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 faces...how 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.