Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Rescue

We were included in another rescue today! Our team loaded up and headed to the "landing strip", which was just a big field. We then had to be sure that all the goats and people were off the "runway". Kids had followed us there from the village and we waited about an hour. As the plane approached the villagers all came out. They, as you can imagine, are very interested on any word or sight about the earthquake that hit their country just a few hours away.

Three children were flown in on this flight. One orphan with cerebral palsy was just left by her mom at the hospital after the earthquake. Another young boy was in a body cast and an amputated arm and a young woman in another body cast. It was amazing to us and especially the doctor on our team, Dr. Eric Escue, that the doctors in Porte au Prince had written in sharpies all over her cast. They had written when to take off the cast and what the diagnosis was. They had also written that they loved her and so did God!!! Here is the video of when we received them and loaded them into the truck. I will try and post the actual landing of the plane later... One note is that the boy in the full body cast just got an xray and it looks like his femur was broken and that it was never set. So the cast was in vain. Pray for him (Yonic is his name) as he now goes through surgery as soon as we can find an orthopedic surgeon.

Danita, the director, left for Porte au Prince yesterday to bring back more orphans. Thank GOD our next Visiting Orphans team will be here on Tuesday morning by the time they get here... It's such perfect timing. This team was able to help with the first set of new orphans. We helped provide structure, time off for the staff so they could concentrate on many more other pressing items for bringing in these new children, loved on the orphans, teach them the new rules and boundaries and calm their fears about an earthquake hitting again.

My Bionic Sister

I have always referred to my sister Robin, for those of you who know me, as "Martha Stewart on Speed". Honestly, she is a woman who rarely ever tires and just runs circles around me. She LOVES to serve people in every way. Therefore, you can understand why she is the first person I think of to join me on any international or mission trip. So, she was the first person I called to jump at the last minute to come on this trip to Haiti.
As you can imagine, she dove right in, raising $10K in just days to help this orphanage and was able to bring 2 suitcases full of medical supplies. When she arrived, she organized the new makeshift clinic and began serving the doctors (she is doing this now as she sits right next to me helping the doctor write up the chart on each child). Then, she volunteered with another team member, Toby Ryder, to cook all the dinners for the team members and staff here. So, she's been SO busy and such a blessing!

Last night, we got to hear one of the most amazing personal testimonies I have ever heard from, Toby. God seriously saved him out of complete drug abuse and saved and healed his wife of burns over her entire body! After this incredible testimony of God's power, we started home to the missionary house. It's dark here with dirt roads and no street lights.

We heard a motorcycle coming around the corner and he accelerated as he turned and when he turned, my sister was right there. He hit her dead on...and she flew about 15 feet and then the motorcycle landed on her and the rider jumped off and over her and ran off. We all thought she was dead as she didn't move for a good few seconds. Until she heard me start to freak out. :) Then, she said..."I'm okay, I'm okay and started moving and getting up". Her first words were, "Is the driver ok?!"

All she had was a bloody lip and a few scrapes and bruises. She miraculously walked away from this....We KNOW it was the power of prayer from everyone who is following this journey. We CANNOT thank you enough for praying for our team. We heard about the power of God from Toby and then last night we WITNESSED it! Your prayers saved my sister's life from injury and death. I cannot thank you enough and it renews my faith that prayers are truly SO needed and they SO work. Thank you so much...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rehab for Johnny

We are so excited to see Johnny, the little boy whose femur was broken starting to walk again. His femur was broken for 11 days before they found him. Thankfully a christian doctor who had flown into help gave him surgery at one of the hospitals that was left standing in Porte au Prince. Here he is finally starting to walk again...I will post the story of how he was found by an American couple soon...

I Am Not Forgotten

It has been so chaotic trying to teach and get these new orphans assimilated into life at Danita's Children's Home. Everything is new and they've been through such trauma with the earthquakes. We've done the best we can to communicate with the children. I've found that Haiti is not like Uganda or Ethiopia where most children know some English. These children do not know any English so we've had a hard time communicating with them. So, you can understand how it was so special this morning when we finally found out their names and put name tags on them! I loved watching them light up when we finally recognized them and said their names. I can imagine they have felt lost, forgotten and scared. I'm beginning to get pretty attached to some of them...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Joy in Suffering

This is a video of one of the new girls they brought into the orphanage. She had her arm recently amputated. When the staff found her, she was at one of the two (out of 5) hospitals left standing in Port au Prince. The doctor looked stunned and explained that she had just told him her mom had died in the earthquake and someone else had just come in and told her that her dad had died and was lying in a ditch. This was right after the operation where they took her arm.

Thankfully Danita and staff were there to sweep her up and bring her to her new home where she is surrounded by love of both staff and children. Here she is just a couple days after this operation and the death of her family. She is somehow full of joy in this moment. Pray as the symptoms of trauma will begin to manifest in the next couple of months. They are all still in shock and adjusting to the new loving environment here.

The Church Being the Church

The orphanage moved the pews out of their church to set up enough beds for the new children. Talk about the church being the church!

Introducing the New Children to Danita's

As I mentioned on a previous post, Danita brought in 28 new orphans at 2 AM on Tuesday night. Here they are eating their second meal in their new home...Wanted you all to get a glimpse of their precious faces....

How to Cross the Haiti Border


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Our First Day in Haiti

It was quite a journey crossing the border between Haiti and Dominican Republic. You aren't allowed to cross by car or a vehicle unless you have a special government permit, so we were dropped off by bus about 3 blocks away and all our luggage was placed in carts and we walked through. There was a very hard line of demarcation that you could see between the living standards in the D.R. and in Haiti. Literally, shacks and dozens of people just bathing and washing in the river, next to nice large mexican style building on the D.R. side.

Then, it was just a small walk to Danita's Children's orphanage. She brought in 28 new children at 2 AM last night. The day before 3 children had arrived by a charter plane. One that I mentioned in my earlier post, Joselyn, a boy actually who had his leg amputated and another young girl who has lost her arm and her whole family. Then, another young boy arrive with a broken femur. He too lost his parents in the earthquake. The 28 new kids are displaced from different orphanages, except a small handful that Danita picked up from the street.

I spent the day with the two doctors helping with the check ups for the kids. I was fun playing the nurse! I weighed them and helped wiht medication. The rest of the team helped with getting the kids their showers.

Gotta run!! On our way to dinner....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Little Jocelyn & Safe Arrivals

Our first team of eight met in the Miami airport tonight and in only 1.5 hours we were landing in the Dominican Republic. We are getting a much needed night of rest tonight at a hotel (especially me!) here in Santiago and then at 9:30 AM tomorrow morning, we are headed by bus to cross the border into Haiti. I am still amazed at how we were able to recruit 19 team members in just 5 days to create two whole mission teams to serve this orphanage. And we are still adding names every hour to a waiting list of people who are taking God's commandment in James 1:27 to go and visit orphans in their DISTRESS.

We will be stopping at a medical supply store to buy a set of crutches for a little girl who recently went through an amputation due to the earthquake. Her name is Jocelyn. Please keep her in your prayers. I will let you know more details as we arrive and are able to jump on the internet. Our second team needs some bed pans to bring and the orphanage was asking for some more morphine for the doctor to use who is already on the ground. There are certain rules around transporting morphine though since it's a controlled substance, so we were unlucky with this request. It saddens me to think of the pain of children and other civilians who are having to end surgeries and pain without pain killer. I can't even imagine!!! We are so blessed in the U.S. I pray Jocelyn did not have to endure this surgery without adequate pain killer and anesthesia.

Thank you all for your prayer coverage. We have a great team!

Our Teams to Haiti

Here are the team members

Leaving Today: Tuesday, January 16th
Amanda Lawrence
Nathan McCauley
Hannah Bates
Cliff Neeley
Toby Ryder
Dr. Eric Escue
Robin Ireland

Leaving Monday, February 1st
Becki Carlson
Misty Bates
Julie Richards
Anna Melvin
Mike McRill
Tricia Morrill
Sarah Schroder
Jennifer Knox
Maria Regalado
Melissa Williams
Melanie Leet

Thank you for praying for us!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Video of My Faida

My sweet husband gave me this great Ipod Nano for Christmas and I was able to capture quick videos while on my grip to Gulu. I'm so happy I had it as I was able to video Faida in her traditional dance costume.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update from Danita who is in Port au Prince getting the Children

See this link:

Our first Wave One B will be on the ground there in Haiti by this Wednesday. We will start receiving these children by Thursday. Pray that God continues to connect Danita in Port au Prince by His hand with the orphans who need to be moved to the orphanage.

Our team Wave Two will be leaving the following Monday, February 1st to help. Thank you all so much for your support in every way! I will keep you updated. You can donate on my post below.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Video for Danita's Children

If you want to see the ministry we will be helping in Haiti and if you want your heart to be utterly broken for these orphans. WATCH THIS! You can donate to our mision trip in the below post.

Donate to Haiti's Displaced Orphans

You can donate below to help us raise funds to help the 200 displaced orphans at Danita's Children's Home in Haiti. We will be sending teams who will need these funds to buy supplies to deliver and to help with the lodging and feeing of the children when they arrive. Thank you so much.

Quick note, make sure you note that it is for the Haiti trip and if it for a particular team member's trip cost, please list their name. As an FYI, Chip In does take 3% of each donation. (Thieves! JUST Kidding!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On My Way to Haiti!

With God's sovereign hand we have orchestrated a small team of 5 people to head down to Haiti this Sunday for a week to help with 200 orphans who have been rescued out of Port au Prince. They are coming to an orphanage called Danita's Children and this orphanage is about 9 hours away from Port au Prince. This orphanage has been housing about 70 orphans and now they are going to be stretched beyond measure with the additional 130 orphans. Our team will be uniting with another 25 team members traveling from a church out of Florida.

I was just contacted tonight out of the blue by the CEO of a medical supply company and he has offered free medical supplies for our trip and our team members are busy raising additional funds for the orphanage itself. God's people are so generous! I will be posting as I am able while I am gone. If you feel led to donate to this mission for these children, you can send a check to Visiting Orphans at P.O. Box 1766, Brentwood, TN 37024.

You can find out more about this mission at Danita's Children's website:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bringing Christmas to the Dumps in Ethiopia

Bringing Christmas to the DUMP!

The below post is written by my husband, Simon, as he was the team leader for our Visiting Orphans trip which started in Uganda and went on to Ethiopia. It SO reminds me of the story of the prodical son. Honestly, there were even pigs in this dump that these kids were living with. They may not have squandered their physical, monetary inheritance as the prodical son did, but I'm sure many of them do not realize our Spiritual inheritance, which is so rich in the Lord. Simon understood this and spoke into a certain young man's life and now this young man had a fattened (well, skinny in Ethiopia) sheep/calf and is living as a son of the most High God. The most incredible inheritance ever!

On our leg to Ethiopia this year our team decided to visit the garbage dump in the big city of Addis Ababa. It was my first time visiting such a place!

Let me tell you that a mission trip never goes as planned and that is kind of how this experience started. We had it on our schedule to visit the dump for a couple hours one afternoon but we got side tracked. Because our team had spent more time at one orphanage, we just simple ran out of time to go see the kids in the dump as we planned. However, my friend and co-leader on the trip Nathan and I got together and literally, God had a better plan in mind. You see, in Ethiopia Christmas falls on January 7th and we had missed our chance to visit the kids in the dump on the 6th. Well, it just so happened that WE received the gift of going on Christmas morning. How neat? Literally, once we put two and two together, we decided to go all the way with this and make it the best Christmas ever for some kids who NEVER see any visitors nor do they receive gifts for Christmas. So on Christmas Eve, we were grocery shopping for 75 kids and finding ways to spoil the heck out of them!

At about 10:00am, we rolled up to a place that when I say stunk, I mean it was maybe the worst odor I have ever smelled. Thirty of us were packed tightly in a bus with bags of toys, clothes, groceries and two sheep. Yep, you read that right. We had bought two sheep to kill and cook for these kids. One of our guides actually grew up in the dumps and has a divine story of how he made it out. He is the one who suggested that the best way to feed these kids would be to give them some goat (or sheep as we call them in the U.S.) meat☺. OK… so we were in for an adventure.

Let me say this too. This visit to the dump was something that I was not ready for. I had been prepared for orphanages and street kids and a team of thirty people to lead. But this was new for me! Was the smell bad? Yes. Were the kids and teens filthy? Absolutely. But was there a need like no other? You bet. And that is why this place gave me more heartbreak than any other place on this trip. As soon as I got there, I decided that I was going to throw myself into their lives! Honestly, it was the only way I knew to get rid of the smell. As I walked around the trash, I saw a group of guys just chilling out in a group of about 8-10. There were sitting in a little section of the dump up on the side of a building. As soon as I saw them I knew that they weren’t up to any good. They were typical rebellious teens looking for their next high. In Ethiopia they chew this leaf called “chet” and I saw it in their eyes. I’ve seen the look before in my old lifestyle that I was caught in during my college years. I walked over to these boys and I just sat down next to the leader and began to talk and listen. For the next 45 minutes, I just hung out with these guys.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the rest of the kids. Actually, the rest of our team had everyone under a covering, kind of like a bridge, teaching them some Bible stories. And some of the team members were busy watching the two men slaughter the sheep for dinner. It was actually the idea of 2 women on our trip to do this and many of those watching the slaughter were women. (I was surprised! ☺) Once the sheep were cleaned and ready for cooking, we all went over to a big covering to meet up with the rest of the team for a real Christmas party. We couldn’t really grasp the amount of fun that we were about to have. We had bought about 100 party hats and little whistles that you blow for your birthday and we passed them out as the meat was cooking. Then we gave out shirts, sandals, beanie babies, toys, stickers and more. Every kid was smiling and having a blast. Once the meat was cooked we gave out plates of food to everyone with bread and cookies! The kids dug in as if this was the first meal they ever eaten. Every bone was gnawed clean and they were using both hands. They couldn’t seem to eat it fast enough.

Last, there was one young man that was part of the group of guys that I was talking to earlier who really just wanted to talk. There was something different about this guy. He wasn’t doing the drugs but he was part of the group. Ever since the moment I stepped into their group, he was so interested in telling his story and hearing mine. His name is Teguson. Finally, I said to him in front of all the boys, “there is something different about you! You have persisted your way into my heart and if I lived here and owned a business, I would have hired you.” I told him about some of the pains I’ve gone through back home and explained that it was only the faith that God has a great plan for my life, that got me through everything. I asked him if he has that and that it is free and that God loves him enough to give him life! He accepted and through an interpreter, Teguson met Jesus!

After leaving that day with my arm around Teguson, God worked on my heart. Later that afternoon, I decided that I was going to give him a chance through some of the connections that I have in Ethiopia. Teguson will have a chance now and I believe that he will achieve his dream. God has a way of redemption that no human coincidence can compare to. That day at the dump was a real eye opener for somebody who thought they had seen poverty. That day changed my life and it was one of the best Christmas’ I’ve ever had!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Karamajong Children Photos - What You Will See

The Visiting Orphans team took some very moving photos of our day with the Karamajong children in Jinja. You will see by some of these photos the skin and bones of these children and just how hungry they were for the one meal they would get daily...You will see the desperateness and the tears and the exhaustion of being so weak without food. You will also see their joy in midst of their pain. You will see that each of them had a bowl or a plate in their hand. If they didn't, there was no way to feed them.

Our hope is that we can bring LOTS of these bowls and plates on our next trip in April...not to mention shoes and clothes.

We could use you on this trip in April. Our team is not big enough yet. We have more than enough team members for our Summer trips, but we want to bring lots of supplies on this trip in April.. I cannot get back there soon enough. I just keep remembering how much help they needed. Won't you go for us and help them?!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Walk on the Water

God coordinated the best team to visit these kids in Gulu! I feel so honored that God included me in this awesome mission to the children in Gulu, and especially at Village of Hope. I was blessed by Bethany Haley who is a psychologist and runs a ministry called Exile International. She is a best friend of mine and works passionately and without end to help heal the children who have been traumatized by abductions and murders of the LRA. Most of these atrocities are just 2 or 3 years old and these children carry these horrible memories and emotions with them. She taught us how to take them through art therapy to share their stories. Without sharing and talking about their stories, they will continue to hide them in their heart and the darkness can consume them. But when they bring these stories into the light, the shame is broken and they heal.

The team also consisted of singer/songwriter, Britt Nicole. This young woman has a heart ONLY for God and to LOVE all His people. She was a walking ministry, constantly being led by the Spirit and determined to not miss Him if He called her to speak or reach out to someone. Through out the airports and into the displacement camps, she would constantly stop to tell strangers that Jesus loved them. She has the gift of worship as well and would constantly sing over the children. She was my constant companion and I loved how she would pray over me as I prayed over the children.

We were also accompanied by Jake Birdwell. An avid traveler who came as a photographer and videographer to tape the trip for a documentary for Exile Int'l. He brought safety, security and care to our team..and he loved on the children and participated in many activities.

We were blessed to lead these children through the prayer of salvation so that this God who says He is a father to the fatherless could become their heavenly Father. I wasn't sure how many of them understood that God adopts us into His family and becomes our daddy. I knew many of them missed their earthly fathers and I wanted them to know that God our Father could be their Abba, their Daddy, if they would accept Him as the Lord of their lives. We were amazed at how many of them raised their hands to invite Him into their hearts. I think most of them knew the salvation message and most of them had already accepted them, but when I told them about how He could be their daddy, every single one raised their hand.

One particular little girl stands out to me. She had a very hardened, angry face but was the first to raise her hand to receive Him into her life. Literally after the prayer, she was glowing and smiling and showing compassion to a toddler boy in the room. She continued in this new found hope and happiness during my entire stay with the children. She is the little girl whose hand I'm on as we are praying in the photos above. I love the photo of the two children who just lived in the nearby village who were listening through the window. At one point one of those little boys literally climbed up into a tree and sat there to see and hear better. (reminded me of Zacheus..)

It was awesome to see how God used each one of us to bring His Kingdom come into the lives of these children. I'm just so thankful to have this purpose in my life. To be able to be used by God into the life of one of these very precious children.
You will never be the same again once God has used you to minister to an orphan. The vulnerable, helpless and abandoned.
I write these blog posts with the hopes of inspiring you to as, Britt puts it in her song, "Walk on the Water". I read a quote on the way home yesterday that said, "Your life begins at the end of your comfort zone". This is so true. I encourage you to go and minister to the orphans or ADOPT one (or two or three :)).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Tipping Point

I’ve never been a book worm and I’m not one to enjoy watching movies and documentaries that cover atrocities against man. So, I only knew a little bit about Gulu and Northern Uganda and all that happened with Joseph Kony and the LRA. I probably knew more than the average American due to my work, but still, it only skimmed the surface.

Honestly, I did not want to know. There is still a part of me that doesn’t want to learn anymore. Who wants to truly willingly break their own heart? I was almost dreading this part of our trip, satisfied to have just gone on to Ethiopia with the Visiting Orphans team or to have gone on home.

I didn’t want to hear the children’s stories. I didn’t want to see a room full of children grieving and crying out with hurt deeper than I’ll ever know. I cannot imagine the memories and scenes they have to shut their minds off to. The nightmares they sleep through and the fear that constantly haunts and trails them. The fear that “when” and “what if” the rebels return?

I have been to Rwanda about 15 years after the genocide. As soon as we arrived in Kilgali, we went straight to the genocide museum. This museum leaves nothing to your imagination. I was not at all prepared for the stories and scenes and photos I was going to see. It didn’t just cover the genocide in Rwanda, but also many others in the 1900’s.

I struggled with fear while I was there. Fear that plagued me while I slept which I had to war against spiritually. I had no idea the horrors that humans could do to each other. If they could do it then, then why not now? Could there be a trigger for this to happen again. So, my time in Rwanda, unfortunately was not as wonderful as my time had been in other African countries. I’m sure this was one reason I was hesitant to visit Gulu and it’s people.

So, I arrived at Village of Hope reluctant to dive in and love these children. It has only been 2 or 3 years for most of them and this man, Kony is still unbelievably alive and well. I was reluctant to share my heart and open it to them. I had to search my heart and soul. “Lord, what’s wrong with me? Normally I can’t wait to dive into the lives of orphans and love them? Why am I so hardened and calloused?” I was sitting back while Bethany and Britt were pursuing these children and making sure they were always in the midst of them.

As I wrestled with these questions I realized…It’s because I didn’t want my heart to break again. Normally when it breaks it means God is going to ask me to do something bigger than myself to make a difference in His Kingdom. And to be honest, I’m just plum tired of that. My life has been one heart break after another and working so much to accomplish things much larger than me.

I have just wanted a normal life finally. I’m finally married and we have a house we love and we’re ready to put down some roots, and have a family. Of course, like most, wanting to have a biological baby first. (I’m human too!) Especially since time is not in my favor (or so the doctors and others would like to tell you). Of course I will adopt, but why can’t something “N.O.R.M.A.L” happen in my life for once. Something on course like the rest of America. Something easy. Why can’t it be about me, just once? Why does it always have to be about HIM?! ☺

Pretty selfish, huh? But I’m not going to pretend I’m the only one who struggles with that. I know b/c I talk to many friends and acquaintances who are amazing men and women doing awesome things for God and they also struggle with the same desires and thoughts.

So finally, as we had our first day off at Village of Hope upon arrival and I was planning to just have some “me” time, my heart began to melt. These children without invitation would come and just sit down next to me as I read the Bible…wanting me to read to them. STARVING to hear the word and wanting to know more. Wanting to read it to me. Joining me and putting their arms around me as I tried to stay in contact with my “world” on my blackberry or Facebook. Looking at each person’s profile. Wanting to see all the pictures on my laptop. Loving the pictures of the beach and my dogs and my nieces as flower girls and loving my wedding dress. Holding my flashlight for me as I ate my dinner in the dark by the fire so I could see what I was actually about to eat and constantly combing, braiding and playing with my hair.

I don’t think these children had a clue that God was using them to minister to me. To love on me, to open my heart…that mother’s heart which has been determined to do it “My way”.

As the next morning dawned and we got ready for the heavy day of emotional grief counseling with the kids (what I had been dreading), I stood in my mud hut with two of the most precious friends and fellow “journeymen” (as they call you in Gulu) a woman could ask for, Britt and Bethany. We were talking about the kids, talking about what that day would hold. (I was still dragging my feet as I got ready for this) I started telling them how I had grown fond of this little girl Faida (who you will read about in my previous post) and Britt commented, “Amanda, I have known all along that God was going to do something in your heart on this trip, but I didn’t know what…but when I see you with her, I see your Mother’s heart for her…” And…that’s when I broke. I finally let it all go…my coffee cup shaking in my hand as I let go of that which I have wanted and desired in order to probably, knowing God, receive some sort of another extraordinary calling to these children. Maybe it’s adopting a large sibling group, maybe it’s adopting children with HIV, maybe it’s opening up our own orphanage or moving to Africa. Or…maybe it’s just continuing to work forVisiting Orphans so that more and more people are ministering to orphans. Or even more...what if it's ALL the above or more than one of these?!

Whatever His will is, I finally let Him have all control and have His way with me, my plans and my family. It still hurts to share but I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what He has in store. I know it will not be easy and will most likely require MUCH work and will be anything but NORMAL…but maybe, just maybe, I will make a difference personally, this time in the life of an orphan(s).
(photos by Bethany Haley)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Girl Named Faida

I can’t get this little girl’s beautiful face out of my head. It’s imprinted on my heart. Im not sure of her age as sometimes it’s 11 and sometimes it’s 12. Most children at Village of Hope do not know their birthdates anymore. So…they guess.

See, their moms and dads were murdered in the last few years in the LRA rebel raids against the Acholi people. Some were burned, cut up by machetes, or so much worse. Some were shot or hacked to death by their own children as the rebels made them by threatening to kill them. These are the children at the Village of Hope. Fiada’s parents were killed and she and all 5 of her siblings abducted. But..they escaped!

We are visiting Village of Hope with Bethany Haley, a psychologist who works with African children who have gone through trauma. As we led a room full of these children (most are between 10 and 15 years old now) through a time where they were encouraged to share their stories of trauma, I looked at Fiada and I saw her fidgeting and sweating. I started to tell her it was okay…that she could cry and let go and that’s when the dam broke. Sobs began as her broken heart poured out. I embraced her and held her and told her over and over again how sorry I was. She let me hold her for awhile and then, as her heart broke even deeper through her tears, she ran out of the room. One by one, crying children started leaving in sobs. I didn’t follow her b/c I thought she might need that time, but Bethany followed her. Three of the girls had run to their room and were wailing and sobbing. Bethany sat down on Faida’s bed and it was soaked with her tears.

She was able to gain her composure and returned to the room. By this time, I had started crying. She couldn’t look at me… It hurt, but I’ve been there. She’s angry, broken, so sad. Can you imagine her memories?! Watching her parents killed by a rebel or her own sibling. Having to live in the bush with no clothes for days and no food b/c the rebels have looted their home. Then being abducted and having atrocities done to them, most which they will never speak about. In fact, Faida was not one of the girls who was emotionally able enough to share her story. She’s not ready yet. But hearing her sister share the story and other children share their stories, was just too much and the memories flashed back.

I am forever bonded to her now. After this time of practically the whole room of children crying and pouring their hearts out. We let them talk about their hopes and dreams. Faida hopes to drive a car one day and wants to be a lawyer.

As we finished our heavy emotional day, each child chose a rock to represent their past and burdens and they carried them out onto the land and laid them at the bottom of a cross that had been erected. Although Faida seems too afraid or ashamed to look at me, she wanted to walk with me. She made sure I was beside her at all times.

We laid our burden stones down and took our handkerchiefs where we had drawn our hopes and put them on the top of broken tree branches and carried and swayed them back and fort in the air as we sang all the way back to the school room. Declaring“the glory of the Lord and throwing the devil out of our lives”. These were lyrics from a traditional Acholi song they sing.

Then this morning as I awoke, Fiada had chosen to hold a sign that Bethany had created that read, “I am Beautiful” for a video Bethany was making. She was smiley and giddy. As I approached, she got bashful and Bethany said it’s b/c we’ve bonded. It’s the same “game” you play with someone who you do not know if they will love you back or afraid you will lose them.

Before I left the Village of Hope today I had known all week that I was supposed to give Faida this silver promise ring I have worn for the past 10 years. It has the scripture, “I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine” written on it in Hebrew. I gave it to her and through an interpreter told her what it meant. I told her that I had fallen in love with her and I began to break into tears saying that if I could be her mother I would. I promised to sponsor her and be her mommy in America. I will help her become a lawyer and will pray for her always. I also promised to return. I told her how sorry I was about what happened to her. She hugged me and held me immediately, thanking me. From that time on, she would not leave my side and did not look away when I looked at her. I truly saw a new hope, a new light in her eyes. There seemed to be less sadness and less anger.
Honestly, I really would be her mom. I don’t know how it could happen for many reasons whilch I will not get into in this email.

But I’m hooked and do not think I can ever stay away from Uganda and from this tragedy that has played out here. I certainly cannot stay away from Faida. She needs the love of a mother, even if all I can give at this time is my prayers, letters, money and visits. What breaks my heart the most is that these children do not have mommies and daddies, but I will get into that on another post.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Karamajong Children

Our time with the visiting Orphans team was amazing. This team had SO much unity and that is a miracle being such a large team. It was obvious that everyone had come on the trip with the same heart and purpose in be used by God as much as possible to minister to these children.

I will have to say that by far, visiting with the children from the Karamajong people that Amazima feeds was the most rewarding yet devastating for the team. Katie Davis, the beautiful young woman who started Amazima, started this feeding program with this people group about 6 months ago. This people group is seen as the lowest of the low in Jinja. They are truly the poorest of the poor and it's the survival of the fittest among them. The hardest part was watching the children line up for the one meal that most of them would eat per day Monday through Friday. This is the meal that Amazima provides for them at school. These was pushing and shoving and fighting and crying and wailing. Little boys and girls carry their infant siblings on their backs so that they can eat too. Britt was standing by one little girl who was being shoved so badly that the baby fell off and landed on the cement floor, smacking it's head on the cement. The little girl that was holding the infant just seemed like she had given she was defeated, so she just stood there crying, refusing to get out of line. Eventually through much more pushing and with my help, she got her bowl filled up with the rice and beans. And then she just stood there in line...for what seemed like 5 minutes. I think she was just so defeated...

This was a similar scene where another little girl was kept putting her toddler brother to the side of the line and he would just get up and toddle back to her and she would push him away again. It was b/c she was trying to stay in line but kept getting pushed. I eventually picked him up and carried him. He was so weak he immediately fell asleep. She eventually got out of line and came and got him. I guess her love outweighed her hunger in that moment and she was willing to give up her place in line to carry him again. These children were gorgeous, yet filthy...clothes barely hanging on, if at all. No shoes anywhere. I spoke with Patrick, the administrator for this feeding program through Amazima....He is hopeful that we can bring shoes and clothes on our next trip in April. I want to help these children so much. I loved them so much. I still do and wish I did not have to leave. I wish I could stay there. Katie is doing amazing things for these people. God has taken one tiny servant who loves Him dearly..enough to surrender her all to Him and He is just pouring out blessings to these people through her. Please continue to give your donations to Amazima...especiallly for this people group.

We'd love for you to visit and help these people on our next trip in April. We will need your help. Pray that God would open up the storehouses of Heaven to bring His financial and spiritual resources to these people. You can find out more at (photos by Bethany Haley)