Back to the Third World


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7

After a full week of exams and papers and then Hannah’s graduation today, we’re headed to Belize tomorrow. I feel so unprepared for this trip mentally, but so ready to spend some intentional time with Jesus and His people.

Pray this week for doors to open. For kids without parents to feel love. For police men and women to feel appreciated. For American eyes to be open. And for all of our focus to be on the only thing that matters: Jesus.

Also, I got to be a tiny part of another trip that’s going to be happening over break! Be praying for two Mississippi girls, Kristin and Leah, as they travel to Rafiki (my African home)!! They leave on the 15th (tomorrow!) and will be at the village for three weeks! Pray for safety in travel and health while they’re there. Pray that they get to love on those kiddos and the full-time staff at Rafiki well. Pray that God works in mighty ways in their hearts as He always does when we go outside of our comfort zone and into His awesome world! Pray that being away from home for Christmas will be a blessing and not a hindrance to experiencing all that God has for them.

Love first and always,



This is Joseph. He’s a kindergartener at the Rafiki School.
(Well, actually, now he’s in P1. A new year has started since I left the Rafiki School in Uganda.)

I know I’m not supposed to have favorites, but this kid has my heart.
Well actually, he and at least 101 other kids share pieces of it, if I’m being honest.

He’s a day student. His dad is Emma, short for Emmanuel.
He works as a guard at the Rafiki village gate.
Joseph has a mother and little brother as well as a basically newborn baby sister.
This family lives less than a mile from Rafiki in a room that’s probably 8ft. by 8ft.
But that’s pretty typical.

Okay. So why, almost two months after I’m home (which by the way, where has the time gone?), am I writing about them?

Because I saw God work through modern medicine through this family, and maybe I’ll inspire someone to use their knowledge of medicine to make situations like the one I’m about to describe stop happening.
I’ve been putting off  this story because I’ve been afraid to tell it. Not because it’s bad. But because it’s powerful. And I want to tell it in the best way possible.

So here goes nothing. Details are a little bit fuzzy, but here’s the gist of it.

I had been hearing about Emma being sick for a while through conversations with the missionaries. It started that he had maybe gone home from work sick one day, but, by the time we went to see him, he had been out for more than a week. Because transportation and resources are limited, the average person can’t go into the city for medical treatment when sick. There are local clinics where village doctors, not a witch doctor, practice, but they are often wrong about diagnoses because of limited training. The doctor had diagnosed Emma first with malaria, which is pretty common, and then had added typhoid fever and a urinary tract infection to the list.

Carolyn, ROS and possibly the most incredible woman I’ll ever know, knew I was interested in seeing how people lived in the outside villages, and so she invited me to come with her to see Emma. We had driven by the collection of rooms that many people call home many times as it’s on the dirt road leading away from Rafiki, but I had never been inside. The outside was rough brick, and inside was cement, floors and walls. Emma was laying on a “mattress” (if you can call it that, but it was more like a piece of foam covered in fabric) that took up a little less than half of the room. I remember sweating because of the heat, but Emma shivered under blankets. Joseph and Benjamin, Emma’s two sons, sat at the door of the room with a few other children, watching the mzungu (white) women talk to Emma. As we talked with Emma for a while, he told us of his diagnoses and showed the pills that he had been given to take. There were at least five different pill boxes and bottles for each of the different conditions, and I think he had gotten shots at the clinic. He told us he had not eaten or drank barely anything for a few days as he had no appetite and couldn’t keep anything down. We talked and prayed with him and his sons, but as we walked back to Rafiki after our visit, Carolyn remarked that it wouldn’t surprise her if he didn’t make it through the weekend. She had never seen him that bad off.

But God showed that He wasn’t ready for that yet. On the following Monday, Emma was still alive but had gotten worse. At this point, he had eaten almost nothing for at least a week and had lost a lot of weight. He was still taking the medicines but didn’t see much improvement. Carolyn and Mike have been in Uganda for ten years and have seen most anything that can happen. They didn’t buy the multiple diagnoses and wanted a second opinion. Carolyn drove Emma into Kampala, the capital city about an hour away, to go to the clinic that Rafiki uses for the children. The doctor tested Emma for every possible diagnoses–malaria, typhoid fever, uti, yellow fever, and more–and all of these came back negative. Emma’s biggest fear was that he had AIDS and that it was the real cause of the symptoms, so he praised God when that came back negative. The doctors looked at all of the medicines he had been taking and came to the conclusion that the mix of the medicines inside his body had been poisoning him. Emma, the father of three children, could have died because of the medicine given that was supposed to help him. Although they can’t be sure of what the original cause of the malaria-like symptoms were, it was likely that Emma had the flu, which has symptoms like malaria. Because of the drugs given for malaria, his body reacted in such a way that made the doctors add the other diagnoses. Because he was in a village where testing isn’t done for situations like this because of its expense, Emma was given medicines that instead of helping him might have led to his death.

Emma, the man that we thought might die before the weekend ended, returned to work less than two days after being taken off the medicine. I saw Emma just three days after all of this occured, and it was like I was seeing a different man. He still had to recover further physically, but just knowing that he was healthy renewed his spirit. The joy in his eyes had returned.


Coming Home.

Just made it to Amsterdam. Missing these sweet faces already. How does three months go by so quickly??

Alice in her Pinelake shirt!
Mama Jane's Cottage (Bottom to Top. L to R) Mary, Lillian, Nakki, Prossy, Sumaya, Mercy, Jane, Mama Jane, Sandra, Alice, and Cathy
Auntie Edith
P1 PE Class


Musana Children’s Home

Two weekends ago, we made the trip to Jinja and Iganga to see two ministries run by girls just a few years older than me. It was a trip we’d been planning since the very beginning of my time here, and I was really excited about it. I know so many people were praying for the weekend, and thank you! because it was an incredible weekend full of good time with Jesus and ones that love Him dearly. This first post is just about Musana Children’s Home. I’ll write another about Amazima later this week. There’s so much to say, and I want to do both of them justice!

Musana is a children’s home run by two 23-year-old sisters, Leah and Andrea Pauline, originally from Boulder, Colorado. I got to meet them in September when they came to visit and see Rafiki. Cecilia and Stan are from Colorado and had met the girls and their mom when they were in the States a while ago.

Musana came about when Leah and Andrea were on a summer trip/internship in Iganga and found/were shown to an orphanage that changed their lives and plans. There were 162 children living in three tiny rooms without beds, mats, or even blankets. When it rained (which is often in Uganda), the floors where the children slept would become mud. The adults running the orphanage were corrupt and would show the awful conditions to people traveling through to get money that they claimed would be spent to buy bunk beds or feed the children or fix the buildings or…. They, however, wouldn’t spend any of that money on the children. The kids were rarely fed and, in desperation and hunger, many turned to the streets to sell themselves or beg and steal for money or food.

After seeing something like this, Andrea and Leah couldn’t just return to normal American life. They got together with locals and worked to acquire land and buildings to move the kids to. They were allowed to take 80 of those kids from the orphanage and now three years later have about 100 from that orphanage and around Uganda.

One of the Buildings at Musana
The Library

Musana is beautiful. You can just feel the love of Jesus coursing throughout the campus. Every building is painted a different bright color, and a few have large wall murals on the outside.

The children are beautiful and loving. They are so thankful to have a home like Musana, probably because they remember the conditions that they were barely surviving in just a few years ago. From the moment we got there, they were welcoming and excited about being alive. The kids live in a dorm situation divided by age groups and gender with a “mom” in each room. They were all over the property, playing football (soccer) and other games, reading in the library, cleaning, and doing other things. One of the little boys recited a poem he had written about Musana. It was precious. These kids know what a hard life is and are so thankful for Leah and Andrea and the rest of the staff for giving them the love and chance at life that Musana is giving. Leah and Andrea are fantastic and solid. I’m hoping God will open doors to let me go and volunteer with Musana at least short term one day soon!

Musana’s whole goal is to be sustainable by Uganda. Right now, they have a sponsorship program and recieve funding from the States and other countries (Leah and Andrea have a sister who lives in Beijing and was doing a fundraiser for Musana the weekend we were visiting!). Their goal is to eventually be totally funded and run by Ugandans to give the people a sense of ownership and break bonds of dependence. They would love to be able to leave it completely to Ugandans eventually. But these things take lots of money to keep going. They have a cafe, tilapia farm, chicken project, jewelry and cloth business, as well as other projects in the works to make this dream a reality in the future.

Making Paper Beads

Paper beads drying after being dipped in sealant.

Altogether, I was so very impressed by Musana and so thankful to see how God is working in HUGE ways across this impoverished country. He’s using normal people to do incredible things. Leah and Andrea make sure things are running smoothly, but they try to let everything be run by Ugandans. Each project (school, cafe, children, etc.) has a Ugandan in the leadership position. This way, God forbid something would happen that foreigners wouldn’t be able to be in the country, Musana would run smoothly. Rafiki has many of these same precautions in place just in case of a problem, although obviously everyone prays this never has to be an issue. It was so neat to be able to see Musana because Andrea and Leah aren’t very much older than me. Because they said yes to God, He has given them Musana and goals and dreams and a reality that is, I’m sure, bigger than they would have imagined on their initial trip to Uganda a few years ago.

If you’d like to read more about Musana (they probably would do a better job of telling about themselves than I do), click here!

Throwing out an idea. And a few pictures from the weekend!

No great moral is coming out of this post! I’ve been feeling out of writing since my last post, but I wanted to throw out an idea and share some pictures of last weekend adventures. I’ll write more later!

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas season coming into full swing in the US, I wanted to put an idea out there and see if anyone would be interested in it. I know so many people have done so much for me from donating for the trip to wrapping books and cars for christmas gifts for the kids and sending school supplies that are hard to get here, but God’s laid something extra for you to help with on my heart a few times. If you’re interested, I’d like to raise some money for Rafiki and the organizations that we visited this past weekend. If God doesn’t have me here next semester helping with orphans, I’d love to at least make it a little easier for the ones He has called for this time! These are all organizations that run on small budgets but do really incredible things for the people of Uganda. I can’t wait to tell you more about our weekend and Amazima and Musana later this week.

I’m not sure how this would play out. It’s definitely up for discussion. I’ll be home in about two weeks and I’d love to get something going for when I get home (nothing too involved Mom, I promise!). Maybe get kids involved in a tangible way. There’s a group that gets kids to do cupcake stands (kind of like lemonade stands) to raise money for orphans. Maybe something along those lines? Hot chocolate and cookies around Christmas time? Or something completely different. Whatever works! I haven’t even mentioned this to my parents, so if it falls flat, that’s totally fine! I just wanted to put it out there because I know this is a season of giving across the world, and I want to keep my eyes on Jesus instead of all the busyness of Christmas as I travel home in a few weeks! If you’re interested in helping or have ideas, email me at or comment here!

It’s been a week since our trip to Jinja and Iganga to see Musana and Amazima and the work both of these organizations are doing in this beautiful but very poor country. It was a really good and busy weekend full of experiences and conversations I won’t soon forget! I’m going to write a post on it soon (hopefully), but for now, here are some pictures! Enjoy!

And thanks for prayers. I got to meet and spend time with Katie Davis! God answers even the small desires of our hearts.

Thanks so much again for all the support, prayers, notes, facebook messages, books, school supplies, matchbox cars, packages, letters, emails, comments, and love that has been sent my way (and the kids way!) during this adventure God has had me on the past three months!
I love each and every one of you and am so thankful that you’ve followed along so far!


Each afternoon, I tutor two boys in P6 (sixth grade) math. It’s kind of a joke that I would be tutoring math, but I’m thankful it’s sixth grade. Almost any higher level and the students would be doing the tutoring. These boys have been the most rewarding and at times most frustrating part of being here. We started with 4 when my mom was here, and I tried to continue with the group after she left. But it was too much for the girl who might struggle if she was given a P6 math exam today. And so we’re down to two. Two that need help the most. Two that want to learn the most.

There is Robert, and there is Disan.

Robert lives at Rafiki in Cottage 10. He’s behind because of medical limitations, but he tries hard.

Disan is a day student. His dad is one of our guards, also named Disan. He’s come to our Rafiki school only in the past year and is far behind his classmates. He desires to learn so badly but needs the basics in multiplication as his class moves to angles and geometry. His English has improved drastically even in the time I’ve known him. It might be the official language of the country, and therefore taught in schools, but many day students speak nothing but Luganda or other dialects at home, making English classes a struggle.
It’s likely that they’ll both repeat P6 next year, but this is common in a country where education is rudimentary and testing stringent.

Because of medical issues, Robert gets a snack each afternoon, which leaves Disan and I with a few minutes, sometimes more, each day to start the day’s work and to talk. Disan is curious. He desires so much to learn and know. He knows there are possibilities beyond what he has right now, and he’s ever asking questions about “my country”. Today when I walk into the dining hall where we sit each afternoon, I’m wearing my Ray-ban sunglasses. They’re almost a necessity for those of us with light eyes here in this bright country near the equator, and there’s rarely a day I don’t have them on. I lay them on the table, and we start working on multiplication tables.

As he writes his multiplication tables for probably the thousandth time in the past two weeks, he asks questions. He points at my sunglasses, the ones he calls goggles, and says that someone has told him that they are very expensive. Wealth and poverty is a conversation I’m not sure how to have, so I automatically try to look at the bright side, trying to think of a way to turn this into a conversation about how he is wealthy in other ways. And then he says it, with big eyed awe, “Very expensive, around 15,000 shillings.”

And those five words break my heart and send my head spinning. Because 15,000 shillings is the equivalent of less than 7 dollars. I look at my Ray-bans and do the math in my head. Yes, very expensive, because this plastic I wear over my eyes cost almost 20 times that 15,000 shillings. “Now, they were a gift,” I justify in my head. “And you’ve had them for almost two years,” counters the little voice that wants me to be content with the luxury I have.

But still. He looks bewildered just at the thought of 15,000 shillings, saying he could probably never afford them. And I think of 7 dollars and the stuff I have spent it on even since being in Uganda.

I think of Pinterest, the latest fad in social networking, and the outfits, jewelry, and things I have pinned to a board, things on a wish list. Almost all things I could very practically have if I wanted them. All things that are disposable as soon as the next bigger and better comes out. I come from a society where the sky is the limit. And from a family that has been given much. And from parents who have worked hard to provide for not only my needs but also my reasonable desires.

But reasonable is so different to this 13 year old who tells me in conversation that he digs for food each day and dreams of a better life. I think of my own little brother, just a few years older than the brown faced boy who sits before me, and the Facebook status a few weeks ago exclaiming of the new Iphone 4lmnop (I think it’s actually s, but I’ve always been a little theatrical.). And I wonder where this disconnect has come from. Because it’s not the things that are inherently bad. As I write this, I’m sitting in my house wearing a $10 target watch looking at my $50 Lifeway Bible typing on my I’m-not-going-to-think-about-the-price MacBook Pro. And all these things are good. And are blessings. But I just don’t know what to do about it. Because I could give Disan all the money in my wallet. By tomorrow, I could get him all the money in my bank account and my savings. I have friends and family who are loving and generous, and we could raise enough money to buy him Ray-ban sunglasses and an Iphone and a Mac computer. We could outfit him in Abercrombie (is that still what middle school boys want to wear? it’s been a while.) and his sisters in Anthropologie. But would that fix anything? Would that be enough? No.

Because while Disan and so many others like him dream of America, I dream of Uganda. I want the simplicity that comes with life here. The taste of it I have had is enough to make me want so much more life and so much less stuff. I know I’ll go home soon, but I pray that I will be back before long. And if this place isn’t my forever home, I pray that God puts me in places of poverty: physical, spiritual, and emotional. Because I’ve tasted secondhand the joy that comes in knowing that the only way that your life will even go on is if God provides. And I want the closeness to God, the dependence that comes in that realization alone. I don’t know what God has for my future (after college, that is. Mom and Dad, don’t worry. Without a major act of God, I am coming home December 10th, and I will graduate from MC next spring.), but I want more… and less.

I want to break the bonds that money and stuff has on my heart. The desire for more when I know more will never really satisfy, just leave me craving the next thing. I want to be willing to give it all up because it’s there where relationship can grow. Relationship with God. Relationship with others. It’s when I stop competing that I can love. It’s when I stop striving that I can see. It’s when I put on glasses that allow me to see like Jesus and overcome the near-sightedness I fall into so often in my cozy beach town or when my biggest worries are tests and tailgates on that green patch of earth half-a-world-away but ever so close in my heart.

Because yes, those things matter. Yes, those things count. I’d be lying if I said they didn’t. But eternal is the prospective that I should base my life on.  That what we do for Jesus is the only thing that matters. Because, Thank God, this earth will soon fall away, and all the problems in it will be a distant memory. But God wants to use us. He wants to use ME to get people to see His love and His light. And it’s there that He gives us the desires of our hearts.

In fact, He invites you and I to be a part of the planning committee of the biggest party the universe will ever see, if only we get out of our comfort zones and do what He’s calling. Sometimes it looks like a cake in the oven and balloons on the mailbox, and sometimes it looks like a plane ticket halfway around the world, but God wants each of us to celebrate Him. If only we are willing to give up everything we’ve ever strived for, put on the glasses that give us right perspective, and run full force after the One who can give us everything we’ll ever want or need.

…and I bet Disan never thought a simple comment about a pair of “goggles” would turn into a million thoughts and a blog post. Actually, I can tell you for sure he doesn’t know what a blog is.


This Weekend: Prayer Requests

Sunrise at Rafiki (Thanks for the picture, Cecilia!)

We’ll be getting up bright and early tomorrow morrning to travel to two towns about 3 hours from here for the weekend. The women ROS (Carolyn, Cecilia, and Patti) and I are going to see two ministries, Amazima and Musana (learn more about both in “Change the World” below the header). I talked a little about this trip on this post. Both ministries are run by girls just a few years older than me, and I’m so excited about it! Please pray for  safe travels as the roads aren’t the best, and for a good time of fellowship and relaxation/learning for all of us. I can’t wait to tell you more about what God is doing in these places when we return!
(And continue to pray that Katie Davis would be at the Amazima feeding program. It’s a silly request, but I really want to meet her!)