"How blessed is he who considers the helpless..." Psalm 41:1

Thursday, May 21, 2009

baby alert!

we went up the mountain to the baptist mission today. gotta love this smile =)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

safe n sound...

... with the families in Haiti. we are back at the villa hotel theresa. isaac and i slept 11 hours last night n it's 10am here and he's already asleep again by the pool :) i will send more updates later.

lots of love,

Saturday, May 9, 2009

something i've seen before

So i have been trying to decide if i'd like to blog about something that is close to my heart. And since writing is supposedly therapeutic here goes...


How do I describe how I felt about it? How do I respond to the person who says, “How was it?” Do I say? “Amazing!” or “Touching”, or do I tell them the heart wrenching stories about war, child soldiers, starvation, 4,500 child deaths per day from water related illness, disease, the AIDs pandemic, lack of women’s rights, lack of opportunity, etc.??? Do they want to hear it? Probably not. Or do I tell them about the happy children I see? The ones who just want a hug, a hand to hold, a plate of rice and beans to put a smile on their face. They sing and dance and take care of one another. Do I respond with “yes they are poor in wealth, but not in spirit”? That might ease their minds. Or do I remind them that we, as a culture in the US, are so caught up in busyness, superficiality, money, possessions, image, power and even good deeds, that we completely miss the point of it all. We are depressed, cranky, isolated, overweight, guarded, disconnected with our families, extended families, communities, and ourselves. WHO IS POOR? The answer rarely lies in one’s economic situation.

Uganda Reflections

After being home for a couple days i am feeling more and more blessed to have been able to go to Uganda and be with the people there. Joseph, the country director for Children's HopeChest, took really great care of our team of 10 women. Yes, that's right. Usually trips like these are male dominated and having a group like ours was a unique and special experience.

I also must say that after traveling from more than 24 hours to and from Entebbe, that the bus rides (i get motion sickness way too easily) were long and tiring. Luckily we had a great group and often a couple extra passengers that needed rides. We spent that time praying and reflecting on each place we visited and had time to get to know one another better. Each night we had great accommodations. We didn't always have hot water, but there were real stand up showers and real toilets. During the day it was squat toilets or the bush. LOL.

There were so many similarities between Haiti and Africa, but so many differences as well. Uganda is a beautiful place: Lake Victoria, The River Nile, animals, amazing trees and sunsets (sunrises too, but i failed to be awake enough for that ;) About 40 different languages are regularly used. We heard mostly English, Lugandan, Bantu, and some Swahili. The predominant religion is Christian (including a large number of Catholics followed by the Anglican Church). The next biggest religion is Islam at about 12% of the population. There are still many people who believe in what they hear by word of mouth and instead of, or in addition to, they consult and follow advice and teachings of witch doctors/wizards. We saw many girls and boys with their ears pierced to avoid being victims of child sacrifice. Much of this reminded me of Voodoo practices in Haiti. In the city, the presence of the UN and of large guns and weapons were not as prevalent as Port au Prince, but in the bush in Uganda, I felt that the war torn areas of the North seemed more dangerous than the rural parts I've seen in Haiti. The idea of gangs and government corruption in Haiti is similar to the use of young children in the bush, kidnapped to work for the Rebel Armies.

Stats (thanks Brandi)
150 million orphans worldwide
2+ million orphans in Uganda
22 million adults and children w HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa
1,000,000 in Uganda alone

So... with a thousand things on my plate between a new second job, interviews, hiring, applying to school, adoption paperwork, family visit to Haiti next week, donations, unpacking, repacking, and the general day-to-day... I am still feeling called to be involved with the work in Uganda and really anywhere else the opportunity presents itself. My initial idea was to include corporations in the giving to Children's HopeChest or a foundation created to funnel our excess to help those who don't even have their basic needs met. I still feel like this is what should happen.

The projects in Uganda are just getting started. Most places we visited are just "possible" care points. One-time donations are needed to start this, with things like a deep well, a basic kitchen, land, building, playground, fence (many places have some of these things or don't need them all so it is situational). Then once a care point is established then we need a group (church, company, anything) to sponsor X-number of children for a 3 year period. This sponsorship provides school fees, supplies, food, teaches, jobs, etc. Once basic needs are met people see your love and there is more opportunity for discipleship and mentoring.

There are numerous other ways to donate that are sustainable for the people of these areas as well. Agricultural funds: Providing bulls and yoke give opportunity for work on their land... a hand hoe only does so much. Providing seeds for planting cassava, a reliable and flexible crop, produces nutritious leaves in 2 weeks and crop growth in about 6 weeks. Providing goats, chickens, and planting cowpeas and fruit trees... As well as looking at secondary education funds and medical funds. I'm excited about the possibilities. And the hope we can all foster in the lives of these children and in return our own.

A couple of us are discussing work for a launch party to raise funds to launch the Children's HopeChest project in Uganda... have an office there, hire full time staff, and carry out the day-to-day work overseeing these orphanages and care points.

Donations and sponsorships will lead to a real connection with a particular site/orphanage. If any of you are interested in getting involved and/or going there to visit in the future. Thru Him anything is possible...