Saturday, February 6, 2016

Palm trees and sunsets

Sometimes when things are so tough around here, like they have been these last two weeks, it is difficult to see the good in the days.  Every thing passes by in a blur as we struggle to just stay afloat in the madness.   I switch to autopilot to get done what needs to get done and I don’t pay attention to much else.

Last week, a boy from the street was beaten so severly.  When I found him, they were refusing to let anyone move him or take him to the hospital.   After arguing and insisting, I was finally able to get him taken to the hospital.  That was Monday night.  He had to be moved to the national hospital because his injuries were so serious.  The hospital has some amazing doctors, but because it is the free hospital where everyone goes, it is incredibly understaffed, and lacking resources.  He wasn’t worked on until Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning when I got to the hospital, I was certain that he was going to die.  I begged the nurses to help, but there was nothing they could do.  He was having seizures and was unconscious.  It was the longest day.  A doctor finally came and if she would have came any later, I think the story would have ended much differently.  She got the seizures stopped.  He came back to and we were able to get a CT scan.  However, he was really confused and still losing a lot of blood.  Everything was a struggle to get him treatment.  He had to be held down for every shot, test, blood draw.  The stitches in his head were the worst.  It took 5 people to hold him still enough for the doctor to stitch up the wound that was at least what seemed like an inch deep and 3 inches in diameter.  It was an exhausting day, both physically and emotionally.  

After around 13 hours, he was stable enough and I finally left the hospital.  My mind was all over the place.  Wondering how someone could inflict such pain on another, wondering if he was going to make it and if he did what would his condition be, would he really be the same boy we knew.  So many thoughts were wandering through my mind.  

When things were so bad in the morning, and no one was helping, I felt so helpless.  Literally, all I could do was pray continuously and beg God not to take him from us.  I begged for a miracle.  Where I started the day in a panic and terrified, soon this strange calmness came over me and I just knew everything was going to be fine.  On my way home, all of the things that were distracting me and consuming me, made it difficult to pay much attention to anything.

But then.

All of a sudden I looked to my left and saw a cluster of palm trees and the sun was setting so perfectly behind them.  I am sure I have seen the same thing 1000s of times and never paid any attention.  But that day.  The beauty of it struck me to my core.  It consumed me.  At that moment, that quickly fleeting moment, everything fell away except the perfection of the scene and I realized that people dream of living in a place where they can see the same sunset and palm trees that I see every day.  And I felt peace.  I felt hope.  I felt how beautiful and perfect this life is if only I look.  

I keep having these moments, where I feel complete serenity despite life falling apart around me.  They come in a smile or a look, or seeing a boy playing football with the neighbor kids, or the house full of laughter.  I use to take those things for granted.  Didn’t see the beauty in them, but now God uses those moments to speak to my heart and tell me He has got me and I shouldn’t fear.  It is those moments, where I feel like life is perfect, that make me to keep pushing forward.  They encourage me that it is all worth it.  They are always there.  They were always there.  I don’t know what has made the change that I can see them more clearly now.  But because I do, I no longer feel like I am drowning.  I encourage you to see the small moments, those that are ever so brief and can pass in the blink of an eye even go undetected and unnoticed,  but that God is using to encourage you. They are life giving.  Life changing.  Life sustaining.

Be blessed friends.

PS.  The boy is doing so much better.  He is at home and can move on his own and do lots of things for himself.  He still isn't 100%, but he is getting there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Whose side are you on?

My heart is so heavy today.


Maybe already broken.  

The more I fall in love with these kids, the more their truths come out.  It is so difficult to see the choices that they have made.  Make.  Not because they don’t know what is right, but because this world has removed them to the margins, so they stopped trying to fit in, to be a part.

They are so full of hurt.  Deep wounds, that words can’t even begin to heal.  Scars that may never go away.  Their world is so upside down.  A little bubble.  And the more I am included, the more I weep and mourn.  For their hearts.  For their souls.

They have been so wounded, they think nothing matters and live so recklessesly.  But one day, they will grow up and regret their choices.  They will feel the full weight of everything that passed, and there will be no take-backs or do-overs.  And unless they find a way to cope, they will drown in the sorrow that they created for themselves.

I think that is why these cycles, continue, over and over.  Generation after generation.

But who is to blame?  Our choices are ours.  And ours alone.  But is it really so simple?

Over the last 5 years, I have watched things change.  Boys become harder.  Tougher.  And I don’t think it is their fault.  It was a matter of survival.  They have watched too many friends die.  And unless they wanted the same fate, they had to become different.

Boys used to collect scrap.  They worked.  Hard.  More than any one I knew.  But then people started burning boys alive when they found them looking for scrap.  Are the boys supposed to starve?  Are they supposed to go back to families that don’t love them and beat them mercilessly?

Of course not.  

So they adapted.  They stopped caring.  How many people can you lose before you choose to turn everything off?  And because they learned so quickly how dispensable their life was, everything lost value.  They learned those that get them hooked on drugs walk freely, while they get arrested for taking them.  They see how those that beat them and kill them parade around, but they are burned alive for taking a saucepan or a phone.  They experienced being used so others could make money or for entertainment, so they quickly learned how to use others.

How can they be expected to make the right choice?  The choice that I would make?

Today I was faced with a hard truth.  One that can challenge your love for someone.  And I had to wonder if I could still love him the same.  

Is it possible to know the worst about someone, and love them anyway?

I thought, and I know it is.  It is absolutely is.  I didn’t feel anger or outrage, I just felt overwhelming sorrow.  My heart weeps.  For him.  For all of them.  For all of the ways this world has broken them.

Because it has.  And we need to take responsibility for it. 

Even if you aren’t actively beating him, or devaluing him, are you doing anything to make his life better?  

Or any of the millions around the world that are suffering in complete and utter despair?

Your silence is killing them also.  It is showing them that they don’t deserve a voice.  They don’t deserve love.  Or to be safe.  Or to have their basic needs met.   They have seen the rest of the world with plenty.  Meanwhile, they either have to eat from trash piles or risk their life to get a meal.  

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  Elie Wiesel

Whose side will you be on?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Greatest Reward

I want to tell you a story about these kids and why I love them more than anything.   It isn’t that I don’t see what others see.  I see it, but I also have the rare gift of seeing their hearts.  Seeing who they really are.  When we went to the beach on Christmas, the boys were scattered all over the beach, swimming, dancing, and walking around seeing the different statues and old airplanes.  I was seated on a bench and they would periodically come and check on me and sit and chat.  

One boy, Arthur, was sitting with me almost the whole time.  As the day went on and turned to evening, the beach got even more crowded.  There were a lot of people around where I was sitting, including 3 guys that were being super weird.  They kept coming around, seeing what I was doing and trying to see what I had.  I think they thought that I was alone. Little did they know, I was with a small, but fierce army.  The guys disappeared, but they passed when some of the boys came back to check on me.  I mentioned that they were being super weird, and the boys noticed that they wanted to steal.  So 2 boys sat with me, while another went to tell other boys.  Soon, like 10 boys came, crazy annoyed, asking who was trying to steal from me.  The one sat by my side, holding my hand, while they all assured me I was fine.  

The guys got scared away, and I was fine.  Others came and asked if I was fine and felt comfortable.  Others refused to leave my side until we left.  The way we walked back to the taxi, I have never felt more safe.  I always feel safe when I am with them. They know I would do anything for them, and I know they would do anything for me.

The crazy thing was, when we entered the beach, the man at the entrance was slightly concerned.  He happily welcomed us, but tried to gently say, “I’m sorry to say, but your kids look like they are from the street.  Please caution them on how to behave, because our security is really tight and they will be arrested if they don’t follow the rules.”  I assured him that they are well behaved and he would have no problems from us.  Sure enough, he didn’t.  But almost he did, because they were doing the right thing.  It wasn’t just me that the other guys were trying to steal from, but also another man sitting a few benches in front of me.  

I could go on and on with stories of how these kids protect me.  On Saturday in the slums, a drunk man was trying to disturb me.  A boy quickly told him to leave me alone.  It is crazy how love changes people.  Just that same day, I was told that I was a liar and God sees me as a liar because I vouched for a boy saying there is no way that he could steal.  

I don’t know how I got so lucky to deserve these boys’ affections, but it is definitely the greatest reward of this life.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Traditions

Uganda is a Christian country.  While there is a large Muslim population, the majority of people identify as being Christian.  There are a lot of different denominations, but most would say they are born-again Christians.  Most people find themselves in church on Sundays, but unfortunately the gospel that is preached in most local churches is incredibly false and misleading. There are pastors that perform fake miracles and swindle people out of millions of shillings promising them that God will give them double what they give the church.  Meanwhile, people that already have nothing are giving everything  and remaining with barely enough to eat and the pastors are driving convoys of Range Rovers and vacationing all over the world.

We live right next door to a church.  We are awoken, quite frequently, by their loud prayers and singing, and kept awake at night by their pleas and shouts to God.  But one of the biggest problems I see, and not just in Uganda but the church in general, is church stops at noon on Sundays and doesn't resume until 8am on Sunday mornings.  On more than one occasion, those very people in the church have insulted the boys as soon as they walked out of the door.  The one time I visited the church, at the urging of the neighbor boy, I left before service was over because I couldn’t manage another minute of it.  As I was walking out they asked for my tithe and told me I shouldn’t leave before giving them my money.  And that isn’t the first time that has happened.

Anyway, I could write volumes on what is wrong with the majority of churches here, but the point was to give a bit of background.  Giving back and service to others is not a part of most churches’ gospel here.  But I am trying to teach the boys that service to others is important.  It is a critical part of faith.  Showing Jesus first is the only way that some are ever able to believe that He is real.  Everyone has something to give, and it doesn’t have to be things, even time is important.  So we have a Christmas morning tradition of getting bread and juice and taking it to the slums to serve the boys on the streets.  This was our third year doing it.  The boys at home get so excited.  I love their hearts.

But this year, I think we started a new Christmas tradition.  It was a bit of a miracle.  Some boys from the street asked if they could spend Christmas with us.  I said of course.  I thought it would be about 10.   Then about 30.  I think around 50 ended up showing up.  I was sure that we would run out of food.  But I said a quick prayer and thought if Jesus could multiply the fish, He’s got this under control.  Sure enough, there was more than enough food.  Everyone ate until they were ready to explode and there was even some left over.  The boys that didn’t go to the slums in the morning stayed behind and cooked and cleaned the house.  They served their friends first and ate last.  We had a wonderful time.  We talked about Jesus and how amazing it was that He came to save us.  We ended the day at the beach, and everyone had a great time.  My heart was so full and happy that day.  Not only did the boys hear about Jesus that day, but they saw Him too.  Just as it should be.

The most heartbreaking part of the day was dropping the boys back off in the slum knowing that they would be sleeping outside.  Many of them shared their hearts with me that day.  Some want to be resettled with their families, one wants help with his music, some want school.  Can you keep them all in your prayers and that in the new year, their hearts’ desires will become a reality?  And if by chance you want to help us make their dreams come true, email Amanda at

Wishing you all a happy and blessed new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Thank you for teaching people that I love so much that they don’t matter, that their lives in fact are less valuable than that of an attempted murderer and woman-beater.  

Thank you for showing them that justice is never on their side, because of the sins of their fathers.  

Thank you for robbing them of their last bit of hope, the last sliver of good that they could see in the world.

Thank you for showing how easily everything can be bought and sold.  

Thank you for reminding them that they aren’t wanted, and therefore anything can be done to them because who cares about unwanted things?  Do people get upset when trash is burned?  Of course not.  

Thank you for fitting into and personifying every stereotype of your culture.  Maybe they really aren’t stereotypes, but visible cultural characteristics?

I wonder what your children think of you.  I wonder how you look into their eyes, and encourage them to dream and believe that the world is good, when you make the opposite to be true.  I wonder how you can be a father, and look the other way.

Thank you for teaching me that all children are “ours” unless they are on the street, then they are no ones.  

Thank you for teaching me that the worst thing to be in this world is a child on the street.  It is worse than being a murderer, a liar, corrupt, etc.  They steal to eat.  What about you?  They drink and smoke to forget the horrible things done to them.  What about you?

But for all of the lessons that you tried to teach me in those few minutes, seconds actually, I know something completely different to be true.  Maybe you will never learn the lessons that I want, but that doesn’t mean that I will give up teaching.

Because they do matter.  More than you can imagine.  They are my world.  And they are Someone Else’s universe.

Justice will be theirs.  The last will be the first one day.

We have a hope that can never be taken away and I am teaching them about the One that is hope.  Even though you are shouting, He whispers gently and they hear.

I know this is only temporary.  What is good and right cannot be bought and sold.  And even if it was for this moment, I know Good will always win in the end.  

They are wanted.  And even though others are trying to show them differently, I think my love speaks louder than your hate.  Love heals everything.  Love wins.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Even if they are characteristics, there is a generation coming that is tired of the old and wants new.  They believe in love and goodness and treating everyone fairly.  They believe in justice.  And my heart breaks for the children that aren't being raised in such an environment.  Those that are have their work cut out for them.  

But again, Love always wins.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Its probably been a little over a month since he came home.  It wasn’t supposed to be permanent, but he just showed up one day running from something.  He knew he would find safety at the house.  That we would protect him.  Just the week before, he was so sick with malaria.  He could hardly walk.  We took him to the hospital, got him treatment, and he went to stay with a friend until he recovered.  Being so sick and vulnerable, I think that was the day that my heart broke for him, and he stole it.

He’s getting older, but there is something still childlike inside of him.  Maybe a piece of innocence left.  Maybe it is just because he so desperately wants to be loved, to have a mom, that in front of me he becomes a child, not a young man ready to start life on his own.  

He stayed at the house for a few days and said he wanted to go home.  We were so happy.  It is a great day when a boy decides to go back to his village.  We believe in family and that children should have families.  When it becomes possible for them to go back, we rejoice.  So we made the plans and said our goodbyes.  My heart was torn that day, like it is so many days.  Happy to know he was returning to where he belonged, but sad for the ache that would be left behind by missing him.  Just in those few days, I loved that kid more than anything.  He completely stole my heart.  

I had a busy day that day and just figured that he was happy and at home, his family over the moon excited to have him back.  I guessed if I felt so much sadness over missing him and it had only been a week, surely after 6 years they would feel equally as much joy over having him home.  I got home that evening to find him back at the house.  He was curled up in bed.  Heartbroken.  

I could tell you the excuses as to why he couldn’t stay.  Why they didn’t want him.  But do they really matter?  Are any of them justified?  In one week, this boy added so much joy to my life, I couldn’t imagine sending him away or telling him I didn’t want him.  

My heart broke for him that day.  We just sat together.  There weren’t words to make anything better, or heal the wounds that were cut deeper that day.  So we just sat.  Eventually he fell asleep.  Hopefully knowing that he was wanted by me.

These boys’ wounds are deep.  They have a million visible scars that each tell a story of the harsh life they live.  But they have a million more, that no one can see.  I hope that you will join with us in prayer for the ones that no one can see.  That they would heal.  That they would know they are deeply loved and cherished.  That they are worth more than this world has told them they are.  That they would know they are wanted.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Prayer requests for women

Prayer requests for the women:

Rose Kirungi:  

  • Her son, Daniel, just sat for his Senior 6 exams.  They are the last exam to pass high school.  Pray that he passed them well.  He was also having some stomach issues and wasn’t feeling so great so pray for his health.
  • Her mom is still sick.  She spends most of her time caring for her mom.  This makes it difficult to work, as her mom can’t be left alone.  Pray for healing for her mom.
  • Pray for God to continue to provide all of her family’s needs:  rent, food, school fees, etc.
  • She is also dreaming to buy a plot of land and build a small house for her family so they can move out of the slums.  Pray that she would be able to do so.
  • Rose also asks for prayers for their group so that they can continue to work together and make jewelry and for the market for the jewelry to expand.


  • Joy is still sick and having lots of health issues since an accident about a year ago.  Pray for her health and healing, and that God would continue to provide for all of her family’s needs.
  • Joy is wanting to start a small business to better care for her family.  She is asking for prayers to find the capital to start and for a successful business.
  • She also asks for prayers for the women as they are making the jewelry and for the market to expand.


  • Jolly asks for prayers for her family and her life.  That they would be in a good life, with all of their needs met and to be able to continue to send her children to school so their lives will improve.
  • She asks for prayers for her children to be successful in their studies and continue to have a desire to learn and go to school.
  • Her grandmother is not feeling well and she asks for prayers for her health and healing.


  • Beatrice asks for prayers for her family, for safety, health, provision, and overall well being.
  • She also asks for prayers for God to continue to provide school fees for her 3 children so they can continue with their education.
  • Her mom is not feeling well and she asks for prayers for health and healing for her mom.  Her mom has been sick for a while and the doctors are having a difficult time treating her.  She goes to the national hospital where the lines are long, but care is free.  Also pray for the doctors that treat her.
  • Beatrice has problems with her eyes and her vision.  They are bothering her more recently.  She asks for prayers for them.
  • She would love for her business to expand.  Please pray for a more successful business for her.
  • She is wanting to complete building her home.  She asks for prayers in completing it.


  • Jennifer asks for prayers in completing the building for her house.  She wants to be able to move her family out of the slum.
  • Next year her second born child should be joining a course to gain a skill that will lead to employment.  She asks for prayers as she joins and provision to pay the course fees.
  • She lost the job that she had, as they no longer needed her, so she is asking for prayers as she seeks new employment.
  • She asks for her youngest daughter to perform well in school and continue to have the desire for studying and for her to focus.
  • Her daughters, Mary and Jennifer, are still having health issues and she asks for prayers for their health and healing.

PS.  If you want a simple way to help the women, consider hosting a jewelry party or joining the monthly jewelry club.  Follow the links for more info or send us an email at with any questions.  In addition, if you know a store that would love to carry our jewelry line, please let us know!  We are looking for a few retailers to carry the jewelry, either wholesale or consignment.