Sunday, November 28, 2010


So here I sit. The night before I leave early in the morning. It's hard to believe that less than 2 months ago I was asked to go to Uganda. That time flew by so quickly. Preparing emotionally to leave my family for 2 weeks has definitely been one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through. They are my life. Maybe God's trying to teach me a lesson to not put them before Him? ;-)

This has definitely been a huge learning experience for me. For the past week or so, I've been trying to remind myself that this trip isn't even about me and when I start worrying about things, I'm not focused on why I am going and Who I am doing it for. Our pastor said this morning that God has two main purposes in His Will for our lives - to glorify Him and to enjoy Him in all that we do forever and ever. So I've had to ask myself today, "When I worry about my safety or when my thoughts are consumed with how much I'm going to miss my family, am I glorifying God and enjoying Him?" Easier said than done right now, but it does help me to focus on what I am doing - or what I "should" be doing ;-)

I am so overwhelmed and humbled by all the encouragement and acts of kindness I have received from my friends and family as I have gone along on this journey these last few months. Our homeschool Co-Op threw a Thanksgiving Potluck and collected donations to be given to me for my trip. My sweet friend, Nicole, arranged it all and her family did a super cute Thanksgiving puppet show for everyone, as well. I was "supposed" to be in charge of video taping the play but unfortunately my camera wasn't charged so I only got the first minute or so :-(

That puts a smile on my face every time I watch it!

My girl's friend, Makenzie, has a website called "Punkey Monkey Missions". At a garage sale recently, she set up a table and sold the items she makes and gave me the profits from her sale. I told her that was like receiving a million dollars to me!

My girls have also been making and selling things for me through their ministry called Girly Me Missions. I remember about a month ago, a friend of theirs was over and all of a sudden they decided to set up a lemonade stand to raise money for my trip. Now mind you, we live on an acre on a culta-sac in a quiet neighborhood and they did not advertise for the sale. I kinda chuckled to myself thinking, "Oh, that's sweet, but too bad for them they won't have any customers because there's no one around!" Within minutes, people were coming from I don't know where and pretty soon a bunch of neighborhood kids were buying lemonade and yelling at passerby's to stop and buy a cup. It was amazing. Silly me for being so small minded ;-)

My sweet friend, Rusti, created a Prayer Calendar for people to pray for me while I am gone. I so appreciate knowing that friends and family are praying for our team and Calo Me Lare, as well.

And I couldn't have come this far if it were not for the support from my husband, Steve. He's put up with my sappiness and tears and has made I don't know how many trips to the store getting things for my trip. He has been a huge support to me and for that I am eternally grateful.

So, I better sign off here. Still have some more packing to do and a little mental preparation before I go to bed early tonight. Our flight leaves at 6 in the morning and should arrive in Uganda 35 hours later! Looks like I should have plenty of time to get caught up on my reading that I never have time to do! I do so look forward to working with the people of Uganda. I have really developed a heart for them and a passion to have their stories told. There is so much we can do for them, even here in America. I'll be blogging as soon as I get back in 2 weeks!

Now, it's time to breathe...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"I Refuse" by Josh Wilson

I just heard this song on the radio. Loooove it! Perfect for our trip to Uganda and anyone else who is stepping outside of their box to help others!

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prayer Requests For Our Trip to Uganda

I'd like to thank everyone for their support and encouraging words over the last few months. Now that our trip is upon us, I'd like to ask everyone to please agree in prayer over the following things for our team...

* Travel will be safe and "uneventful" :-)
* Safety while in Uganda
* God’s favor, wisdom, and discernment in making business decisions pertinent to Calo Me Lare
* God will equip those He has called
* Good health
* Strength, courage and selfless hearts while serving God
* Pray for protection from evil spirits and those who would conspire against us
* God will provide for our families back home

Prayer requests for Calo Me Lare...

* Protection for the new orphans and widows in Calo Me Lare and that all of their needs will be met - mentally, physically and spiritually
* All of the orphans will be sponsored financially within the coming months
* Continued construction progress will be made
* Peace, hope and joy will be restored to those living at Calo Me Lare

Who Is Joseph Kony?

WARNING: The following material is not appropriate for young or sensitive minds...

Joseph Kony was born in 1961 in Odek, a village east of Gulu in northern Uganda. According to Wikipedia, "Kony was the son of farmers. He was friendly to his siblings, but if they crossed him he came down hard on them. During his teenage years, Joseph Kony apprenticed as the village witch doctor under his older brother, Benon Okello. When his older brother died, he took over full responsibility. When confronted, he often resorted to his fists rather than parrying verbally. He was teased in school about his size and the teachers gave him a hard time because he didn't seem too bright. His father was a lay apostle of the Catholic Church and his mother was an Anglican. Kony was an altar boy for several years. He stopped attending church at about the age of 15. A high-school dropout, Kony first came to prominence in January 1986, in his mid 20s."

It was at this time that he formed an "army", consisting mostly of children soldiers. Later named the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), he recruits his unwilling troops by attacking villages in Uganda, as well as Kenya, Sudan, the Central African Republic and the neighboring Bas Uele district of northern Democratic Republic of Congo. The attacks occur mostly at night, catching sleeping families off-guard. They typically kill the adults and abduct the children, forcing them to fight for him. And the attacks on the adults aren't just with a gun shot to the head. They suffer violent deaths, cutting his victims to pieces with machetes. The children he kidnaps are then beaten, and starved nearly to death. This is his way of brainwashing his new soldiers - forcing them to kill and do unthinkable things in order to not be beaten and receive a small amount of food to eat and live. The girls are also forced to become sex slaves and often marry his older commanders.

Kony is believed to be in hiding in the southern part of Sudan. Attacks by the LRA have lessened within the last few years; however, there does seem to be a resurgence of killings mostly in Kenya although The Uganda Watch website reports that there has been a recent increase in Uganda, as well. Over the last 20 years, Kony has killed approximately 100,000 people and nearly 2 million have been displaced.

The following videos give more insight into the wicked evilness of Joseph Kony. I can only pray that he will be stopped someday soon and that hope, opportunity, and a sense of "normalcy" can be restored to his victims.

Inside the LRA - by Journeyman Pictures
Abduction in Uganda - by Journeyman Pictures

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ignorant No More

I am beginning my 2nd year of doing volunteer work with Project Hope Worldwide. Up until recent months I, honestly and sadly, didn't pay much attention when I heard phrases such as "child soldier" or "night commuters". Like many people who have heard those phrases but didn't think much about them, I shrugged it off as "it's very sad, but what can I do from so far away?"

Since being asked to go to Uganda, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about the country itself, it's history and it's culture. I've had many, many sleepless nights where I'm up for several hours reading about the plight of Ugandan orphans. Why have I not heard these stories before? Why did I not know who Joseph Kony was and that he was on the "Top 10 Most Wanted and Dreaded World Criminals list" (according to Forbes magazine, 2008)? Why did I not know about the thousands and thousands of horrendous and brutal killings by the Lord's Resistance Army? Why did I not know?

Well, now I do know and can no longer plead ignorance. Derk Madden, President of Project Hope Worldwide, told me recently that on one of his trips to Uganda, a boy shared with him his horrifying story of his childhood. Then the boy looked at him straight in the eye and said, "Many people want to know our stories, but what will you do with this information? People hear us but do nothing." So I am now on a mission to tell others about the mistreatment of innocent Ugandans. I am here to tell everyone there is hope for these people and we CAN help them, even if we're on the other side of the world.

* How to get involved...

1. Pray! Pray for the oppressed, pray for the Ugandan government, pray for those committing horrible crimes against innocent civilians, pray for increased funds to be made available to help those in need and pray that the hurting will stop.

2. Donate.  Contributions to Project Hope Worldwide goes directly to the building of "Calo Me Lare" (a.k.a. "Village of Redemption"), which is providing homes for these orphans, as well as giving them an education and good medical care. 

3. Volunteer. Project Hope Worldwide hosts an annual dinner and auction, called Kwero, that raises funds for Ugandan orphans. Attend the event or even help plan it! Contact Project Hope Worldwide to see if there are other volunteer opportunities available. 

4. Notify officials. Write to your government officials and express your concern for the way Ugandan children are kidnapped, beaten, starved, raped, forced to be child soldiers, or killed. Strongly suggest that funds go to help protect innocent Ugandans and capture those doing evil.

So. Now you know about the dire need of Ugandan orphans. What will YOU do with the information?

"My Own Little World" - By Matthew West