Saturday, January 24, 2015

Have you ever felt invisible? Do they?

Have you ever felt invisible?

Can you relate to being in a room full of people and yet feeling all alone?

I have been there... 
Many times in life... I have been there...

I especially remember after Samuel died being in church and feeling totally unnoticed...
Let me rephrase that...
I felt like I was being watched.  I knew I was being watched... I was the lady whose baby had died... I felt the eyes on me... yet even with tears overflowing out of my eyes...Most days there wasn't a response... I felt totally unnoticed... 

I felt almost invisible... 
Then I didn't just feel totally broken hearted... but I felt brokenhearted and worthless...

Sad, but true...
(Praise God for His amazing healing and faithfulness to restore what was once broken and rebuild a shattered life into something beautiful again... He is soooooo good!)

Have you ever felt that way... 
Invisible...
Unnoticed...
Maybe even that you life might be lacking worth???  I would guess that most of us have at one point or another...

What about Tony?  How did he feel as his life reached a near life or death point severely malnourished and abused?

Or precious Jackson... How does he feel being deaf and having CP?



Or this sweet sweet baby Joshua with severe burns from a house fire... Will he feel invisible as he grows and watches how people may stare?  

(I love how every time I looked at him, he just got cuter and cuter... I noticed those burns less and less with each passing moment... Oh how I miss this baby so much... my heart is aching to hold him again and hear his amazing laugh...  He is such a precious gift!)


While in Uganda I was  talking with our leader about how I was feeling embarrassed and convicted that  I knew people at our current church that had special needs children... Some of them similar to the kids we had been working with daily at The Gem Foundation, and I had yet to approach those kids... I had spoken with their parents... but sadly not taken the time to reach out directly to the children... and speak directly with them....

Our leader right away said, "They must feel so invisible..."  

In that moment... My heart broke... 

Lord forgive me for the times I have made any of your precious children, young or old, perfectly healthy or not, in their right mind or not... feel invisible... 

I mention about my feelings after Samuel died, not with any ill intent... but  only because I get it... 
In people's own uncomfortableness with me and my baby dying they found it difficult to reach out to me...

And I have done the same thing... in a different situation... but ultimately, a very similar thing... probably having the same exact result... Because many times things have been outside my comfort zone, I haven't reached out... I haven't made an effort... I've stepped away... and...

The end  result has probably been me hurting those people many times over... ouch!

My heart breaks over that... is embarrassed by it... And thankfully recognizes it and wants to change. it... 

Does Bethany look invisible?


What a beautiful smile and and wonderful JOY that radiates from her... 

Does Jerome look invisible?

What tender love and Care Liz shows him each day... showing him... You are worth it!

What about this precious new little guy?  Does he look invisible?

Day after Day I watched Albert tickle, feed, and push the older boys in cars... all these young boys beaming in delight at the experience of knowing that someone loves them...

What about Shafik?  Living with Autism, does He look invisible to you?


Cradled in the arms of his caregiver... He knows he is home!

What about Tony... severely malnourished and abused... does he appear invisible?


This Tony, with eyes that captured my heart... continually with Rita by his side (and Maciej never far away while we were there:) tenderly being shown... he matters... His life is precious... His life is of unbelievable worth to God and us....


Each and everyday, we may not know fully what those around us are feeling...

Each and everyday... we can make someone feel special, loved, cared for and precious...
We can cast away our judging human eyes...
And see them how God sees them...

Oh the lessons that God impressed upon my heart while in Uganda...

I am excited... I have been in conversation with one of the moms from our church who has a child like some of the kids we cared for in Uganda... first I apologized... Then I asked to hear more about this precious boys story...

I can't wait to get connected with them...

I am so thankful for God's goodness to me...
I am so thankful that He continually teaches me...
And I am so thankful for all the different, unique, amazing precious people He uses in my life to teach me...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Safe at home...



The beast that flew us home...
We did hAve a slight delay... 
(Caused by the three of us!!) 

Well, when you think your window might have a crack in it, you mention it...
1st stewardess looks at it... 2nd stewardess takes a peek,  photos taken, co-pilot leaving cockpit to check it out for himself... Lots of getting up and moving to the back to let them "check it out"... And... We finally got the a-ok... 

Just water between the two panes of glass...

We only caused a 15 minute delay... Better safe than sorry right??:)



Brothers... Together again!

So thankful to be home with this sweetie pie... All the others too!


One last team photo before the last of us left Uganda!

I tell you, my heart is a torn...
I am SOOOOOO THANKFUL to be home with my crew all under the same roof!

But the adjustment is hard... Life here is so different from there... 

I immediately was overwhelmed by all of our stuff... Ergggg!  Lord, help me to simplify...

And I miss those precious kids... My heart was changed by the gems, the care givers, the babies, the team... And it is NOT easy to adjust back to life here...

I don't EVER want to return the same as when I left for Uganda... EVER!  I am so thankful for the work The Lord did in my heart!  Now comes the difficult part of decifering what that means for me/ us back here in the states!

Please being praying for little T, the gem I posted about...
He has been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia...
I remember sitting by him, holding his hand, and thinking... He is not much more than skin and bones, how would he ever survive a serious illness... He has a high fever.... Please be praying with is for quick healing...

More updates and lessons learned soon... Thanks for praying...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Watoto Suubi... What a vision!



Watoto Suubi campus... What fore thought and vision... And how beautiful to see it being put into practice!!

This is the church over looking the rolling mountains and hills near Kampala...

Watoto has been caring for the orphans of Uganda for the last 20 years...

They don't do adoptions but rather the focus is to provide homes for children...
They have over 3000 orphans in their care... At three different campuses.

They have house foster moms who care for 8 children, all different ages and care for them until adulthood... So on the Suubi campus there are about 125-150 homes built to care for the kids...


They are built in little clusters almost like a small neighborhood.  It is gorgeous... Up at the top of the campus they have their  primary school, the high school, and vocational school.  

They do a beautiful job and really are equipping these kids to be productive adults... Most importantly they are training them up in The Lord!  

Here is part of the team with Maureen and a bunch of her kids...

 She moved to Watoto with her two biological kids 14 years ago as a single mom... 

This is her home... Nice, but not in any way fancy...

Running water?? Yes..
Toilet??? Yes?
Beds for everyone??   Yes
Lots of love???  Yes!!!

Electricity???  No!! 
So, Watoto provides much better living conditions than many of these moms or kids would have otherwise, but it is not lavish in any way, shape or form...


They provided a meal for us... It was wonderful Ugandan food... Made by Maureen and all the kids:)

What a sacrifice of time and resources for us...

We were so honored!  We LOVED visiting with them, playing dominoes and soccer, and sharing a beautiful meal!  

Maureen and I sat together the other day at Emma's introduction and she was keeping me informed of all that was happening during the introduction and what it all meant:) she has such a beautiful loving heart... These kids are blessed to call her mom!

On the way to their home we passed this house built by a church in the town I grew up in... How cool is that?


Kim and our beautiful  friend Maureen!

Truthfully, I have such a heart for adoption, I never understood the philosophy of Watotos ministry...

After seeing more of the country, hearing more orphans stories, and seeing the ministry in practice... 

It is a beautiful place!
It is a beautiful ministry... Doing amazing things for the mothers and kids of Uganda!  I am TOTALLY Impressed... The baby home is one of the best I have seen here in Uganda!

The vision that was put forth here years ago is amazing and the follow through and blessing from The Lord so inspiring!  

It really challenged my thinking for my own life, my own family, and even for Emma and the Gem Foundation... Emma has great vision... Astounding for someone so young!

I am seeing fully today that with God nothing is impossible!!  
LOVE IT!!! 







Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Emma, josh, and the gems... A life calling...



This precious couple, Emma and josh amaze me... 

Truly, the first day at The Gem Foundation I was pretty overwhemed by my own selfishness just by watching them with the kids...


Emma has found the PERFECT man to share this AFRICAN MSSIONARY  life with...

 He is kind, funny, adventurous, God fearing, on fire for The Lord, will be a great dad to Emma's little man... 

And most importantly, here in Africa where she serves, he is loving, kind and "IS IN" fully  caring for the gems, the 24 kids that live at the Gem Foundation...

Here they were together scoping out land to build for the future Gem Foundation...

This isn't a calling for now... This is a life calling as they see it... Not leaving Africa... But living and serving here for life... Unless God were to do something else... 

They want to care for these kids for life... 

A few of the kids may be able to adopted at some point.  In Uganda witchcraft is wide spread and special needs kids are considered to be a cursed... So most wouldn't be able to be resettled back with family... So this is home for them... Most likely for a long time..

Or forever....

And Emma and josh are totally embracing that wholeheartedly...

And that BLOWS me away...shows me my selfish heart... And leaves me pretty in awe  of these two young people...


Emma caring for baby O... 5 years old but wears 9 mo clothing... He was severely malnourished... But has a smile that will melt your heart! 

Emma, only 21, founded the Gem Foundation and already, only 6 mos later, has filled her home... They are out of space...  And trust me, I am sure she could fill many more homes with kids...
The need is that BIG here in Uganda...

She is amazing, considers these her kids,  loves them dearly, puts them first...
But what impresses me the most is that she is right in there with the nannies in their day to day care... Feeding them, holding the. And loving on them... 

She REALLY knows what is going on with each of them...



She has a staff of 25 people, including nannies, cooks, nurses, and social workers... And they are kinder and more loving than any staff I have seen at an orphanage over here... 
And that says A LOT!! 

These are special needs kids with a lot if big needs and costly needs... It is much more costly than a traditional typical orphanage caring for healthy kids...

Emma and josh have followed the Lords calling on their life and are loving and embracing the serving the special needs kids here...

They are searching for new land to they can better care for the kids, provide more long term housing and housing in general for more kids, farm (to be more self sustaining), to be better stewards and not have to spend money on rent, and  be out from the terrible pollution in Kampala (but still minutes from a hospital). 

They know God will provide all...  Would you please pray for them and the precious kids they care for??

They are so humble and sincere... 
Check out Emma's blog at 

www.emonamission.blogspot.com

To know how to pray specifically for them and if God so leads you to donate towards the AMAZING work they are doing here in Uganda��

I know that any money given is truly always going to where the need is so very great!

VBS in the village


VBS in the village

Pastor john , whom we have worked with for 3 years has a beautiful philosophy of ministry... The church is to care for the orphans in Uganda....

So he builds a church with an orphanage attached to it.... 

He has done that 15 times...


The kids playing duck duck chicken and hot potato:). 

In the far background, You can see the village women filling up water from the new well, installed within the past year:). What a blessing to the community!  

It's dancing time:)


3 orphanages were brought together for our day of VBS... Totaling about over 80 kids when you included the village kids:) 

Everyone was anxious to get inside and get started.... They knew there were balloons to pop... about 125 of them... That was a noisy, but really fun 5 minutes:)

We sang, danced, and gave lots of hugs!

My sweet Lawrence... My little buddy each time I return...



The teens told the story of David and Goliath... Focusing on the giants in our lives and how with God all things are possible... 

There are a lot if giants in the life of an orphan...  Can you imagine?   loneliness, fatherlessness, hunger, danger, sickness... I could go on and on... 

Thank The Lord for Pastor John and the care they provide for all of these kids... 

And most importantly, they are taught about Jesus, discipled, and raised up to be leaders Barack in their communities...


Bubbles for everyone...


And a very small toy for each to keep and play with as well...

Isn't she precious... Little grace, the smallest child at the 3 orphanages... 

The way she clung to all the older girls totally reminded me of my Anna and Isaiah...

It was a long day of VBS... But a beautiful day...

When we returned home it was off to the baby home to feed, change and put little ones to bed:) 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Baby home... How it feels to revisit...



Emma and Lou loving on some babies...


Potty room...


So many PRECIOUS little ones to love on and care for...


My boys with the twins... Hello??? I would take all four of them home in a second!!!


This little guy had the funniest expressions... Heart melter!!


How does it feel to see some of the same kids here year after year?

Confusing, overwhelming, heartbreaking, and I even feel angry at times...

Surviving in an orphanage where there are far too many kids to really care for well (like in a family kind of care for well) is hard... Thriving in that situation is next to impossible...

Little A who stole my heart last year is still here... A totally different kid than a year ago... This year when I saw him he was hitting, being defiant, and then laying on the ground with a blank stare... 

Was he just having a bad day or is this who he is now? 

Really, the mamas who care for them, God willing, they try their best to care for them but there are just too many kids... 

What  if he could have come home to the loving arms of a forever family with love, hugs, and laughter surrounding him?  
How different would his life look?

It is sad and really discouraging... 
When children/ babies are found abandoned anywhere here.. Be it in a pit latreen, an open field, near a shop or hospital... The social workers find an orphanage for them and then they have the difficult task of trying to find family...

Can you imagine?  Where do you even begin?

Adopting as a foreigner here is not easy...
We generally aren't the first choice of placement...

1st they would resettle the child with family (which is the best if they can be educated in how to care and provide for them)

2nd , they would place the child with a Ugandan family for adoption.

3rd, they would place the child in foster care here in Uganda with a Ugandan family or foreign family.

And then...
4th, they would place them with a foreign or American family...

My heart is saddened to see the same kids year after year... My heart screams...
Just get them into families... They NEED families...

It is a constant reaccessing of what we can do to help and then again and again placing it in Gods hands and control... 

Gods word says in James 1:27 that true religion is to care for orphans and widows in their distress... We ARE CALLED to do it!!  

What does that look like for you and me... It may look different for each of us... Some may be called to adopt... Some called to support those who adopt... Some called to come and serve the orphans... Some by prayer...

God made them... Each and every one!   He has a future and purpose planned for them...  He is truly the father to the fatherless... He loved them so much more than I ever could...

As I sit sometimes confused with how to help best... I just keep praying that God shows us how we can help and then that He provides His very best for them... That they feel his love and presence in their loneliness... That he transforms and heals when needed...

He is able... And I keep praying!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

All of life... Every moment... Every act...


 IVO (International Voice of the Orphan) January 2015 
Go Team... 


I am so thankful to serve along side these precious people...

Truly, my heart is... 
inspired  by them... 
Challenged by them...
And most importantly loved and cared for by them... 

I see them being Jesus to these kids and my heart is so blessed!

Each evening we share something that touched us, was special, or even was just plain downright funny or precious that we witnessed or experienced that day...

Tonight we were so blessed to go to Watoto church and much to our surprise, the Watoto Children's choir performed...

They were so good!  It was Such a neat experience... Boy, can those kids rock... And do they ever do a fantastic job of leading others into worship...

Watoto has family homes (like small orphanages) that in total house 3000 Ugandan orphans. ( actually Watoto is the organization who partnered with the Gem Foundation and placed their special needs kids with Emma this past summer when The Gem Foundation opened) Can you imagine 3000 kids in one orphanage system... But wow,  was I impressed to see how it ( by video) how it is all set up... Truly, the kids are raised in a home like setting with a mom and 7 other children... That is A LOT of homes! 

They started by sharing a video that showed a mama abandoning a baby or child in a taxi, on a bridge, in a marketplace or kids being orphaned by the death of their parents...

These are truly the stories of the kids at Watoto and the kids we have been blessed to work with this year and in past years... Over and over again you are seeing and hearing the harsh reality of how these thousands of kids were orphaned.  Seeing it right before your eyes...

As we worshiped there was a quote in the screen that said , "Every moment... Every act in life... An act of worship". 

Wow was my heart challenged to truly make my life... Every moment... Every act... Every diaper change... Every pile of laundry folded... Every toilet cleaned... Every hug, snuggle, and kiss an act of worship... That is what it should be... That is want I want it to be...

As we shared tonight I was overcome convicted and overwhelmed with two things...

1.  That I don't ever want want the daily tasks of a busy life with a husband and 7 kids to ever become what it shouldn't be... Something I don't treasure every moment.   To have a heathly family is NOT EVER TO BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED and my opportunities to take care of them and serve them is a gift, a privilege and can be an act of worship to our God!!

Truly an act of worship to our father who redeemed  us from the pit... Who is our salvation...

And ...
2. That my God is more powerful, loving, mighty than I could ever have thought... As we worshipped and sang of our God being our salvation tonight... My heart was totally overcome in that he is my Savior  and Salvation because of what Jesus did in the cross for me... For all of us...

But also He is my Savior in that... My God has redeemed my life from complete devastation and heart break... I didn't dream that kind of healing could be possible... But God knew that in that valley of losing my son Samuel that He would bring beauty from those ashes, he would work in my heart in ways I wouldn't have been open to before...

But because my heart was stripped bare... I needed every ounce of His strength to fill me, change me, refine me, and make me more of who He desired me to be... 

It overwhelms me... He could have left me there heart shattered, lonely, despairing...
But He didn't...

If he can work that kind of healing in my life... Just as much so will He work in the lives of these precious children we serve here... And in YOURS...

Oh my do I have a long way to go... And I know that growing will NEVER be complete this side of Heaven...

So tonight I challenge you... Can you aim for making every moment... Every act in life an act of worship... It really is a change in perspective...We really aren't serving man but our Savior... And with his power and presence He can strengthen us to do more and more of that each day...

Much love from Uganda friends!! 
Every life... Every moment... Every day an act of worship to our Father!!