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

Bombs

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

Handkerchiefs

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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home and Heartbroken

I am home! And once again I am wrecked by the things I saw. The people of Uganda were a stranger to me just twelve days ago. Ten days was in Africa was all the time I needed to fall in love. It honestly caught me off guard. I knew to some degree that love would find me once again on the mission field, but not like this. This love hurts deeper than I ever thought possible. Before my journey to Uganda, my prayer was for God to break my heart for what breaks His. I am home feeling just that, absolutely broken. My spirit is heavy from the pain and corruption I have seen. I know God is good, but we are not good. As I think through the ugliness God's children are going through, all I can do is weep. Now I find myself asking, now what, Lord? You have shown me things that horrify me. So, what do I do about it? I am overwhelmed, but God is greater. He knows the pain I am feeling because He feels it for His children ALL THE TIME. I am trusting Him to reveal the next step. I know I am going to need time to reflect and process everything. I promise that little by little I will share their stories with you. And oh do I have some doozies for you! I will tell you all about the baby with HIV and TB. I will tell you about the Karamajong who are taken away like dogs to the pound. I will tell you about the man who was buried alive. I will tell you about the children's prison overflowing with children with special needs desperately needing medicine. I will tell you it all as God and I go through it all. Until then, THANK YOU for supporting me! Thank you for your donations, prayers, and encouragements! I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to serve in Uganda. Thank you for sending me!













Monday, May 30, 2011

Uganda Itinerary...It's time!

The wait is over! Tomorrow begins my journey to Uganda. I am so overwhelmed with emotions. I am excited for God to wreck me. I want to be broken. I know the coming days will be a whirlwind. I am sorry I haven't been very good about blogging lately. God has been teaching me more about waiting and resting in Him, something I am not always very good at.


Please be in prayer for my team over the next 13 days. I've copied our itinerary below so you can follow along with our trip. I'll try my best to update as I can. We're trusting God to open some crazy doors for us in Uganda. We are going to LOVE and love BIG! Thank you for all of the support. It is an understatement to say that I appreciate you. I would not be able to do this if you had not played your part in God's plan. Thank you!!




Tuesday May 31st, Day 1

Fly out of Atlanta for Dulles at 5:55 pm. Spend the night in Washington D.C.


Wednesday June 1st, Day 2

Meet at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast and depart for the airport. Entire team will fly out of the Dulles airport on Ethiopian airlines at 11:00 AM for Uganda.


Thursday June 2nd, Day 3

Arrive in Entebbe at 12:45 PM. Head to the Adonai hotel and check in. Exchange money, use internet. Rest some, devotions, dinner with the team.


Friday June 3rd, Day 4

Minister to children and teach VBS at children's prison #1.


Saturday June 4th, Day 5

Minister to children and teach VBS at children's prison #2. Three hour drive to Jinja to Canaan Childrenʼs Home. Dinner and time with the kids!


Sunday June 5th, Day 6

Walk to Amazima to work with the Karamajong children through Katie Davisʼ ministry. Walk back to Canaanʼs to minister to the children and have dinner.


Monday June 6th, Day 7

Spend the morning with the children at Canaanʼs and have lunch. Drive to Iganga with Pastor Isaac & minister to children through their feeding program & Bible clubs. Drive into town to visit the Source Cafe for coffee & internet and shopping.


Tuesday June 7th, Day 8

Breakfast at Canaanʼs Children Home. Spend the morning and afternoon with the children. Drive to Amani Baby Cottage to spend time with the babies from 4-6 PM, feed them dinner and put them to bed around 7 PM (get to rock some babies!!).


Wednesday June 8th, Day 9

Breakfast at Canaanʼs and say goodbye to the children. Depart for The Haven resort. Lunch with team & enjoy a day of relaxation & rejuvenation (horseback riding, fishing on the Nile...)


Thursday June 9th, Day 10

Depart by 9 am and drive 3 hours to Kampala. Spend the day with Pastor Samuel & the children of Return Ministries.


Friday June 10th, Day 11

Spend the day with Rebecca and the children at My Fatherʼs House and Royal Hope Academy. Dinner at Adonai, relax and team re-cap about the trip.


Saturday June 11th, Day 12

Depart at 11 AM for Entebbe. Arrive at the airport for check-in by 2 PM. Flight leaves at 5:15 PM for the States.


Sunday June 12th, Day 13

Arrive home in the States!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Safe

I had a post all typed up and ready about my waiting for the Uganda trip. However, I will now be saving that for a later day.

Instead, I want to share with you my experience tonight that could have been so very horrible, but by some miracle of God I was kept safe.

I spent this evening with my fiancé. The drive from his house to mine requires going through one busy intersection, then a long stretch of road with a whole lot of nothing, including street lights. I was not quite paying attention at the busy intersection like I should; I went through a light that while not red, I could have stopped for.

A car quickly appeared behind me that looked to be a police car. He had a spotlight on the driver's side that he turned on. I began slowing down looking for a place to pull over. I assumed that because I was showing my intent to pull over, he did not turn on a siren or police lights (mistake #1).

I found a spot that I was semi-comfortable pulling over at. Again, on this stretch of road there are no street lights or populated areas. Once I stopped, I got out my license and my mace (one smart decision). As the man approached my car, I heard what I thought was a police radio. When he got to my window, he was not wearing a uniform. I panicked.

He pulled out a badge, and said he was officer s0 in so (no I don't remember his name). He did not ask to see my license, but instead began yelling at me. He told me I could have killed someone, I wasn't thinking about anyone but myself, I needed to care more for other people, etc.
He even went on to tell me that he had the right to take me to jail. At that point I REALLY panicked. I argued that he had no reason to take me to jail. I had not done anything. To spare you the details of the 3-5 minutes, there was a lot more yelling on his part. The ordeal ended by him telling me he had my tag number, and would make a note on the car.

I immediately called my fiancé and told him what happened. He in turn, called the police department to make a complaint. An officer called me back, asked me to describe what happened, then proceeded to tell me that this has not been uncommon. He told me that the man was not actually a police officer (I know you're thinking, "well obviously!"), that this has been happening for several weeks in our county, and that one man has already been arrested.

Obviously, looking back I see how many mistakes I made in this instance. So I'll save you some time...1) I should not have pulled over when there were no blue lights 2) I should have only pulled over at a populated area 3) I should have called the actual police when I suspected something was off.

But mistakes aside, wow. There are no words. God's protection over me tonight has floored me. This could have ended so very differently. I am brought to tears when I think through all of the ways this could have played out, instead of me driving away safely. I have done nothing to deserve to be spared of something worse. Yet, I was, and that floors me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Uganda Wish List

30 days until I leave for Uganda! In 31 days my team and I will be surrounded by hundreds of precious people to love. I am in awe that God has given me this opportunity to love. I know God is going to break us. I am beyond excited.

I would not be going to Uganda without the support of all of YOU! But, we're not done yet! I'm asking you all to dig deep to help me and my team spread some love around Africa. There are SO many ways listed below that you can help. We are all the body, what part will you be?

1. Headbands and Bows!


We are collecting as many headbands and bows as you can send! In February the Visiting Orphans team took 1000+ headbands to Ethiopia. We need your help to do it again!

2. New White Handkerchiefs


God has opened the door for us to partner with Sixty Feet. We will be going into two children's prisons, "M" and "M2". Children are held at these two prisons for three reasons: they have been charged or convicted of some offense, their parents rule them as "stubborn" and drop them off there, they are abandoned "at risk" orphans.

When "M" was first discovered, there were rooms of children locked up, young kids chained to windows, and even a 10 day old infant, malnourished and living in her own urine.

We will be doing a project with the children here and need new white handkerchiefs! We want these children to know God's love and the adoption they have in Him.

3. VBS

We will be focusing on 3 stories while in Uganda:

The Good Samaritan
Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors
David and Goliath

We need Bible books, crafts, bracelets, puppets, anything to make these stories come alive! We're also still searching for a coat/robe of many colors!

4. You can also go shopping for things from my Amazon Wishlist . These are some more ideas of how you can help us love big in Uganda.

5. Ministry Needs

While in Uganda we are going to be working with some AMAZING ministries: Amazima, Return Ministries, Canaan Children's Home, Sixty Feet, Amani Baby Cottage, My Father's House. Several of the ministries need money to purchase things like a van, school fees, sanitation, immunizations. Monetary donations will help our team pour into these needs.

Each of the ministries sent us a list of current needs. Here they are compiled into a giant list:

Baby formula

Baby scale

Backpacks

Board games, puzzles, cards

Burn Care

Cake mix

Chapstick

Chewable vitamins

Cleaning brushes

Clorox wipe

Coloring books

Dance Costumes for school choir

Disposable diapers

Flip-flops

Granola bars

Hair elastics

Hanging Files

Headlamps/Flashlights

HP 6310 Ink Cartridges

Icing

Infant and Children Advil

Infant and Children Allegra

Infant and Children Tylenol

Instrument set for school music

Jerseys for netball, volleyball, soccer

Jewelry

Kids DVDs (Disney, Bible stories)

Large World Map

Malamine Plates and Cups

Medical Gloves

Megaphone or some type of amplifier.

Night dresses (pajamas)

Peanut butter

Pens: blue, black, red

Picture frames

Plates, cups, and cutlery

Rulers and Yard Sticks

School Supplies

Scissors: small and several big ones

Shower Curtain Hooks

Sponges

Storage Containers (like Rubbermaid)

Tape

Ticky Tacky

Toothpaste

Towels

T-shirts and shorts uniform for children’s sportswear

Tupperware

Washing/Bathing Soap

White Printer Paper

Youth Discipleship Study Guides

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bystander Effect

The Bystander Effect is a most horrible principle of psychology. The bystander effect refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present, the less likely people are to help a person in distress.

Meet Kitty Genovese.



In 1964, Kitty was entering her apartment at 3:15 am after work. She was stabbed twice in the back. Kitty screamed, "Oh my God! He stabbed me! Help me!" Neighbors reported that they heard her screams, but decided it wasn't worth getting involved. Kitty tried to stagger to safety, but was stabbed and raped by her attacker. Her attack lasted for half an hour. It was only after the attack ended that someone called the police. Kitty died en route to the hospital.



Meet Hugo Tale-Yax. He stepped into protect and save a woman who was being mugged. He in turn was stabbed by her attacker. Watch his story.




We ALL are at risk of suffering from the bystander effect. And have we not all fallen prey to it? You're in your car, and there he is. He's standing on the side of the road in his dirty, ragged clothes. He's holding his cardboard sign. He is all the way on the other side of the road. Traffic is think. You really do not feel like turning around. So you keep going. "Someone else will stop. I'm too busy. It's not very convenient. I don't want people to judge me. He probably did something to deserve where he is. He's too scary looking."

But meet another man. He was walking along the road when he was suddenly attacked. He was beaten and robbed. His attackers left him for dead. People passed him, but no one stopped. Until finally, one man saw him lying there broken. He had compassion on him. He bandaged his wounds and gave him a place to stay. (Luke 10:25-37)

And Christ did the same for us. There we were on the side of the road in our filthy rags, wallowing in our sin. We smelled. We were broken. We were whoring ourself out to the things of this world, desperately searching for something to fill the void in our heart.

But God looked down upon us and saw our need. He came in the form of Christ to be the ultimate atonement. He sacrificed everything. He humbled himself to the lowest level. And then He gave His very life. He gave His life for me, and you. He looked through our filth and saw something beautiful. He bandaged our wounds and gave us a home.

I don't want to be a victim of the bystander effect. I want God to break my heart. I want Him to open my eyes to the need all around me. I want to be filled with compassion to the point of action.

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
-Philippians 2:4-8

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Motives

I hate fundraising. I hate that fundraising is so public. I hate having to bare my heart to the world, plead my case, and pray for support. I have really struggled with my journey so far for this mission trip. I have been so worried about not giving God due praise. I have worried that people will think I am only praising myself. I have worried about the way I am sharing Christ.

I know worry is not of God.

"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself." Matthew 6:34

But, I still worry. I don't want people to think this is about me. Or that I think it is about me. IT IS NOT ABOUT ME. It will never be about me, or you. Even when we think it is about us. We are wrong.

When I brag, I am not bragging on behalf of myself. I am bragging on God.

"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 2 Corinthians 10:17

"Thus says the Lord: 'Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord." Jeremiah 29:23-24

Please do not think for a second that I am proud of myself. I am nothing. It is my desire that if I am going to have to lay my heart on the line to fundraise, that people would really see my heart. I want people to see it all. I want them to see that I am a wreck. I want them to see my true heart.

I know that I annoy people with how much I talk about the mission trip. I know that the more public I am, the more open I become to judgments. I know that those closest to me know my heart. I pray that everyone does. In the end all I can do is follow Paul's heeding.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Uganda Yard Sale...A Chance to Love

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday." -Psalm 37:4-6


What? HUGE Yard Sale!!

When? This Saturday, April 1st beginning at 7:30 am

Where? Manly Street......Dalton, GA

Why? To raise funds for Uganda!!


I know God is going to provide in a HUGE way this Saturday! Thank you to all who have donated items already. If you still have anything you would like to donate, I would love to come pick it up. You can comment below if you have anything.

Now, I am asking all of you who read this to join me in prayer this week. Pray that God shows up in a big way Saturday. Help me pray that He would send people in droves and that we would have NOTHING left at the end of the day. Most importantly, help me pray that God would use me, and the rest of the awesome people helping out Saturday, for His glory. I am praying that God would "open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ" (Colossians 4:3). Because, yes, I am having this yard sale to help me get to Uganda, but I am not going to Uganda for me. I am not going to Uganda for the orphan. I am not going to Uganda for the broken. I am going to Uganda for God.

God has given me the responsibility blessed me with the opportunity to be His hands and feet. To make His love known world-wide. So when He places before me an opportunity to love, I will follow Him whether it be in Georgia, Tennessee, Nicaragua, Africa, or Antarctica. So really, Saturday is simply another opportunity to love, any funds raised are just a bonus.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Interview at the Exchange

I had the opportunity to share my story at The Exchange Church in Cleveland, TN. Here's my "interview" :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's not about me

This past Saturday I had a date with this guy...


And he took me here...


And then this happened...


And he gave me this...


And let me tell you, I am so stinkin' excited I can barely contain it sometimes! I will get to say I do to him on September 24, 2011. Blessed does not seem like an adequate word to describe how I feel.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinithians 10:31

But no matter what, Christ is our first love. Our relationship is not about us. I don't ever want it to be. I love my fiancé and am so excited to spend the rest of my life with him. Yet, it cannot be about us and our happiness, but about us finding our joy and strength in the Father. It's got to be about us running after Him. About us pouring our hearts at His feet and responding with obedience when He calls. It's got to be about us committing to each other by first committing to seek God.

Watch out. God called us to marriage for a reason, and he's got something so HUGE planned that we're going to rock this world.




Thursday, February 17, 2011

I am Peter

I am so Peter. I am the girl on the boat saying, "Take me, Jesus! Can I go? I'll walk on the water!" I run head first, out onto the water with no doubt that the impossible will be overcome. Then, I see the waves. I see the dark sea beneath me. The doubts begin to mount. I feel myself sinking. So, I scream out, "Jesus, you lead me out here! Will you let me fail? Don't leave me alone! Jesus, I am afraid!"

And as always, He reaches out and scoops me up. "Why are you screaming, my child? Why are you fearful? Where is your faith? I called you out onto the water. You are with the creator of the universe. Will I not provide and care for you?"

It does not matter how many times he answers and provides; I still doubt.

I had a Peter moment this morning. I was doing some PR work for my mission trip, and then it happened. The doubts started flooding in. "What if I don't raise enough money? God, you won't let me down, right? I probably am just annoying people anyways. I have so little time left. It's not going to be enough."

And then, I just got nasty. "God, I know people working to raise $30,000+ for their adoption. I just need $3,000. Why is it so hard for me? Why aren't people giving more? Why is it so easy for them to raise money?" (I hope you didn't think I had it all together and am always found in the dust of my Rabbi. I most certainly am one, big mess!)

But just as He was with Peter, there was Jesus, quieting me. In less than 3 hours of my melt down, God provided $145. I could feel Him whispering to me, "See? I will provide. This is my plan, and it is perfect. I will never leave you."

No matter how many doubts I have or how nasty I get, He is always there, calling me further out into the waters. Just two days ago, I was encouraging all of you to fight for something. I was so excited for the task ahead. Today, I took my eyes off of Christ and began to sink. But He was still there to scoop me up, and He will always be.

His love amazes me. His faithfulness leaves me breathless. I know the doubts will rise again. I will feel my fear overtaking me, but I never want to be too afraid to face the waves. I want to always be the girl leaping off the side of the boat calling, "Take me, Jesus! I'll go!"

*2/18 I received $615 in the mail today! God is too good to me. Why do I ever doubt?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Revolution

For me, it is the orphan. That's what pulls my heart. The thing that I can no longer turn away from. The thing that I have to do something about. The thing I have to fight for.

The orphan crisis is what God has broken my heart for. According to latest UNICEF (2007) estimates there are 145 million orphans worldwide. An orphan is defined as a child who has lost one or both parents. It is estimated that approximately 15 million of those children have lost both parents. That number is growing daily. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are approximately 2,255,157,957 professing Christians in the world. That is 33.32% of the population. Now, I have never loved math, but 2 billion > 15 million.
When I read Matthew 25 and James 1:27, I have NO doubt that it is our responsibility to care for the broken. So what is the church doing? Why aren't we fighting? Why are there AT LEAST 15 million children without a family? Why are there children starved for food, water and love?
Yes, this is what God has broken my heart for. This is what makes me angry. This is what I will be a revolutionary for. This is what I cannot leave unchanged. I am determined to cause change, even if it's just for one. I will do SOMETHING.
I would love to recruit you all to this fight. I think it is appalling that we have allowed this to go unnoticed. But it's not just the orphan crisis...

According to recent estimates, there are 126 million child laborers engaged in hazardous work. 14 million adolescents age 14 to 19 give birth each year. 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide every year. 250,000 children are currently serving as child soldiers. Of 1.39 million people involved in forced commercial sexual exploitation, 40 to 50% are children. 130 million women and girls have been subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting.

So, you see, there is NO EXCUSE. If you didn't know, now you know the numbers. There are plenty of other injustices in the world. There are so many people that are broken and crying out for help. There are so many things that need to be changed, need to be fought for. We have NO excuse.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 reads, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." You know the numbers; God has equipped you with EVERYTHING that you need. What will you fight for? What will you allow God to break your heart for? What will you be a revolutionary for?

It is my prayer that I never again become complacent. It is my prayer that God will continue to break my heart for the injustices in the world. I want to be the hands and feet. Will I fail? Certainly. Do I care? No. Because once you start a revolution, you don't stop fighting until the war is over. Why? Because when you are a part of God's army, you fight until He tells you otherwise.

I'll leave you with one final quote that I stole from the awesome lady behind eXile International, "Awareness without action is an empty breath to a dying man."

Don't turn away. Don't be still. Fight. Start a revolution.