A Week To Remember

Accelerate Fellows 2015.2016

I am a simple woman.

I love Jesus.
I love young leaders.
I love my church.
I love watching people become more of who they are meant to be.

Over the past few years I have prayed and dreamed and brainstormed about ways to bring all of these wonderful things into the same place at the same time.  I wanted my people from one continent to spend time with my people on another continent.  I wanted to share some of the wisdom and insight that helped shape who I have become with the amazing young adults I work with daily.  I wanted a big huge love fest where Jesus was the star and smart entrepreneuers and leaders were practically empowered with real world skills–while also having a better understanding of their own gifts and worth.

And if I am honest, I also wanted a dance party.  A legit dance party.

Well this past week at the First Annual Accelerate Summit–I got every one of these things and so much more.  Seriously guys.  Six amazing folks came from Oregon to teach, mentor and encourage young entrepreneurs. More than that, they came with hearts open to listen, witness and empower each individual that they met. They interacted and learned from local business leaders and our entreprenuers.  They were endlessly flexible and open to what ever the moment brought.  They even made time to throw in a few extra trainings for New Life Church Bugesera.  They brought it.

All week long, I got to share my heart’s love with people I love from around the world. And it was amazing.  It was priceless.  It was extravagant. Every day I was almost always on the verge of dancing and singing and crying and praising.

And it ended with a dance party.  Of course, I was too exhausted to dance but it was perfect anyway. To say I am thankful for my River West family, my These Numbers Have Faces staff both in the US and Rwanda, all of my prayer people and of course, our students would be the understatement of the year.

I am shattered. I am overwhelmed.  I am in awe that my God would care so much to create a perfect week.  And I can’t wait to til next year!

Can I Get a What What?!

Mama and me

Remember your high school or college graduation?  The bliss of finally being done with school but that complete terror of wondering what is next.  This year seven of our students graduated university and this is that week in their life. University of Rwanda has ceremonies all week for each of the schools.

A few of them have told me that they do not want to attend their graduation ceremony for various reasons and with each, I have said “No. You must go!”  I have explained more than once that from here forward life is full of a rush of events and very rarely do you get a chance to stand fully in one place and recognize years of accomplishment in one cap and gown moment.  It is one of the purest moments of acknowledged and celebrated achievement.  For our students, that accomplishment is even more profound.  Many of them are the first to attend university in their family.  Many people have sacrificed to get them to this point and many of them have already accomplished brave feats just by keeping their butts in school somehow.  This is a day for entire families and communities to celebrate and I do not want a single one of my students to miss this moment in life.

That being said, the conversations got me thinking.  Truly, I cannot think of many moments in my life where I felt as completely celebrated as my college graduation.  It was ridiculous really.  Yale does days of events and ceremonies and parties.  I had lots of family fly to be there on my special day and we had perfect lobster at my graduation dinner!  I was fully feted.

As I have gotten older, I can’t recall many moments like that–where I worked hard, accomplished a goal and stopped to party afterwards. Most of the time I find myself rushing forward in a frenzy to accomplish something more, to move to the next thing or passed out in a coma because I pushed too hard.  The constant tale of the overachiever.

But, this week, it dawned on me.  That is just dumb.  It shouldn’t be that way.  I was telling my students that this is one of the biggest days of their life (and it is!) but if they live a little differently than I have, their lives could be full of graduation day grandiosity.  Because life is hard enough, so we should celebrate as much as possible. (Yes, I am aware that many country western songs have been declaring this for years…)  We should pause and acknowledge accomplishment regularly and thank God for making the way forward. We should celebrate each other.  We should appreciate each little moment.  I see that here in Rwanda but am not good at application.

So here goes.  Here are just a few things that I think deserve a horn toot or a high-five in my life:

  • By God’s complete grace, we moved into a new, bigger, better location and we are already seeing fruit from the potential of sufficient space!  The price is so great and it is exactly what we needed in a crazy real estate market.
  • I’ve hired 3 people over the last year and their skills are growing at an amazing rate.  More importantly, throughout today we have been able to care for one another, encourage one another and laugh from our bellies–all while getting work done also.  I am so proud of this team and so thankful to be in this work together.
  • This year we have hosted far more visitors than ever before and I think most people see what i do–the amazing potential in these young leaders and now they partner with us even more to provide more opportunities. I have been able to help connect people from different cultures and everyone has been richer for it.
  • I was able to get visas for 3 students–including a refugee–to go to internships in the states.  It was a lot of blood, sweat, prayer and tears but I now I proudly look at the amazing opportunities for our students to learn and bring back new skills to Rwanda.  It’s really an honor to invest that kind of effort into someone else’s potential.
  • Students have graduated!  Ours students have graduated!  Hallelujah!!
  • And over the last two months I have snuggled babies, hugged friends too long, whatsapped late into the night, hung with my sweet parents, visited 5 US states, cried with old friends, recovered from the worst flu of my life and instagrammed a crapload.  Life is rich. Life is full.  Life is too good.  And I am so very grateful.

And honestly, I could go on and on.  Yes, there is much more to do, but for this moment I bow my head in thanks and I celebrate a season of so many lovely moments and blessed gifts.

Now share with me some of the things that you have accomplished that we can celebrate together…

The World Changing Value of a Good Internship

Kamali

When he was seven, Kamali Muhire walked away from the violent conflict in his home of DRC Congo on foot. Along with his parents and 8 siblings, they walked over 150 miles to the safety of Rwanda’s border. Once there, they were placed in Gihembe Refugee Camp. For 18 years the family of 11 have lived in a tiny 2 room home constructed with mud and wood and do not have electricity or running water. Food is scarce and opportunity is rare.  No refugee camp is made for long-term habitation so the conditions are bleak but parts of Congo still remain unsafe today for many.  So they remain.

But if you met Kamali outside of the refugee camp, you would never suspect his family’s history.  He is bright, engaging, hard working and hopeful for the future. He is studying finance and his reports are full of A’s and B’s.  He adores his family and literally gushes when he talks about how beautiful his mother is and beams with pride when he talks about how intelligent his smaller siblings are. He loves football (soccer) and can talk about the game all day.

Kamali has such great potential and at These Numbers Have Faces we do everything we can to help invest in his success. Although Kamali is an exceptional young man, finding a job after he graduates this year will be a big challenge. In Rwanda, unemployment is high–so even simple jobs often have 500-1000 applicants. Kamali is a refugee in a small country and that means that cultural biases will work against him. His parents were farmers when they fled their home—so they have no family network that can help him connect with future employers or mentors. To overcome these barriers, Kamali’s resume needs to be stellar. He needs practical experience that can set him above his peers.

So when he learned that he had been accepted for a summer internship at Delap CPA, in Lake Oswego, his entire family celebrated. This opportunity will provide practical training that will dramatically grow Kamali’s skillset and will open up doors thay may have been previously closed.  The opportunity to live in the US for the summer will also provide all kinds of new cultural opportunities. In fact, the opportunities have already begun for Kamali. Remember your first solo roadtrip or adventure? Well Kamali got the chance to return to Congo for the first time since his childhood to get his passport. It was quite the adventure full of opportunities to negotiate the world and grow his confidence. And he hasn’t even set foot in the Delap CPA office yet! Everyone in his family is a faithful follower of Christ and when I asked them how we could pray for their family, Kamali’s father said, “there is nothing to pray for because my son is already so blessed–God has answered our prayers already.”

An internship like this will help Kamali become the first university graduate in his family and help him find a job that will provide a way to leave a life of poverty.  That is a whole lot of impact from one internship.  We are so thankful to Jared Siegel and all the folks at Delap CPA for making this possible and helping provide one young man the opportunity of his lifetime.

Help Get Me Off Motos

I have lived in Rwanda almost 2 years and during that time I have mostly gotten around on motorcycle taxis.  As you can see from this video, that can be a scary business. During rush hour it’s pretty dangerous and I definitely have been dropped a few times off bikes. (Yes, that is plural.) Although infrequent, I have also had a few exciting brushes with mortality and when the rainy season hits, it’s like my wings are clipped–even I am not crazy enough to ride a moto when the roads are wet and muddy. And invariably when I do, I end up with rain puddles in my shoes. That means when the rain comes, I find myself going stir crazy at home or running out of supplies and eating pringles for dinner. I try to take buses but a 15 minute trip normally takes about an hour and with a growing ministry and small staff, I often don’t have the time to spare.

helmet

This is how most Rwandans live every day of their life, so I have kept pretty quiet, but the truth is living without transportation creates  a lot of additional stress in my world. Life here can be really challenging and inconvenient and this additional difficulty is honestly taking a toll on me.  Until now I have been praying and hoping that somehow the funds would just appear, but it finally dawned on me that I should ask the folks that have been praying for my safety and success to help meet this need.  A few folks have donated already and we have some money saved, so we are heading the right direction but cars are expensive here.  So, I’m asing my friends and family to also pitch in.  Of course all donations are tax deductible  and if you ever come to Rwanda, I promise you a lovely ride through the city!

But please consider helping get me off motos!

#147notjustanumber

Jeff, A Student Killed in Garissa in 2015Elizabeth, A Student Killed in Garissa in 2015Isaac, A Student Killed in Garissa in 2015

MORE THAN A NUMBER, MORE THAN A SINGLE STORY

It’s raining outside my window and Kigali is quiet. Today is the official beginning of the memorial period in Rwanda. Twenty-one years ago the violence that would make this small east African country famous began its brutal tide.

This is often hard for me to believe. Rwanda is so full of vision, action for change and hope—that I literally cannot imagine the roads I walk full of men with machete’s and crude weapons. I have read so much on the topic, and yet it is hard for me to comprehend a place that I have come to love—a people that I have come to love—either fearing for life or poisoned with hate, intent on destruction.

Africa is a diverse continent filled with many stories—not just poverty and war, as is so often the story told. I cringe when people portray Africans as helpless and pity worthy or as a single community marked only by violence, corruption or AIDS. That perspective minimizes a continent of 1.1 billion people with so many different stories.   If you follow me on instagram, I spend much of my time sharing stories of the diversity, strength and brilliance of the Rwandan, Congolese, South African and Ugandan scholars that I know by name. I do this because I believe these are the true stories of a continent amidst powerful changes. I do this to open up perspectives and to help the world see some of the many possible stories of Africa.

BUT ONE OF THE STORIES

But there is violence also. There is corruption. There is grief in Cape Town, Congo, Garissa, Central African Republic.

Along with much of the world, I was horrified to see the terror in Garissa, Kenya earlier this week. Garissa is 930 miles away. I could drive there in one day. Working with university students, I kept seeing the faces of my students in the faces of the deceased.

While I was in Cape Town earlier this month, the aunt of one of my students was robbed in a township where some of our student’s live and stabbed in the process. They punctured her lung and within a week she had died. All for a purse that could not have contained that much inside.

I was recently speaking to a vibrant woman that runs a school in Congo. She told me she recently did a session with young women and when she asked, “How many of you have been raped?,” the girls responded that a better question was “How many times have you been raped?”

Clearly someone is leading people throughout the continent to violent acts. These are not isolated incidents.

THE POWER OF INFLUENCE

Leaders will lead. No matter what their title or role, natural leaders find a way to direct influence. It’s part of their DNA. It may be about where to store corn for the dry season or where to dig a well; it may be about opening a small stand that sells beans nearer to the road or it may be taking in an orphan—even if you don’t have the means to do so. Africa is full of leaders. There is no question about that.

The real questions are where will they lead? What will they lead? How will they lead? Looking through the lens of history—both in the western world and Africa—I think we can agree that humankind often chooses a dark road, violence tends to be the path of least resistance. It takes a truly gifted leader to lead nonviolent action. It takes a unique person to set aside her or his personal benefit for the greater good of their community. It takes patience and an ocean of hope to believe in positive change when everything you see around you tells you differently.

The truth is that good leadership is a skill. It must be taught but beyond even that, young leaders must be given opportunities to taste power: to feel the high, to recognize the challenges of representing people and to practice how to use their power. By nature, leaders will lead, but they won’t necessarily lead well. That takes investment, training and modeling. It takes time and relationship and intention.

Barring that kind of investment leaders will be exploited, corrupted or brainwashed.  People will be convinced to lead factions against one another, to pursue personal gain first and foremost and to shoot down a nation’s brightest young minds like animals.  If we don’t invest in teaching good leadership, bad leaders will find weak leaders and will use them for their own goals.

THESE NUMBERS HAVE FACES

When I consider those three stories, my western brain moves to solutions. I believe that better leadership is a solution, so I wonder how can I increase real leadership opportunities? We see potential in our young scholars and we aim to support their university educations and to develop the core traits of servant leadership. We provide myriad opportunities for them to lead, learn the habits of leaders of integrity and to become change-makers.

There is much we can (and aim to) do but then I ran across this page.  It highlights the names and faces of students from Garissa.  It uses the hastags #147notjustanumber and #ThayHaveNames. Of course, that makes me pause and consider our name: These Numbers Have Faces.  It’s a weird name but it speaks to something so powerful. Something true.  More than strategies and trainings, there is relationship. More than laptops and leadership libraries, there are words of encouragement and faith.   More than powerpoints and Ted Talks, there are moments to stand together.

TAKE A STAND TODAY
Today is one of those moments. Twenty-one years ago, I didn’t know where Rwanda was on a map and certainly did not care about the activities of the Hutus or Tutsi’s. Last month I had never set foot in a township in South Africa. Before last week, I had never heard of Garissa, Kenya.

Today, I stand alongside my friends from all three countries. I mourn with them. I pray for healing. Together we look forward to a hopeful future. But we cannot do it alone.

At These Numbers Have Faces, we have over 70 student leaders that need people to stand beside them. People to talk to. People to encourage them and people to witness the positive impact these young people are having in their communities. We have future doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, teachers, politicians, entrepreneurs, programmers, writers and accountants. Please consider standing with one of our students.   You don’t need to give financially, just agree to emotionally support one student. Shoot me a message and tell me what kind of student you would like to get to know—I know all of them and love playing match-maker!  I will introduce you and you can take it from there. You don’t need to “understand” Africa to be a voice of support, a voice of solidarity. Just be brave enough to stand up.

It probably feels like a tiny step in light of such real tragedies but partnership can be the most revolutionary act. It’s the main thing that I do day in and day out.  It can change our world for the better and is a powerful act of rebellion against the forces of evil.  That’s some pretty powerful impact for a couple emails and some facebook comments.

Take a stand for Garissa. For the townships. For Rwanda.  Get to know a scholar’s name. Get to know a future leader.  Move beyond the numbers.

Philippians 1:4-6New International Version (NIV)

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Creating Disciples + Creating Jobs

Here is a blog that I wrote in July for folks at River West Church. I thought I would add it here in case some of you missed it!

The Story Blog

BY TINA ANDERSON

I have worked in ministry for over 10 years: here at River West Church, in El Salvador, in Uganda and now in Rwanda and South Africa. Through the years, I kept finding myself connecting with young adults. I love their passion, their fearlessness and their desire to shake things up. I love talking about life and faith and Miley Cyrus. (To twerk or not to twerk, that is the question…)

While in Uganda, I got to pour a lot of love into students—from babies to high schoolers—and it was a true joy, but the limited options provided after high school became glaringly clear. Most African countries have alarmingly high unemployment rates and no student loans. So while I had been telling young people in Uganda to dream about who they wanted to become—the reality was that none of them could actually attend university to actually get there…

View original post 652 more words

2014, What a Great Year!

Thinking back on 2014, I am awash with gratitude and joy.  Simply put, 2014 was the best year I can remember.

  • It was full of time with friends and family.  I think I spent more than a month total with my parents!  I am so thankful to have parents that I love so much in my life! Got in some time with my brothers and co.  Got to hug friends and celebrate beautiful moments in California.  Even a summer NYC trip reconnected me with some of my dearest friends.  Oddly, I feel like I was able to connect more with people I love in 2014–even though I spent a large portion of the year in Africa.
  • I prayed through much of the year with an amazing crew of ladies.  Even though I am in and out of the country, I have a group a wonderful ladies that allow me to slip in and out of an amazing Bible study.  We go deep, challenge one another and pray deep.  The group has been a beautiful anchor everytime I come back from Africa and there support in so many ways has meant the world to me.  I’m hoping to join or start a similar study in Kigali for 2015.
  • I am blessed with lots of homes.  This year I was blessed with a wonderful new home in Kigali that is so wonderful and some great folks to share the space with.  I also found a great church in Kigali that feels like home.  And of course, Oregon is always home but I also got to spend time in Orange County, NYC and Uganda.  It was good to return to so many places that I love!
  • I friggin’ love my students.  Seriously, the students I work with in Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda are the most inspiring, hope-filled, hard working and overall fun group of people I have ever met.   To walk alongside them, cheer them on, plan parties for them, train them in business skills, counsel them and love them is the greatest gift I could ever ask for.  This year we almost doubled the number of students I have direct access to and added a lot more girls.  I am so excited to see what God does in each of their lives and I am honored to be an aunty to Africa’s brightest students!
  • I am living the dream.  I love what I do every day and God has been blessing our work in huge ways.  More people are getting involved and our ability to help more students is growing.  This year we are launching a entreprenuership program and adding even more students.  We are learning a lot and deepening the support that we provide to students and they are growing in skills, maturity and wisdom.  If you are considering a year end gift, please check out this inspiring video and consider giving to my work at These Numbers Have Faces.

Thanks to EVERYONE that has prayed, supported and loved me through the beautiful year. God has been good.  All signs point to 2015 being even more amazing!  Stay tuned!

Happy New Year!

What are you doing about Ebola?

Didier Diane in a treeKiiza and a buddy at school

“What are you doing about Ebola?” Someone brashly asked me that question last week and it made me pause. Although the closest Ebola case is a few thousand miles from me, a small piece of the continent I love has been ravaged by this new plague and I do have a role to play. Indeed, what am I doing about Ebola?

As I considered the question, I went through a few phases.

  • Panic. “NOTHING! That is what I am doing about Ebola. Absolutely nothing!!“
  • Passive. “Well, there is no Ebola here to do anything about. Folks in the US are far closer to Ebola cases then I am.”
  • Pitiful. I cried. A lot. For the stories of both resilience and loss.
  • Insightful. “Daily I invest in tomorrow’s leaders of Africa. Those that will face Ebola and what ever follows. Perhaps not today, but what I do is about empowering the bright young men and women of Africa to respond to the crises that come.”

And this is why what we do is vital. Twenty years ago, there was insufficient investment in the young leaders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. When crisis struck there were not enough trained doctors, nurses and leaders to properly address the need.  So a crisis became a catastrophe.

You see, it actually matters that millions of young adults lack investors in their potential to be change makers.   Not just to me and my do-gooder heart but to the global community. There are costs attached to a crisis like Ebola. If your smartest students, your hope for tomorrow, cannot afford to attend university and cannot get the quality training that they need, a crisis like Ebola will quickly stop you in your tracks. If your bright young minds are not taught how to lead with courage, compassion and character, they will not make the sacrifices needed to serve their countries.

Currently These Numbers Have Faces are supporting numerous doctors-to-be, pharmacists, engineers, teachers, and perhaps a future President or two. Today we are investing in tomorrow’s response to Ebola—or whatever is next.

That is what I am doing about Ebola.

Join me.

One Post = Two Months of Gratitude

Welcome Home

For the first time in my life I have not updated my blog for two months from sheer happiness—not procrastination, confusion or PMS—just straight up joy. And I am so thankful!

I arrived in Kigali two months ago and things started at full speed immediately. First things first, it was time to select new students. That sentence reads very easily but truly this was one of the toughest things I have ever done. There are SO MANY AMAZING young students in Rwanda who both deserve the opportunity to attend university and who Rwanda needs to lead her forward. It was brutal to try to decide the fate of one student compared to another. After much prayer, discussion and thought we finally settled on 11 new, wonderful students.

Next we planned a day outing to a local lake as a mini-retreat and opportunity for the old students to get to know the new. There was football, volleyball and even this amazing stick dance thing! 

 The students enjoyed the chance for a final summer fling and greatly appreciated a much deserved well done.

Next up, time to get all 37 of our students registered and starting school. Last year the government of Rwanda went through a consolidation process to have all of the public universities under one central institution: the University of Rwanda. For many reasons this is a really wise move and I really support it but let’s just say implementation was bumpy this year. So, Scovia and I had quite a full month of getting everyone enrolled.

Over the past two months, I have had countless opportunities to chat with students, hang out with friends and fall in love with Rwanda all the more. Every day I wake up and my first thoughts are wonder and gratitude that I get to spend another day investing in young leaders and building a program that truly holistically addresses the many facets of leadership. Even when water is out or power is out or the roof is leaking, I am still full of a sense of such joy. Truly I am living out my original design daily and it is the best gift ever. For those of you that have supported me thus far, I cannot express my deep, deep thanks for your partnership in living out this calling. Just know that your support is impacting so many lives—mine, my students, staff and partners! (If you are still interested in supporting me, I am still short by about $100 a month. Even a tiny monthly donation can make a big difference. You can invest in an aunty here.)

Now we are in October and focusing on partnership development, monthly trainings, Accelerate Academy and preparing for a small team in late October. The Director in me is excited to get into some vision development, strategic planning and big picture stuff and the promoter in me is so stoked to show off our students to visitors!

Thanks to all of you that have been praying for me—I am continually reminded of your love and truly I feel the power of your prayers. Many small miracles have happened over the last month. Here are just a few things we can thank God about:

  • From 5 to 11 New Students: Although I like to adventure through Africa, I am fiscally a conservative program manager and we all agreed that we needed to keep our growth at a conservative level this year. We established a budget based on adding only 5 new students to our Rwanda program. Yet, once Scovia and I met the students, we wanted far more than 5. Then old students started stopping by and randomly letting us know that for various reasons they would not need as much support as last year and hoped we could use the funds to support more students. Ultimately with the help of our students—who have so very little financially—we were able to add 11 new students. All of whom I could not imagine our program without!
  • These Numbers Have Faces Rocks: Seriously, we have seen such great growth and depth added to all of our programs over the last year! We recently got a big grant to continue to develop our entrepreneurship program. We have more amazing corporate sponsors partnering with us—really, big time partners. Folks are joining our Impact Circles and coming around a student to support them, encourage them and be inspired by them. It has just been an amazing year of blessing and I am so thankful for Justin, Shoshon, Taylor, Carolyn and Nick for ALL of their great work stateside.  And I would simply be lost without my partner in ministry and dear friend, Scovia.
  • Deeper Relationships: Any missionary or expat will tell you that splitting your life amongst multiple continents breeds a unique kind of loneliness. It’s hard to build real friendships when you are gone a lot of the time. It’s hard to overcome cultural differences. It’s just harder. It is. I try to just let God be my consistent friend and read a lot of books when I am lonely but this trip has been particularly full of moments of connection, laughter, kindness and a deepening of so many relationships. I am building a community here and oh what a difference it makes!
  • New Digs: When I first came to Rwanda, my friend Marie graciously opened up her apartment to me and I am still so thankful for a place I could call home immediately upon arrival. Yet, Marie eventually returned to the US to marry Cedric and things started going wrong in the apartment.  It was hella cheap, so I stuck with it but over the past two months I was pushed a bit too far. I decided to look around and see what was available. Almost immediately I found a small house on a beautiful and quiet compound, in a neighborhood that I love, with hot water, a washer, 3 plumeria trees and an avocado tree. All somehow within my price range. (Kigali is actually a really expensive real estate market—so the fact that I found anything within my budget is a miracle—let alone a place meeting all my heart’s desires.) I quickly found a great roommate and am now spending the exact same amount for a dreamy home. I would like to also note that I still have a spare bedroom just waiting for YOU (yes, you) to come visit.

I could go on for much longer, but those are a few wonderful answers to prayer that we can celebrate together! For those of you that like specific things to look forward to and pray for, here is that list.

  • New All Students: For many of our students the transition from secondary school to university is a huge challenge and as with all students, the new independence in life also means new responsibilities, which can be hard. Please pray for the health, peace-of-mind and success of each student. They have come so far! Pray that the LORD remains with them through this next journey. (And if you want to really get connected to what we are doing, join an Impact Circle for one of our students.   Invest in them, support them and encourage them. You can learn more here or email me and I will recommend a student for you!)
  • Accelerate Academy: The unemployment rate in Rwanda is really high. That means most Rwandans look for jobs but also want to have a side business that can help diversify their income. (Diversify! That’s how Africans do it!) Yet most entrepreneurship programs target older more experienced business people rather than tapping into the creativity and passion of university students. We have decided to do something about that! This summer we will be launching Accelerate Academy—an entrepreneurship program that focuses on university students. We are so excited to launch this program and help young entrepreneurs test the market and bring their ideas to reality. BUT this will take a lot of work, a lot of involvement from local and visiting business folks and investors. Please pray that God provides a smooth path for this program and that we can really help tomorrow’s business leaders have the ability and integrity to transform their economies from the inside out. Interested in helping launch this?  Email me or leave a comment below.
  • God-led Growth: Over the past 6 months, God has blessed These Numbers Have Faces with grants, sponsorships, interest and investment. We are super stoked to get more support to provide stability to our existing program and allow us to dream of new ways to help our students more or help even more students. That being said, fast growth can turn our eyes from God’s plan and towards our own views of “success.” It can also place pressure on our students, international staff and programs and that is the tension that I live in and really the heart of my job—supporting growth to help more but maintaining top quality programming. This requires far more wisdom and effort than I have on my own and requires a really unified team vision both here in Rwanda and in the US. Please pray that God bless our entire team with wisdom, creativity and mostly, unity, as we seek to have even more impact on more students in Rwanda and beyond.
  • The Internet: If you have lived in Africa, you will laugh at this request but Internet has been soooo slow and inconsistent for the last month that I want to pull my digital hair out. There is a new service that offers 4G Internet but they keep delaying the consumer rollout and we have no clue how much they will charge for it. This is very first world of me—but for me to do my job properly, I really do need somewhat consistent Internet. Please pray with me that the 4G is available soon or the 3G will start working again. Thanks from the bottom of my mzungu heart.

Well, this is a super long blog post. If you have made it this far—thanks for listening! To stay better in touch with what’s up with me, get Instragram on your smartphone. I am a very faithful instagrammer—almost always at least twice a day—which you can see on the blog or follow me at smartytee. It’s a good view into my work and life on a daily basis and they are some pretty happy photos–if I do say so myself.   (You can see why I am too full up to sit and write a blog post with so many lovely people and moments to distract me!)

I appreciate your love and support so much! I know there is a deep and wide team of people at home praying me through the days and months. Please do not hesitate to email me and let me know how I can pray for you. I love hearing from home and would be honored to pray for the journey that God has you on in your own world. I pray that each of you finds the joy that God has to offer when we follow his plan and walk with him in all we do.

“And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy.” Psalms 107:22

Invest In An Aunty

John

In one week I get on a plane and return to Rwanda.  I will be in Africa until early December.  I am so excited to return to KIgali and see all my dear friends there.  My time home has not been wasted and I have a box of donated books, some donated computers and even a bunch of dress shirts to share with our students.  I am excited to be the one to invite a few new students into our program, see what life is like in Rwanda when university starts up and really get the wheels rolling on The Accelerate Academy–our new initiative to train and empower entrepreneurs.  I will also get in some visits to Uganda and Cape Town to support our other programs.  It will be a full 4 months and I feel ready for it!

A big chunk of my time home has been about doing consulting work to raise money and raising personal support. Through the amazing generosity of friends, family and my church, my position is almost fully funded.  Almost. 

I want to take this opportunity to invite the rest of your to join me in this amazing work.  Truly when you partner with me in any capacity, you are joining a mission to change Africa from within.  You are standing up for amazing young people like Iranzi, Jean Paul and Scovia.  You are investing in leadership, health and a whole lot of “Aunty Tina” words of support, encouragment and love. 

I currently need to raise about $750 more a month.  Truly any amount will get me one step closer to keeping the lights on and being able to stay better focused on the students.   A monthly gift of $10 might not make a dent in your budget but will provide funding for me to buy a young woman coffee and talk about the challenges of university life, dream about her future and help her take one step further in her journey.  If you gave $50 monthly that would allow me to pay for the cost of internet that provides blog updates and instagram fun.  Monthly support of $100 might help me host a regular Bible study where young women can come together, share challenges and support one another.  Trust me, every dollar sent is used to serve the young adults that I love so dearly. And every conversation is intended to share a drop or two of the love that Jesus has poured into my life, into theirs.  

And also, I find really cool little gifts for all my supporters. So it’s like investing in a future cool little gifty from Africa.

If you have called me Aunty or Tia or allowed me to mentor you in anyway, please consider giving. If you have mentored me, consider continuing that investment.
If you just want to stop hearing me request support, help me meet my need, so I can share inspiring stores, awkward moments and lovely images instead. 

Please invest in an Aunty today! 

(Yep, evey dollar is tax deductible!  You can give online via the link above or send checks to: These Numbers Have Faces; 537 SE Ash St #204; Portland, OR 97214. Just write “Tina Anderson” on the memo line.)