Monday, August 24, 2009

Soaking up Some Sun

If you hadn't noticed I decided it is time for my blog page to get an overhaul. Thanks to Heather for giving me some ideas on how to make my blog more attractive and fun (even though you don't know you gave me the idea :)
The sun is shining over the waters of Lake Michigan here in Traverse City, MI and we are enjoying some late summer hours at the beach, trying to soak up every last bit of fun and sun that we can before it gets cold and we are stuck inside. It's been a pretty good week on the road...the joy of the Lord has been evident in the small moments. My favorite moment of the week was Saturday on the bus-little Christopher sat in front of me with his rain jacket on, hood up, face smooshed against the window, quietly singing to himself "O the blood of Jesus..." In that moment I wondered in my head how I could ever get frustrated with him for not being able to read or stay focused on anything. He is so precious!

I spent a couple days in Michigan a few years ago and though my memories are fuzzy it's all coming back to metoday as I had the chance to explore some familiar places. This afternoon we marched the children down to the beach for a few hours of playtime. Shoes were thrown off, jeans rolled up, and wading in to the knees, turned into soaking wet jeans up to the hip, heads in the water, water push-ups, and 22 happy children covered in sand from head to toe. O, well...we tried to keep them clean. Digging in sand, splashing in water, and burying friends never was so much fun!

After dinner some of us headed to Sleeping Bear Dune to see how much more sand we could get in our ears! Forget the work out tonight...climbing that dune twice and running down was enough for me. I think I burned a few calories. Lydia decided she needed to bring the container of jello with her as a mountain snack. She conveniently needed a break every 5 seconds to eat sand covered jello. Scovia asked if she was a "snacker" (as if it were some bad habit to kick like smoking!). Lydia then announced that she was the jello monster (the red cousin of the cookie monster I presume). Good times! We will all sleep well tonight (after I stop doddling around on the computer and write an english test for the P4's for tomorrow. Yikes!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Greetings from Michigan! This past week we have been in Grand Rapids and now we are in Saginaw. I'm enjoying the north. God has blessed me with some really interesting and great hosts lately. I've been reminded on more than one occasion not to judge people based on first impressions. Every time I do I end up putting my foot in my mouth so to speak. Funny how that works. I have been fighting a cold this week, but I think I'm on the upswing. It's a good thing because today was a day for great adventures. Laura's two best friends from home (Chantal and Mallory) are visiting from Ontario and we have the day off, so we decided to go find the bavarian village of Frankenmuth, Michigan. It was so cute! We had a picnic of 3 different kinds of cheese by the river, explored the shops, listened to a guy play the accordian, walked across the covered bridge, and took LOTS of pictures. I LOVED it. I'm thankful to Laura for sharing her friends with me. I know your probably reading this Chantal and Mallory-thanks for coming to visit. You guys are awesome!
I don't have any exciting stories to share, but here are some great quotes from the past few weeks:

“The best part of tour is swimming and staying in hosts. The hardest part on tour has been eating cheese.” -Julius
“Last day I ate three cavities. I enjoyed them so much-as good as strawberries!” - Racheal

“This is the worst day of my life!” -Christopher (covered in puke after Lino puked all over him on the bus)

“Bananas are good for our bodies. Especially for the people in Kampala who live on the street. If they eat a banana then their bellies can get full.” -Peace

“It's like an elephant is standing on my foot.” -Gilbert (in response to Auntie Angela stepping on his toes)

“Something is wrong with my head. My wisdom ran away. I think I gave it to Rose.” -Lydia

“I really want to go to heaven so I can play with Jesus.” -Rose

“A day will come when you young children will want to get married and have a husband or a wife.” -Uncle Patrick
“Yes, I can't wait!” - Gilbert
“No thank you!” -Racheal
“I cannot wait to see my wife!” -Hannington to Scovia

I hope these sweet sayings brought you a good laugh and smile today! Now go do something kind for someone else today!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Year Anniversary

I wrote this entry yesterday but wasn't able to post it because I didn't have Internet...

August is my one year anniversary with Music For Life and the African Children's Choir. I celebrated by getting a manicure and pedicure with Laura and Lindsey (for the first time ever!) One year ago today I stepped onto a plane and headed to North Carolina to spend a few weeks training with Choir 31 before heading to Uganda to meet the children who would soon become my life for the next year. Since that day I have experienced enough life to fill five years, it seems. I've learned about myself, I've learned about relationships, I've learned about teamwork, I've learned about parenting, I've learned about how people live and think, I've learned about culture, I've learned about many States that I knew next to nothing about, I've learned about God and his heart for the poor and oppressed. The last 365 days have been filled with joyful moments, sad goodbye's, difficult challenges, victories, lessons learned, dances of joy, and tears of hardship. I don't have any regrets and I would do it all over again.
A few random things I have done this year:
-eaten fried alligator in New Orleans
-ridden an elevator in a home in Mississippi
-spoken from stage to thousands of people
-met Archbishop Desmond TuTu
-visited with friends all over the country
-rafted the Nile River in Uganda
-showered outside overlooking the Nile River
-walked the Vegas strip with 26 African Children
-ran around downtown London taking pictures
-danced like a fool in front of complete strangers
-driven an army truck from the 1950's
-done push ups in the airport
-climbed inside a B52 bomber at Barksdale Airforce Base
-ridden in a hummer limo full of African children to a rodeo
-drank too much Starbucks
-had surgery
-sunbathed in the middle of winter on the gulf of Mexico
-been interviewed live on the radio
-seen the marching ducks at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis
Just to name a few things...and it's not even the end. We have several months left of tour and as I have gotten tired God has given me a second wind and is allowing me to still enjoy the small moments that make life so precious and beautiful. As I look forward to the future God continues to narrow my ministry dreams and goals. As I have seen and begun to understand more fully God's heart for the poor and oppressed, those marginalized by societies, my heart has begun to yearn for a chance to help. Many thoughts have been jumbling around in my head this year about how I can be involved in being Jesus' hands and feet and his voice to those who are overlooked. I feel more and more compelled to reach out and bridge the gap between cultures. I want to encourage and inspire Americans to see how wealthy we are and to get off the couch, put down the Wii and get INVOLVED. While we spend dozens of hours being entertained in front of the television each week, young girls are being forced into prostitution, boys are being forced to fight for rebel causes, children are starving, families are falling apart. I know that the problems in this world and the injustice can seem overwhelming and people don't know where to start or don't think whatever small thing they can do will really make a difference, but it does. I picked up a book the other day called Hope Lives (A Journey of Restoration) by Amber Van Schooneveld. It's a 5 week study and takes people through the exact process that I have been thinking about in my head. I don't want to see people guilted into giving money to the poor. I want to see people examine their hearts, examine God's heart, and come to a point where they really see who they are in Christ and what their responsibility is as a believer. Showing compassion and helping others is what the body of Christ is all about! I want to inspire. I want to encourage. I want to show people how exciting it is to act as a real body of believers, helping each other and glorifying God in the process. I love the point made by Amber in Hope Lives. She says, “It's not that God loves the poor any more than he loves me or anyone else in America-he's not a reverse social snob.” God loves everyone equally, but there is a special place in his heart for those who are being treated unjustly, as shown throughout his word. I don't know what this means for my future...but I'm excited to find out :) Well..that's the short version of the thoughts rolling around in my head. I have wanted to share for quite some time, so you can be praying with me about all of this and how God might lead me after tour. Thanks for listening and praying so faithfully. I am blessed to know God has given me such an amazing team/family of supporters-people who believe in me and my vision. May the Lord bless you abundantly.
In Christ,

Friday, August 7, 2009

We Love Starbucks and Starbucks Loves Us :)

Today we treated the children to hot chocolate at Starbucks for a job well done. The children know Starbucks as the place where their Aunties and Uncles always stop for their "happy juice." One lonely man sat on his laptop when we entered the building and filled the tables inside with smiles and excited laughter. I am sure those Starbucks employees did not come into work this morning expecting to have 22 Ugandan children walk into their store, but boy were they thrilled. Mo leaned over to me when he got his hot chocolate and said. "Auntie I thought we were getting coffee and I was really excited!" Yea right! I told him he has enough energy without caffeine and the reason I drink it is because I need the caffeine to keep up with him! I snapped some photos of the children enjoying their drinks and then they crammed in front of the counter to sing the thank you song to the workers. "Thank you very much for the (sip) and the yum yum!" went over very well. On the way out we apologized to the one other customer for invading his calm world. In return he asked if we take donations and handed me a ten dollar bill :) It's small moments like this that make tour so much fun. It doesn't take much to bless one person or ten people or a hundred people...we enjoy it. The following are a few pics from our Sbux escapade. Check out Facebook for more..

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

If I could bottle up the smiles and joy of these beautiful children I am privileged to know it would be difficult to put a price on. I try daily to capture their beauty and their personalities, but I know that I fall short. I write down quotes and I snap pictures, but sometimes you just have to be there in the moment (like when Rose turned around in the bus the other day and asked if we would find Curious George in Heaven). Most days I want to write down whole conversations and video tape entire hours of the day. After a few pretty rough weeks, God has blessed me with several absolutly blessed days. Tuesday I was able to spend some time with one of my dearest friends from college. She followed me around and got to see what my afternoons/evenings look like and then we chatted late into the night about the excitement, the hardships, and the possiblities of life. Yesterday, only a few hours after leaving her we arrived in Crystal Lake, IL and two more dear friends from Moody came to visit. The people on my team make fun of me because I have friends in so many places, but God knows I sure needed some familiar faces, hugs, and encouragement this week. I'm excited to share this adventure with so many of you in person. These past few days my "home away from home" has been a quaint little farmhouse in Illinois. My wonderful host has created a photographers paradise with rustic barns, laundry lines, tire swings, cornfields, trees, antique furniture, and even a real maypole! After a lovely snack of chai tea and pumpkin bread last night we went to bed, but this morning when I woke I hurried the girls along so we could take some pictures. Uponing returning to the house this evening I discovered that it's no accident this place is a photographers paradise.....Nancy is a professional photographer! She pulled out all kinds of dresses and the girls thought they were in heaven as they danced and giggled in their flowy dresses. I snapped picture after picture of them as they ran through the fields, posed with the scarecrow, and ran around the maypole, getting completely tangled in the ribbons. Sarah, Esther, and Racheal are the best little models I could ask for. Their smiles radiate and their joy is contagious. They looked like little princesses tonight and they truly are. God's princesses and the princesses of my heart. A picture is truly worth a thousand words and some of the moments I captured tonight will forever etch in my mind the beauty of these times that I get to spend with the children, loving them and nurturing them.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

R.I.P. Grasshopper

After watching the shift in “playtime activities” over the past generation I had begun to lose hope that children remembered how to play using their imaginations rather than video games and other such electronics. Fortunately Hannington and Patrick proved me wrong today. Up here in Washburn, Wisconsin the children had an afternoon to play, while details were being set for the outdoor music event they are performing at tonight. While most of the older boys were playing soccer I glanced over to see Patrick, Hannington, and Christopher lunging in the grass, running a few more steps, and then lunging onto their stomachs again. Upon closer examinations I realized they were catching grasshoppers! Patrick proudly held out the handful he had already captured. I thought of the conversation I had two days ago with Gilbert and Nelson about Americans are missing out because we don't eat grasshoppers, and I cautiously asked Patrick what he planned to do with the grasshoppers. He replied, “I'm going to put them in my pocket!” Well, I talked him out of that and instead the boys found a plastic container and continued their hunt until they proudly came to the aunties to show us at least 30 grasshoppers! After lunch Hanny informed me that one of the grasshoppers had died and they were going to have a funeral and bury it. Half an hour later I wandered over to the edge of the woods to find the boys (along with a few girls who had joined them), just as they were finishing up the grave. They were so proud of it they could hardly wait to show me. Let me just say that no grasshopper in the history of the world has had such an elaborate grave or fine burial. First, they made a pillow of out some cloth they found on the ground and wrapped the grasshopper in two leaves. Then they buried the grasshopper and put sticks and flowers poking up out of the ground. Around the area they used sticks, moss, and other materials to build a giant heart shaped barrier, that looked somewhat like a bird nest. Needless to say I was quite impressed. R.I.P. Grasshopper.
Only ten short minutes after this burial I sat and watched Hannington perform his new solo on stage during sound check. He glowed and his sweet voice echoed across the tent and out into the woods. What a kid! Completely and 100% little boy and yet full of such amazing talent and joy. I love my job.