I haven’t sat much during the past week or so. We have been going, going, and when we though it would so down, continued going.
I think Gary is gone for good. He hasn’t called, he hasn’t written, he stopped sending flowers, and I don’t know what to think. My guess… He made it big on the Discovery Channel and moved to a nicer place on the Nile. I think I saw him the other night during Reptile Riviera. You just can’t trust geckos these days. On the other hand, Tony has entered our lives. Tony is the Chameleon that has been hanging around recently. Turns out, Chameleons change color not based on their surroundings for camouflage like many think, but actually their moods. Google it. Or believe me, because I already did. We like to think Tony talks in an Italian mob-like accent. (add Italian mob-like accent here) “Yo talkin’ to me? Ya? Keep da change ya filthy animal” Home Alone anybody? (This is what happens after over a month of time when there is only one human around who fully understands your language.)
The past days between my last written blog post and now, have been ridiculously busy. SO much has happened, and SO much is still in the plans of happening. God is moving like I have never experienced. Words on a blog will not do it justice, but I again will do my best.
God’s timing is exceptionally perfect. Even when I humanly question it on occasion, I am always shown how exact and precise it is. (Proverbs 3:5-6) When I am impatient, God doesn’t just always bestow a miraculous gift of patience, God gives me an opportunity to be patient. (James 1:2-4) When I am comfortable, God weaves in an inciting incident that causes me to move. (Romans 5:3-5) When I take a second and really examine how intricate God’s plan is, it amazes me. When I think about my life after FULLY surrendering to His will, everything from the past, everything now, and everything in the future is perfectly woven together. I know that there are no such things as coincidences, everything happens for a reason, and it is all for the glory of God. (Romans 8:28). I honestly didn’t know exactly the reason why I was coming to Uganda. I knew I was to go though. When you feel the power of God pull you towards anywhere, even Africa, you go. I was very confident in the journey, even though I didn’t know the ultimate endeavor. Many things were in my head, and there are probably many reasons God has me here, but I now know one for certain. God’s children are in need. And they have been put in my life, and I in theirs, again… for a specific reason.
I am about to be very transparent and honest right now, so if you don’t want to know the truth, feel free to discontinue reading. Just to let you know the sugar coating in this story is about to melt away. You reading this probably know from my earlier blog posts, pictures, and the recent video we made, we have been drawn towards certain children at an orphanage in Kampala. They were in need, and we had resources to meet their needs (thank you again). Our heart broke for these kids in their situation. They do not have clean water. It is pumped from a rusty well, which is filled with impurities and disease causing bacteria. The water is not boiled before they drink it. They didn’t eat but a few times a week. When they did eat, it was rice and beans, served in what looked like dog bowls. Their clothes are rarely washed, and look like something you would find in the trash. These are hand me down’s hand me downs. Most of them had not left the orphanage in years. The trip to the zoo was the first time those kids had left in TWO years. The other day we were walking down the street to get juice and bread with the youngest children, which has become our favorite part of the day. We noticed marks on their feet. David asked them what it was. Vivian replied, “It is from the rats that bite our feet at night while we sleep.” The same day, we found out Dennis and Fatuma had Malaria. All of the children have worms, and most have visible ringworm on their scalp. We are praying our fear that some may have HIV turns out to be false. We will know soon. They are sick, and literally dying, and no one is doing anything! How can I describe heartbreak with more emphasis? Are there words? If so, I can’t find them. These precious children are malnourished, thirsty, sick, have no family, are clothed in rags, and inside a prison cloaked as an orphanage. Please read Matthew 25:34-45. This is what Jesus is talking about. Don’t get me wrong, there are many MANY other cases across this world, probably not many miles from your home, but this is one is very VERY clear. Are we to continue to quick fix the problem? Are we to merely bandage the wound? Not this time, not in this situation, and not with these children. God desires more and is very clearly and quickly leading to more. God desires healing and is going to use people like you and me to be a part of a miracle. We need your help. I pray that these words find you with a generous heart that desires to be a part in the miracle of saving God’s children.
Back to God’s timing… God placed a piece of a vision in many different people, and now is beginning to put the puzzle together. All of us desiring to follow God’s will are now seeing the fruit of his Spirit. Once we got to Africa, we discovered this situation with these children. The story had a little more clarity. We began to act on God’s voice, and formed relationships that we could not do without. God placed people in our lives that would be essential for this healing to take place. Patrick, David, Eddie, Alfred, Phiona, Brendah, Julias, & Aggie are Ugandans we now call friends. All of our hearts ached for these kids, and God used it to shove us into motion. The government has now intervened, and is drastically reducing the size of the previously formed orphanage to make it manageable. Children are in route back to the streets or the pieces of families that could not take care of them in the first place. The past few weeks God had revealed so much in the next steps. It is as if we finally found the box top to the puzzle, and were able to see the final picture. Now we are taking the steps to get there. The best part is God is guiding every step. How could we step wrong if the artist of the picture is guiding the strokes?
Want to see the beautiful picture being painted or the intricate puzzle being solved? We had the vision, and formed the idea. The people were put into place, long before we knew the reason, and the friendships took root. The old orphanage after many years is just now being reduced and relocating children. Good relationships had been made in the past, which gave us access to these children. The children are in desperate need and we know others with the resources to help. We found a house. A big house. 5 bedrooms, large compound with lots of green grass, and a view that overlooks the lush countryside of Kampala. It just happens to be right next to a Christian school. We went to the orphanage on a Tuesday, when we normally don’t, and just happened to run into the government agent handling the case. Another relationship formed in perfect timing, perfectly put into place. The next Wednesday, on another visit to the home we just happened to run into the Home director and told him our idea. We can’t take all, but we can take some of these children and really… really care of them and grow them in a Christian environment that will provide for their every need. We sat down and picked the 20 children we were going to take. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We of course decided to take the 14 we have been around so much and already fallen in love with, but then had room to take 6 more. We knew a few older ones amongst the many, which stood out to us for some reason. I don’t know why they stood out from the 96 children, but we mentioned them to the director. As he smiled, he replied back, “Those are actually the siblings to the previous younger one’s you are wanting to take.” Chills ran up my arms when we realized that we just selected siblings. By coincidence? These are a few of may examples. It is just God at work, guiding every step, every decision, and every thought.
Back in Birmingham, Suzanne Owens and many others are working tirelessly to put together a non-profit organization to make this dream reality. Sozo Children International. It is a vision to build orphanages across the globe. We will grow leaders in their own communities built solid on the foundation of Christ, and educated to give back to their community. The will have the resources to turn their home into a desirable home and share Christ’s love with others. We are making disciples, to in turn make disciples, to make disciples, to make disciples… should I go on? We are taking a step of faith. When I refer to we, I refer to many more than Jay and I. There are many here in Uganda and back home in the States on board. A few of us are fronting the money and making this happen now. We are trusting in the voice of God and his provision in his plan. One of the best parts is, this reliance on God will only give me more words of an incredible story to post on this blog about God’s faithfulness! He is always faithful. God has never proven unfaithful. It is about our trust. I have to remind myself to FULLY trust, not just most of the way or what will not take me out of my comfort zone. But COMPLETE trust.
Sozo – a Greek word for “to save; to rescue; to make well; to heal; to save one from suffering”
Sozo Children International is going to change children’s lives forever. This ministry is going to literally save children out of poverty and suffering. Sozo will provide a way for them to personally know Christ, and share his love with others. It is going to make an impact across the globe. Jesus’ love will be clearly illustrated through caring for orphans. Help it happen. Be a part of God’s miracle. God is simply waiting on your trust and your “Yes” to him. He will provide. I want to ask whoever reads this, to be a part of what is happening.
If you haven’t already seen the video we made I encourage you to watch it. Very soon I am going to have many many more pictures and stories about the children and us moving into the new home! God bless
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”