Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guess you had to be there...

People ask me, "What was Uganda like?" "Did you have fun?" "Is it really as bad as they say?" I don't know what to say. I don't know how to answer them. Words are not enough, and even if they were my vocabulary isn't sufficient enough to formulate my thoughts into sentences that someone else could understand.

It irritates me when someone asks me, "did you have a good time, was it fun?" It's not their fault really; they weren't there. They didn't experience hundreds of children lining up for their ONLY meal. They didn't experience playing with the little boy whose bottom hung out of his pants because his pants resembled something I might use to dust my coffee table. They didn't feel like a terrible person watching a young man strap four 5gallon buckets to his bicycle to get more water because we thought we deserved a shower. None of those things were fun. Getting on the bus at the end of the day and feeling inadequate and unworthy isn't a good time in my book.

How do I describe Uganda? Words like amazing and awesome are the better words I've found. Words I feel like don't discount the experience, or the people. The people we met were amazing..and awesome...amazingly awesome...awesomely amazing!

Everyday we went to one of the care points we were greeted by the screams and songs and cheers of the children. Imagine when your favorite band gets on stage to play how the arena goes wild. We were that band and they were our biggest fans. Funny thing is even though they probably don't realize it we felt the same way about them. Each day I couldn't wait to get to the kids and each night I was sad to be leaving them. They energized me. Made me happy, made me smile. They were so eager to play and learn our songs. "Yes, yes, yes" become like music to me. We'd play catch and they all wanted the ball and rather than saying "me me me" they said "yes yes yes" and it was beautiful.

One day I sat surrounded by P1 and P2 girls and we sang Jesus Loves Me. They had the motions down and were mimicking me in perfect English and harmony and it brought me to tears. Even if these children didn't realize what they were singing, Jesus did. Even if these children didn't realize what they were saying I know that they know that Jesus Loves Them! They have such a beautiful, simple faith. They KNOW Jesus loves them. When you look at these children, when you see the elders, you can see their faith. When you hear them sing and praise the Lord you can feel their faith. It is a faith unlike any other I've ever experienced. It grips you. It hits every nerve in your body. Unlike us, myself, their faith isn't contingent on what they have or what they don't have. They know where their source of strength is and it doesn't waiver.

We had the blessing of attending a church service our first Sunday there. I've NEVER experienced a service like it. It was moving. The Bible was read in a language I didn't understand, songs were sang in a language I didn't understand and yet I comprehended everything. I didn't have to understand the language, their faith and worship is tangible; you just feel it. Sean preached an amazing sermon, it spoke to me that day and has for several days since.

Each day we were in a care point we had the honor of serving the children their meal. One day, the first, we set out to feed 600 children. We planned for it...but it's Africa and as we learned on day one, what we planned for didn't always matter. It was our first experience with running out, not having enough. We prayed because we were upset, we couldn't comprehend not having enough to feed everyone, our prayers were answered in a way bigger than we could have imagined. More food was cooked and everyone was given a plate. What we found out was in OUR planning for 600, in our frustration with running out over 1000 kids were fed. God's plan is always bigger than ours and God always provides. The people of Uganda know this; we still had to learn it.

In Uganda I also got to know people from my church, the other 9 people on this journey with me. I had feared going to Uganda and feeling alone. I couldn't have been alone if I wanted to! They are the best people you could ever hope to meet. God knew what he was doing when he put us together. (That sounds like such a stupid sentence, OF COURSE God knew what he was doing, duh!) I can't imagine what the trip would have been like with anyone else, or without one of them. I have made lifelong friends, they are my family now. (Sorry guys, your stuck with me!) These people GET me. When everyone else is tired of hearing about Africa, when I can see the frustration in their face as I compare yet another thing to Africa I know that THEY get me. When I can't find words other than "I miss it" I know that I don't have to elaborate for them because their response is "I know, me too" and I find more comfort in that than you can imagine. We have jokes and funny experiences that fill our facebook pages. I've tried to explain them to some of my other friends, but like any good inside joke you had to be there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

The day we left Oklahoma in pursuit of Africa seems like such a vague memory. The night before I must have packed 10 times. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and repacked. The next morning I repacked 2 more times. By the time I was at the church waiting I had no idea what was really in my bag. To be honest, as long as I got to Africa it didn't really matter.

The plane ride was interesting. I've flown enough times to not be afraid, but flying that long sure is boring! From Detroit to Amsterdam I watched Dear John. I slept through New Moon. Listened to music. I sat. From Amsterdam to Entebbe was more of the same but this time without movies. Gasp! The entertainment system was broken. Between all the flights we must have been given a thousand meals. It seems like every time I looked up they were feeding us.

Getting off the plane in Entebbe was exciting. I just kept thinking, "I'm in Africa!" We waited in a long line to get our Visa. I got my first stamp in my passport! It was strange to be in a tiny airport with open doors and windows to the outside. Hello Africa, goodbye A/C!

All of our luggage and totes made it with exception of my cell phone. (no worries, it didn't work internationally anyways!). We were led outside to a few vehicles that we loaded up and drove to the Central Inn-Entebbe.

It was so dark outside. That was probably the first thing I noticed. The smells were different too. Being on a different continent at that moment didn't seem scary; it felt comfortable. I was meant to be there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Minor Casualty...

I am home.
Those words leave a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Coming home and being with my family has been great...but leaving my other family behind has been awful.
We experienced so much while we were gone, more than I would have thought could be packed into 10 days. There was more sadness than I can comprehend, but also more joy than anything I've ever experienced.
In the coming days I will try to find the words that best describe my experience, however I know that words alone cannot do a good enough job. No words could justly describe the amazingness surrounding the people that I met.
I am home after suffering only a minor heart is broken.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010



Thursday, April 29, 2010


21 days.
That is all that stands between me and an airplane to Africa.
21 days.
That is all that stands between me and a life changing experience.
In 21 days the me who I've been for 29 years is subject to change.

Will the changes be everything that I expect? Probably not. To be honest the closer it gets, the fewer days, the smaller my count down number gets, the more nervous and uncertain I am. This is not meant to be mistaken as wanting to back out or changing my mind. This is not to be confused with lack of excitement. Simply fear of the unknown.

What will foreign airports be like? What will it be like to see signs in languages I can't even pretend to understand? How easy will it be to find our connecting flight?

What will my first glimpse of Africa be like? Will it be engraved in my mind forever or just a fleeting moment I will struggle to remember? What will Africa smell like? How long will it take to get adjusted to the time change?

My list of questions could go on forever, or I could get there and be absolutely speachless.

In 21 days I will know.

I. Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


If you can't already tell Africa, specifically Ngariam, is very important and special to me. I would love for you to be a part of something that I love. If you can make it and would like a ticket to this concert let me know! I have plenty to go around... For only $10 you can make a difference!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Africa is 30 days away today.

The end.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Take off your shoes and walk a mile in mine...

Today April 8, is considered by Toms shoes to be "A day without shoes." In many parts of the world children don't have shoes. They walk to school, they walk to get water, they play, they clean, they do what children do; barefoot. So today, you are supposed to go barefoot and experience a little of what they might.

I did this today. I woke up and got ready for work...put my shoes in my bag...and walked outside barefoot. The ground was cold. I went for most of the day at work barefoot, except for the times when someone might see my feet. As soon as I was out of the building they came back off. I went shopping, ironically for shoes, while not wearing any. All of these things seemed more like fun than hard work. I don't like wearing shoes anyway, so an 'excuse' to take them off is always welcome.

All of these things seemed like fun until I stepped on a broken piece of glass while taking my trash to the dumpster. All of a sudden being barefoot and not having an option to put on shoes or even clean my foot became real. Seeing my foot bleed and feeling the pain was real. Right now as I type barefoot my feet are cold, cold enough that I wish I had socks and shoes on.

Does my little boy ever wish for socks and shoes? In the picture I have of him he is barefoot. His feet are dirty and I'm sure they are cut and callused. Does he have shoes? Maybe he does...maybe like me he prefers to be barefoot. Or maybe unlike me he doesn't have a choice.

Tomorrow I can put my shoes on, heck today at anytime I could put shoes on, but can he?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I'm getting so excited for our trip to Africa and it's getting so close, only 50 more days! Things seem to be coming together quite nicely...plane tickets reserved, fundraiser concert planned, mentally packed...and started my shots!
Yesterday I got inoculated (such a funny word!) for Yellow Fever, Typhoid, MMR, Tetanus and Polio booster. I know, sounds fun and I'm sure you are super jealous. (Don't worry, I have an appointment to get 2 more shots, and you can totally come with me!) I got 3 shots in my left arm and 2 in my right. My right arm hurts worse than my left one though. But my right arm is sporting two nice little rashes...a small price to pay to be able to meet my boy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


So far my biggest fear for the trip to Africa isn't that I have to get a bunch of shots or that I may not have enough money. I know those things will be taken care of. My fear is that I will be alone...what?!??!? In a village of almost 600 orphans and traveling with a group if 10 I should not even have that thought. But I do. I don't really know the people I am traveling with; but that is changing. Everyone is super nice, but what if they don't like me... The crazy things my mind thinks.
Well I prayed about it the other day. I prayed that I not feel alone and that I make friends on this trip. I prayed for lots of things...and I got my answer. Minutes after praying I turned on my iPod, put it on shuffle and the song "Never Alone" by Mercy Me came on. The lyrics..."then a voice comes calling out to me you're never alone cause I am with you and I will always be" Then, next song...another Mercy Me (my iPod shouldn't play the same artist back to back!) this time it's "Here Am I".

Ok God, send me!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yes, I'm American...and I want that to change.

Tonight I was contacted by one of the people pulling things together for this trip and was given the info for the vaccinations we'll need before we go. She told me the Yellow Fever shot was $84. Then she told me it was another $3 for a booklet of some sort...I was still in shock from the cost of the actual shot I missed out on what this $3 item really was :)

Why did I think these shots would be free? What an American way to think. I have access to so much already, so much that I take for granted. I have all the food I could want, I have a comfortable place to live, I have a wonderful job...and I want free vaccinations. Could I possibly be anymore selfish? While I'm shocked at how much a shot is, a shot that I can afford to pay for, someone in Africa or South America is suffering from Yellow Fever.

While this trip is not free, I am learning a valuble lesson that is. I am realizing how lucky I am, how much I have, and to appreciate both.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Heart Ngariam...

well, that's what my shirt says anyway. Can it be true? Can I really love a place I've never been? Can I love a place that I know next to nothing about? The simple answer is YES. The more complicated answer is YES. I love Ngariam because that is the home of my boy.

I wear this shirt often because I know that people will ask about it. I jump at the opportunity to explain to people what it means. I was once asked by a stranger at the movie theater what my shirt said. Poor people, they just don't know what they have coming when they ask that question!

In December I accepted, rather was blessed with, an awesome opportunity to sponsor an orphan from this village. Even though I've never met this boy, my boy, I feel so connected to him. I look at his picture everyday, it's in my cubicle at work, on my fridge at home and on my computer...and everyday seeing his dirty confused face makes me smile. I thought I would be changing his life, sponsoring him for a measly $34 a month, and instead he has completely and indescribably taken over my heart. I don't have children, but I can only assume that I feel for him the way a mom feels for her kids. Knowing that he does without breaks my heart. I worry about him working too hard and I worry about him not having enough time to be a "kid" I wonder what he's learning in school and hoping that he is eating enough. I love this little boy that I've only ever seen a picture of. I love knowing that the love I have for him is only a fraction of the love that God has for him.

As a sponsoring church we will have opportunities to visit Ngariam. I am blessed to be a part of the first team to go. In May I will have the chance to go to this place called Ngariam, this place that my shirt says I love and I will have a chance to fall in love with it on another level. Not just as the home of my boy, the place where he eats, sleeps, goes to school, works harder than I can imagine, where he is thankfully learning about Jesus; but on a personal level. I will be able to fall in love with the landscape, the culture, the everything that Ngariam is and the everything that Ngariam isn't. I will have a better appreciation of what my boy does and indures on a daily basis. I hope to fall into a place deeper then love, whatever that may be.