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Africa Ministry

to change a nation, love the children

sam & irene

We pulled inside the gate, parked the car, and were immediately greeted by George, a young man who had a mental handicap but a heart of gold. As we walked inside the house, we passed by two elderly ladies sitting on mats on the ground. One clipping toenails, the other so happy to see us. The sloppy, wet kiss on my neck was evidence of that. George followed us into the living room and sat with us as we looked through the family photo album.

The morning meeting we had with Sam was incredible. At the local coffee shop, we heard him talk about his heart for the children of Uganda and how God led them to “set the lonely in families” rather than start orphanages. God spoke to him and his wife, Irene, to be family for children who had none. They’ve taken in around 40 children over the years, and as I heard him tell his story, I realized that this man didn’t just have a desire to see children have a roof over their head and a plate of food to eat. His desire is for them to experience family, to see them dream and find their personal calling in God. He wants to see God use the forgotten to bring transformation to every sphere of society.

“You must have HOPE to see transformation.”

That was it. Without hope, transformation doesn’t happen. You must have hope, and the place for these children to receive hope is in family, through love.

I heard all this, but those couple of hours we spent with Sam and Irene (and George) made his words come to life. I saw children come home from school and kneel to greet their father in the traditional Ugandan way. His response was beautiful. He grabbed their hand, pulled them up to him, and cupped their faces ever so gently. I saw every generation from wandering babies to wandering grandmothers toddling about in everyday life. This was the norm, and it was beautiful.

Sam and Irene started the foster family network in Uganda, also known as Orphans Know More. They, along with countless other families, are changing the destinies of these children, the ones the world might forget.

To change a nation, love the children.

That saying that is printed on one of our Ten Thousand Homes t-shirts is one that Sam and Irene are living out. They are changing the nation of Uganda by loving these children and fostering the God breathed dreams inside of them.

They are HOPE and HOME in Uganda, and it’s making an impact on the rest of Africa.

Africa in the studio Ministry photography

in the studio :: unselfish, brave love

Welcome to In The Studio, a place to show off your studio and meet some great artists! I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. We sure did. Even though we’re not in the states, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays you just can’t miss. 🙂 On to In The Studio… Although I have more Uganda stories to tell, this one will be my last one for In The Studio. You can find all of my Uganda stories here.

Today’s story is about Aisha. Her story is powerful. Some of my favorite photos I took in Uganda were of Aisha and her beauty. The short time I spent with her challenged me. I hope her story challenges you, too.

Aisha

Aisha looked like the age of a grandmother and yet the whole time she was telling us her story, she was holding and caring tenderly for a small child with a mental handicap. At one point, she stood up from her seat on the floor to go lay the sleeping child down. It wasn’t until I heard her story that I realized how much love this woman had.

Aisha was the first to get sick in her family. When a rash appeared, everyone said it was a sign of HIV. She went to get tested but feared this disease and the prognosis. However, she faced it head on with bravery and didn’t let her HIV positive status keep her from living life and loving. Her husband refused to get tested and soon died, leaving her with nine children to care for.

aisha love

She was greatly mistreated. Her own mother feared to come around her. She was taken to the village to die and at one point, found herself sleeping with the cattle, because there was no other place. After saying all that, her next sentence was one that surprised me.

“I’m grateful to God for what He has done.”

She didn’t blame God for the lot she got in life. She was thankful for His faithfulness to her. Such power. And the child Aisha so tenderly cared for while telling us her story? The child was brought to her, because she was unwanted by her mother. Aisha, engulfed with the love of God, welcomed the child in and loved her like her own.

Aisha in front of house

It was, it is, extravagant love for this HIV positive grandmother. I want to love like that, with an unselfish love that faces fears with bravery and lives the darkest moments with thankfulness.

Now it’s your turn! Remember your “studio” can be anywhere. Let’s celebrate each other’s creativity by linking up and visiting as many as the other studios as you can. Check out the about post for more info and don’t forget to grab the In The Studio button!

Africa Ministry photography

God has been there, especially in time of need

dorothy & shalom

When I walked into Dorothy’s house, there was a peace there that was God breathed. Her daughter, Shalom, was home early from school, and I was so glad we got to meet her. Dorothy conveyed her story…her husband died 10 years ago and left her with five children. She quickly passed over the past to talk about the now. I realized that the pain is indeed a part of her story, but it’s not THE story.

dorothy & shalom

“I thank God, because He has been there. God has been there, especially in the time of need.”

That’s her story, the faithfulness of God. It’s not a story of sadness but one of hope and peace. She explained how, in the moment of struggling, God opened up a way. Her and her children went from living in a one room house to a four room house. Dorothy has a business of raising chickens, and although she doesn’t have a room outside for them, she keeps all 100 of them in one of the rooms in her house! She’s not waiting for the right opportunity or the right tools to do it. She’s doing it with what she has.

chickens

When we asked if she was proud of her children, she smiled big. Meeting Shalom I can see why she would be so proud. Shalom lost her dad when she was just 2 weeks old. She thanked the Lord, because she says He brought them from afar. Her dream is to one day become an accountant and her prayer is that she will do well in her studies and God will provide the money for her to go to university.

shalom

As I knelt down to pray for Dorothy and Shalom, I was overcome with the spirit of excellence and of doing things well I felt in this home. It came from a deep place of hope in Jesus, and it was simply beautiful.

dorothy

I’ve been back from Uganda for almost three weeks. There’s still stories to tell, and I’m so glad that I can linger on my time there through these beautiful stories of HOPE.

Africa Ministry photography

it’s a blessing

“When visitors come to your place, it’s a blessing.” Ah, so that’s the secret I’ve been trying to figure out since I first came to Uganda in 2009. Irene summed it up in one simple sentence. The hospitable, welcoming spirit that the Ugandans possess is overwhelming, and I’ve found myself asking, “How do they do it? What’s their secret?”

irene and kids

Perspective. It’s all in their perspective.

They see people as a blessing, and it comes out in their words, in their heart, in their interaction with you. It was evident that this seeing people as a blessing was strong in Irene. She invited us into her home and shared with us the kids she’s taken in and how she’s teaching others in the village how to behave and care for themselves. I believed every word, but it was how she kept turning around to check on the patient laying on the hard floor behind her that I knew she was the real deal.

ivan

I found myself trying not to stare at the bones poking out of the thin blanket on the floor. I wondered at how old this woman was and what her story was. The information was shocking. It was Irene’s niece, thirty years old with six kids, and there she was on a thin mat, on a hard floor dying of HIV. We bent down to pray for her, and I saw on her wide eyed, sunken face the fear.

I also saw the hope in that home, and that’s the story. It’s not the death and the fear. It’s the hope of Jesus. Irene cares for people and has welcomed in her brother’s children, her niece, and her niece’s children. The handmade sign on the wall that Irene’s children made for her says it all.

irene loves her family

Irene loves her family.

In Irene’s heart, family is so much more than blood. It’s people who need hope, who need love. That’s her family.

So, as your home is filled with family and friends this Thanksgiving season, remember that having those warm bodies walk through your doors is a blessing. It’s a blessing to eat together, to laugh together, to live life together.

Africa in the studio Ministry photography

in the studio :: clucking chickens, hungry cats, and extravagant love

Welcome to In The Studio, a place to show off your studio and meet some great artists! With turkey day right around the corner, it seemed only fitting to share a story from my Uganda trip involving feathered friends. Last Friday I shared about Olivia. This week I’ve shared about Topistar and Jane. Storytelling is my of my favorite studios, so I’m loving the chance to exercise this outlet!

Recently God has been speaking to me about love. I love The Message version of 1 Corinthians 13:13…

“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

Love extravagantly.

mabel and her family

A couple of weeks ago, in an unfinished house in Jinja with clucking chickens and a hungry cat weaving in and out of my legs, I witnessed it…extravagant love. In the middle of Mabel telling us her beautiful story of God speaking to her that she was going to be Mama to many children, Joshua walked in. Mabel’s smile conveyed her surprise mixed with sheer delight that her boy was home from boarding school. He proudly brought her his paper that he received at school. It was a beautiful moment of real life right before my eyes, an imperfect setting with a perfect, extravagant love.

in the doorway

Mabel went on to tell us about how important it is to spend one-on-one time with each child, to help them through their grief and give them a chance to process and be heard. There’s 20 people in Mabel’s family. Twenty people.

It’s extravagant love, friends.

It’s God’s love.

mabel's home

And you know the two words this mighty woman of God kept saying in her unfinished house with clucking chickens, hungry cats, and 20 people to cook, clean, and care for?

God’s faithfulness.

That’s her story. Her story is about the faithfulness of God, and it translates into this beautiful tale of extravagant love that is real. That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? Trust, hope, and love, but the best of the three is love.

Now it’s your turn! Remember your “studio” can be anywhere. Let’s celebrate each other’s creativity by linking up and visiting as many as the other studios as you can. Check out the about post for more info and don’t forget to grab the In The Studio button!

Because next Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, I will not have the In The Studio link up, so I’ll see you in two weeks. Have a great week and an awesome Thanksgiving!