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.