Monday, December 12, 2011

My Christmas Wish

A little over a week ago I wrote about a girl I met in Uganda named Angel.  Angel is HIV positive and lives in the slums of Kampala.  Today my dear co-workers in Uganda gave me more information about this precious young girl. What I learned broke my heart...

"Angel is a total orphan. Both of her parents died of HIV / AIDS. It’s unfortunate that she is infected too. Mr. Tamale picked Angel from a rubbish pit from where she had been dumped by her relatives and the state at which she was found was quite sad and severe. She was on the verge of dying. Apparently Tamale has no stable source of income and it is for this reason that he seeks a hand especially with school fees."

On the bright side...Angel does believe in Jesus and trusts Him for her salvation.  I am so grateful to Tamale who had compassion for Angel even though he struggles to provide all their needs.  Angel is 9 years old and in the second grade.  She hopes to one day be a doctor.  

Angel is in desperate need of a sponsor.  Would you sponsor her?  What a great Christmas gift to give to Angel...the opportunity to attend the childcare center where she will receive food, love and care from the Christian staff, medical care as needed, and help with her education.  What better gift could you give?  Please contact me if you are interested...let's get this girl a sponsor!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day 2011

Today is World AIDS Day.  Did you know that 6,800 new HIV infections occur daily, worldwide, and more than 5,700 people die of AIDS each day?( Courtesy of Compassion International:  WOW!  

When I was in Uganda this past summer it was the first time I was really around HIV/AIDS.  I remember seeing these signs in many schools...

This was in an elementary school.  I also remember a sign that read, "HIV/AIDS is not the end of your life".  I can only imagine being a child and finding out you have a deadly virus...where medical attention is not always readily available and expensive.  How can you not feel like it was the end of your life?  A girl named Mary from the AMG orphanage recently graduated with certificate in catering services. She was abandoned by her family because she has HIV and she beat the odds thanks to the encouragement of the AMG Uganda staff and our Savior Jesus Christ. 

Since Uganda, when I hear HIV/AIDS I always think of a young girl I met in the slums of Kampala named Angel.  We were doing home visits near the Masajja Childcare Center and Angel just came up to me and grabbed my hand.  She was sweet, had a beautiful smile, and I remember one of her flip flops was broken.  This was the first time I had walked through one of the slums in Kampala and wasn't easy.  Let me paint a picture for you...we enter an alley and pass small shacks and one roomed apartments very close to each other.  The ground is dirt, uneven, with trash everywhere.  There is no grass, play grounds, or paved streets.  Children wearing rags, some with shoes some without, are running around everywhere.  Naturally, white people walking down their street cause quite a commotion.  Because this was the first time I had seen this type of desperate poverty, I struggled to keep my cool and not break down in tears in front of all these children, who live this life day to day.  Anyway...back to Angel.  So, the team did a few home visits and Angel stuck by my side throughout my time there.  She didn't say much just held my hand and smiled.  As we started our way back Jennifer, one of the workers at Masajja, told me that Angel has HIV.  Angel has HIV...and she lives the slums with a broken flip flop.  All I could think long will she last if she doesn't receive proper nutrition and medical care?  I would guess that Angel is anywhere between 8 and 10.  So young to be facing this deadly disease.  I was so shocked by what Jennifer told me.  I mean I know there are countless children who suffer from HIV/AIDS but I guess I didn't expect to be hit in the face with it by a sweet girl named Angel.  

Angel is in the yellow shirt to my left.
I gave Angel a bracelet and said a prayer for her.  I still think and pray for her often.  I just emailed my friends in Uganda asking about her Angel.  Maybe there is something I can do for her.  It is easy in America to forget that HIV/AIDS is still a huge problem in our world.  Find out what you can do to help and join me in praying for Angel and thousands of children just like her.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

what makes me cry

Isn't funny what God will randomly bring to your attention or breaks your heart for?  Something that you haven't really thought much about or even realized was out there...?

Well this week that happened to me.  On Monday morning during the AMG devotions I heard a report on Newspaper Evangelism in Nepal.  I had no idea AMG even did Newspaper Evangelism in Nepal but I thought that was pretty cool that AMG is involved in bringing the Gospel to this lost nation. I learned that a native from Nepal has been putting an ad in a magazine read primarily by 15-35 year olds.  Over the course of this year over 775 people have responded to the ad and 233 people have accepted Christ as their savior... through a Newspaper ad.  Anyway, at the end of the report our co-worker gave a prayer request:
"Many poor and orphaned children are neglected from education.  We are praying for a Christian home for girls because traditionally girls have less opportunity for education and are socially dominated; please pray with us."
This broke my heart.  Those poor children need someone to stand up for them and love them.  This was Monday.

Next week on the AMG Blog we are focusing on Newspaper Evangelism so I thought I would share what I learned about Nepal with our readers.  Yesterday I did some more research on Nepal...there are 380 people groups in Nepal and 93% of them are unreached...meaning: "An unreached people is a group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group" (Joshua Project).  Less than 3% are Christian with the majority practicing Hinduism.  In 2008 Nepal became a democratic secular state opening the door for evangelism although it is still difficult because of the Hindu majority.

I've been reading 31 Days to Change the World.  Yesterday the post was, "know what makes you cry."

On Sunday I only thought of Nepal as a small country where the Himalayas are and I think I watched a Destination Truth episode where they were in Nepal.  I have never been to Nepal and I have no idea what the culture is like.  Only 5 days later and God is breaking my heart for these people.  For the orphaned children, for the children who don't know Jesus, and for the men and women who have never known the true Joy and Peace Jesus gives.

I think it is too easy to forget the fact that there are those who don't even know the name of Jesus because in America we are surrounded by it.  They have no idea that God sent His son to reconcile the world to is a free gift for all!  These people don't know and have no way of knowing unless someone tells them.  My heart is heavy...

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?  That is why the scriptures say, "How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who bring good news!"
Romans 10:14-15

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Sarah's story has been laying heavy on my heart since I returned from Uganda.  I haven't talked much about her to family and friends because her story breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes.  Let me share with you why...

On our last ministry day in Uganda we did a few home visits in the bush...literally.  I remember looking around my surroundings thinking...I wish Ryan was here to see this.  Unfortunately I don't have a good picture to show you but...just think of flat land, dust, farming, and houses made out of clay.  Anyway, it was a Sunday and after church and we visited three homes.  Sarah's was the last home we visited.  I knew a little about her story because she has been featured in the AMG News but I didn't remember the details (which I will share with you in a moment).  So we walk up to her home and see Sarah's beautiful smile.  She is sitting on a mat and greets each of us.  At the time I'm still a bit clueless as to her situation...

After visiting with her for a little while we learn that she is paralyzed from the waist down, only has sight in one eye, and spends her days sitting on a mat weaving mats. Because she can't feel anything from the waist down and she sits all day on the hard ground she often develops bed sores, her family cannot afford a mattress for her. Because her wheel chair looks like this...she cannot go to school.  

After leaving Sarah I learned a little more about her story.  Sarah is 12 years old and she was born healthy and lived a normal Ugandan life until she got cancer of the eye a few years ago.  AMG Uganda had set up the necessary treatments for Sarah because this cancer was very treatable.  The day before Sarah’s treatment her parents took her to a witch doctor, thinking the witch doctors treatments would heal their daughter. Unfortunately after a month of not receiving any treatment, expect that from a witch doctor, AMG finally found her and she was in bad shape. Sarah finally received the treatment she needed but because of the delay some permanent damage had been done.

The more I thought about Sarah the more my heart was burdened for her. I believe God has broken my heart for Sarah and I'm not the only one, Aly's heart is also broken for Sarah.  Since we have been back (a month now) we have been discussing what we can do in order to better her situation and give her all the opportunities any child deserves.  Like I said she is only 12 years old!  She has her whole life ahead of her!  Sarah is a smart girl and does well in school when she is able to go.  I think what is so hard for me to take in is that if only her parents hadn't taken her to the witch doctor she might not be in this situation. NO child should live a life of weaving mats on a hard floor for their whole lives.  I know God has a plan and purpose for Sarah and I must trust that.  

Please pray with me for Sarah as we strive to seek out a way to best help her.  AMG Uganda has gotten her a new wheel chair so hopefully she can start going to school. Eventually Aly and I would like to see Sarah at Upendo (the AMG orphanage in Uganda) because the school is right next to the girls dorm.  I believe Sarah would thrive there.  But, God knows best.  I have to remind myself that God loves Sarah more than I could ever love her.  HE cares for her more than anyone would care for her.  God will take care of Sarah but I want to do all I can to help. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

This is What it's ALL About

The last few weeks have been hard for me.  Since Uganda God has made the needs of the world very real to me.  Sometimes it is so overwhelming.  But today God showed me His grace when I received an email from Lutgarda (the childcare director in Lima).  

At the beginning of this year I wrote about meeting Melanie (me and Ryan's sponsored child in Peru) and visiting her home.  All of us were shocked at the state of her home.  Honestly, I don't think anyone could call it a home. 

Here it is...dirt floor, one bed for three people, walls made out of scraps of cardboard.  There was no door, no windows, and a roof that flew off if the wind was strong.  I'll never forget that evening; as I laid down in my comfy bed that night I thought about Melanie and where she was sleeping.  Every child deserves a safe and warm place to lay their head.  I wasn't the only one feeling this way; my parents and husband all felt burdened to help Melanie and her family.  You see, Melanie's father is not in the picture.  It is only her mother who provides for Melanie and her little brother.  Norma is her name and she travels around doing laundry for a very meager income.  

Once my family and I were back in the states my parents decided to provide the money to build Melanie and her family a new home and finally it is completed!  This morning I received some photos from Lutgarda and I tell you what it was a great way to start my morning!  Please allow me to share these photos with you. 
Norma and Aaron after the concrete was poured for the base of the home

Almost completed!

Melanie excited about her new home
Melanie's family with their new kitchen table
Melanie with her OWN bed!

Aaron, Melanie's little brother...very excited!
This is what it is all about.  Look at those smiles!  Lutgarda told us that Melanie was so excited about her new bed that she didn't want to sit on it to mess it up.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to sleep in her own bed for the first time in her life?  And she is 10 years old.  You can also see in these pictures that besides the bed and kitchen table there isn't much else in their home.  I hope and pray that we can help Melanie's mother start some type of business in order to continue providing for her family.  I am also excited that a good friend of mine will be sponsoring Aaron, Melanie's brother, providing extra support for the family. 

I can't help but think that if the Lutgarda and her family hadn't followed God and started a ministry in Saul Cantoral (where Melanie and her family live) and if AMG hadn't partnered with them then Melanie wouldn't be fed everyday, she might not be going to school, she would still be living in that shack, and she would have no hope.  Most of all I wouldn't have met Melanie who we love very much and we are so blessed to be part of her life. I can't wait to go back to Peru and see Melanie, Aaron and meet her mother.  

This is what it is all about...allowing God to use you for HIS glory to reach the needy and make HIS name and love known.  I am so thankful that God has used me and my family to reach out and show HIS love to Melanie and her family.  Now, anytime I am down I can look at this picture and see these sweet smiling could these faces not lift someones spirits?!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One at a Time

Sometimes the needs are so overwhelming. In Uganda you see needy child after needy child living with a poor family that has nothing. The hard part was that there weren’t just a few here and there it was everywhere. Driving down the streets in Kampala you see slum after slum with thousands of people trying to survive. Each morning I remember seeing children everywhere with yellow jugs going to a dirty stream to fetch water for the day. It’s hard to deal with. These kids deserve better right?

What is even harder is when you have a name, face and story to go with the devastation. When you know a child whose mother has abandoned them, live as squatters in a shack with nothing…not even firewood to cook food, yet they praise God and sing, “This is the day that the Lord has made!”

After Uganda all the children’s stories are more real. Today I grabbed a stack of bios from Thailand that needed to be entered into our database and the first bio was a little boy who lived in an abandoned doll factory in a bad part of town where drug dealers and gangs like to hang out. His parents abandoned him but thankfully a kind couple took him in as their own…even though they really can’t afford to care for all his needs. When I picked up this bio I had to stop. It was just too overwhelming. Why does this 5 year old boy have to live in an abandoned doll factory (which just sounds completely creepy) in a bad part of town? I just keep thinking: it’s not just Uganda, its Thailand too, and Peru, and the Philippines, and Haiti. There are children living in slums without running water or electricity and don’t know if they will eat today…and it’s not just one country, it’s everywhere!

Sorry to be so depressing. These facts have been heavy on my heart (well since I learned about them years ago) for the last few weeks. I feel such an urgency to help these kids…I mean when I hear the needs how could anyone NOT help…right?! But, I am only one person who doesn’t make a lot of money…

There is a story that maybe you have heard…and I have to remind myself of it often because otherwise it would be easy to get too overwhelmed and give up. It is a story about a boy on a beach throwing starfish back into the ocean and the beach is covered with starfish. A man comes up to the boy telling him that he is wasting his time throwing back the starfish because there are just too many. And the boy says, “I helped that one” as he throws a starfish into the water. Even though I know the world if full of suffering, hurt, poverty, and pain that only God can fix HE allows me to be part of fixing those hurts. By sponsoring Jemima, Melanie, and Bobby Ryan and I are a small part of fixing the poverty in our world and bringing MORE to Christ. Sometimes that is so overwhelming that God would want to use me! He wants to use you too. Maybe to bring comfort to a co-worker having a hard time, or lend an ear to a hurting friend, or volunteer in church, maybe God is telling you to sponsor a child or a missionary. I don’t ever want to forget that there are many hurting people in our world and sometimes the smallest gesture can brighten their spirits and let them know that there is a God who loves and cares for them. I always want to be aware that God may want to use me to show His love…I don’t know what that looks like for you, but for me it is being an advocate for the kids wearing rags and smiles. Maybe I won’t end world hunger but maybe I’ll be able to provide food, education, and the knowledge of Jesus to a few kids across the ocean.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Dorcas ministry started in the year 2008 when AMG noticed many young teenage girls were dropping out of school.  When girls would start their menstrual cycle they thought they were dying. Can you believe that?!  So, these girls would miss a week every month in school causing them to get behind and eventually just drop out.  The women at AMG Uganda stepped in and now educates these girls, supplies them with sanitary pads (which a packet only costs $1.50…but most families cannot afford them), and counsels them during this difficult age.  Many of these girls are total orphans and they come from very poor families. They are often abused by their parents or guardians.  They are forced to drop out of school at a younge age, forced into early marriages that lead them to early pregnancy and possibly being exposed to HIV/AIDS or other STDs.  The Dorcas Mothers (as they are called) disciple these young girls to follow Christ and make the right choices, like saving themselves until they are married. 

The girls on the team
One morning while in Uganda the girls on the team had the opportunity to fellowship and encourage the Dorcas mothers and some of the older girls involved in the program.  The team prepared a program with a few worship songs, testimonies, and scripture.  It was amazing how our team pulled together and each of us shared something with the Dorcas group.  This was one of my favorite days in Uganda.  These Dorcas mothers and girls are simply amazing.  We came to encourage them but their faith and complete trust in God encouraged and challenged me!  It is a beautiful thing to worship God and fellowship with sisters in Christ. 
Aly sharing the Word
I hope we were as much of a blessing to them as they were to us!  It really is amazing what this ministry is doing to help many young girls.  What is so amazing is this ministry started with about $10 that some of the AMG Uganda women put in from their own pockets.  Now, Dorcas ministers to mothers and grandmothers of sponsored children, they support two girls through university, and they continue to minister and disciple to young teenage girls entering into womanhood. 
Madie with a new friend
Please pray for the Dorcas ministry.  Let me know if you would like to learn more about the ministry and how you can get involved!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meeting Jemima

One of the highlights of my trip was meeting me and Ryan's sponsored child, Jemima.  I remember getting in the bus that Saturday so anxious to arrive at Masajja and see her.  I even dreamed about it the night before. 

One of the greatest joys in a sponsored child’s life is to meet their sponsor. Likewise, it is such a huge blessing to meet the child you sponsor. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go to Uganda and visit Jemima.

Jemima had three other sponsors before me but for one reason or another they stopped sponsoring her. I remember entering Jemima's bio into the computer during my first year at AMG. Her sweet smile and desperate story moved me and my husband to start sponsoring her (her father abandoned the family leaving her mother to care for Jemima and her two brothers on her own). Our relationship grew with letters and photos over the last two years. Honestly I never thought I would be able to go to Uganda because it is very far and very expensive. So, I never thought I would have the chance to meet Jemima. When it was official that I’d be traveling to Uganda I couldn’t wait to write Jemima and let her know I was coming!

This was taken after we first met
So, back to that Saturday...when we arrived at Masajja Childcare Center the Saturday program had already started so we took our seats (in the front) and I started scanning the crowd looking for Jemima.  I finally spotting her and knew it was her because she had spotted me too.  Once worship and the Bible lesson for the day were over it was time for "break tea" and she came to find me.  It is amazing to see the actual face of the photo you have been looking at for two years.  To know she is real and you are helping.  Jemima is a very sweet girl with a beautiful smile.  She was very timid at first but she kept holding my hand and smiling. 

Inside her home with her little brother
Jemima's mother is a cook at the childcare center and they live in a small room at the center (which is also a primary school and church).  I was able to peak into their home and meet Jemima's mom.  When I walked in I saw the photos the Ryan and I had sent her in picture frames on the table.  Wow!  Jemima's mother could not speak English but through a translator she expressed to me her gratitude to me and Ryan for all we do for them.  She started to tear up and so did I. 

Jemima, her mother, and me
When I left Masajja that day I didn't think I would be able to see Jemima again on this trip.  BUT, God is good and I was able to see her two more times.  During home visits in her area I had another opportunity to visit Jemima at her home.  I was blessed to be able to share with her family one of my favorite passages in scripture, Romans 5:1-5.  While we continued visiting homes of sponsored children Jemima came along with us holding onto my hand. 

Home Visit
During my time with Jemima I learned that she wants to be a bank manager one day so she loves math.  Jemima loves to sing and is in the choir at church and at the childcare center.  She has many good girl fact one of her good friends is named Gladys and my sister and brother in law sponsor her.

I knew that on the third day of being with Jemima I wouldn't be able to see her again and so did she.  I walked her to the bus that would take her home...she said she loved me through tears and I tried to be strong and keep it together but goodbyes are never easy. 

Saying Goodbye
Despite the sad goodbye I feel so completely blessed to be in Jemima's life.  Not only am I in Jemima's life but in her family's life.  What an honor to be able to help this sweet family.  I left Uganda feeling so encouraged by her family.  I know they are safe, I know Jemima has a good mother and friends to help her through life, and I know that both Jemima and her mother love the Lord and obey Him.

God willing I'll be able to go back to Uganda and see Jemima again.  I look forward to seeing her grow into a Godly young women with a very bright future.  Without AMG Jemima's life would be a lot different.  Her mom wouldn't be cooking at the center which provides her with a place to they might be homeless.  Jemima probably wouldn't be able to go to school and learn math so she can be a bank manager.  She also might not be following Christ with her whole heart.  It pains me to think of many other young boys and girls who are missing out on these basic needs and human rights because they don't have a sponsor. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm Home!

I can’t believe my two weeks in Uganda has past. It seemed to go by so quickly yet I have so much to share with you. For the next week or so I will be sharing some of my favorite stories from my time in Uganda.

Jemima's House, the girl Ryan and I sponsor 
I absolutely feel in love with the country. I admit at first the sights and sounds shocked me a bit. Our whole time in Kampala we only saw one street light…ONE! Traffic was a mess with cars, bikes, and motorcycles (or Bota Botas) then people walking everywhere. There was plenty of dirt…everywhere! Every night when I washed my face I was always shocked at how much dirt I cleaned off. But, the people of Uganda are extremely friendly, caring, and hard working. The children there are precious and easy to fall in love with!  

I am still trying to process all I saw and learned about AMG Uganda and about the lives of the kids in the program. It is amazing how close you can get to a child in only a few days. It was hard to say goodbye to the kids and to my fellow team members although, I am so happy to be back home with my husband.

God taught me a lot while I was in Uganda. I feel truly blessed to have been a small part of the work God is doing in and through AMG Uganda. My co-workers there are incredibly dedicated to serving God and reaching many needy children for His sake. Their dedication and faith challenged me in my own faith. Please continue to pray for AMG Uganda, our co-workers, and their ministry.

Home Visits
If you want to know more about the trip please keep coming back as I share some stories and photos.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day One

I'm sitting at the AMG home office waiting for 1pm when we drive to the Nashville Airport.  My day started with my second round of my Hep A/B fun I tell you.  Then I had to say goodbye to Boone and then goodbye to Ryan.  No all.  But, I keep telling myself that God has lead me here on this trip so I am fully trusting Him.  Even though this part is not easy. 

It probably makes me sound like I'm a big baby...not wanting to leave my husband and dog for two in a half weeks but...this will be the longest that we will be away from each other since we've been married.  Plus, I'll be pretty far away.  I keep telling myself that the two in a half weeks will fly by!  Which they probably will for me...I just hope they do for Ryan too. 

I am excited to get into DC tonight...Ashley will be waiting for us at our hotel.  We will be spending the night then catching the noon flight Tuesday all the way to Ethiopia.  It will be one heck of a long flight! 

Who knows what God holds of the team in Uganda!  I can't wait to see and I am praying I'll be open to whatever God wants me to do and whatever he wants to teach me!

Here is our Itinerary for Uganda, it might change slightly but this is the gist...
  • August 3rd Wednesday We will arrive in Uganda – get settled at the hotel and receive our debriefing and an introduction to AMG Uganda
  • August 4th Thursday We will begin our work at Upendo (the orphange) – Painting and working with children – we will have a staff fellowship in the afternoon
  • August 5th Friday Continuing our work at Upendo.
  • August 6TH Saturday We will be involved in the usual child care center activities for Saturday – games, bible teaching, activity – basically interacting with children.
  • August 7th Sunday We will attend an Ugandan Church
  • August 8th Monday Continuing our work at Upendo – possible home visits in the afternoon.
  • August 9th Tuesday We will be going to visit the Bukoto Child Care Center – work with children – games, sharing testimonies, etc.
  • August 10th Wednesday Back at Upendo – continuing our work.
  • August 11th Thursday Women will be involved with the Dorcas ministry, men will be involved with men/children. We will have a staff fellowship in the afternoon.
  • August 12th Friday Women will be involved with the Dorcas ministry, men will be doing home visits. In the afternoon, we will all be doing home visits in the Namugoga area.
  • August 13th Saturday We will be going to Igamba to minister at the child care center
  • August 14th Sunday Igamba for another day – Ugandan Church services
  • August 15th Monday Travel back to Kampala – get packed for home.
  • August 16th Tuesday Head home and share with friends and family all of the wonderful things you have seen God do over the past 2 weeks.

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Week

In one week Stephanie, Ken and I will be on a plane to Washington D.C. with a total of 12 bags (2 checked bags and 2 carry on bags each) because we are taking lots of books and other supplies of our Ugandan brothers and sisters.  This should be interesting considering all the checked bags will be right at 50lbs and without rollers...yikes!  Then we stay one night in D.C. and catch a plane the next day at noon all the way to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (we are flying Ethiopian Air) then a quick flight to Entebbe.  After over 24 hours of travel we will finally make it!  I admit I'm really not looking forward to the traveling part...I really like to sleep.  But, I'll be a good trooper :). I started packing a little bit last night.  I have a feeling it will be quite a challenge for me to fit all my personal items in two carryons considering we will be gone for 17 days. 

I started reading "Radical" by David Platt a few days ago.  What great timing.  If you haven't read this book I strongly encourage you to read it.  But, be warned it will convict you, challenge you and stretch you.  On Friday night I read this passage:
"In direct contradiction to the American dream, God actually delights in exalting our inability.  He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. (I know this will happen to me in Uganda). In the process he powerfully demonstrates his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could never have mustered up or imagined.  And in the end, he makes much of his own name."

I can't get this out of my head.  While I look forward to my time in Uganda I am anxious about many things.  Mainly, home visits.  This will be such a great opportunity to share the Hope of Christ and encourage these beautiful Ugandans but it is something so different then I have ever done before.  These homes will be huts with dirt floors and no plumbing or electricity.  These people will be struggling for their next meal or to pay for their kids to go to school.  What do I say to them?  And, when I think about meeting Jemima and her family (me and Ryan's sponsored child) I hope that I can keep it together.  I get emotional just thinking about it.  It is so hard to see the's not fun at all.  But, regardless of my feelings about it God has called me here and he has lead me to go on this trip to Uganda.  So, reading this on Friday night reminded me that I don't have to find the right words to say because HE will speak for me.  Just as God did a month ago at Cumberland Springs Bible Camp.  While being stretched and challenged is hard and not always fun I hope to listen to God and fully depend on Him enabling Him to glorify Himself through me.  That is what life is about...nothing else but bringing God Glory. 

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

Friday, July 1, 2011

Getting Ready

Today is a month away from my trip to Uganda.  Seriously, this summer has flown by. So, I know this month will be gone before I know it and I'll be on a plane to Uganda.  Lots to get done!

Yesterday Stephanie and I went to the Hamilton County Health Department to get our immunizations for our trip.  We have to have Yellow Fever to get into Uganda and I am way behind on all my shots so I ended up getting 5, yes 5, shots!  Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hep A/Hep B (in one shot), Polio, and Tdap (Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis).  I am a bit sore today and have a slight headache but I'll survive!

all the shots between Steph and me

I'll also need to get a prescription for anti-malaria medicine.  Not really looking forward to taking it.  The two affordable options have their downsides; one is an antibiotic that you have to take daily and the other you only take weekly but it has been known to cause emotional problems or vivid dreams.  YIKES!   

I've been talking to Aly Houser (who has been to Uganda like 5 or 6 times) about what kind of stuff I will need to bring with me and I need quite a few things to be prepared.  For example, the right clothes...I need to wear long skirts (to my ankles) and breathable t-shirts (since it will be so hot).  Then things to carry with me everyday like hand sanitizer, snack food, little first aid kit, and the like.  I will also need to shop for a gift for our sponsored child Jemima and her family...that will be fun!  The team is also going to try and fill up the Upendo Christain Academy's library, so I need to get some good books to take with me. 

While some of these things I have to do to prepare for Uganda aren't too fun (shots and anti-malaria medicine) this is all exciting!  I have wanted to go to Africa for a long time and I really can't wait to meet Jemima, my parent's sponsored child in Uganda Kevin, and my sister's sponsored child Gladys.  Also, to just love on all the kids at the is worth all the bad stuff to be able to be Jesus' hands and feet. 

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

Monday, June 27, 2011

Prayers Answered

Everyone can agree that times are still hard.  People are still loosing their jobs or unable to find one, people are all trying to find ways to cut back on their spending, and we are feeling it everywhere.  The child sponsorship department at AMG has felt it too.  We have been losing more sponsors then we've been gaining.  Both Stephanie and I have been searching for new ways to find sponsors and praying that God would touch the hearts of many to sponsor a child. 

In my last newsletter I asked my supporters to pray about sponsoring a child...and just pray that more people would sign up to sponsor a child.  Well, God has answered our prayers and this month I have been happily busy assigning new sponsors to children in need.  It has been so encouraging and exciting!  God is always faithful...

Many coming back from a Mission Adventure want to sponsor a child they met, some who already sponsor a child with AMG want to sponsor another, some of my readers responded and decided to sponsor a child, and we have many advocates who are sharing the exciting things that happens in the life of a sponsored child.  God is so good!  Please continue to pray, there are still many children waiting for a sponsor and many new childcare centers we would like to open!

On another note...
Friday night I spoke at a Cumberland Springs Bible Camp in Dayton, Tennessee.  My husband and many of my friends grew up attending this camp...and after hearing about how much fun it is...I wish I had attended the camp growing up!  Anyway, it was an honor that they asked me to come and challenge the 10-13 (tweens) and share with them what is going on all over the world.  Can I just say that I was very nervous.  I was like the main speaker...I had thirty minutes to fill...yikes.  I planned and prepared and planned some more.  I had pictures, a game, a video, and I even brought candy.  Anyway, the time finally came and again...God answers prayers!  I asked many to pray for me and I was praying constantly that God would calm my nerves, give me the words to say, and that I wouldn't be boring.  I can only give all the credit to God because those kids were so attentive and engaged (at least it looked like they were ;).  I shared with them about the poverty many children live in who are just like them.  I told them they could be part of what God is doing in these kids lives.  I encouraged them to get involved!  I created these little note cards with a child on it who needed a sponsor.  I sent each of them home with one so they could pray for that child.  I also challenged them to raise $20 for a Bundle of Love.  It was amazing to me that the 30 minutes I was speaking only felt like 10 was so fun!  Oh yeah, and I cried in the middle hah...I got all chocked up sharing about Melanie

Anyway, as the kids left and I handed them an envelope to put their Bundle of Love money in and they all told me they were so glad I came...and I won't forget what one girl said, "I want to me a missionary now too."  When I was their age I attended a camp and heard a missionary speak...and I remember wanting to be a missionary afterwards.  So, it was special to hear this sweet girl tell me that.  I can't wait to see how God will use those young kids to build His Kingdom and glorify Himself! 

It still amazes me that God wants to use me...I'm such a sinner and in desperate need of Christ's redemption...why does he want to use me?  I may never understand why but I hope that I am always willing to do as God asks.  I never want to miss out on the blessing of being used by God. 

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. Colossians 1:6

I love this verse, I shared it with the kids on Friday night.  God is working all over the world...don't you want to be part of it?!  I sure do...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Going to Uganda

So, I'm going to Uganda in August on an AMG Mission Adventure.  It was a bit of a process for me to get here and now that I'm here I don't think it has really sunk in.  You see, when my boss told Stephanie and I that AMG would pay for us to go on a Mission Adventure this year in order to see more Childcare Centers, my first thought was Peru.  But, since I've been to Peru of course I should branch out to see more and learn more.  So, I thought Guatemala.  Stick to what I know and I figured it would also give me motivation to continue learning Spanish.  Well that door opened, then closed, then opened again, and then officially closed.  The only team left was Uganda.  If that isn't God telling me exactly where to go I don't know what is!  So, August 1st I'll be heading to Uganda along with 18 other people from across the country.

It's kind of a big deal for me.  You may think that is crazy because I work at a Mission Organization so...going on a Mission Trip is just another day at the "office".  While I have been working at AMG for over two years I haven't been on a real mission trip since the summer after I graduated High School in 2003...due to many different circumstances in life (which is for another time and place).
I'm excited to say the least.  Sure, I have some reservations (which is why I didn't chose Uganda in the first place) like being away from Ryan for 17 days, being in a country which is completely different than any country I've ever been to, seeing the poverty millions of children won't be easy.  But, I'm so excited to see the smiling faces of those precious children sponsored and not sponsored at the AMG Childcare Centers, to love them and tell them how much Jesus loves them, and to encourage them to follow their dreams in life.  I look forward to meeting my Ugandan co-workers, better understand where they are coming from, and develop friendships.
My prayer is that I will be open to whatever God wants to teach me, show me, and have me do.  I pray for strength, safety, health, team unity, and that I will be uncomfortable...because I know I will at times.  Being uncomfortable makes one depend on God more...need Him more.  We all need more of HIM. 

Please pray with me!  I'll continue to write as I prepare for my trip to Uganda and as I'm in Uganda...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why I do what I do...

All jobs have their good days and bad days.  Thankfully, on my bad days have I plenty of reminders of why I do what I do...and it is written all over these sweet children's faces. 

I'm always saying, "It's all about the kids".  It is all about the kids eating a hot meal everyday.  It is all about the kids going to school without being sent home because they can't afford the school fees.  It is all about the kids being able to go to the clinic when they are sick.  Most importantly, it is all about the kids learning about Jesus and how much He loves them. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Reaching those who have never heard

Yesterday I was looking over some new bios from Thailand.  As I read the children's stories I was reminded that Thailand is a country deeply rooted in Buddhism.  According to Operation World in Thailand only 1% are Christian and 85% of the population are Buddhist.  One of the children lived in a small village without any Christians rather a Buddhist Temple that was in the center of the town.  Her mother made $30 a month and most of that went for her oldest son to study at the Buddhist Temple. This family depends on a god who does not hear their prayers.  My heart went out to this child and the many other children in the exact same situation because they have no hope for something better. I had to stop and pray that through the child sponsorship program these kids would hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and trust in HIM alone for true life and salvation from sin.

I pray that God would continue to break my heart for the lost.  AMG also has childcare centers in Bangladesh which is 89% Muslim and less than 1% Christian, Indonesia which is 80% Muslim and 15% Christian, then in the Latin countries like Peru out of the 95% Christian the majority of that is Catholic with only 11% Evangelical.  Please pray that as AMG ministers to the children that they would be open to the Gospel of Christ and that God's word would spread to their family, friends, and neighbors - and God would be Glorified!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lima childcare center...the second time around.

Ryan, my parents, my cousin Nick, and I had a great time at the center in Lima.  We enjoyed the warm sunshine and the many smiling children!  When we arrived the kids at the center they were just about to eat.  What a blessing to hand out plates of hot food to the kids!  
Eating Lunch
Ryan with Xiomara
We then walked to Melanie's home.  Her home is farthest from the center compared to the other sponsored children.  When we arrived I had to ask her twice to be sure the home she was pointing out what in fact her house.  I can't even call it a didn't even have four walls.

 This it...Melanie's home. Her mother has to take their mattress with her every time she leave otherwise it would get stolen. Melanie spends almost all day at the center while her mothers goes from home to home asking if she can do their laundry.  It was hard to take it all in.

Mirco and Gina
After visiting Melanie's home and spending time with her and my sister's sponsored girl Xiomara we went to my parents kids home, Gina and Mirco.  These two kids are as cute as can be and so funny!  It was a joy to meet their parents and see where they live.  I know my parents loved being able to meet the kids they sponsor.  It makes everything much more real.

I think about Melanie everyday and about where she sleeps every night.  My parents and I are going to try and build her a new home with a real walls and a door with a lock.  Somewhere she can be warm and feel safe.  Melanie is so precious to me and Ryan.  I feel so honored to be her sponsor and provide her with food, education, and hope in Christ...with only $28 a month.  

Ryan and I with Melanie...our sponsored Child