Sunday, July 14, 2013

I don't know what it is but there's something about Uganda that captures my heart and makes it harder and harder to leave each time I come. This past month has been incredible. From the 1st 2 week team to "Team Diva" for the last 2 weeks. Lots of new friendships have been made and a lot of life changing experiences have been shared. 

Maybe it's the change of pace that I love/hate so much. When you're in Africa you're on African time. No matter what anyone tells you. The answer is always I don't know/it will change. There is no reason to rush about. And chances are you'll run into some challenges but God always provides and gives us some laughs along the way. If your bus breaks down in the middle of the night, people on the side of the road WILL invite you to stay at their house. If your van gets sent to Gulu, hours away, you can always jump on the public transportation bus and make it to your destination in record time. You might "kiss" a few bumpers and other taxis along the way but the free roller coaster ride that comes along with riding in the back row of the bus is without a doubt worth the pain experienced by your spine/tailbone. Team Diva certainly took our crowns  off for that ride :-)

It's also the late night, never ending card games and conversations through out the day (inevitably while waiting for one thing or another ... Don't come to Uganda without a little bit of patience) that bring you closer to one another and form that bond that can't be broken.

It's sitting on the steps in front of HomeAgain talking with Mama Eva and Mama Jackie while shelling g-nuts. Asking questions and learning stories about the children I've begun to fall in love with. I like hearing how each child came to the home. For one I think it's important to know where they came from but it also goes a long long way in helping  understand each child, why they act the way they do and how I can interact with them to make them feel safe/loved. 

Also talking with the mamas and seeing what needs and concerns they have that need to be met. Often times we (Americans/teams) come in and start picking things apart trying to fix things the way we think it ought to be done. When in reality it helps to listen and pay attention to the things we can help with that will be beneficial in the long run. Not just a temporary "fix".

I always love the way a child's face lights up when they see you walking to the home to play. Then the running and jumping hug you get from the little boy you've seen grow up for the past 3 years. I think the only other people that get that excited to see me are my parents if I've been away long enough and our dog Gracie every time I walk through the door ;-)

It's also the baby snuggles and "buttery biscuits" after bath time in a basin on the front veranda. And holding children until they fall asleep in the afternoon. 

To end our trip team Diva decided we wanted to do something special for our friend who we all look forward to seeing each year. He drives our bus/van/car everywhere we go and watches out for us like we are his children while we're there. He is one of my favorite people to sit and talk with because all our little American ways tickle him to pieces. He laughs at us as we try to wash clothes then takes over and does it for us. He can answer pretty much any question you have about Uganda and we talk about our families and our lives. One afternoon I was showing him pictures of my family and he mentioned he hardly has any pictures of his family and no pictures of his son at school. This broke my heart. We were able to leave him a camera and he absolutely loved it. After Hannah and Emma left we sat in the car showing him how to use it. He talked about how excited he was to show his son and be able to take pictures of his family to show us. Then the morning me and Laura left he stopped before leaving us at the airport and pulled his camera out of his pocket to take our picture. He was so proud and I just melted and tried not to cry.

It's the little things!! 

I am so blessed that I was able to spend the month in Uganda. God certainly orchestrated some amazing things and put together 2 teams I'm so grateful to have been part of. I'll be posting more blogs about what we've been up to when I get home. 

Waiting for our Clean Water Climb team here in Tanzania now. We start our climb on Wednesday morning. Gonna smash that mountain!!

(Still raising money if you're interested)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Read blogs over on Embrace Uganda website to see what we've been up to. When we get better access to computer/internet I'll try and post some too!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Clean Water Climb

Well here goes:
I’ve gotten pretty much every reaction I could possibly imagine when telling people my summer plans but as per usual I’ve ignored the majority of them and decided to go for it anyways … God knows what He’s doing in my life whether I understand it at the moment or not JThank goodness my parents have learned to (eventually) go along with it when I tell them I have yet another crazy plan and my friends are always supportive and encouraging.

I’m joining a team of people (including my sister) climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s called the Clean Water Climb ( and we’re raising money to repair water wells and restore access to clean water for schools and villages in Malawi.
Before I explain why I really feel called to take part in this climb – YES I am still planning on travelling to Uganda with the Embrace Uganda team. I CAN’T WAIT to go back and see everyone there. The climb is taking place after that.

The climb is sponsored by Child Legacy International ( – an organization that serves in several countries in Africa trying to break the cycle of poverty while sharing the Gospel. One of their projects is working to bring clean water to Malawians … Each of us climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro are trying to raise awareness and funds and educate people about the importance of clean water.
It sometimes seems hard to wrap our heads around the fact that there are people around the world suffering from the effects of contaminated water. It’s something we truly truly take for granted without even realizing it. I remember coming home after my 1st trip to Uganda and the day to day things I personally take for granted really began to stick out and make me think about how blessed I am to live the life I do.

Think about everything you use water for in a day … washing your face, brushing your teeth, showering, water to fill the coffee maker in the morning, doing dishes, washing your hands, flushing the toilet, cooking, drinking, doing laundry, washing the car (aka dad washing my car J ), watering plants, etc, etc, I could keep going. Now imagine being required to walk miles and MILES back and forth carrying jerry cans (I can tell you from experience those suckers are HEAVY) to the closest water source … and chances are it might be contaminated.
FACT: The amount of water used to flush an average American toilet once, is more water than an average person in a developing country uses in an entire day.

One of the biggest reasons I want to take on climbing Kilimanjaro is to hopefully grab people’s attention and get them to stop for a second and understand the enormity of the need for clean water. My intention is to raise awareness, educate and bring people’s attention to something as simple as saving lives by ensuring access to clean water.
Access to clean water not only saves lives by preventing serious water borne illnesses contracted from using/drinking contaminated water, but providing schools and villages with these clean water wells also drastically improves children’s chances of getting an education. Faith Kunihira (director of Bringing Hope to the Family – in Uganda – at one of the orphanages I spent part of my summer) once told me and I’ll always remember it … an education is one of the most important things we can provide for children or orphans in developing countries. It isn’t uncommon for children (particularly girls) not to be allowed to go to school because they have to spend the day walking to and from the nearest water source to collect water for their family. Or they may go to school but are often too exhausted to focus because they’ve been up early before school carrying water.

FACT: 25,000 people die every day due to water borne illnesses.
FACT: There is an increase in school attendance when water is available only a 15 minute walk away rather than more than a half hour away.

In the past I’ve had people ask me WHY I go to Africa or why I’m raising money to “go on vacation” to Africa. To answer the first part of that … the only reason I can tell you is because I’ve felt called to serve in Africa. It’s as simple as that. If someone told me after visiting Uganda for only 2 weeks that I’d come home with a changed heart and forever feel connected there; I wouldn’t have believed it. But there is something that keeps calling me back … the only answer I have for that is God’s plan for my life. As far as going on vacation …think what you’d like. In a sense I guess it is kind of like visiting my extended family. I’ve never felt more welcome and comfortable in a place as I’ve been made to feel when I’m in Africa. I’ve been lucky enough to build some incredible friendships with people there and am really attached to the children I’ve come to know and love.

I am asking EVERYONE to share and educate people about the need for clean water in developing countries. I also ask that if you feel like donating to raise the funds needed to repair wells in Malawi that you would consider donating on mine and Laura’s (my sister) Clean Water Climb donation page.
Go to http://www​.cleanwate​​/meet-the-​climbers-2​013/and click on our names. Our goal is to raise $8000. It costs $1000 to repair 1 well which provides closer proximity to clean water for 500+ people. Wells are repaired and water is purified, villagers are also taught about health and hygiene related to collecting and using water and more importantly we get to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the surrounding villagers at each well repair site.

LOVE yall and hope you’ll continue supporting my wild wild endeavors hahaha. Please be praying for this team as we begin working to raise the money needed to repair these wells and pray that God guides each of us to use the gifts and blessings He has given us to serve Him and the lives of those we encounter both preparing for this trip and on this trip.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yesterday Was a Day I Won't Soon Forget

Earlier this year I was put in contact with a couple of adoptive mama’s who were adopting kids from Home Again orphanage where a piece of my heart is currently residing J  I’ve had a really neat opportunity to share stories about their new son’s and daughter’s and share all the pictures I’ve taken from my trips there the last couple of years.

After spending the summer in Uganda in 2011 I became quite attached to the younger children that were living at Home Again at the time. I would spend the mornings playing with them while the older children were at school. Like many of you have heard me say before … literally not a DAY goes by I don’t think about and pray for these kids. So imagine my surprise when I slowly began to find out not only 1 but over half of those 15 kids have been blessed with a forever family. A forever family to love them unconditionally … something which these children probably don’t yet comprehend because of the things they have endured in their young lives. A forever family to provide for them and allow them to grow to their full potential and realize their dreams and have the opportunity to go after them.

Yesterday I finally had the chance to meet one of the Mama’s that I’ve been in touch with through Facebook. Jody FINALLY got to bring her daughter Paige home after a long and seemingly endless journey. After several trips to Uganda and a lot of heartache, Paige is home with her forever family.

I had to fight back tears in the middle of the airport because I was so blown away at the work God has already done in this sweet little 4 year old girl’s life. In July 2011 Paige couldn’t walk on her own, she was in one of those baby walkers, but just didn’t have strength to stand up without support. When I went back in March 2012 she was walking short distances, dragging one leg, and tiring quickly. Yesterday at the airport she was walking on her own, she looked so much more grown up already, and she looked beautiful! Jody said she was even running, able to feed herself with a spoon, and was much more vocally expressive and using some familiar words. THIS is a HUGE transformation. God is moving mountains in Paige’s life … I absolutely cannot wait to see what is in store for this precious girl!!

It is incredible to me what the love and care of a family can do in a child’s life. I know the Mama’s at the orphanage love these kids like their own and I know it is hard for them to see these children go. But watching the transformation and progress these kids make when they have their own families, their own mom and dad, to nurture them and provide for them the life they deserve is absolutely amazing.
(July 2011)

(July 2011)

(September 23, 2012 - Can't believe how amazing she looks!)

(September 23, 2012 - Meeting Grandma for the 1st time)

Sunday, August 19, 2012


A friend of mine Jason Cooper (the same one I traveled to Uganda with) has posted this saying a couple of times lately and it has stuck with me … “LOOK AT GOD! God is able to do just what he said he would do … don’t give up on God, because he won’t give up on you. He’s able!”  And the verse, Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Which happens to be written on a notecard posted next to my desk that I put there earlier this summer.
It has stuck with me and sort of sums up one of the hardest, most emotional, most stressful semesters I’ve ever had. In short, I bombed my first test and essentially spent my summer studying myself out of that hole, praying I would pass in the end (sounds ridiculous, but in nursing school it’s possible even that one test will make or break it). The week before my final I figured out I needed to make at least a 76 to pass the class. I knew this wasn’t impossible, I hadn’t made below an 82 on a test except that awful first one. But I still spent ALL semester questioning and doubting myself. Am I smart enough? Am I good enough? Why did I actually think I could do this? After every test I called my mom or dad crying. And sent so many angry or frustrated texts to my close friends. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being in school for so long it’s that I’m an anxious test taker and as soon as I feel like something hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped I psych myself out and make it even harder for myself to succeed.

But really it’s not about me and what I can or can’t accomplish. It’s about having faith and trusting that my God is able but needs me to give it all to Him so He can GUIDE me and walk WITH me through even the not so easy and frustrating moments. I feel like this is one of the many ways God is teaching me to quit doubting and if I would always look first to Him and trust in him then I would have no need to be anxious or angry or feel like I should just give up.  It’s not about me; it’s what God is trying to do through me; and I need to stop getting in the way of that because I know God won't give up on me. 
I also have to say, God has placed SUCH amazing people in my life. People like Jason Cooper, who without knowing it are encouraging me. And my clinical group at school that I get to be with on the floor at the hospital. They are an amazing group of women who again, probably without knowing it help encourage me and give me confidence. My clinical instructor this summer was also an amazing woman with such a calming presence, which was exactly what I needed. She also happens to be headed to Kenya on a medical mission team the end of this month J


On Wednesday I start the next semester of nursing school. Prayers for my sanity … hahaha, only sort of kidding!!

And for days when I just want to be anywhere but where I am (particularly in Uganda loving on the children who are always on my heart) I also have this posted on a notecard on my desk … from a Jesus Calling book:

“Someday you will dance light-footed on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend. Stay on the path I have selected for you.”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Forgot to add:

Embrace Uganda's big "Save A Child" fundraiser is coming up on November 29th at Angus Barn. We are hoping to raise enough money to complete the new clinic and provide scholarships for the children in the scholarship program. If you are interested in donating or being a part of the event, check out the EU website.