About Amanda

I am a daughter of the living king seeking to follow Him in all I do. God has broken my heart for the orphans of this world. I am learning that my sole responsibility on earth is to love with complete abandon. Follow my journey as I continue to learn how to serve Him.

Read how my love story with God began...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Waiting sucks

Sometimes it's hard to be content. Sometimes my heart hurts. Like really hurts. Like hurts so badly that it feels like an actual physical pain in my chest. And when it hurts like that there are no tears, just longing. Longing for more. I kinda suck at just being content.

I know my fight for the orphan and abandoned isn't over. I know God has just begun this work in me. I know there are so many more injustices that He's just waiting to break my heart over. I think He's just waiting for me to be ready. For now, He's calling me to wait.

But here's the thing, I HATE waiting. I want to do something NOW. I want to be planning a trip somewhere. Rocking a little one. Holding the hand of a big kid. I want to be actively DOING something. Yet, I keep feeling God urging me to just be content in Him. To stop making the cause bigger than He is. Because yes, it's a wonderful cause to fight for, and fight for it we should, but God has to be my reason to fight.

"You shall have no other gods before me." -Exodus 20:3

Guilty. It can be SO easy to make the orphan, the forgotten, the starving, the abandoned, etc. my god. To get so caught up in my heartbreak, that I forget to give it to God. My heart breaks and I immediately search out something I can do, but those are my plans. Believe me, I have plans.

God is asking me instead, for now, to pray and be content. But I can be a bit of a brat, and sometimes I just want to kick and scream that I don't want to wait. My heart hurts and I want to do something now!

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." -Psalm 27:14

"...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -1 Corinthians 10:31

I'm learning, VERY slowly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cookies for Caleb!

My awesome bloggy friend Melissa, is SO close to having her precious baby in her arms FOREVER! Melissa and her hubby are adding to their precious family by way of Ethiopia.
They began their journey to their son on March 31, 2010. Now 17 months later they are SO close! On July 21st they flew to meet their son, Caleb, for the very first time.

Now, they will FINALLY get to bring their baby boy home sometime in September!

To be fully funded the Masers still need $3000. Because of an awesome Lifesong grant, they only need to raise $1500 of that, and Lifesong will match the rest!

Caleb's 1st birthday is August 28th. So to celebrate his birthday and his homecoming, the Masers are selling Africa cookie cutters! Cookies for Caleb!

How cute are these?!

For a minimum donation of $15 to Lifesong you will get a tax receipt, an awesome cookie cutter, and will be entered to win a $25 gift card from Amazon!

Click here to make your donation via Lifesong. In the comments be sure to put "Maser 2167" or they will not get credit for your donation. After you have made your donation, email Melissa at masermel@yahoo.com so she can ship you the cookie cutter.

Let's bring Caleb home!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


This Friday I had the awesome opportunity to share about Africa and my passions with a bunch of middle schoolers. I am so thankful God orchestrates the things He does. A teacher that I had in middle school, Mr. Murry, contacted me and asked me to come speak to his classes that day. Of course I jumped at the opportunity because I love telling people about this passion. These kids were awesome. I know that there were some world changers in that room.

Each year, Mr. Murry asks a few of his past students to come and speak to his current students. He wants his students to believe in themselves, to dream, and to fight to make change. I wish more teachers pushed their students to do those things. Because really, aren't those lessons SO much more important than studying a textbook? I do not mean to say that it's not important to learn and gain knowledge, but if you don't believe in yourself, if you don't dream and fight for those dreams, what good is it if you make a 100 on your geography test?

Two other speakers joined me on Friday. Both were girls that moved with their families from Mexico to the United States. They came here not knowing any English, overcame astounding odds, and now are in college on scholarships. One of the girls, Rubi, moved here in 2002. She is now a freshmen in college pursuing a nursing degree. I look up to these girls, and others like them. I wish I had their determination.

I loved sharing some of my pictures with the kids. Telling them about the people that stole my heart. Telling them why I went to Uganda. Making them aware of something that I was clueless about for so long. Making them aware of things that a lot of adults are clueless about.

But back to Rubi, the nursing student. She told the kids she possibly wants to work in the ER. Mr. Murry asked the students if they knew what ER meant. Most knew that ER stood for emergency room, but few knew what actually happens there. The kids began to give examples of reasons you would go to the emergency room. One student suggested if you were in a car accident you would go to the ER. Another student said it is where you go if you are really sick and don't know why. The next example knocked the breath out of me.

One of Mr. Murry's students recently moved to the U.S. from Pakistan. As other students were throwing out suggestions, this student said "bombs." This student is currently learning English, so Mr. Murry asked them to repeat their answer. Again, the student said "bombs." Oh. my. word.

I felt tears well up in my eyes as I fought the urge to scoop this student up. Bombs? Such a far off thing for most of us, yet something so familiar to this middle school student.

When I returned from Uganda I felt very strongly that God wants me to fight for and support the work of Sixty Feet, the ministry I wrote about here. But equally as strong, I felt like He was wanting me to seek out new ways to love and fight for the orphan, the oppressed, and the voiceless right where I am. This student was another reminder of that for me. There are people all around me that are feeling alone, have been oppressed, or are voiceless. I am seeking and learning how God wants me to fight for them.

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -Anne Frank

Friday, July 29, 2011

M1, M3, M4

I know it has been WAY too long since my last Uganda post. Forgive me? I honestly have not had the emotional strength to process everything there is left to tell you about. Nor have I been able to find the words to get you to truly understand. So forgive my futile attempts.

Three of our days were spent serving along an AMAZING ministry called Sixty Feet. Sixty Feet serves in several children's prisons in Uganda. Yes, you read that correctly. Prisons just for children. Sixty Feet works to improve the conditions in the prisons by specifically providing water, food, and medical care.

I had a pretty good feeling prior to Africa that our time with Sixty Feet would wreck me. I had no idea...

We visited 3 different prisons. Because of the sensitive relationship Sixty Feet has with the facilities and the government, the real names of these prisons cannot be used here.

The first prison we visited is known as M1. Kids arrive at M1, and the other prisons, for several different reasons. They could be orphans that have no where else to go. Their parents can drop them off for being "too stubborn." They may have committed a crime. Some may be in prison for something as serious as rape or murder, but we also learned that one boy is in prison because he ran over a chicken with his bicycle!

When our bus pulled up to the M1 facility we were instantly swarmed by kids. We assumed they were kids from the prison, but Moses, the in-country director of Sixty Feet, told us they were all Karamajong kids. The Karamajong tribe is considered the outcasts of Uganda. These children are sent by their parents to beg on the streets. The government then rounds these children up and dumps them at places like M1. These are not orphans! These are children being taken away like dogs to the pound.

I soon found myself attached to the little one in the picture above. Her name is Locura. She was wearing a thin white tank top that was about 3 sizes too big for her, and that was all. No pants, no underwear, no shoes. She was permanently attached to me for the rest of the day. Oh I how loved having her in my arms.

We were given a tour of M1. Our tour began by meeting the boys in the "Black Room." Children are sent to the Black Room to "break" them when they first arrive. They are kept in this room with no bed, toilet, blanket, clothes. Nothing. They are kept in this cell, unable to come out for anything, for several weeks.

After the tour of the remainder of the prison, we joined the prison kids for worship. And oh how they worshiped! It was so beautiful to see them dancing and praising God. It is absolutely heavenly to have a sweet babe in your arms while watching children sing praises.

The next prison we went to is known as M3. At M3 we were welcomed by about 150 kids. Mostly boys age 12-17. All of the kids here were so sweet and so respectful. We got to sing praise and dance with all of them. There was some great drumming! After, we had some time to play ball with them.

After we left M3, it was off to M4. It was at M4 that my heart shattered. Even now, I think of our short time there, and tears come to my eyes. We unfortunately weren't allowed to take pictures at this facility, and words absolutely cannot do justice for how bad things were, but I will do my best to describe it to you.

M4 is a place for children that have been lost, abandoned, or orphaned. We were told children here were ages 2-12. They looked more like infants to about 8.

When we arrived all of the kids were jumping up and down screaming, so excited we had come. We were the first team to ever visit M4. As we came closer, it quickly became evident how many needs there were. All of the kids had little to no clothing. They all were so malnourished. Most of the kids had special needs. There were about 100 kids at M4, and only three women to care for them all. These are good women, but 3 people for 100 kids is not enough.

We gave out headbands when we arrived. In the midst of the commotion, one little girl had a seizure. Four other children came and carried her away. All of the children were so sick. They were lethargic, with distended bellies, and horrible coughs.

I walked up onto the porch and saw a sweet baby that looked to be about 6 months old. I scooped up the bare-bottomed sweetie. She was so happy! She giggled about everything. As I held her I began to notice that her chest and arms were covered in horrible scars that looked to be the result of a burn. I can only imagine how she got them. While she was the size of a 6 month old, she had all of her teeth, which meant she was probably more like 2, at least.

Another one of my team members was sitting beside me with another precious little one. The baby began to have a seizure. Again, someone came and whisked her away to a back room. Alone. I have shared my story here before. You can catch up here and here. Seeing these little ones having seizures, which I know is so terrifying, then seeing them suffer through it alone, was almost more than I could take.

My heart broke further as I saw all of these bare-bottomed babies urinate on the floor of the home. No one cleaned it up, instead other children came and crawled, walked, and sat in it.

I have never felt so small and helpless as I did at M4. The need was overwhelming. In my head I was screaming out to God asking why. Asking how was this to be solved.

I had asked several other kids and a couple of the women what the little girl's name was that I was holding. No one knew. She was alone there. Nameless. We gave stuffed animals to all of the kids that day. I gave her a stuffed elephant. She clutched it to her as I rocked her. Some of our team sang with/for the kids. I carried my little one off the porch as I continued to rock her. I didn't know what to do. I sat on some stairs, clutched her to my chest and wept. I kissed her over and over again. I sang over her and prayed over her. I told her how much I loved her, how much Jesus loves her. I told her how beautiful she is, how special she is.

People always ask how I make it home without bringing the kids with me. I can honestly say that it was only by God's strength that I was able to let her go. I wanted so badly to scoop her up and take her home. To fight for her. To fight through anything and anyone that tried to keep me from bringing my baby home. It breaks my heart to know that she is there, as are so many others, with no one to fill her tummy. No one to rock her to sleep. No one to kiss her boo boos. No one that even knows her name.

We were only allowed a couple of hours at M4, but it was enough to wreck us. It was so incredibly hard to say goodbye. My team and I climbed on the bus with absolutely everyone in tears, some of us sobbing.

Sixty Feet is fighting for M4. Since we left, we learned that 5 children with special needs were transferred to another facility where they can be better cared for. Praise God! It's small, but it's movement in the right direction. I am still wrecked from my time with Sixty Feet, and oh I pray that I am never healed from it. I don't want to forget the pain.

I love this C.S. Lewis quote,

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."

I want to learn to love like Christ. I know that means more pain, more heartbreak. I want that. I know God will use my heartache for His glory. I want His love to change me. I know my love for the children's prisons has changed me. I can't wait to see what He wants me to do with it.

I am still struggling with the things I saw in Uganda. I miss my babies terribly. I know that God is so much bigger than any problem. So much bigger than M4.

I must cling to Isaiah 25:8, "He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken." I wait for that day. But until then, I will not sit idly by without fighting for the oppressed. For now, I'm waiting for God to show me the next move.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pure Worship

Worshiping in Africa was breathtaking. For one, Uganda is absolutely beautiful. God's splendor and majesty is so clear. I mean when you see things like this....

How can you not marvel at God's handiwork?

I truly believe that love, is pure worship. Simply loving, that's God's heart. If we could just get love right, everything else would fall into place. In Uganda, you are surrounded by love. You love until hurts, and then get love back tenfold.

A child's heart is so pure and beautiful. It was awesome to receive the love they offered and to see the worship they offered their King. It was so humbling to see how they worshiped with their whole being. Every bit of them presented to God. Whether they were falling to their knees in prayer...

Or dancing with joy to honor their Lord...

It makes me ashamed of the half-hearted worship I have offered at times. My first Sunday back from Uganda, I went to church with family. There was nothing wrong with the service, but I found myself in tears. I missed Uganda so badly in that moment. I longed to be holding the hand of a child, dancing, exhausted, laughing.

I watched kids unashamed to offer all of themselves in worship. Not afraid to offer their hearts. I have SO much to learn. We...I get so caught up in appearances. Sometimes that means we're afraid to fall on our face and cry out to the Lord. Other times that means we raise our hands and close our eyes...because that's what "good" worship looks like.

Harsh? Maybe. But that's where I am right now. I am trying to remind myself that God is the same no matter the country. I can't change the world, but I can change me. I can let God change me. I can let the worship I saw in Uganda, change my worship. That is what I long for. I long for the example of children to penetrate my heart, to convict me and move me to change. I don't ever want to go back.

One of my favorite songs is "I Saw What I Saw" by Sara Groves...

I saw what I saw and I can't forget it
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it
Something on the road, cut me to my soul...

Your pain has changed me
Your dreams inspire
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me, what I'm afraid of
and what I know of love

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pastor Rebel

Isaac Wagaba, is known as Pastor Isaac to the people of Uganda. To some American teams who have visited Canaan Children's Home, he is now known as Pastor Rebel. His story is truly one of rebellion. It is not a story of rebellion against God, but a story of a man and his family who vowed to serve God NO MATTER WHAT.

While in Uganda, my team and I spent four days at Canaan Children's Home aka Heaven on earth. Canaan's is an orphanage that offers a home, education, love, and family. There were some angels there that certainly stole my heart.

So back to Pastor Isaac's story...

Pastor Isaac was working with some missionaries when Idi Amin came to reign. Christianity, and all things related, were strictly banned. Those who opposed and were caught in church or with a Bible were put to death.

Pastor Isaac along with other Ugandans held secret underground church services. He buried his Bible in his room, bringing it out only to copy a few verses on a piece of paper that he would hide in his clothing. We take our Bibles seriously for granted!

Pastor Rebel became a wanted man. One day soldiers came to Pastor Isaac's home. He told his wife and two children to run and hide. He was taken and severely beaten. The soldiers put him in a room packed full of other pastors. As Pastor Isaac shared his story with us, he told us how they stood shoulder to shoulder on top of the blood of the ones who were killed before them. They were kept there without food for three days. On the third day, soldiers told them men to renounce God and become a Muslim to spare their life. For those who refused, death awaited them.

Pastor Isaac and the other men were taken outside, blindfolded, and bound. Pastor Isaac told us that he asked one of the soldiers to please hurry and kill him. He would just get to meet Jesus that much sooner. All of the pastors were lined up along a wall. One soldier was assigned to each man. They opened fire. Pastor Isaac heard the gunfire, but was not shot. The soldier firing at him approached him to ask if he was a magician. Why was he unable to shoot Isaac?

Finally, another soldier shot Pastor Isaac in the arm. When he fell to the ground, they assumed he was dead. Pastor Isaac was thrown on the back of a truck with the rest of the dead bodies. They were driven to a forest where there was a pit already full of dead pastors. Isaac was thrown near the top. After the soldiers left, Pastor Isaac heard a voice telling him to get up from among the dead. "I have saved your life so that you may save the lives of my fatherless children."

Pastor Isaac crawled away from the pit. A herdsman found him and took him in. The man sold his cow to pay for Isaac to receive treatment at the hospital. After a short stay there, doctors helped him to escape to Kenya. Two years after his capture, Pastor Isaac was able to locate his wife Rebecca and let her know he was alive. Can you imagine?!

When the reign of Idi Amin ended in 1979, Pastor Isaac and his family were reunited at the exact same place he was captured. They rebuilt their life there. Pastor Isaac had forgotten God's words until one day in 1982 a woman and her two children appeared at his home. She was dying and searching for a place for her children to go. Pastor Isaac told her he could not help her, but they could stay there for the night. In Pastor Isaac's words, "that woman was very smart," and left early the next morning. Those two children became the first of many in Canaan Children's Home.

Pastor Isaac's story sounds like it either came straight from the Bible or Hollywood. I want his life story to encourage, inspire, and challenge you. He is a man I greatly admire. He is so full of joy. It is beautiful to see God so alive in His life. My life has been and is so easy. I have no idea what true hardship is. I love that God is powerful enough to take all of our pain, like the pain we talked about with the handkerchiefs and teenagers, and turn them into treasures like Pastor Isaac and Canaan's.

Before we left Pastor Isaac asked our team to pray for that God would provide the one that would take over Canaan's one day. I hope you will join me in praying for this amazing, godly couple.

Up next, worship Africa style and my LIFE CHANGING times in the prisons!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I wish I had the words to describe just how amazing my time in Uganda was. But words seem to fall short of the splendor. Instead of giving you a day by day re-cap, I have decided to pick out a few heavenly nuggets to share. Stories that I think should shake us to our core and drive us to action.

Uganda is a beautiful country. It is lush and green, yet dry and red. The red dirt gets on and in everything. You shower and scrub only to be covered once again within five minutes of being outside. It is glorious!

Everywhere you go, you hear people shouting, "Mzungu! Mzungu!" (white person) Most children you meet are ecstatic to meet you. They find your white skin funny and your long hair intriguing. They run their hands over your arm, pull at your fingers, and rub your hair. Some of the babies find you terrifying. What is this strange looking creature? Yes, there are times in Africa when a little one walks around the corner, sees your white skin, screams, cries, and runs away.

There is always a little one to hold your hand or that wants to be rocked. And they don't have to be so little either. Even the older ones just want to be held. No words, just love. A safe place to rest their head. When you have seen the things some of these children have seen, rest can be hard to find. When you look into their eyes, one can only guess the pains they have felt.

One night at Canaan's Children Home, our home for part of our stay, four of us got to hear some of their stories. Our team had brought white handkerchiefs with the intentions of doing a healing activity with some of the kids. We waited and prayed for the right time. We invited anyone 13 and older from Canaan to join our activity. These teens had been in school until 7 pm, had dinner, then worked on homework until 9 pm. What a long day! But they were so excited to be with us.

Everyone was given 2 handkerchiefs and some markers. We told them to draw or write the best day of their life and the worst day of their life. We split up into smaller groups. I had about nine boys in my group. I told them that if they wanted to share, I would treasure and honor their story. I had also drawn my best and worst days. I shared my heart with them, then felt it melt as I saw the love that swept across their faces for me. They felt my pain, and they felt my joy.

Some chose to share their story. Others weren't able to in the group, but shared with us privately later. We told them that Jesus knows what it is to have a very worst day. We told them how much God loves them. He suffered so much for us. Now, He wants all of our days. He wants our good days and our very worst days. And He promises to take our worst days and turn them into a treasure.

One of our team members had made a cross out of logs. We all took our handkerchiefs, our hurts, our sorrows and laid them at the cross. It was such a sweet moment to get to be a part of. One of the teens prayed for us at the end. What beautiful words from such a beautiful heart! My heart broke as I watched one my sweet friends leave in tears. I wondered what his worst day was. He wasn't ready to share his story, but the next night as we prepared to say goodbye, this boy who always acted more like a grown man than thirteen, laid his head on my shoulder and cried. I squeezed him tight wanting to soak up all that pain and hurt and replace it with so much love.

After our night with the teens ended, we were able to look at some of the handkerchiefs. There were many stories. Our hearts ached as we read things like, "My worst day was when I cried for help, and no one heard me." I cannot pretend to know that kind of pain.

For their best day, there were two events that seemed to come up again and again. The first, "My best day was when I came to know Christ." And the second, "My best day was when I came to Canaan's." That made my heart smile. That makes me stand in awe of a God who takes the most horrible of things and uses them to create the most beautiful of things.

I loved our time at Canaan Children's Home. It is such a place of refuge and restoration. Pastor Isaac and his wife Rebecca started the home in 1996. I promise to share their story in my next post. You will not believe the things they have faced! Their story is one that is all about God taking the MOST horrible, performing a few miracles, and creating something absolutely BEAUTIFUL.