Wednesday, June 30, 2010


June 30th


The simplicity of a child overjoyed by a 35 cent soda, the simplicity of a make-shift volleyball game, and the simplicity of the joy on a child's face as they watch you attempt to break dance.

It's crazy to find so much joy on a child's face here when you offer to go down to the store, buy them a soda, and sit on the ground talking to them, or when high schoolers get to play volleyball against a group of mzungus, or when a child is beaming with joy as you attempt to learn to breakdance and you teach them american dance moves in return. Maybe they find so much joy because they realize that joy is not dependent on circumstance, but in Christ.

I find so much joy in simple things like these and i pray that i always do.

Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

A group of street kids at Shalom

Lawrence puts me to shame with his break dancing!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A different kind of birthday

June 27th

On June 25th, I did not wake up to presents and a homecooked breakfast. Instead, i woke up, put on a pair of work jeans, a somewhat "clean" tshirt, I put my unwashed hair back in a headband, and i made the same piece of toast i always do. I knew that instead of eating at a nice restaurant, i would end up eating rice for lunch outside on the dirty ground with children with malnutritioned bellies. But, this is what i wanted. I woke up with one intention, TO serve and not BE served. I prayed to be humbled and to have a birthday that was not all about me.

I walked outside with my piece of toast and my bible in hand ready to read it as I do every morning. I sat down only to find i had sat in a big glob of ketchup from the night before. Here is when my humbling day began.

I started off by going to the village of Zirobwe, the future site of the Empower A Child training center. I began the day weeding a field of corn for 3 hours (something i never imagined doing on my 20th birthday.) The day continued by bringin a torential downpour to the village followed by my (ironically) fetching water from the well in jerry cans (much harder than it seems.) Since we had more work in Zirobwe than planned, we left 3 hours after intended. After returning to Kampala, I went inside to take a shower only to find no running water. I checked the internet only to find no connection which meant no contact with any family or friends on my birthday. I ended the night in a shopping center food court eating pizza. Everyone insisted i order icecream, only to find that after waiting 30 minutes, there was none left.

Looking back it was one of those days where i can't help but laugh. Sitting in a shopping center food court wearing dirty clothes, sweaty after a long days work, with muddy chacos and unwashed hair was not exactly how i pictured the end of my birthday, but i wouldn't have it any other way.

I prayed to be humbled. I ended up having the MOST trying, patience testing, humbling day ive had since I have been here.

I can only imagine what my birthday would have looked like if i would have spent it in the states. It would for sure have been a lot different. After all, isnt a birthday supposed to be all about you right?

I can only imagine how those here in poverty spend their birthdays. Probably similar to mine: doing chores that needed to get done, fetching internet, no running water. Some don't even know when their birthday is. Maybe it is just Westernized culture that had taught me to think otherwise.

I kept replaying the verse in my head all day from Phillippians 2:5-8. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God did not consider equality something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obidient to death- even death on a cross."

I know i say a lot that i am often so humbled, but I believe that it is God slowly chipping away at my heart and my pride revealing something that I hope is a little more like Him each and every day. I am emensly grateful that i could spend a birthday in Africa and in one day i could learn more than i ever thought possible.

Monday, June 21, 2010


June 21st

It was one of those days when everything seemed perfect, where i didn't even want to blink, where i tried to refuse to wear sunglasses because i didn't want to distort the beautiful colors around me with a tinted lens, where no matter where i looked all i could see was beautiful creation, where you realize nothing around you is man made, and where even after 5 hours you wish you could turn back and do it again.

It was one of those moments when i stood in complete awe of God's creation.

We started off Safari weekend by taking a hike around Murchison of the most beautiful places ever i think. We hiked to the top of the falls, to the very bottom, then to where the falls started. The next day we took a 5 hour game drive and saw land animals while we all were sitting on top of our van, and then we got to take a water safari! It was undeniably one of the most wonderful weekends of my life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thank you Uganda

June 18th

When you run for awhile, you eventually hit a wall. Well here i am and i have hit this metaphorical wall hard. After putting in over 10 hour work days in Rakai, my body had to physically tell me that it was time to rest so i ended up with a fever off an on for a few days and have ended up today with a cold.

Other than the fact that my voice still slightly resembles that of a man, praise God i am doing well!

Today we had the amazing opportunity of doing something awesome! We traveled to the village of Zirobwe, the soon to be site of a training center offering job or technical training for the people of Zirobwe by Empower A Child. One of the girls here purchased mattresses, jerry cans, mosquito nets, hoes, and other essentials for those living in huts in the village. The team had traveled there previously and asked the residents what exactly they needed to fully provide for their needs. My group went to 3 different families and delivered variety of all of these things.

Every time i see poverty, you would think that it would start to become less of a shock. But, every time i see someone else in poverty, the face of poverty just gets larger to me. Seeing a woman kneeling accepting a simple foam twin mattress, a plastic jerry can, a mosquito net, and a hoe in such gratitude only seems to humble me greater. At home, i have a huge mattress and nice bed, i don't have to fetch water from a far away well for drinking, showering, cooking, and cleaning, i don't have to worry about malaria infections, and i go to the grocery store instead of digging my own food out of the ground. These people do.

I NEED a new pair of shoes, i NEED a hot shower, i NEED to eat that piece of pizza.

Here i see people living with only one pair of shoes or most often the case no shoes at all, i see people and have only experienced a shower out of a bucket of water and never running water, and i see people that only get one meal a day of whatever is available.

I think my needs and my wants have gotten confused. I don't need any of these things. I am fed every day, at least 3 times a day, i have more than enough clothes and shoes, and i have running water. My needs have become preferences and not actual needs.

Thank you Uganda for daily shaping my heart, for humbling me constantly..

"Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1: 5

"These things i have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Building a house, changing lives.

June 13th

It's funny. It's funny how low expectations can turn into something amazing.

This week we traveled 4 hours away from Kampala to the village of Rakai. Rakai is where the AIDS epidemic is most apparent with many child-headed families, widowers, and guardians taking care of children other than theirs. This village is in much need to say the least. Our purpose of traveling to Rakai was to build a house for a widower taking care of 2 children of her own and 2 of her sisters children staying in an insanely tiny shack.

I knew i was traveling to Rakai for a good reason, to build a house for someone who is in desperate need of one. However, i came into the week with the outlook of just getting through the next day. The idea of sharing a mattress on the floor and no running water just did not seem appealing.

We began the first day of construction and my team was on "pole duty." Now, when i thought of poles my mind jumped to small, light, and long poles. However, as we walked about a mile from the construction site, i soon realized i was being led into a forest, not a place to buy poles. I was handed a machete by one of the Ugandans on our team, but as our group of 4 girls soon realized, chopping down huge trees with a machete wasn't exactly our forte (however, be proud to know that the next day i managed to cut through a tree with a machete and i have a huge blister to prove it :) ) So our job instead was to carry the "poles" a half a mile up to the road where a truck was coming to pick them up. The day began with a rough start and ended with a rough ending as i realized that i was covered with dirt and was living for 6 nights without running water. Let me tell you, bucket showers just aren't the same. haha

However, the funny thing about my first day was that besides the fact that i was still covered in dirt. I did not care. We spent all of our nights before bed outside and looking up at the stars in a village with hardly any electricity was one of the most beautiful things ever. Every star was perfectly seen.

The next day i began with a different attitude. That this house was giving this woman and her family hope. Everyone else in the village knows nothing else than no running water, and i had the privilege of having a mattress to sleep on. These people did not. Who am i to complain? That day was wonderful. Every time i thought i couldn't carry another brick and child from the village would come beside me to help me. Every time i began to think how long the day was seeming and how tired i was, singing Disney songs at my top of our lungs while carrying bricks or mortar lifted my spirit. Every time i looked down at my arms and hands and saw all the callouses, blisters, and scratches, i looked over at the children surrounding us and saw they had much worse. My outlook: I could get through the day and i was blessed to be a part of the experience.

The last day on site was by far the most special. Near the end of the day, a few of us decided to hike up a huge hill near the construction site. At the end of the climb i witnessed one of the most beautiful site ever. Rolling hills, green every where, and being so high up in the air that i could barely even see the house we were building. Beautiful. It was one of those moments when you realize that this could be a tourist site, however, i was in the middle of nowhere with only a handful of people standing on top of the hill looking down on God's beautiful creation. To say i was in awe would be a understatement. The day ended with everyone surrounded in a circle near the completed house. The woman who we built the house for walked to the center of the circle and got down on our knees and began to thank us for all of our work. Her new house restored hope.

I am back in Kampala humbled. Humbled that i could be part of such an experience. That God was in the midst of it all. That God could take my low expectations and turn the week into something beautiful. I love others because i am overwhelmed with the love of Jesus Christ and i am grateful that i could part of this experience that brought hope to the village of Rakai.

"Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like You have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Everything i am for your kingdom's cause." -Hillsong

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mzungu, Mzungu!!

June 6th

Well, i left off on Wednesday and today is now Sunday. Since then we have had the opportunity to do a lot. On Thursday, we started off in the morning by going to a babies home with all orphaned babies. Right when we walked in and the doors open, we all had about 30 big brown eyes glued on us as the one's who were able to walk or crawl ran to us and literally started to climb up us wanting to be held. I ended up with about 4 children on me at a couple points. One of each leg, one on my back, and one holding my hand. Probably my favorite moment was when i had one baby sitting in my lap looking at me, i would put my hand on his back as i dipped him down slowly. We did this for about 20 minutes and every time without fail when i would dip him down he would burst out in laughter. I have become convinced that one of my favorite sounds is a child's laughter. I feel like it could never get old me to; knowing that i brought a little bit of joy to that orphaned child's life that day. I want to bring them all home with me.

That afternoon we went to Remand home which is a juvenile prison. It's a place for both boys and girls who have either committed crimes or more often the case, were dropped off because their family's didn't want them or they were wrongfully convinced. One teenage boy was wrongfully accused of a crime when he was at home. He was sitting outside playing cards with some friends and the police who did not want to deal with the trouble of these children just assumed they were up to no good and arrested them. How horrible that an innocent boy who just happened to be living in a poor and crime filled community in Uganda is wrongfully accused. His life is going to be forever different now. However, Remand home offers them hope. Hope that they will one day return home, hope that there are people that care about them, and most importantly hope in salvation through Jesus Christ.

Every weekend we have free, so yesterday we went to Jinja which is the source of the Nile river in Uganda! It was so special to see and to be able go on a boat ride in the Nile. Not a normal Saturday activity at home! It is one of the most beautiful places ever and after the boat ride we all sat for a couple hours on huge rocks that were right by the edge of the Nile and where Lake Victoria meet.

Today, we went to Watoto Church which i have always wanted to visit ever since i saw the Watoto children's choir in Orlando. They support about 2,000 children and these children travel the world, all of which are orphans, and sing and raise money for school fees. This choir has given life to the orphans. The church was fairly westernized, even though it was blazing hot in there, which is not very unusual. It was super special to be a part of especially because i found out that the Watoto Children's Choir was in Orlando last night and this morning! Crazy!!

We are off to Rakai, Uganda next Tuesday through Sunday. We are going to be building a house for one of the Empower A Child sponsor children as well as a couple other things. Rakai is where AIDS began to spread in Uganda and is one of the cities that is stricken with the most poverty. It will definitely be eye opening.

"Religion that God our Father accepts are pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep one's self from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Heart, Welcome home :)

June 2nd

Scraping of leg casts as the drug on the ground, squeaking wheelchairs, the uneven plotting of feet on the ground as crutches braced their uneasy legs, the gentle hum of bugs buzzing around my face, the light cry of a child getting fitted for casting...the sounds of wild laughter coming from 50 smiling faces, roaring singing, wild applause from a crowd of children when a child threw a ball of paper into a plastic bucket to score a "basket".

Seems kinda contradictory hearing these same things in the same day, let alone from the same children. Yet, this is what i heard today when i went to Katalemwa.

Katamelwa is a children's hospital and rehabilatation center for children who are crippled or have some deformity. The children here have i would say the most reason to complain. However, the children are filled with so much joy.

Theres something about seeing a 15 year old boy with metal screws in and a brace on his leg coloring a makeshift cross made out of popsicle sticks on which he wrote "I love Jesus" that breaks my heart.

His name was Fernando. He is 15 and has been out of school for 3 years at Katalemwa because he had an infection in his leg and needed to have surgery. I asked him if he wanted to go to University. He lowered his head as a shy smile creept onto his face. He raised his head and said "Yes." He wants to be a surgeon to help others like he was helped. Talk about a humbling experience. He has every reason to feel sorry for himself, yet he has so much joy in Christ. The fact that these children can face so much hardship, yet praise the name of Jesus Christ so loudly astounds me.

We have also gotten the opportunity to visit a couple schools. At which, all children thirst for education so badly. I've also had the great priveledge of using the squatty potty aka hole in the ground and the bucket shower. The house we are staying at is Westernized, however, most of the time the water is not working because it is out in the entire city. However, strangely i actually enjoy the living conditions. Yes, i know. Please don't judge me. But, there is something incredibly humbling about living as the Ugandans do (in a couple ways at least) and then going out to spend time with those who know no different than a squatty potty and a bucket shower.

Can't wait to experience more :)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you." 1 Peter 1:3-4