Sunday, March 27, 2016

He is risen, y'all

Being a parent through adoption gives me another perspective of the cross. When the judge declared us the parents to our children, their statuses changed. They became sons and daughters. When Jesus paid the price for my sins that allowed me to be reconciled to a Holy God, my status was changed. I became a daughter. Our statuses changed. Our family changed. Our futures changed. He is risen, y'all and SO worthy of our praise!



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Friday, March 25, 2016

it is finished

"One preacher described it as if you and I were standing a short hundred yards away from a dam of water ten thousand miles high and ten thousand miles wide. All of a sudden, that dam was breached, and a torrential flood of water came crashing toward us. Right before it reached our feet, the ground in front of us opened up and swallowed it all. At the Cross, Christ drank the full cup of the wrath of God, and when he had downed the last drop, he turned the cup over and cried out, 'It is finished.'

This is the gospel. The just and loving Creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent his Son, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the Resurrection so that all who trust in him will be reconciled to God forever." - David Platt {my pastor after I made the life-saving decision to follow Jesus}

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

God is about to move

I wish you could have been here to see it. The photo doesn't do it justice - this iridescent aura behind the cloud. The clouds had moved rather quickly for most of the drive to finish our errands and then this one stopped. The sun trying to break through but the darkness fought for close to 15 minutes to cover it. As I stared I had this overwhelming feeling that God is about to move. We are ready, Lord.


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evil doesn't win

2 months ago he died after his family came to his home and accused him of bewitching his brother 6 years ago. They yelled at him and wished him death right in front of his children. And the next day he died. His children saw it all and we were so afraid that in their grief and pain, they'd think evil won. We were so afraid his family would come for them and they'd have to grow up around such people. He loved his children and really struggled when their mother left them to be with another man. We thought for sure after his death she might come for them. And that would be good for them but her new husband mistreated them. After being dragged back and forth, they are still in our village, living with their step-mother and going to our school. They are being taught English and Math and Science, yes. But you know the most important thing they're learning? THAT EVIL DOESN'T WIN. THAT LOVE ALREADY WON.

Because of y'all. Because you love and support the work we're doing. Because you sponsor the school and buy tees and cupcakes. They know love because of y'all.

This is one of the last things he said to me:

“I was hesitant to enroll my children at your school. I couldn’t imagine a school in our village being best for them. At first I enrolled one child, which was my son, and he changed a lot. He learned how to speak English and he became bright - much more than his siblings that were at other schools far away. When I saw my son had changed I decided to move my daughter from where she was studying and brought her to Ekubo.” - Taata Ashiraf





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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

world water day

we have never had running water in our village. actually when I moved there we didn't even have clean water. we fetched our water from the only few sources we had. the water was full of parasites but when you have no other option a running stomach becomes the norm.

there are 2 seasons - rainy and dry. after the end of the dry season the rainy one never came. these water sources that get replenished during the rainy season were shallow. and the more shallow they were the more filthy they were.

2 back-to-back dry seasons took their toll and, not knowing when the rainy season would return, we raised money for a borehole. it was a slow, eye-opening process. when we can walk through our homes and have our choice of taps to turn and clean water comes out, it is hard to imagine that the whole world didn't have these same luxuries. and a luxury it is.

during the longest, hottest days of the drought when the funds had stopped coming I got an email from a friend I'd met through Facebook. she was no longer able to go on a mission trip she had spent over a year planning and wanted to give all the money she'd saved to us. blown away!

we hired a team to survey the land and we prayed they'd find the best location to drill there on our compound close to our home. and as God would have it, THEY DID! just steps from our front door! we wrote in the wet cement "bringing Living Water to the thirsty." so many gave and collectively we have been able to provide water for thousands of people from our front yard. but that borehole runs from sunrise to sunset. and it can't serve everyone. so God provided and we drilled another one in 2013!

I see so far past what is on my screen. the stories come alive below the surface. the stories of how far we've come. and they bring hope for what's in store. Today is World Water Day. Please pray that everyone soon has access to clean water.



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Sunday, March 20, 2016

its strength is in its wings

As the sun set I sat on our steps and watched this bird. It could fly anywhere but it chose to be there. I shivered thinking about it. I would have chosen a safer place, like a nest instead of a sketchy power line. It rests lots of places without fear because it can never fall. Its strength is in its wings.




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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

she is gonna change the world

Deborah. She raises her hand high in class. With her father trying to manage work and his 2 wives and families, she has a lot going on at home, like most children we serve. She does not let all of that bring her down nor is she a victim of her circumstances. She is a warrior, this girl. When she walks in that school a bright light is switched on. She craves learning. Knowledge is power and with it she is gonna change the world.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

she just needed help

She was an orphan herself and after her grandmother passed she lost her way in life. She got a job in a factory and she met a guy there. The factory paid more money than she'd ever held in her hands before and, with the money her new boyfriend was making, they daydreamed of a life that was much better than their pasts. He convinced her to skip work one day and then after a few days of drinking and taking his abuse she had no job and nowhere to go. A few weeks later she discovered she was carrying a life inside her.

She didn't even know his last name - this guy she had not long known. She tried to find his family but came up empty. She was told some missionaries were coming to their church and she showed up very early that Sunday morning. She explained her story to them but all they could offer was a spot for her baby at their orphanage. She knew she couldn't give her baby the life she felt he/she deserved but that didn't mean she didn't want him/her.

She just needed help, but not the help she kept being offered as she went around to various offices, churches and government officials. No one willing to help her keep her baby but there were plenty willing to take it. Lord, help us to always fight for family preservation and maamas like her.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Anthony graduated!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! Y'all pulled together SO many times and supported Anthony's education throughout secondary school {high school} and University and he graduated a few days ago! He is so thankful and knows it wouldn't be possible with God and your love and support. So thank you!

We don't always know our impact but for Anthony, who sat home for years without funding to match his passion for learning, we all made a huge impact by just chipping in to help meet his financial needs for school.


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Monday, March 7, 2016

she belongs at home

They told him to put her in an orphanage. They told him he was too old to care for her. They told him of the white people that could take better care of her because they have more money. They told him her health was too risky to chance it. And you know what he told them? He told them he just needed a little help. He told them that he may be too old but old people have a greater depth of love and that love was worth the risk. She is his granddaughter - the best gift his daughter ever gave them - and she belongs at home.


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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Calvin

Almost 2 years ago, on March 25, 2014, we accepted a referral of Calvin, a missing child that had been picked up for loitering. Since he was old enough to give us info, we had him help with finding his way back to where he came from. That would have worked out well except as we started to trace his story he had no interest in helping. Matter of fact, he tried to sabotage all our efforts. He took us up and down roads he knew he’d never himself traveled - a wild goose chase that cost us many days and many resources. He’s one of the hardest children we’ve ever had in our care and caused a lot of chaos at the home. He’d never once been to school and we didn’t have the funding to send him so we had to refer him out to another home in May. Even with him going to school 5 days a week, they could only manage him for 2 months as he tried to run away several times somewhere between that home and school. At one point a kidnapper grabbed him but the other boys that were walking with him fought and scared him off. Before we knew it, they came knocking at our gate to return him. We received him back with open arms, certain that God had a plan for him but also knowing he needed to be in school. We continued to search for his family and also advertised on TV and in newspaper. No response. Because of your generous giving into our “where most needed” fund, we were able to send him to the village to enroll in our school. He blossomed, y’all. He just needed discipline and his mind needed to be learning. He’s actually a bright child for having never been to school before coming to us. He’s wild, but a fun wild, not the troublemaker, acting out of deep pain.


The search continued for his family but we had exhausted all avenues. TV, newspaper, feet on the ground, going to each and every police station {mostly shipping containers tucked off the side of the road} between us and all directions within a certain radius. We went often because they don’t have a network for info and everything is done by hand and kept in paper files. We never gave up searching and checking one more time. However, Ekubo is just a foster home – a safe haven for children in their journey. Off the top of my head, I can’t tell you the number of children that have only stayed with us for a night or a weekend. Sometimes we have them many months as we work out the details to get them resettled. Sometimes it’s longer. One day is more than we ever want for a child to be separated from his or her family. That said, it’s definitely not a place where children need to grow up. We foster the children until an alternative can be found. The road was narrowing by the day and Calvin needed a family. The 1.5-year mark came and we knew it was time to call off the search for his family and direct our focus to a foster family. We even wondered if we were that family. God clearly closed that door. We wondered why but we kept going. We never found that foster family so he continued to thrive in school and we just couldn’t shake that all of these things weren’t coming together for a reason.

It is an amazing feeling to be walking the path which God has set out for a child in your care but scary to not see clearly the way forward. Last month as we neared the 2-year mark of him being in our care we just felt like we needed to run the adverts again. They are costly for a home that’s not yet fully funded and it was a huge leap of faith but God knew that. He knew we didn’t have the money yet He nudged us to step out. We ran the advert and got nothing. Or so we thought. What we couldn’t see was that Calvin’s grandmother’s brother saw him on the news. He called Calvin’s grandmother who came to the police looking for him. When we do adverts we direct them to police, not us, as it risks the safety of not only the child but the other ones in our care. We got word that Calvin’s grandmother had shown up. We were ecstatic! We got in touch with her and went looking. It was NOWHERE near where we were looking. It was over an hour away.

When we reached her we found out the story. And it shattered us. Calvin was sent to live with her when he was 2. Because she was not able to afford his school fees his mother came back for him. Calvin’s father chose alcohol over his family and abuse over love for his wife. His wife couldn’t manage her broken relationship and Calvin so she left, leaving her baby boy behind also. Per her words, “Calvin was very naughty and used to escape to look for his mother so many times that he was known by the area police posts.” One time Calvin never returned. He somehow made it over an hour away and then into our care. His father stayed so drunk that he never reported the disappearance to his mother or grandmother. It was neighbors that finally did. If that wasn’t enough to shatter us, this did. A few months ago, after not hearing from their son and grandson for 1.5 years, they held a funeral for him in their village. A FUNERAL FOR THEIR BOY. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of his disappearance and the grief they endured for all those months and then, in an attempt to find some sort of closure, A FUNERAL. My heart shattered. I know where he is. They now have him in his arms, but A FUNERAL. FOR THEIR BOY. I can’t even wrap my head around the finality of that.

There was such joy but so much confusion and shock in their reunion. Calvin had missed his Maama so much when he was little that he would run away. It had been years that he was in his father’s care before he ran away that final time. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind when he finally her. So much shock that this is the only picture I have for you. The truest picture ever taken of the shock we see during resettlements - the raw emotion of “too many feelings all at once”. God bless them both.


There should be huge smiles but those will come. They will come. They have moved in with Calvin’s grandmother into a one-room house with 11 people. We are still very much involved with their case as we are helping their grandmother manage 2 more people while we are trying find a way forward to reunite his family. And that’s the hard part – to not only find his father but see if he is willing to choose his family over alcohol. Foster care is not just us opening our home to Calvin. It’s about picking up all of the pieces that led him to needing our care and trying to put his family back together, if possible. It’s not glamorous and the enemy fights us every single step we take.

Ekubo Children’s Home was a blessing to this family and this is why we exist. I don’t know where Calvin would be if we were not there for him. He should have been at another home that doesn’t even attempt to resettle children but he caused them too many problems. He could have been kidnapped and who knows what would have happened – child labor or child sacrifice - but God had other children fight off the kidnapper. He should have been in a foster family but we were not that family nor could we find one. He should have been anywhere but in our care yet God invited us in. He invited us to be here physically and you to be there praying and giving financially. Please know that our love {ours and yours} is not lost on this family. We are so thankful to have you join us on this journey to be the hands and feet of Christ to families here in Uganda. We are all broken and in need of a Savior. Praise His name for drawing us in and including us in His work.

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