Monday, December 31, 2012

Our First Year

I don't know where this year went.  It definitely flew by.  It seems like just yesterday I was boarding a plane to Uganda.

We accomplished far more this year than I ever imagined possible and I am totally in awe of how God has continued to provide for us.  I know it was Him all along.  I know He was the one to stir in your hearts, to urge you to pray, to urge you to give, to urge you to buy.  Thank you for listening.  Thank you for being a part of this amazing year.  Thank you for taking this journey with us.

When the year started, it started in chaos.  Everything fell to pieces.  I thought everything was over before it ever started.  Be glad you weren't in Uganda with me in the beginning.  All I could do was cry.  Not so much for me, even though I was hurt, but my heart broke for the boys.  Over night they were almost homeless again and all I could do was watch.  I didn't have a home for them yet and because I put my trust in the wrong people, the boys were suffering.

Well thankfully, God had a plan.  I see it now.  I couldn't then, but I do now.  All I can say is thank goodness I serve a God that catches me every time I screw up and loves these kids more than I can ever imagine.  He provided a home, not once but twice.  He provided people I could trust.  He has provided.

We started the year with 8 kids.  We now have 21.  It has always been "just one more".  What difference will it make if we take just one more.  It doesn't make so much difference to us, but it makes a difference to him. So we always say yes.  Looking back over the year, I have no idea how we have been able to take care of so many kids.  Every month, I am stressed to the max about money.  Every month, I feel like there isn't going to be enough.  But somehow we always manage.  Somehow there is always enough.

There have been a lot of lessons learned this year.  About myself, about the boys, about faith, about God.

There have been a lot of ups and downs this year too.  A lot of worry and fear.

But here we are, on the eve of a new year.  We made it.  All of the boys are in the home.  They are all happy.  They are all healing.  I never dreamed any of this would be possible.

I am looking forward to the new year.  To seeing which "just one more" will be added.  To seeing the men these boys are turning into.  To seeing what else God has in store for us.

Thank you for being here.  Thank you for believing in us and what we are doing.  Thank you for every prayer you have ever said for us.  Thank you for every bead you have purchased.  Thank you for caring about these boys.  Thank you!


Some photos from this year

me and Julius

Richard

Ronald

our current home
Little David and Richard playing in the old house

Uncle Patrick and Ibra

Ibra at school

Jimmy

Jacob

Big David, John M., Jimmy, Julius
Ibra, John, Moses in our old house
The boys playing in our old house with puzzles and army men

homework time

Joel, Dunkan, Uncle Steven, Julius, Jacob, David, Richard in our old house

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just say "Yes!"



Last week, I sent money to Uganda so the boys could have a nice Christmas.  It was their first Christmas in the home, so even though money has been super stretched, I stretched it even further.  In Uganda, a lot of families go somewhere on Christmas.  So they were going to get to have a chicken dinner(they love chicken, but rarely have it because it is too expensive.) and go to the  botanical gardens and play.  I also sent some money so they could each have a small gift.  It was the equivalent of about $5.

I talked to the boys the day after and asked how Christmas was and what they did.  The went to church, then to the slum, then to the beach(the gardens increased their entrance fee too much).  I asked why they went to the slum.

Turns out the day before, when the boys found out they would be getting a small gift, they said they wanted even less so they could do something for the boys still on the streets.  So they took even less for themselves and went to visit their friends still on the streets and gave them bread and milk for Christmas.

I have never been prouder of these boys.  Their hearts continue to amaze and humble me.

I wish I could take credit.

I wish I could say look what these boys have done because of me.

But it isn't because of me.  It never was and never will be.

These boys know what it is to live on the streets and fight through each day.  They know what it is to sleep alone outside in the cold.  They know what it is to have to choose between not eating or eating from the trash pile.  They know what it is to watch another holiday go by with nothing.  They know what it is to be arrested and beaten because they don't have a family or a home.  They know what it is to not be loved.  They know what it is to watch other boys get a chance and be certain theirs is never coming.  They know.

There is a man that I always see at the farmer's market.  He is older, probably in his late 60s or 70s, and we never talked until recently.  He asked me if I was a missionary and what I did in Uganda.  After I told him, he said he wanted to help and handed me a $20.

I thought that was the end of it.

Almost every time I have seen him since then, he has given me something.  One time he stopped and talked  more and told me he knew hunger and he knew cold.  He was a prisoner of war.  He knew.

I didn't have to teach the boys compassion.  I didn't have to teach them empathy.  No one had to teach that man either.  Their compassion comes from a place of not wanting anyone to suffer like they did.

They didn't give out of their plenty.  They gave because they realized being a friend and easing someone else's suffering is more important than anything they could ever purchase with that money.

I know I have said it so many times, but it needs to be said again.  I am so grateful to God for bringing these boys into my life.  My life has been forever changed because of them.  I don't know how I got so lucky to have them in my life, but I promise you I am the lucky one.  I could have chosen to walk away a long time ago, when things got difficult and didn't go my way.  But I am so thankful I listened.  Listened to the plan He had for me.  Listened to Him calling me to Uganda and urging me to take one more, just one more.

Friends, we always have a choice.  We don't have to listen to His calling.  The great thing about God is He loves us enough to give us the freedom to make our own choices.  And He loves us enough to pick up the pieces when we go our own way and everything blows up in our faces.

But I can tell you this, you will never know joy like the joy that comes from listening to Him.  It is a joy that never goes away even when times are difficult.  It is a joy that lets you smile even when everything is seemingly falling apart.  A joy that never leaves you because you have seen God's work first hand and know how lucky you are that He chose you to be a part of it.  Of all the people in the world, He asked you.

Will you answer?


Monday, December 17, 2012

SIR Case

Remember me telling you about a new company called SIR Case?

Well...they have a new website and video.

Watch the video


SIR CASE from sir-case.com on Vimeo.

then check out their new website.

I am super excited and very thankful for them.

Their cases are just as amazing as their hearts.


Monday, December 3, 2012

This Christmas

Each year, almost $435 billion dollars is spent on all things Christmas in the US ALONE.

$435 billion dollars

That is a lot of money.

I read that an average person plans on spending over $800 dollars ONLY on gifts.

What if, we used that money to make a difference?

What if we only gave gifts that gave back?

What if we only bought from companies that paid their workers fair wages and had safe work environments?

How much change could we inspire?  

How much hope could we give?

How many lives would be changed?

How much meaning would Christmas really have?

This Christmas, I urge you to use your money for good.  Make a difference.  Give gifts that give back.  Give gifts that make a difference.


Need some ideas?

I got plenty...And for selecting one of my awesome ideas, I will send a photo of the boys and a letter to the person of your choosing letting them know they got a gift that made a difference this year.


  1. Shop our Etsy store and give a beautiful gift that changes many lives.  The women get paid above market value and are able to take care of their families.  The profits support the boys' home.  It helps pay school fees, buy food, pay rent, pay salaries for Ugandans.  It really does give hope.  It does change lives.
  2. Help our boys have an amazing Christmas.  Contribute to Christmas dinner.  $5 will buy one chicken and give the boys a rare treat that they love.  
  3. Support a boy in someone else's honor.  It costs $150 per month per boy to run the home, so any amount will help.  This will make sure the kids have a safe place to live, food in their bellies, and a chance at a future.
  4. School is starting again the end of January.  School supplies aren't cheap in Uganda either.  Consider buying a backpack full of new pencils, pens, crayons, math set, and notebooks for one of the boys.  For $20 a boy will be set for school for next term.
  5. Number one sport in Uganda????  SOCCER!  Help the boys have fun and play like kids should and get them a new soccer ball.  $8 is all it takes.
  6. Want something bigger?  $400 will buy all food staples(beans, rice, posho) for the home for one month.  You want to buy all the fruit and veggies and meat too?  Great! Add an extra $150.  No one will go hungry.  Or contribute any amount you want for this.
  7. Is education your thing?  Mine too.  It changes lives and gives so many opportunities.  Give a boy a chance and pay his school fees for a term, or 2 or 3.  $40 pays school fees for a boy for a term.
  8. Who doesn't love a new pair of shoes?  For only $20 you can give one of the boys a new pair of shoes for school, church, or sports.
  9. Want them to have a safe place to live?  Contribute for rent.  Rent is $550 per month.  It gives us our own space, a compound where the boys can play safely, and most importantly AWAY from the slums.  You will be helping to house 22 people, plus a cat.

Are you in? 

Go to the donate tab at the top and in the memo, indicate your gift choice and where you would like us to send the letter and photo.

Got another great idea?

Let me know.  I am sure the boys will love it!

This is the boys' first Christmas in the home.  Help to make it their best Christmas ever.

This Christmas, let your gifts mean more.

Let your money show where your heart is.

Make a difference for the boys. 

Be the change...


Did I mention all of your gifts are tax deductible?  Pretty cool, huh?


And please, please, please don't forget to share our wish list with your friends! 



Monday, November 19, 2012

Changing

As Thanksgiving is almost here, I am thinking about all of the things I am thankful for.  Life has been hard and I am not where I want to be, but I have so much to be thankful for.

Most of all, I am thankful for a great God that is faithful and good.  Time and time again in this journey, He has proven himself more faithful than I could ever imagine.  There is always enough.  We always seem to manage, have food, clothes, rent.  When this world tries to bring us down, He remains the same.  Always good, always faithful.  When I am ready to give up, He picks me up and pushes me on.  He gives the boys just the right words to remind me why I need to keep fighting.  Why it is worth it.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I was talking to the boys on the phone and mostly they were telling me about their exams this week and how they want to go visit their families after exams are over.  There are still a few boys that haven't returned to their families yet.  One boy, Jacob, hasn't returned yet.  He didn't want to go the last 2 times the other boys went.  He wasn't ready and we didn't push.  The boys know that when they want, they can return to their families.  So we waited.

Yesterday, Jacob was telling me about his training and how much he likes it.  He was happy for his new boots and for everything he was learning.  He agreed it was a good choice for him and he thinks he will be happy to be a mechanic.

Then...

He asked me if it was ok if he would go and visit his step-mom.  He told me he knew that he wasn't nice to her and needed to go and beg forgiveness and apologize for his actions.

I couldn't have been prouder of him at that moment.

He is changing.  So are all of the boys.  They are slowly becoming the men God created them to be.  They are healing and accepting responsibility for their actions.

And it is all thanks to God.

 Philippians 1:6 (The Message)
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

Jacob cooking at our old house

Friday, November 16, 2012

Desperate

The other day I got an email telling me a woman I had never knew left me $5.5 million dollars.

Of course I realized it was a scam.  I had gotten a lot of those emails before.  I actually stopped using my Yahoo account because every day I would get a crazy number of those emails.

But for a moment....

I so desperately wanted it to be true.  I wanted to be that lucky.  I wanted to believe in the impossible.

$5.5 million dollars would change my life.  It would change the boys lives and so many more.

I didn't dream of a mansion.

I didn't dream of a fancy car.

I didn't dream of extravagant vacations to destinations far away.

I dreamed of Uganda.  I dreamed of being reunited with kids that I miss so much it hurts.  I dreamed of being able to tell other kids that they no longer had to sleep all alone on the streets or wonder where their next meal is coming from. I dreamed of telling people that they finally have a job and their kids can return to school.  I dreamed of home.

But mostly I dreamed of the boys.  Their faces.  Their smiles.  Our hugs at their airports.  Our family finally being together again.

I so desperately wanted it to be true, I almost responded, knowing it was a scam.

Since then I have been thinking.

How many times do we do something knowing it isn't right, it isn't God's plan for us?

All the time.

What would have happened if I would have answered that email?  They would have taken what little I do have and life would be a mess for me and the ones I love.

Same thing happens when we don't follow God's plan for us.  We so desperately want what we want sometimes and ignore what He tells us and life becomes a mess.

We fight for the one that we know isn't right and then end up heartbroken and mad at God.  But He showed us all along but we didn't listen.

We take the wrong job, hate every minute of it, our lives are miserable, but we insisted on taking it even though God showed us a different way.  We get angry.  But we didn't listen.  Whose fault is it?

At times, we get so caught up in what we want, we ignore Him and His perfect plans.  We don't wait on Him, we take things into our own hands.  And every time, it ends up badly.

I still desperately want that email to be true.  But I know $5.5 million is nothing compared to what He has in store.

I dreamed the other night about a project I eventually want to start.  It was beautiful and I can't wait until I finally can.  But I know this isn't the time and I still need to wait.  His plan is perfect and when He is ready, it will all come together.



Light Gives Heat

Since the holiday season is quickly approaching, soon we are all going to be consumed with finding the perfect gift for everyone we know.  This holiday season, I challenge you to find gifts that are beautiful and wonderful but also that give back.  There are so many great companies out there that make great gifts and also pay their workers fair wages, have safe work environments, and are really making a difference in the communities where they work.

One of my favorite new(to me) companies is Light Gives Heat, www.lightgivesheat.org.  They work in Uganda and are doing amazing things with women in Jinja.  They employ around ninety women making beautiful jewelry and bags.  


Check out this video about them,

LGH: WHO WE ARE from Light Gives Heat on Vimeo.

then go to their website and get a really cool gift for someone.  You won't be disappointed and you will be making a difference!

Some of my favs

 
I actually have this one and get compliments on it every time I wear it.  A woman even asked me to take it off so she could feel it because she couldn't believe it was paper!



Happy shopping!


Friday, November 9, 2012

A picture...

Image detail for -STREET CHILDREN « Fight Slavery Now!


Isaiah 1:17 (ESV)
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.



Still wondering?

Psalm 146:9 ESV 
The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

Still not sure?

James 1:27 ESV 
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.





They are our responsibility and there are millions of them worldwide. Won't you prayerfully consider partnering with us to do more?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time

I was talking to a friend from Uganda today and he asked me what I thought were the biggest cultural differences between the US and Uganda.

Of course the first thing I told him was time.  We are so strict with it and it is really rude to be late, you can even get fired for it and in Uganda it is merely a suggestion.  Nothing is ever on time.

His response, "We joke that it is because you all are really 8 years behind us and we are just waiting on you to catch up."

I had never heard that before and laughed so hard.

Now it all makes sense.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Beats for the streets

A friend (David), that I met in Uganda when he was on a mission trip, just started a really cool business.  The best part of his new business is he is using it as a way to support causes and organizations that he cares about.  And we get to be the first!   For every SIR Case he sells, he is giving a portion to LOT 2545 to help us care for our boys and he is calling the project Beats for the Streets.  Just love that name!!!!

How awesome is that?  I know some of you out there are music lovers and this is definitely a must have!

Now the details...

It is called SIR Case.  "SIR CASE (Suitcase In Rhythm) is a modern day boom box. We take vintage cases and pair them with up-cycled speakers to create functional art."

The result is awesome!





And they sound as good as they look!



Check out their Facebook page.

You won't just be supporting a great guy with his new business but also the boys in our home.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

And the winners are...

I am sure you have all been anxiously waiting.  So drum roll please...

The winner of the 3 single strand bracelets is Emma.

The winner of the coil bracelet is Heather.

The winner of the really long necklace is Jeannette.


To claim your prize, send your address to me either at amanda.jones0314@gmail.com or on Facebook and I will get them out in the mail to you!

Thanks for playing along!

Happy Sunday!  I am off to my church hayride!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happy birthday!

It is sort of a birthday...

My blog is 100 posts old!  That is a big number and deserving of a celebration!

And what great party doesn't have fun giveaways?????

But first, a walk down memory lane.  My favorite 10 experiences from Uganda.


  • Crossing the Rwandan border back into Uganda.  It was in the middle of the night.  It was really cold.  I was so grateful for my rest in Rwanda, but so happy to be going home.  There were no city lights, nothing to get in the way of gazing at the stars.  I think that night I saw every start God ever made.  It was breath taking.
  • The first time any of the boys said I loved you.  That day my fate was sealed.  
  • Seeing 8 of the most amazing kids I have ever known get to see their home for the first time.  They ran around like maniacs like we were living in a mansion.  They were so happy.  I was so worried because it wasn't very big and I thought they weren't going to like it.  But it was home and they loved it.
  • Waking up and having coffee and talking to friends for so long each morning, we were always late with the rest of our day.
  • Wandering the streets at night with good friends looking for new boys to tell about the programs.  One night in particular we found a boy named Alex.  He followed us instantly and decided to show us where all of the boys slept.  He ran so quickly to check all of the hiding places, we were all laughing so much that night.  The best was seeing some of those boys at programs the next day.
  • Seeing David back in the slum after he had been arrested and had been missing for a long time.  I thought I was going to never see him again.  Also, finally being able to get Nelson out of prison.  He was missing for the longest time before we could find him and then it took forever to get him out.  
  • Sitting at the beach, drinking soda and talking to friends while the kids played in the water knowing I had everything I ever wanted.  And then laughing all the way home in the taxi because the boys were being outrageous as usual.
  • Getting in a boda accident not once, but twice and wondering how I made it out alive in either case and knowing God's angels were with me.
  • Joseph going from hating me and refusing to speak to me to holding my hand and always talking to me.
  • The boys surprising me with the cutest little kitten.  I don't know how they found him or didn't wake me up that night but in the morning when they did wake me up, seeing it at my door totally shocked me.  He was the cutest kitten I had ever seen.  So cute, someone stole him from us.  :-(  

Now on to the fun giveaway!  

There will be 3 prizes, so potentially 3 winners.  What will you win?

One of 3 pieces of jewelry made by some incredible women in Uganda! (Sorry for the terrible photos!)













How do you win?  Get entries!  Each thing you do will get you one entry.  (Sorry, you got to work a little!)
  1. Go to our Facebook page and like us.  www.facebook.com/lot2545
  2. Share our Facebook page with your friends on your Facebook page.
  3. Share our website on Facebook.  www.lot2545.com
  4. Share this post on Facebook.
  5. Share our Etsy page on Facebook.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/LOT2545
The contest is open until the end of Next Wednesday(10/17).  I will draw the winner and post it here next Thursday!  Make sure you leave me a comment here and let me know you are entering!

Best of luck!

And thanks for taking this journey with me!!!


Friday, October 12, 2012

The rest of the story

My last post wasn't out of nowhere.  There was reason to it.  This is the rest of the story....

Recently, I went to someone for help.  I thought that she was really nice, she seemed very supportive and interested in what is going on in Uganda, so I reached out to her.  The last time we talked, she told me if there was anything that she could do to help I just needed to let her know.  So I decided to send an email.  I explained in my email where I was at, where I was struggling and asked if she could help.

Well as you can imagine, I didn't get a very positive response.  Actually, I got a very hurtful and negative response.  It would have been better for her to tell me she didn't want to help but instead she made me feel terrible and like a failure.

Why did she feel like I was a failure and undeserving of help?

Because I choose to start a non-profit instead of being associated with a religious organization like a church or a mission agency.

I was pretty disgusted too.

But I let it go and decided to meet with her anyway(After she tore me apart in her email, she said we should meet and talk about some options.).  I prayed that her heart would change.  I prayed that God's will would be done.  I prayed that I would let go of my anger and hurt.

Well 2 out of 3 isn't bad...

It was one of the worst meetings of my life.  Again I was told I wasn't good enough.  I was interrupted, belittled, told ridiculous things.  But God's will was done and for that I am grateful.

Now, comes the amazing part of the story...

I know without a doubt that God is in control of this whole process.  I am very positive that He is leading my steps.  I know he lead me to start the non profit.  I know He gave me the name.  I know He is in control.  I don't know why I am not back in Uganda yet, but I know He has a reason for it.  I hate waiting, I hate missing the boys, I hate missing seeing them growing and changing.  But I wait because I know His plans are far superior to mine and I can take rest in knowing I will be back in Uganda the day I am supposed to be.

During this meeting from you know where, I stood up for myself and God's plan for me.  I told her I was very certain God lead me to start a non profit and not go with a mission agency.  She continued to tell me that wasn't good enough.

Excuse me???

Yeah, she said God's plan wasn't good enough.

Well eventually I shut down and stopped talking just so I could get out of there.  When I did, I went home, prayed that God would just confirm what I am suppose to be doing.  That if she was right, He would show me that I should go with a church instead.

You know what happened next?

God used the mailman again!  (I bet the mailman doesn't even know that he continues to deliver God's letters of confirmation to me.  How he would be surprised!)

I went to get the mail, maybe just 2 hours after this lady told me it wasn't enough, I wasn't enough...

I received the letter from the IRS rewarding LOT 2545 full tax exempt status.  We are finally a registered 501c3.

Coincidence?



(My next post is number 100!  I can hardly believe that I have shared on here 100 times.  It is amazing.  Sometimes I go back and read old posts of when I first got to Uganda...Anyway, I have something special planed for number 100.  Stay tuned!)

Friday, October 5, 2012

How I am feeling

I have been thinking a lot about something lately and really feel like it is time to share.  Especially today...

Growing up, I never remember a time that I didn't believe in Jesus.  I remember going to church with my mom and dad.  I remember throwing temper tantrums because they wouldn't take me to church with them.  That is all before I turned 5.  Later, I would go to church with my grandma.  I loved going to church.  I loved Jesus and believed in him and His sacrifice for me.

Then I grew up.  I still loved Jesus.  I still believed that He died to save me.  I still believed that God was in control of my life and destiny but I stopped liking church.  I stopped liking church because of the people I met that claimed to be Christians.  I started to feel like they held these impossible standards to live up to all the while lying, cheating, stealing, or whatever.  I started to feel like I didn't want any part of that group.  I didn't want to be part of a group that made people feel so bad about themselves because they weren't "good" enough.

So I stopped going to church.  

I didn't go to church for a long time.  I felt that my relationship with God was between me and Him, not between me and a bunch of people that I thought were hypocrites.  I was probably in my teens when I stopped going to church and didn't go back to church until I was in my twenties.    I still prayed, I still believed, I still loved Him.

I didn't go back to church until a friend invited me to hers.  I felt at home there.  I didn't feel judged or like I wasn't good enough.  They reminded us and showed us that we are all sinners, we all make bad choices, we all make mistakes, but there is hope for us.  I finally felt like I had found a church where it was ok to not be perfect and if we said we were perfect, obviously it was a lie.  I felt like the church reached out to everyone. It wasn't an exclusive group that you had to earn membership to.  It restored my faith in the church and other Christians.

It was at that church that my faith grew and I really gave my life over to God.  I learned that if we really loved God we had to love His people.  I learned that God is love.  Plain and simple.  God is love.  And in order to be living for Him, you have to love His people.

***Side note-I know this isn't easy.  I still fail at it every day.  But it is what He calls us to do.

Anyway, that isn't the point of this post.

My point is that I think Christianity is failing because of us that claim to be Christians.  I think so many people are put off by the church because of those of us, myself included, that say we love Jesus and then treat people badly.  Because we get on our high horses (a bit like I am doing now) and point out others' failures and faults, all the while not looking at our own.  Please don't think I am excluding myself from this group, because I know I am part of the problem.  But my point is we can do better.  We should do better.

When people see me, the first thing I want them to see is Jesus.  I want to be so in love with Him and His ways, that people don't see me, they see Him.  Some days I think I am kind of successful, but some days I know I fail.  And I need to do better.  

Why am I saying all of this?

Because I am almost back to the point of my childhood where I have lost faith in the church and other people claiming to be Christians.  

Now, thankfully I am older and wiser than me as a teenager.  I know there are amazing people out there, living their lives for their Savior and giving it all for Him everyday.  I know that we are all sinners and are only saved by grace.  I know that I am the biggest sinner of all and need to look at my own eye first.  I know God loves me the same as he loves the drug dealer, prostitute, murderer, thief, (continue to fill in the blank with whatever you want.  It won't change.) I also know that part of loving God is having a community of believers to share life with(Hence, why church is important).  Most importantly, I know not to give up so easily this time.

But what if I hadn't grown in my faith?  What if I was new to the church?  What if I wasn't sure if I believed in Jesus?  Do you think I would stick around?

Remember that, next time you are being mean or spewing hate and especially using His name to do so.





Thursday, October 4, 2012

Update

So what has been going on lately?

Glad you asked...

Well things are changing with the boys almost daily.  Things in Uganda seem to change all the time.  We think one thing is going to happen and then it doesn't.  For instance?

Dan

I am so sad to report that the uncle was in Dan's village all day looking for a school for him and none of the schools would take him.  Their excuse?  It is the end of the year.  It is super frustrating and ridiculous.  We are paying for school, so it isn't like the school isn't going to benefit from him being there also.  But mainly it is super annoying because that means that he is going to be just hanging out or doing odd jobs until the beginning of next year when a school said they would finally take him.    Four more months of him doing nothing.  Just another reminder that education is not a right in Uganda.  It is a privilege and one that is being withheld from so many.

Continuing on with the bad news...

Willy never came home after holiday.  If you remember the post I wrote about him, you will remember that I said he would rather live in the village than with us.  I was hoping for it too.  Just not like this.  Willy always stays until that last second before school starts to come back.  I don't really know why, but he does.  So this time, when he was late coming back, we didn't worry.  The uncle tried calling the dad but never got through.  When the day for school to start came and went, we still didn't worry.  It is a really bad habit in Uganda for a lot of kids to not go to school on the first day.  The uncle kept trying to call, but never got through.  Maybe 2 weeks after school started, the uncle finally reached someone(his aunt.  The dad still ignores his calls.).  Turns out, his dad got really angry and ran his wife off.

***Side note-We were considering that Willy should just be resettled and we would pay school fees while he stayed in the village with his dad.  We were worried to do that because his dad is very sick and it is inevitable that he is going to die.  It could be soon but there is no way to know.  His health gets really bad and then he bounces back.  If his dad died, we were worried about how the step mom would treat Willy.  She has her biological children with Willy's dad but the rest of Willy's siblings(same biological mom and dad) have run away.  So we wanted him to come home and we talk to him and his dad separately about it first.

Back to Willy's dad...

Since he ran his wife off, there is no one to take care of him, the house, or the business.  So guess who has to do it???  YEP!  Willy.  That means no school, no education, and who knows what will happen in the future.  I am really hoping that Willy and his father are able to repair their relationship and Willy is happy staying in the village.  I really hope that his dad will be kinder to him and value him more.  Since his dad wants him, there is nothing we can do.  We can't prove abuse and I am not sure that his dad beats him.  I think his dad is just really harsh and mean.  I think that probably he is verbally abusive.  But for now, all we can do is pray for Willy and his father and trust that the Lord will keep him safe.  The good thing is if things become too unbearable for Willy, he knows where we live and knows he has a place with us always.

In other news, the other boys are doing well and working hard this school term.  Dunkan has his sights set on first place in his class.  He continues to amaze me day after day.  Ronald has started his training for boxing.  It seems to have him in great spirits.  That last few times I have spoken to him, he has been really happy.  He says he is loving his training.  It keeps him busy, which is what he really needs.  We have finally began to look for garages for three of the boys to start training at.  Jacob, Kansiime, and Davis will start training as soon as the uncle can find 3 separate garages for them to train at.  They have all grown up so much recently and started to act more responsible and mature, so we decided that it was finally time.   We have also found a woman that is a qualified counselor.  We have yet to meet her but she was referred to us.  The day the uncle had scheduled to meet, she had a family emergency.

Things are well and moving on as you can see.  I am still back in the US and so desperately want to be back in Uganda.  I miss the kids more and more each day.  Every time we talk the first thing they ask is when are you coming back. I never have an answer but I keep telling them soon.  I would ask that you prayerfully consider helping make that a reality.

There are 5 things you can do to help:

  1. Pray
  2. Sponsor a boy or give a one time gift to help with the costs of running the home.  (No amount is too small to make a difference.)
  3. Sponsor me (Any amount per month or one time gift would be greatly appreciated.  I have been so focused on fundraising for the home and the boys, I only have about 1/10 of what I need to live in Uganda. Again no amount is too small to make a difference.)
  4. Buy jewelry or sell jewelry for us.
  5. Invite me to speak at your church or small group to raise support or speak on our behalf to your friends, family, church, co-workers, strangers, anyone you can think of about what we are doing and encourage them to get involved.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help, support, and prayers.  They keep me going and are changing the boys as I type.




Monday, October 1, 2012

Truths

It seems like I have been in the US forever now and Uganda is still so far away!  It is humbling to talk to the kids and hear the changes that are happening and know that I am not part of it.  Most of the kids are finally at a point where everyday they are changing.  They are growing up and I can hear it in our phone conversations.  I am so happy, overjoyed really, that they are finally getting it.  It is also a tad bittersweet.  Selfishly, I wish I was there to witness it.  I know when I do finally get back, they will be different kids.  The uncle, Steven, told me the other day that he was going to send some photos to me because I had taken so long without seeing the boys and I wouldn't believe how grown they were starting to look.  I believe it.  I saw a photo of John not too long ago when he went back to his village for the first time.  He was definitely starting to look like a young man, not the little boy I left in March.

I feel like I am in a really weird place. Not just because I am in one location and desperately wanting to be in another.  But mostly because I am in a really weird place spiritually.  I am in a place where I am trusting and believing God for a miracle and at the same time angry at Him because I am missing so much.  Every day that passes, I feel like I have missed something else of the boys' lives.  Because they came into my life at an older age, there are things that I will never know about them.  And I feel like I am missing even more of their lives.

Some days, it is really hard not to be angry.

Some days it is really hard not to be an emotional wreck.

Some days, I feel like it is best to give up because it hurts too much to keep going and it isn't making a difference anyway.

But each day, I manage to keep it together for one more day.  To tell myself that we will have the rest of our lives together.  Deep down, I know it is worth it.  I know they are worth it.  I know HE is worth it.

Despite me and my almost daily temper tantrums, I know He still loves me more than anything.  I know He loves the boys more than I can even begin to.  I know He wants what is best for us.  I know His plan is far better than mine.  I know He is working even though I don't see it.  And most of all, I know through it all,  He is in control and He is the one taking care of those boys.  I am just the lucky one that gets to tag along.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ibra

Last, but not least, on to Ibra...

Ibra is about 15 years old and is one of the boys in boarding school.  He is in primary 4 and is really held back in school because he is not a very strong reader yet.  It is kind of strange because his English is almost perfect.  I don't know where he learned English so well but he is a very clever kid.

Ibra is short for Ibrahim.  So as his name suggests, his family is muslim.  From what I was told, he was living with his mom, was a bit stubborn, decided to run away, and stayed gone for around a year.  During the year, he found Jesus, fell in love with Him, gave his life to Him, decided to go back home, and was rejected.  His mom was not happy that he was now a Christian and told him he wasn't welcome.  So he came back to the streets.  He joined a home for boys a little bit later but the boys in the home had to fend for themselves sometimes because the home was always underfunded.

Ibra would go to a certain church a lot.  He is very friendly and outspoken, so he made many friends there.  He started to be a good leader and show he was really responsible.  The leaders for another program for boys on the street recognized this and started to give him more responsibilities in the program.  He was proving himself to be trustworthy and on fire for Jesus.  A friend of mine realized this and how much potential he had.  After speaking with his mom, she offered to put him in a really good Christian boarding school where he could catch up on his studies and continue to grow in his faith.

When she left Uganda, I offered to continue to watch after Ibra.  He still attends boarding school and stays in the home during the holidays.  He is always kind and respectful.  He loves to talk but at times talks to much. (It has kind of gotten him in trouble at school.)  He loves to be helpful and will do whatever you ask of him.  He is trustworthy and loves to pray.

This last school holiday, he went back to his village and found his grandma.  He stayed with her and helped around her house with daily chores.  He also reconnected with a neighbor that he was really close to.  He calls her mom also.  We found out that his mom was actually in Kampala also.  The day they tried to visit, they didn't find her.  We will help him to try and rebuild that relationship also.

Ibra is a great kid and I know he is going to do great things in the future.

Meet Ibra!

Ibra


Ibra with Uncle Patrick



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Davis

Davis is a really special kid.  I met him because he used to live at the house I stayed at when I was in Uganda the first time.  He unfortunately kept making bad choices and kept running away.  The last time he left, he was told if he left, he couldn't come back.

He left anyway.

That happened when I was gone.  When I got back to Uganda in January, I found him on the street.  It seems with these boys, once they start running they don't stop.  As a result, most organizations put a limit on the number of times a boy can come back because usually they will just run again.  The worst thing is, sometimes they will take other boys with them or steal things as they leave.  A limit kind of makes them think about their plans to run again, but really if a boy has it in his mind to run, he will no matter who is around or what is done to stop him.

That is what happened with Davis.  I remember being home one time when he chose to run.  We all tried to talk him down.  It was the most intense of nights.

When Davis was on the streets, he would stop by the house sometimes. One time he got really sick so we let him stay the night so he wouldn't have to sleep outside.  The next day he woke up and left.

I really didn't know what to do for Davis. He had a special place in my heart and it made me so sad to see him on the streets. In the other home, he was always really nice to me. He loved my dog so much. He would take her and bathe her. That was no small feat. She hated baths and would go no where near the shower room if she thought she was about to get a bath. She weighed 80 pounds and she definitely wasn't doing anything she didn't want. He was patient though and tried to trick her. When that failed, he would just pick her up. I think sometimes my dog was drier than Davis after her bath. It never stopped him though. He tried to befriend my cat too but she kind of hates everyone (including me) so he didn't get very far with her.  He kept trying though.

I knew Davis had to want to be in the home for it to work.  For a while he seemed very indifferent to it.  He is a resourceful kid.  I am sure for a while he felt like he was doing fine and liked his freedom.  I found out that after I left, he had started staying with us more regularly.  The uncle knew Davis from before and really loved him a lot too, so he ended up letting Davis stay with us.  When I found out he was staying with us, I was really happy.

So far things have been going well with Davis.  He didn't want to go back to school.  He has never been crazy about it and really struggled.  His English is pretty good but he struggles to read.  He instead wants to be a mechanic.  So for now, Davis is staying at home and learning English and Math better and soon we will start to look for a garage that will train him.

Meet Davis!





Monday, September 17, 2012

Joel

Where do I start with Joel????

Not really sure.  I don't think I remember the first time I met him.  As I type, I am trying to remember...

I do remember thinking after I knew Joel for a while, he was different.  He is older than most of the boys that were at programs.  He is around 17 or so.  Most of the boys his age didn't come to programs but spent their days doing drugs and causing problems.

Joel would be at programs and would always want to talk.  His English is pretty good, so we never had any problems communicating.  He would ask questions non-stop!  Things about the US, what I thought about Uganda, anything he thought of he asked.

He told me his story.  He said that he was working and his mom told him that he needed to move out.  So he was giving her money to save for him each week.  Well the time came for him to move out and his mom refused to give him the money.  So he had to leave and with no money and no place to go, he ended up on the streets.  He told me he found his way to Kivulu and saw the programs happening so he just joined in.

I remember one time I found him in Kivulu and he looked terrible.  His eye was swollen shut, his clothes were bloody, and he was in pain.  He had been robbed and beaten.  We took him to the hospital and got him treated.  (The doctor was so rude and yelled at me.  Actually that happens almost every time I take a kid to the hospital.  The doctors are just on power trips and I guess it makes them feel better.)  But Joel's eye was swollen shut for a long time.  It is amazing that there wasn't permanent damage to it.

Joel always cares about what he looks like.  When he was on the street, he would pay someone in Kivulu to keep his clothes.  Usually it was the man that washes the clothes and then he would pay extra.  (There are little shacks there that run like laundromats.  You can take clothes to them and they will wash and iron them. He would pay extra to let them stay there until he needed them.)  Even now, he is always concerned about what he wears and how he looks.

A while after meeting Joel, I started to wonder if we could put him in a vocational training program.  He told me he had only completed first grade.  So that wouldn't be possible.  Most vocational schools want the students to have completed at least the first 4 years of secondary school.  Not helpful.  Then Joel got an opportunity to have a job, but he refused it.

That kind of changed Joel in my mind and everyone else's, except one.  I don't blame Joel for refusing.  Unfortunately, there is very much a culture of waiting for handouts in Uganda.  Don't get me wrong, SO MANY people work so hard EVERY SINGLE day!   They work hard without breaks or vacations and are barely making it by.  But because of how aid was previously given (just handed out with nothing required of the people) many people prefer to sit and wait for handouts.  I don't blame people for this.  It is what they have been conditioned to.  It is difficult to change a culture that we helped to create, by we I mean foreigners.  Now aid is changing and organizations are going to a more works based form of giving (teach a trade, the person makes an item, and then gets paid.  Essentially, jobs are created but it is still aid.).   We have the same problems here.  It isn't just in Uganda.

Anyway, back to Joel...

So like many others, Joel had a sense of entitlement.  He made an excuse and refused the job.  He wanted a sponsor so he could go back to school and he preferred to wait on the streets until that could happen.  Eventually, they kicked him out of programs because he was too old.  So he started to stay where Tom and Julius were staying.  He became really close with that uncle and another friend.  She had always loved him and that is how Joel came to be a part of our family.  When Julius and the other boys joined the home, Joel was living with them, so he came too.  People told me I shouldn't give him a chance but my friend loved him a lot and believed in him, so I did too.  Everyone deserves a chance.

Joel was difficult in the beginning.  He missed the uncle he had been staying with and it was really difficult to connect with him.  Since then, we have good days and bad, just like with any of the other kids.  I know Joel belongs in our family and I am happy he is with us.

Meet Joel!

at school

at Lake Victoria

with me at the swimming pool

Sunday, September 16, 2012

All I need to know

Remember those posters that said everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten?


Well it got me thinking...

I have learned so much from my time in Uganda and especially from the boys.  So I am feeling like everything I need to know, I learned from boys on the street.  Here are a few that came to mind.  Hope you enjoy!

  • Everyone deserves a chance.  No matter how wild, out of control, bad mannered, disrespectful, mean, hard, ..., someone is, he deserves a chance.  A lot of times, most of the time, he will surprise you.  I can't tell you how many times these boys have been written off as worthless, stupid, bad, unchangeable, incapable of love, undeserving of love, and incapable of amounting to anything.  It isn't true. They are changing before my eyes.  They just need love, patience, and encouragement.   Maybe that is all that person you are thinking of right now needs too.
  • Love is enough.  A lot of times, ok most times, I have no clue what I am doing.  I don't know if it will work, if it is a good idea, if it is crazy, or if it will make a difference.  I say the wrong things to the kids all the time, we get angry at each other.  Generally, we are a mess.  It is one big trial and error.  In complete chaos, what keeps us coming back?  Simple.  LOVE.  I love those kids more than anything and they know it.  When we mess up, love helps us to apologize and forgive.  It makes us want the best for us all.  It heals our hurts.  It helps us to put others first.  When ever I am having a bad day, frustrated with everything, and ready to give up, I will hear one of their voices tell me they love me and it is enough.  To know I am so undeserving of their love, but they give it freely keeps me going.  It makes me know everything will be ok.  We will be ok. 
  • Miracles happen.  You don't hear so much about modern day miracles.  It seems like most people(myself included) feel like healings and miracles were left to the Bible.  But, Jesus is still performing miracles and if you look, you will see them.  I have witnessed transformations that I never thought could happen.  Only explanation?  Miracle.  We have been without food and money and not sure where we were going to get food for the next month.  But we did.  How?  Miracle.  I have been praying asking God for confirmation.  The doorbell rang seconds later with the mailman delivering my confirmation.  Miracle.  Boys whose families said they didn't want them, have welcomed them home with open arms and happy celebrations.  Miracle.  God is still a God of miracles.  Jesus still heals.  He still performs miracles.  
  • You don't know what has happened, so always be kind.  When the boys are on the streets, you can imagine what has happened to them, but they rarely tell the truth.  Maybe it is because they are ashamed, maybe because it is too painful to remember, maybe it is just because it is personal and they don't want to share.  Sometimes you can tell the kids are sad and heartbroken.  Sometimes they seem happy and joyful.  Just because they are happy and joyful doesn't mean that they aren't hurting.  Just because they are acting out, doesn't mean they are a bad kid.  Knowing them has reminded me that you never know someone's story, and so it is best to always treat people with kindness.  Maybe they are mean and hurtful because they are so afraid of being hurt again, they just want to make sure no one gets too close.  Maybe they push you away because they have never been loved before and the idea scares them.  You just never know.  Maybe that really mean, grouchy person you are thinking of right now, is just really hurting and your kind words could make a difference.
  • Kids are kids, everywhere.  Just the other day, I was reading something about kids and thought, "Hey, the boys do that."  It dawned on me, kids are kids no matter where they live.  They have good days and bad.  Some days they never want to leave your side, others they want to be as far away as possible.  They love to play and laugh and do silly things.  They are imaginative, resourceful, and creative.  They have an innocence to them, even when people have robbed them of it.  They need love and affirmation and good role models.  They need to be reassured of their place in this world and their worth.  It doesn't matter if I am talking about the boys in Uganda or in Antarctica, boys are boys.  Kids are kids.
  • Don't judge what's on the outside.  When you look at a boy on the street, you see a dirty, scrappy little mess.  Maybe shoes, maybe barefoot, mismatched and missized clothes.  Probably covered in dirt, grease, or oil.  Maybe high.  On the outside, they look a mess.  They look like you might want to cross the street or hold your purse and bags a little bit tighter if they are walking towards you.  But on the inside...They can be some of the best kids you will ever meet in your life.  So kind, so generous, so joyful, so loving.  I can't count how many times a boy insisted I share his one meal of the day with him, or the time a boy took off his shoe for an aunt because hers broke and he didn't want her walking barefoot, or how they will help with anything you ask.  It is true, you can't judge a book by its cover.  These kids have taught me to look deeper than what is on the outside.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tom

Tom was the first boy I chose to sponsor.

He lived at the bead house with Julius and Jacob.  He was a lot younger(11 or 12) so he wasn't part of the program really.  He helped make beads sometimes, but really the guy that managed the program(uncle) found him on the street and felt like he should bring him home.  So Tom stayed around but there was no money to go to school.

Right away, I noticed how bright Tom was.  When I would go there to teach them, he paid a lot of attention and usually got the right answer.  He was eager to learn.  He was also very polite and well mannered.  He did what he was told and rarely got in trouble.  I saw so much potential in him.  At the time, I still thought that  I was only going to stay in Uganda for a year.  I didn't have extra money, but I felt like if I could only help one boy, he was a good candidate.

So I made a deal.  I agreed to pay school fees if the uncle would take care of everything else.  We agreed he would continue to live with him, he would make sure he got to school each day, help with homework, and take care of all of the school supplies if I provided everything else.

Tom went to school and tested for which grade he would be placed in.  He could have been placed in fourth grade but he felt he would do better if he started in third.  He was so happy to be in school and worked so hard.  Each term, he was in the top 4, sometimes even first.  He scored almost perfect 100s every time.  If he wasn't first, he was so sad.

Tom lost both of his parents.  He was staying with an uncle before he came to the streets.  I don't know why he came to the streets but I don't think he was there long before he was taken to the bead house.  Last Fall/early winter, Tom decided that he wanted to go back to his village for a visit.  We of course happily let him go.  Turns out, his uncle was really happy to see him again and wanted him to live there again.  He couldn't provide school fees for Tom but he could provide everything else.  So we all agreed it would be best for Tom to stay with his family and I just continue helping with school fees.

Tom started primary 7 this year.  He skipped a few grades and it has been a little bit difficult for him.  He wanted to stay in class with his friends from the village.  He is still working really hard though and does his best.  Next year he will start secondary school.  I am hoping that he performs well enough on his exam to get into one of the best secondary schools.  He is a really smart kid and has a bright future ahead of him.  At one point, he said he wanted to be a missionary or a pastor.  I don't know if that has changed, but what ever he chooses I know he will be great!

Meet Tom!

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helping to make beads

Julius

Julius never talks.  Not like he can't, he just doesn't.  I have said some boys are quiet before, but Julius makes them look like mega extroverts and the life of the party.  I don't think there is a major reason for him not to talk, I think he is just a really quiet person.  He will chat every once in a while, but for the most part he prefers to listen to his music and be alone.

I met Julius when I first got to Uganda.  He was part of the paper bead making program with Jacob.  After a while, he had saved up some money and decided he wanted to return to his village.  He went back and we didn't hear from him or see him for many months.

And then one day he was back.

He rejoined the bead program and life went back to normal for him.  It turned out, his dad got angry at him and sent him away AGAIN! and told him to never come back.  When the bead program ended, Julius came home with us.

It isn't always easy with Julius because you never know if he is happy, angry, sad, etc. because he won't talk about it.  When we do group meetings, he prefers to stay in his room.  When we have dinner, he wants to eat alone.  He just likes to be alone.

Julius goes to school and tries really hard.  he was way behind when he started this year but because of his size, he's 15, they put him in primary 3.  He doesn't speak English well and can't read so he really struggles.  He hasn't given up though and keeps working at learning more and performing better.  Eventually he will catch up.

Julius has been back to his village 3 times now since he has joined the home.  Twice were during school holidays and once was for his sister's wedding.  We are helping him to try and rebuild that relationship with his family.  With time, I think old wounds will heal and they will continue to have happy reunions.

I spoke to Julius on the phone the other day.  It was a very rare occurrence. He wanted to tell me about his family and how happy they were to see him and see how he has been changing.  He told me they also really wanted to meet me.  I told him when I got back, we could go for a visit.

I am happy that he is able to go back to visit his family and reconnect with them.  With the short visits during the school holiday, all of the pressure is off of everyone and they can just reconnect and not have to worry about anything else.  It is really good to be able to see the kids so happy about visiting their families again, especially the ones I never thought would go back.

Meet Julius!

me and Julius

Julius is on the right

Richard and Julius

Julius at our old house.  He is standing outside our door.  The doors in the background were  our neighbors.

Monday, September 10, 2012

John

To be honest, I don't really know John.  He is one of the boys that has joined us after I left.  For the way the other boys rallied to convince me to let him stay, I just knew he was going to be amazing.

John was one of the boys that had been coming around the house for food after I left.  When the other boys found out that we were moving, they insisted that I let John and David come with us.  One boy, Ronald, even offered his spot in the home so John could have a chance.  They told me he has a really hard time on the streets and suffered a lot before, it would be so unfair of me to leave without him.

After I talked to him, I was convinced.  So John moved with us.  I know it is crazy, but I had peace about letting them both move with us even though I didn't know them.  I knew that God wanted him home with us.

I am glad he is.

I think it was not long before he came to live with us that I saw a photo of him with a friend on Facebook.  It made me laugh because he had put his name tag on his chin.  I thought he looked like a nice and funny kid.  I had no idea that he would be soon joining our family.

I spoke to John on the phone the other day.  While all of the other boys were angry at me and refusing to talk to me because they had gotten in trouble with me the day before, he happily took the opportunity to chat.  It never fails, every time we talk, he always says thank you.  He told me he was happy to be in the home, thanked me for sending him to school and helping him to see his family again.  He is always so kind, grateful, and genuine.

If I ask how the boys are or if there are any problems, I will never hear his name mentioned.  He is really quiet, gets along with everyone and stays out of trouble.  He works hard at school, helps around the home, and is overall a really good kid.  He is so easy going, well behaved, and laid back I have to specifically ask about him to get an update.

I wish I could tell you more about John.  I wish I had the history with him that I have with some of the other boys, but actually having a future is better.  He is safe now.  He has hope.  He has a future.  And I am so lucky to get to be a part of it.

Meet John!

John(l) with Jimmy and Julius in their school uniforms

John

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Joseph

Before I tell you about Joseph, you should read here.  I am super excited and thankful to the girls at Darling Companion for featuring us today!  Make sure you check out the post about LOT 2545 and follow them to be continuously inspired.



Now, on to Joseph....


I have written about Joseph many times before but they are all under the name Brian.  Brian is his nickname. How he got a normal name for a nickname, I may never know.  Since it was a normal name, I never knew it was a nickname.

The first time I found out was when we went to the hospital to get a rabies shot for him.  He was out collecting scrap and was attacked by a dog.  Just to be safe, we decided to take him to get the shot.  It was at the government hospital so it was free and it couldn't hurt him to have it.  So off we went.  When we got to registration, I asked him what his other name was.  He answered in such a whisper, I had to ask him many times and then told him to speak up.  That is when he told me his real name was Joseph and what his other name was.  I was shocked.

He wanted to be called Joseph, but I would forget.  I would ask the other boys about Joseph and they wouldn't know who I was talking about, so I kept forgetting and just calling him Brian.

It seems like a lot of our encounters were after he was bitten by a dog.  Another time, we were at camp for the boys on the street.  He had bitten a few days before but was still on antibiotics.  He was supposed to go back to the hospital to get another IV of antibiotics.  I started to feel really bad at camp but no one else would take him to the clinic.  I tried to hide my discomfort but by the end, I think he realized.  That was the sickest I had ever been.  By the time I walked into the house, I was crying and was in excruciating pain.  I don't know how I kept it together but I am sure it was only by the strength of God.  I am glad that I was there for Joseph that day.  It definitely helped us grow closer.

Things weren't always easy between us.  There was a long period of time where he was just a ball of anger and refused to speak to me.  I could say hi and he would walk past me as if I was invisible. The breakthrough came when a friend and I were fasting.  You can read about it here.

Joseph came into the home because he was attacked by a dog again.  I felt like that was God telling me, Joseph has had enough, you need to act.  So I asked the uncle to go and find him and bring him home.  Hearing his giggles and squeals the first time we talked on the phone was the best.  Since then, we have struggled.

A LOT

He has only been with us since May and he has already run away.  He came back but just wasn't ready for school, so he sat last term out.  School has started again and he is going again but we aren't sure he is ready. the thing is he is so young, maybe 12 or 13, but he has been on the streets for so long.  Maybe since he was 9.  He doesn't remember what it means to be safe and issues come up because of that.  He doesn't remember what it means to be loved, so he lies and manipulates to get his way.   He is hurting beyond anything I could ever imagine, even in my worst nightmares, and still wants to find comfort in drugs.

I know deep down, under all of the hurt and heartbreak, there is a wonderful kid.  It seems like he is too much right now, but I know he will change.  He just needs lots of love and time.  God has worked miracles in him before and I know that He will do it again.  Soon his beautiful smile won't just be a mask, but a reflection of his happiness and joy.

Meet Joseph!


Please pray for healing for Joseph and that his heart would settle and be softened.  Please pray that God would work another miracle for Joseph and help him let go of his past and look to the future.  Pray that Joseph would just let us in and let us love him.