Friday, December 31, 2010

The Ones Left Behind

I was looking at the website of an orphanage in Kenya that someone had told me to check out. They said on their website that when they received a child they would test them for HIV/AIDS and then if they were negative they would find them an adoptive family. If they were positive they were settled into the orphanage for the long haul, expected to just wait there until they turned 18 and aged out.

One tiny little + sign destroys their life. You might think it’s because they are sick or because they are dying or because they are contagious that they are stuck in that orphanage. That’s not the reason. It is because of lies, misconceptions, and stigma that they are stuck.

I wish I could gather the entire world together and stand on a big tall hill and yell…

HIV can NOT be transmitted by hugging, kissing, touching, changing diapers, sharing drinks, or wiping noses.

HIV is spread through sex, shared needles, or from mother to child. There has NEVER been an instance of accidental transmission in a household setting.

Children on ARVs (HIV/AIDS medication readily available in the states) are expected to live normal lives. They will be able to marry and one day have children of their own.

If I took you to that orphanage in Kenya you would never be able to tell me which of the children were HIV positive and which weren’t. I could leave you there for years, allowing you to unknowingly change diapers, clean cuts, wipe noses, and give kisses to the positive kids and you would not contract the disease. (The only way for this to be possible would be if an HIV positive child was bleeding, you were bleeding, and you put the two cuts directly together. The HIV virus dies when it hits the air so touching spilled positive blood with an open sore wouldn’t even give you the virus).

The only difference between the positive and negative children is that one needs medication and one doesn’t. And of course that one is left behind, while one is taken home.

Jesus doesn’t see the HIV positive kids differently. He doesn’t give up on them because of their status. He doesn’t separate them out from the healthy ones and shake his head sadly at their hopeless future. When God commanded us to look after orphans, he didn’t mean just the healthy ones. He didn’t mean just the cute ones. He didn’t mean just the babies. Orphan care isn’t supposed to be easy.

What can you do?

Spread the word! Write a blog post, make a facebook status, and/or tell your friends the truth about HIV/AIDS (you can use the video below to help)

- Donate to organizations working to bringing these kids home ( and )

- Consider adopting a HIV+ child

- Know a family considering adoption? Ask them if they’ve considered an HIV+ child and share the facts with them

- Sponsor an HIV positive child. You can do this through World Vision, Compassion, etc… or if you want to support a smaller organization check out Our Own Home, an orphanage in Uganda for HIV+ children.

Got more ideas? Let me know J

Help empty those orphanages. Help end the lies, misconceptions, and stigma. Help bring these beautiful kids home.

* facts taken from

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Heart Baby

This is the story of the baby that stole my heart. This is the story of how God taught me how to love and more importantly how to let go. This is the story of Esther.

During the summer of 2008, while I was on a mission trip in Costa Rica, God used the book of Esther to first call me to a life lived for orphans. Since then the name and story of Esther have always held a special place in my heart.

I arrived in Uganda on January 21st. On February 6th a baby girl was born to a young man and woman in a remote village 45 minutes outside of Jinja. Her mother died giving birth to her. Her family named her Esther.

3 week later she arrived at Amani and into my arms. She rarely left them for the next two months. I knew it was dangerous to let my heart love her, but I also knew that I was called to a life of love, no matter the consequences.

And there were consequences. When I left her to go to another orphanage there were times I thought my heart was going to rip in two, I missed her so much. I cried buckets of tears over her and prayed and prayed about how I could be involved in her life. I wanted to stay in Uganda and love on her forever, but I knew God was calling me home for now.

I’ll never forget the night I said goodbye to her to leave for America. I held her tightly to my chest and sobbed, struggling to pray over her through my tears. I bathed her sweet body and snuggled her into pajamas. I stood over her bed for minutes, trying to delay the last moment I would put her down. I whispered into her ears that I loved her, that I would pray for her every day, and that I knew God had a plan for her life. And then I put her down and I left.

The next few months in America were some of the darkest of my life. I worried about her constantly, I cried over her daily, and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. And God said, “trust me… I’ll take care of her… I am the father to the fatherless.” Each day I struggled to place her in his arms, only to fail and try all over again.

In September Kelsey and I started Obukuumi sponsorship program where we worked to get children like Esther home with their families. I secretly dreaded the day when we were given Esther’s file. My worst fear was that we would be forced to send her back to an unsafe or unloving home. I’d also been told some things that lead me to believe that her home was not a healthy environment to return to. The night before Kelsey was scheduled to visit Esther’s home I was in a state of full-blown anxiety (yah God is STILL working on me with the whole trust thing…) but Kelsey loved her family and had nothing but praise for the home environment. Concerns I had before turned out not to be true.

Yet I selfishly was not happy for Esther. I didn’t want to lose our skype dates, the pictures, the updates on her personality and new accomplishments. I thought I’d let her go several times before, but I was forced to realize that I still needed to. Our God is faithful and he slowly over the next few weeks taught me how to fully place Esther in his hands.

Today Esther went home with her Jjaja (grandmother) and I can honestly say I am so excited for her. I still love her to pieces, but I don’t worry about her anymore, and I miss her less. I trust God that he will take care of her and that he has an incredible plan for her life.

This journey has brought so much pain, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I let myself love Esther with my whole heart and watched it tear to pieces when I left her. But I am coming out of this dark tunnel and I can say with full confidence that our God never leaves us nor forsakes us. God has and continues to walk me through this journey of loving and losing.

So when I lay eyes on the next child God calls my heart to love I’ll jump in head first, even though I know full well the pain that follows, because I have full confidence that God will see me through to the other side.

Essy girl- I love you. I miss you. I am so honored to have cared for you during your first months of life and so grateful for all you’ve taught me. I’m sending you kisses and prayers from America. Welcome home.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


God with us.

It is the promise of Christmas; that He is with us. For 33 years he was with us in human form, but today he is still with us in spirit. With us when we weep. With us when we rejoice. With us when we question. With us when we know.

"He doth give his joy to all;
He becomes an infant small;
He becomes a man of woe;
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh
And thy maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear
And thy maker is not near.

O! He gives to us His joy
That our griefs He may destroy;
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan"

William Blake

Hold on His promise this Christmas season. His everlasting promise that he is with us, both now and forevermore.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All I Really Want For Christmas Music Video

Orphan Care

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Matthew 18:5

I understand that not every christian has as much passion as I do when it comes to orphans. I understand that there are tons and tons of other causes and concerns that your heart could ache for. I don't think everyone is called to adopt. Not everyone is called to go to Africa or China or Russia to work in orphanages. Not everyone is called to be a foster parent. But I do believe as Christians we are called to care for orphans in one way or another.


Become a foster parent

Pray for these kids

Write a check to an organization working with orphans

Encourage adoptive families (make them a meal, offer to babysit, be a friend who doesn't judge, send letters or e-mails)

volunteer at an orphanage

Sponsor an orphaned child

Financially support a family who is called to adopt

Purchase clothing, hats, shoes, etc... that support orphan care and send a positive message

DO SOMETHING. Because every night over 147 million children go to sleep with no one kissing them goodnight. How are they supposed to understand our God's love for them when there is no one modeling it for them here on earth?

DO SOMETHING. Because our God's heart breaks for these children and wants YOU to do something about it.

Need someone smarter to convince you you're called to orphan care? Check out this article in Christianity Today from their July issue

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 Million Realities

Today is World AIDS Day.

25 million people have died of HIV/AIDS
That is 5,500 people every single day
2.1 million children under 15 are living with HIV/AIDS
14 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS

Her name was Peace. She was estimated to be about one years old. She was being fostered by one of my good friends but due to legal complications Peace had to come to Amani for a few weeks. Peace was so sick. TB. HIV. Pnuemonia. Sores. Malnutrition. The sores in her mouth prevented her from sucking a bottle so we would spend hours squirting the milk into her mouth until she was so exhausted she would fall asleep. There were moments when we were brought to tears at her pain. Those nights when she cried her weak cry and we felt so helpless knowing this tiny baby was in more pain then we had ever felt. And so we prayed. And prayed. And prayed. This beautiful baby girl had people across continents praying over her frail body.

She proved the nurses and doctors wrong by gaining weight, getting over her TB and pneumonia. I will never forget the first time she smiled. It was beautiful. Her smile filled her whole face and it brought joy to anyone who witnessed it. Baby Peace got healthier and healthier every time I saw her. Her adoptive mommy and the others who had the privilage of caring for Baby Peace all dreamed of the day she would walk. The day she would talk. The day she would laugh. The day she would run. God had performed a miracle and I was reminded of it every single time I saw Peace's gorgeous smile.

In July I was in the US volunteering at a teen summer camp. I didn't have internet access and lost my phone on the first day. The last day as we were packing up to leave I found my phone in someone's sleeping bag. I had 3 text messages from a good friend. "Did you get the FB message about Peace? She is really sick. Pray for her." "Peace is really bad. The doctors said there isn't anything else they can do. PRAY." "She passed away Meg..."

Beautiful Baby Peace was gone. HIV/AIDS claimed her body for its own. Of course there were times where I doubted God's miracle in her life, but today I see it once again. It's World AIDS day and instead of posting statistics that leave people numb and stationary I see my friends posting pictures, stories, letters, poems, etc... to Baby Peace. Peace is turning those statistics into a face. A reality. A Baby. A loved one.

We know Peace is in heaven, her precious body disease free, but that doesn't mean her story is over. I have a feeling it is just beginning.

This is one story of one baby that HIV/AIDS stole. Multiply this by 25 million. 25 million faces. 25 million stories. 25 million realities.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bring Meaning Back to Christmas

I love Christmas. It is by far my favorite holiday and every year it makes me more and more sad to see it get lost to consumerism. If you are like me and worry about keeping your Christmas meaningful here are some things you can do about it!

First: watch this quick video and be inspired to make a difference with your Christmas spending habits

Second: make gift giving meaninful. If you see that gift that is just perfect and says, "I really know who you are as a person and that's why I got this for you" then get it. This kind of gift giving shows others you care and know who they are

Third: Stay away from giving gifts that are going to end up in the trash or being returned. This usually happens when you don't know the person well and just buy something because you feel obligated. For these gifts either make a donation to a good charity in their name or go shopping at organization that give the money towards good causes. Here are some of my favorite places to shop meaningfully:

thanks Grace!

If you have any more suggestions I haven't mentioned comment on this post and i'll add them. Have a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Am In Love...

...with a baby, with a continent, with a people. My heart aches to love the orphaned, the abused, the neglected, but loving them is never ever easy. Loving them can tear your heart to pieces and leave you desperate, lost, and hurting. Loving them is the ultimate paradox- the most intense joy and pain I have ever felt.

There is one baby who particularly stole my heart. I can't share her name or details of her story yet, but it has been a bumpy road for me. I feel like all I have done in her 9 months of life (I met her when she was a newborn) is let go of her again and again. I let go when I said goodbye to move on to another orphanage, to go back to America, and everyday as I struggled to live here in the states. And now I have to let go once again as it seems likely she will be returning home to her family soon.

This is a good thing. Her family loves her and with Obukuumi's help will be able to care for her. I am happy. But i'm also selfish and her going home means no more skype dates for me, updates on how she is, or pictures from volunteers. I let go again. My heart breaks again. I go before My Father and demand, "is it always going to be like this? Will me life be just series of loving and loss?"

"Yes, especially if you keep loving them with your frail human love." It was my prayer from the start that I would love these kids with Christ's love, not my own. It seems i've failed. If I was loving them with Christ's love I would be ecstatic that my baby is going home. This is the best situation for her, it is everything I prayer for. I should be praising God, not crying over my loss.

Of Africa... you are so good at making me realize how completely inept I am. I can't do anything. Only through Christ can I accomplish any good in this world. Africa brings me to a place where I cannot function without my savior. It throws situation after situation that leave me clinging to my God.

I am in love with a baby, a continent, with a people, but above all else I am in love with a God WHO SAVES.

"The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service to him." (Oswals Chambers)

My prayer today is that Jesus would be first.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Band Aids on Bullet Wounds

Dear “children who are not mine but who have stolen my heart,”

I love you. I cannot imagine being a mother- is it really possible to love a child more than this? How will I survive so much overflowing emotion? Can my heart take it?

Today I cry for you. My mind and heart are wandering to the places you have been before I hugged and kissed you. I have not known even an ounce of the pain and suffering you have known and I have at least 15 years on you. You have been abandoned, abused (physically, sexually, verbally, emotionally), sick, starving, unloved, casted aside. And as I struggle to love you I know my hugs and kisses are like band aids on bullet wounds. My frail human love does not conquer all. It is not enough. Who was I to think it was? Love wasn’t enough for your mother when she left you on that street corner. Love wasn’t enough for your father when he tried and failed to get ARVs for you. Love wasn’t enough for your grandma who struggled to scrounge up enough food to feed you and your family each day.

I might come with money to buy food, medicine, and clothes. But I am empty when it comes to healing your wounds. I am powerless.

All praise and glory be to the one who is all powerful. The one who heals. The one who comes bearing living water while my earthly water falls to the ground. The one who can give you peace, love, joy, and acceptance. The one who has adopted us all into his family.

Dear children I will put aside my pride and face the realization that nothing I do can bring you the healing I so greatly desire for you.

And so I will carry you to Jesus.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reality is a Weighty Thing

WARNING: Reading this blog post may cause tears, anger, check writing, and above all research into adoption. These are some incredibly powerful words. I hope some day my words can have as much an impact on someone else as these words had on me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ana's Adoption

The room is big with cribs lining the walls. In the center is a huge playpen with 8-10 babies inside it, playing, scooting, and observing their environment. They eat. They sleep. They cry. They wait in the playpen. Every day. Of course there are workers who smile at them and occasionally hold and kiss them but there are babies that need to be fed and children that need to be cared for. She is just one of many. She plays in that pen with her mismatched clothes, lower lip sucked in, and thinning hair. She is serious, her brows furred over her chocolate brown eyes as she observes those around her. She has no mother, no person who cares enough to learn more about her then her name. No one has taken the time to discover what makes her laugh, what her favorite food is, or that she loves to dance and be held. She is alone.

Weeks later she is lying on her tummy in the middle of a crowded living room thousands of miles away from her home (and yet miraculously she is also home). She is surrounded by people who have loved her the moment they heard her name. People who want to play with her, learn her favorite foods, discover what makes her laugh, dance with her, and hold her until the sun goes down. That night she drinks her bottle in the arms of a mother who loves her more than anything, falls asleep in her arms, is kissed by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who can’t wait to watch her grow up, and wakes to a world of people aching to be with her.

Her life took a complete 360. Over the next few weeks she transforms from a skinny baby to a fat baby. A serious baby to a joyful baby. A scooting baby to a crawling and then walking baby. A baby with thinning hair to a baby with thick gorgeous brown hair.

And God allowed me the privilege of not only witnessing it, but playing a part. Katie Davis (adoptive mother of 14) described adoption as “the gospel in my living room.” Why am I so in love with Africa? Orphans? Adoption? People ask me all the time how it all began and I’ve only just been able to track it back to my cousin Ana. Ana was the first time I got to witness the miracle of adoption and seeing her transform under my aunt’s loving care spoke more to me of Christ’s redeeming love then any sermon I have ever heard.

Ana is the most beautiful child I have ever met. Ana is the most challenging child I’ve ever met. She makes me laugh. She makes me cry. She makes me want to adopt. She makes me doubt that I will ever be a good mother. God has used Ana to teach me so much.

I’ve tried several times before to write a post explaining what it is about adoption that is so beautiful to me, but words just can’t do it justice. You have to see it. You have to experience it. You have to live it. Adoption is hard and oh so challenging. Adoption is beautiful and one of the most rewarding things you can do in this world. For me adoption is the closest I am ever going to get to understanding the gospel message.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Put Down Your Stones

Perhaps she had never been loved by anyone. Her father had beaten her, her husband ignored her, and he was the only man who held her gently, kissed her passionately, and told her she was loved. He made her feel alive and made her feel like in these huge wide world little insignificant her mattered. When she was with him she felt peace and joy for the first time in her short life.

And so she crawled into his bed- wouldn't you?

And now she's kneeling on the dirt, clinging to the thin sheet wrapped around her. Surrounding her are angry people lightly throwing their stones from one hand to another, just waiting to throw them at her. She could almost feel the cold stones pounding against her exposed body. Her knees dug into the dirt, her arms hugged her body fiercely, and every part of her shook in fear and dread. They had dragged her out into a large crowd and she struggled to hide her face behind her sheet, for fear that she would see someone she knew in the crowd. She could not even fathom the humiliation she would feel if that happeneed.

There was a man standing in front of her and the Pharisees were addressing him,

"Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

Her body shook more fiercely as her mouth became dry and heart started to beat in pure terror. She watched the man's feet, afraid to look up into his face, for she was convinced she would see nothing by condemnation there. His knees bent and he stooped down and began writing in the dirt with his finger. All the eyes that had been drilling into her now shifted to this teacher. She took a deep breath in the absence of those eyes and as she quickly glanced up she caught the teacher's gaze. He smiled at her, quickly and privately. It was gentle and loving. She had no idea how to react.

He had looked her in the eyes when all she wanted was to hide her face in shame. Her had stooped down to her level when all she wanted was to dissapear into the ground in hiding. He smiled at her when she was too afraid to even cry.

"If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her," He spoke to the crowd. This was it, this was when she expected to feel the stones. Instead she heard them fall to the ground, not into her flesh. All around her, one by one the stones fell, settling into the dust, and forming a circle of stone around her. The teacher once again bent down and continued writing in the dust. He was on the ground with her.

He looked her in the eyes and said, " Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

For the first time she dared to raise her eyes and look around her as she realized everyone had left. It was just her and the teacher. Her fear lessened but didn't fully retreat as she wondered if the teacher still had plans to punish her himself.

"No one sir, " she whispered.

He looked into her eyes once more, and replied, " Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin."

She was free. She was forgiven. She was loved. She looked into those eyes and saw a future for herself, a new life where she would be valued and find joy. She left with the faith that she would see that future come to pass.


It is so easy to condemn the mothers who abandon their children, the fathers who don't take their responsibilities seriously, the grandparents who hurt and abuse the children in their care. I need to be reminded daily to put down my stone and look on them with love. At the end of the day we are all hurting and sinful people. I have no idea what had happened to them that brought them to that place.

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."
Taken from A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

Thursday, August 26, 2010


On the night her mother died she looked up at the night sky and asked 'why?' The sky didn't respond.

When her father got sick she turned to the doctor and asked 'why?' He just shook his head.

When her father died and she was left a complete orphan she went to the temple, got on her knees, and asked 'why?' The room echoed back silence.

When she was forced to leave her Uncle and travel to the King's palace she turned to one of the guards and asked 'why?' She received no answer.

When the King picked her of all people to be his Queen she was confused and asked her attendent 'why?' She shrugged her shoulders.

When Haman chose- of all races to destroy- HER people she cried out to God, WHY? Why have all these things happened to me?

"For such a time as this"

Everything in her life up until that point had been for this purpose. God had brought her to this position so that she could save her people. It was going to take gut, prayer, trust, tears, and a lot of courage, but at the end of the day she would be credited with saving an entire race of people. An orphan's name is still praised thousands of years later.

I'm still waiting for my time. I am waiting for that day when God whispers into my heart, "for such a time as this." That moment when everything comes together and all the pain and waiting and tears suddenly make sense. It won't be easy when he whispers. It's going to take guts, more prayer, more tears, more trust, and a lot more courage, but it will all make sense. All the pieces of the puzzle will come together.

He has a plan. My days feel so empty and there are times where I just sit in the middle of a classroom or stop while walking across campus and think, "I can't do this." BUT HE HAS A PLAN. This is all for a greater purpose. This is all preparation for the day when it all comes together. When he whispers, "for such a time as this."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's a Balance Beam

Lectures. Textbooks. Notes. Internet. Facebook. Late night Rita runs. Club meetings. Library. Friends. Acquaintances. 8 am classes. Textings. Walking to class. Hall movie nights. Lunch dates. Dinner dates. Church visits. Homework.

23 years old- 37 pounds. Obukuumi. Amani Baby Cottage. Emily. Ekisa. Kelsey. Beautiful Babies. Skype dates. Fundraising. Orphans. Adoption. Jinja. Kampala. Divided families. Starvation. Poverty. Sunsets. Rice and beans.

How do I balance my two lives? They seem such a far cry away from each other. My heart aches for one and yet lives another. Today the balancing act seemed successful. Three classes, lunch with friends, reading in the library, phone call to Kelsey about Obukuumi, phone call to TAG about Obukuumi, and updates on the Obukuumi blog.

Other days it isn't. On Saturday I went to the beach and as the wind whipped my hair around dear Nabakoza would not leave my mind (read about her story here: She is 23 years old and weighs 37 pounds. An image like that does not leave your head and when you have had the wonderful opportunity to meet the beautiful people of Uganda it makes living life in America so hard. It makes simple things like going to the beach hard. Why do I get to have fun when they are hurting and dying?

I truly believe it's all about balancing. I don't think God wants me to feel guilty about going to the beach, but I do think he wants me to remember the hurting and dying and pray for them daily. And so I have to balance. I work on Obukuumi stuff and I study spanish. I pray for Uganda and I go to lunch. I write blog posts to encourage people to donate and become involved and then I go to a club fair.

It's not easy and some days I really suck at it, but it is where I need to be right now. At the end of the day I know I can make it through because Our God is a God of peace and provision.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

They're Waiting... She's Waiting

She came to the orphanage when she was an infant. Small, healthy, and beautiful. It wasn't until she was around 5 or 6 months and started missing developmental milestones that concerns were raised. By her first birthday it was apparent. She had cerebral palsy.

She is four years old now and has spent her years laying on a mat or sitting in a chair. The workers at the orphanage mush her food up especially for her and the staff does their best to accomodate her, but there just aren't enough resources. She looks out at the children playing around her day after day, stuck in her chair. She eats mushed up food while the other kids down crackers, potatoes, and rice. She uses her cries and whines to communicate her discomfort and pain. When she reaches the age of five she will age out of her current orphanage.

She is waiting...

He is seven and has been given special permission to remain at the orphanage because he is autistic and there is no other place to send him. When he was a toddler his father brought him to the orphanage, un-aware of his condition. Years later his father returned for him, but when he saw his son and the nurse explained his limitations the father left. The boy spends his days running around eating trash, throwing books on the floor, and laughing his infectious laugh. His joy lights up a room and his pure spirit draws you to him.

But he is too big for the orphanage. His behaviour gets worse each day and he gets bigger and harder to control. There just aren't the resources to give him the one on one attention he so desperately needs.

He is waiting...

He was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). His condition makes him slower then the other kids and affects his ability to listen and follow directions. He has always been one of the hardest kids at the orphanage to control. Yet his heart is full. His capacity to love would put an adult heart to shame. He loves to learn and pushes through when his FAS tries to fight against it. He is a fighter.

He is five years old now and has watched all of his friends go to forever families. The boys and girls he has grown up with have slowely one by one said goodbye to him and traveled away in the arms of loving moms and dads. He sits back and waits for his day to come. When the last of his group leaves, he wonders if it ever will.

He is waiting...

Emily went to Uganda for the first time in 2007. She fell in love, but more specifically she fell in love with the children of Uganda who struggle with special needs. A vision grew in her heart to open a home for them. A home that would provide the therapy, equipment, healthcare, love, and one on one attention they need. In the fall of 2009 doors started opening for her to make her dream a reality. She partnered with her friend Emily (I know confusing right?) and they began planning and preparing for their home. The paper work has been completed, the home has been chosen, and one plane ticket has been purchased.

Their home, Ekisa, still needs funding before Emily can get on a plane and bring these children to a new home. Everything is set and ready to go except for this.

She is waiting...

Will you help bring a heart yearning to serve and children desperately needing the service together? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE visit her website and consider supporting Ekisa for just $10 a month. It's not very much but if we get people together it will turn into a lot!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Africa Adieu... For Now

I’m standing at the airport steps remembering just 5 months before when I stood in the exact same spot. I don’t even recognize the girl who stood there five months ago, she’s gone and I’m much more fond of the girl who is replacing her. I remember how scared I was of the future, how uncertain I felt about everything in life, how dependent I was on superficial things. Now all I feel is sadness. Sadness because I’m leaving home to go ‘home’.

I thought it was just that I was going to miss my babies but as I helped with a local feeding program the other day I realized there is way more to it than that. I love this country. I love the people. I love the children. I love the way the clouds form in the sky in a breathtaking way. I love the way the rain comes unexpectedly, reminding you that nothing ever turns out like you think it will here. I love the way I feel when my entire day is wrapped up in other people’s needs, not my own. I love how close I feel to God here.

I’m in America now eating foods and seeing people I’ve missed. I savor Krispy Kreme doughnuts and hug my baby siblings tight and as I’m doing it all I realize it’s not enough. I love my family and friends and Krispy Kreme but not enough to keep me from missing Uganda. I feel like I’m in autopilot these past few days. I can do things correctly, like drive on the right side of the road and put dishes in the dishwasher, but it all feels strange as my body takes over and does them perfectly. ‘Normal’ things aren’t normal. My home isn’t my home anymore.

My mind has compartmentalized Uganda and America- putting each experience and skill in its own section and now it has opened the America drawer and everything comes flooding back. Except my heart is still in Uganda and this country seems strange. I feel out of place and not completely here. Like i’m in a foggy dream and tomorrow I’ll wake up to Esther’s cry and the sound of chickens outside my window.

Can a person fully function if their body and heart have been separated? Will I ever be truly happy in America or will I just count down the days until I can return to Uganda?Well let’s just put that all in the Uganda shelf for a while so that I can turn autopilot back on and try and function normally in this strange country. I want to thank every person out there who supported me in this trip, as you can tell from reading my blog saying this trip was life-changing in not an understatement. Everyone who wrote me e-mails, commented on my blog posts, and prayed for me- you kept me going when things were tough and I am so grateful.

I am looking into and planning a trip back next summer- if I can raise the money. If you are interested in supporting me please let me know.

Africa isn’t done with me yet- and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Surpassing Joy

One of the most nauseating things I was told before I came here was “you are such a good person to help orphans in Africa!” and “you’re sacrificing so much you poor thing”. Those people just don’t get it. You think I’m an amazing person and that I’m sacrificing so much?

You didn’t get to see T today smiling and crawling around on the floor and know that three weeks ago he was lying in my arms lifeless all skin and bones.

You didn’t get to feed baby G her bottle and plant kisses on her head knowing that just a mere 6 hours ago she was lying in a field in the rain abandoned.

You won’t get to see two sets of parents come running through our gates in three short weeks and take their new children into their arms.I’m not amazing.

I’m not sacrificing so much. I am doing what everyone else is doing in this world. I’m finding what gives me the most joy and pursuing it. Nothing has ever given me as much joy as caring for the orphaned children of Uganda. So that’s what I’m going to do.

I don’t think God always provides you with a miraculous sign to show you what you should do with your life. Sometimes I think it is as simple as being somewhere doing something and feeling a peace and joy so profound that you know they couldn’t come from anywhere but God. I have found that here. When I think about a future here all the world fades away. When I think about never having a proper shower, air conditioning, krispy kreme, the possibility of never marrying, only seeing my family and friends once a year I grow sad. But then I see one of my babies laugh or say their first word or come running to me to give me a hug and that joy surpasses all.

Bring Them Home

M and I’s dad visited them today. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since I got here. He walked through the gate and all the children ran to him and asked to be picked up. Kids here rarely see men so they all get excited when one comes to visit. It took me a while to figure out who’s dad he was since he was so loving toward every baby that ran up to him. Eventually he settled down in the grass with M and I. He sat with his legs straight out in front of him and M and I sat close to each other on top of his legs. The three of them didn’t speak much, but just sat there for about 20 minutes. M cried when the other kids tried to climb on her dad’s lap and he would gently pat her leg until she stopped crying.

When you spend your days with kids who have lost or been abandoned by their parents, when you hear stories of parents that have abused their children or not fed them until they make it down to mere skin and bones, when you hear about and meet babies that have been found in latrines- a loving father becomes that much more beautiful to you. I can’t imagine how easy it would have been for M and I’s father to have dropped them off here, convinced himself they would be well cared for, and gotten on with his life. Instead he goes out of his way to visit them, loves on them in every way he can, and intends to one day be able to care for them. It is beauty so real it makes me cry.

When dinner was ready he picked them up- one in each arm- and carried them to dinner. The three of them took their time and my heart broke as I thought of the goodbye I was about to witness. They cried when he put them down. He cuddled and shushed them until their cries faded into whimpers and then he left. They went into dinner, sat side by side and cried silent tears all through their meal.Why in a world where parents abuse and abandon their children can a father who loves his children not be with them? Why are things that I so desperately want to be simple so complicated?

A Single Second

This was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Hands Down. We had our cameras ready and had been waiting by the gate for hours when we finally heard the sound of a van coming down the road. The anticipation was so great we could hardly gather our breath. We ran and jumped like little children exhibiting the joy B, M, and D didn’t know to feel.

Their lives were about to dramatically change.

When that car pulled into the gate and the parents got out of the car there were their kids, their sons and daughter, waiting for them. They gathered them into their arms for the first time and placed the first kisses on their heads and cheek and hands.

The first of many hugs kisses and tears from a parent to their child.

They had parents.

Parents that loved them and promised to care for them for the rest of their lives.

These kids used to sleep in a room with 13 other kids. Now they sleep in a room with their brothers and sisters and parents down the hall.

They used to have scores of volunteers come in, love them, and then leave. Now they have a family that loves them and will never ever leave.

They used to wonder why their parents abandoned them. Now they need only to look up and see that their parents are right there.

A life can change in a single fleeting second and theirs changed the moment the doors to that van opened.