Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Taking Christmas to the Streets




Thank you for stopping by and seeing a little glimpse of our Christmas day!

---------------------

Several months ago I was asked a question...

One day a little boy at a feeding program casually 
asked what I would be doing for Christmas?

I was able to tell them that yes I would be 
spending it here in Uganda.

Then I asked what they would be doing?

He told me he didn't know yet.

Living on the streets it is no wonder that he wasn't sure.

Life on the streets can change so quickly.

This past week I found out that all feeding programs 
would be closing for Christmas.

They would be alone for Christmas and of course, 
they wouldn't even have food.

My heart ached for these boys as I imagined 
what it would truly be like.

That's when we thought of what if instead of a normal Christmas 
we brought Christmas to the streets.

We could share with them God's love and 
what better way then with breakfast!

We were so excited as we prepared to spend
 it with our sweet boys.

Late last night we started preparing the food!

This morning bright and early we headed 
out laden with lots and lots of food.


The boys were so excited that we had come
 to spend Christmas with them.

It such a joyful time as we talked about the true meaning of 
Christmas as we laughed and shared breakfast.

They loved the cake and ate every last bite!


{Being Christmas we couldn't help ourselves and 
we splurged and bought match box cars for the boys.}

They were delighted!

Pure joy as many received there first ever Christmas gift.




Thank you for stopping by a little glimpse of our day!

We wish you a very 
Merry Christmas 
all the way from Uganda!



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in Uganda








                         Welcome to our little Thanksgiving celebration 
here in Uganda!

I'm so thankful you stopped by for a moment 
so you can 
see a little glimpse of our day.
  
I had the privilege of having several sweet friends 
join me at my home.

In bible study I have been sharing about some 
American traditions and 
I was so excited to make a feast and 
share it together.

We went around the table as we ate and 
talked about what 
we are thankful for this year.

I have been looking back and thinking what 
it was like last year.

I never would have imagined what it would 
be like just one year later.

I am so very blessed.

So many things have happened this past year that  
I am just blown away by the way God works.

He is always faithful and he continues to 
amaze me day after day.

I was so thankful to stop our normal routine
 and just reflect on what 
God has done this year.

I anxiously look forward to next year and 
all that it will bring.


We celebrated with chicken, 
stuffing made from scratch,
mashed potatoes, 
homemade green bean casserole, 
and maple carrots.

Of course this was the first taste for my sweet friends 
to have many of these American dishes.

We also had homemade Pumpkin and Apple pies!

It was so fun to see what they liked and to just share this day together.

They have told me they now wish to take this tradition of a meal; 
being thankful for their families.

From my home to yours - may your Thanksgiving 
be so very blessed!
Lots of love from Uganda,
Xo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Alicia



It is with a heavy heart that I dedicate this post to my sweet friend Alicia.

On November 5th I received word that my sweet friend went to be with Jesus.

Although my heart is aching with the news and the reality of not seeing her 
physical self here on earth anymore is starting to set in..

 I rejoice that she hurts no more...

In my heart I hold all the memories we shared and my heart aches with the loss.

I want to cherish those special moments...

My roomate Macey and I have been sharing Alicia stories as our hearts grieve
from not having her in our lives anymore.

We remember and we give thanks for 
every special moment we had with her..

Alicia was born with Cystic Fibrosis and 
although she struggled everyday with her disease,
you never would have known, 
she is the most selfless person I know.
She was all about others and 
never was thinking about herself.
She gave her life to serve Jesus..

My memory flashes through images of her laughing 
and the silly little things she would do.
---------

In March of 2012 I journeyed alone to upstate 
New York 
for my grandma's funeral.

My Grandma had passed away and 
I didn't want my Dad to be alone.

So I flew across the country to represent the grandkids.

I arrived and my Dad picked me up from the airport.

Staying in my Grandparents old house 
there was no internet access.

So off we went to get some Ice cream 
and connect to the internet.

After being served, the girl behind the counter 
struck up a conversation.

I shared that I was moving to Uganda and 
she was shocked.

{I guess I looked more like
 12 years old than my age. ha!}

After sitting down she came around 
the counter and to my surprise
she pulled out a chair and sat down.

She questioned me about moving to Uganda..

Before I knew it we were friends!


I shared about my passion and love for 
Uganda and the Ugandan people.

We got to talking, exchanged phone numbers, 
and swapped information.

That night I received an email from Alicia.

She said she wanted to go to Uganda with me!

I was shocked! But so very excited..

It's not everyday you meet a stranger and 
leave with a new friend.

But that's just how Alicia is.

I don't think she ever ever met a stranger and
 didn't leave with new friends.

--------


In June 2012 we journeyed to Uganda on the  IVO GO Team.

We roomed together and shared many secrets, 
stayed up way too late and shared our dreams.

She fell deeply in love with the country and the people.

She had a passion for serving the people 
and her smile could light up the room.

I will never forget watching her dig 
jiggers out of orphans feet.

Even if a little one was dirty or even dripping wet in pee, 
it didn't bother her.

She would scoop them up and hold them close! 

Truly being Jesus in the flesh.

When we returned to the states we kept up on 
frequent phone calls, text messages and emails.

We became lifelong friends sharing a 
bond and passion for Uganda.

Later that summer my family journeyed to 
New York this time for several weeks..

Alicia and I were reunited and I will always 
cherish those sweet summer memories...





Attempts of match-making {major fail!}, 
late nights at the drive-in, 
watching the Olympics from London,
and many trips to get ice cream.

--------

Later in the fall I got a message that she would be 
joining us again for the 
GO Team in January of 2013.

I was so very excited. 
She would be apart of my moving here!

We promised each other we'd be roommates again.

On the January trip I got the most exciting news.

Alicia knew God was calling her here to serve in Uganda as well. 
She shared with me that the January trip was her scouting trip for where He would be calling her.

She didn't let her Cystic Fibrosis stop her.

She fully trusted God in where He was calling her.

She said He was leading her here and 
I couldn't have been more excited.

Instead of being an ocean apart soon we'd both 
call the same country home.

Alicia moved to Uganda in June of 2013.

Diligently serving the Orphans of Uganda as a missionary nurse.

She spent 4 months serving the people and 
changing many peoples lives.

Including my own.

------

Alicia was a selfless person.

Always giving herself to serve others,

I can still remember the night I laid in 
bed groaning with a high fever..

As soon as she found out I was sick she 
dismissed herself from dinner 
early to come watch out for me.

Every few hours she would nudge me awake 
and force me to drink water.

I refused the water and yet she wouldn't 
take no for an answer..

She was diligent nursing me back to health.

Seriously, the sweetest friend around.

-----



When rooming with her here in Uganda,

I woud awake in the night to find Alicia with

her head lamp on writing away in her journal 
and reading in her Bible.

-----
One of my favorite memories we shared was
 the night we found a lizard in our room.

We are both highly afraid of lizards..

But then the unthinkable happened -

The lizard dropped from the ceiling...

We screamed as we searched through 
our bed sheets trying to find it...

The only problem is we didn't realize 
how loud we were screaming until 
the neighbor next door came running over 
and banging on our door.

I opened it, to find a very nice british man 
in his boxers ready to defend us
 from whatever harm that had come...

Imagine his face when we said we had a lizard in our room...

He wasn't very impressed and was actually pretty upset at us as 
he went muttering back to his room.

We shut the door and burst into giggles.

 {Side note: running into him at breakfast the next morning 
he still wasn't nearly as amused as us. }
-------




We spent many nights talking about our past, 
relationships 
and our deep desire to serve the Lord.

We would sit on our porch over looking the
 city of Kampala while rats 
would scurry around the bushes.

But as long as we had our Chex mix and 
dark chocolate M & M's everything was okay.

Deep into the night we would share our dreams...
-------



I wish I could go back in time and have 
just one more day with her.

I miss her so much.

I remember the mornings we'd get up and 
watch the sunrise as we read our Bibles.

She was the type of friend your comfortable 
with even in the silence.

She had a zeal for life and serving the Lord.

She never would let her CF stand in the way.

Even when she was weary she would get up bright
 and early to go serve at the baby home.

------

One night as we shared at our team meeting 
she said something I will never ever forget..

She shared with me how proud she was of me 
and giving my life to serve the Orphans of Uganda.

She walked over to me and took her necklace off 
as she placed it on my neck.

I looked down to see what it said:

"Take the Road less traveled, Uganda"

We both cried as we hugged each other..

She said she would be praying for me in the days ahead.

----

My heart aches not having her here.

I miss her in so many little ways.

You gave your life willingly to serve the Lord fully - 

no matter the cost.


I am so proud of you Alicia and the life you lived.

I love you and will always miss you.

Your Legacy and life lives on in each one of our lives.

Uganda will never ever be the same because of you.

I can't help but imagine what it was like for you 
when you saw Jesus face to face.

 I look forward to the day I see you again.

I love you Alicia.

-Xoxo

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Up!





I have received many email& messages asking what had happened to my blog.

Due to several reasons  it was temporarily down. 

Thank you all for your caring messages & your prayers!

Please continue to pray for my beloved country.

A new blogpost will be up in the morning and you won't want to miss it!

Sending lots of love from my home to yours.

-Xo

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bandaged Feet


Imagine a world with no shoes.

Imagine walking barefoot on the Kampala streets...

searching for scrap {metal & plastic bottles}
in order to make a living that day.

Imagine being alone at eight years old.

Wandering the street.

No place to call home.

Today we served breakfast to the street children of Kampala.

Near the end, around the second helpings of tea & bread,

I noticed his feet -  barefoot.

Upon asking he told me,

someone snuck up on him and stole his shoes while he was sleeping.

On a closer look I noticed the skin of his big toe had been completely peeled off. 

His toe was oozing....

With the first aid kit I was able to clean it up.

{Special thanks to generous donations of medical supplies - 
I couldn't have done it without you!}

I watched the boys walk away over piles of rocks, and garbage
as they disappeared into an alley.

To become invisible again.

Every boy is different - they all have their own story & circumstances
 that led them to the street.

I am so thankful to be able to sit and hear more of their story as
we strive to bring hope to these precious treasures!

Please be praying for this ministry and that the boys would have hope.

Days are long, and without an end in sight it can look hopeless.

Thank you in advance for all your love & prayers!

XO

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breakfast on the Streets




My heart has been broken this past week.

While the IVO September Go team was here we were able to do ministry together.

I love having teams here but this team was something different.

This team had a Mama's heart.

It was so refreshing to see woman really love the Orphan.

The street boys thrived in their attention.

The first day they arrived we headed into the slums to our frontline feeding program.

Where we were able to spend time with around 70+ street boys.

Ranging in ages 8 - 18.

 We played football and taught a lesson, did crafts and helped serve lunch.

But that wasn't the best part.

While winding up the dirt trail to the football field a little man
about 10 years old, pulled me aside.

He said "I know you, I have seen you before"

I searched my mind for his face finally realizing we had met back in
August when I had been serving at the feeding program.

He stayed by my side that day and never left.

When our day came to a close he looked devastated.

We said goodbyes knowing I would see him again but unsure of when.

Team meeting late that night brought lots of tears as the team shared
 the emotion of seeing the slums, and ministering to the street boys.

They were no longer a  daunting number of 10,000+ boys living on the streets of Kampala.

But they became
a single boy,
a little boy with a name,
a smile,
a laugh
and
our friend.

Several days later while cleaning up dinner with the ladies
we all looked at the leftovers we had.

Our hearts started to ache.

Here we were with full tummies with more leftovers then we know what to do with.

My heart ached as I thought of my sweet little friends all alone.

Sleeping on the street,
under the tunnels,
on porches.

Hungry.

Alone.

Cold.

While here I sat in my house, with a warm meal, and a bed.

This time the tugging on my soul and the walls of my heart,
 began to crumble.

I can't really explain the feeling just that instead of realizing its to much.

I realized I still have the choice to make a difference a little more everyday.

Just like each of us do.

We can chose to change the world for one person.

Or we can say one is not enough.

But meeting my little friend changed all of that.

I would do anything for that one.

I would drive across the city for that one.

Just like the heavenly father would do for us.

He would come searching for us.

Drawing us near to him.

As the ladies looked around and our overflowing pans of dinner:

Rice, 
Beans,
Matooke,
G-nut sauce, 
and cabbage heaped over the pans.

We began to look around for anything at all.

That's when we noticed our mounds of used water bottles.

We got to thinking.

What if we took our leftovers and went and found where the street boys sleep.

What if we fed them breakfast?

Quickly I dialed my driver and managed to get him to show up
extra early, just about sunrise.

That night we made an assembly line as we quickly chopped water bottles in half.

Brought empty laundry baskets for storing, napkins, spoons,
and water together.

The next morning we drove out the gate promptly searching
meticulously the streets for a boy.

Any street boy.

We were on a mission.

Soon we rounded a corner and to my surprise there across the way
 was two of our little friends!

We pulled into a parking lot and quickly unloaded.

We called them over and asked where there friends where?

They hurried around the bend and we waited.

About 15 minutes later to our delight a group of boys walked up the way!

They sat and ate, laughed and shared some of their stories.

Then as they were finishing up they asked if we would come again tomorrow?

We looked around at each other and said why not?

So it began - breakfast with the boys!

Morning became our favorite part of the day.

Bright and early we'd set out to spend some time loving the street boys of Kampala.

The team has now headed home.

But I look forward to anytime I can spend with them through frontlines feeding program!

After all, when they look at me with there pleading eyes and
 adorable smiles how can you say no?




Thursday, September 12, 2013

*Yippie Jesus! A Sweet Celebration* Praise House




I am in awe. 

Truly speechless.

Your generosity overwhelms and makes my eyes fill with tears.

Donations have been pouring in by the bountiful.

God is so good, isn't He?

Before typing up the last post I worried.

I worried that we wouldn't be able to raise the money and
 that the kids would go to sleep again with 2+ kids to a bed.

But I remembered His faithfulness and how He always provides.

He cares for his children and I was so excited that I got the opportunity to have a front row seat.

He is always faithful.

Before publishing the post - I felt I needed to stop.

 I stopped and prayed I asked God that if He wanted the children
to have beds and clothes and nets He would indeed provide.
 I knew we would need a lot.  

I said, 'Okay God I'm giving you this post, show yourself to us.'

As I published the post I thought to myself 
'now Lord I get to watch you provide for these precious treasures.'

What joy I found when I woke up the next morning and
logged on to see that we had several mosquito nets, mattresses,etc.

The post continued to be shared via F*acebook and more donations poured in.

Joyfully overwhelming watching God provide.

This morning I woke up to such giddy news. 

Every last item on our wish list has been bought.

But that's not the best part.

Not only was every item bought on the wish-list but it was provided for above and beyond.

God goes beyond our wildest dreams and 
provides more then we can ever imagine.

Just about 48 hours to the very minute I was worrying that
we wouldn't be able to raise it. 

I gave the post to God and look what He did!


I called Praise this afternoon to share with her our joyful news,

When I shared with her all that God provided her words were 

"Wow.wow.wow.wow. Praise GOD!"

He is faithful and He cares for his treasures!


Because of your generous donations these sweet treasures will
each be able to be tucked into their very own bed.

For the very first time.


On behalf of all the children,


Thank you.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Praise House




 


Sitting here comfy with my coffee at my table.

How I quickly take advantage of the fact that I am home.

We don't normally think of the fact that not everyone has a home.

Sure it's a sad thought so it's easier to say "thanks Jesus" and not dwell on the fact that we are so privileged.

Home. 

It has such a comfy ring to it, doesn't it?

I got to thinking and wondered,
"Hmmm….What does home mean to me?"

To me home -  is a place of peace.

Home is a place of safety and refuge.

Home is place to be yourself.

Home is a place filled with love and laughter.

It has such a sweet feeling to it - doesn't it?

Home...

Often on any given day you will find me outside the city,
down a long and bumpy road that reaches beyond mud huts in the village.
Surrounded by littles that scream and shout with joy when Auntie Emma arrives.
My heart has been stolen by these precious kids. 

These littles are the Orphans sponsored by IVO {International Voice of the Orphan's}
feeding program.
The home they live in is called Praise House.

Regularly I go to deliver food and just this past week I was able to
 deliver over a month worth of food.   

There have been times when I have gotten a phone call that the home is almost
out of food and if I don't come quickly, they will not have food.  

Of course most of us have never been truly hungry.  
Most of us don't know the pain of the street child 
who only eats three times a week.  
And most don't know the pain of falling asleep starving.


These littles do. 
Their stories are painful and raw and real.

When they came into Praise House -
they found safety, refuge, healing and hope.

Praise's testimony is only one God could write!
I am both honored to call her my friend and my sister. 
This  coming January I will have the privilege of dressing in
traditional Ugandan wedding clothes 
to see her marry her true love.  

At such a young age God put caring for the orphans on her heart.
At age 14 she met an orphan boy.  Night after night she would eat little,
take her remaining food and wrap it up.  After she was supposed to be in bed,
she would take it to her window and slip it out her window for him.  
Sometime I will take the time to write her story.
But for now this is about the children.

Right now there is 36 kids living at Praise House.

The house they had previously lived in was falling down and leaning.
At night when it would storm the rain would come in.
They had such a bad issue back in March when rats invaded in the night
and ate one of the littles fingers off.

IVO was compelled and knew they had to do something! 

I am happy to report that the new home is almost finished being built -
thanks to all the IVO donors and an amazing matching grant - ONLY GOD!
The IVO June Go Team had the incredible opportunity to start
building and laying the foundation for the new house.
What a privilege to help and serve and see the walls being raised!

{the girls in what will be their new room}

Just this past week I went out to deliver this month of food.
 I was in amazement when I saw that the roof had been put on!
 So very excited to see the progress.

I walked through the home in awe of what God has done.

He is so faithful. 

I then began to think where will they eat?

They had previously been eating sitting on the ground and porch.

Remember what Home feels like?

What if Praise House also was a real Home?

Not just a place crammed with beds but a true home. 

A place they can sit when it's pouring rain -
where they can study, learn, laugh and be kids as a family. 

What if we together were able to turn Praise House 
into Praise Home?

A place of refuge.

A place of healing.

What do you say sweet friends?
Would you join us in helping us purchase furniture? 
At the moment they only have a few bunk beds.

In order for this to be possible we have to work together!

Would you be willing to donate for chairs? 
For a table to be built? 
For mosquito nets so the kids are safe from malaria? 

What do you say sweet friends? 

Since Uganda is very simple, 
I went through the house and made a list of
our biggest needs:

  12 Bunk Beds:     $150.00 each 

  24 Mattresses:      $50.00 each 

20 Mosquito Nets: $15.00/  net

                   A dining table:       $250.00  {we will have this made}

6 shelves for school books & clothes - $ 50.00/shelf

 36+ Towels & Clothes   -  $25.00/child 
{towel, jammies, clothes, toiletries} 

 Several chairs, couches, & mats for the floor - $600.00/total 

-------------------

What do you say sweet friends would you 
like to be a part 
of tucking one of the sweet blessings 
into their very own bed? 

Together we can make a huge impact on Praise House!




International Voice of the Orphan is a 501c3 so each gift is tax deductible.

Donate

Please be certain to designate 
Praise Home 
and specifically whatever item{s} 
you would like your gift to go toward
in the Special Instruction box.

I will be updating as the money comes in...

On behalf of Praise and her children - 
thank you, thank you, thank you.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Transitions & Seasons




I'm in a place here in Uganda where we are having many transitions.

Seasons are changing.

Now it is becoming rainy season.

It's beautiful sunny early mornings with rainy afternoons.

Sweet smells and clean air {for a bit anyway}.


Summer has come and gone & with it many friends have left for home.

I'm so thankful for the sweet times I was able to have with friends.

I will cherish the memories of laughter and a full house.

I look forward to next summer.

But I am also learning to be content with this season of my life.

Sort of like a new chapter.

Sometimes the waiting seems to last forever.

But I have come to realize that this season God has me at this place for this time.

I'm not sure what the next few months will hold.

But I look forward in anticipation.

I know He has a plan and a time for every season and in his words I find comfort.

He has been whispering to my heart for several months and
 I look forward to the day I can share it with all of you.

For now I cling to this verse:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future."
-Jeremiah 29:11

Xo

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Erik - *That* God Moment


 


Since moving to Uganda, I have had some incredible things happen!

God has opened up so many doors.

Little things I thought were no big deal have turned into amazing God moments.

One of those moments was when I was heading into a coffee shop.

If you know me - I am a coffee addict.

I realize the first step is admitting I have a problem, and that is the start to recovery.

But let me tell you I just love coffee - and I don't want to ever recover.

I was on my way into the coffee shop when I turned around and noticed the seamstresses
 working on beautiful pieces of fabric.

I decided to purchase some material and get something made.

After all it's a lovely day and I had a bit of free time -

Why not have a bit of fun and order some new shirts or even a dress?

We set to work and within about a half hour I had a receipt
and was told my order would be ready in a few days.

Months passed and little by little every-time
I went into the shop we'd talk a bit more.

Then one day I shared something about how I work
with special needs children.

My now-friend Rose
{who happens to be the owner of her business}
stopped what she was doing as we talked
and she shared her heart and her story.

 Rose has an older son named Erik.

It turns out her son has hydrocephalous and spinabifida.

Just like my Baby sister Ruby, who also has hydrocephalous,
 and little James who had just had surgery.

We got to talking and Rose went to her purse to pull
out a picture of her son Erik.

Rose shared with me how she had been searching but hadn't found a place
for her son to receive help for his special needs.

She told me how he was home with a friend
and that he had taught himself English from watching the television.
Due to Erik's Spina Bifida he wasn't able to go to school
or even have a wheelchair.

That's when I was able to share with her how just a few weeks before
 I had been looking around for other ministries here
that may offer physical therapy for special needs treasures.

During my search I had found an organization that specifically works
to offer free physical therapy to children and families.

We set a date and were able to take James and Erik
on the very same day for an interview.


James was able to receive physical therapy twice a week
 and he was then referred to a hospital for leg surgery
which he is now recovering from.

Erik was interviewed and passed the test with flying colors
 and was referred to a primary school.

Erik is now the happiest little man who is eagerly learning and thriving at his new school!

Don't you just love when God takes those ordinary moments,
 and turns them into God moments and new friendships?

Meet Erik - whom I proudly call "my friend".

He refers to me as his

"Only Muzungu friend"

{Meaning - white}

Somedays I receive phone calls from him
and he tells me all about his new school.

So very blessed by this little guy!