Monday, October 10, 2011

Way Too Long

Oops! I was gently reminded the other day that I have not updated my blog in nearly 3months! I didn't believe it at first, as I have had it on my mind and even on my "to-do" list to update it for several weeks now. I some how thought that by thinking about it and "intending to do it" the update would post itself? Anyway, it has been way too long!

So many things have gone on, relationships developed, ministries started,lessons learned etc. that I don't know where to begin. I'll just start with the "basics". Since being here, my hair has grown longer and lighter, my skin darker, and my walking muscles larger. I have not had a "real" shower since leaving the states. I also have not used a blow dryer, curling iron or eaten ice cream. I know, those of you who know me well will be in shock about that. However, yesterday,I did paint my toe nails for the first time since being here. It was a special "dress-up" occasion as we celebrated Uganda's 49th year of Independence!

Currently, in addition to working with the ECM sponsored children in Tegot Village, I am also doing volunteer work at a local babies home and a local hospital. I will go into detail on each of these ministries at a later time, or at least give updates on them. The days fill up and are going by rather quickly now, especially in comparisson to when I first arrived. The rain that "hapmpered" many of our plans for the first few months has seemed to back off a bit. They say it is still the "rainy season" and the dry season doesn't begin until December. That is when things are supposed to really get hot around here! Don't get me wrong, it is always hot here to a girl who comes from Indiana but this is supposed to be exceptionally hot! I'm not too excited about that.

Well, I didn't have a real "plan" in writing this post - as you can probably tell. Neither do I have much time at present to write anymore. So, I will get myself a little more organized and get back to you. Don't ask me to give you a date for that though, as I probably won't keep it. Just being honest! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Longing to Be Seen

It seems that each one of us is born with a longing, closely resembling a need to be seen. We desire to be acknowledged, recognized,accepted. Children are not shy about making this desire known. I have been in this area of Uganda for 6 weeks and I can now say that I am well-known by all of the children who live in my neighborhood. I can't step out of my gate with out one calling out my name, and usually it is many more than one! I don't go through a day without the children coming close to the house and calling for me. I am known and I must admit - it gives me a sense of pride. A sense of "I am important to someone" is achieved when you are acknowledged. When you know that someone sees you and knows who you are it makes you feel good. Nearly every day I go outside of my gate and play with the children. There are many children and all of them want attention at the same time. This is the same as with children all over the world, apparently. :) They call my name and then make sure I watch as they do some kind of trick, or dance, or as they climb a tree or jump a long distance. They will do anything that they think may impress me or hold my attention.
This longing is not exclusive to children though. Recently one of my fellow ECM team members here has gone through a very difficult time. He made the comment yesterday, "Sometimes it seems like God has forgotten us". It is easy to start thinking that way. There is so much suffering in this world, and sometimes we can cry and pray for a long time and nothing seems to change. The truth is though, that God sees everything. He sees and knows every person who has ever lived and ever will live. I was reading John 1 this morning and it gives the account of when Jesus met one of his future followers, Nathanael, for the first time. John 1:47-49 "Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and said of him, 'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit.' Nathanael said to him, 'How do you know me?' Jesus said, 'Before Philip called to you, when you were under the fig tree I saw you. 'Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of the Israel." Wow! Jesus was able to see everyone, even though he was in human form. This led me to think of and read Genesis chapter 16 which tells of Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, who was chased away by Sarai after becoming pregnant with Abram's child. She was running through the wilderness and calling out to God for help. Genesis 16:7 + 9-11 +13-14 says, "And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness...And the angel of the Lord said to her, Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hands, for I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, that they shall not be numbered for multitude. Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael (meaning God hears) for the Lord has heard your affliction. And Hagar called the name of the Lord that spoke to her, Thou God Who Sees Me...therefore the fountain also was called Beerlahairoi (meaning the Well of the One Who Lives and Sees Me".
So, whether we are being called by the Lord to follow Him or we are running from someone or something or wherever we are in life we can rest in the truth that God is there watching. He does see us and He cares!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time with The Karamoja

Yes! I finally made it to Uganda! My travels here went remarkably well. I am very blessed and excited about what the year ahead may bring.

For the first several days that I was in Uganda, before moving to my new home in Gulu, I stayed at ECM's headquarters in Gayaza. I will admit that for the first couple of days I felt completely overwhelmed inside. All of the little "luxuries" that I enjoyed in the USA became just a memory. I realized how little communication I would have with my loved ones back home and I began feeling sorry for myself. How was I going to survive here???

However, everything changed for me on my third day in Uganda when I was able to go and visit the people who are benefiting from ECM's Karamajong project in Kampala. The Karamajong are a semi-nomadic cattle raising people who believe that God has assigned all cattle in the world to them. So, they resort to stealing to take their cattle back. This, of course, has caused them many problems. Also, the harsh environment in the north where they come from has has made life even more difficult and has caused many Karamoja to seek refuge in the south. However, they have been ostracized by most of the country because they are seen as backwards and uneducated. So, they are foreced to live in the "slums" and many Kamamoja parents have resorted to selling their children or making them beg on the streets in order to survive.

ECM has started a new project in hopes sharing the love of God with the Karamajong and helping them have a better life. They have selected 10 of the neediest and yet most promising beggar children from the streets to be sponsored. The children are now in boarding school. They are receiving food, housing, and a good education.They still go home for visits on holidays, etc. but they would not be able to keep up with their schooling if they continued living in the slums. The latest report is that the children who have been selected are thriving in their new environment! Their grades are much higher than anticipated and their parents are very happy. ECM would like to help many more children and their parents have asked for more help but there are not enough sponsors right now. If any of you have an interest in helping with this please contact me or ECM at

So, as I was saying, I was feeling quite sorry for myself until I saw how the Karamajong were living in the slums of Kampala, the place where they have come for "refuge". I had seen things like this on t.v. but never in "real life". The people are living in tiny one-room shacks, built one against another. We were told that up to 10 families share each shack! Due to lack of space, many of the people are forced to sleep outside at night. They have a very dirty stream running through the slums with only dirty water to drink and wash in. The children have flies all over their bodies. I was there with them for only a couple of hours and was hot and miserable. What would it be like to live there? I thought about that as we drove away. Would I be willing to live among these people in that place? No. At that thought, tears came to my eyes. I am not willing to go and live with them but that is exactly what Jesus did for us. He gave up everything - much more than I would have to give up to live among the Karamajong - in order to come and live among us. He gave up heaven and perfect unity with God the Father. Jesus served us, loved us and lay down His life to save us. Thank-You Lord!

After being among these people my attitude quickly changed. I looked at all the things I still do have and I became thankful. I no longer felt sorry for myself. I started praying for these people to find the grace and help they need to come out of the slums and start a new life. Would you join me in praying for them too?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

1 Month to Go - Ready or Not!?!?

"Are you ready?" That is the question I have been asked most frequently in recent days. My answer is yes...and no! I believe beyond doubt that God is leading me to do this and I have been waiting to go for 2 years now. I have been praying, planning and preparing for even longer than that! So, yes, I am ready!

However, if the question were to change a bit to, "do you feel ready?" I'd have to say no. Despite all of the praying, planning and preparing I feel totally unready! Honestly, during the past month or so, I have had the thought, "I have no idea what I am doing." In some aspects that is the truth!

I am not going to Uganda with an intricate plan, new programs, or even an idea of a daily schedule for that matter! I wish I was, believe me! However, God seems to want to keep me "on my toes" so to speak. Since this is a relatively new ministry that ECM has in Uganda, and since I am the first one who will be ministering to the preschool age children there, there is no way to know for sure what to expect or what exactly will be needed, as far as supplies, etc. On top of that, I just learned a couple of weeks ago that my first 2 weeks in Uganda will be spent helping with the summer "Water-Well" team. The men on the team will be putting one or two wells and a sanitation system in the village where I will be serving full-time. I will be helping on that team by teaching health and hygiene alongside of them. In addition we hope to do some Bible teaching and visitation with some of the families in the village. This second part is a little more "up my alley" :o). When those two weeks are finished I will be headed to another part of Uganda to take part in a Human Trafficking seminar. Sadly, the trafficking of children is common in the capital city of Kampala and this seminar is required for the ECM missionaries. After all of that, I hope to get settled into Gulu and begin my regular ministry to the women and children of Tegot Village - whatever that ends up looking like.

I have always been told that missionaries need to be flexible. It seems I will be practicing this right from the start! It is a good thing that I have learned more about flexibility within the past year than I have in a long time.

At any rate, in spite of all of this and the fact that I still have suitcases to acquire and fill, health and hygiene lessons to learn and many "fun" last minute details to work out - Yes! All things being considered, I am ready to go!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Children and Jesus

The last time I "blogged" it was on the subject of God's heart for orphans. I spoke of how much He cares for them and how He expects them to be taken care of. Recently I have been touched by reading the accounts of Jesus' interaction with children in the gospel of Mark. Jesus makes no specific reference to orphans but He does speak clearly about children in general. Mark 9:36-37 says, "Then He (Jesus) took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, 'Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives not me but Him who sent me'." Wow! This is saying that welcoming a child on Jesus' behalf is the same as welcoming God Himself! This idea had never really hit me before. Children are VERY IMPORTANT to Jesus! Then Mark 10:13-14+16 states, "Then they brought the little children to Him (Jesus) that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased(indignant)and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God'. And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them and blessed them." Jesus was "hands on" with children and He blessed each one that came to Him! I get so excited when I read passages like this and I see God's love for children in action!

25 years ago Every Child Ministries came into existance for the purpose of receiving children in Jesus name. ECM started by opening Sunday Schools for children. The people in Africa used to hold church services but not allow the children to attend. Children would be "shewed" away due to lack of space, in order to make room for all of the adults. The people didn't understand the importance of children in God's kindgom. Jesus would not have allowed them to be left out! Since that time, ECM has been educating adults about the importance of teaching children and doing teacher training with them. Over 2,000 Sunday Schools have been started out of this effort reaching an estimated 200,000 children! Of course the whole purpose of ECM is to reach out to every child in need. They do this in many different ways using various avenues, from Sunday Schools to orphanages to rescuing child slaves and prostitutes to helping child soldiers to reaching out to street children and beggars, plus many others! I am thrilled to be a part of this ministry which places great value on children, just as Jesus does!

Friday, February 11, 2011

God and Orphans

First - NEWSFLASH!!! Target departure date for Uganda, Africa set for June 5th, 2011! Necessary Start-up expenses are covered! Monthly support and prayer commitmens are coming in! I praise God for all of this and so much more.

How does God think/feel about fatherless and orphan children? During the Christmas season I was at home with my famiy. It was a great but busy time of preparing for our annual Christmas Eve celebration. I did a lot of cleaning, decorating, buying, wrapping, cooking, and baking. Needless to say, there wasn't a much time left over to focus on my ministry preparation. However, I did decide to take some time each day to do some studying of my own on what God's heart is for the orphan and fatherless child, since these are the children I plan to be ministering to the most while I'm in Africa. I searched the Strong's Concordance for every reference to fatherless and orphan in the Bible and then looked the verses up. It was awesome to see the passion God has for these children. His love and care for them is made perfectly clear as is His anger toward any who would oppress or take advantage of them. Here is a small portion of what I found: Psalm 10:14 says that God is "the helper of the fatherless." In Psalm 68:5 God declares that He is "a father of the fatherless" and Psalm 146:9 states that the Lord Himself relieves the fatherless and the widow while Hosea 14:3 tells us that "in God, the fatherless find mercy". Also, Isaiah 1:17 says, "Learn to do well, seek justice, relieve the oppressed, vindicate the fatherless, and plead for the widow." And many of you are familiar with James 1:27 (which is the verse I use most often in my support-raising) "Religion (worship) that God our Father accepts are pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

For as long as I can remember I have had a desire to minister to orphans. Even as a child, I can remember watching them on t.v. and my heart yearning to help them and to show them love. It is clear to me that this desire did not come from within myself alone, but it originated with my God. It is His heart at work in me and leading me to follow Him into this ministry of His. The children whom I will be ministering to in Northern Uganda have suffered greatly due to the 2 decade long war and the AIDS epidemic which left many fatherless or orphaned. They live in immense poverty and disease having little or no education! However, thanks be to God for using Every Child Ministries to bring hope and help to the children. Through sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and providing child sponsorships that offer food, clothing, schooling, and medical care ECM has done much for the children in the village where they are serving. I am ready and excited to join them there and do my part to "look after the orphans in their distress." and therein begin to fulfill my calling and life-long dream!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thankful Heart

I realize it has been way too long since my last post. Please forgive me for that. So much has happened in the past couple of months. However, I'd like this post to focus on being thankful. I attempted to get this sent out at Thanksgiving but I think it is good to be thankful at all times and seasons. What better time to express thanksgiving than during the time we celebrate God's greatest gift of all!
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given..." His Son, Jesus Christ given to any and all who would receive Him. We can indeed be thankful for this gift every day!

During this time of my life I am especially thankful for 3 things:
1. God's provision
2. God's patience
3. God's purpose

God knows our needs. He is more than able to provide. During this season of my life God has given me all that I need. He has placed it on the heart of others to help sustain me as I prepare to go to the mission field. God has allowed many people to come into my life to encourage and uplift me, as well as to challenge me and lead me to grow in godliness as my heart is "pruned" for the foreign mission field. Thank-you God for your provision!

God is patient and kind. The patience He has shown me over the past several months have overwhelmed me! I can be slow and stubborn, yet He doesn't give up on me. He continues to lead me on and assure me of the wonderful plans He has for me! As my heart struggles between the desire to stay with my family and the desire to go to Uganda, God continues to be patient, yet patiently prodding me along! He is showing me what He desires from me as well as showing me His greatness and power in ways I have not seen before. He is waiting for me to look to Him alone to meet my every need. Thank-you God for your patience!

God's purposes cannot be thwarted! His desire is for all of His children to know Him and to make Him known. I believe that He enables each of us to do this in unique ways that He has specifically designed us to do. As God has given me a deep desire to minister to orphans in Africa, I believe His purpose in this will come to pass. There are so many orphans and fatherless children in Gulu! Because of the war and the AIDs epidemic the majority of children are left to the care of a grandmother, older sibling, or other family member. They struggle to survive. God has given me the spiritual gifts of mercy and helps. I am willing to use these to serve the people there in any way that I can. While I am planning to work with the young/preschool age children, I also desire to minister to the widows as well as to be a blessing to the national leadership who are currently serving with ECM there. While I may not know yet exactly what that will look like being played out, I do trust that God has a plan and His purpose for me there will be accomplished! Thank-you God for your Purposes!