Tuesday, March 29, 2011

God is Using this Blog

Here is a video of our trip:

Here are some of the responses I've received from people reading this blog. Praise God for all He does!!! I never would've expected that He'd use a blog like this:

1) I read this blog... thank you for sharing with me. What a life-changing experience. I read with tears the stories of the children needing so much. I wouldn't be able to stand looking in their eyes...

2) PTL and thank you for sharing! God is so real and people just don't understand the scripture that HE is the same yesterday today and forever. I am a pastor and work for Quality Floor in Frontenac, KS this message is so timed I needed to hear this TODAY! many blessings and thank you again.

3) Amen! Praise God!

4) It's amazing what God will do if we only ask.

5) Awesome!!!
6) That is awesome....thank you so much for sharing. Bringing so many people to Christ has to feel so good. Congrats and thanks again!

7) We support you and your actions, stay safe spread the word... you are in our prayers.

8) I bet that was a very humbling experience.. I know God does pretty amazing things in peoples' lives and mine. I am glad they have people that go to teach them the word.

9) Thanks for sharing. Sounds like an amazing experience. Too often in the North American culture are we caught up in business of being busy. I am the first to admit this. We need more of these kinds of experiences in North America.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Children at the school on the Island

Children praying at the United Methodist HUMBLE school and orphanage

Orphan babies at Nsambya Babies Home in Kampala Uganda

Orphan baby at Nsambya Babies Home in Kampala, Uganda

Nicolas to see his story see http://www.vargamission.com/the-kids/

Grace: to see her story visit: http://www.vargamission.com/the-kids/

Waiting to be read to

Beautiful girl on Island

When we were at Eden Revival Church in Nansana, Uganda, we were asked to speak. This wasn't new for any of us. We had all spoken at the church the previous week, and we knew we were speaking this day as well. I wasn't too worried, for I knew that God had given me the word in which he wanted me to speak the previous week. So as my turn approached, this is what the Lord spoke to me:

" My name is Julie, and I live in America. I have 7 children. 5 of them are adopted. I want to read you a Bible verse:

Matthew 19:14 (New International Version, ©2011)

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

" In America, we have a problem. You see, there are parents who don't take good care of their children. There are parents who don't feed their children. There are parents who beat their children. There are parents who don't love their children. Uganda has the same problem. In America, if you don't take good care of your children, the government will take away your children, and give them to a family that will take good care of them. That is how I got all of my adopted children.

Romans 8:15-16a

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Why am I passionate about orphans? Because God is passionate about orphans. I too am adopted! God has adopted me into sonship! Praise God I am an orphan no more.

I read on the computer that 1 in 4 households in Uganda is caring for an orphan. That warms my heart. Not even 1 in every 100 households in America is caring for an orphan/foster child. But even still, Uganda has over 2.5 million orphans. There are so many orphans who have no one to care for them. God needs us to care for them. He is calling us to care for them. God will provide the food for us to feed them. God will provide the space in our homes for us to care for them. God will give us all we need to take care of the orphans."

So now that I am back in America, I cannot quit thinking about the orphans in Uganda! God loves each and every one of them. There are more orphans in Uganda than any other country in the world. Uganda is the size of Oregon, and has 10 times the amount of people. 51% of Ugandans are under the age of 14. There are more than 2.5 million orphans in Uganda! There are only about 3.4 million people living in Oregon!

James 1:27 (New International Version, ©2011)

27 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.

We are to take care of these orphans! We are to take care of the orphans in America, China, Guatemala, Japan, Haiti & everywhere else! It is not an option! As Christians, it is not a choice! We were orphans once too!

How is God calling you & me to care for these orphans? Not is He, but HOW IS HE? Because He is! No doubt about it. Is He calling you to adopt? He will provide the money it takes. He will provide the food. He will provide the space in your home. He will provide! Allow Him to be God, trust Him. You will be blessed!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

To my fellow bloggers....

Hey there to Julie, Jennifer, Charlie, Alex and Haley-
I just wanted to give a word of encouragement. As I was greeted at church today, so many mentioned how the blog touched them. How they read it first thing in the morning, right after they got home or the last thing before bed. I had a dear friend that went on her first Walk to Emmuas. The thing she missed the most was not her watch or cell phone, but not knowing what was going on on the blog. People were moved to tears as I talked about it or they recalled a blog that moved them. Edward has gotten another sponsor due to how God used our blog to move them.
I am just one of the six and I know I am not the only one who is hearing these kinds of stories. Be sure to pass them on to me. I am the little coal out here in South Carolina, by myself. Please, tell me the stories of what God is continuing with you all at home. I miss you all terribly and all our new family members in Uganda.
The coolest thing happened today. In children's moments today, I taught the kids "saka". Later, someone was taking their picture and they said "saka" without any coaching. They just did it on their own. Just another sign that God will use our story to touch the lives of many.
Love to all-Bonnie

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 1: post Uganda

I am sitting here on my comfy couch in a house too quiet. My boys are at school and Sean is at work. I have just read over half of our blog and have laughed and cried at the stories. One of my fear is that I will just annoy the people around me with all my never ending stories and jokes. The rest of the team sees each other, some regularly. I am like the coal taken away from the fire, I might loose my heat quickly. Yet, without voicing this concern, God has blessed me again. As, Sean was listening to more about the trip, he say "You know, I will never get tired of our stories." It almost made me weepy (I know not a hard to do). I received another precious gift. The boys are all over me, which is great. Ben woke up, by himself, and came and found me. I showed him some of the letters the children at Hope had snuck into my hands before I left. Ben looked at them and wondered why there on scraps of paper if they were so remarkable. I told him that may have been all these kids have. I told him one boy, Enoch, had asked me to be his mother. He had drawn a line through it. They are told not to ask for things. Show Mercy don't want them to think we are their saviors, but that Jesus is their Savior. I looked up at Ben and he has tears in his eyes. I cry with him. I am so blessed to have a son who hurts when others hurt.
So, life begins after Uganda. I went to the school today for a writing expo in Ben's class. I felt like I was seeing people through different eye. Seeing them with more compassion, more acceptance and more love. Everyone who asks me about the trip will get a similar answer. Read the blog, there is too much to talk about and I saw things and did things that are in the Bible. We did the book of Acts. I will never be the same.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Can't Say Enough

This picture is the team praising in Bakka. I believe it says it all as far as their surrender to the ministry here.
I have been trying for two days to upload a video of the group as they did ministry in Nakalanda and other places. Maybe I can get it uploaded so you can see how impressive this ministry team really was. Those of you who know these incredible people will not be surprised at what I write. Those of you following this blog site need to know.
We (The Show Mercy Team) are more than impressed with this ministry team from Oklahoma. Not only were they prepared with VBS, clothes, and all that was needed for practical ministry, they were more than prepared in the Spirit. Everyone back on Oklahoma (and South Carolina, sorry Bonnie) can be excited at the power of the ministry that took place.
They were unflappable. On the day we went to Nakalanda we had to take a boat across Murchison Bay on Lake Victoria. About 100 yds. from shore the motor on the boat stopped and we just drifted for a while. Eventually another boat came and pushed us to the other side, then left us to go the last kilometer to the dock without power. So the man had to "pole" us in. That is until he lost his pole! Then we had to help pull ourselves in by pulling on the grass in the narrow inlet. The 25 min. ride was now at 1 1/2 hours. We finally reached shore and we all jumped on Boda Boda's for the ride to the clinic. (Not in everyone's comfort zone) They proceeded to do ministry as we walked through neighboring villages. They were praying for the people and giving out gifts. Then they handed out exercise books and pencils to the students at Eagle's Nest school. The rain threatened and it never phased them. We had lunch of rice, beans, and "irish" potatoes, then back on the Boda Boda's to the dock and on to Kampala.
As if all this was not enough, they wanted to stop at a baby orphanage to love on some babies until we could go to a concert with the African Children's Choir being held at the Varga's church. We didn't get to dinner until 8:00 pm.
THIS IS JUST ONE DAY, and they never missed a beat. Their spirits were always high and sweet. They never complained or said they were ready to stop. No matter what happened during the trip they were encouragers and positive in every way. They ministered to us more than they could ever know.
All this to say that this has been a marvelous experience for us here on the ground. The rest of the mission was just about as busy and the key phrase was "That's never happened before," whether good or not. As with other great teams we are grateful, even more, greatly blessed to have been able to minister with this group of dedicated, excited, and spiritual people. We pray that as they tell their stories and experinces that others might be inspired to come and be part of what God is doing here in Uganda. If not here, then follow God wherever he is leading you, but DO follow him. To borrow a word from Haley, you will be "ruined" to life as you know it, and that is a good thing!!
Steve and Stephanie Bredesen

One Last Lesson?

I'm sitting in the airport in Amsterdam and I felt convicted to write this. Yesterday we went to the equator. While we were there, we ate at a restaurant nearby. It was a nice restaurant with a gift shop inside and comfortable seating outside. I ordered a chicken wrap. Can't go wrong there, right? When I got it, it was full of veggies - mainly carrots. I seriously had to hunt for any chicken. Oh boy, was I dissatisfied. I had to let everyone know in my immediate vicinity how I didn't get much chicken in my chicken wrap and that I couldn't eat much of it.

Just then, two little kids, carrying water jugs, walked up barefoot. The little girl was extremely malnourished and looked starving. Her legs were just like sticks. They were carrying heavy jugs across gravel with no shoes and not much to wear so that they could at least have water to drink. We gathered up our leftovers and gave them to them. They ate some and then carried the rest off.

What have I really learned on this mission trip? God taught me once more how ungrateful I can be. Note to self - shut up. be grateful. give more, praise God... repeat.


Monday, March 21, 2011

What I Miss

This morning in Uganda we're preparing for a day of shopping and seeing the Equator. I'm already sad when I think we're just down the road from Hope and won't get to see the kids again.

So today I'm choosing to think about the things I miss at home.

I miss Muzungu (white people) toilets. Although our hotel's bathrooms are extremely nice, most of the toilets when we're out and about are African toilets. (squatters)

I miss my washing machine (and Downy).

I miss heating and air conditioning.

I miss my family and friends.

These are my kids. Above is Caleb & Brecken and below is Noah & Isaiah. I CANNOT wait to love on them!!!

I miss my bed, which doesn't have mosquito netting.

I miss electricity that doesn't go off at random times.

I miss stop signs and stoplights that mean something.

Hopefully we'll get one more chance to blog tonight before our flight leaves,


Part of me...

This picture says so much. These are the boys who took me by the hand on the very first day, Enoch and John. They showed me around. They asked me if I knew Michael Jackson, the king of pop. I didn't pick the kids that I would love. They chose to love me. Having boys at home, I thought I can play with girls. Instead, God brought two precious 11 year-old boys to me. We didn't go to Hope every day, but when we did, they sought me out. They asked me tons of questions about my life. I dotted on them like a mother. We talked about Bible stories. Three days ago, John asked me if we were coming on Monday. I said 'Yes'. John then says 'And you leave on Tuesday'. They know the deal. These Mzungas show up for a few weeks and then leave. It was heart breaking. When we got back to the rooms and were looking at the pictures. My eyes filled with tears once again when I saw the sadness in their eyes. I don't know what God has planned for me. I hope that it will include a return trip here with people who want to see the amazing work God is doing here. I have heard before that you are changed once you have visited Africa. I certainly am. My heart has a place for the people of Uganda. I look forward to the day I can see these precious children again, wether on this side of Heaven or the other. I have joy in knowing that these children love Jesus and that because I do too, I know I will see them again. For know I will write and pray for God's next great plan to be revealed. Tonight is the last night I will sleep just a mile down the road from the children of Hope. I am so happy to see my family on Wednesday, yet I am so not ready to leave. Most of feel this way. Goodnight, Enoch and John. Goodnight, Jake, Ben and Sean. I love you all!

Hard Day

This was the last day at Hope Children's Home. It hit me harder than I expected it to. One of the girls that I got to know well came and gave me a hug goodbye and she had tears in her eyes. She tried to hide that she was wiping them away. She would not leave my side until we left. I would adopt her if I could. I'm terribly sad just thinking about it.

Before I left, the pastor came up to me and told me that she thought I should get a visa and stay here. I laughed and showed her pictures of my family that I'm coming home to and that I miss greatly. Before I got in the van to leave, she again came up to me and told me that I should stay here.

A big piece of me did. I will never be the same.


Happy Meal toys really make you Happy!

Happy meal toys waiting to be passed out
Happy Meal toys really make kids happy, even in Uganda!

Some of the pillows getting ready to be passed out to the kids

Julie and her good friend Winnie

Security guard Boscoe and the boys playing car race

Kefar and his friend playing cars

boys playing cars

Little girl leading the lesson in school

The men teachers picking their hoodies out. Would you believe that he actually CHOSE pink over the masculine. Pink is a unisex color in Uganda!

The women separating the rocks out from the rice

Today we went back to Hope Children's Home and played/loved on the kids some more! Our 'job' was to put the pillowcases that the kids had made earlier this week, on the pillows that the previous team had purchased for them. They worked so hard on their pillowcase. This is the first pillow that they have ever gotten.

We didn't just do our 'job'. Jennifer and I sat in on some classes at the school. This was fun. They are learning the exact same things that children their age in America are learning. I was able to spice it up a little in the class I was in.

After lunch came the time that I was most excited about today. We unwrapped a TON of Happy Meal toys. We had trucks for the boys and My little pony's for the girls. What you have to remember is that they have NO toys!!! So as you can imagine, they were CRAZY HAPPY! The boys were playing in the dirt. They lined up their cars on a ramp and pretended that there was a car race. They then sent them down the ramp. They were laughing. They were playing together. Their security guard was playing with them. The girls were playing with their Pony's. They called them a goat however, because there aren't any horses in this part of Uganda.

My friend Winnie (13 years old very introverted girl) received the coolest hoodie the other day. She came to me and said "Julie, what is this?" She pulled out a plug for an Ipod or MP3 player. I told her that it was for a radio, and that the drawstrings were the earphones. I then let her listen to my Iphone music. She thought that was really cool. I told the team that I wanted to get her an MP3 player so that she could listen to music. Charlie said "OH, I have an MP3 player that I brought to give to someone. She can have it. It already has music on it." Wow! God knew why he wanted Charlie to randomly bring the player. I gave it to Winnie today. I showed her how to use it. When I was finished showing her, she said "Now, I am rich." This was humbling. She has no one! Most of the children at Hope are not TRUE orphans. They are for whatever reason not being taken care of at home. Kinda like what we think of foster care. Winnie, on the other hand, has no family. No one. Leaving her was hard today. She really didn't want me to go. I love that girl.

So it was really sad telling them good-bye. It will not be forever, however! We will see them one day in heaven (if not before ;0) ). They are being well taken care of. The children of Hope are considered to live in paradise. We will pray for them. Please pray for us! We begin a really long journey home tomorrow night. We still have to process everything we have seen, and done. We need to be a mouthpiece for Uganda. The harvest is ripe in Uganda. God needs you!

Love ya,


Random Thoughts from Today

Today was the last day we had with the kids at Hope Children's Home. The kids had school today, so we had the opportunity to hold and play with little ones whose parents work either at Hope or at the Alpha & Omega Primary School and to observe in some classes. Here are some pictures of Dorca and Rachel, who are the two sweetest friends you'll ever see. They are constantly walking around arm in arm or with their arms around each other.

I've taught math to middle schoolers and young high school students for 15 years, so I jumped at the opportunity to sit in on a math lesson in the P-4 class. Their teacher was a young, enthusiastic man named Henry. After he taught the lesson, the students were writing down the problems from the board and solving them. Henry had 27 students in the class and it seemed a bit difficult for him to keep up with checking each kid's work. So, I got up from the chair I was observing from and began checking their work. The only problem is that I didn't have a red grading pen like Henry had. When I voiced this concern to Henry, he quickly went to the teacher's workroom to get me one. I felt like I actually contributed while I was grading. It was a lot of fun!

The Bredesens had us over for dinner tonight. They served us hamburgers, pasta salad, chips, delicious cucumber salad, pineapple, & a scrumptious chocolate cake. (Seriously, the thought of losing weight while here is COMPLETELY gone!) While we were together tonight, we all shared our favorites of this trip. Reliving all those great memories was amazing. It's hard to believe that the months of preparation have paid off and it's almost finished. I looked at Julie this evening and asked, "Do you think it's out of your system yet?" Neither one of us think it is. When I told Brad (my husband) this, I apologized. He said, "For what, serving God?" I LOVE that he gets it!!

Thanks for the prayers & love! Please pray for safe travels home for all of us,