Thursday, September 27, 2012

You shall not see...and ignore...

A message written by my pastor.

In Deuteronomy 22:1-4 - a section well-labeled “Various Laws” in the ESV - we come across this interesting & oh so practical passage; even though it speaks of wandering oxen & fallen down donkeys. See what I mean:

“You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. 2 And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. 3 And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother's, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. 4 You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.” (Deut. 22:1-4 ~ ESV)

Did you see the “see / ignore” in both vs. 1 & 4?
Go ahead, look. I’ll wait.

If you see a need and ignore it - don’t help - you have sinned against your brother.
Find something that’s not yours?
Tend to it. Get it back to its owner. Seek to reunite them.

Notice a need bigger than can be done alone
- a downed donkey - an emergency repair, a huge project?
Grab a wrench, lend a hand, a skill give an hour, a twenty.

This “Various Laws” passage could easily be called a “love your neighbor as yourself” text. Does the Good Samaritan story comes to mind? It does now.  These “random rules” answer one of Scripture’s first questions (an attempted responsibility dodge): “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). When able, we are to help as we can.

What a great passage for parents to use to help clarify and enforce as they teach their kids to return treasures they find and want to keep. “Finders keepers, losers weepers” is seeing and ignoring. It is acting as if found money, phones or cool shades are not someone’s property.

Note: helping others can be inconvenient – a serious schedule interrupter. Catching, corralling, feeding and cleaning up after an errant donkey is no five minute duty.

One might wish to wear blinders. Ignorance is bliss? What ya don’t know can’t hurt ya? Wrong. It hurts others. It offends Their Maker. He sees you see and sent you to help. We are to live with eyes open to needs around us and then do what we can to help.

“You shall not see… and ignore… you shall restore…
“You shall help him to lift them up again…”

Shades of “do unto others….”? Yep?
Be good as gold, help meet other’s needs.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Support Update & Prayer Requests

Due to the generosity of my friends & supporters I have already received over half of the funds I needed to raise for the second half of this year (expenses that were not included in my monthly budget, such as airfare & travel expenses going home, insurance from June to November, and extra visas since I extended my stay). 
I have received $1,330 but I still need $1,040. Every little bit helps!
If you are interested in helping me reach 100%, there are a couple of ways you can give.
An easy way is to send it to me directly via Paypal – just click the yellow donate button at the upper right hand corner of this blog. If you need your gift to be tax deductible, you can give through my sending organization, Ripe for Harvest. They offer several ways to donate to my account (#318). You can donate by credit card or set up automatic recurring donations at their website by clicking here, or mail checks to:

Ripe for Harvest World Outreach
P.O. Box 487
Monument, CO 80132

(Make the check out to Ripe for Harvest. In the memo please write my name & account #318). IRS guidelines stipulate that contributions are made with the understanding that Ripe For Harvest World Outreach has complete control and administration over the use of the donated funds and that no goods or services are provided in exchange for said donations.

I also have a few prayer requests! 
1. Because I was not planning on being here this long, I never got a work permit but have instead been getting by with special pass visas. Mine expires in a couple of weeks and I just need to get one more to get me through til time to go home...please pray for favor with the internal affairs office so that I can get this last one with no trouble.

2. Yesterday I got a crick in my neck and am currently unable to turn my head...please pray for healing! It's painful enough that I can't concentrate on my work..

3. Please pray as I try to finish things up and wrap up my responsibilities here. We have another girl coming to replace me...please pray that her support would come in quickly so that she can get here and I can train her before I leave! Also please pray for my heart and the hearts of the girls as the time comes to say goodbye.

Thank you so much for reading, praying, and giving. I appreciate you! 
Much love,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kids Matter Here

I sit across from him and he looks down at the table while he talks. Sometimes he just needs to talk and there’s not too much I can answer with…how do you give answers to someone who has lived on the street for 12 years? Whose mother left him alone in the hut when he was five, only to never come back? He tells me he feels guilty staying in a nice place and eating food every day when his friends…who are basically his family…are still sleeping in the cold and sniffing kerosene to numb the hunger. He tells me about the other day when they got arrested for something and he went and pleaded with the police to let them go.

He quotes, word for word, Matthew 25:35-40.

“35 I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, 36 naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 The righteous will then answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!”

Have you ever sat across from a street kid while they quoted the words of Jesus to you?

A few days later… he and his friends play around down the narrow alley while they wait for me to finish talking with someone. He sent four of them off to Kampala earlier in the morning to a street kid center, where at least they will be a little bit safer for a little while. He couldn’t get enough money to send all of them though. Three of them pose while the fourth one takes photos on a borrowed camera phone. The sun shines so bright in the back that you can’t see their faces in the photo…only silhouettes. They turn their backs to me to make another pose. One boy, the size of my little brother, is wearing a dirty, faded shirt that says in bold letters on the back “KIDS MATTER HERE.” If kids mattered here, he wouldn’t be spending the day roaming the streets with bare feet and an empty stomach.  He would be in school. He would have a home to go to tonight when it gets dark and the fierce thunderstorm hits. Chances are, he has at least one parent somewhere. Maybe they remarried and the step-parent wouldn’t accept him. Maybe they are too poor so they sent him away to find a way to take care of himself. Maybe it wasn’t actually their fault… but I’m almost certain it wasn’t HIS fault, and whatever the story, I know that he probably doesn’t believe those words on his shirt.

Some cultures have a better grip than others on the value of children. But as the church, we should have the best grip…we should be the ones empowering people to take care of their children well. Teaching them to train their children and love them unconditionally the way that God loves us. If they have no one, we should be the first ones caring for them and protecting them. It might look a little bit different for the Church in Uganda and the Church in America… and it might look different for you and me. But everyone can do something.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Daily Details

Outside my window…
You can see tons of stars, the Milky Way, and palm trees :)

I am thinking…
I ate too many Oreos and now I'm not going to be able to sleep.

Noticing that…
Mosquitoes have gotten worse over the last couple of weeks because of all the rain.

I am thankful for…
Friends who make an effort to keep in touch in spite of distance!

From the kitchen…
Adunu or "White Fruit" - tastes like bubble gum 

I am wearing…
Comfy skirt & comfy t-shirt.

I am reading...
"The Life You've Always Wanted" by Ortberg, though I haven't really gotten into it yet.

I am hoping…
That the next few months are going to move a bit slower than the last few.

Pondering these words…
"Neglecting Jesus/the Gospel is the same as rejecting Him/it." from a podcast we listened to tonight.

I am hearing…
Crickets, weird night bird, my fan

Around the house…
A mouse that's immune to poison and can walk across a glue trap like Jesus walked on water.

One of my favorite things…
My USB internet modem.

A few plans for the rest of the week…
Get a birth certificate for our newest girl, take 17 little girls swimming, and attend Mexican food night with most of the other mzungus who live in Gulu.

Special times…
Peter, so proud of his learner's permit
-Three days ago I announced to the girls that I would give rewards for each verse they learned in order from Romans 12. Yesterday I went and Nancy (15 year old) quoted all 21 verses flawlessly.
-Emmy smiles easier and easier these days...all I have to do is say EMMY!
-Catching up with my regular bodas to see how their day was on the ride home each night.
-Peter got his learner's permit!

Recent photo...
Rainy season - my yard as a sudden lake

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Update

Dear friends,

I was overwhelmed by your response when I asked if anyone would be willing to help the Zion girls go to Scripture Union Bible camp this past week. They went and will even be covered for next time as well. I really appreciate your willingness and your generous hearts! Thank you!
The girls had an absolute blast at camp. They got home on Thursday so I went to visit them and find out how they enjoyed it. Everytime I asked someone "What did you learn at camp?" They immediately started rattling off Bible verses left and right. Here are some of the other things they shared with me:

"We learned how to study the Bible. We learned a song about sharing with friends to show God's love. And we had tea three times a day!" - Naomi

"We learned how to make friends, how to share with your friends, how to read the Bible, and how to have a quiet time: Pray, read, think, pray, and do!" - Jacky

"God taught me to know how to treat my friends." - Afosina

"We learned many things. They taught us four memory verses: Isaiah 43:19, Psalm 139:14, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and Luke 10:27." - Nancy

I know that the girls learned a lot of important things last week. Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us that God's Word does not return to Him empty, but it accomplishes what He desires. Thank you so much for giving and praying for the girls.

The girls have about 3 full weeks left before they return to school, and we have lots of fun activities planned. Pray for each of the caregivers (Joyce, Harriet, Kevin) and myself as the girls are home all day every day. When the girls are in school, they leave very early in the morning (by 7) and return home at 5 or later.
Of course we spend time with them and teach them during the school terms, but the time we have with them when they are home during the holiday is so much more and we want to make the most of it. Pray that we would be creative and intentional about the time that we have for teaching and investing in them.
Some topics that we plan to cover include character building, how to be a good friend, conflict management, honesty, and making good choices. Pray for our lesson preparations as well as the girls' hearts!

If you remember in my last update, I mentioned a young man named Peter who is a former street kid, and is trusting God to provide for his needs. I met him through my friend Richard, who is starting a ministry to street kids here in Gulu. Many of you responded to my request for help for Peter as well and I want to say thank you! It has been so exciting to see how God has provided for him, and how his faith has increased over the last few months. During this holiday he is attending driving school so that he will have a source of income in the future. Next year he will finish primary school and will soon be making a decision between going on to secondary (high school) or taking more technical classes & training. I appreciate your prayer for the new ministry that Richard is starting, for Peter as he works hard to finish school, and for the other street children in Gulu & other parts of Uganda.

Last month I was paid a visit by some other missionaries under Ripe for Harvest. One is my friend Ryan who has been serving in Kampala, and one is a new friend named Deb who serves in Kenya. It was so fun to get some time with them, do some touristy things around Gulu, and fellowship with friends who are also serving in East Africa and understand some of the challenges. I was thankful that they took the time to visit.
A couple of days after they left, another friend who used to live in Gulu came back to visit with a team and brought over not one, not two, but FIVE care packages from my friends & family. It was like Christmas, only in July. :) Both of these blessings came at just the right time. I have never been gone this long before, so it was nice to receive some encouragement from friends here and at home. Just wanted to thank God for His goodness and faithfulness in sending us just what we need at just the right time!

Future Plans & Financial Needs
I am wrapping up my work at Zion Project and returning to Tennessee in November for the holidays. I do not know what is next after that but I know that God is going to lead me and direct me to whatever He has next for me. I appreciate your prayers as I prepare to leave, that God would prepare my heart for saying goodbye to the Zion girls (and that He would prepare their hearts as well). Please also pray that I would make the most of the next 3 1/2 months and accomplish the things He has for me here before I go. I have several responsibilities in addition to the children's home, but I need wisdom for what to focus my time and energy on as I prepare to go.

I am so thankful for each of you and the ways you have played a part in my life and ministry here in Gulu. I am always amazed at the ways that God provides for me. There are a few ongoing financial needs that I have that are not covered in my current monthly income. If the Lord leads you to give, the information is below.

Current needs:
Plane ticket & travel home: $1,200.00
Visa extensions: $200.00
Insurance from June to November: $870

I am still a missionary under Ripe for Harvest, and they offer several ways to donate to my account (#318). You can donate by credit card or set up automatic recurring donations at their website by clicking here, or mail checks to:
Ripe for Harvest World Outreach
P.O. Box 487
Monument, CO 80132
(Make the check out to Ripe for Harvest. In the memo please write my name & account #318). IRS guidelines stipulate that contributions are made with the understanding that Ripe For Harvest World Outreach has complete control and administration over the use of the donated funds and that no goods or services are provided in exchange for said donations.)

Thank you so much for reading. Your prayers, support, and encouragement are so important and such a blessing.God bless you!
Much love,

Friday, July 27, 2012

How to Make a Missionary Feel Loved

Visit them.

Send them stuff they miss from home.

Send them words.

Feeling loved. =)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

To be free...

Happy 4th of July! Thankful for my freedom but thinking of those who aren't free (in America & elsewhere). 

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." -Nelson Mandela

Monday, June 18, 2012

Still Here...

My friend posts on facebook that she misses Gulu.
I realize I am IN Gulu.

Another friend says, “My heart will always be in Africa.”
I realize my whole self is currently in Africa.

Yes, I miss my family, my friends, my dog, my car, and Taco Bell. I’m missing the first year of my best friend’s first baby’s life. I’m missing the first few months of my other best friend’s first baby’s life. When I get back they might already be in the “fear of strangers” stage, and I will be a stranger.

I’ve missed weddings, and birthdays, and family vacations, and holidays, and trips to Taco Bell.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the dust, the heat, the corruption, the confusion, the delays, the discouragement, the lack of tacos, and to forget how much your heart aches when you leave this place. I was supposed to leave in November, then March. But I’m still here. I’m in Africa. I’m in Gulu.

Don’t waste it. Don’t wish it away. Don’t forget how it’s going to hurt when you have to leave. 
Being here now is a gift. An unexpected one, and unrequested, but requiring thankfulness just the same.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June Update

Dear friends & family,

This update is long overdue, and I apologize! The last time you heard from me, I was thinking I would be finished at Zion around March or April. In February I was seriously considering moving to Juba, South Sudan to work with Confident Children Out of Conflict. I would have been doing similar work to what I am doing here in Gulu. God eventually made it clear that I was not to move to Juba, and I applied for a few jobs in the states with anti-trafficking organizations but no doors opened. In addition, the girl who was supposed to come in March to take my role at the kids home ended up not coming. So, in March I ended up remaining in Gulu. I am here until God opens a door and makes it clear that I should move on, possibly just until I get the Zion children’s home approved under the local government.


My role has looked a little bit different since I came back in January. Our children’s home has been short staffed since then, so I began taking on shifts as a caregiver. This has given me the opportunity to get to know the girls even better, and also involved me in things such as discipline and correction (whereas before I just got to be the fun aunty who came in the afternoons to tutor!) There are three of us: Joyce, Harriet, and myself. I am the oldest right now, so Joyce and Harriet often look to me for the answers, and I often don’t have them! Four of our girls are now entering their teens and they are making sure that we are aware of the fact. We need prayer for wisdom and patience, and especially for another caregiver that will truly love the girls and be willing to stick around for a long time. I am so thankful for the years I had growing up at Bancroft and working as a camp counselor… I don’t think anything could have prepared me better for being an “aunty” to 17 girls. Even though the environment and the culture are different, you still run into many of the same issues – when a girl is sick and you have to decide whether to take her to the doctor or wait it out, when somebody steals somebody else’s shoes just as you’re trying to get everyone out the door, when girls get in an argument and you just want to make a fair judgement… thankfully my experiences at camp prepared me for many of the issues we face each day.

I didn’t understand why God wasn’t letting me go to Juba, but over the last few months it’s been clear that He wasn’t done with me here at Zion. I’ve been here long enough now that the Zion girls have really begun to trust me, and I’ve had the opportunity to really speak into some of their lives. I would have missed out on that and the opportunity to continue building on the relationships that were already there if I had left and gone to Juba to start from scratch again. I’m now thankful that He kept me here and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts! (Isaiah 55…see the end of my email).

Last month we took in a new girl, Lakisa Lucy. She is a total orphan and had been living with her step-mother, but she was not receiving the care that she needed, and one day her step-mother even tried to strangle her. Much like Nancy, from last year, it was a tough decision because Lucy is already 13 years old, and it’s difficult for girls of that age to come into a home. Most children’s homes will not accept children over the age of 10 or 11, so when we hear about someone like Lucy there is really no way we can help her, other than taking her in ourselves. Please remember her in prayer as she adjusts to life at Zion, living and getting along with 16 other girls, and being back in school.


Last week we hosted a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) team of 11 people. I really enjoy hosting visitors and showing them around Zion Project and Gulu. They were a huge blessing to our women and the girls, especially since they helped us with moving day for our girls’ home last week. They really worked hard. Unfortunately the landlord of the house that we moved into has now changed his mind and asked us to move the girls out again, so please pray with us that God would provide the perfect home for them (and help for moving day since the team is now gone).

Moving Day:

I have a friend named Peter who is a young man that used to be a street kid. He is in his last year of primary school, and in the past he was sponsored by the Mormon church. Thanks to the friendship and ministry of some of my good friends, Peter realized he needed to leave the Mormon church, which would mean giving up his sponsorship to school. He did it anyway and at the same time rededicated his life to Christ. He is now trusting God to provide his school fees, a place to live, and food to eat. If you are interested in helping to sponsor him or help with his living expenses, please contact me for more info.



I never cease to be amazed at God’s provision for all of my needs, and He uses many of you and your generosity to do so. I am thankful for your giving hearts! I do have some ongoing needs which are not covered under my current monthly budget, including medical insurance, visa renewal every 3 months, and airfare when the time comes for me to return home. If you are interested in joining my monthly supporters or giving a one-time gift, the information is here:

I am still a missionary under Ripe for Harvest, and they offer several ways to donate to my account (#318). You can donate by credit card or set up automatic recurring donations at their website by clicking here, or mail checks to:

Ripe for Harvest World Outreach
P.O. Box 487
Monument, CO 80132

(Make the check out to Ripe for Harvest. Include a note with my name & account #318).Contributions are solicited with the understanding that Ripe for Harvest has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds.


+Praise for good health over the last several months
+Praise for God’s provision and guidance
+Lucy, our newest girl, as she adjusts to being in our home & a new school.
+The right house for our girls’ home, and help for moving day.
+A new caregiver at the children’s home – the right person!
+Our oldest girl, Nancy, is worried about her younger sister who is being used as a full time baby-sitter by a police officer in the village. She is not in school. We would like to bring her into our home but it’s a tricky situation since we’re dealing with a police officer who is using a child for labor.
+Favor with the district and child probation as we try to get our children’s home approved, as well as for an adoption we are trying to help with.
+My parents & grandmother and the rest of the staff & counselors at Bancroft as summer camp is now in full swing.
+Peter as he trusts God to provide for everything he needs.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my update, and for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support. I couldn’t be here without each of you participating and taking an interest in how God is working in Uganda. 

Much love,

Check out the new summer line made by our women at Imani:
To see more photos, click here: Zion Rescue Home 2012

ISAIAH 55:8-12

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” 
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, 
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy 
and be led forth in peace…”

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Imani Summer Line

Hi everyone, 
I am working on a supporter update, but in the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that Zion Project's jewelry making program, Imani, just introduced their new summer line last week. Check out the website,, to see beautiful paper bead jewelry designed by my good friend Bre Mason and created by our hard-working and beautiful ladies in Northern Uganda! Every purchase goes to support a vulnerable woman and helps her provide for her children.

Hi All,

Attached is a short video introducing our summer line called "Glimpse." I have been working on the production of this line since my arrival in Uganda in early October. We are officially launching the line today. You can visit to view the full collection and visit my blog at for more inside stories. Please pass on to anyone you think might be interested! 

Thanks for all the support! 

Bre Mason

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

27th Birthday

I had a super special 27th birthday thanks to all of you who gave toward my campaign. I was even able to exceed my goal! I wanted to raise $270.00 for the fight against modern day slavery, but you brought my total to $280. Thanks so much!!! Here's how it went:


APR. 16
This campaign ended.
APR. 16
Bonnie donated $50.00!
APR. 16
Anonymous donated $10.00!
APR. 16
Amy donated $16.00!
APR. 16
Anonymous donated $30.00!
APR. 16
Elizabeth donated $30.00!
APR. 16
Evelyn donated $27.00!
APR. 16
Melissa donated $20.00!
APR. 16
Martha donated $27.00!
APR. 16
Anita donated $50.00!
APR. 15
Anonymous donated $10.00!
APR. 14
Shelley donated $10.00!
MAR. 30
This campaign started.

Friday, March 30, 2012

27 Million

27 million people. That's how many are estimated to be trapped in slavery. Not in the past.... not a hundred years ago....TODAY. Right now. Tonight as I get into my comfortable bed in my safe home with my full belly.... there are people who have been working for 12 hours straight without a break or a good meal. People who aren't allowed to leave the building where they work. People who are beaten, or tied up, or spit upon every day. Young girls who are forced to sleep with up to 10 men in a night without pay. There shouldn't even be a "Present Day" section under "Slavery" on Wikipedia, but there is.

I am turning 27 on April 16th. The thing I want most for my birthday is to be able to participate in the fight against modern day slavery. I plan to participate by raising awareness and inviting you to have a part by contributing financial support to an organization that is on the front lines.
My goal is to raise $270. Every dollar counts and even small gifts make a difference.

Monday, March 5, 2012

South Sudan

Grace and I went to South Sudan to check out the work of Confident Children Out of Conflict.
We got to the taxi around noon and waited for it to fill up. We left around 3 PM.

The road in Uganda.....

The road in South Sudan...what?

Beautiful countryside...

20 minutes from Nimule on the way to Juba, our taxi broke down.
They called someone and another taxi came and picked us up.

Then THAT taxi broke down too.

We finally made it to Juba and got to meet the lovely staff and children of CCC.

They work with girls who have been abandoned or abused, similar to us at Zion Project.
To learn more check out

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ice Cream & Prayer Requests

Over the last couple of weeks, I took small groups of the girls out to eat ice cream and hang out, and to go gawk at the new Uchumi! (Auntie, they have SO MANY things here!) So, during our ice cream visits I’ve been asking them to share some prayer requests with me. What would you ask prayer for if you were a young girl in Africa? See below to find out theirs, and lift them up...

Nancy (14): “Pray for us as we go back to school. Pray that God would give us wisdom and knowledge, and pray that God protects us and our home and Zion Project.”

Doreen (13): “Pray for us to have wisdom.”

Jolly (14): “Pray for my Grandmother Mbenga, she is in Congo and she is very sick. Safety for my mother as she travels to visit her. Pray for us as we go back to school and, pray that we would have wisdom.”

Afosina (12): "Wisdom. Also, pray that God will help my mother, and that my baby brother will grow up well."

Aloyo (12): "Pray that God will give us wisdom at school. Also that God will help Mama Sarita find the right land for Zion Project to build on."

Charlotte (11): “Pray that I might go up to university, and that I will be bright at school!”

Anita (11): “Wisdom, and to go up to Senior 3 in school.”

Jacky (10): "Wisdom, and that we will respect our teachers and aunties and that they will respect us."

Mercy (12): "Pray for God to make me bright and give me knowledge."

Naomi (10): "Pray for God to change my heart and help me to be good."

Vero (11): "Pray for me to have wisdom, that we would love each other, and that we would help the poor."

Fatuma (10): “I want to go to university, and pray for me to be a good child!”

Espe (10): “Pray for God’s kingdom to come.”

Janet (8): "Wisdom, and pray for us as we go back to school!"

Charlie (7): “Pray that we will be good children and that we won’t abuse our friends!”

Gloria (6): "Pray that we don't fight with our friends."