Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"It's a Nice Night for a Neck Injury"

So what on earth have we been up to that has me not posting for 20 days?!

Oh just a little breaking and entering....

Come on, kid, open up. It's Santy Claus...and his elf!
So here's the story: I was sitting in the living room yesterday eating an apple, minding my own business, when my dad came in the house. "Alyyyyyy," he says, with his bottom lip stuck out and batting his eyes (no doubt mocking me as that's what I do to him when I need something). He then proceeded to tell me that he had locked the neighbor's door (we're keeping an eye on their house)...the door that has no key, and there's only one unlocked window and I'm the only one who can fit through it. So I throw on my boots and walk up to the neighbors, hoping the other neighbors are too busying watching The Talk to call the police.
I stood in the driveway as my dad "secures" the ladder into the snow, then made my way to the window that goes into the bedroom. I climbed up the ladder and wedged myself in between the top of the headboard and the window and asked my dad to take my boots off (just because we're breaking in doesn't mean I need to make a mess). But without the extra weight of the boots, and the addition of my dad's references to Home Alone sending me into fits of laughter, my bottom half went flying up and top half went tumbling down onto the bed and before I knew it my neck was bent to a position where I could hear my heart beating through my back. I yelped, curled up, and the rest of me crashed through.
And I didn't even break a lamp! I walked right out the back door. Never a dull moment around here!!
Happy first day of winter!


I'm off to the chiropractor.


- Aly

(I should note that we were given permission to enter the neighbors' house this way. Don't want any problems with the feds this close to Christmas.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

In the last hour, 240 people have died of AIDS. But the impact of those deaths reaches far beyond those 240 people. Mothers have lost sons and daughters. Children have lost friends. Young adults lost mentors. Schools are missing their teachers. Shops are closed, leaving food and other goods unsold. Crops are left unattended. And children are left orphans without any hope.

And over the next hour, 240 more will die of the terrible disease. Over the next year, approximately 2 million people will die of HIV/AIDS.

That's one person every 15 seconds.

Out of all the areas of the world, sub-Saharan Africa has been affected the worst. This area of the world holds just 10% of the world's population but is home to 67% of people in the world living with AIDS. Most people can't afford to buy the medication that will save their lives, leaving over 14 million AIDS orphans in Africa.
Today is World AIDS day, and I'm wearing red in honor of my sweet brothers and sisters at Camp El Har, all of whom have been affected by the AIDS epidemic in some way (some have lost one or both parents, others are positive themselves).

While we were in Uganda, the kids from Camp El Har had family visitation day. During that special time with their families, they sang a song of warning about AIDS. You'll see as they're singing that it becomes more and more difficult for them to finish the song.



These are the kinds of things these children are worried about - not only for themselves, but also for their friends and family. They know the impact AIDS makes because they've felt it first hand. They know what it means to lose a mother or father to AIDS. They know what it means to lose a teacher, mentor, or friend. And some of them even know what it's like to sit in a doctor's office surrounded by others but never feeling more alone and receiving the news that they are positive.

The impact of AIDS reaches far beyond anything we can imagine. It seems so foreign to us, just something that happens to people far away. But to these children it's real and its impact lasts a lifetime.

Will you consider helping one of these children? We currently have bios for 2 children from Camp El Har who need sponsors:

Fred is a young boy who lost both of his parents and has no brothers or sisters. He was under the care of his grandfather, but despite this old man's hard work he is unable to earn enough to care for Fred and his other grandchildren.



Josephine's father passed away in 2002. Her mother struggles to provide for Josephine and her four sisters.


Your sponsorship of $28 a month would allow these precious children to be in the care of Camp El Har. They would receive 24/7 care and the opportunity to hear and experience the love of Jesus.
If you are unable to sponsor a child at this time, would you consider making a one time donation to Camp El Har? The building of the new Camp is in progress, but funds are still needed to get it up and running. Money is needed to purchase things such as school and office supplies, kitchen items, food for the children, furniture, medical supplies, and books.
If you are interested in helping, please e-mail us at housers4uganda@yahoo.com.
Will you consider bringing hope to these children who have felt the impact of AIDS? You could help bring hope to a child today.
"Sympathy is no substitute for action." - David Livingstone, a missionary to Africa
- Aly
The statistics used in this post are taken from poverty.com and avert.org respectively.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

Sitting in a small room surrounded by children, one of them asks, "Does anyone have a testimony." A small hand goes into the air. A child stands up and says:

"Praise God. I want to thank God for keeping us safe."

Another says,

"Praise the Lord. I want to thank God for our sponsors."

And another stands up and says,

"Praise God. I want to thank God for my life."

This is a typical scene during evening devotions at Camp El Har orphanage in Uganda. Children are so thankful for what they have - things we take for granted.

I thank God for my life.

In the US we designate one day a year for giving thanks. And every year people make a big deal about stretching it out longer than that. But how many of us actually do? I have to admit that I have difficulty with it.

Let's face it, in general, we're not a very thankful people. And it's not just us. It goes all the way back to the beginning of time. Adam and Eve had everything they needed in the Garden of Eden, but instead of giving thanks for all they had, they wanted more. In the desert, the Israelites had just walked through the Red Sea on dry land. God told them all they had to do was follow and obey Him and He would bring them into the Promised Land. He even lit the way for them and gave them food. After a while they started to feel like they were just walking in circles. And the manna God sent down every day, was getting a little old. They had everything they needed, but were they thankful?

Unfortunately, we're not often much different. God blesses every day of the year, not just the 4th Thursday of November. But in a few months (or more likely a few days - those Christmas ads have a tendancy to make us a bit greedy) the thanksgiving spirit will wear off and giving thanks will turn into asking for more.

I thank God for my life.

Every so often I hear those words in my mind, like a little reminder.

I thank God for my life.

Because even with the most difficult of pasts, we should all be able to say

I thank God for my life.

We all have so much to be thankful for. I know for me, I'm so thankful that God is continuing to improve my health. I'm thankful for the little things like being able to run the vacuum cleaner, not having to sleep during the day, and being able to start subbing again (my first full day was Friday!) But taking my cues from some sweet children in Uganda, I am most thankful for my life, because I know that God has written every page of it. The Bible says He has engraved us on the palm of His hands (Isaiah 49:16) and He has great plans for each and every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11).

And that gives me every reason to thank Him for my life.

When was the last time you thanked God for your life?


Happy Thanksgiving!
- Aly

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Timothy

Come meet Timothy.


We met Timothy early on in our last adventure to Uganda. He's about 3 years old and was hanging around the center during the Saturday Program. His mother is the one who cooks the food for the children, and his father is a teacher at the school where the childcare center is located. He speaks English really well, which is not common for such a young child. But that's the benefit of having a teacher for a parent.

Isn't he so cute?!



You can probably guess it didn't take very long for him to get us wrapped around his little fingers.



He enjoyed his muzungu friends (muzungu means white person). He first met my dad, then my mom, and finally me. No matter what, he was always with one of us holding our hand, sitting on our laps, going here and there with us.

He was hanging out with my mom for a while in the office. She came around back to where I was talking with some of the kids and wanted me to show her where the bathroom was. So we walked off. When we came back, Timothy was no where in sight. So we went looking for him. We found him back inside the office playing with my dad.



"The muzungu is my friend!" He would say.



We saw him again the following Friday. He ran after the truck and when he finally reached us, he said, "My muzungu friend! Saturday muzungu!"


And, yes, that is a sock on his hand. He had it with him and we taught him how to make a sock puppet. He was too funny trying to get it to talk. "Hello!"




After spending only a few hours with him, Timothy stole our hearts.

And when we went to leave that day, we knew that if we saw him again it wouldn't be for a long time. I think Timothy knew too. When we got into the truck to leave, little Timothy cried. In a sad little voice he kept saying, "Don't go! Don't go!" And as our truck backed out of the center, he reached out his little hand to us and cried.


We still love you, Timothy. And we'll never forget you.
- Aly

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Be Honest

I've been really bad at this blog thing lately.

To be honest, it's because I've been hiding.

Things have been a little weird around here for me. When we first came home from Uganda I was doing really well. Surprisingly so. I mean I had the usual jet lag and overall exhaustion that comes with spending almost a month in a third world country. And then I started feeling lousy again.

But to be honest, I was kind of in denial.

I didn't want to be feeling sickly again. And I certainly didn't want people to get all up in my koolaid about it (sorry, I'm a product of the 90s). I saw my doctor again - actually a couple of doctors - just to see what to do because we were kind of at a loss. My primary care doctor had washed his hands of me back in May. So I turned to the homeopathic doctor I've been seeing. I love going there so much. There are only a few doctors that I feel actually care about seeing me get better, and she's one of them. And do you know what she told me? "It's going to take patience."

To be honest, I didn't like that. I'm not patient enough for patience.

Then I talked to my chiropractor, who is the one who gives me the best answers about anything. He said this virus is having a hard time leaving my body, and it may just take some more time.

Ugh...

But to be honest, they're both right. At the core of every problem we face in life, doesn't patience play a role? Are we not, by very nature, hurriers at heart? We make all these plans for our lives, so naturally when something happens don't we start to panic as we look for a way to get out of the mess we're in?

And do you notice that patience never travels alone? It always brings along trust. Because when you're being patient you often have to trust in God's bigger plan. And that's not easy. When we're putting trust in God and his timing, we're giving up control over our lives.

To be honest, that tends to make my stomach flop. Because at that moment what I'm saying is that what makes sense to me and what makes sense to the world around me no longer matters. I'm going to follow what God wants me to do.

And to be honest, when we do that people around us literally go nuts. You're in the middle of unchartered territory and suddenly everyone around you thinks they know exactly what you should or shouldn't be doing and start giving you advice about God's real calling on your life. (Because if you're facing struggles that must not be in God's plan for you, right? I hope you're picking up on the sarcasm there). It's happened to me more times than I can count over the last year. Maybe God made you sick so you would stop going to Uganda, keep the faith and still go to Uganda, get the perfect job, settle down and get married...

And oh my goodness to be honest, I sometimes imagine myself poking them in the eye. (I'm just being honest).

But seriously, isn't that what happens? (Not the eye poking, though if we're all being honest I think we might admit we've imagined the same thing at some point). We suddenly find ourselves in unexpected territory. We're facing this time of being patient, trusting God. As if that isn't hard enough, now we have to give up control of what the people around us think. And they're not always quiet about it. Which just sends us further into patience and trust. And so the cycle continues. And it wears on us.

But here's the thing:

When we're worn down to our thinnest, when we're trusting in God, waiting on Him, caring only about what He thinks - this is when He does His greatest work in us. This is when the Potter's clay is at its most moldable. And this is when He can form us into what He has created us to be.

And to be honest, that's exactly where I want my life to be - in the hands of the Potter.

- Aly

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Back!

The blog is back and better than ever! Well I don't know if it'll be better than ever, but it's back and it's about time! I probably won't be updating every day, but at least more than once every month and a half...

Sorry about that.

We've been out speaking and sending out updates to our wonderful sponsors. And we're excited for what God has in store for us in the coming months! I hope you'll join us for this ride. We'll take you through some memories of trips past, show you more fun pictures, share what God's laid on my heart, and who knows what else!

And the best part is that

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!!!!

Next to July/August (aka Uganda time), Christmas is my favorite time of the year. So I can't wait to share that time with all of you.

(That is, if you're still reading.)

- Aly

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Catching Up

We're heading into the busy part of our "home ministry" as we've already started speaking to local groups and churches. Here's a listing of where we'll be in the weeks to come:

Sunday October 3, 2010 - East Leon Weselyan Church on Mosher Hollow Rd. Service @ 11am

Sunday October 17, 2010 - Pleasant Valley Church on Waterman Rd in Cassadaga (Kabob). Service @ 11am

Sunday October 31, 2010 - Jamestown Community Chapel on Camp St in Jamestown. Service @ 10:45.

If you get the chance, we'd love to have you come out to hear what the Lord is doing in Uganda.

Also, while we were in Uganda Reuben asked Aly to work with another Uganda staff member to develop a website for their ministry. Feel free to check out the brand new "official" site of AMG Uganda by clicking this link: www.wix.com/AMGuganda/home

This evening we have the privilege of having dinner with our good friend Ken Ivins. Ken was the team leader for our trip in 2009, and we're looking forward to catching up with him.

Stay tuned for more. I know I keep saying that but I've got some new stories coming up. That first month or so after returning home is always the toughest. So please don't give up on me here. There's more to come!

- Aly

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It All Started One Year Ago

This morning my mom and I went down to Main Street for our town's annual History Fair to watch the parade. As fire trucks blew their whistles and little hands and feet hustled to grab candy, I was thinking:

It all started one year ago.

Last year I went down to the History Fair parade feeling a bit tired. At the time I was cleaning a house for a family I knew, and after the parade I headed down to work. I came home feeling very sore. I thought it was just from cleaning and being tired. That night there were fireworks at dusk, but I couldn't make it. Instead, I watched them out the window while lying in bed.

I woke up the next morning with a fever, body aches, chills, and a terrible headache. We went to a nearby church to speak about our trip, and I barely made it through. I had to sit down during the hymns. I started leaning on things whenever possible. And after we finished speaking, I went home and took a nap. Later on my fever broke with a drenching sweat, and I knew it was time to go to the doctor. This set us down a road of doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Many tests, but no answers.

And it all started one year ago.

It felt like the longest year of my life, but at the same time it seems impossible that it could already be a year. I sit here today completely amazed at what I've been through, and that even though at times I felt like God had abandoned me, He was always right there by my side. I'm in awe that I had the honor of returning to Uganda despite any health concerns or warnings by some of my friends and family.

While it was all happening, I never in a million years thought I would ever be thankful that I had to suffer through it. I was able to admit that God had a bigger purpose, but I wasn't ready to jump straight to thankful.

The truth is, I am so thankful that I passed through this time. Don't get me wrong, it was horrible. There were times that I had never felt more abandoned by God or more alone, misunderstood, or confused in my life.

But through it all I found an unfailing hope. And one day, as I was encouraged by the hope I'd found in God's promises, I realized something important: I wasn't supposed to keep it. God didn't give me hope so I could keep it to myself like some sort of decoration. It was a gift He intended for me to give away.

One month ago I sat in the dark home of two children who had no parents, no food, and no hope. I was able to share with them my struggles and the hope I had found. That day, two kids who had no reason to smile before we arrived were beaming as we left.

And I thought, if I had listened to the people who told me not to come, I never would've experienced it. I never would've seen what God can do when we put our trust in Him. I never would've understood what He can do when we just allow Him to work in our lives. And that little gift of hope he gave me would still be tucked away on the shelf and not living among those we saw that day.

It changed my life forever. And it all started one year ago.

- Aly

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

28 Days

Today, AMG International is starting 28 days of prayer for child sponsorship. We are asking you to join us in praying for this ministry. As you've followed our adventures this summer, you've been given a taste of the impact child sponsorship has on the lives of these children. Many of you even sponsor children through AMG.

This is a great opportunity to help this ministry grow through the power of prayer. You can take a look at the calendar for the next 28 days by clicking here.

We've talked about child sponsorship in this post and this post. I can't say it enough - Child sponsorship changes lives. It will not only change the life of a child in need half way around the world, but it will also change the life of the person who makes the decision to sponsor.

I am so blessed by my sweet children, Mariam and Sophie, and I thank God every day for bringing them into my life because they have taught me great lessons about life. They've helped me learn how to lean on God alone for provision. They've taught me the importance of working hard toward something special. And they've given me strength when I'm weak. When I'm not feeling well, I think of them and their precious smiles. They are always so joyful and it brings me great strength and comfort in knowing that the Lord used me to help put those smiles there.

Mariam before sponsorship in 2007

Mariam just 4 weeks ago after 2 and a half years of sponsorship.

My house key has a frowning face on one side that says, "Before I knew Jesus." And on the other side it says, "After I knew Jesus," with a smiley face. That key reminds me of the transformation these kids go through while they are in the AMG program. From kids who have no hope at all, no reason to smile, to kids who have the joy of knowing Christ.

So I ask that you would consider joining us in this 28 days of prayer. And if over the next 28 days you set aside just $1 a day (the same as what most families in Uganda live on per day) you would have the $28 needed to start sponsoring a child this month.

I urge you to consider sponsoring a child, and equally as important I ask you to pray.

- Aly

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Presentations

We are beginning to prepare presentations of our trip. This is always quite a process as we have a mixture of group we have spoke to multiple times as well as places we've never been to before. Here on the blog, you've read only a handful of the many stories we have from this last trip, and we've saved some of the best for our presentations.

If you'd like to hear more of our stories by having us come speak at your church, small group, or even just individually, please contact us (or give our contact information to your pastor or group leader) at housers4uganda@yahoo.com

We are looking forward to sharing the message the Lord has laid on our hearts from these experiences.

Also stay tuned to the blog as we'll continue to update on little stories here and there and also post dates, times, and places you can come hear us speak.

- Aly

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Looking Back: He Used Me

I've been taking the past few days to look back at what's happened in the last few months, and I am truly in awe of all the Lord has done.

I think back to the end of May, just before I started writing this blog. I spent a week at my friend Madie's for her graduation. Every afternoon I had to lay down for a few hours to sleep. The pain was bad, and my movements were slow.

Fast forward a few weeks - we're getting ready to leave for Uganda. Long ago I said I believed that going on this trip would be directly related to my health improving. Looking back I feel I was right. As the trip drew closer, I reached a point where I didn't have to lay down and sleep every afternoon. I gained strength and energy. My aches were still there, but I was at least able to function again. The closer we came to leaving, the better I did.

Before we left I said that I believed that God was going to do amazing things. I knew I was going to surprise even myself with what I was able to do. The Lord gave me a vision of being able to play with the kids, and I did.

The Lord gave me strength. I still have many aches and pains. I still experience fatigue and weakness. But the Lord did a mighty work in me.

He may not have fully healed me physically yet, but He did something much more amazing.

He used me.

When I was weak, He used me to strengthen others. When I had lost hope, He used me by giving me a message of hope to share with the suffering. When I was heart-broken, He used me to lift others up out of dark places.

So tonight I sit here amazed.

He chose to use me.

But the thing is, He chooses to use each of us. He gave us each a special combination of talents and He longs to use us to further His kingdom. All we have to do is be willing and He will use us for His glory.

My prayer tonight is that each of us is willing to be used by God, and that he will continue to use us all the days of our lives.

- Aly

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Looking Back Through Buddy's Eyes

Hey everyone! Buddy here. Remember me? I'm so excited to share my experiences in Uganda with all of you. I can't believe that we're already back home. Time sure flies when you're having fun!

My favorite place in the whole world to be is at the childcare center at Igamba. I love those kids, and you can tell they love me back. Some of the kids even remembered me from last year, and remembered why my name is Buddy - because I come to be their friend. Here's some pictures of some of my good friends from Igamba:

This is Bill and his friend Davis. Bill likes to write his own praise songs and Davis puts them to music. They were singing for me.



They sounded so good I just had to dance!



This is my friend Matiya. Whenever he sees me, he gets a big grin on his face and two deep dimples appear on his cheeks.


This is my friend Mariam. She's one of the girls Aly sponsors so really she's more like family to me. She loves to hug me and whisper, "I love you," in my ear.


But of all the friends I made this year, I would have to say the next is my favorite. Her name is Bridget. She's Bill's sister, and the Housers just started sponsoring her. Once she got her hands on me we were friends forever. She did everything with me. She sang songs, learned Bible verses, prayed, and even ate lunch with me.

I felt so much love when I was around her.


So we were both sad when she had to leave to go home that day.


After Bridget left, Aly gave me a big task. There's a boy named Fahad. He's from Camp El Har, but since the kids were on a break from school, all of the kids from the Camp had to go back to visit family members back in their village. Fahad came back to Igamba, but he wasn't having a good time. You see, Fahad doesn't come back to a good home, so he goes from so much love and protection at the Camp to hard times at home. He was so sad he was begging to go back to Kampala. He broke my heart. So Aly asked me to sit with him and cheer him up. We sat together and he sang praise songs to me.


After a while, that big smile of his came back.

That's my favorite part of going to Uganda - making kids smile. And the hugs aren't so bad either. I think I've learned that sometimes ministy has nothing to do with being able to talk. Sometimes you just have to be willing to love and be loved.

- Buddy

Friday, August 20, 2010

Looking Back: The Beauty of God's Creation

We've been blessed over the years to be able to witness some of the beauty of God's creation. These first three photos were taken as we were flying to Uganda, and the last was taken by my dad while we were in Uganda.

We flew over The Alps.

We saw where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Saharah Desert (and by we I mean me because I had the window seat which I believe rightly belonged to my dad who was sound asleep in the seat across the aisle, and my mom was sound asleep sitting beside me).

I love how the clouds form a fluffy carpet and it amazes me that even though I can't see the ground through them, let alone any people, God sees each and every one of us and knows what we are doing.

The sunset in Kampala. I love this picture because a sunset is a hard thing to capture in Uganda. The sun sets very quickly, especially with all of the hills in the city.
The first year we went to Uganda, we were driving back to the guesthouse. I was thinking about the things we saw that day and looking out at the devestating poverty and I wondered where God was in all of this. Just then, the sun began to shine brightly sending visible rays down across the city. It was beautiful. It was as if God was saying, "I am here." Even when we least expect it, the Lord always shows up if we are open to his presence.
- Aly

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why are you white?

There's a quote from the movie Mean Girls that always seems appropriate to me this time of year. If you've never watched the movie the main character, Cady, is experiencing her first day of public high school after a lifetime of being homeschooled in Africa. She sits at the popular table at lunch and one of the girls (a blonde of course) asks her, "So...if you're from Africa, why are you white?" And her friend replies, "Oh my gosh, Karen, you can't just ask people why they're white!"


No trip is complete until someone asks me if I've been to Africa why I'm so white. Today that tradition was fulfilled. I left the US with a tan and came back without it. What can I say, the sun is hotter there.


True fact: Eating beans and rice for 3 weeks doesn't make us lose weight, we literally sweat off the pounds!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Looking Back: God's Promises

My sweet child,





didn't I tell you





that you would see God's glory





if you would just believe?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Missing Uganda

Sorry it's been so long since I last updated. We've been doing our best to get readjusted to muzungu food, muzungu work, and muzungu time.

To be honest I'm having a rough time. Don't get me wrong, it's good to be home and see friends and family again, but I don't feel like I'm all here. My heart aches for Uganda. It's broken for the children, it longs for the people. I miss the millions of hugs we get each day, the happy faces and waving hands, the shouts of "muzungu!" the soothing sound of their voices when they speak, and even how terrible my accent sounds when I sing along with them. I think the only thing I don't miss is rice.

This is the fourth time we've done this. It's the fourth time we've seen the poverty. It's the fourth time we've had to say goodbye. It's the fourth time we've had to get back into life at home. But it never gets easier.

So if you see me walking around looking a little lost, just remember that it's hard to adjust to life when it your heart is somewhere else.

I ask that your prayers for us wouldn't stop now that we've stepped off the plane here at home. I've always said I don't believe that missions trips end when you leave your host country. They continue on. We ask that you pray for us as we begin to prepare stories to share. We've shared only a few small stories with you here on the blog. And I've shared very little from our week in the village of Igamba because those are the toughest of them all. Even typing the word Igamba is bringing tears to my eyes.

Also I ask that you pray for our health. I'm happy to say that I'm feeling good. I had a treatment yesterday that knocked me down (which means it worked) but I'm doing better. But even last year we thought I came home healthy and it wasn't until a few weeks later that anything started to show up. So pray for each of us that we'll continue along feeling well and that the Lord will continue to increase my strength and good health each and every day.

Thank you again for your prayers and for spending time with us on our amazing journey.

- Aly

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We're Back

We have arrived back home safe and sound after the absolute longest day of the trip. Because of the time difference, coming home is literally the longest day of the trip. Time stands still as we travel back to the States. We left Amsterdam at 10:40am and arrived in New York at 12:10pm, yet we were on the plane for 8 hours. That's enough to make your head spin!

We had our first encounter with the airport body scanners. After they scanned us they asked if they could search us (meaning pat us down). I said yes, but I thought, "Lady, I've been traveling from Africa for the last 12 hours. If you want to get close enough to me to smell me, then go right ahead!"

Our friends picked us up from the airport in Buffalo, and we went for our traditional "first supper" of pizza and wings. These are the same friends that we shared our "last supper" with before leaving for Uganda. We are so thankful that the Lord has placed them in our lives. Since they've done missions work before, they understand the ins and outs. They know the long travel and the brainless feeling that comes from getting only 4 hours of sleep in over 30 hours. They put up with the smell that comes from not bathing in over 48 hours. If that's not the love of the Lord then I don't know what is.

Today is a major laundry day. We have 4 suitcases filled with dirty clothes. And although our ministry work in Uganda is completed for a short time, our ministry at home is just beginning.

We want to thank you for every single prayer that was brought before the throne of God. We appreciate each and every one. Our friends who picked us up from the airport, the Chase's, said that they prayed specifically, not just that I would stay healthy but that I would actually come back stronger than when I left. Their prayer was answered. My body feels stronger than when I first arrived in Uganda. It's so amazing, the power of prayer. I look forward to hearing/sharing of other stories of how your prayers for us were answered.

- Aly

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A BIG fan

Though I am not a fan of how far away Uganda is...

I am a BIG fan of the moving sidewalks in airports.

Thank you for your prayers as we travel. Pray also for the people we travel with for they will have to smell us the whole way home...

Day 24 - The best is yet to come

This morning we woke up at 5 am to the sound of rain pouring down on the metal roof. We leave today and I believe Uganda was weeping for us. Today is time for our final farewells. We'll step on the plane tonight and head home. It will take some time to get used to home again, and I am looking forward to spending some time reflecting on the past 3 weeks. I hope you will stick with us as that happens. There are some good stories ahead, but we ask for your patience as we spend the next few days traveling and getting used to life at home again.

I have enjoyed every minute of being here. The Lord has brought us through and sustained us. We are so thankful for his provision.

I'm very sad to leave, but I believe, just as they say here in Uganda:

The best is yet to come.

- Aly

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 22 - Surprise Visit

We spent the day today split up. My dad went up to the the Camp El Har site with Chuck, a guy who is here from New Mexico for the next 2 months to work on construction. My mom and I spent the day at the head office. She met with Auntie Florence and I worked on some computer projects for them.

This evening we went back to the home where the Camp El Har kids are staying right now. Most of them have left for holiday, but some have stayed. We were able to see some kids we haven't seen in 2 years. It was amazing to see how much they've changed. When we left them 2 years ago they were still shy little kids and now they're confident young men and women. We enjoyed spending some time with them. It's a bit different to spend time with the older kids. The conversations change from simple subjects like our country, what we like about Uganda, and what we like to do, to really tough spiritual questions like is one form of baptism better than another or what do I tell a friend who thinks that some sins are worse than others.

I can't believe that we're so close to leaving. Tomorrow is our last full day in Uganda. Last month I was saying that soon it would all be just a memory and it has. My parents are ready to come home. They love it here, but at the same time I think they are ready to get back into life back home.

I'm not so ready.

I know that I need to come home so I can keep working at getting better, but I'd rather stay. Please pray for us (and me especially) as we begin to say farewell to our family here. We've grown close to so many people here, and I know it will be very difficult for us. Pray that the Lord will give me strength to come back and continue the work of this trip at home through sharing the stories with others.

Thank you for praying with us, and for walking with us as we go.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 21 - Broken

Igamba has broken me. I don't even know what else to say.

It's our fourth time to go there, but it never gets easier. In fact, I think this was the most difficult time that we've spent there. The poverty there is tremendous. In years past we've spent only a couple days there and we packed it full of home visits. But this year, we had to take it slow, and while that sounds like we did less ministry, we ended up doing more. We were able to go deeper than ever before.

Years past we went a mile wide and an inch deep. This year it was an inch wide, a mile deep. We spent a lot of time at the homes we visited and listened to their struggles, encouraged them, prayed with them, and followed up again later.

I'm still trying to process it all, which often leaves me in tears. My heart is broken because of the work we did there. My heart is broken because I had to leave.

I just feel broken.

But I thank the Lord for feeling broken, because a broken heart takes action. I pray that in the coming days/weeks as we share more with all of you and as we go out to churches to speak that the stories will break your hearts to take action too.

- Aly

Friday, August 6, 2010

Quick Update



Hello everyone, my name is Amanda. I am Aly's friend and she asked me to update the blog for her when she is not able to. They are in Igamba right now where they do not have access to internet.
Everything is going good. Aly has been a little weak and tired, but she is doing fine. They haven't been able to do as much as they would normally do, however, Aly says that this year is the best ministry! They have many great stories heading your way!
 
Keep checking the blog for updates. They will be back in Kampala on Saturday afternoon.
 
The Housers thank you for all of your prayers!
 
-Amanda

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 13 - A Bittersweet Day

This morning we boarded an empty bus, bumping along to Camp El Har. The kids loaded one by one onto the bus until it was overflowing. I sat in the back watching little brown heads bob up and down on the way.

After a wonderful church service, my parents went with Uncle Reuben and Auntie Florence for lunch, and I went back to the Camp with the kids. Oh we were sneaky! Today is my parent's 28th wedding anniversary, so I came up with a plan to have a surprise party for them with the kids.

So we went back to prepare while the married folks went for lunch. I went with some of the kids and Shamila (one of the aunties at the home) to buy sodas from down the road. The cake had been delivered the night before.

Shamila took the lead in putting together a program and put Eva in charge of directing the whole program. They practiced some songs and even put in my parents names and that it was their 28th anniversary.

The kids were so excited. I'm not sure if it was because it was our parent's anniversary, or if it was because we got to have a party with cake and sodas...

When they arrived the kids brought out the cake and yelled, "SURPRISE!" They started off with praise and worship, did some special songs, asked all of the adults to speak, and enjoyed our cake.

But the day had many mixed feelings. Since we are leaving for Igamba tomorrow and the kids will go on break and visit their families before we get back, this was the last day we had to spend with them. Some of the kids expressed their thanks to us for our love for them. It was hard to keep my composure.

If you haven't already picked up on this we love those kids so much! So it was very hard to say good bye. We've been here for a week and a half so far and already we've connected with these kids. There was a girl that was new this year. She came to Camp El Har earlier this year so we hadn't ever seen her before. She was very unsure of us at first. She was shy and would hide her face when we looked at her. After a few visits, she really warmed up to us. All I needed to do was look at her and she would smile so big. I would come sit next to her and she would be so happy. But when we said good bye today, she hugged each of us and then walked off and stood by herself, head hanging low. She was sad we were leaving.

The kids have said to us that they love us as their own family. They love my dad as their own dad, my mom and their mother, and me as their sister. And those are not just words. You can see on their faces that it's the truth.

I was trying to upload some pictures for you. The internet here is on African Time...

We're off to pack to leave for Igamba tomorrow. You won't hear much from us for a while (I don't think) but we thank you for your continued prayers. Pray that the Lord will give us strength for every day, and that God will use us in a mighty way as we minister to the people there.

Tomorrow some of the Dorcas ladies will join us in Igamba just for the day to do door to door evangelism. We've done home visitation and presented the Gospel to people, but never at this level with people from AMG spread out, traveling around, and sharing the Good News. So please pray that the Lord will open the hearts of the people we will speak to.

- Aly

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 12 - Crazy Saturday

This morning didn't start off so good. I woke up feeling awful. I was stiff and achy. My joints felt like rusty gears grinding together, and my muscles felt like they were on fire.

That is not the best part of waking up.

But I just kept praying that the Lord would give me strength for what he wanted me to do today. I had to comletely rely on him. We went to Namugoga for the Saturday program (it was my mom, Susan, and myself. My dad was at a men's breakfast with Uncle Reuben). We were so glad to have Susan because she ran around with those crazy kids for half of the morning so we didn't have to. I played some, but taking in the wisdom of my grandmother I decided I should take it easy and not burn myself out since we still have just under 2 weeks left.

We also went to Camp El Har to see the kids. They hadn't returned from their Saturday program at one of the other centers so we surprised them when they came home. We spent time in fellowship with them, teaching them. And then we handed out some gifts to them.

A person we know from back home in the States donated a suitcase full of clothes to take with us, so these kids were able to get some of those. The boys received shorts and the girls received shirts. They were so excited and kept saying thank you!

I gave some of the older girls my old shirts. One girl tried on a Veggie Tales shirt that was mine, but it was big on her. She didn't seem to like it, but when my mom told her it used to be mine she wouldn't take it off.

We are absolutely and completely exhausted today. We have another early day tomorrow, and then we're off to Igamba on Monday. When we go to Igamba, it's not likely that we'll have much internet access, so you may not hear from us while we're there.

I want to thank you again for your prayers. They mean so much to us and we wouldn't be able to do the work we do without them. We ask that you specifically pray for us as we prepare to go to Igamba. I ask that you pray for my health, that God will continue to give me strength to go on, as well as strength admit I need to rest.

- Aly

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 11 - Broken Hearts

Though we've been to Uganda many times, we are still experiencing many firsts. For example we recently experienced our first stop at a real working traffic light. The traffic lights are there but they're not usually in use. Today was the first time I ever paid to use a public restroom. We saw for the first time the ice cream truck. We'd only heard it before, but we found out it's acutally an ice cream boda boda (motorbike). I saw someone smoking for the first time in Kampala. It's not very common to see people smoking in Uganda, and now I've seen two. We saw an albino Ugandan child walking to school.

Unfortunately we also encounter many of the same things year after year. A man offered both my dad and me his child to take back to America for a small donation. We saw toddlers wandering busy city streets, kids sitting around at home because their parents can't afford school fees, and kids walking around barefoot in tattered clothing, noses running, and bellies bloated.

These are not things that we've become numb to. It's still heartbreaking and I pray it will continue to break my heart to see such things. I think the worst thing we can do as Christians is to become numb to the needs of others. We see the pictures of kids just like this on tv and it's easy to become numb to the images. It's easy to think that because we don't know their names and they live in far away places that it's ok to neglect them.

So I'll say it again. The worst thing we can do is become numb, to seem as if we don't care, to think they should be able to help themselves, or that it's ok for us to hold onto the blessings God has given us because we've worked hard for them.

So my prayer today is that God would break our hearts for these people, and that we won't just see them as someone who lives far away and has no name. But that we would see them as people. Living, breathing, hurting people.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 10 - Bind us Together

Yesterday I cheated a bit on the blog post. To be completely and painfully honest, I wasn't feeling well. We did home visitation in Masajja and the roads there are really rough and we walked up and down the hills some, and it tired me out quickly. I was feeling weak and achy, so we ended up coming back home early to rest.

We welcomed a visitor among us. Susan is an American who has been working at the medical clinic in Bugongi for the past 2 months. She'll be with us until Monday, travel to Igamba with us, and then come back before us to leave for the US on Wednesday. So we've been spending time getting to know her and ministering with her.

There's a change in schedule for tomorrow. If you've been following our itinerary we were supposed to go to Dove Church, but they have a meeting there tomorrow so we will be visiting the homes where some of the kids at Camp El Har stay. Actually lots of things have changed on our schedule, but we haven't really mentioned it because it would take up the whole blog. But this is a bigger change.

Today was a day of adult fellowship. My mom and I took part in fellowship with Dorcas ladies. These are a group of AMG women who act as mothers to the AMG girls as they grow and mature. They provide materials these girls need and mentor them, because the culture of Uganda is that everything is private. So mothers don't often talk to their daughters about the changes that are happening or counsel them on proper behaviors.

We started off singing praises to God. They asked for prayer requests and we prayed for them. But this is much different than it is in the US. When we pray here in a group setting, everyone prays quietly to themselves. The room hums with thanks and requests to God.

My mom and I tag teamed the teaching and talked about when Joshua crossed the Jordan River (if you haven't read, you can go back and read the post from Day 1).

We also handed out gifts to these ladies who were so excited. They received a package of a handkerchief, lotion, tea, candy, and a colorful bag. They were pleasantly surprised. They were like little kids at Christmas, running around squealing, laughing, jumping around. It was truly a girls' day!

There's so much to talk about, but it's so hard to keep it short. I know this is something my mom will bring back to tell, so I won't get into it too much. But we've heard so many stories from AMG staff who were orphaned as children and taken in as sponsored children by other organizations, and now that they've grown they want to give back. It's so amazing to see their hearts for people who are suffering, and it's because they've been there.

The AMG staff are so inspiring. They work so hard, and they love the kids so much. Their hope is to give back the blessings they have been given.

Isn't that how we all should approach life?

- Aly

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 8 - UNO!!

Today was a more relaxed day, sandwiched between yesterday's and tomorrow's home visitation. We went up to the construction site for Camp El Har. They are about to put the roof on the primary classroom block and will soon start the dorms where the kids will stay. It's so amazing to see how this dream is becoming a reality. We visited this site in 2007 just as the land was getting tied up in court. When we went the land was cleared and ready for building, but it was just a bunch of dirt.

Now, years later we are witnessing the builders putting up the structure for the roof on the first building. Reuben took us, and as we listened to him talk about where different things will be it was like seeing his vision come alive. As my dad said earlier, he is leaving such a legacy here in Uganda. When we told him that he said, "It's all the Lord's work." He gives God all the glory for the things that are happening in the ministry.

We also visited with the kids at Camp El Har after they came home from school. We took part in their fellowship. I keep saying it but these kids are truly amazing! They always ask for testimonies after they worship the Lord and these are the testimonies they shared:

"I thank God for keeping me alive."

"I thank God for his protection."

"I thank God for my sponsor."

"I thank God for our visiters."

And then came time for prayer requests. One girl raised her hand and said,

"I request you to pray for suffering people."

Suffering people.

These kids have led such difficult lives, and they are requesting prayer for the people who are suffering. They know that God has brought them out of a terrible life, and they want the same for others.

After I taught about having clean hearts, we had a few minutes to spend with them before we had to leave, so I taught a small group of them how to play:





UNO! They caught on very quickly, and I have to say they kicked my butt. Eva won. It's a memory that will stick with me, sitting on a skinny little bench surrounded by my brothers and sisters, hearing them laugh and enjoy our time together.

- Aly

Monday, July 26, 2010

Melt My Heart

The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. - Frederick Buechner

Hello Aly,
I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. How is your life? I know you are fine. I am writing to you to tell you that I would like to be your friend because you are a good sister. I love you so much and thank you for loving us so much.

From your lovely brother, Tadeo

God bless you so much.

The other night I was handed this note from one of my sweet brothers from Camp El Har. He's around 13 years old. These kids mean so much to me. Last night I wrote in my journal that if you tried to bottle up all the love I have for these kids, there would be no container on earth that could hold it. And I know that my parents feel the same way.

So when I get letters like this one, it just melts my heart!

- Aly

Beans and Rice

I lost track of yesterday's post, but I found it. So be sure to scroll down and read what was on my heart yesterday after a very great, but emotional day.

Today was our first beans and rice day.

As my mom taught some local women about proper nutrition.

We worked to package the beans and rice. (Below is my dad with our driver, Michael)


Then we handed out the packages and had enough to give out to over 40 families.



We'd like to thank everyone who has supported us financially for this trip. Some of the funds we raised are used for ministry projects like this one. It's a very special gift to give to the families and the women were so excited to receive the food. They were clapping and kept saying, "Thank you, thank you." They said may the Lord bless us always. We share that blessing with you because you have helped us in one way or another to get here, whether by financial assistance or through prayer or other support.
So we thank you, and may the Lord bless you.
- Aly

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder...

Today was family visitation day at Camp El Har. After church we went to have lunch with the children and their families. The children sang and danced for their families and along with the AMG staff we had words of encouragement to give.

At the end of the program, they brought the kids out to sing one more song. They decided to sing about AIDS. During the song, some of the kids took turns coming up to sing about what life is like when you have They were singing about how when you are sick you can't move around, you can't go to school, you beg for money and eat out of the garbage.

These are young kids and they are singing about keeping away from AIDS. They should be worrying about finding their lost Barbie or fixing a flat tire on their bike, not about themselves or their families getting AIDS.

One girl came forward to sing and couldn't finish. She walked away crying. Then Eva stepped up to sing and she also couldn't finish. She ran away sobbing. There were tears streaming down the faces of each of the children. And I felt so helpless. These kids that I love so much, they've had such difficult lives. They've experienced things we can't even begin to imagine.

And as I sat there watching these kids sing, I started to wonder:

When an orphan dies, who will cry for them?

We have children in the US who die and their parents mourn without ceasing. Parents carry on with life always carrying the burden of losing a child they love so dearly. Their tears soak their pillow at night.

But what about the orphans of the world? Who cries for these children? Who mourns the life they should have had? Whose tears will soak pillows at night? Who cries for the orphans of the world when they die?

I can't seem to come up with an answer quite good enough.

- Aly

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Proof that I'm doing well

People have been asking how I've been holding up. Here is proof that I'm doing well:

Yes, I am still experiencing some pain and weakness. I can't tell if I'm just experiencing less or if being here with the kids makes me just not care. I think it's a little of both!

The Lord is doing great things, and I'm looking forward to what else he has in store!

- Aly

Day 5 - Saturday Program

Today has been wonderful! We have just returned home to freshen up and will be going to Reuben's home to enjoy dinner and fellowship with his family. He has been very busy since we arrived so it will be nice to catch up with him.




Most of our ministry so far (you know, the whole two days we've been here) has been to adults, so today was our first big day with the kids. We took part in the Saturday Program at Bukoto CDC. It's about a 10 minute drive from where we are staying. There were around maybe 300 children there this morning. When they meet on Saturday mornings they start with praise and worship, then they have devotions and one of the teachers gives the lesson for the day. They dismiss for breakfast (today was porridge and a biscuit), then they are divided into age groups for their classes where the lesson from earlier is reinforced. After that there is time for games. And today they had to take time to measure the children's weight and height.


My cheeks hurt from smiling so much today because these kids bring me such great joy.


Fahad has a message for all of the sponsors out there:



All of the children love their sponsors so much and want us to pass the message along. We have seen these children with our own eyes. We have served them breakfast. We have played games with them, sang songs with them. They are such beautiful children. Most of the children in the program have sponsors, but there are many who have lost their sponsors, or even new children who need sponsors. Will you pray about sponsoring one of these precious children? You can leave a comment on this post or email us at housers4uganda@yahoo.com. We can find a child for you while we're here and even have a chance to meet them before we leave. For $28 a month you can positively imact the life of a child for eternity.

It has started to rain. Thunder is sounding in the distance. I'm down in the cafe and have no idea how I will get back up to my room without getting soaked. Before I go, I want to give a big thanks to those of you who have been writing comments to us! We love to read the encouraging words after a long day. It's like cold water that quenches our thirst!


Thank you for your prayers as well. We slept very well last night and were well rested for today. Please pray for us tomorrow as we attend church and go to Camp El Har for family visitation day. Pray that we may be able to encourge the families and continue to build relationships with these precious children.

- Aly

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 4 - Who Let the Dogs Out?

No seriously, who let the dogs out at 2 am?

We didn't get much sleep last night. The dogs were howling half the night. It takes time to get used to all of the Ugandan noises. In a few more days it won't bother us at all.

We spent the morning and part of the afternoon painting at Camp El Har. YES! Even I painted! We went old school Uganda painting. We didn't bring any of our own supplies from home, and it took about 5 minutes until our paint roller disintegrated. It literally rolled out onto the wall. So a while later they came back with 2 more and we were in business again. It took a while, and it's nothing like painting in the States. We're all fairly neat painters and we ended up with paint all over our arms and hands. But part of the ministry of painting is spending time with the people we're painting with.

There were two girls there who are like the house mothers for Camp El Har with us, as well as the house "father," Gerald. The girls had never painted before, so this was their first experience. They enjoyed it, but said it was tiresome work. I was also able to visit with them, just spending time talking about the challenges they face and their hopes and dreams for the future.

It really is all about the people here!

I am absolutely loving just being here. And I'm feeling GREAT! It's been a little cool and damp here (cool for Uganda) which would usually make me achy and tired, but I've been feeling so good. I've said that on days before the trip when I wasn't feeling well and was doubting whether I should still come, God would always reveal something to me to keep me going. Many times he gave me a vision of playing with the children.

Last night, I played with the kids at Camp El Har.

I can't believe how the Lord has changed my life. And coming here, I know it's where God has called me. It's where I belong.

My dad is supposed to be leaving soon for a Bible Study, and my mom and I are staying back to go through our supplies/gifts and rest up for tomorrow's busy day with the kids at the Saturday Program!

We are enjoying the symphony of Kampala. At any one moment you can hear loud music playing, the Muslim prayer call, car horns honking, dogs howling, cats meowing, babies crying, birds squawing, people talking, and an ice cream truck...

That's Kampala. The sounds of home...

- Aly

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 3 - Fun and Security

Our first full day in Uganda. I'm still in awe of even being here. It's all still so surreal. I am currently sitting in the "cafe" at the guesthouse. In the hopes of limiting my number of mosquito bites I'm dressed in a long sleeved shirt, my skirt, and soccer socks. I look like I'm dressed for winter. We have a mosquito repelling candle lit on the table, which has created a mosquito death trap. That gives me great pleasure. Yes, please pray for me.

We've encountered some increased security around here. Everywhere we go they are checking vehicles and searching. People are really on high alert following the bombings last week (and also with the summit this week). So it's taking more patience as we have to stop for these checks, but we know it's for our security. I would say it's a bit similar to the way we reacted to security after 9/11.

But things are going well. We went to the AMG head office for staff devotions today. We were warmly welcomed and enjoyed fellowship with the staff as we sang praise songs and discussed whether or not we are just going through the motions and following a list of things we are and are not supposed to do, or are we taking time to stop and really enjoy our time with God.

Then we drove over to the Camp and met the children after they arrived back from school. As we drove, we picked up some of the kids as they were walking home. They were so excited to jump into the back of the truck and say hello. We also took photos of them holding a board with their name on it so we can relearn their names.

Now we are back and enjoying some time to relax. We are still adjusting to the time change.

We welcome your continued prayers for us, that God will use us in a mighty way, and that He will work through us to impact the people we come into contact with.

- Aly

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 2 - We Made it!

Just posting a quick note to say we made it! Our home has wireless internet so we may be able to post a little more than we thought, but don't quote me on that one.

The past 24 hours has been quite eventful. Our flight from Detroit to Amsterdam was delayed for almost an hour. We only had an hour and 45 minute layover in Amsterdam so we ended up running to our next gate, which was quite a sight I'm sure.

As we began our descent into Entebbe, the plane lost a whole lot of altitude at one point. It was like a scene from Lost, or like the tower of terror without the fun...

So all that to say that we are safe and so excited to be here and start our ministry tomorrow!

Thanks for the prayers!

- The Housers

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not a Fan

I am not a fan of how far away Uganda is!

Day 1 - Trusting Enough to Step Into the Flood

In the book of Joshua, chapter 3, it tells the story of when God called the Israelites into the Promised Land. They had been wandering around in the desert for 40 years. Joshua's ancestors had many chances to go cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land, but fear of the unknown kept them from the life God called them to. The Jordan River stood as a barrier between where they were and the life God had in store for them. After Moses' death, Joshua became the leader of God's people and it was his responsibility to lead them across the Jordan.
The Bible mentions something special about the Jordan River. At the time God called His people to cross it, the river was at flood stage. The water was high and it was rushing quickly. And what does God tell them? To step into the river, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, while the river is still flowing and after they do that the river will dry up and the people can walk across.

God often wants us to take a step of faith, but He asks us to do so before He acts.

We don't work that way. We want to know God's going to provide for us, keep us safe, and make everything work out before we act. It's easier that way, but it's not the way faith works.
This trip has signified a Jordan River experience for me. God has asked me to step out in faith before I am fully healed. If I'm completely honest I can tell you right now that at times I'm more scared than I've ever been in my life. I know the risks. I know my sickness could get worse. I know the political situation there is rough right now. But God has said, "Before you are healed, before you know you'll be fine, before I make things safe and peaceful, I want you to go."

Has it been easy? No. Will it be easy? No. But I know that God is going with me. I know He will be there every step of the way. And I know that He has amazing things in store for me.

Even at my worst, when I've felt absolutely horrible and thought I should just stay home, God has revealed to me that He has amazing things in store for me if I just trust Him.

In fact, one day many months ago when I was still very sick I went to work out at an indoor pool. On my way home I was sitting in the passenger seat listening to the Newsboys and my mind wandered to Uganda. I thought, "How will I do it? I can barely make a 30 minute workout without taking a 3 hour nap." And it was right then that God whispered to me a verse from a passage He's used to bring me strength.

Didn't I tell you that you would see the glory of God if you just believe?

And He continues to say this to me now. I'm doing much better now than I was back then. But still that promise remains. I can't wait to see His glory revealed through this trip, and I can't wait to share it all with you.
We ask for your continued prayers as we are about to leave for the airport. Our flight leaves around 3:15 this afternoon and we should be in Uganda by tomorrow evening (afternoon NY time). Please pray for safe travel, peace in our hearts, and that we would be open to an opportunities that arise along the way. Pray for us as we head off to Kampala, which is hosting an African Union Summit this week, which will increase the risk for problems over there, and again that God will give us protection and peace.
Thank you all for walking this road with us. Thank you for your support, and most of all for your prayers. We feel them, and they make a difference.

- Aly

Monday, July 19, 2010

Trust

I just had to go and open my big mouth about everything going smoothly. Well, guess what family will be repacking their bags tonight because we realized we forgot a whole bunch of important things?! The last 24 hours before we leave are always interesting!
But I am determined to enjoy my last night at home.

I have one night left in my bed, in my hometown, in my own state, in my own country! Wow! Tomorrow night we'll be sleeping on a plane headed for Uganda.

One thing that I keep being reminded of is that God is always with us. He will be there to guide and protect us. He will be there to supply the strength. He will be there to give us words to speak. My job is to trust in Him. My focus must remain on Him. He is my rock, my fortress, and my deliever, my God in whom I trust...

Off to pack!

- Aly

The Scheduled Events

Here's a look at our tentative itinerary as it stands right now. Of course all things are subject to change, but this is a pretty good outline of the types of ministry we'll be doing.

(you can click on the photo above and a larger version should appear)

Some quick notes:

Feeding Children is a nutrition seminar my mom does for parents in the AMG program. She sits down with them and explains the importance of good nutrition, what types of foods children should be eating, and how to best get those nutrients. She also talks about the importance of nutrition in pregnant women (since they are pregnant a lot of the time) for the health of the baby as well as the mother.

Dorcas Ministry is a program that was started to help the girls of AMG as they grow and mature. They provide the girls with needed supplies, teach them about proper hygiene, and counsel them. We will be able to speak with the girls and probably their mothers as well at the Saturday Programs, as well as having the opportunity to encourage the women who lead this ministry.

We will be in Igamba for about a week or so. We were not given a set itinerary for Igamba, but we usually take part in home visits and spend a lot of time around the child care center playing games, doing crafts, and loving lots of children (both sponsored and unsponsored). Patricia always has lots in store for us while we're there!

I explain all this just so that when you pray, you have a better understanding of what we'll be doing.

Things are beginning to calm down a little here. Our bags are mostly packed (I'm still working on my carry-on) and we're all just working on some last minute projects before we leave. I still can't believe that we leave TOMORROW!!!

- Aly

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Packing Central

On a typical day, our living room is pretty neat and orderly, like this:

Today, however, it looks like this:





Even the happy face balloon is cowering in terror. And that's only the living room. Now we're not some of those crazy people who bring everything but the kitchen sink. Most of what you see are supplies and gifts that we bring along when we go.

We already have 2 of our 6 bags packed full at 49.5 and 49.9 pounds respectively (we're allowed 50 pounds). We have everything from craft supplies to gifts for kids and adults to protein packed food to duct tape.

Also, what you may not know about these trips is that we have a few traditions that we keep every year. So tonight we fulfilled one of our traditions with our friends Allen and Debbie Chase. They have both done missions work - Debbie has been to Haiti and India and both have gone to Guatamala, and every time one of us is getting ready to leave, we go for a "Last Supper." This doesn't have to literally be the last supper we eat before we leave, but it's one last meal out (before airport food) where we can share a good meal and spend time in fellowship with one another. (My brother also joined us for this year's dinner!)

Other traditions (which, now that I think about it also include the Chase's) include them taking us to the airport and then picking us up and going out for our "First Pizza" once we get home. And even though I'm not supposed to have it, I may just have to make a sacrifice in the name of tradition.

I am so crazy excited about leaving. For some reason, today I don't feel the greatest, but I'm hoping it's just all getting out of my system before Tuesday. But I keep thinking about the kids and it gives me strength to keep going.

You prayers are always greatly appreciated! Specifically prayers that we will remember everything we need, and that God will provide the things we don't have. That we all will be able to get comfortable and get some rest on the plane, and that God will prepare the way by preparing our hearts and the hearts of the people in Uganda. Thank you all for your support. It means more to us than you'll ever know!



- Aly









Saturday, July 17, 2010

What to expect while we're away

I wanted to give a little rundown of what may or may not happen after Tuesday. We've been on a 40 (well 45) day journey together. You've seen some of the ins and outs, the ups and downs of preparing for a trip like this.

But here's where it might change. I will be updating the same as I have been until Tuesday. Then it's up in the air (literally), as we're not sure what our internet access will be like in Uganda. But I hope to be able to update at least once a week while we're there. The problem is that we will not be able to connect to a wireless internet source from where we're staying, which means we'll have to rely on using the internet at the AMG office. Because of our schedule we will not likely have time every day to sit in the office and type something up.


So here's my plan: I'm hoping that I'll be able to type up something (almost) every night when we get back to our guesthouse. Then, one day a week (probably Thursday before or after our staff fellowship) I will post all of them at once. So once we're in Uganda, be sure to scroll down to see if we've posted multiple times in one day. I'm not sure if that'll be God's plan. So we ask for your patience with us. We will do our very best.


We always tell people that no news is good news. If you don't hear from us, that means things are going well.


But we do ask for your prayers. If you suddenly feel prompting to pray for us, please do, even if it's in the middle of the night. Remember that Uganda is 7 hours ahead of New York time so when you're going to bed at night, we're getting ready to start our day. And the middle of the night in NY is daytime for us. And we certainly feel those prayers.


We have some great friends who call each other while we're gone every night at 9pm. One year we were in Uganda I would wake up in the middle of the night and feel like someone was praying for us. Every time I looked at the time, it was always around 4am.


Your prayers make a difference. When we're facing a difficult situation, sometimes we can just feel the tension go away, and we know that someone is interceding for us. So we thank you for those prayers!


Well, I didn't think it could possibly happen, but things have actually become a little crazier here. I'm off to work on some packing and get in some time in God's word. It's the only thing that keeps me sane!


- Aly