Saturday, January 3, 2015

anniversary with our Savior + His sweet gift

5 years ago today, y'all. 5 years ago I turned from myself and gave my life to Jesus. Almost immediately I felt Him call me to GO. Go where? I had no idea. Besides, wasn't this supposed to happen after I knew the Bible backwards and forwards? No? OK, then how do I begin? My new church told me I had to take classes to go on a one week mission trip. All of my new Facebook friends were going through a mission-sending agency so I applied. And bam. Denied. I didn't have a reference letter from my pastor. My pastor? I was new to this whole church thing. I explained that and was told, "maybe next year." I struggled for a couple months but it seemed like a lifetime. Long days. Sleepless nights. No matter where I turned, someone wanted something in order for me to serve. Surely He wouldn't have all these prerequisites. I heard Him loud and clear. He. Said. Go. Those doors He closed? They were heartbreaking. But that door to Uganda and to meet my future husband was more than I could have asked for. A door into a family He created just for us was worth every step to get there. And still is.

This last year has tested my faith more than any other. Tested my faith? It about killed me. I have never been so low in my walk with Him. So much trauma to my heart. So much loss. We lost my step-mother late last year and my grandmother at the beginning of January. Later that month we lost George's grandmother. We unknowingly invited the enemy into our camp and the hell we'd endured for 2 years was just getting started. Our entire ministry was flipped upside down. The years of relationship-building and mentoring were shattered because someone else came in with an agenda. Just because someone saw Jesus at work and wanted to try to profit from it. Our property and everything we built was almost bought out from under us. We saw corruption at a personal level. Our lives were threatened - repeatedly. We lost children. Our own because of Witchcraft strongholds and corruption. One even tried to poison us. And foster children because we were finding their parents and attempting to resettle them and that was threatening to corrupt officials. We had to uproot and relocate our children's home so that we could continue the work He called us to. We had to uproot and move our family. Everything we knew was shattered. We had to start all over. So much more I can't share because it risks our safety. We fought a good fight and refused to pay a dime for justice. I will always look back at this time and be proud of what we stand for. Always. Sadly, the enemy thinks he won. But he also thought he killed Jesus. Jesus is not done. He was with us every step of the way this year and we moved when He said fight - when we gave it all we had and couldn't see our hands in front of our faces. And we stood still when it was His turn to let us have a glimpse at His plan. We could have had a smoother year but we refused to be part of the problem. We are part of the solution. It is our honor to give a voice to the voiceless. We are humbled to bring Living Water to the thirsty. But that comes with a cost. And even now, I wonder how much more my heart can take.

He promises so much, you know? And when we're in the light, we feel His promises. His faithfulness. We think He's good. No one ever questions God when they're in the light. But then the trials come. The darkness. The attacks. Where has He gone? We struggle. We "find" Him, as if He ever left. We cling to Him. And while we can't pretend to know why, He has us there. During our struggles, we cry out to Him. We think something's changed about Him. That He's no longer quite so good to allow this. "How could you do this? Why is this happening?" Everyone's questions are different but they're all the same. We're questioning the One who doesn't owe us an explanation. May we not forget those promises in the darkness. Praising a God who never changes for the better because He's always good. And to be in a relationship with Him requires so much from us. It requires us to put ourselves on the alter. To pour ourselves out and have Him refill us with more of Himself. That ain't for the weak, y'all. The Gospel. It's powerful. But it's no good if we keep it to ourselves. I want to encourage each of you to share it with someone. You never know when you will be that ONE person in their lives that took time to tell them of a Savior Who gave it all so that they could gain an Eternity. Follow after Him. All you need, He will give. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

5 years, y'all. It feels like it was yesterday and a thousand years ago all at the same time. He always invites me on these wild rides. Nothing is ever calm with Him. In my last attempt at some sort of sanity, I created a fundraiser at the beginning of September. Because of the constant threats to us coupled with my ability to pull people from the woodwork with their judgement about how many children we have, I chose not to share about our newest blessing - our baby girl. Everyone except Godfrey, Viola and Ritah had tickets already - return tickets from when we left the US in March. God blew us away when a friend donated the majority of their airfare and made me PROMISE to use it for our family. Their family has walked with us through so much and have been there to encourage us every step of the way. BUT they didn't know of our need for airfare. God had provided. And at the very last minute. Our family had been through so much trauma that we needed to come for the birth but not just for that. We needed to come for healing. I could write an entire blog post on the opposition we faced just trying to get visas and get prepared to leave. I created the fundraiser so I could give my family what they needed - their wife, their Maama. They needed me. But the warfare almost killed me. I was a wreck - both physically, emotionally and spiritually. I had nothing left to give and as I waddled through the airport and got on that plane, I breathed a sigh of relief. As we watched the city lights get smaller and smaller as we climbed in altitude I wondered if I could ever return. I did. I still do.

I have no idea how we made it to the US. I was 8 months pregnant with 4 kids in tow. 2 babies and 2 daughters that had never really been outside our village. Every sense of life they had was blown wide open as they tried to take in things we never prepared them for. And when we got settled here all hell broke loose. I saw sides of them that I never knew. They boasted around and pride spewed all over the place. They tried to mimic what they saw other children doing - things that are not and will not ever be allowed in our home. But we weren't in our home. We were with my Mom and we were allowed to stay as overnight guests for 2 weeks before we'd be asked by management to leave. I had 2 big attitudes on my hands, 2 little boys and a baby growing inside me that had put me on bed rest, and a husband 7900 miles away. I couldn't have been a bigger wreck. And that fundraiser? It wasn't moving. Matter of fact, when people saw that we came to America - all 5 of us carrying our big smiles - donations stopped. We even had people stop sponsoring our family. I sank even lower. Life changed for us - we were here where it was safe. But life for George didn't get better. He was left to fight without me by his side. We are everything to each other apart from Jesus. We don't function well without the other. Days were long and hard and sometimes we couldn't even speak to each other without crying the entire time.

He came back just in time for Amaris' birth and then had to return home. We had major complications during delivery that would delay healing for 4 weeks. This is not what I had planned on. I was supposed to bounce right back after the normal healing time. How was I able to "be present" when all I could do was survive? The ministry needs were suffocating but so were the needs of our family. I kept thinking that if I could just get this fundraiser done, I could stop spinning out of control. I could "be present". I could stop telling them to hold on, to wait just a minute or to turn the TV to something to keep them occupied. We needed to reach our goal before the end of the year to finish the year debt free. As the needs piled up, the funds trickled in. As the year came to an end we were just over halfway. Do you even know what that means? That means we were weeks behind. Borrowing from this one and that one to buy food. Salaries went unpaid. Our staff was holding on because they believe in us - believe in the work He is doing in and through us. Unexpected expenses were rolling in - ones that weren't even included in the budget. And when we thought we'd put out the last fire, we realized we had just a few days left.

We gathered for our family's Christmas at my sister's house and right as we sat down to eat we received word from home that our nephew passed away. I cried out to Jesus. Not so much in grief for that particular blow but for all of it. I wanted 2014 to end and I wanted it to end immediately. I could take no more. But He wasn't finished asking me to bend low. By the time I came up for air it was New Year's Eve. I awoke to some startling news that would leave me about 3 minutes to pull myself together and get on the road to go find someone I love so deeply and help them out of a very traumatic experience. Life almost slipped from our grasp and I posted this that night:

"today I had big plans. I was going to focus solely on our fundraiser as this
is the last day. I was going to do hourly updates and do a huge giveaway
in hopes that y'all would repost our need.

tonight as I sit in the ER standing in the gap for someone I love who is too
weak to stand for herself I am reminded that God doesn't need my constant
updates. He doesn't need me to remind y'all that we have needs in Uganda.
He doesn't need me to give anything away so y'all help spread the word.

the purpose of my fundraiser was so I could "be present". and I have not
been. until tonight. this is where He needs me. surely not where I want to
be but where He needs me. this is no surprise to Him."

There was one last check left to come in from a family that has been to our ministry and seen first-hand what we do. I did not know the amount though. Today is Saturday and I kept meaning to get to the post office to get a notification that I saw in our PO box but left there so I wouldn't lose it. George asked if I would take him to the store to get some potatoes and tomatoes so he could cook us some soup like he does back home. On our way to get gas we let some of our frustration out and I was about in tears. I didn't want to go check the mail and I didn't want to go to the store. I just wanted to go back to Mom's and cry myself to sleep. Then He reminded me what today is. I drove and silently and reflected on this year. And I was fighting mad. Why do we continue to struggle? Why are we taking debt into the new year. It's Jan 3rd and we are now 3 days into the year and our monthly support, which comes in all throughout the month, isn't even enough to cover more than a week of operations. Why are we always in this position? We give our all. We do. Everything. But what if we aren't giving ourselves? What if we aren't pouring into our first ministry - our family - before we pour into our community?

I got out of the van in the pouring rain and walked slowly into the post office. I was grumpy because I stepped in a huge puddle of water and it covered my shoes and soaked the bottom of my skirt - my faithful flip flops that have carried me through another pregnancy and my skirt that needs replacing with winter clothes. Winter clothes that I haven't bought because we have sent all our money back home and I hope to get a few more {dozen} pounds off before I go shopping. I put the key in the box and my eyes first met the package notification I had left in there. Then I saw a white envelope that I knew only He had placed in there for such a time as this - my 5th year anniversary with Him. I knew it wasn't another Christmas card or bill. I knew as I slid my fingers along the top to open it. I knew. And just like that, he blessed us with the best anniversary gift I could have ever opened - His provision. Even the ATM couldn't read the amount so I had to manually key it in. And just like that our fundraiser is fully funded with enough to meet those needs that came in after I'd set the goal. To God be the glory!

We are OVERWHELMED with the outpouring of support. We have watched His body rise up and do what it was created to do - work together to further His Kingdom. We have a lot of work left to do and we need more stable support - more monthly sponsors so we even know how to begin rebuilding this year. We can do the physical work but we need you to financially partner with us to get it done. We are in prayer that you will continue to join us.

Ekubo Ministries is a 501(c)(3) organization which means your donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

You can give a one-time donation or become a monthly sponsor by clicking "make this recurring" to any of the following areas of need:

Where Most Needed

Ekubo Christian Academy

Ekubo Children's Home

Checks can be sent to:

Ekubo Ministries
PO Box 2156
Alexander City, AL 35011

You can follow our journey here:

You can support us through your purchases in our Etsy shop:


Monday, September 8, 2014

"be present" fundraiser

At the beginning of the year I had a goal for myself. I wanted to do all I could to "be present" in the life of my husband, in the lives of our children, and in the lives of those we serve. But before I dive into that, let me introduce myself to all of our new friends. Friends that have joined our journey through different outlets and maybe don't know exactly who I am or what Ekubo Ministries is all about.

I'm Christie, an Alabama girl who now lives and serves in Uganda, East Africa. I have been married to my best friend and the leader of our family, George, for 3.5 years. Together we have 14 children and {currently} 20 children that we are fostering. God has and continues to bless us by having these children burst into our lives in ways we never thought we were prepared for - birth, adoption and foster care. But y'all, at this point I can't even tell you which ones are which. Yeah, if you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!

Our lives are poured out daily through a ministry that God called us to. He, alone, has built a ministry that has grown beyond our 5-year plan - a church, a private, Christian primary school that educates 320 future leaders of this country, a clinic, and are building a hospital and a leadership + discipleship academy. We also have a Childrens's Home - a safe haven for orphaned, abandoned, abused, and/or otherwise vulnerable children. We serve over 4000 people in our village alone, with our heart's passion being to reach the lost, disciple the saved, and create sustainability. It is our goal to empower them with the skills and opportunities they need to sustain their families which keeps their children from being put into orphanages and keeps them at home where they belong. Our ministry is not supported by a church in the US nor was I sent here by a missionary-sending agency. Most ministries have an entire fundraising team - people are actually hired to do that. I am that person for our ministry. That means that for the last 4 years my time has been split between serving and then I do all the admin/fundraising at night when our children go to bed. And there is no salary which means I also have to raise money for our family.

We need monthly sponsors for Ekubo Children's Home and through a fundraiser a friend did, we were able to raise $900 more in monthly support, putting our monthly commitments at $1100. However, it takes $5000/month to run at full capacity. Also, this year we changed our school's sponsorship program from sponsoring an individual child to sponsoring the school as a whole because when sponsors failed to send in their payments in the years past, those children had to leave school. Very few people wanted to pick up where others left off and children were being sent home. If too many children were not sponsored from the same grade, it was impossible to pay that teacher which meant the entire class was in jeopardy. The new approach is best for the child, for the family, for the community and for our ministry. However beneficial it was to everyone here on the ground, most of the sponsors didn't like the idea so they left our program and we almost didn't open our school at the beginning of the year. In March, a friend that has spent time with our family and has even been here to Uganda to visit our ministry, offered a $25,000 match for any and all donations given to the school within a certain period. That fundraiser raised $6,000 but instead of matching that, they sent the $25,000. They knew as well as we did that the school would have closed otherwise. Since then we have coasted and it has remained open but it and our Children's Home has required daily fundraising which left me zero time for my family and our ministry.

Today Ekubo Christian Academy started its last quarter for this year. I have been so busy with other emergency needs that I didn't even have time to raise funds for this. Parents/caregivers are required to donate something so that they are invested in their child's education. Our commitment to their education is tuition, uniform, shoes, school supplies, medical care and spiritual discipleship. $300/year covers one child. We have 320 and since this is their last term, we just need $100 per child to cover them for the rest of the year. I know there are people that will cheerfully give $100 but I am one person sharing every single need our ministry has and we have just been overwhelmed lately. We had a little money to buy food for the school so we could start. Y'all, something has to change. I am worn. Exhausted. Burdened. Depleted. We need your help.

We need a team. We need voices. We need people to stand with us. To come alongside us and support us financially as we do the work physically. There is fruit here and I need to be able to share that with everyone. We have spent hours in meetings. Going over the numbers. Trying to account for each expense. What would it take for me to put the laptop away? What would it take for us to be parents to the children we see in our home and only sit in the same room with for Bible Study? What is that number that allows me to be present? What figure allows us to pour into our marriage and start to actually BUILD THIS MINISTRY instead of borrowing money to keep this going or doing one-week fundraisers? What is the number that allows me to be on the ground? To be a mother? A leader? A part of our ministry again? I love to BE with those I serve. TO BE PRESENT. To MAKE time. But I have none. What will it take for me to return to "the ground". To sit with women and share their struggles. To talk with them and build relationships. I came to live life in community with the people here and share their stories with you as we all watch God work in their lives.

Y'all we need $62,000 to finish the year. And you know what? That number doesn't make me feel defeated like it once would have. It doesn't make my head spin. It doesn't take my breath. That amount includes the school, clinic, children's home and staff salaries. It educates 320 students. It provides a salary to 14 teachers and 6 social workers and 4 caregivers. It cares for 20 children who have no other option as we trace their stories and try to reunite them with their families. It pays guards to ensure their safety. It provides a salary to the men and women that run our ministry.  It might be a big number to you and make you feel like your donation won't put a dent in it but that is just the enemy whispering lies. If just the school was covered - $100 per child, 320 children - that knocks out almost half! Y'all, let's link arms and get this done. Even if everyone commits to sharing this need, we can reach thousands of people! If we could get these 3 needs met, not including emergencies that might arise, I could sell jewelry and crafts and t-shirts to fund what our family needs. End of story. I could put my time where it belongs - into my family and into our ministry. Prayerfully consider helping me get there.

Ekubo Ministries is a 501(c)(3) organization which means your donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

"Be Present" Fundraiser

You can learn more about our ministry on:


You can support us through your purchases in our Etsy shop:

Pray with us. Share this need. Watch as God funds His work in and through us.

Visit Easy Fundraising Ideas

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

new t-shirt designs

We introduced our new t-shirt designs last month and sales went so well and once received and people started sharing about them, we had requests to order more. We are using all proceeds from the sales to go to Ekubo Children's Home, our safe haven for orphaned/abandoned children. We have just recently resettled our 22nd child. And that's just since January!  Praise God!  If you would like to support the home, you can give a one-time donation by clicking on the "Support Ekubo Children's Home" button, become a monthly sponsor (by clicking the same button and selecting "Make This Recurring (Monthly), and/or by pre-ordering your shirt today! 
(available in several colors)

The inspiration behind this design is the struggle to serve here in Uganda
and the hope He brings through that struggle. Things happen in this country that
make me want to run so far away and never look back. The trauma, grief, abuse,
neglect, sickness, death, hopelessness, fear, disease, corruption, lies, despair,
oppression, exploitation, all of it. My life has been full here but also emptied.
Poured out for Him in ways I could have never done on my own. I have never
experienced anything like serving here - like being a leader of thousands of
people and having to make life or death decisions. I don't know why He chose me.
But He did. And I can experience these things and have them destroy me or I
can be courageous knowing full well that Jesus paid it all and let that be enough.
All the hurts pale in comparison to His sacrifice. We are never alone even when
He is silent. Mountains are moving and we just aren't allowed to see that part yet.
So it is well with my soul, for I know Who is writing my story. And however hard
and long the days are, I am embracing His story.

(available in several colors)

(available in several colors)

When people come to serve with us, they always say, "I wish the children/people and
I could understand each other" and I always respond, "love needs no translation."
And with each foster child we take into our care, I reminded of this because some of
them don't even speak Luganda, the local language. But we don't have to understand
each other to show each other love.  These would make perfect gifts for anyone
adopting or serving internationally.

(available in several colors)

(available in several colors)

This is His ministry. We are just humbled to be used. We get to join Him. See His
heart. Listen to Him. Be drawn closer. People tell us all the time that they wish
they could come over and make a difference. What they don't realize is that when
they pray, or give, or encourage, they ARE making a difference. Furthering His
Kingdom requires different things from different people. Step out in faith and
ask Him how He would have you get involved. Do something bigger than yourself.
Anything. Just do something.

(available in several colors)

If I say it once, I say it a hundred times a day: love already won. And her design
is just perfect. We are in the midst of some dark, dark warfare and sometimes it
threatens to snuff out His Light. Satan is real and it horrifies me, some of the things
I've seen. You know why? Satan doesn't come to confuse or frustrate or dishearten or
threaten or discourage or destroy what God is doing in and through us. HE COMES
TO KILL. And a lot of the times it feels like he wins. Wrong. Love already won.
At the cross. 

We are taking pre-orders in our Etsy store.  Scoot on over there and get yours NOW!  Don't they look amazing?

While you're there, check out the amazing work from the ladies we serve:

These precious ladies are earning a sustainable income and keeping their families together by creating beautiful handmade accessories from paper that would have otherwise been discarded. Go buy their work and support them. 


Friday, May 30, 2014

secondary school students {urgent need met}

12 days ago I presented a need to you. 10 children needed help with tuition. I shared here after sharing for a week on Facebook but receiving no response. I was beginning to think those children would have to miss this semester. Shortly after sharing here and on our Instagram page, God broke the silence using a sweet sister in Christ named Christine. I was awestruck by His being all about the details. You see, our newest daughter is in this group and her name? Christine. This sweet sponsor emailed me and committed to one child but as her email continued she said, "Actually please count me in for {2 children}. And you can use it however you like, for the entire rest of the term for two or divided up amongst more." I was so thankful that God knew my deepest desire and He provided in a way where we would leave no one behind. So a little over a week ago, we surprised ALL of the students with the news, bought some of the supplies they will need before the school will allow them to register, hired a taxi, and got them to school to register for classes and get settled into their dorm rooms. 


They and their parents were beginning to lose hope as school started the day before and they were supposed to register no later than the previous Friday. They. Were. Ecstatic. But completely caught off guard. We are so blessed with the opportunity to partner with a school that realizes that we are not their parents and are only trying to help them so they allowed them to start as we raised the remaining funds. I could breathe that day but by the time I got home, it was time to start raising the money. 

During the course of this particular fundraiser, we were slaughtered with spiritual warfare and I took my eyes off Jesus so many times. Even still, He is faithful. As I shared in this blog post, the ATM even ate my card one day and I didn't have the money to go home to get my ID so the next morning we walked for miles, hailed a taxi (my first time riding in public transport), found out that the card was no longer in the ATM, I fainted in the supermarket, got back home and had to do it all over again. But even that day, God provided a miracle. It is amazing to be used for such a greater purpose but it's also draining. The things we see up close and personal are like nothing I ever saw in my 33 years in the US. Some days I'm sure we just need to shut 'er down and hit the reset button. Jesus pushes us along and we keep saying yes. How can we not when He gave His life for us?

Yesterday I realized that if I didn't put a deadline on this fundraiser, I would never begin the next one.  Today marked 2 weeks since the deadline for registration and a little over a week that the children have been allowed in classes that we didn't yet pay for. To make matters worse, salaries were due today for our staff and here I was still working on the tuition fundraiser. Some of the staff that work at Ekubo Children's Home also live on the compound so they are not a problem. But because our village is so far out, some staff live here on our property but return to their homes on the weekends. It's now Friday night and they are still here. Waiting to be paid. They are so gracious and I am so thankful for them.

So many other urgent needs arose while we were raising funds for this but I kept waiting to see what God would do. The children had already enrolled and were starting to settle into their classes and their dorms and the last thing we wanted to do was to disrupt them if there was any chance the funds would come in. I kept feeling God tell me to "wait". Y'all, I don't like this part. That part where you're not really sure He's saying it or if it's you not wanting to let someone down. I mean, we told these children that they would start and we would trust God to provide. But it didn't look like He was providing at the speed we thought He should. The school hadn't pressed us but we sure didn't want to become a burden to them. We have our own private school so we know how it is when a sponsor doesn't pay on time. In this case, we were the sponsor. The urgent needs kept me burdened but the thought of not having enough time, as if He's not in control of that, was overwhelming as well. So I did it. I announced that last night, we would have to stop raising funds to this so we could focus on others. Immediately I had a peace about it. As the hours dragged on and it was bedtime, we still needed $884. 

That's almost 1/4 of the total need. We weren't going to make it but I had done everything I could and I had to just trust Him and get some sleep. I woke up at 7am, got the boys their bottles and found this surprise:

I checked my messages and a couple people had asked that I hold off just a few hours because their paychecks would hit their bank accounts first thing in the morning (US time), which would be about 5pm my time. I went on about my day and had planned to stop the fundraiser at 7pm my time so I could get all the info put out there for the next fundraiser. I watched impatiently as the donations trickled in. And y'all, He sure humbled me. $5, $10, $15, $20, $25, $30.  Just what I had been asking for. 

George texted me on his way home. He saw a donation come in that was marked just for us. No tuitions. No urgent needs. Not to use where most needed (because those were our most needed). But it was just for us. So he told me to be ready when he arrived because he was taking me to the movies!  I wrote back "oh gosh. I look a mess. OK. I will be ready." I was giddy but also felt guilty. I hadn't yet showered and my hair looked yucky. Like someone had put a comb through it that was dipped in oil. Seriously, y'all. With the temp today, I could have fried chicken right there on top of my head. Surely I could get out of going when he saw me. Ugh. How could we spend even a single shilling on us when it might mean someone's education? I huffed and puffed while I got ready. I was like, "REALLY, Lord?" What if we just wait and go tomorrow night? Or Sunday? What's the rush anyways?  I mean, we never get a break. We never get to stop and just spend time together. Even if it's together watching a movie. There's always a baby crawling on us and we wouldn't have it any other way but he's telling me to get ready. To go. Like just us. No children. And I'm just supposed to be okay with that? I got a shower and as I was drying off, I heard "the sound". The sound of a donation come through. Y'all.  Just like that, it was done. The clock read 6:57pm. I will never forget it because my favorite number is 3. With 3 minutes to spare, He had done it! He had provided. 

So I put my skirt on, threw my shirt on, slapped on some deodorant, fluffed my hair around, slid out the front door unnoticed, ran to where he had parked so the babies wouldn't see us and cry, and just like that we were GONE. Together. To just get away and breathe in what He had done. We are thankful. So thankful for the body of Christ that pulled together to get this need met.  Praise His name!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

give your "not much" today

Yesterday we battled to get to the city to use the ATM and it took my card. Ate it. Gone. They needed my ID to retrieve it and it was back home. I had no more money to go back after picking my ID so we left it until this morning. Got up and walked over 2 miles to the main road and hailed a taxi.

After arriving in the city, we found out the card had been taken from that ATM and into Kampala. 

I had only eaten a piece of birthday cake yesterday and because we had nothing except water to drink, ummm, I had 2 cups of chai all day. Needless to say, I started getting sick in the supermarket while we grabbed some juice for me to drink. I felt myself fading fast so I went to stand at the counter by the door in hopes that the breeze would save me. I kept praying over and over for what seemed like 5 minutes, "I'm going down, Lord, don't let me fall." The next thing I knew my body was cold and Zziwa was yelling, "Mom! Mom!(if you know him you know how soft spoken he is). I had fainted. Lost consciousness. Dead weight. Right there onto the tile floor. He's completely freaked out and says I'm never leaving the house again. Except now we have to do it all over again and go into Kampala to get the card. This journey will require walking another 2 miles and journeying 2 hrs in public transport. 

4 hours later...

Are you seated? Good. So, with my nauseous head begging not to get up, Zziwa comes in to tell me we need to start the journey. If we didn't get to Kampala today, they would send my card on back to America. As I prayed for a miracle (ok, so maybe I was just praying that I could lie there and find the card there tomorrow), an amazing young man that we have been mentoring (and who lives in our boys' quarters, helps with our family, and keeps our home safe when we have to be away from it) had been working with God to pull off more than my miracle. Zziwa made a quiet tap on my door and asked, "Are you ready, Mom? Timothy's friend is here to pick us." WHAT? WHO? FROM WHERE? Turns out this guy owns a vehicle that he uses to rent out but today, of all days, it sat in the next town over because the people renting it failed to show up. 2002 model, air-conditioner (y'all it's been THREE YEARS), and it came within 10 feet of my front door. 

I don't know if I was more dazed when I woke up after fainting in the supermarket or when I saw this vehicle that ONLY GOD provided. I did not ask how much this would cost. I knew we couldn't afford it but I did not care. And that made me feel yucky and irresponsible and I felt blech all the way to Kampala. There was almost no traffic and, because we didn't have to walk the 2 miles or take public transport which pulls over to drop and pick passengers every few feet, we had arrived too early. But this was ok. We were there and I was thankful. 

The teller called the girl who should have already arrived with the cards. Guess where my card was? In that ATM in that same bank that told me just this morning that it wasn't. Now this person had just left from where we came and she was using public transport. Oh my. The teller kept apologizing and calling and getting no answer. We had no idea how long we'd sit there. And let me tell you, I have sat in one spot for a little over 5 hours waiting on a passport for a set of twins we fostered. I could handle it - especially because they had a little bit of air conditioning. Over an hour later she walked in, and I watched the teller sigh relief as she made eye contact. And then I saw the wad of debit cards she had collected from all the ATMs that had "captured them" and all was right in my world. I showed my passport, signed my name and happily retrieved that card! 

We got home and Zziwa paid the guy.  I hesitated to ask how much so I just walked on inside. But it gnawed at me. When he came in I turned around to ask and he replied, "70 thousand" ($30).  That was crazy cheap. I know because we have had to pay double that for the months our van was broken down. AND on top of that we had to buy gas. So we'd spend $75/day because we didn't have the lump sum for van repairs. But even still, $30? Where is that supposed to come from? As soon as it registered, I just said in my mind, "no surprise to God. He's already covered it. He has. I believe that." I came into our room, put my phone on charge (it had died while we were in the bank), got me something to drink and when I turned my phone on, there were zero email. No notifications from Paypal. No new donations. My heart sank. And then. THEN, y'all. RIGHT THAT VERY SECOND, a donation came through. It was from my sweet friend in Chicago who rescued me from a canceled flight, loved on me, and took me back to the airport to catch my flight out the next day. I know her heart. She completely trusts that we know better where each penny she gives needs to go so she never designates it. It's always "where most needed and I don't have to know." That's her. But this one felt like a ton of bricks. Her note on her donation simply said, "Sorry it's not more. Love you." SORRY IT'S NOT MORE? It completely redeemed by day. It covered that air-conditioned ride. It possibly saved me from fainting again. Not more? She's sorry. Y'all, BE BOLD when you give. Know that God is taking your "not more" and blessing it in only ways He can. I am crying now. Hallelujah! He can be trusted!!!

Knowing she was online at that moment, I got on to look for her. Apparently either right before or right after she sent her donation, she wrote me this (I asked if I could share it with you as a testimony to Him):

All the stories always break me. They are hard to hear and I spread the word because I believe and want everyone there to have food, education, possibility and comfort. Please always know that you are not forgotten. We are struggling here and I know that it isn't the same kind of struggle, but it's still difficult not to be able to take care of your kids the way they should be due to so many issues. Anyway, let the naysayers fall away. One thing I heard recently set me to thinking, and I believe it's true. It kind of pierced me, but the more I thought about it, it resonates with me, so I thought I'd share. "Only the ego would defend itself." I guess it reminded me of one of my other favorite phrases, "The only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, to do nothing and to be nothing." Keep those things in mind. Our ego minds tell us we need people to understand us, but really we don't. We just need to BE us. You have a following because you are BEING YOU. There will always be criticism, don't let it dishearten you. I love you. 

In tears I shared with her what God had just done through her and this was her response: 

Awww. I have to tell you that I felt completely pulled to donate. You know that I give whenever I can, but God pulled me to the computer to do it. Even to the point that I didn't make my little guy his breakfast because I felt so overwhelmed to do so. (he did!) A miracle is a miracle. And, I'm always listening. Know that I'm listening for you and for everyone else in this world. God uses people. He really does. This made my heart very happy this morning. Thank you so much.

This right here, y'all. This is how we can continue. These moments remind me why we're here. The days are long and there were just a few obstacles when I first started working here but the more light we bring into the darkness, those obstacles are now full-blow aerial attacks. Missiles coming from all different directions. I mean, did you read this post? This is daily. This is what life is like leading a village. This are not a few issues. These are not a couple of roadblocks. This is not a detour. This is being blown off the road as you walk. This is a full-out war against evil. And it's continuous until our eyes close at night. And even then, sometimes we're awaken because someone needs us. We're tired. We're worn. We feel physically, emotionally and spiritually defeated. Today I have walked and sweated in places I forgot I have. I have begged God not to let me fall and I fainted and I woke up to my son calling out to me so terrified and I have cried out to God in complete anguish and then. Then, y'all. Then He redeems the whole situation with a donation from a friend and a heart that is worth its weight in gold because when He moves her, she obeys. 

I encourage you to give your "not much" today. BOLDLY. Do it. Make that step. And maybe, just maybe, someone will share with you what God did with it. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

walking it together

Those people that tell me "you just need to get a job and stop asking for help" made a lot of sense to me today. Today I longed for a job. Even to go to the US, work, and send money back here. I can tell you that I am better at that than I am at being here. Things are hard right now in everything we are involved in. Everything. People can exhaust you with their needs. And I'm not talking about the neighbor borrowing sugar. I'm talking about deep, deep issues that not ONE of us would allow our neighbor to go through. Our village has 400 homes. 400 families. These are our neighbors and an average day at least 100 have an urgent need.

Someone has died and they need help with burial. Someone is sick and they have no transport. Someone is dying and we are their only hope. Someone is being killed. Someone has 2 wives and one has taken off with the other's children. Someone needs school fees for a child outside of our program. Someone has land issues. Someone is out scouting for children to be sacrificed so the building being erected will be prosperous. Someone's brother/sister died and they now have to make room for his/her 6 children. Someone came to visit during holiday (we just ended a one month school holiday) and left his/her children there because white people live in the village and they know they'll have a shot at a good education. Someone can't leave their home because their neighbor has put a spell on the doorway and every time she crosses the threshold she faints. Someone's spouse has left him/her for another one and cast a spell on the home and everyone inside is sick. Someone drinks all night and tries to break into homes to abuse any young girls inside. Someone gave their life to Christ and wants a job from us because we led them to Christ. Someone is stealing someone else's crops. Someone is burning down someone else's plantation because of Witchcraft. Someone is poisoning their family because "the spirits" told them to. 

ENOUGH ALREADY. I can take no more. These are issues that used to be so foreign to me but have become daily life. We can't solve one issue and take a day. These are all just from ONE week. Do you hear me? ONE WEEK. Just one of them took months to fix. Do you think those others just sat idle? Do you think more didn't come? ONE WEEK. Here's my proposition - I just want a job. I want to get up, go into an office, bust my tail, and drive away with a free mind. I worked 16 hour days in America and I moved to Mexico where I didn't know a lick of Spanish and I worked launching an automotive plant with even longer days. No day I have ever had compared to a day here. Not one. Because here, you don't get to drive away. You don't get to sigh relief when one need is met. I thank God for the need being met and I praise Him but I hate that not one hour goes by, unless we are sleeping, that another one is not right back in your face. I want weekends. I want to take my family somewhere. I want to be normal. But that is not our normal. That life I used to have - I want some of that for my children. Not the American Dream but the ice cream. I don't want to skip a meal just so we can enjoy ice cream. The idea never crossed my mind that that would someday be my life. LET ME GO and I'll send the money back here to someone more capable to handle this. Someone more capable to meet these needs. But He says this is me. I've missed something. How can this be me? He whispers, "I called you." Well, I definitely believe that because I didn't call myself to this. I. Would. Never. This is not what I signed up for. Actually, I didn't sign up for anything. I just came when He said and I was faithful with the little and then this is what it got me. I keep saying yes and the problems keep coming. If we stop to breathe, it's like a snowball forms. 

We are tired but committed. How could we not when He gave His life for us? This work is hard. But He is faithful. None of this is a surprise to Him. He has us here for a reason and we don't get to know why. We have a choice though - we can obey or disobey. We choose to obey. And no matter what, we get to be crazy in love and walk this together. 


Monday, May 19, 2014

prayers for Jovian

I can hold babies. I can sign paperwork to commit to their care. I can humbly ask you to join us in providing for them financially even when we go months and months receiving no help. I can love them and I can promise that before they leave our care, if they are old enough, they will learn about Jesus. If they aren't old enough to comprehend, they will at least feel His love. I can fight for them. I can protect them. But oh, y'all, when we start to investigate their stories, this is where it becomes too much. I want to go to the nearest corner, curl up in the fetal position and just hide there until I'm noticed. One of our newest children, Jovian, is 3. We are referred abandoned children all the time and we always say, "I can't imagine what his/her little life has seen." It's one thing for us to imagine the trauma but another thing to know. To hear the words straight from the lips of family - the ones that are supposed to love and care for them.

Jovian's father was burned alive for stealing. That's unfortunately very common here - the police do nothing to it's a vigilante thing. His mother was "disappointed" in this so she took him to live with his Auntie who is also HIV+ with two HIV+ children. She couldn't stand another positive child in her home so she took him to the grandfather. His grandfather, refusing to raise another child that might turn out like his father, left Jovian to starve. Alone. To starve. At 3 years old. A good samaritan found him and took him to the step-grandmother who is also HIV+ and faints at times for no reason. Fearing she couldn't adequately care for him, she brought him to the authorities who placed him with us. He arrived severely malnourished and it was as if his legs could not hold him up. We started the refeeding process and his body rejected any and all food. He slowly accepted formula and when he was stable we took him to be tested, were told he is HIV+ and sat stunned in the clinic for 3 hours as the clerks played on their phones and chatted amongst themselves. We were literally holding a child that was dying right before our eyes. When you try to show any sense of urgency, your file will be placed at the bottom of the pile.

We are excited to share with you that this same little boy is responding so well to formula, some foods, and the ARVs (drugs used to suppress the HIV virus). We can see God, on a minute-by-minute basis, redeeming His life. He can now play with other children and not spend all day withering away in one spot. These pictures were taken 5 days apart and we can not wait to see God has in store for this precious boy.

Would you take some time today to praise God for His healing power, to pray for Jovian, and to ask God how He might have you join us in caring for the children in our care?

To become a monthly sponsor, you can sign up using the "Sponsor Ekubo Children's Home" button.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

secondary school students {urgent need}

We have 10 children we need to help with secondary school. These are the equivalents of 7th-13th grade (yes they go an extra year here). The total need for ALL of them for the REST of the year is $4000. These 10 include our two new children that I shared about yesterday as well as 8 others, most of whom are in our choir. 

Can you help by:
sponsoring one child's education for the rest of the year ($400)?
sponsoring 6 months ($200)?
sponsoring a month ($67)?
giving $5, $10, $25?

School drop off day was today. These children should be starting tomorrow with the rest of the school. This is an urgent need and any amount you can give is a blessing! You can give your gift by using the "use where most needed" button and writing secondary school tuition in the notes.


Friday, May 16, 2014

welcoming their siblings

Yesterday we welcomed 2 new children into our home. We have known them and supported them both financially and prayerfully for a long time. These 2 are very special to our daughters. And we didn't let them in on what was unfolding behind the scenes. We are careful to protect their hearts. They were so clueless that when their Daddy got home late yesterday afternoon, they were so involved in their bear-hug ambush of him that they didn't notice anyone else piling out from the vehicle. But when their eyes met them, tears filled mine. Y'all, I couldn't hold it back. But who were they? Here's what I shared last night: "Lots of laughter coming from the girls' room tonight. They were excited to welcome another sister a month ago but it required some adjustment. But tonight? Tonight is different. Tonight their older, biological sister is here. It's a different laughter. A laughter that it seems they never thought they would get to have again. A laughter that needed no adjustment. They are talking and laughing and talking and laughing. I wish you could be here to hear it. And if their older biological brother, Andrew, was a girl, he would be in there as well. But they laughed a lot with him until he went to bed." We are humbled to welcome our girls' two older siblings into our family.