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



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

Uncle Patrick and Ibra

Ibra at school



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 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!