggled most with since after the loss of my parents. My audiences wonder if it has been forgiving those who killed my family members or raising my siblings. Surprisingly, it is neither. My greatest life challenge has been to slowly realize how much Mireille doesn’t have many memories about our parents or life before the genocide against the Tutsi. For 13 years that my life was a paradise with the most incredible parents that ever existed, my baby does not remember much about her portion.

It can range from simple things like our family childhood dog’s name. Or routine things like the fact that we used to pray together every night as a family. She absolutely doesn’t remember this at all. When I sing our Mom’s favorite Gospel songs that she always sang to us when we were little, it sounds made up to her. Instead, she randomly remembers things that none of us knows where she got it from.

Few treasured photos we have of our parents and two siblings we lost in 1994, my little sister is unable to connect those images to our childhood before the tragedy. She’s completely disconnected from memories I hold onto so dearly! It breaks my heart. This is the deepest wound that I will probably carry for the rest of my life.

I will never find words to express to my readers that can accurately describe how much it hurt when Mireille speculated her greatest wish in this life: to see our parents again so she can get to call them “Mommy and Daddy“. Undoubtedly, this is a precious part of her life that has been snatched from her before she could get to live it. No wonder why she didn’t really talk much until after high school. It’s very touching when she calls me MOM; it absolutely melts my heart.

Very Stylist and Chic. She can easily be a model!

Very Elegant. She can easily be a model!

Mireille and I are almost 10 years apart; for this reason, she will always be young in my eyes, and simply a PRINCESS. I already accepted the fact that I can never replace our parents’ empty spot in her heart, but I know one thing: I love her with all my heart, for the rest of my life. There is simply nothing she can ever need that I am able to provide. She’s not only the youngest of 5 siblings. I watched her growing from a malnourished 3 year old out of the orphanage where the government placed my 3 siblings after the genocide against the Tutsi ended, to the most beautiful woman she is today!

Absolutely gorgeous and a fashionista from head to toe that I often wonder how we are possibly related, she is smart, a hard worker, intelligent, creative, loves God and people, very funny, although she may appear to be shy sometime. She is also spoiled, not only by me who would give her this planet if it was mine, but also by Eric and Alice who love her endlessly.

I will probably never fully understand why my little sister had to grow up without parents, but there is one thing that sustains me: GOD Who has been our Father, Comforter, Redeemer, Provider and everything we ever need to this day. I owe to the Lord every good possession and health that my siblings and I have.

Mireille may have been deprived of her precious childhood and forced to grow up in a hurry, but today she is finishing up her college senior project to graduate this December with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. And there are so many opportunities that await her ahead. I know very well that she will do amazing things in life!

Even if I have children of my own in the future, Mireille will always remain my oldest child as long as I shall live! Her, Eric and Alice will never, EVER need anything within my capability. This is my standing PROMISE to my parents in heaven and Jesus who has them with him. The Holy Spirit bears me witness! Although it may sound unreasonable to say, I praise God who has allowed me to somehow remain single this long so that my siblings can enjoy my full attention, which I certainly have for them, undivided.

I love them beyond comprehension. Mireille will always be my baby and spoiled until God calls me home. When I will see my parents in another life, I will be eager to narrate everything to them!

My love for my 3 siblings is unconditional, all my days!!

“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

What if God’s Blessings Came Through Raindrops?

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Martin Luther King

Just like the rest of the world, as I still try to wrap my head around the tragedy that cost lives of 298 souls from different nationalities and backgrounds aboard the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 017 that crashed in Eastern Ukraine, honestly, it is a harsh reminder of how fragile and short life is, regardless of the cause of the tragedy. I pray for God’s comfort for all the victims’ family members, relatives and friends during this tough time! God alone is capable of consoling their broken hearts. Words cannot describe the degree of their loss!

Late last year, as I planned to visit one of the Asian countries, everything was on schedule: the round trip ticket has been purchased in advance and all the details were coming together, except one important detail. Everyone, of course minus its own citizens, needs a visa to visit this country that shall remain nameless. I have never seen unprofessional way of handling matters than the way the Embassy staff of this country processes things.

In fact, it just reminded me how some third world countries, including my own home country, we have a ridiculous way of thinking that when we make people crawl to their knees to beg us, it proves that we have power over them. You may check in at the hospital to find a receptionist talking on the phone, during business hours, about her nails and hair and whatnot, when there is a long line of patients that have been waiting for hours and sick. It’s disheartening!

Image Copyrights: © Blessings by Laura Story

So, long story short, my visa application was neither denied nor approved. After waiting for about 10 weeks with no response from the embassy, except that I simply had to wait, I decided to go there in person. To my surprise, the staff answered me exactly the same: “you have to wait”. Eventually, I decided to withdraw my application. Because my flight was only few days out, I didn’t see a need to leave my passport there anymore. I figured that I may need to change my travel plans. I sadly hard to cancel everything at the last minute.

I definitely had to allow myself enough time to accept that a trip that has been planned for a long time, leave alone the money that was spent, has been brought to a sudden dead end for no clear reason. But as I tried to comprehend it all and asking God why, I pondered on this:

What if there was a good reason behind this disappointment? What if there was danger or harm on the way, and God who can see everything was shielding me from it?”

I don’t know the answer to that and just like there are so many questions that may never be answered in this life, but the Sovereign God who is above our thoughts and plans, knows what is best for us and loves us so deeply. He would rather let us cry than allowing us to venture into plans that He is not part of. Personally, as much as it hurts to not get things the way I want them, I would rather choose for God to have His way in my life! Because His ways and plans are flawless!

For passengers who missed the Malaysian flight 17 earlier this week, we can only imagine the extent of gratitude that they have now & for the rest of their lives, to whatever cause that hindered their way to catch this flight: rides to the airport, bumped to the next flight, financial difficulties, bad timing, sickness, road constructions, or visa application delays, you name it!

If it was possible for me to peek through the tears of my broken heart and be made aware of why my trip was unsuccessful, and perhaps find out that possibly something like a plane crash was what caused my trip cancellation, I wouldn’t even have hesitated for a second. I would have made every effort perhaps to meet every single staff at this embassy and thank them for whatever reason that caused the delay in processing my visa application.  And I am sure you would have felt the same way, no doubt about that!

© Blessings by Laura Story

Image Copyrights: © Blessings by Laura Story

If you could look at all your life plans today, how are you and I handling those that aren’t just working out the way we had hoped? It’s fair to be frustrated but do you ever wonder if there may be a good a reason behind everything? What if that job/promotion you didn’t get or that man/woman you didn’t end up with was going to be your worst nightmare?

What if that business plan or trip/vacation you tirelessly worked hard for but didn’t work out was going to end tragically? What if some of your dreams will not come true anytime soon for a specific good reason? What if some of your prayers aren’t answered yet for your best?

Take time and pause: be thankful to God for what you have today and for things that didn’t work out for your very own good.

Just like Laura Story sang, praying to God:

“What if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise!
What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise!”

****

What if your misfortune, trials , pain, disappointments only happened to you to bring God’s Glory? Would you still question God to ask him why this, why now, why me? If your prayer is like Jesus in Gethsemane: “Not my will, but yours be done God”, then fasten your seat belt and rest assured in the backseat that you are in good hands as long as God is the driver! You will be safe under His leadership and guidance!

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. John 16: 33

The Covenant of Love!

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54: 10

I absolutely adore these words and forever thank God for His unending love and amazing grace. In fact, the whole chapter 54 of the book of Isaiah is filled with God’s outstanding promises to His people. As some may think, God is not a burning fire or an angry dictator who records our wrongdoing that we have to work hard to gain his trust, mercy and approval!! In contrary, He is absolutely a tender Father, a matchless friend, Redeemer, Healer, Defender, Lord Almighty, the God of Love.

It’s no secret that I deeply love my three siblings that I call my children.  If you have visited this page more than once, I am sure you have met them through the pages of my articles. I often write about just their amazing lives that have changed mine forever, but today specifically I wanted to share what my little sister told me a while back when I shared with her yet another healing miracle in my life.

Sharing God's Wonders

Sharing about God’s Wonders to His people. June 2014

After being diagnosed with an illness that puzzled my doctors a while back, I surrendered my life to God and believed that everything happens for a reason. Because I was devastated beyond imagination, I shared this with only one friend who prayed unceasingly with me, and left it to God. Three years later, the final test results showed that doctors have been somehow wrong all along, that I have been misdiagnosed.

To say that I rejoiced to the news is simply an understatement! The rest of my life is not just long enough to live for and praise God Who has not only redeemed my heart and soul, but also cares about every detail of my body and well being.

After the test results, I could no longer keep it to myself. As I shared the best news ever with my little sister who knew nothing about this along with the rest of my siblings, she broke into tears and said to me:

“As I pray everyday, I call out to the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus and Alphonsine”.

Then it was my turn to weep, that someone, especially my little sister would look up to the God she has seen manifesting in my life, and put my name on an incredible list like this. THERE IS NO GREATER HONOR in this life! I often ponder on that ever since, especially when I feel down. She may have forgotten this, but it’s eternally knitted to my heart.

If you know me personally and don’t know that I have been obsessed with the song God I look to you for couple of years now, you still don’t know me well :).  If you see me with headsets listening to music, feel free to joke about it. Who listens to the same song over and over again for years??

So, as Jenn Johnson sings: “Hallelujah OUR God reigns, ….”, I tag along, ignoring my vocal cords that cannot simply put notes together even if my life depended on it and echo: “Hallelujah MY GOD (or Father or DAD) reigns, forever all my days Hallelujah”.

As I lift my hands up high in worship, I don’t care what people around me may think, if they do. I give the highest praises not just to the God in the Bible or a Pastor or someone else told me about. I humble myself and bow to the King of kings who calls me an oak of righteousness, a planting for His glory, He who bestows the crown of beauty for ashes, MY GOD and KING!

Re-posting one of my articles below:

Many many years apart. It looks like I haven't changed much!

1996 & 2013. Have I changed much?

I hope that you learn: to trust God on your own, enough to not doubt Him when someone who led you to Christ messes up or lets you down. To know God on your own that your happiness doesn’t revolve around what other people say or think about you. To completely depend on Him that when your church or fellow believers don’t turn out to be what they claim to be, you don’t become a victim. 
To trust God enough to know that when everything else falls apart, that His covenant of love and peace shall remain. To comprehend that there is a High Priest in Heaven whose name is love and has made an end to our shame, and that your name is engraved on his heart.
The song of every heart, the hope of every nation: God Who created the heavens and earth and everything in it, is My God, Father and Friend, all my days!

May you learn to trust Him on your own and be confident enough to call Him YOUR God and Father. Without further ado, head over to This Is Hope: God Is REAL. I hope and pray that you will be encouraged by the God who has simply captured my heart and won my attention, all my life!

Very Honored. Thank you!

I am very very touched and thankful to The Roofs of Kathmandu, for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  I’m not good at writing or blogging by any means; therefore, I am especially grateful that my posts would be recognized as inspiring!

blog-award

 

As per the rules of this award, I have to share 7 things about myself. So here it goes:

1. I am a female engineer and absolutely love the reset button that can reset devices to factory default on network devices. I sometime wish there was an easy quick reset button in the human body system 😀

2. I have no clue what to say to strangers I just met. I would rather sit quietly and make people around me wonder if I speak/understand English.

3. While most women I know enjoy a shopping spree, this one is not my hobby.

4. Some people think that I am funny but I am not sure where they get that from. On one occasion, I shared a soccer game joke to an audience of about 50 people and only 5 got it!

5. I don’t understand sarcasm at all and most of the time I don’t get jokes around here. Perhaps I need more time?

6. I have no talent whatsoever, nothing comes easily to me. In case you are wondering, I’m not good at writing either. I make things up as I go!

7. I absolutely can’t stand pages and pages of instructions. It’s definitely one of my pet peeves. I would rather dive into the process and skim through a few pages when I get stuck! Or eventually end up reading the whole thing because my few pages don’t add up :(. Why doesn’t every topic have only one page of instructions anyway???

The next thing that I’m asked to do to successfully accept this award, is to nominate 15 other amazing bloggers. However, I haven’t had a chance to find many bloggers to follow. So here is my list:

1. The Roofs of Kathmandu

2. 26 Letters – Countless Stories

3. Relationship Over Religion

4. 500 dresses

5. Your World View Defines You

6. Assertive Servants 

To participate, you must

1. Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. If you like, proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

If you’d rather not participate, that’s OK too. Just know you’re appreciated.