TGIF: The Miracle of Building a Well (And Feeling ALL THE THINGS)

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There are very few things I’m proud of.

1. I can make a perfectly cooked egg sunny side up, without popping the yolk.
2. I know all the words to Shania Twain’s song, “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”
(Yup. I see the irony there.)
3. I use self-deprecation as a strategic tool to make strangers feel welcome.
(Okay. It’s not really a “strategy”: it’s just an unhealthy pattern.)

But all that noise aside, I’m most proud of being part of the miracle of SheLoves–a global community of women who love.

Yes. I’m most proud of you guyyyys. You, and you, and even YOU (with the Cheerios on your face)!

SheLoves -1

I’m so grateful to be part of a family that says YES.

You say…

Yes to half-marathons for women in Gulu…
Yes to Christmas cards for the famine in East Africa…
Yes to “blue roses” for ID cards for women in Burundi…
Yes to love letters to your body…
Yes to Runs for Mercy…
Yes to food hampers for those invisible in our community…
Yes to gift cards for the girls in Mercy Ministries…
Yes to “I am From” stories…
Yes to always being women who love.

In February we asked if you could form “circles of grace” to build a well for our friends in Bubanza, Burundi as a Valentine’s Day project.

The goal was to raise $10,000.

If we could get 100 women to ask –> another 10 women to give –> $10 apiece then, –> we would reach our goal.

And yet again you said a big, fat Y-E-S.

“Who needs roses and chocolate if our friends can have water?” you said.
“$10 is like two grande lattes,” you said.
“Tell your butcher, your barber and your dry cleaner,” you said.

And being the overachievers that you are, you “asked”–i.e. waxed poetic/beatboxed/did the Macarena–until your friends showed you the money.

So, we blew straight past our target and raised… [drum roll] ….over $15,000!

Easy peasy.

This turned out to be a good God thing because we found out later that the water table at the site of the well was lower than we’d originally hoped. The extra money meant that we were able to build a solar-powered @#$%^!&% SUPERWELL!!!

Sometimes the stars align and you get to be a part of a miracle.

Back in May, I was able to fly to Burundi with some SheLoves lady-friends to dedicate our @#$%^!&% SUPERWELL!

I saw ALL. THE. THINGS.
I felt ALL. THE. THINGS.
And a part of me couldn’t wait to rush back to tell you ALL. THE. THINGS.

But I just didn’t know how to talk about ALL. THE. THINGS.

all the things

I become mute and a little cross-eyed when I’m standing too close to a miracle. It’s quite Biblical actually. (I “hear” you, Zechariah.)

It’s like what Madeleine L’Engle said about Ernest Hemingway in her book Walking on Water. Hemingway could only write about his life in Paris when he was back in America, and vice versa. He needed the distance and perspective to sort out his memories and feelings.

Sure, some writers can experience something life-changing and….
– instantly name ALL. THE. FEELINGS,
– make connections to The Past.
– draw parallels to The Now.
– prophesy about The Future.

[points finger accusingly at Sarah Bessey]

Well, that ain’t me y’all!

I need time to percolate. Like Hemingway, I need to sweep my kitchen, load the dishes, tweeze my eyebrows, scavenge leftovers and watch Modern Family reruns before I can begin to make any sense of it all.

Sometimes all the right words come flooding onto the page if I wait to tell the story. Other times, even after months of marinating, all I’ve got is “Whoooa dude! That was awesome.

It’s been 4 months,  and I’m still wedged somewhere between Hemingway and Whoooa dude! So I’ll share the next best thing: pictures! It’s only fair that you too should get the opportunity to go mute, cross-eyed and feel ALL.THE.THINGS for the miracle you made happen!

Here is a small sampling of our SheLoves adventures!

Bubanza TGIF 01
I nearly fell into a ditch trying to get this photograph. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.Bubanza TGIF 02
Idelette makes friends easily!Bubanza TGIF 03
Shoes? What shoes?Bubanza TGIF -15
Beating her makeshift drum as we make our way to the well! Also, sleeping baby. [squeal]Bubanza TGIF 05
And here is our solar-powered @#$%^!&% SheLoves SUPERWELL!!!Bubanza TGIF 06
Look at Idelette and I feeling ALL. THE. THINGS.Bubanza TGIF 07
Ahhhh. The earth’s sweet nectar. [slurp] Bubanza TGIF 08
Kelley is homies with practically EVERYBODY in Bubanza. She is also carrying my purse here because turns out I’m not coordinated enough to take pictures, avoid falling into ditches and carry my bag.Bubanza TGIF -16
Awww. Meanwhile these two angels make walking, talking and hugging simultaneously look so easy.Bubanza TGIF 09
If I could summarize our whole trip in one picture, it would be this one. It’s all about standing with.Bubanza TGIF 10

Being part of a tribe that says “Yes” is nothing short of a miracle. I sometimes forget this.

It’s like the Sarah McLachlan’s song:

“Don’t need to teach a seed to grow
It’s just another Ordinary Miracle today.”

Truth is, there is nothing “ordinary” about a global community that always says YES to standing with friends.

Thank God for good seed. And the wells that water it.

To see the full gallery of our trip to Africa: CLICK HERE.

Love you more than Toffee-Dimpled Peach Cake!
xoxo,
Teen

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis
  • I *did* fall in that hole and I have the scar to prove it. I kinda like that I get to carry a memory of that glorious day in my skin.

    I also love that we have these stunning pictures. Thank you, brilliant friend.

    I love how you tell the stories.

    I am so grateful to be part of this community of women who Love. You said it. And I am so thankful for how you say it … and how much you carry the heart of this community.

    (Apparently) I love you more than my bed right now. 🙂
    xoxo

    • O, friend! I didn’t see the actually falling… but I do remember the aftermath well. You are SUCH a good sport about stuff like that. I would’ve been playing my sad little violin song, secretly hoping Kelley would be okay with Claude carrying me back to the car. Hehe.

      Bubanza is a magical place. It’s rare gift to witness change as it is happening. I still can’t believe we got to visit twice! How lucky are we?!

      Thanks for being Mama to this community and to me specifically in this icky creative season.

      Love you,
      Teen

  • Anne-Marie

    I woke at 4 am- why? Oh awesome post by Tina overflowing w grace and beauty. So good – TGIF 🙂

  • Sherry Naron

    I hear you sister! From one percolator to another! Glad you FEEL ALL THE THINGS though, feeling all the things is good! Hugs!

    • I can’t wait for you to come back from India feeling ALL. THE. THINGS! I’m hoping someday a benevolent Sugar Daddy with fund a trip for me to accompany you to India. Le sigh. 🙂 #ibelieve

      xoxo

      • Sherry Naron

        I think the day we rescue that first baby girl from death my feeler might fall apart, but that’s ok, it will be an amazing broken-nes! I will start looking for you a Sugar Daddy right now…I know one, He’s our Father 🙂 I already see the day you, me, Idelette, Kelley and whomever else, will be together rocking baby girls and chatting and telling stories and doing one word checkin’s and whatever else we want to do that day. #ibelievetoo

  • Love the way you’re sharing this with the SheLoves community today. So hard to figure out how to share about these holy moments after the fact. Oh, Teeners. Miss you so.

    This was my best approximation of our time at the well, for anyone who’s interested: http://www.leighkramer.com/blog/2013/06/dancing-at-the-well.html

    • It’s hard to find words that can even begin to capture the scale of what went down in Bubanza, no? I’m so glad to have shared the holy moment with you, Lei-Lei.

      Thanks for sharing the link to your post as well! I think it will help readers to get a sense of what actually went down instead of just my spazzing. Hehe. We make a good team! 😉

  • Kupa Mutungu

    You’re my hero.
    Today and always.

    That’s all. 🙂

    • Thanks for the extra long hugs this morning, love. I needed it.

      P.S. Your prayer to Syria today is beautiful. How did I get THIS lucky? 🙂

      • Kupa Mutungu

        Answer: LOTS AND LOTS of school spirit.

        If I’ve learned anything from years and years of soul-shrinking statistics, it’s that school spirit and luckiness are highly correlated. (Researchers are still trying to unlock the deeper secrets of which causes which.)

        You go OOEHS!

  • Sharon

    Tina, I don’t know you but I know of you. Mostly, I love how you take us with you when you write and through your photographs. It’s as if I know you and believe me you are loved! Thanks for sharing your journey and allowing us to share in the joy of the YES!
    Sharon
    (sisters via Idelette!)

    • Any sister of Idelette’s is my sister too! 🙂

      It’s so nice to be reassured that I’m loved. This has been a season of great insecurity and faltering confidence for some reason for me. So your words warm and encourage my heart today.

      Thank you, sweet Sharon.

      Tight hugs,
      Teen

  • cjdeboer

    Thank you Teeen Been…
    – for bringing back a flood of beautiful memories.
    – for reminding all of us that we are a part of this incredible community together and no one is excluded.
    – for sharing your heart in the way that only you can.
    – For bringing me the second smile of my day.
    Love you!!!!

    • Hi beautiful friend.

      Couple of things:
      – I loved your I am From post.
      – I want to go shoe shopping in Heathrow again.
      – I miss our airport hangout chats.
      – We need to schedule some time to talk through all the magic of SF. I want to hear all about the Retreat!!!

      Love you too.

      xoxo

  • Oh, how I remember that day! So glad we were there together – Burundians, Canadians, Americans, South Africans, Brits… in solidarity. It’s great to have friends who will witness miracles with you!

    Great pictures, Teen. Also, love how you put it all together… TGIF!

    And Kupa – we love you. We want you to come to Burundi. And Emma wants to meet you when she comes to BC…

    • ‘Twas a beautiful day. Unlike today. It’s raining cats and dogs here in BC. I know you love a good thunderstorm. Hehe. I wish I shared your enthusiasm for precipitation.

      So glad you love the pictures.

      Really hope Kup and I are here when you and Emma come to visit. *fingers crossed*

  • Tina, I love the way you write, even if it DOES take percolating time. I went on a weeklong trip to the Dominican in March and I’m still FEELING ALL THE THINGS and haven’t been able to write about it yet, so I get you. 🙂

  • Heather Caliri

    Praise Jesus! I’m so grateful to be surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses. What I love most? Being pushed to dream bigger, step out of the safe places into a wilder, bigger, more world-full place. Thanks for singing out thankfulness, Tina!

    • “What I love most? Being pushed to dream bigger, step out of the safe places into a wilder, bigger, more world-full place.”

      Sigh.

      You and me both Heather! Here’s to a WILDER life. Love your description.

      Kisses!!!

  • Saskia Wishart

    This gave me a great big smile.

    Beauty.
    Pure and Simple.

  • Teen,

    I love this! I love the percolating and the Hemingway and your heart and ALL THE THINGS. This community has become so meaningful to me, much more so than I ever could have imagined.
    YES. Yes, God, and amen.

    xoxo.

    • I’m so glad to have you be part of this community. You seem to be in it for the long haul. And we LOVE that about you.

      Thank you for participating, sharing your voice and cheering us on.

      Love to you darling!
      xoxox

      • Yes, I’m in it for the long haul, and so grateful to love and be loved here. God knew, I tell you.
        Love to you, looking forward to seeing what He will do here, with all of us!
        xoxo!

  • Sarah Richardson

    Teen, you wow me. This post made me want to get up and do a joy dance. (Which isn’t pretty, I might add, but still impressive.) I love you and your big heart and ALL. THE. THINGS!

    • O, friend. Thank you.

      I really enjoyed the most recent post on your blog where you all seem to feel ALL.THE.THINGS.

      Hugs!

  • Helen Burns

    I am beautifully wrecked. Just wow xoxoxo

  • Oh goodness. Looked at the photo album at work –> tears in my eyes. What a beautiful and exciting gift to provide for (and celebrate with!) the friends in Bubanza. So glad that the SheLoves community is loving so deep and so wide.

  • JustOne

    These images are so stunning – and I love the story of the circles of grace. Beautiful. Just beautiful.