Sunday, December 16, 2012

So I'm a pretty big advocate of God's perfect timing. Don't get me wrong, I know He doesn't need my approval of this character trait of His, but I think in general we spend entirely too much time telling God how we want things done on our schedules only to discover that His schedule was the right one all along. (I'm thinking Sarah and Abraham here...)

Recently, I've been...

RESTLESS. It took me a while to pin down the correct term, but I think this is it. Anyone still keeping up with this blog -bless you if you've put up with my four month absence- has read posts that come from a place of being absolutely sure about what I have to say or what I'm doing. And I think this best explains my absence, for approximately four months I've been in an unfamiliar season of the "un-sure." The next step I'm supposed to take hasn't been perfectly mapped out for me as in years past. The next goal, the next big thing, or dream, or passion, well, basically the next anything seems completely lost to me.

In my last post, I said, "so I'll go!" And this sounds exciting. And yes, I've been weighing my options on some places I could go. Distant places, think foreign. Yet, I still have felt no release in my spirit or in my mind that lead me to believe that any of those plans of mine are the proverbial "right" ones. Which is a really STRANGE place for me to find myself in. Still, I'm learning that it's ok. It's ok because the God I serve is a good dad. He told me He has a plan and you know what? I believe Him.

I happened to read through a great blog last night from one of my favorite missionary bloggers that in response to being asked what advice she would give people interested in missions, she said "Get a job!" Now to some reading this, you may think, "well duh!" After all money makes the world go round right? But for me, money has never been a stopping point on my dreams. Basically, my life where money is concerned has always looked like this: I have no none, but God will provide. So an apparently obvious answer to you, looks to me like the biggest epiphany I've had in weeks. Don't get me wrong, I have a job, but I've never looked at it from the perspective of a long term commitment to achieve the long term commitment I want to make to Christ. I hope that was clear as mud...

Basically what I'm trying to convey is that for all my big plans and dreams there is a perfect time that God has set aside where He will accomplish those things in my life. He gave Abraham the dream that his descendants would outnumber the stars he couldn't count. I don't think that my dreams are just happenstance. No I choose to believe that they are valuable and meant for a certain time under heaven. Hopefully, this restlessness won't hang on too much longer, but in the interim, God, help me to seek You out daily. Reveal to me Your plan as You see fit, not as I feebly demand it.

Thanks for putting up with me while I've been M.I.A. As a token of my appreciation, I offer this awesome Gift: (Get that play on words? If not, go back and read my older posts!! haha)

Look who graduated kindergarten and will be starting Primary 1 in January! I just wish I could have been there!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Cleaned My Room

My room is clean for the first time in my adult life. This is no exaggeration. And not only is it clean, but it's incredibly organized. I purged recently. I highly recommend this every once in a while because let's face it, we as a human race like to lay up treasures on this earth. In my 23 years I've collected an abundant share of things just waiting around for moths, rust, thieves and such...

Anyways, said all of that to say, it feels darn good walking into a clean organized living space that is all my own. Inside my room, I'm surrounded by the familiar: small things, such as photos and personally chosen decor, that make my room uniquely mine. On a bad day, my room is there for me.  I like my room. I feel safe in my room. Today was no different. Upon walking into my room a few moments ago, I was greeted by the new feeling of ease and joy that my clean room now holds for me. I began to ponder, while looking in my now organized closet for my Africa flip-flops, just how good and safe I felt in this space and how much I didn't want to have to leave this place for risk of suffering discomfort that my room would never ask me to suffer as long as I remained within its four walls.

It's here that my thoughts quickly turned to my possible future plans and the thought crossed my mind that if I just wouldn't leave, if I just wouldn't go and do, if I'd set aside my crazy notions of adventure and the pull of the world located across the Atlantic, I could remain within these safe, comfortable four walls forever. This thought lingered for about two seconds before I realized that this was a cleverly disquised attack from the enemy. This is a lie from Satan that isn't meant to comfort, it's meant to destroy.

You see, recently I spent four months in a 3rd world country living outside of my American born comfort zone. And I've garned through various conversations since my return that most people, in addition to thinking I was a little nuts, also think that I've gotten the "bug" out of my system. They think I've trotted off to do this thing, did what I set out to do, and now I must be planning better for my future. Surely now I'll settle down, get a 9-5, find a husband, and start a family. And don't get me wrong, this is all very tempting, but this "bug" I seem to have caught is a whole lot more than a 24-hour flu. Instead, it is deep and stirring, its the awakening of a call I believe we are all designed with, a higher purpose than we can conceive within our own imaginations. And it's lasting. This bug is more like an allergy or intolerance that you never grow out of. It requires a complete lifestyle change and perspective shift. No longer can I rest within the four strong walls of my bedroom with all its familiar comforts. In order to really live, I have to not just read these words below, but I have to take them to heart and act on them.
         "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." --Jesus, Matthew 10:37-39

This whole attack on my thoughts comes right on the heels of a pretty big decision I've made for my future. Today I listened to a timely sermon about making decisions and taking action against indecisiveness that stops kingdom growth in its tracks. This further confirmed my decision and as I was pondering the next season of my life and all of the exciting challenges it is sure to contain, that is when the devil decided to strike. Funny how he does that. But this is no laughing matter. Sure I could choose to remain in my world and my room in America, and maybe I could live a successfull life full of generous giving and security. But that deep stirring desire for more, that thirst for something holy could never be quenched by settling. So, I'll go.

Don't let the devil cheat you out of God's divine purpose for your life. Trading your unique role in His kingdom for Satan's false promise of safety and security in a chaotic world that he is not in control of anyways makes no sense.

With love,


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Be Free

I don't know how you feel about tattoos, and for the record this post is by no means meant to encourage anyone to go out and get a tattoo. (Disclaimer?) But recently, I got my first tattoo. What do you think?

You might be wondering why in the world I would get the two small, seemingly insignificant words "be free" permanently tattoed on my body. I'm assuming, of course, that the Africa outline makes a little more sense! So let me explain...

When I look at this tattoo:
1) I am reminded that I am free in Christ Jesus.
          "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." -Galations 5:1
2) I am reminded of my Uganda team. "Be Free!" was a common phrase among the members of my team. We exercised freedom with each other through open and honest conversation and actions. Yes this sometimes meant expressing hurts, annoyances, joys, and craziness!
3) I think of the need for Christ's freedom to reign supreme in Africa, and I make it my prayer.

Welp! There you have it. These are the reasons I have permanently inked my body. And today, nearly a month later, I still LOVE it!!!

In case you're interested, I have a few updates on life as of late. Today I start my last semester of my years as an undergraduate college student. This pretty much means that as far as life plans go, I have a solid plan through...December when I graduate for the second time. After the first of the plans. Yup! Sounds realllllly responsible doesn't it. ;) Don't worry though. God has a plan and He is working it out in me. To give you a heads up, I may actually know my plans for next year. I'm not ready to reveal them quite yet, but here's a hint...

...they involve Europe, leadership, missions, Spanish, French?, community, growth, direction, and of course God!

I'm also currently teaching a bible study class with the youth at my church on Sunday. I'm mentioning this because after some of the prayers I heard come out of those kids mouths today, I'm guessing you're going to be hearing more and more from me about Sundays at JWC (Jonesboro Worship Center). These kids have some AMAZING gifts and a phenomenal call on each of their lives and I can't wait to explore those more throughout the rest of this year. I just get the feeling I'll be "dwelling in hope" through them for a bit, and I couldn't be happier about it!

Until next time...Go in peace! ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In Conclusion?

It's been 58 days since I said goodbye to my teammates at the Atlanta airport. I really should have written sooner, but to be honest, I've been busy. And to be even more transparent, I've been unable to write or say anything real about the conclusion of my time in Uganda, about the conclusion of the community I lived in, and about the next steps in my life. It's been easy for me to ignore because upon returning to the states I was thrust into Miss Arkansas preparations. My first appearance was only three days after my plane landed in Memphis. Since that time, I've been happily engrossed in getting ready to compete for the title of Miss Arkansas. That competition will begin just three days from now, and as I am putting the final touches on my prep work, I am realizing that it is important for me to say some things about my trip now that it has ended and before I leave this weekend.

So here goes...

To my team,

I miss you people! We first live together again in Lira with these ones of Sankofa around the corner! I thought about writing this blog as just another blog written to random readers comprised of my friends and family and who knows who else, but I don't want to miss this opportunity to address you specifically. So, that being said this note is to you.

Thank you for the constant encouragement, the strength you gave me, and the never ending prayer and worship we lived in together. I thank God everyday that He brought us all together in His infinite wisdom and divine grace so that we could live together, learn together, and reach this world for His glory together. I'm not going to lie. It has been difficult being back in the U.S. without you around for feedback. I know this is just another part of God's plan and that there is a time and a season for everything under heaven, but grieving the loss of our season in Uganda is just plain tough. 

On a brighter note, I am pleased to be praying for you all as you enter into the next season of your lives. Whether it's a new job opportunity with an amazing organization with ties to Uganda, medical school, nursing school, college, worship leading, returning to Uganda, getting married, or leading more people all over the globe with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is an honor for me to join with you in prayer about these next steps in your lives. I can't wait to see what God has in store for all of us, and I'm just praying that one day it will include us all being in the same place again, even for a short time.

Apoyo Matek #besties,


 Family of Pastor Thomas Amone

I cannot say thank you enough to all of the people who supported my trip to Uganda. Whether your support came in the form of money or prayer, you have been a part of God's plan for my life and for that I am truly grateful. I'm not finished with this plan that God has for my life. In fact, I hope that I'm still fully walking in it and that in this next season you will get to see more of that. I'm probably not done writing about my experiences in Uganda either. I've learned too many things and I am still learning things from the first four months of this year and on some occasions I may be apt to sharing those with you. Most of my communications over the next few weeks can be found on my pageant blog

Finally, I want to leave you with a reminder. I think it's a healthy reminder for all of us who have ever allowed it to get stale in our lives. I pray that this word ring truer with every day and every breath in our lives so that we may more fully discover our purpose in this world as followers of Christ.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." -Matthew 28:19-20

Go. Baptize. Teach. Make disciples. Repeat.

That's all I've got for now, but I'll be around!

Obanga mi gum

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What A Mighty God We Serve

What a mighty God we serve
What a mighty God we serve
The angels bow before Him
Heaven and Earth adore Him
What a mighty God we serve

This song went through my mind most of the day today. Here's why...

Yes, today I went white water rafting on the River Nile. First of all, what a beautiful sight! The river, longest in the world by the way, is absolutely breathtaking. And in that first rapid, Overtime (pictured above), my boat flipped. It was amazing! We went over eight rapids today. All grades 4 and 5. That God created such beauty and power is beyond me to understand. That He allowed me to experience today is completely incomprehensible.

I know that many people back home have been posting photos of the Super Moon 2012 recently and I've seen a few. The moon, for a long time now my favorite heavenly body, was pretty spectacular. This sunset, however...

I love the following passage from Job. Our God is great. His ways are higher than our ways, and personally, I'm mighty thankful to serve such a mighty and powerful God! It's long but worth it. I promise and as you read it (because I feel like God sometimes has a sarcastic side) remember that all of the lines below are true, we are worthless, but for some unfathomable reason, God LOVES us! He loves you!

    “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
        Tell me, if you have understanding.
    Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
        Or who stretched the line upon it?
    On what were its bases sunk,
        or who laid its cornerstone,
    when the morning stars sang together
        and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
    “Or who shut in the sea with doors
        when it burst out from the womb,
    when I made clouds its garment
        and thick darkness its swaddling band,
    and prescribed limits for it
        and set bars and doors,
    and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
        and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
    “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
        and caused the dawn to know its place,
    that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
        and the wicked be shaken out of it?
    It is changed like clay under the seal,
        and its features stand out like a garment.
    From the wicked their light is withheld,
        and their uplifted arm is broken.
    “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
        or walked in the recesses of the deep?
    Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
        or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
    Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
        Declare, if you know all this.
    “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
        and where is the place of darkness,
    that you may take it to its territory
        and that you may discern the paths to its home?
    You know, for you were born then,
        and the number of your days is great!
    “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
        or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
    which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
        for the day of battle and war?
    What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
        or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
    “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
        and a way for the thunderbolt,
    to bring rain on a land where no man is,
        on the desert in which there is no man,
    to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
        and to make the ground sprout with grass?
    “Has the rain a father,
        or who has begotten the drops of dew?
    From whose womb did the ice come forth,
        and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
    The waters become hard like stone,
        and the face of the deep is frozen.
    “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
        or loose the cords of Orion?
    Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
        or can you guide the Bear with its children?
    Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
        Can you establish their rule on the earth?
    “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
        that a flood of waters may cover you?
    Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
        and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
    Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
        or given understanding to the mind?
    Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
        Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
    when the dust runs into a mass
        and the clods stick fast together?
   (Job 38:4-41 ESV)

We head home tomorrow. Your prayers for a safe journey are appreciated. Before we go, I've decided to bungee jump over the Nile. Prayers for that are also welcome! ;)

3, 2, 1...Bungeeeee!!!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Case You'd Forgotten...

In Case You'd Forgotten...

In case you've become too comfortable with living in a third world country...

In case you had found it easy to live in northern Uganda where very few US dollars can still afford you a very affluent lifestyle in comparison to the majority of the population.

In case you'd forgotten that the country you are in has only recently come out of a 20 year war led by a mad man by the name of Joseph Kony...

These were the thoughts that went through my mind a few days ago when I heard. You see my team is very fortunate in the big scheme of things. Though in America we are college-aged students living on tight budgets, in Uganda we do pretty ok. You see I can eat all three meals in a day for less than $2.00. I can eat good food that includes flavor and protein, meat and veggies for less than $5.00. Even in Lira, Uganda, I have running water. I have a shower. I have a bed. And I have a mosquito net. So basically, though I am living with minimal comforts in comparison to my American lifestyle, I have got it pretty good here in this third world country.

Because of that, it is easy for me to become comfortable. It is easy for me to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and play with street children and orphans because my biggest concern in a day is whether or not I remembered to take my malaria preventative. Oh yeah, that reminds me, another one of the luxuries I can afford because of my American affluence is that I am able to buy and take malaria preventative in the form of an inexpensive antibiotic.

In case you'd forgotten that you are in a world that needs more help than you can provide...

A young boy at the age of thirteen was killed a few days ago when he stepped on a landmine left behind by the Lords Resistance Army not even a mile from where I am living. In fact, I heard the explosion. It sounded a little like a car backfiring from where I was sitting in my bed in my room. I did not know this boy. I know a child who was friends with him, but I had never met him. I don't know his story. I don't know his parents. And I can't imagine the hurt that his family must be going through.

In case you'd forgotten that you are in a world that needs more help than you can provide...

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." -John 10:10

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." -John 16:33

"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thrist, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them." -Isaiah 41:17

"Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard...If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;  you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in." -Isaiah 58:6-12

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

'Some Few' Photos

 For some words about my week, go to!

 Our instruments of praise...yes, those are water bottles!

God's precious Gift came to see me at Church for Easter!
Some of the kids love to tag along as we leave the church grounds!
My ministry team!

 The hut I lived in while I had malaria.

 My beautiful leaders.

Doreen looking fabulous at her introduction! Her wedding is this Saturday.
At a worship seminar we led!
Me with Winnie at the seminar!
Baby Caleb!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One of those days...

So today I was struggling trying to think about what to write. I encourage you, if you are interested in reading about my day to day activities, to check out my other blog which is posted on my team's blog site at I managed to write out a post about visiting the hospital this Monday. But when thinking about what to write on this page I kept coming up blank. Then I remembered that I had yet to check and see if there was an update to my favorite blog written by Katie Davis. I opened up her website and my spirit was instantly lifted as I began to read her words. If you've not heard of Katie Davis and the beautiful story of our Savior that He is telling through her life, check out her blog or her book Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. She is a girl, my age (22), living in Uganda. She has adopted 13 Ugandan girls. Did I mention that she is my age?

Don't get me wrong. There are many beautiful stories I could tell you of life in Uganda. There are words I could share with you from our Savior. Words He has been sharing with me on this journey. But sometimes no matter how good the days are, or how busy, or how enthralling, sometimes you just have a day where you feel disconnected. Today was one of those days. My focus is off. My energy is down, and on top of that this is the only day that I have to communicate back home. Communicating back home from Uganda is an exhausting process in itself with frequent power outages, internet failures, and the fact that I'm communicating with the very people I miss the most.

Enter Katie's blog. Those of you who know me, know that her story has been a huge influence in my life. Let's face it, part of the reason that I am in Africa and not Thailand right now is because a dear friend of mine introduced me to her blog back in August of last year. Today, I don't have much to say but I'd like to share some encouragement with you. These words are not mine, they are Katie's, and I think if you asked her, she would tell you the same thing, "these words are not my own." Today, these words spoke to me and I hope that they encourage you.

"I know that I can find joy here, too. Because God is in the days that go as planned. And God is in the days that don’t.

Today there was breath in the chest of a little boy who I thought may die in the night. Today there were hugs and picked flowers and sweet notes from kiddos who knew mama was tired. There were big sisters who helped little sisters and a biggest sister who organized the house cleaning. There were 130 painted toenails, all colors. There were boxes of cookies sent from friends in the states and medicine and food sent over from friends around the corner. There were hands to help and even more that offered to help, and there were voices lifted in prayer.

And today, there was a Savior who paid my ransom with His blood, and it was enough.
It is always enough. Could I just remember? Could I just remember whose I am? Could I just remember the price He paid to live in me? And if Christ is in me, then can’t I find Him in all of these things too - the measles and the vomit, the flowers and the forgiveness and the toenails? Knowing that in all circumstances He is enough and He is working to draw me closer to Him, I praise Him for the good in the hardest of days.
Jesus, you are enough.

You were enough to atone for this ugly sin that wanted to separate. You are enough to fill in the gaps, fill all my holes, make up my lack. My flesh screams, “I can’t go on, I don’t have enough! Not enough strength, not enough patience, not enough…” And I wouldn’t, but I have You. And in You, I have enough and more than enough, Father of abundance, Giver of endless blessings.

I can pour out because I know you fill up. I drink from a well that never runs dry. You are abundantly available to me, ever drawing me closer. You call me into communion with you and I am filled with your life over flowing even in the driest, hardest of seasons. You exchange my lack for your abundance, Christ in me the only hope of glory. Christ in me is enough. Christ with me is enough. Christ on that cross and risen for me is enough. You are enough, Jesus.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His GLORY, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. From His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace. John 1:14,16

--I do not own these words. They were written by Katie Davis at

This image, however, is mine. I took it on the long ride coming home from Kenya. Isn't God amazing?! I can't even describe the beauty we saw that day. This photo simply doesn't do it justice!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

For a long time I've been thinking about writing this blog post. Because of the more personal nature of some of the information I have hesitated putting it out for all to see. Especially since the personal matters are not my own to share. But still, I've felt like there was something important for you to know in hearing their stories, and so I'm choosing to write this. With respect for my teammates I am leaving the individuals names out of this post.

It has now been a little more than two months that this team has been living together in community, and in that time we have learned a lot about each other's lives. What I'm about to tell you is a story, not of failures, but of God's grace. These are not our stories, but they are all a part of God's story. I am blessed to be serving alongside these 12 other individuals and I'm thankful each day for the way that God has knit us together as family. What has given me the courage to finally sit down and put my thoughts on this page? Well, that's easy. This past weekend I got malaria. Yup. Malaria. The parasite that mosquitoes carry. The one that infects your blood stream and that makes you feel absolutely miserable. The parasite that is not only treatable, but it is also preventable, and still thousands will die each day all over the world because of it. (A statistic that needs to change. Remember, its PREVENTABLE) Thankfully, we caught it quickly and it was handled with great care by those responsible for my team. I'm happy to report that I am on the mend.

Having malaria in a third world country has further opened my eyes to a few things about this amazing community I find myself living in. So here's the thing, I didn't just get malaria in a third world country. I got malaria on the one weekend my team chose to live in the village, eliminating from our lives even more conveniences than we already had by coming to Africa. Now not only were we living without air conditioning and sometimes without electricity, we were living in mud huts, without running water, zero electricity, and, my personal favorite, squatty potties. Don't get me wrong, this experience was an amazing opportunity to truly see how the "other half" lives. But malaria brought a whole new stuggle to the forefront, a struggle of being completely reliant on someone other than myself. This is where I will begin...

In this eye opening weekend of adventure I was loaned clothing, shoes, pillows, soap, and many more items without any hesitation from my team members. Many of them sacrificed sleep to sit up with me at my lowest points, to go outside in the pitch black night when I needed to get out of the stuffy hut for some cool night air, and even to make the trek with me in the early morning hours to the squatty. Even since returning to Alpha, they have not once neglected to offer to get my bags or to make me a plate of potatoes for dinner. All of these things they have done without grumbling or complaining (Phillipians 2:14).

Now I want to tell you a few things about this group of people. The lives of these individuals are pretty amazing and I hope that hearing where they come from is blessing to you and your situation. On my team there is someone who survived leukemia, someone who was healed of a brain tumor, two individuals who have suffered with eating disorders, others who have dealt with doubts about believing in God, there are members from broken homes, and there are those who have lost parents to cancer. They aren't perfect people. They've been through their ups and downs. Some on this team have spent time not knowing their worth and looking for it in all of the wrong places. Still, God has redeemed every situation in their lives and He continues to work in and through them.

I don't know what you are going through today. Cancer in your body, cancer in a loved one, the loss of someone close to you, doubts, or even malaria, but I do know a Savior who loves you enough to come and give His life on a cross for you. If that sounds to difficult to imagine, you're not alone. I don't really understand it either. The part that I don't understand, that's called love. It's an unconditional love that I have a hard time comprehending because it isn't found in any place on this earth. Jesus is more than faithful and He is more than able to heal, to provide, to be patient with your doubts, and more than He is able to do those things, He desires to do those things for you. He created you. He designed you. When He thought about you before you were born, He thought of a purpose for your life. His thoughts of you gave Him joy and so He created you. Then I believe He saw that "it was good."

In the past week I have relied on my teammates. More than them, I have relied on God. And I haven't been disappointed. He is my healer and my provider. He has surrounded me with 12 other amazing people and I am so very thankful for them. God is good!

Blessings to you and yours!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Washing and Polishing

Recently my team spent the day at one of Victory Outreach's branch churches, VOC North. We will be spending one day a week in that community attempting to build relationships with the people there, to introduce them to Jesus, and to meet some of their physical and emotional needs. We spent the morning doing door-to-door ministry. In America, door-to-door ministry has a very negative connotation, but in Africa it is not only extremely effective, it is also a lot of fun. You meet some pretty amazing people and you hear stories that would almost be impossible to imagine if it weren't for the reality that lives behind the eyes of the person recounting their history to you.

One such story I heard on our first visit to the area was told to me by a young woman, 20 years old, named Judice. She was never able to finish the Ugandan equivalent to high school because her father was killed by the LRA rebels. Her family was living in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camp in 2004. They lived in the camp for 3-4 years, and if you know anything about the conditions in an IDP camp, you know how difficult that must have been for her family constantly depending on the generosity of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), often not having enough food to eat even one meal everyday, living in extremely close quarters, constant outbreaks of disease and sickness due to unsanitary living conditions, etc. And to compound the horrible conditions of the camp, there was a constant fear that if you left the impossible situation of surving in the IDP camp, you risked an even more unimaginable fate at the hands of the LRA rebels. The reality of this fear was felt by Judice's family one day in 2004 when her father left the camp to gather food from their family home. He was captured and killed by the rebels along with three of their neighbors in such a gruesome way, I won't mention it here. I really felt a connection with Judice. She is a catholic woman who prays at the Cathedral here in Lira, and I'm hoping to continue getting to know her better.

I didn't originally intend for this post  to be about such a difficult topic, in fact, I wanted this to be an uplifting post drawn from the amazing afternoon I spent at VOC North. I'll get to that now, but I hope this gives you a feel for the way my days are spent here in Uganda. I meet many people and hear many stories like Judice's on a regular basis. I met and prayed with her in the morning, went to other homes, had lunch, and then experienced a wonderful afternoon with some amazing women. Everyday here is so full, it's hard for me to believe it all fits into one day. It is only by the grace of God that my team stays sane!

This all occured last Thursday on the day that just happened to be a national holiday. It was Women's Day in the country of Uganda. It is a day to honor women and celebrate their rights. Women's rights are much newer here than they are in America, and in my opinion, they are still struggling for many of the basic freedoms that American women take for granted. But on this day, our team leader, Brittany, (who loves polishing nails) decided that offering to wash women's feet and polishing their toenails would be her ministry of choice to show the women, many of them widows, that someone out there cared for them. Mary and I decided to join her in the afternoon.

Before we knew it, many women had shown up to have their toenails polished. Let me put this into some perspective for you. We were sitting on the dirt floor on a ripped plastic tarp in the middle of a mud-brick and cement building covered by a tin roof with square holes in the walls for windows and air circulation (remember, no a/c). We were surrounded by women and children who speak a language we don't speak, many of the women were widows, all of them were impoverished and had likely never experienced a kindness of the level we were about to provide them with. Many of the women, in fact, were amazed when we told them that we were going to wash their feet. African feet. Feet that have rarely seen so much as a flip-flop made from re-used rubber from tires. Feet that, barefoot, had walked more miles and ran from more horrors than I could ever dream of. Some of the women had had their nails polished before but none of them had ever had someone else wash their feet and massage them with lotion - add to that the fact that all of this was being done by mzungus. We're close to royalty around here, and the norm when a mzungu visits is to offer them the last of your food and the only chair you own because they being foreign and white deserve the chair while you sit on the floor. (Happens all the time...) Needless to say, this was one of my favorite ministries we've done! Happy Women's Day!

All of this got me to thinking about what it means to put someone else above you. To truly serve like Jesus served (remember He washed a few feet in His days on earth, too...John 13:5-20) Jesus washes us clean from our sins and then takes time through our relationship with Him to polish us to look more like Him. He says in John 13:15-16 "for I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him." Jesus is constantly polishing me and my team in our time here in Uganda. I just pray that you  take the time to examine the ways in your own life that you could allow him to polish you as well. Consider for a moment that may mean you will wash a few feet.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jubilee then Peace!

Jubilee then Peace!

My first Saturday at Compassion's Center Day I met God's beautiful gift, Giftee. She and I spent the day dancing and laughing together. Then about midday she fell asleep in my lap. I sang over her the song my mum used to sing over me, In the Garden. It stands out as one of my favorite days. Since then, Giftee runs to find me whenever she and her mom  come to Victory. The day I met her mom she was very pregnant. She told me she was due in March, and because we are in a 3rd world country, she did not know if she was having a boy or a girl. I remember praying then that maybe Harriet (Gift's mom) would let me name her new baby. *Which is not impossible. Our team has given many names to babies and even to a young girl who converted to Christianity from Islam.


This Saturday I inquired to some of the Compassion staff about Harriet's condition because I had not seen her for two weeks. Turns out she had just given birth 3 days before to twin girls! I don't think I could have been more excited! I was told that the birth went very well, and that Harriet was ready to receive visitors. (Which I realize now was a funny question to ask as I found out later that after giving birth on Wednesday to twin girls, she WALKED home on Thursday with the twins in tow!) Unfortunately, I was delayed in seeing her for three more days.

Two days ago, my roommates, Carrie-Anne and Marissa, and I went walking around Lira in the hopes of finding where Giftee and her family lived, but we had also been given the task to minister in the ways Jesus did in the gospels. So, we set out praying for direction because we had NO idea where Gifteee lived.
We found ourselves in a market area we had never been to before and we were a little discouraged because we didn't know who we were supposed to talk to. Finally we just stopped on a random corner at a random shop and talked with a random yound man who runs that little stand. His name is Jasper and his music name is Greedy (We're gonna talk with him about that..haha!) He is a musician and he writes Reggae and Hip Hop songs. Gospel songs, in fact, because he loves Jesus! We asked him the location of Samaritan's Purse because we were told Giftee lived near their buidling. Turns out, it was very close to where we were. Jasper offered to take us, but we needed to return to Victory to work in the Compassion office. We promised to

That brings me to yesterday! We returned to Jasper's stand; this time with Brittany, one of our team leaders. Jasper offered again to take us to Samaritan's Purse, and this time we accepted. On the way we stopped to greet Jasper's mom. Her name is Molly and she runs another little shop/stand nearby. Get this!...As we are greeting her, she tells us, without any prompting from us, "I am the Aunt of Gift"...that's Giftee! HA! God is so amazing! Let's recap: We randomy began walking through Lira praying that we might randomly stumble upon Samaritan's Purse to find Giftee's home. Then, while discouraged, we randomly stop and talk to a random young and joyful shop owner, and it randomly turns out that he is Giftee's cousin! Really?! What are the odds?! God is SO VERY GOOD!

But just wait, this is the best part of the story. When we arrived at Giftee's home many members of her family were there. We asked Harriet what she had named the twins and she said that she had not, she was waiting for us to come and name them! In case you haven't figured it out, the names we chose are the title of this blog. When holding baby Apio (a last name given to the first-born of twins here in Uganda, and currently what we were calling baby #1) I thought only of the word joy. My teammates chose Jubilee! Naming baby Acen (same as above, only for the second born) took a little bit longer. I was thinking Grace or Peace and while holding her I was leaning towards Peace. We talked about MANY names. Finally the baby's grandmother said Peace! I was thrilled! So we put four names to Harriet for her to decide. She picked Peace! So Giftee's sisters are now called Apio Jubilee and Acen Peace. (Last names are written and spoken first in Uganda.) We all agreed Peace would be a good, hopefully prophetic name for the little one as Giftee is quite a handful and her sister's name is Jubilee. Harriet could use a little peace and quiet on occassion. Though don't underestimate her; she is African strong. When we arrived she was doing laundry. Which in Uganda means standing and bending over a bucket to wash every item by hand. Note that this was six days after giving birth to the twins.

So yesterday, I helped to name to precious baby girls! I can't wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

With great joy and peace,


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I'm Learning

When thinking about what I wanted to say in this post, I kept coming up blank. There are just too many amazing stories I could tell. There are too many daily occurrences that I think to myself when they happen "oh, file that away for later." There is just too much! But really it is just enough.

It is just enough to open my eyes to the serious needs all around me.  Women, men, and children are struggling with HIV/AIDS when there are medicines available that could prolong their lives. There are women who get their medications only to have their drunk husbands take it from them, or beat them because they had to spend 3 days in the hospital just to qualify to receive it. Children want so badly to go to school, but their families can't afford it, or they live in a home where their father refuses to pay and their mother can't work hard enough to feed the family of 9 and afford school fees for 7. Then there are the rare families that somehow pinch out just enough to cover the cost of a child's school fees, uniform fees, and supply fees for a year, but that child receives an education that would shut down an American school for its ineffectiveness.

It is just enough for me to understand, not because I have read, but because I have experienced the harder way of life here. There is no such thing as air conditioning. Power outages happen daily, often multiple times a day, and sometimes for 4+ hours at a time. Washing machines exist, somewhere...I think. All of my laundry is done in a bucket with my own two hands. Food is cooked outside over a charcoal fire. Red dirt/dust gets everywhere (not an exaggeration). Bugs get everywhere. Refrigeration is rare. Red lights don't exist, nor do sidewalks, nor do stop signs, but there are lots of speed bumps. Most roads are dirt though, so it really wouldn't make a difference. There is a severe shortage of trained medical personnel. Water comes out of a well...I hope you live close to one, because a 2 mile walk in this heat without water is excruciating (For us Americans water comes from a bottle. We have to watch out for bacteria and parasites that our immune systems aren't used to.) This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I would not even pretend to understand fully why life is hard here as a Ugandan. But I have witnessed many things that I would like to attempt to relay to you.

Hospitals here are not places of comfort where one can trust that someone will know what is wrong and be able to fix it. Instead they are overcrowded, hot, and very heavy/sad places. In the children's ward there are no beautiful murals of trees and giraffes, in their place are red dirt walls with chipped paint and spiders.

I don't say all of this to write yet another story of an East Africa country that is desperate for relief. This shouldn't be another essay that makes you cry or feel bad for people living in 3rd World nations. I'm just trying to put into perspective that there is another world out there. Outside of our air-conditioned, cable ready, Wi-fi connected lives. And amazingly enough, the people here have almost NO IDEA! They don't think of their lives in comparison to the lives of 1st worlders. They are happy, beautiful, joyful people who simply get up every morning in a different situation than you found yourself in when your alarm clock woke you up this morning. And what is even more amazing? God loves these people as much as He loves us. His desire for them is that they live full lives for His glory. Odd, isn't that the same thing He desires for me and you? I know that I write a lot on the many reasons you should drop what you're doing and head to a foreign country, but I really can't help it. With what I'm learning, the only response I have is to write to the world that they should come and experience this too.

I'm learning a new language. I'm learning a new style of song. I'm learning a new diet. I'm learning a new way to carry things (on my head). I'm learning how to do things in a more primitive, yet strangely more effective way. I'm learning a new culture. I'm learning to say yes with my eyebrows. I'm learning not to ask what's in the food. I'm learning compassion. I'm learning about helplessness. I'm learning that I can't fix everything. I'm learning that I don't know everything. I'm learning that life in Uganda for an uneducated girl means that they need to find a husband, no matter what he is like. I'm learning that children sometimes were never taught to smile. Sometimes they've never been hugged or have never heard the words "I love you." I'm learning that when they are smiled at, waved at, hugged, and told "I love you" by a mzungu (me), that it means the world to them and instantly makes me their new best friend. I'm learning that God is the only thing getting me through the day. I'm learning that depending on Him for everything I need is scary, hard, and very frustrating, but SO WORTH IT!

What I'm learning in pictures...

Sweet Giftee who fell asleep in my arms. The doctors aren't sure what is wrong with her, but she is sick all the time and has thick joints. She is truly a gift!

Mary is going to be a nurse and so I let her do my malaria test. Notice which one of us freaked out...
We made Valentine's cards to hand out in town. This was Logan's reaction to my Valentine! 
This is Susan, the woman who prepares our amazing meals, and she LOVED her Valentine from the team!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We've Got it Down to an Art

We've got it down to and ART!

Think about it! We have lights, sound, great talent, knowledge of Christianity, knowledge of technical equipment, knowledge of music, knowledge of ministry, knowledge of accounting, etc. We also have vacation days in our jobs. We have (most of us) a desire to make a difference. Why don't we skip that trip to Disney World, or that  trip to the beach, and instead follow the command of Christ and share the knowledge God has given us with the people around the world who have the desire to reach the lost, who often work harder than we do to accomplish His kingdom on earth.

God has not asked us to feed the hungry, clothe and shelter the poor, care for the orphan and the widow, and reach all nations. He has not asked. He has commanded us. Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

I know that some of you feel that you are not called to missions, or you might say that is just not something I could do - I'm not able to live in those conditions - I'm not cut out for that work - I'm afraid - It's dangerous - Others will go, and maybe I'll bless them. To the first statement, my reply is simple. Go and read Matt. 28 again. ALL are called to missions. It won't look the same for everyone, but all are called.

To the others, those feelings are NOT of God. Christ didn't die so that you could be fearful, or discouraged, or so you could speak death (and those are words of death) into your life. But Christ died so that we might live, that we would not have a spirit of fear, but of power and love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Imagine what you could bring to a desperate community in even one week's time of service. Let me give you an idea...Here in Lira, Victory Outreach serves multiple districts of Uganda. There is a media team. - I know two people perfect to teach them new things and could in one week of volunteering, they could turn their outreach potential upside down. - There are 7 primary schools and one high school. - I know more teachers than I could count who could bring supplies, who could instruct teachers in proven methods, and who would go home a better teacher, better able to transform their classrooms with their stories. - There is an agricultural program. - I know farmers. And just so you know, farming could help bring many people and communities our of poverty and starvation. - There are child development programs and Compassion International sponsored children. There are many pastors, young pastors, and future leaders. There are accountants and businessmen who are serving the church, various ministries, and the community. There are clinics and hospitals being built, and young people eager to be nurses and doctors.

If you think this work is hard, think again! You do those jobs EVERYDAY! And your "everyday used" knowledge and skill set could bless and change the world. Still didn't see something that you could do? What this world needs more than knowledge is the love of Christ. Can you hold an orphan? Can you encourage a widow? Can you sing and dance with children? Can you clean a room? Doing these things will show God's love to a world desperate for, not money, not food, not knowledge, but something that will be with them through every circumstance. Something that will comfort and love them. That something is Jesus Christ. He works and loves through His body. We are His body. If we say no, or I'm scared, unable, not interested, afraid of failure, then His body is crippled.

Speak life over yourself. And ask God to reveal to you what your service looks like through His eyes. I promise it won't look scary, but instead, beautiful! Maybe it will look like one week, maybe 4 months, 6 months, 2 years,...I'm not sure. But I am sure He has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord.

Don't miss this. I'm praying for you! I pray that the next time you save up to book a vacation that a location in need of Christ will be the first one to enter your mind. I love you. Christ loves you.

From Uganda,


The mzungu(me) with Ruth, Oliver, and Lucky! Making faces at Happy who took the photo!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Uganda Dreams

You can access my other blog here: Yes it is different! ;)

Ambrose is 23 years old and he is very talented at farming. He has many certificates from programs he has completed in agricultural studies. In one class he received distinctions and in every class he received credits. He wants to own his own farm and to support his older sister who is unmarried with a child. She has no one to provide for her unless she marries. The chances of that are slim. But Ambrose needs another degree in order to be hired in his field and he doesn't have the money to pay for it. He dreams big dreams. He has a beautiful vision for his future, his sister's future, her child, and even for street children in Uganda, but without the financial support or a job that he can work and save money with, Ambrose fears his dreams won't be possible. But he still dreams. And he travels into Victory Outreach Church frequently to pray that God will allow his dreams to come true. He believes God will provide.

Victory Outreach Ministries (VOM) sponsors several primary schools, but they have also begun a high school. This is unique because many children you read about in Africa never finish primary school much less attend high school. But VOM dreams big dreams for the city of Lira, the country of Uganda, and every child that our Lord has blessed this country with.

The high school is also a boarding school, and a few days ago we were given a tour of the grounds. School won't begin again until after the students arrive back from Holiday on January 30th, but the teachers and staff are in the process of getting everything ready for the new school term. We were given a tour by Khalid, a man with a great vision for Fountain High School. His school, however, has not yet reached its full potential. Understatement. His school is not yet finished. In fact, both the girls and boys dormitories remain incomplete. The kitchen (and I use this term lightly, imagine a small brick room with various pots and pans, no stove, no sink, no oven, no refrigerator, no dishwasher, you get it...) is too small to accommodate. all of the students and staff. The classrooms are make-shift. Though they are hoping for 200 students when courses begin again in a few days time, they have a vision for 800-1000 students. Of course, that is with a finished school. At this point the facilities are half-done at the most generous estimate.

The cost so far? Roughly $35,000. The price needed for 1000 Ugandan high school students to receive a real shot at a future through education? Around $30,000. VOM dreams big dreams for the people here. And they believe God will provide. In fact, they have no doubts.

Uganda dreams

And their dreams are beautiful

The girl's dormitory.
In just a few days, girls will live here. Including my new beautiful friend Lydia.

She wants to be an accountant!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Eager for Rome

I learned recently from a beautiful woman of God at my church that when you reading scripture, you should insert your name, your circumstance, your trial, your location, etc. into what you are reading. In this way scripture will come alive in your circumstance. So I decided to try it. In Romans 1, Paul write to the Roman church and tells them of his long desire to be with them. When I first read this, I immediately thought of Uganda and the journey I'm about to embark upon. So when you read this, I want you to think  as I thought, that this is Somer eager to be in Uganda. And look at what it says:
"For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you -- that is that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." - Romans 1:9-12
I leave for Uganda tomorrow evening. Your prayers are appreciated. I wish that I could contain in this one blog how thrilled I am to finally be entering the country of Uganda. I am eager for this journey, as Paul was eager for Rome. 
I want to let you know of another opportunity to keep up with me, and even the rest of my team. I encourage you to follow our team blog at Follow us by e-mail and you'll be updated everytime one of our team members has something to share. I will be telling you more about them soon, but for now just know that they are amazing  children of God. They encourage me every moment I am with them, and I'd love for you to know them, too. So follow us!!! In fact, I will be updating both blogs...but with different information. This is still my primary blog, but depending on how much time I have to post, I may only be able to put out a short snippit on our team blog. For example, I have written something about my EXTAORDINARY time at training camp. I'm not posting it to this page, so view it by clicking And there is also a picture of me and some of the girls on the other case you need some incentive! 

My teams expression of our vision for Uganda. We are all apparently closet artist..I mean right?!



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Unplanned Unexpected Post

So I wasn't planning to blog again until right before I left for training camp on January 13th, but God is just so good! And though it was unplanned, I just couldn't wait to share it with you.

I don't think I've told you all that as of last week, I am fully funded for my trip through Adventures in Missions! I got word of a final donation, did some calculating, and it turned out to be just enough! But as good as that news is, it is not what prompted me to sit down and write this blog. I'll explain...

Today I woke up knowing that I had to pay a certain bill. This bill didn't come out of no where. I pay it once a month, and I've been planning to pay it, knowing I had the money, for over a week. See in addition to fundraising for my program cost, I've also been trying to save up enough money to pay my bills for the four months that I am gone and not working. I've known all along that this God's plan for my life, to be in Uganda in a little more than a week's time, and I've known that because it's God's plan, He will provide for all of my needs to see that His will is accomplished in my life. All my job is, is to say "Yes, Lord, send me." Of course what my head knows and what I feel on a daily basis are often two very different things.

You see this bill I've been planning to pay for weeks now, today all of a sudden became something that I just didn't have quite enough money for. I checked and double checked my bank accounts. I transferred money from the account I'm keeping for spending money in Uganda to my regular bill paying account. Did the math again, and somehow still did not have enough to make this payment. So in my human way, I've been kind of mopey all morning. I've also been pretty upset with myself for not budgeting well enough to cover something that comes up every month. In my great distress and in His usual way, God showed up. The mailman came to my door this morning with a package that I had purchased for my trip, and the usual stack of bills and advertisements. I thanked him, shut my door and rushed to open my new supplies. After trying out my new camping pillow and headlamp, I sorted through the rest of my mail. Right there on top of the stack, addressed to me, was an envelope from an old family friend. I opened it to find a check that gives me just enough to pay this bill!

This whole day reminds me of a song. You probably know it, "This is the Stuff" by Francesca Battistelli. In case you don't I'll post it below. This line from the chorus perfectly describes my morning:

"In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed..."