Monday, August 13, 2012

Saying Yes

It’s been quite a summer. A summer in which we finally found our house and got all the paperwork together for NGO status and met a bunch of super cool people and grew as a program. A summer with a lot of hard and a lot of anger and a lot of fear. These last three months have not been an easy road to walk but they were necessary for me to really and truly be able to say yes to this life. To say yes with certainty and with a little less naivety then before.

I’m finally ready to say yes.

I’m saying yes to hard. And maybe I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. I knew I was saying yes to bug bites and the power going off and weird illnesses and babies dying and people in desperate situations. But I didn’t know I was saying yes to people not liking me and drama I thought I left behind in middle school and slander and malice and pride and wondering every day whether I am responding in a godly way or joining the mess. Wondering where the line is between gossip and speaking truth and how I know when I’ve crossed it.

And I’m left terrified because I honestly don’t know if I have it in me. Because the more time I spend here the more I realize how much I don’t know.

I’m saying yes to uncertainty. I’m saying yes to I don’t know. I’m saying yes to saying goodbye to my family and my friends and my comfortable life. I’m saying yes to unplanned futures and service and feeling unqualified every single day. Maybe I’m saying yes to failure…. And hard that is too hard.

But I’m saying yes. To a wild journey with God because I want to see Him work miracles and I want to see families stay with their children.

So here’s to a wild year. A year where I believe we will raise $115,000 and finish school and pack our things and say our goodbyes and move to Uganda.

A crazy filled year.

Bring it on. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


When I first landed in this country I believed in miracles. I had read enough books and blog posts and sat through enough inspirational church services with the missionary from Africa telling their incredible stories. I thought miracles happened every day here.

But the thing with books and blog posts and sermons is that nobody likes to hear about the time the baby actually died or the father who is still an alcoholic or the mother who never got saved. We only share the success stories.

Last fall three children who I had known and worked with died within a six week period. It got to the point where I was afraid to even check facebook each morning because I was terrified another one was gone. I prayed and prayed and still children died.

When Ajuma died I said to someone that I just wanted a miracle… one of the miracles I was always reading about and hearing about. Why was it that when they prayed kids lived? And when I did they all still died.
And they reminded me what exactly a miracle is. It’s uncommon. It doesn’t happen every day. This is Africa. The healthcare is awful, these kids were incredibly sick, all the odds were against them. We always pray for a miracle but if we got one each time then they would cease to be miracles.

If miracles stopped being miracles would God get the same amount of glory? These children were meant to be with Jesus and we can rest in the assurance that it is all within His will and that they are with their savior.

So a few weeks ago I met a baby in the village who was malnourished and sick. I took her and her grandmother back to Jinja with me and had her checked out at the local hospital. They prescribed medications and special high calorie food. I was not confident that her grandmother would be able to keep up with the medication and diet so I tried to get her to stay in Jinja for a week or two. She had another grandbaby at home under her care so she said no and went home with the medications and food.

A month later I went back to visit her with nothing but negative thoughts filling my head. I was more than ready to find a sick malnourished baby and a grandmother looking for an easy fix I couldn’t provide. I was terrified that I was going to have to just let this case go. I was leaving in three weeks and without the grandmother’s willingness to come to Jinja I didn’t know what else to do.

I was prepared for the worst as we walked up to her home but instead I found a miracle. I found a beautiful little girl with meat on her bones and a smile on her face. Her grandmother proudly showed us how she could now stand all by herself and thanked us enthusiastically for our help.

The thing was though that it wasn’t us. This baby girl in front of me was one of those miracles I had been praying and asking for. This was the answer to my plea to God to show me that He was indeed working here and that he did see these children.

“Miracles are retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see”
-          C.S. Lewis

She had God’s fingerprints all over her. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What I've Been up to Lately

So we went to a home visit in the village one day and came home with kittens. We were in love with them for about 10 minutes... and then we hated them. They lasted about two weeks until we found another home for them. Lesson learned... impulse buying should not include animals. 

I turned 21... in a total G- rated fashion... promise...

We've been going rouge lately... actually I don't really know what that word means... but we've been sneaky...or maybe we haven't... can't really tell you, can I?

 We had our first livestock purchasing experience. So much fun! We bought a beautiful cow for one of the moms in our sponsorship program whose husband recently left her with 11 children to support. Talk about super woman!

So one day I was casually waking up in the living room when I was informed that a snake was attempting to enter our home. When my screams for our guard failed to bring someone Kelsey came to our rescue. While I screamed on top of the table Kelsey SAWED the head off of a black mamba. I am surrounded by super women. 

I've been spending LOTS of time in hospitals lately... not really my favorite but one of the many ways God decides to work through my weaknesses. Slowly getting over my deep fear of needles and blood. Slowly.

We went to the most beautiful place on earth. Seriously. Spent a weekend at Sipi Falls lodge where we went on a five hour hike which included views like this. Showered under a waterfall, made our own coffee, soaked it all up. Already want to go back so bad. 

In other news...

- We are [cross your fingers] signing a contract for our house next week!
- We have been having a rough time with a few hard things on our plate... would love your prayers.
- Countdown begins... I tell myself it's only a month until I see my gorgeous siblings NOT a month until I have to leave :(

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Perfect in Weakness

I used to hold babies all day and stay up with sick children and feel useful and needed. Now I’m filling out paperwork and running errands and sitting in meetings repeating the same thing over and over again. I used to want to live in this country more than anything in the world but now that the big move is a mere 12 months away I’m not sure how I feel.

I kind of love my comfortable life in America. I kind of love the kids I get to babysit. And I love my family with a fierceness I didn’t know until I faced leaving them for good. And I like my jobs. And I like my friends. And I think I could be happy in the United States.

And some days I let myself daydream what my life could be like if I just stayed there. Seeing my siblings grow up- getting to attend soccer games and school graduations and birthday parties. And babysitting awesome kids and working as a teacher in a classroom that I’m comfortable with- free of all the cultural barriers I know I’m going to have to face here. And I could apply to be a temporary foster parent and maybe get my Masters degree. I could do anything I wanted and the future seems endless.

But instead i’m on this path that could most certainly end in massive failure. I have a budget that is screaming for $115,000 to be raised. I’m involved in a program model that has never been attempted before… and before that used to be exciting… and now all I think about is the fact that that means we may be heading straight for disaster.

And maybe I don’t want to be on a path that might be heading for disaster… maybe I don’t want to trust God with just about every aspect of my life… maybe all those Christian things I’ve repeated before in perfect cliché fashion aren’t so easy when you realize you actually have to live them.

I’ve said before that the hard is good… because the hard brings Christ’s beauty and personal growth and closeness to God. But even though God has been faithful time and time again to prove that, the truth is that my humanity still seems to doubt it.

Because I am blessed… or maybe not?... with a life in America that offers comfort and security. And maybe giving that up is not as easy as I thought.

$115,000. I cannot even wrap my head around that kind of money. Cannot even begin to form a plan within the realm of possibility that ends with us having that money by next June. For the first time I have to face the terrifying truth that Abide will only happen if God performs a miracle… and I thought I believed in miracles… but when it holds my future in its hands I realize that I doubt.

The world is filling my head, demanding ownership over ever empty space- you are way too young, you thought enough people would care?, you’re not Ugandan, you don’t know what you’re doing- But when I open myself up to God he pushes all those things aside and I can see a small seed of hope growing in unqualified soil.


My faith might be smaller than a mustard seed… But His grace is made perfect in weakness.

And maybe, just maybe, he will move mountains to prove it. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What I've Been Up To

House hunters Uganda version. We (maybe) found a house for Abide! 

Once upon a time we lived in a dull and tasteless world. Then we discovered Pinterest. Pad thai in our Ugandan kitchen????

Paper work is so much fun (not)! Did our budget yesterday.... yikes! Definitely going to be a real lesson in trusting God for all that money. (you can donate to Abide here)

Home visits to this precious girl are always a joy. Just look at that smile!!!! Someone sure is happy to be HOME!

Love seeing re-settled kids that refuse to let go of their grandpa's legs when we try to greet them!

Meetings. Lots of Meetings. And then some more meetings. Getting to know some awesome people doing incredible work though!

Some light reading for our pool days (that so far has not happened ONCE... Ugandan weather has it in for us)

Missing this baby girl and all the other kiddos back home :( Why does she have to be so cute????

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Easy to Ignore

David Platt wrote “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes.

It’s true. Once you know an orphan’s name, see their faces, and hold them in your arms it’s easy to fall in love. To passionately fight for their rights to a family. It becomes even easier because “orphan care” is so in right now. You can buy a trendy t-shirt and donate to someone’s adoption and write a fancy blog decorated with cute baby pictures. You can move to Africa and open an orphanage. Fill your home with cute and cuddly kids and fulfill your dream of being a mother, all while claiming you are simply fulfilling God’s call to care for the orphans.

When we hear about a baby being abandoned in a sugar cane field we grieve.

When we learn about conditions at an orphanage we get angry.

When we hear about an adoption we rejoice.

But what about the families? Where are our tears of grief, our angry rants, and our joy for them?

When we hear about a family putting their child in an orphanage because no one offered them any other option we should grieve.

When we learn about children being taken from parents to be trafficked for international adoption we should get angry.

When we hear about a parent and child being reunited we should rejoice.

But instead people are flocking to this country, stealing children away from families, lying on paperwork, bribing officials, and trafficking kids out of this country. And the sickest part of it all is that they justify it all by saying they are obeying God’s command to care for the orphan.

Are we as the church partially to blame for this? When we responded to God’s command to care for the orphan did we focus too heavily on the adoption aspect? Has adoption become too cool and driven people to adopt for the wrong reasons? Have we neglected the widows God also commanded us to care for? Have we simply thrown ethics out the window in our attempt to adopt all those poor African babies?

My time in Uganda this summer has made me angry at my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Hearing horrific stories of birth mothers being lied to, children being stolen, and mothers signing their rights over because no one offered them any other options. And then meeting awesome adoptive parents who are adopting children who truly need it and are doing everything ethically and legally. Seeing how their adoptions are taking three times as long because they refuse to bribe and lie and how they are stuck achingly waiting for their children because of all the others who are not following the laws. It makes me so angry.

So tonight I’m going to grieve, and get angry, and rejoice for the orphans AND the families that are in this mess.

I am going to continue speaking out against the people trafficking children and speak up for the families involved. And I’m going to stand in awe of the patient families doing it the legal and ethical way, no matter how difficult that makes their adoptions. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blog Block

I have blog block. Like writers block but I can write plenty, it’s the blogging that makes it hard. The more I understand this blogging world, this country, and the more I grow and learn the harder it is to sit down and write a blog post.

Because I want to write truth. I want people to enjoy the beauty I see and get mad at the injustice here.

But I don’t want to write stories that are not mine to tell
I don’t want to exploit the pain and suffering here.

I don’t want you to read a story and respond only in pity. I want to write well enough to communicate the beauty and joy hidden in the sorrow.

How do I share these experiences in a way that honors these people? In a way that does not take ownership over children and situations that are not mine?

And then there is the ugly. Children being trafficked for international adoption, “orphanages” collecting children with families to make money off of them, and families being ripped apart in the name of “orphan care”.

How do you speak into these situations in a way that does not offend so much that people refuse to listen?

Be patient with me as I try and find the answer these questions. As I pray and try to find creative ways to share that honors these people and communicated beauty.