Beauty for Ashes

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Faithful Provider

Promise Maker, Promise Keeper
You finish what you begin

Our Provision, through the desert
You see it through 'til the end

The Lord Our God is Ever Faithful
Never Changing, through the Ages

From this darkness, You will lead us

And forever we will say,
You're the Lord, our God

In the silence, in the waiting,
Still we can know you are good

All Your plans are for Your glory
Yes, we can know You are good

We won't move without You
 We won't move without You

You're the Light of all
and all that we need, Lord

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Friday, July 5, 2013

In the Red Dirt of Uganda

It is really hard to believe that our time in Uganda has come to an end (for now), and we are back home. 2 and a half weeks just flew by, and it wasn't long enough, but we're thankful that the Lord sent us for the time that He did, and for each person we met & were able to share His love with, and for those who shared His love with us, teaching us more than we could have imagined...
What I learned in the red dirt of Uganda...
It's too hard to sum up into words, but I will try my best. It will take a while to process, but here is what I've got so far.

How can people who have nothing, appreciate everything? While people who have everything are still not satisfied? And I am one of those people... Materially, I have everything compared to all of the people there. Spiritually, they have more joy in Christ in the midst of suffering than I have ever seen. One of my favorite things we did was worship on Sundays at Victory City Church. I have never experienced worship the way these people truly worship God. One song we always sang was, "My God is Good Oh. Everything is double, double. Everything is triple, triple" (reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 61 "so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.") It was incredible to experience the spiritual richness in the midst of immense poverty.

Loving the people through Christ looked many different ways throughout our time- sometimes it was just a smile and a wave, a biscuit (cookie), holding a crying baby, giving medicine to sick people, holding the hands of the elderly, playing futbol (soccer) with the children at the children's home, painting fingernails and toenails, visiting the sick and those in a burn unit, painting faces, praying for someone, giving a Bible, sharing Jesus in tangible ways
"It is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent's many lessons. I came here to serve, and yet I've found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all it's need, has much to teach me." -A quote from the Mocha Club

Here is a video of some of the children in Henry's village singing Baby Jesus:
"Baby Jesus, Baby Jesus, I love you, I love you, You are my Savior, You are my Savior, every day, every day" 

While we were in Uganda, we were able to serve through medical clinics, giving people in villages medicine that they only get twice a year or maybe even once. These clinics took all day, and as soon as our bus was seen coming into the village, people were lined up outside the doors. Our team split up with different jobs, some people took vitals (temperature, blood pressure, etc), others directed the people through the clinics, some did the eyeglasses clinic, some on pharmacy filling the prescriptions, and some did the de-worming clinic for the children, giving them a pill to get rid of worms that get in their intestines. 
These clinics were long, hard days, but every person we saw filled with joy from receiving their medical care, new eyeglasses, de-worming pills, made it all worth it. I had no idea we would see 800-900 people in these clinics each time. I was thinking about how I always dread going to the doctor, and I don't go unless I absolutely have to. These people never are able to see a doctor, and it was such a necessity for many of them with malaria, stomach problems, eye problems, infections, and much more. At most every clinic, we would find someone who needed surgery or who had a very high temperature, and Sherry was able to provide funding through Loving One by One to send them to the hospital to get the care they needed.
One of the highlights of my time was working in the eyeglasses clinic. Many elderly people came because they were unable to read or sew without reading glasses. I had a translator working with me, and I would see which strength the person needed using a newspaper and having them read (many that could not read, it was just a matter of if they could see the letters). It truly changed me watching these people get SO excited when they could see again. I liked working at this station also because there was more time with each person, and the people would tell me what they needed prayer for. One woman who will stay in my mind is Rose, she was so excited to be able to read and sew again, and she asked for prayer for her children to be able to have the funds to go to school. It was hard for my mind to fathom how something as simple as reading glasses could change someone's life. We can easily get them at a dollar store here, and I never imagined how it could truly impact someone SO much.
 Many things we saw were so hard to see. People starving, burned severely, sick, children without anyone to care for them, left as orphans, some that have been through horrible tragedy, and that alone can bring you down. I was reminded constantly that Jesus never said this would be easy.
A quote that was shared during one of our devotions that stuck with me
"Compassion will require much from us. It will be uncomfortable, messy, difficult, inconvenient, and painful. But it will have incredible value in the Kingdom of God."

This is so true. It is hard to know about the pain that these people go through, it would be easier to just put it out of our minds, but we can not. God called us as Christians to suffer with them, loving on them where they are. And if where they are is hurting, then we hurt too.

"I use to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes."

I am so thankful that Ben & I were able to serve together. Did I mention that we made some of the greatest friends on our team who came from all over the US and one from Canada, we miss them already. We were blessed by them and so blessed by Ken and Sherry who run Loving One by One Ministries. They are incredible servants of the Lord.

Thank you so much to everyone who made this trip possible through providing funding and praying for us & our team.
And Way-ba-lee (thank you) to the beautiful people of Uganda, who will be forever in our hearts. We hope the Lord provides the opportunity to be with you again.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

Friday, June 21, 2013

Jesus said to love the least of these

We've been in Uganda a few days now.. and already the Lord is teaching us so much. This is only my second time to a third world country, and I am still learning that even though we come to help these people, really they end up teaching us so much, and we have so much to learn from them.
We flew here with 3 of our team members that we met in Brussels, and we made it with all our bags (we were shocked!). Then, the rest of our team came from meeting in London the next morning. Since they were all jet lagged, we went around doing different things to keep them awake to get on track. That first day we went to the children's home, which is the orphanage that Ken and Sherry started with Loving One by One Ministries. 17 children live in the childrens home, and they are so wonderful. They call us all uncle and auntie:) Some of our team played soccer with them, which they LOVE to play.
We also visited the New Creation School, where about 65 children are able to go to school with sponsorships. The children welcomed us with songs, and we danced with them :)
We also spent that day exchanging our money and getting some food to make pack lunches.

Yesterday, we first went to Mulago Hospital. We were told that about 80% of the people who go to this hospital end up dying there, because it is a government hospital and is free to go to, meaning they have the bare minimum. We visited children, prayed with them, painted their fingernails (and the adults too!), and gave them biscuits (cookies), sweeties (candy), and stuffed animals. Ben passed out biscuits, and I painted nails. They loved the bright colored fingernail polish. Even these children and mamas had so much joy. Then, we were given the choice to visit the burn victims in the burn unit side of the hospital. We were warned it would be very hard to see. Ben & I and most of the team ended up going in. I cannot express how emotional this was. There were babies and adults burned so very badly. Most of the babies are burned from stoves/ boiling water. I was able to pray with a woman named Ruth, who was burned on most of her body. I thought to myself, what could I possibly do to help this woman? Then the Lord reminded me that the only thing I have to give is His love, on my own I have nothing to give. I prayed for peace and healing, she was in so much suffering.

Then, we went to a school for disabled children. There were over 150 children with mental and physical disabilities. We played with the children, sang with them, gave them candy, de-worming tablets (they get these twice a year to prevent worms in their intestines), and just loved on them. They were so full of life.

Today, we went to an elderly home. The elderly here at the home usually have outlived their children from AIDS. They stay at the home, and we were able to hold an eye-glasses clinic for them. Many of them could not read anything without these glasses, and they were so excited to be able to read. One man sang to us from his song book once he could read again. Also, a woman named Anna Maria came to the eye glass clinic, but found out she was not going to benefit from the glasses, but needed to see an optomotrist. She was not able to do this because she would not be able to afford the visit. She was found in her home alone on the floor, all of her family had passed away, and she was brought to this elderly home 3 days ago. Sherry ended up sponsoring her to go to the optomotrist soon, and she will get the treatment she needs (which may be surgery). She was SO excited of the thought that she might be able to see again.
But, the main thing the Lord showed me today was His great compassion for His children. I am convinced that if He were here on earth, He would be here with these people.
I sat with a girl named Annette. Annette is 24 years old, and has spent her whole life at this elderly clinic. She has physical and mental disabilities. She was abandoned outside of this elderly home. We found her laying on the grass, with flies all over her. Aaron, Kathleen, and I rubbed the bug cream we had all over her, and the flies went away. My heart broke thinking of her laying here, abandoned, and so malnourished, with so many special needs. Please join with us and pray for Annette.

Thank you Jesus for sending us to this beautiful place to love these beautiful people that You love so much. My heart is full. Tomorrow, we start medical clinics. Praying for open doors to treat those who never are able to see a doctor, and through that share Christ's love.
"We love because He first loved us."  1 John 4:19

"For Christ's love compels us." 2 Corinthians 5:14

Moo-comma-auka-cu-may (God Bless You in Lugandan, the language here :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two Weeks & Counting!

It's been a while since I've blogged! We moved into a new house & have been getting everything settled before we leave for TWO weeks! We are just a little excited.. Can't believe it is almost here. We are so blessed to be able to say that our trip is has been fully funded thanks to those of you who gave & also those who bought our crosses! The Lord has been faithful to provide through you & gives me grace for ever doubting that He would.. I heard this phrase that kinda stuck with me "God FUNDS what He FAVORS" This tells me that ultimately if He is leading you towards something that will further His Kingdom-- He has already decided how He will fund it.. you need just walk in it and say yes.

Not only have you been so generous to give towards sending us, but we have had some precious ladies make pillow case dresses for us to take to the girls in Uganda (they love these). Here is a picture of some of them. They donated 100 total! Wow. I cannot wait to show you how much they love these. Thank you to Carla Stanford for organizing this and to the Pontotoc County Homemakers for making these!!
We've also been able to talk with some of our team members across the US, which has been really encouraging. Can't wait to meet them halfway across the world :) Got our luggage & name tags in the mail! Just get me on the plane already! I feel like I've been saying this since I got back from Kenya.

Lately I've been reading David Platt's new book Follow Me, and one chapter really stuck with me about God's Will. He talks about how we always ask, "What is God's Will for my life?" It's so true... we all do it. God, what do you want me to do with my life? And we have all of these methods that we like to try to figure out God's Will by.... coincidences, still small voice, miracles, you name it. But, the reality is.. God's Will has never been hidden from us nor is it something we have to go and find. He layed it out for us in His Word.. So instead of trying to search out God's Will for every little decision in our lives, if we just study His Word... He doesn't leave it a mystery. He tells us to LOVE Him & the people He made. And He tells us to GO and make disciples of ALL nations. All throughout the Bible there are so many scriptures on missions.. Old & New Testament- that is His Will...that all would come to know Him.

Most people know the love chapter, but I heard it Sunday in the message version:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I am nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith to say to a mountain, Jump, and it jumps, but I don't have love, I am nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor, and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. 
So, no matter what I say,  what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

If you want to keep up with us on our journey to Uganda in a few weeks, you can "like" Loving One by One Ministries on facebook and friend Sherry Schaeffer Roberts-- they will be posting updates & pictures. Thanks again for all the prayers!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reading Glasses & Children's Vitamins

I can't believe there are only 68 days (yes, counting down) until we hop on that plane to Kampala, Uganda. The Lord has been preparing us & providing in BIG ways through many of you-- we can't thank you enough for making it possible! As we're getting ready, we've been communicating with Sherry, the founder of Loving One by One, and finding out who we will be meeting halfway across the world, flying into Uganda with, and serving alongside.

Loving One by One provides for the people in Kampala in so many different ways through the childrens home, medical clinics, the new creation centre (school), and more. We have been given a donation list of the major needs of the people, not only in the orphanage and school, but also out in villages we will be serving in. & while there are many, there are a few priorities that would bless so many people.
  • Reading Glasses (lower strength) 1, 1.25, 1.50, 1.75. These can be from the dollar store
    with the label on them. You might be like me and think, reading glasses? But if you think about it, imagine your life (if you need glasses) completely without them. Hundreds of these will be given out in the medical clinics as people need them. I learned a lot about this by reading Charley Miller's book, who has been to Uganda with Loving One by One and his book is about his experience there (called Waking Up in Africa) I would highly recommend it! You can buy it on Amazon. He plans to return this summer in July. He talks about becoming an "optometrist" in the medical clinics (you never know what you might become while in Africa :)
    Anyway, reading glasses would be awesome!
    A picture from LOBO of giving out reading glasses at a clinic in Uganda:

  • Children's Vitamins- They go through a lot of these in the orphanage. Chewable vitamins would be great.
    Additional things they would be blessed with:
  • School Backpacks
  • Children's Clothes (gently used or new): Boys or Girls age 3-18, Adult Sizes: Small & Medium
  • Children's Shoes (flip flops, tennis shoes, sandals, and dress shoes)

    If you would like to donate any of those items, just let us know & we can pick them up from you! Thank yall so much for all the support through buying our crosses, donations & most of all prayers you've sent our way!!

    A big PRAISE from Loving One by One Ministries: They are currently building a new home that the new creation family home will move into in May at a place called GRACEland. Here is a picture of the progress & they've put the roof on:

    I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
    For He has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
    as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.

    For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
    so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.
    Isaiah 61:10-11

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Here am I Lord, Send me!

Since I started this blog, I have been terrible at keeping up with it! A lot has happened since December...we became an aunt & uncle to the most precious little nephew Mak on Dec 7, Ben is working on lots of new architecture projects, finishing up my first year of teaching, we put our house on the market..
& our exciting new lately is that we are heading to Uganda this summer! :)

The Lord has been tugging at our hearts to go back to Africa since our trips to Kenya & we have been praying for the Lord to show us the how/ where/ when. He has answered our prayers through Loving One by One Ministries & this opportunity to serve the people of Kampala through the many different needs they have (medical clinics in slum areas, working at orphanages, hospitals, and a school). Ken and Sherry Roberts started this ministry, and what they are doing in Uganda through Christ leading them is simply amazing. They started an orphanage called New Creation Family Home and a school called New Creation Centre where they meet educational/physical/spiritual needs of children daily. They also go out into villages/slum areas and hold medical clinics where people otherwise would never be able to see a doctor. They also give de-worming tablets to children to help fight worm infestation, which is the number 3 killer of children in Uganda, following behind more well-known diseases like Malaria and AIDS. Here is a short video clip showing some of the different ways we will be serving in Uganda:
We will be meeting our team (people from all over the US & other countries) halfway to Uganda & will fly into Uganda together. Ben and I are so grateful for everyone who has joined us on this journey and helped through prayer & financial support. Sometimes I think raising this much seems impossible, but I have found that the Lord really uses his people to send others to further the Kingdom. I've also learned that where He leads, He will provide! Even when it seems too big or too much for us to understand.

We have also been praying about how the Lord could use our gifts to create something to sell to help raise money. Since Ben loves to build & I love to paint, we came up with the idea of selling wooden crosses. They are $25 each and we can do any color/ any applique. 14" tall and come ready to hang on the wall. We have gotten a lot of custom orders lately (thank you!!), and here are pictures of some we have done.

Thank you for all the love and support you have shown us as we follow the Lord where He is leading!

  "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Then the righteous will answer Him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invited you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"
The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25: 35-40

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8

Here's a video from a ministry called the Mocha Club that we came to know in Nashville, TN when the Lord began our journey together serving African Refugees & began to stir in our hearts for the nations.
"It is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent's many lessons. I came here to serve and yet I've found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all its need, has much to teach me." -Mocha Club