Thursday, June 30, 2011


In my perfect world, every child would have a home with a family that loves and cares for him.  Working with kids where this isn't always a possibility really breaks me sometimes.  I know the boys I work with and think they are amazing and sometimes I don't really understand why their families never saw it.  One boy in particular, Dan, is by far one of the most amazing.  He got close to us when he was sick with malaria.  It is funny how God will use an illness to bring the kids close.  If Dan was never sick, he could still be one of the boys I just kind of know.  Instead, he is a boy I absolutely adore and his laugh is so cute and makes me laugh.  He is eternally happy and always smiling.  I love to joke around with him and he just dies if I tickle him.

Last week when I was helping at another program, I was reading through the files that they have on the boys.  When I came to his, I was shocked at what I read.  He said that he had taken some money from his mom and she found out.  He was afraid, so he ran.  He was never beaten, neglected, nothing.  He also said that he missed his family and wanted to go home but again was afraid.  After asking an uncle to follow up with him to see if the story was true, we discovered it was.  It was decided he would make the journey home on Saturday with an uncle.

I have only been involved with one other resettlement and it was an epic failure, by far one of the worst experiences of my life and even worse for the boy.  To say I am nervous for Dan is an understatement.  Any number of things could happen, and they may not be good.  If Dan was my child I would be missing him like crazy and happily welcome him home.  I am praying that is how it goes...

I am happy Dan is going home because every child belongs with their family provided that it is a safe place.  However, it is bittersweet because he is an amazing kid, I love him, and I am going to miss him.  When he leaves, I probably will never see him again.  I can't go visit and hopefully he will never be back on the streets again.  Kids come and go on the street.  Sometimes we have very little time with them.  They leave for various reasons (go back home, go to a different area, get mad and stop coming, etc.)  and I have never felt so sad over any other kid.  I don't know why it is different with him, but it is.  Maybe because I was getting to the point where it absolutely broke my heart to leave him everyday and was wondering where I could put him.  I guess I just never thought the solution would be so far away...

 Yesterday, when I saw him he was unusually quiet.  He was working on making a necklace and didn't really say much.  He said he was fine so I left him alone until he wanted to tell me what was wrong.  A while later he came with a beautiful necklace and put it on me.  I melted...

Please pray for Dan and his family.  Please pray that the uncle finds the family in good spirits and happy to have Dan home.  Please pray that Dan never has to return to the streets.

**If you are interested in supporting me and my mission/work here (everything helps!) you can give online at and all donations are tax-deductible, just go to the support tab and preference my ministry.

Friday, June 24, 2011

God is good

About 5 months ago, I dropped my wallet when getting out of a taxi.  It caused so many headaches and phone calls to Chase.  I was continually frustrated because I could not get a bank card and it was causing such difficulties trying to get money; people had to wire, I had to transfer, it was a mess.  Finally, about a month ago, I got my bank card.

When I take a boda from the house, 8 out of 10 times, I take the same guy.  He is nice, knows all the places I want to go, and doesn't over charge me so much.  Yesterday, when I got off a boda at my street and was walking towards the house, my normal boda driver walked up to me.  He asked me if I lost my documents. I was so shocked and told him yeah but it was a really long time ago.  He was surprised by that also.  He pulled out of his pocket my driver's license and bank card.  He told me he had found them while driving.  5 months later, my stuff shows up.  Incredible...

After the initial annoyance that this is my life right now (I had just gotten back from fighting to shut a door that absolutely refused at the women's program and was super annoyed.) I realized how amazing it really was.  Where my things were for the last 5 months, I don't know, but they are safe now.

God continues to amaze and surprise me here.  Things I thought were impossible, He has done.  The other day, I was telling a friend I hadn't talked to in a while all the ways God is working here.  It is pretty amazing.

Last night I visited the same house I do every Thursday.  I arrived late and found the boys already in devotions, leading themselves.  They continue to amaze me.  Sometimes it is easy to think that the kids just pray or read the Bible because we are around, but it is totally not the case with these kids.  They really believe and really worship, without being forced or supervised.

I told my friend about Ronald.  How he has started to come to the programs and he even let me treat his wound the other day.  It was a big scratch but it definitely didn't require serious attention.  He came over and sat and waited for me to treat it and even said thank you.  He is an amazing kid and I am so happy he is coming closer.  God heard my prayers to bring him close and he answered them.  An uncle told me that he has been on the streets a long time and works so hard because he refuses to steal.  Ronald is always working and that was why he usually didn't come to programs.  But now he is around and I know great things are going to happen.

Yesterday the church partnered with another organization and came and did HIV testing.  I was really afraid for some of the boys but all the boys tested (most got tested but some are afraid of needles and refused and some weren't around) were negative...including mine :-).

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

**If you are interested in supporting me and my mission/work here (everything helps!) you can give online at and all donations are tax-deductible, just go to the support tab and preference my ministry.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another year..

Yesterday I was blessed enough to celebrate another birthday.  As I get older, I wonder where the time went and how I ended up where I am...

When I was a kid, I always had big dreams.  Ever since I can remember, I said I was going to be a doctor.  Since the thought of blood and guts grosses me out, that left me with a PhD.  I was going to be a professor and write books or something...not really sure, but I knew I would get it.  For the past 2 falls, I had planned on applying to programs and I even started last year.  Then I came to Africa...

I had every intention of studying during this year to take the GRE, but it never happened.  I don't know why, I have the time..sort of, but I haven't picked up a book once.

Friday as I was riding on a boda, I wondered what I was doing, how I ended up in Africa.  That was never part of the plan...and I HAD plans.  So during my ride, I thought of all the things I always thought I would do by now, but haven't.  The list was kind of long, with the PhD only the beginning.  Of course kids, a good job, marriage, nice house, all the typical stuff was also on the list.  I was quickly snapped back to reality by the boda ride and forgot about my list and went about my day.

Yesterday, I took my kids to the zoo with a friend.  When I say my kids, I mean the 3 boys that I put in school and stay at another home.  I love them so dearly, that I would do anything for them and I might as well have given birth to them because I can't imagine loving anyone more than I love them.  It was exactly what I needed, a relaxing day away from the city, the noise, the chaos.  The zoo is right on Lake Victoria, so after we walked through the zoo, the kids went to the beach while I sat at the restaurant on the terrace.  While I was sitting there, admiring the beauty of Uganda and talking about the kids, I realized how my list is out the window.  My priorities are so different anymore and realize somethings may never happen.  However, some of the things I already have, maybe not in the conventional sense but I have...

I have 3 children that totally depend on me and some days even call me mom.  I love them so incredibly much, I can no longer imagine my life without them.  They are perfect angels in my eyes and see the best in them.  I have 40 or so other kids that I love so much also. I worry about them constantly and if they are safe or who is hurting them and freak out if I don't see them everyday.  I live with 16 boys that depend on me to help care for them and show them right from wrong.  I have so many kids, many more than I could've ever hoped for.

Also, I do have a good job.  Not by the definition I used to have, as in one that pays a lot of money.  But it is the only job I have ever had that I never felt like I was working.  I wake up everyday ready to go, ready to see the kids, ready to run all over the city for them, ready to fight for them, ready to be abused by others that don't feel compassion for them, ready to do whatever is necessary for them.  It is good because I love the kids and they make it easy but more importantly, because I am doing something good with my life.  I am loving kids that others have deemed unlovable.  I am showing kids that others don't even want to touch because they are dirty or smelly, the redeeming love of Jesus.  I am giving hope to kids that didn't have any.  And I am giving them a safe place, even if only for a few hours every day, where they can be kids and not have to fear being beaten or arrested or abused because they are on the streets.

No I don't have a "nice house" but the house I live in is full of hope, love, faith, forgiveness, and compassion.  It may not be a mansion, but lives are changing.  Doctors, pastors, pilots, business men are being formed.  The kids that will grow up into the leaders of Uganda are being created with sound Christian values, knowledge of right and wrong, and compassion for those in need.  They will be the ones to make a difference in the future.  To me, that sounds better than a nice house, it sounds like a best house.

I don't know about anyone else, but I like my new version of the list much better than the old.  I have more than I could've ever hoped for.

**If you are interested in supporting me and my mission/work here (everything helps!) you can give online at and all donations are tax-deductible, just go to the support tab and preference my ministry

This was moments after he asked for money for a life jacket to go swimming and I told him under no circumstances was he to get in the boat with the stranger he had been talking to.

John watching Ibra boat away.
Me and Dan at the football game.  He is one of my favorites on the street.

Peter and Bashir, two of the older boys that live in the house where I live.
Some of the boys from the street program.  Ronald is in the blue on the left, Alvin in the green, Mathew in jean jacket, and Chicomeko is behind.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 6

Today made the whole week worth it but it didn't start out that way....

I woke up to Gina cooking food with the boys.  I was a little bitter and annoyed by this seeing as how I wasn't going to get to eat.  So I decided to stay in my room most of the morning.  As if that was tempting enough, I got home from taking Richard to the hospital(He is fine, just has ear infection) and lunch was waiting on the table.  I was really ready to give in.  It is amazing how much you think about food when you can't eat.

We went to the market afterwards and you would have thought I was buying food for 50 people, not 15.  Gina just kept looking at me funny as I was taking more and more vegetables.  My stomach was doing the shopping...

We decided to visit one of the uncles and cook for him and the boys he stays with.  We bought spaghetti which is a huge treat for the boys.  What was supposed to be a simple evening hanging out, turned into one of the best nights I have had in Uganda.  The uncle has about 7/8 other boys staying with him these days.  In addition to the 3 that were already there.  When we got to his house everyone was around and ready to help.  Soon other boys from the program started showing up.  His door is always open and the boys from the street will come by to visit, say hello, take a nap, etc.  We ended up with around 20 people in all.  Me, Gina, 3 uncles, 2 of my boys, and 12 others.  Dinner became a group project and everyone did something from washing vegetables, chopping, cooking.  We had so much fun cooking.  The kids love to help and it isn't something that they get to experience too often.  We had so much food (thanks to my hungry stomach ;-) and all of the boys had more than enough.  As we were listening to the uncle share from the Bible after dinner, the boys got the super special treat of tea also.

Dan was there, which made me super happy.  He is absolutely adorable to me and each day I am loving him even more.  He used to be a quiet kid that wouldn't get too close.  But these days, he has started hanging around more and more.  We now play around by saying the same thing over and over to each other.  I will greet him over and over and eventually it will just leave us laughing.

One of the best things of the night was the boys' gratitude.  Besides each boy saying thank you like 5 times, several got up in front of everyone to say thank you.  The boys are so humble and so grateful for the smallest things, it makes me want to give them the moon.  One boy, Peter, told us thank you because they are going to sleep with full stomachs tonight and that doesn't happen very much.

Again my hope was restored tonight.  When it was time to pray, each kid prayed and for some it was obvious that they were praying with all of their hearts.  They believe in the God that I love and worship and believe that He will deliver them from their situation.  Seeing them with hope, gives me so much more....

God bless!! :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 4

Today was the hardest day so far.  All I could think about was food.  Everyone seemed to be eating, except me.  I thought 7pm was never going to arrive.  In the afternoon, I needed to go home before I went to the street program but was afraid because I seriously felt like if I saw food I was going to lose it and just eat everything.

Needless to say, I kept it together and made it through the day.  Being hungry has made me think about so many food related issues.  For one, in the afternoon I was so hungry and was getting really grumpy.  Made me think, how many of these kids are just moody and grumpy because they are hungry?  Probably a lot of them.  Some days I feel like some of the boys are ticking time bombs, ready to explode at any second over nothing.  And it is always before we eat.  Food has a huge impact on your mood and I never considered it before.

Ok so it was just one food issue.  :-)  but I thought about food so much today, it felt like much more...

Today was a great time with the boys.  I took the boys from the home where I stay, my 3 boys, an uncle and all of the boys from his house, 2 of another aunt's, and about 4 other boys that stay with my 3.  We were close to 40 in all.  The highlight of swimming was Bwanika and his dog.  Bwanika is staying with another aunt and has a dog that follows him everywhere.  The dog is still on the streets so when the dog sees him, he is so happy.  As I was at the main entrance of the swimming pool, counting the boys, the dog runs past me.  I was SO positive they were going to scream at us and kick the dog out, but they didn't.  So it was 40 of us and a dog.  The boys all jumped in the pool and the dog was running around the pool wherever his friends were swimming.  It was the cutest thing ever.  Towards the end, this man came and was disturbing me and the other aunt and the dog came up to us.  The man freaked out and the other aunt said to him, "Oh, he's fine.  He's ours."  To which the man responded, "He's vaccinated?"  We just had to laugh and then she tells him, "No, he's a street dog."  The man was so unhappy and disturbed by that that he left very shortly after.
Alfonde, the dog that follows everywhere and went swimming



The other highlight of my day, was Ronald again.  All of the boys know that if I am around they cannot be mean to the dogs(there are many street dogs/puppies around).  I will get up and chase them and do to them whatever they did to the dog.  Sometimes this backfires on me because they will bother the dogs just to bother me or they think it is funny.  Today one of the boys, Junior, was bothering a dog named Police.  She is always around and the kids will feed her.  He kept bothering her, pouring water on her, pushing her, etc. and I kept telling him to stop.  Then he kicked her and I got up.  Ronald was standing by and another boy picked Junior up and brought him over to Ronald at his request.  Ronald then started yelling at Junior for kicking Police.  Not sure what all was said but the message was definitely delivered.  As I was leaving later, I walked by Ronald and told him I would see him tomorrow and he didn't seem to care but then said, "Tomorrow?  Ok."  We are making progress...

On to day 5...

**If you are interested in supporting me and my mission/work here (everything helps!) you can give online at and all donations are tax-deductible, just go to the support tab and preference my ministry

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 3-Brian

Today was day 3.  At one point during the day, I thought I wasn't going to make it...but I did.  Today was actually the first day that after finally eating, my stomach didn't hurt so bad.  The past 2 days, after I ate my stomach was very unhappy, which you think it wouldn't be.

The absolutely amazing thing of today was a boy named Brian.  Normally, he is a bundle of anger ALL the time.  If you talk to him, he acts like you are not and will rarely respond.  If he does, it is a mumble.  He is always dirty and refuses to bathe or let us cut his hair.  I have never really seen him hanging out with any of the other boys.  He had a dog that it was obvious he loved and it followed him everywhere, but it died.  So now it is just him.  

Today I was walking back from the soccer field and I looked behind me and there was Brian.  I greeted him and he actually answered.  AND THEN he even asked me how I was!  As if that wasn't shocking enough, after I asked him if he was playing soccer, he grabbed my hand and held it as we were walking.  NEVER in a million, qazillion years did I ever expect that to happen.  I think I almost fell over.  He held my hand all the way back to the church and then went to sit down.  When I told the other aunt what happened, she jokingly told me she felt like our work was done. After everyone ate, she asked if we could cut his hair and he actually agreed! He looked so clean and so smart and so cute afterwards. 

I could say that I don't know what made him change, but I do.  While we are patiently waiting for a solution, God is giving us so many reasons to not lose hope. Today, Brian is the reason. With God anything is possible and I know soon these boys will not have to scatter around the city to sleep in fields, drainage pipes, and verandas. 

God is good all the time.  And all the time God is good.  And He loves these kids so much.  And He hears our prayers and answers them.  John 14:14 "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

Please continue to pray for these boys with me!

Brian is the boy on the left wearing the hat.

**If you are interested in supporting me and my mission/work here (everything helps!) you can give online at and all donations are tax-deductible, just go to the support tab and preference my ministry

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

day 2

Today was much easier than I anticipated it to be.  I got very hungry in the afternoon and then by the time I was ready to eat at 7pm, I didn't feel so hungry anymore.  It seems as long as I am busy and focused on the kids/something, I kind of forget about being hungry.

Just as was the case yesterday, something amazing happened today.  God heard my prayers about one of the boys, Ronald.  I know Ronald because I took him to the clinic a while back because he had a huge wound on his leg and one on his foot that was infected.  He is maybe about 15 and rarely comes to our programs.  He is always doing some sort of work and will just say he is busy if I ask why he hasn't come to the program.  He acts super tough and has all but forgotten he is a kid.  I am not sure why I feel like God has put him on my heart, but I know He has and I am crazy about this kid, even though he is completely oblivious to it.  I have been praying that God would provide a way for us to build our relationship and that I would be able to reach him.  And today could very well have been the beginning...

I returned from taking my 3 boys to get haircuts and as I was walking back into the church, I saw Ronald some distance away.  A boy shouted at me from behind to say hello and then out of nowhere, Ronald screamed across the distance in front of me, "Hi Auntie Amanda.  How are you?"  Completely unexpected and completely made my day.  Maybe it was just a hello, but to me it was an answered prayer.

I know God is going to give me my answer when I am ready to receive it.  He is never late, nor early, but rather always on time.  In the meantime, He is definitely strengthening my spirit and giving me hope like only He can.

My friend that is fasting with me told me to read Isaiah 58.  I looked it up on Bible Gateway and changed it to The Message version and really liked it.  Enjoy!  :-)

Isaiah 58

Your Prayers Won't Get Off the Ground
 1-3 "Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what's wrong with their lives,
   face my family Jacob with their sins!
They're busy, busy, busy at worship,
   and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they're a nation of right-living people—
   law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, 'What's the right thing to do?'
   and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
   'Why do we fast and you don't look our way?
   Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?'

3-5"Well, here's why:   "The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit.
   You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
   You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
   won't get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
   and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
   a fast day that I, God, would like?

 6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   to break the chains of injustice,
   get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
   free the oppressed,
   cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
   sharing your food with the hungry,
   inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
   putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
   being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
   and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
   The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
   You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
 9-12"If you get rid of unfair practices,
   quit blaming victims,
   quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
   and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
   your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
   I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
   firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
   a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
   rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
   restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
   make the community livable again.
 13-14"If you watch your step on the Sabbath
   and don't use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
   God's holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,'
   making money, running here and there—
Then you'll be free to enjoy God!
   Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob."
   Yes! God says so!

God Bless!  Thanks for the prayers!!! :-)

**If you are interested in supporting me and my mission/work here (everything helps!) you can give online at and all donations are tax-deductible, just go to the support tab and preference my ministry. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 1

I need an answer and am waiting on God to provide it.  I made the choice to fast with 2 other friends while we wait on a solution.  Today was day 1...

I woke up starving and wondered how I was going to make it through the day.  I was once told it is not fasting unless you pray.  If you don't, you are just on a hunger strike.  So I decided that I would spend part of my morning reading my Bible and praying.  I rededicated my life to God.  Not that I was away from Him so much, but maybe I am just not listening to what He has been telling me.  I really do want to live my life for Him and whatever it is that He needs from me, I want to do.  So that was my prayer...God, my life is yours.  Show me what You want me to do and I will do it.  No matter what.  

The idea of that terrifies me.  Only because the last time I said that, I ended up quitting my job and moving to Africa.  Definitely the best decision of my life, but still doesn't make it any less terrifying.  

I don't have an answer but I have very many ideas.  Ideas that I think are absolutely absurd, but they could be the answer we are seeking.  The problem is huge and only God can solve it for me, so I am waiting.  In the meantime, I do feel like there were some results from day 1.

1.  Last week, I had a huge issue with one of the boys.  He is kind of hot and cold and I got him on a cold day and as annoyed as I was with him for not listening and fighting, he was even angrier at me.  The result was not pretty and last week I was ready to ban him from our programs indefinitely.  Today he was there, walked right up to me and greeted me.  Normally, my first reaction would have been to march him over to an uncle and tell him he was on punishment and wasn't welcome.  Instead, I greeted him and the situation left me feeling very confused.

2.  I saw someone differently then I originally did.  Because of the choices of people he chooses to work with, I kind of thought badly of him.  But today I realized that he could very well be a good guy and is doing great things for some of the kids I love so much.  I think I will be more gracious with him from now on and really try and give him a chance.

3.  One of the boys was flipping out over another boy stealing his money.  Instead of being angry and harsh with the boy for fighting, I was able to help calm him and after some time he became fine.

4.  Most importantly, ALL of the boys that we love so much came to the programs.  We thought since they were being chased, beaten, and arrested they wouldn't come.  Also, since we had problems last week, I was kind of unsure of the reaction for our return.  But they were there and I had a joyful day with them. 

Lastly, I want to share the story of Dan.  This is perfect example as to why we need a solution for these kids.  Dan is probably one of the cutest kids I have ever seen and lately I have really fallen in love with him.  He was growing a mohawk and it was so cute.  His hair was in perfect little curls and I just loved it.  He is probably 12 years old.  Today I heard that last week he had some problems.  A mob grabbed him, said he was a thief, beat him and held him down and shaved his head.  When I saw him Saturday, I wondered where his hair was and why he had a wound on his face and now I know.

Please continue praying with me for these kids.  I am so grateful I serve a God that hears those prayers and will answer them.  

**If you are interested in supporting me and my mission/work here (everything helps!) you can give online at and all donations are tax-deductible, just go to the support tab and preference my ministry. 
I have decided to fast.  I have never fasted before and not really sure what to expect, but I don't know what else to do...

I am feeling a little desperate, discouraged, and hopeless at the moment.  It all started Friday.  I got a call that 6 of our boys had been arrested.  When I went to the police station to meet an uncle to try and get them out all the police did was insult and abuse me.  They told me what a terrible person I was, I was exploiting the children, the children were terrorists, I had failed them...So many terrible things, all while refusing to release them EVEN THOUGH they are children.  Finally, they let them go, but told us we could no longer let the boys sleep in the room we had been renting.  Where are they supposed to sleep??Not really sure but for the police they don't care.  So the boys are fending for themselves now at night.  They don't have any shelter, no safe place.  For some, they are sleeping in an open field, some in town on the street or on verandas, some if they have collected enough scrap for the day they can pay to sleep somewhere, and some are saying they are going to the other slum which is way worse and so completely unsafe for anyone let alone a child.   If they stay around, the police will just keep arresting them, like they did last night.  I know where they were sleeping wasn't great but at least it provided some protection.  Now they have nothing...

And my heart is completely broken.  These are the children I love more than anything, they have become my life, and there is nothing I can do.  I can't fight the police because they will win and completely make us stop our programs and then where will our kids be? I can't make these people understand how they are hurting these children and ruining their society because they only care about themselves and can't see long term.  I can't change the views of the community because those people are so much in need also that they can't see or care about others' suffering.  I am just feeling lost and not sure what to do.

The last time I felt this way, I quit my job and moved here.  I know that great things can come from these situations and I have no doubt that God is going to provide for these boys.  As much as my heart hurts and is breaking, I know His hurts way more.  I just have to wait on Him to show me what to do.  In the meantime, please be praying for these kids.

Here are some photos of them.  My precious angels....

Wasswa, Ivan, and Peter