Tuesday, May 22, 2012

my heart is so full.

MY HEART IS SO FULL!!! What an absolutely AMAZING day we have had together at this place.  I wish I could really describe how wonderful today has been and how blessed we have been to be a small part of what GOD is doing in Uganda!!!

We started out the morning with something new!  There are 4 new Cornerstone homes in Uganda with kids that have just come off of the streets, out of prison, or out of prostitution.  These are kind of like transition homes where the girls/boys learn about structure and living with people, and then they are able to go to a different home (like Mengo) and start school.  We were pretty hesitant about going into these homes solely because we didn’t want to get in the way of the Aunties (the older girls that are basically mothers to all of the girls in the home.  Sarah, Jackie, and Hope are the Aunties at Mengo and they do such an amazing job at loving and encouraging and teaching the girls).  We wanted to make sure that we weren’t any harm… bringing in 9 Mzungus (white people) and then leaving to go back to America is sometimes very hurtful and we didn’t want to create any feeling of abandonment.  We prayed about it a lot and decided to call the Aunties yesterday.  They were SO kind and said they would love for us to come and visit, so we headed out mid-morning and went to Nakowa, a new home for girls from the streets.  There are give girls living there, and 2 Aunties.  They literally SPRINTED to our van when we pulled in. It was SOOOO sweet and precious and adorable and humbling and just amazing.  We got to spend about 2 hours with the girls and learned a lot more about how a new home actually works.  The aunties literally walk out during the middle of the night to find young girls that need a home, they don’t go every night, but that is how the girls come and live there.  When the girls get there, it is very overwhelming and new for them to have any structure or rules.  Some of the girls run away in the first few days or sneak out in the night.  They have room for 13 girls total, but only have 5 right now because so many ran away.  It was sweet and heartbreaking to see the Aunties so sad about the other girls leaving… you can absolutely tell that they want to love EVERY single girl that needs love.  The other girls that ARE living in the home, are so sweet, even though the language barrier was harder for everyone.  They hugged on us the ENTIRE time we were there, it’s amazing to see how a young girls heart is the same all across the world…. tender, sweet, loving, affectionate, and in NEED of love and affirmation and attention.  I love seeing that.  I LOVE seeing the young girls be loved on!!!  We played a game that they taught us (a weird dodgeball/tag/monkey in the middle game) and jump roped some… They read us the charts they are learning (ABC’s, Numbers, and sentences that they fill in to tell people about themselves).  They are learning English at the home and will be able to go to school after they are out of this transitional home.  They were such angels… We came inside and sang together… I love (with a BIG part of my heart) that we do know the same songs, but more importantly that we feel the presence of the SAME GOD!  We sang ‘How Great Thou Art,’ and ‘Above All.’  It was such a blessing to truly praise our God for creating the world and affirming that he is our King and Father and Love and Protector and EVERYTHING!!!!!  We prayed for their lives and were heartbroken when they asked when we would return… Hopefully God brings us back next year!! J

We ran to the grocery and had a very efficient errand time (always a good thing)… Then back to Cornerstone for lunch (Grilled cheeses, thanks to our Chef Katie!) and a little break.  We were preparing everything for tonight this afternoon as well!!...

So then… drumroll please… We took tonight and had a PAMPERING NIGHT for the girls at Mengo!!!! We are all beaming from the joy that those girls had.  Wow.  It is indescribable how sweet they were.

When we first got there, we had all of the girls come outside so we could set up (we also had the saddest situation EVER when we had to ask the neighborhood kids to stay out of the compound… literally we all felt terrible but knew we had to be intentional about our time there with the girls).  Then Jake and Jared escorted each girl in one by one… it was absolutely precious (as in, made me cry precious) as they each walked in.  Reminded me of prom or a wedding how much the girls felt SO special.  We had all of the girls in the bigger room at the home and had them sit in a circle… Three of us washed each of their feet and had a pedicure (kinda) for each of them.  We washed their feet with a puma stone and put lotion on them to make them super clean and smell good and soft J  Then a few of the girls went around to each of them and PAINTED THEIR TOENAILS!!! They ABSOLUTELY loved every second of it.  It was soooo wonderful.  We served them sodas (a treat for sure) and fresh fruit (best pineapple in the whole world) and just loved on them all night long.

Melissa and Kristen really have a passion for the girls and really had it on their hearts to love on them in intentional ways… they spent a lot of time in prayer over tonight and introduced what we were doing, as well as spoke to all of the girls after we were finished and affirmed that God loves them and that they are SO beautiful!  Kristen made them repeat back that “I am loved and I am beautiful!” It was precious and such a blessing from God.

We have had such an amazing day and I am ABSOLUTELY positive that God is continuing to work through us.  Please continue to pray that we use our time here to bless the people of Uganda and to be lead towards His Spirit more than anything else.  We are continuing to learn SO much and meet new challenges… Thankful to God that we are here, and thankful to God for you and your friendships and prayers.

This post is also on our Uganda Blog! There are photos on the other blog HERE! :)

Happy Tuesday to all :)

ps... only FOUR MONTHS UNTIL I MARRY ANDREW SMITH!!!!!!! I can't stinking wait!!!!! :) :) :) I love telling the girls at Mengo about him and love how much they giggle and squeal :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I think my brain/heart/mind/soul is on a learning and experiencing OVERLOAD.

I know God is working and I am so confident that our team is right where we need to be. I know that God is COMPLETELY blessing us with health and protection from the enemy, and I can't wait to continue learning from Him and see how He is molding us and shaping us over the next 7 days.

We went to the ranch, American Hospitality Institute, this weekend (Thursday-Saturday) and had some great conversations and experiences.  We were also able to do a project there and mud one of the school houses for the local village near the ranch.  It felt so good to sweat and see a tangible victory at the end of the day.  Our team worked so wonderfully together and really has been figuring out how to bless the people we are coming in contact with.  I love seeing their hearts and passions for this place and seeing them embrace every opportunity!

Today, Sunday, we are going to church with Douglas (our amazingly sweet bus driver and wonderful friend) and he has invited us to his home for lunch with his family.  When we offered to buy lunch at his home, he asked that we "don't take the blessing away from him."  I wish I was that generous and hospitable in America. I wish that EVERY time I had the opportunity to bless someone even just in a small way, that I wouldn't ever take those moments for granted.

GOD is continuing to break us and fill us up again.  He is a Faithful GOD and I continue to pray that He is our focus here so that only HIS love is overflowing from our hearts and mouths.

Happy Sunday morning from Uganda... and Happy Sleeping in America :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Call to me and I will answer you.

:) Uganda Update

What an amazing first 5 (6?) days we have had… I had no idea and couldn’t have had anyone describe what this place is like.  Yes, a lot of the atmosphere and surroundings reminds me of past missions, but the culture is like none other.

Jetlag and time changes are something I still don’t really understand.  It blows my mind that we (in my head) travelled against time on an airplane and when we arrived in another country, we had somehow lost 8 hours of our lives.  It’s cuhrazy for me to think about people still being at work when we are sound asleep.  I know that it’s super normal, but I’ve just never been so far away.

The kids are amazing.  They want to love you and know you and they are so kind and generous and gracious.  The language barrier is interesting, but not that terrible at all!  It’s funny, I always have needed to speak Spanish normally so I keep wanting to say “Como?” or “Si” over and over haha

I feel like my brain is literally growing.  Learning things I didn’t know were even out there to learn… learning culture and confidence and patience like never before.  Learning to communicate and relate in ways that aren’t really even possible.  These stories… these circumstances… I didn’t even know and still can’t understand.

My sweet and wonderful friends wrote me a note for everyday to open (so did my sweet love Andrew) and I looooooove opening them everyday. It’s always exactly what I need to hear. Today, Jennifer (the other queen of the tower) wrote me the most encouraging and affirming note (yes, tears ran down my face as I read it) and quoted Jeremiah 33:3

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know.”

He’s continuing to teach us… Forming us and positioning us to exactly where He wants to use us.  He’s placing us and speaking to each of us in such wonderful ways.  What an indescribable blessing and gift.

Day by day learning new things…

Wednesday (travel day):  There are sooooo many people in the world… with SOOOOO many different stories and paths.

Thursday (travel day that somehow we lost in the air or something): God can use you on an airplane…. In ways that He may have never used you before.

Friday: (morning)- Jetlag is weird. (evening)- Worship looks different across the world, but our King is on the SAME throne being glorified. Crazy awesome.

Saturday: Meeting new people is maybe awkward and split at first, but can quickly turn into great testimony in the Kingdom.

Sunday:  New friends (Douglas) can lead you into places that open your eyes wider and the people that feel most blessed, are looked at as the blessing.

Monday:  Being free and playful (aka: doing the Robot, attempting to break dance, and arm-wrestling) is WAY more fun than standing on the sidelines.

Happy Day to all.  Keep the prayers coming.  We feel the covering of God from it and appreciate your love so much.

Also, check out other updates from the team here!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

new beginnings.

It's May 7... Which means (drumroll please) that the graduates have walked and that (more importantly maybe) chapel probation has ENDED and grades are ADDED and the summer is HERE!!!... Wow. I can hardly even believe how freakishly fast this year has gone by. I feel like it should be like the 8th week of Fall semester... CRAZY!

One of my favorite (absolutely totally favorite awesome) parts of my job is that we get to look ahead during the summer to our next year and take the opportunity to really ask God what He is wanting us to share with our students.

We get to start over.

Clean slate.

No limits on our dreams of teaching or vision or sharing what God is calling us to do.  It's one of my favorite times of the year when we wipe the board clean and start again!

We ask hard questions and challenge each other.  We push back when an idea is hard to swallow.  We ask humbly and boldly for God to speak to us and scream at us where He wants us to go next.

It's fun... and it's hard.  I feel defeated when we don't have the right answers.  I feel useless when I don't have a great idea or the perfect thing to say or do.  I feel disconnected from God when I don't have an exact clear vision for what He wants just from me, much less campus ministry or chapel in general!...

and then... Andrew and I went to Ethos yesterday... Sometimes I sit there and listen and I feel so broken.  Broken though in a convicting and challenging and encouraging way though (if that's even possible)... Dave spoke from James 1 and about actually knowing Jesus and loving Jesus and having a relationship with Him.  It was encouraging to not be worried about knowing the answers or having the best ideas.  Just wanting to KNOW Him and to LOVE HIM!!!

It was so challenging and encouraging... I don't want to just talk about Jesus. I don't want to blog about Him or talk to Andrew about Him and not FOLLOW Him.  I want to KNOW Jesus.  I want to depend on God with everything in me.  Grace is pretty amazing though... just like a new year and new challenges and new opportunities... It's a new day to know Him.  A new day to seek Him and a new day to LIVE His words.

Thankful for a new day and new beginnings.

Happy Monday (2 days before we leave for Uganda.  Please pray for our trip and our hearts to SOLELY beat for God and to do HIS work) :)