Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ugandan Orphans Find Hope Through a Simple Gift

Check out this video from our time in Uganda. Brittany Vos, who was one of our leaders, is from Canada. She got all her friends and family to donate stuffed animals with notes from children in Canada to the orphans in Uganda. She then brought hundreds of them over with us to Uganda. We gave them out at the orphanages we went to. The kids were so excited to receive their very own stuffed animal (something children in America would take for granted) and a handwritten note from children just like them all the way in Canada! It was so amazing to watch the joy on their faces as the gift was placed in their hands. They would show their new animals off to all their friends and ask us to read the notes to them. I think this was a gift they will never forget! And our team will never forget this experience either!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Jinja, Uganda

We held a kids camp for the kids in villages on our second week in Uganda. 

We expected only about 150 and ended up with over 500 by the end of the week! It was very challenging and stretching, but God really showed up. He taught us a lot through teaching the kids about our Jesus.

Here is a story from my team mate Brittany from the kids camp:

Feeding the (Not Quite) 5000
"There were lines of children coming to get food. The surprise came the first day when we were expecting around 100 children and over 300 children showed up. We did not expect that many on the first day and throughout the week the number has grown! That changed our plans a bit with the lessons and games of course, but also with the food.  We ran out of food one of the days and the older kids did not get lunch.

Now as we were serving lunch, it was quite clear that we were not going to have enough food. The last group had arrived and we were nearing the end of the pots of food.  I know my God and he provides for His children. He brought each one of them to the camp this week to hear the messages of 'Redeeming Love'.  I am serving food, but I am also praying 'Lord Multiply this food'.
That multitude was fed. They weren't 5000, but Jesus fed them. Not only physically but also spiritually He fed them, and there’s a lot more than 5000 still waiting!"

Jinja Preschool:

In February we came back to help out at the preschool on campus. It was really cool to be able to see what a well-run preschool is like in Uganda.

Check out this video from the kids camp and the preschool:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Loving One by One

They Called Me "Auntie Sharon":

Sharon and Auntie Sharon (me).

The kids at New Creation Family Home were so very sweet and welcoming! 
They gave more to us then we could ever give to them. 

We spent 5 days at this wonderful children's home in Kampala, Uganda. Even though we didn't think it would be enough time to make a huge difference in their lives, or even in ours, it was. We spent our days there hanging out with the kids, playing games, doing crafts, taking lots of pictures together, worshiping Jesus, and having devotions with them. 

Playing Phase 10 with the kids

These sweet kids gave us so much. They loved us, they cared for our health, they wanted the best for us. Everything we made they would end up giving it to one of us, they never forgot to say thank you, they included us in the things they were doing, every time we would give them something they would turn around and give us a note or small gift to thank us. By the end they had made each one of us at least 10 little notes. Starting with "Dear Auntie"...

The notes from the children

Their love was very evident. These kids have been through so much in their short lives. 

Most of them grew up in families where love is not given, shown, or even known. But these kids now know how to love. 

And it's because these kids are now in a loving family environment where they are taught how to love each other, by loving care takers, and even more importantly how much God loves them. 

"Hospitals that Cannot Treat Them":

This story actually starts before our outreach to Uganda. When I was praying and seeking God about where I should go on outreach, a song started to play on my ipod, 

"...Babies underneath their beds, in hospitals that cannot treat them.
All the wounds that money causes, all the comforts of cathedrals,
All the cries of thirsty children, this is our inheritance,
All the rage of watching mothers, this is our greatest offense

Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God." -Oh My God, by Jars of Clay

and this phrase caught my attention "...hospitals that cannot treat them...". At this point I was feeling a strong pull towards Uganda, but didn't have a clear answer from God yet. I wrote that phrase down in my journal, even though this could apply to any place in the world. I had heard how bad the hospital conditions are in Uganda, but I had never been to one. So this still left me felling unsure, but after a few more days of waiting on God, I did finally choose Uganda. 

Fast forward a few months when we were on the ground in Uganda... we were at New Creation Family Home and the director (who is from the US) was showing us around town one of the days. We randomly decided to go to the local hospital in Kampala to hand out biscuits (cookies) to the children in the children's ward and pray with them. As soon as we stepped foot in the hospital our hearts were broken. There was a strong smell of infection in the air, loud cries coming from sick little ones, and sighs of so many lying on their beds in pain. This hospital is free, but the conditions are so bad. 

We were told that 75% of the people who come here to be treated will die within the first 2 months. 

There are only a few doctors, and surgeries are done really poorly. The patient has to bring everything with them, sheets, clothing, food, water, etc. And even a caretaker who will look after them while they are in the hospital. The only thing that is provided is a bed. Many Ugandans have no other option, because they can't afford to pay to go to a private hospital. So many just come and ultimately wait there to die. So you can imagine why there is a feeling of hopelessness in the air. They really don't have much hope of living... of getting better. 

This was a very hard thing to witness. We had to fight to stay positive. Once we got in the children's ward, though, and started handing out biscuits and talking with the children and their caretakers, the joy began to form on their faces. We got so many smiles, thank you's, and warm greetings. We prayed with them and spent time with them. We gave them hope, we gave them love, we gave them joy, we gave them Jesus... that day. 

It wasn't until this day that I was reminded of the phrase I had wrote down in my journal, and began to piece the puzzle together. God had called each of us here for a reason. He wanted us to witness this, so that we would cry out to him. So that we would ask Him to give them hope and healing. 


The next day we went to visit a plot of land where the new children's home will be located. Soon they will move to this beautiful spacious home, where there will be more room for growth. Here is a story from my teammate Renae about the experience she had there: 

"During the first week of outreach we went to visit Graceland, the beautiful land that Loving One by One will be moving to once they are finish building. Right when we got there, kids from the streets around the land came to see who we were. They were obviously very poor and covered in dirt. There were some as young as six years old caring for their younger siblings. Right when we started taking pictures of them, smiles started to light up their tired faces. We started singing songs and some joined in. While we were standing there, one little girl caught my eye. She kept looking at me and after a while of me smiling at her and taking her picture, she smiled back. She told me her name was Alice and she was six years old. Her little sister was about four or five and looked completely exhausted. She was not so quick to smile and seemed pretty unsure of how safe I was. I asked Alice if she would like to sit on my lap and her quiet yes could not have been loud enough. I have no idea how much affection they receive but my gut feeling made me think that it was very little. She asked her sister to sit down with her but she still seemed to think that she was not wanted. I took her hand and just held it. That small touch made a huge difference in her response to me. She started to smile a little and looked at me in the eyes very curiously. I asked if she wanted to sit on my lap and she finally agreed. She sat down and looked up at me like she had never known a love like that before. I pulled her close and she started to nod off but too afraid to rest her head on me. I brought her head to my chest and she fell into a deep sleep, even starting to snore. This little girl, whose name I do not even know, was an exhausted child who deserved the love of Jesus more than I could ever understand. I could have sat there on the itchy grass and hot sun forever if it meant that I could show this precious child how very wanted she is. As I sat there, knowing I had to leave very soon, I felt the Lord say to me," She is mine and I love her more than you know. I will be holding her even after you let go." That is the only peace I had about leaving. Ever since then, I have met so many kids just like her and every time, God has reminded me that even though I am leaving in a little over a week, His presence will stay with them forever. "

Renae and the little girl

It was so great to be able to see the new land and know that soon the children of New Creation Family Home will be happily running around and enjoying this beautiful place. They will have an "open door policy" and allow the neighbors to come by and have a chance to share the Gospel with them. We got a little taste of what that will look like as we played with the children from the surrounding villages. It was a clear reminder of the beauty here, in the people and in the land.

Here is a slideshow I made that summarizes 
our time with Loving One by One:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ray of Hope

Learning About Jesus Through Crafts and Bible Stories:

While our team was working with Ray of Hope ministries in Uganda we were asked to put on a kids camp for the kids who go to the local church. This wasn't a new thing for us. The week before we had run a kids camp and felt pretty confident and ready to teach these kids about Jesus. Each day we had a different topic, bible story, and craft. We would pick a bible story that went with the craft for the day and teach it to the different age groups. We told the bible story, explained it and asked questions, and for the application we would do the craft. This structure worked really well for the kids and they enjoyed every minute of it.  

For The Woman at the Well (which is found in John 4), we read the story and explained how Jesus gives us everything we need, and we can always trust Him. For the craft we made our own "wells". We had scraps of construction paper cut into rectangles, so they could be the "bricks" and had the child draw the top of the well. In each of the "bricks" the child wrote one thing that Jesus gives to them or does for them.  Then they would glue them on the paper finishing their "wells".

Proud of her work.

This young woman is blind so Brittany is helping her with her craft.

For Joseph's Coat of Many Colors (which is found in Genesis 37) we read the story, talked about how Joseph was very special and was his father's favorite child, so his brothers were jealous of him. Because of their jealousy they did a very bad thing to Joseph (they sold him into slavery) and lied to their father telling him that Joseph was dead. Even though all these bad things happened to Joseph God still used his circumstances for good in the end. We then explaind thata God will do that for us too, because we are His children and He loves us. For the craft we cut out little people from construction paper and had the kids make their own "Joseph". The colored in the coat with many colors. The kids worked really hard on this craft and were very creative with the designs. I think it's safe to say this was one of their favorite crafts of the week, because they carried them around all day and showed them off waiting for a "Good job" or "I like that!" It was so cute!

For The Creation Story (found in Genesis 1 and 2) we read the story and explained how God created everything in the world, even us! He made each of us special in our own way. We all look different, talk different, and even act different. God wanted us all to be different, and this shows just how great He is! So, we did a hand print craft with the kids. We had each of them write their name on the paper, trace their hand, and color it in or write words that describe them and how God sees them.

The adults helping the younger kids.

They really enjoyed this! I think it was a new thing for them.

Showing off her beautiful work.

The beauty of this idea is not only did the kids learn a lot from these bible stories and crafts, but they could take them home to their families and tell them what their learned. 

Watch these videos from our time at Ray of Hope.

Ray of Hope Children's Choir:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


My Discipleship Training School is now over.

Last night was Graduation.

Before the ceremony

Flash Mob after the ceremony :) 

Officially a DTS graduate!

I never imagined this would be as good of an experience as it has been. I knew it would be awesome. I knew we would spend several months learning more about Jesus and several months overseas loving on beautiful children, and that would be awesome. But I didn't know it would be the most incredible experience of my life! DTS has been more than I could have ever imagined every moment of it! 

I also never imagined just how hard it would be when it ended. Spending 6 months with so many amazing Jesus loving, justice filled people and then having to part ways. 

Grace, Sam, Kenzie, Carly, Maya, Marlo, Katie, Courtney, Nicole

Me, Emily, Kayla, Corrie

Abi and I

Caleb, Corrie, Emily

Liis (my favorite Estonian!)

Jordan, Ranae, and I

Bailey and I

This morning I said goodbye to the most amazing friends ever... it was a really hard day, but thinking back on all God has done through this time makes me speechless  I don't even have the words for it yet! 

God thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this! I couldn't imagine being anywhere else the past 6 months! 

I will still be in Wisconsin for the next two weeks, processing what I've learned and what I've seen on outreach, attending a YWAM Fundraising Seminar, and visiting friends (the Stoiber family). Then on the 25th I will be traveling home to South Carolina!! I'm so excited to see everyone and begin to share everything that God has been teaching me and the experiences I've had the past 6 months! Please bare with me as I slowly begin to put my thoughts into words and write them here on my blog, put up pictures, put together slideshows, and make my newsletters for the past two months. I am thankful I have this week to start that process, and I can continue when I get home. 

Thank you friends and family for standing with me, encouraging me, sending donations and praying for me during this time. I love you all and thank God for you, because without you all I would not have been able to do this!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Last Day in Uganda

Today was perfect! We started out with worship on the roof. Then, debriefing, an amazing lunch at a resort hotel. Next, we spent the afternoon on the beach at Lake Victoria. It was so incredible. Then to top it all off we had pizza for dinner!! First time eating pizza in 2 months! Thanks God for your blessings today!

Please pray for our teams as we travel back to Wisconsin. Thanks!

See you on the other side! :)