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 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


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

Friday, July 16, 2010

Interview With Myself

Me: We're joined here today by Aly Houser who is leaving for Uganda in 4 days. So Aly, how are things going?
Myself: Things are crazy busy. If I had to sum it up in one word...I couldn't because my brain can't focus long enough.

Me: What did you to today?

Myself: We did our shopping for the trip, buying most of the supplies and food we need to bring along.

Me: Would you care to tell us some of the items you bought?

Myself: I'm so glad you asked! We bought things like soap, toothpaste, contact solution, cough drops, and shampoo - things we can't get while we're there. For food we bought things like protein bars, protein water, and nuts.

Me: That's a lot of protein!

Myself: You're telling me! But it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside...

Me: Really?

Myself: No, but it sounds nice.

Me: So have you started packing?

Myself: [pause] No...but our living room is starting to look like walmart threw up in it.

Me: That's a little disturbing. So now you're spending all the hours of your day getting ready, that must be stressful.

Myself: It is very stressful. So much so, at times I just want to curl up in a ball and cover my head with a pillow. In fact I did that soon after I woke up this morning because it all felt so overwhelming.

Me: That must be tough. But is it still worth it in the end?

Myself: Oh, you bet! In a few days, our friends will drop us off at the airport, pray for us, and send us off. And as soon as we clear security it's like everything else disappears, all the stress, all the sadness about leaving our friends and family. Then we get to Uganda and see those kids and everything else just seems to fade away.

Me: That sounds so good I wish I could get in on something like that.

Myself: Oh wouldn't that be fun? The two of us together?!

Me: You know it! Well it's been great talking to you.

Myself: Yes, we should do it again sometime.

Me: Well you heard it yourself people, all the stress and craziness is worth every minute of it. But I think we need to pray that God will help them through these last few crazy days, giving them enough time to get everything ready they need and that they'll remember everything they need. And what they don't have, let's pray that God supplies it. Thanks for joining us.

- Aly
NOTE: I do not suffer from multiple personality disorder. I will, however, admit that I haven't had enough sleep in the past few days which makes me a little loopy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


It's so strange to think that we're headed into our last few days at home. I was talking to someone today and I uttered the words, "Well I'm leaving the country in a few days so..." And all of the sudden I realized that in a few days...I'm leaving the country!

And soon these sweet little hands will be waving hello to me.

These faces will smile at me in person.

And my arms will be just as full of kids as my heart will be full of joy.

And I can't help but smile.

- Aly

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I wrote this in my journal last year around this time:

I am stressed out and frazzled. I do not have it all together at this moment. My priorities are not where they should be and thus, I am stressed. Stressed spelled backwards is desserts and that's all I can think about because I'm stressed! I just wanted to write that so next year when the computer won't work, my to do list is piling up, and I'm hating the goodbyes, I'll remember that it's part of the process, part of the trip.

It was such a relief to read that tonight and to remember that this is kind of a normal part of the process of getting ready.

There are always so many emotions that go with leaving for Uganda. I'm so beyond excited to go, yet there are still some nerves, and I'm sad to leave my family and friends here, but so happy to go see my family and friends there. And it leaves me feeling my heart swell with joy as my stomach gets butterflies and my eyes tear up. It's like frazzled excitement filled with joy and nerves wrapped in tears of happiness. It's what I like to refer to as Ugandamania and if you haven't already figured it's messed up. Those of you reading who have done missions work before may know what I'm talking about (if you do, please let me know so I don't feel like such an insane person).

But this morning when I woke up I realized that in 4 weeks, this will all be a memory. It will be a bunch of amazing stories to tell, and that's really sad to me. Because despite all the work and energy that goes into preparing for leaving, I absolutely love being there. I know I've joked a lot on this blog about some of the crazy things we've encountered along the way. But if you ask me what the worst part about going to Uganda is, I wouldn't say the food, or the bats pooping on my pillow, or bathing in a spigot where the water turns off randomly. I would tell you it's leaving.

Uganda is a second home to me, and to my family. We received an email from Reuben today and he said they are eagerly awaiting our homecoming.

Our homecoming. We're going home.

So over the next few weeks while in Uganda, when we refer to home we will be talking about the guest house we're staying at in Kampala. We'll refer to "home" here in NY as "Back in NY" or "Back in the States." We've done this every year. It just seems to fit, because while we're there, we're home. (Have I used the work home enough in the last few paragraphs?!)

I think writing this blog post has cured me of my Ugandamania tonight. I said before that I process things through writing and I've gone from tightly wound to completely relaxed while writing this. I was able to put it into perspective for myself. Things might feel crazy right now, but soon it will be over. I want to enjoy and cherish every minute of this trip because for so long I didn't think it would happen.

And honestly, I can't wait to go home.

- Aly

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Is it just me?

...or do we look like crazed germaphobes?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Humble Service

Yesterday evening while people gathered at a local restaurant and rugby field in Kampala, Uganda, terrorists from a group based in Somalia set off bombs killing 74 people and wounding dozens more. You can read about the attack by clicking here.

It's a bit unnerving as this news comes just one week before we leave to travel across the Ocean to this very city. The attack was aimed at civilians, innocent people who were gathered to watch the soccers' greatest play. Among the dead were 14 foreigners, including 1 American who worked as an advocate for child soldiers in Northern Uganda with the organization Invisible Children. A church group of 6 people from PA were wounded in the blast, just a day before they were supposed to return home.

As we head into the last week of our time at home, the spiritual battles we face continue to rage on. Whether they appear in the form of unnerving news stories, or in the obstacles that come from trying to get packed, prepare lessons, or raise the rest of the money we need to go, we are bombarded at every corner with stressors that have the ability to wear us down.

As a family, we started to unravel a bit tonight. As much as I'd like to paint a picture of how the three of us always speak kindly to each other or always seek to encourage, it just wouldn't be true. (Is it true of anyone?) The stress started to weigh heavily on us causing tempers to flair and feelings to be hurt. But instead of allowing everything to cause divisions among us, we sat down together to pray. Immediately, the tension in the room eased, and the rest of our evening went so much more smoothly.

You see, it's not our job to worry about whether or not we'll get everything done in time or whether we'll receive all of our funds or what may or may not happen. Those are things we cannot control anyway. God has it all under control. He knows our needs and will meet them in His time. He knows what we will do, where we will go, and no matter what happens He will be with us every step of the way.

As I read the news article this morning I read a quote about the young American man who died in the bombing yesterday. It said:

Nate lived a life that demanded explanation. He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world, and his is a life to be emulated.

I think we can all be challenged by this young man's life by serving God with all we have and devoting our lives to something greater than ourselves. If we allow the worries of this life overwhelm us, we can't allow God to work in us as He longs to. Our job is not to worry, but to serve our amazing God.

Please join us as we pray for our brothers and sisters in Uganda and for those who are affected by these attacks.

- Aly

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to Comment

I hope you all know how much I enjoy writing this blog. Sometimes it can be time consuming, and sometimes I have no idea what to write, but I enjoy sharing little pieces of our trip (and the time leading up to our trip) with "you all."

I say "you all" because I don't really know who "you all" are. I mean, I probably know you, but may not know you are reading the blog. I love it when people come up to us and say they've been following along, and I really love it when people comment. It's always nice to know I'm not just talking (typing?) to myself here. And, above all, I love reading the comments because they are often so encouraging. But we've had quite a few people ask questions about how to leave a comment on the blog, so I thought it would be good to address the issue because it can be a bit confusing.
So here's a little "how to" in posting comments to our blog.
1. When you read a post that you'd like to comment on, go to the very end of the post just below our signature.

2. Before the title for the next post, you'll see that it was posted by us, the time it was posted, the number of comments on the post. Click on that link.

3. It will take you to a page where you can type your comment. Type, type, type away.

4. Then just below the box where you typed your comment you will see "Comment As" foowed by a drop down menu. You may choose anonymous (but make sure you type your name at the bottom of your comment so we know who you are) OR you can choose "Name/URL." (For this option you will be asked to type in your name - you can disregard the URL - and continue).
5. Click "Post Comment."

6. A codeword will appear (different every time) and it will ask you to retype it. Then click "post comment" once more.

And there you have it.
It sounds horribly complicated, but try it out if you'd like. But know that we really do love to hear from you, and I know it will be even more special when we are in Uganda. And some people are nervous because others might read it and what if it's not "good." But I say, if God lays it on your heart to share something, share it. You never know when your comment might be the one well-timed bit of encouragement we need.

Of course if you're really uncomfortable with commenting, that's fine too. It's okay to lurk. Our main reason for starting this blog is that so people could experience this trip with us, and to help people gain a better understanding of the needs in this world.

So I hope you are enjoying this ride with us. Because like the roads of Uganda, it's about to get bumpy

- Aly

Saturday, July 10, 2010

From the Archives: COME BAAAACK!!!

The very first year we went, when we traveled to the game park for our day of rest, AMG hired a bus driver to take us (this was before AMG had their own bus). Almost everything that could possibly go wrong with that bus went wrong on our trip.

Now you have to understand some things about the roads in Uganda. They are nothing like the roads in the US. They are filled with potholes the size of Oklahoma, and sometimes the potholes have potholes in them.

But we were able to travel on a newly fixed road. There were no potholes, but about every 30 feet or so there was a speed bump. So as we rode we'd get up to normal speed and then slow down real suddenly to go over a speed bump, then speed up and slow down...For hours on end.

The morning after our bat incident we left before dawn to head out on our safari in the hopes of finding some lions. Along the way we bump, bump, bumped along when what should come tumbling off the back of our bus but one of our shocks. We were like:

We had shocks?!?!?!

After a few hours of animal finding, we were on our way back to Kampala. At one point we had to stop and pull off the road because the engine overheated, and then we stopped again at a gas station to fill a few buckets of water so we could pour them on the engine along the way.

Not long after we were back on the road did we have to make another stop. I was sitting near the front of the bus with my roommate, Madie, and one of the pastors on our team was sitting across the aisle right near the door. As we hit a pothole, we hear a popping noise and smoke starts coming out from under his legs, causing mass panic among our 16 member team. All I remember was hearing, "Get off the bus!" And everyone running for cover.

So here we were, 16 white people, and a few AMG staffers standing on the side of the road with no idea of where we were. Our bus driver, whose brother was also along with us, was trying to fix the battery and get the bus started again and did so by pushing the bus down the road.

So now, we're really panicking. We've evacuated with nothing more than the clothes we had on and our luggage is on a bus that's being pushed down the road.

Now it comes as no surprise that as white people, it doesn't take a whole lot for people to notice when we're around. So a crowd of villagers is formed, watching as a bunch of crazy white people start running after a bus yelling, "Waaaaait! Come Baaaack!"

I mean even we were laughing at ourselves because we looked so ridiculous. And as we waited behind the bus for the ok to get back on, one of the villagers came up to an AMG worker and started offering cows (as a dowry) for one of the girls on our team.

Had this man been a mechanic...or a car salesman...we may have come back with one less team member...

- Aly

Friday, July 9, 2010

On the Way


It's crunch time, ladies and gentlemen. This is the time of year where we all start running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I feel like the energizer bunny without the energy. My mind just keeps going and going and going.

I worked on putting the rest of the clothing items a local church donated into gallon sized ziploc bags. I've been working on making gifts for people, thinking of gift ideas, and wondering where in our luggage these items will go. I've started typing up the Bible lessons I've been writing throughout the year, and by started I mean I typed up one.

There are skirts and clothes and backpacks strewn about our house. And somewhere in all that craziness my brain is hiding. And we're still 11 days away. It's only going to get nuttier.

But what I've learned from Jesus' life in Luke 8:40-56, is that some of the greatest ministry happens on the way. So despite this busy-ness in preparing for ministry, we can't get so focused on what lies ahead that we miss out on ministry opportunities here.

In this particular passage, Jesus was on the way to raise Jairus' daughter from the dead when he was met by a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. His reaction probably isn't what we'd expect. Afterall, he was on his way to bring a young girl back to life. That's some big stuff. I don't think anyone would have blamed him if he would have ignored her or even rebuked her for interrupting him.

Instead he stopped.

And after she explained why she had touched him, why she had interrupted him taking precious time away from an impending miracle, and told him that she had immediately been healed, he doesn't scold her. Instead he says,

"Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace."

And then on he went to bring the girl back to life.

On the way he stopped. He made time. And he seized the opportunity.

That is my goal: not to get caught up in the preparation and forget that there are opportunities to share God's love wherever I am. I, too, will minister on the way.

This isn't always easy, and I'm sure I won't always be consistent. But Jesus modeled this way of ministry to us, and we need to follow in his footsteps.

So when an opportunity to help a dear friend of ours make salvation bracelets to take with her to India, I jumped on it.

For those who may not be familiar with these, each colored strand represents an important part of the salvation plan. Black is for our sin, Red is for the blood of Christ that pays for our sin, White signifies that his blood washes away our sin, Blue is for his gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us, green is for growth in our spiritual walk, and the Gold signifies the promise of Heaven to all who believe.

The AMG team that is heading to India is hoping to make 1000 of these bracelets which were divided up among the 4 women on the team. I've volunteered to help make 50, and have the honor of praying over each - that the person who receives that bracelet will receive so much more: the knowledge and love of Jesus, and that they will remember the blessing of the team members who handed them out.

These bracelets are so fun and easy to make that we may be borrowing this idea for our trip! It's a great lesson to share with the kids, explaining what each color means and then teaching them how to make their own.

I think it's so amazing how the Lord weaves each of our lives together, and that a simple friendship can literally impact thousands of children all over the world!

- Aly

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Aly's Health Update

May I just say that I am absolutely loving this weather. Sure it's ridiculously hot and horribly humid, but this weather is making me feel great!!

We've adopted a number system to help describe the way I feel. It's a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the absolute worse I've ever felt in my life and 1o being the best. For quite some time I was hovering around a 2 or 3. These were the days I spent laying on the couch all day staring at the wall, getting up only to eat or use the bathroom.

As time went on I started to inch up the scale. In January, I was at about a 4 or 5 and started to swim at a local indoor pool twice a week. This helped me gain my strength, but still my very best days were around a 5. It stayed like this for a long time, until I started seeing this new doctor in May.

As I began treatments, changed my diet (which I can no longer call a diet, but is now a lifestyle), and started taking massive amounts of vitamins, there were days that I could get up as high as a 6 or 7. I still had days when I was much lower than that, but it felt good to feel good again.

With this warm weather, I've tasted the wonder that is an 8. That's 80%! I hardly ache at all. I was taking 3 ibuprofen 3 times a day, and all week I've been able to skip my afternoon dose and I don't even realize it until evening comes.

But feeling better without being fully healed also comes with its downfalls. I maybe, sort of, sometimes, tend to over do things. And I guess that maybe it's possible that at times I eat something I shouldn't.

And then I pay for it. Like, let's just say hypothetically that today was my grandfather's birthday. And because I love him so much, I decided to eat a small scoop of ice cream in his honor (which we all know that, like pizza, it is not a food I would ever give in and eat because I know it won't sit well with me). But let's just say I had some. Then right now I'd be feeling about as restless as a hamster at midnight.

I'm kind of an all or nothing type of girl. I'm either all in, or completely out. I either put all I have into something or don't bother to do it at all. So as we get ready for this trip, I know that if I'm going to make it through that I'll need to slow it down a bit and not feel like I need to do everything all at once - which is so easy for me to say but not quite as easy to actually do.

It just feels so good to feel this good!!

I love it. I'm praising God for bringing me to this point. I might not be fully healed at a number 10, but I still have life and a purpose in Him.
But even if hypothetically I did eat some ice cream tonight which would hypothetically make me more fidgety than a hyperactive child on Redbull, I would still be praising God because hypothetically:
I got to eat some ice cream...

- Aly

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

People You Should Know

I'd like to introduce you to some of the amazing ladies we have the pleasure of working with while in Uganda.

First off is Mrs. Florence Musiime, or more affectionately known as Auntie Florence.

Auntie Florence is married to Reuben and plays a very integral role in AMG's ministry. She often travels with Reuben as he goes and checks on the various projects. She is highly respected and adored by AMG staff and children alike. She was the catalyst for the Dorcas Ministry which helps educate girls as they grow and mature.

Next up is our dear friend Patricia.

Patricia is a pastor's wife, mother of 3 beautiful children, and the director of the childcare center in Igamba (a village about 75 miles outside of Kampala). Her joy and love for the Lord are contaigious, and you can often find her singing or humming as we travel along. She knows each of the 250 children at her center by name and can tell you each of their backgrounds. She has her finger on the pulse, aware of the needs around her, and finds a way to meet those needs. She always makes me laugh, and she's one of the ones we look forward to seeing the most and say goodbye to the least.

And last but certainly not least my dear sister, Cissy.

Cissy heads up the childcare center in Bukoto (right in Kampala). She has a heart for helping these children and for good reason. Cissy's parents died when she was young, and she was taken on as a sponsored child through Compassion International. Through this sponsorship she was given a second chance, and now her goal is do the same for other children in Uganda. We have "adopted" her into our family, and I am proud to call her my sister.

The list could go on, but these are three of the main women we will be working with while in Uganda this year. They are like family to us, and we can't wait to see them again!

- Aly

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We Really ARE Going!

We now have only 2 weeks before we leave for Uganda. Fourteen days from right now we will be about halfway to Amsterdam.

As for what we're up to right now, we are trying to juggle preparation for the trip with all the things of everyday life. My mom is at a cooking school for work until Friday. My dad is also working all week, and I'm home working on some of the projects that need to be done before we leave. (But it's been so stinkin' hot around here and our pool has just been calling my name!)

We received our tentative itinerary from Reuben today. Of course as I've said before all things are subject to change, but it looks as though our ministry there will include Bible studies with the children at Camp El Har, encouraging AMG staff members at their weekly devotions, Saturday programs with sponsored children, home visitation, Dorcas fellowship (with the ladies who run the Dorcas ministry for the sponsored girls of AMG), speaking at churches, and Lord willing lots of time in Igamba (one of our favorite childcare centers to visit).*

Those are the same basic ministries we have been involved with over the years, but it could all change in the blink of an eye. And we like it that way. We just go with the flow.

Getting this schedule has made me a little giddy. For a long time it was hard to believe that this was all happening. It was like it was too good to be true. But now it's sinking in. It's beginning to feel real (which is probably a good thing since we leave in 2 WEEKS!).

We really are going!

*A more detailed schedule will be coming to you soon...

- Aly

Monday, July 5, 2010

John 16:33

Typically, before our trips things start happening that could have the potential to make us second guess our choice to go. In years past, headlines about plane issues would make us a little leery of flying. For example, last year in February (just a few weeks after we purchased our airline tickets through Continental Airlines) there was a plane crash just miles away from the Buffalo airport. What plane was it? A Continental plane. Actually it turned out to be the exact same model that we would fly from Buffalo to Newark last year.
Then a few months later, a plane "vanished" over the Atlantic Ocean, leaving no survivors. And just days before we left a pilot died on a flight from Brussels to Newark (he wasn't sitting at the controls at the time, and other pilots safely landed the plane).
It was a little nerve racking when we'd read those headlines or hear them on tv, but in the end it never deterred us from going.
This year, the messages coming to us are a little different. Instead of sowing seeds of fear, the devil is sowing seeds of doubt. This doubt comes through negative comments of people around us in regards to their opinions about my return to Uganda.
Now I know people mean well, but some people take it a little too far.
Today I was visiting my dentist. He asked me what I was up to, if I had a job, what my plans were – just the typical depressing questions for a person who's been sick for the past 10 months and doesn't have a job. But I answered all the questions very sweetly.
When he found out this was a religious trip and that I'd come home sick last year but decided to go back this summer, he told me that I shouldn't because I "it's not worth the risk of getting sick again." He said that people have been trying to spread Christianity for thousand of years and there are still people who haven't heard, so I shouldn't go because there would still be people left over for me later.
Someone else yelled at my mom for letting me go back despite the fact I'm an adult and then said that I was being selfish to go back.
These are some of the more extreme cases, but many people have expressed their concerns. And while these are legitimate fears, some of which we've had ourselves, they plant a seed of negativity in our minds that grows. And the thing with doubts is they never travel alone. We don't usually have just one doubt. We may start with one, but that one leads to another which leads to another, and soon we have this long list of reasons why whatever we're thinking is a bad idea.
So how do we know that what is God's plan? When these doubts arise I dive into God's word. And when I have come to him with my growing list of reasons why I shouldn't go, he always leads me to the same conclusion:
You serve Me.
God has revealed His promises to me, He has given me a vision of what this trip will be like. I know I'll have struggles, but I also know that being in His will for my life will bless me beyond measure and affect my life as well as those I come in contact with for His glory.
And I can't wait to see what He does.
- Aly

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blessed to be Free

We'd like to take this time to wish you all a Happy Independence Day. We are so grateful for the freedoms we have in this country, many of which we take for granted.

After spending time in Uganda, we realize how blessed we are to have the freedoms we have here in the US. My mom and I are grateful for the freedom to get into the car and drive wherever we want, whenever we want. I am thankful for my right to receive an education at any level, despite being a girl. I am certainly grateful for the right to receive medical care. And most of all we are blessed to have the freedom to worship and amazing God without fear of people attempting to place a curse on our church, cutting the power lines, or sacrificing goats on the property line to scare us away.

We are thankful for our troops, both home and abroad, who sacrifice their lives every day to make sure we continue to be known as the land of the free.

Happy Independence Day!

- Aly

Saturday, July 3, 2010

From the Archives: Plop, Plop, Yelp, SLAM!

The year was 2007, the place: Sambiya River Lodge in Northern Uganda. It was our one day of rest* in the 16 days we were gone.

*We use the term rest loosely as it sometimes seems that our day of rest has us up earlier and out later than our ministry days.

Reuben sent us off on an adventure to Murchison Falls to visit the game park and stay at one of the lodges there for the night. My dad had us all excited because he had gone to the same place the year before and said it was so beautiful, wonderful, and relaxing.

So we woke up at I don't even know when, it was that early, and off we went on our 8 hour bus ride to the park (which is a whole other adventure in itself).

When we arrived at the lodge, we found it wasn't the same one my dad visited, and not what any of us expected.

We stayed in huts. With thatched roofs.

Now, while we're in Uganda I tend to have problems with my lungs because of the dust, car fumes, and smoke that I'm not used to here. The doctor on the trip said I had a respiratory infection and had no voice.

So I entered my little round hut, which I shared with my roommate, Madie, as well as my parents (there were 2 rooms connected by a door between). They all left for a boat ride while I laid down on the bed farthest from the door and laid down facing away from the entrance. As I laid there, I heard this PLOP. I thought, "That's strange." So I turned over and saw :

A little pile of poop! On my pillow! Next to my head!

You can imagine what I did next - I flipped the pillow over and laid back down. Hey, don't judge me, I didn't feel good.

A few minutes later I heard another PLOP. I didn't really want to look this time, but curiosity got the best of me.

Another pile of poop. Not on my pillow. On my roommates pillow. You can imagine what I did next (yep, I went there) - I flipped her pillow over and fell asleep.

*NOTE: You are free to judge me on this one. She didn't find actually out about this until....about a month ago. And she's still talks to me. Now that's a true friend!

After waking up, I joined the team for dinner and then we all turned in for the night, making sure to close, latch, and lock the door to keep out unwanted pests like monkeys, warthogs, and hippos. Because one of those creatures wandering into your room would not be the best part of waking up. (Seriously though, there was a sign on the door warning us). We tucked ourselves into our mosquito nets and said our goodnights.

At about 4:30 am, I woke to a strange sound. It was a whooshing sound, a fluttering if you will. I thought maybe our fan turned on so I closed my eyes. But I heard it again. And then I heard it real loud just as something tapped my mosquito net.

I could hear my parents shuffling about on the other side of the wall. So I called for my dad and it felt like one of those nightmares when you try to scream but all that comes out is a whisper. Oh, that's right, I had lost my voice. I couldn't even say anything loud enough to wake Madie who was less than a foot away. So I started coughing.

Finally she woke up and said, "Are you ok? Can I do anything for you?" Which would've been so sweet if she hadn't had a twinge of irritation in her voice. But I suppose I deserve at least that after I woke her up super early and allowed her to sleep on a poopy pillow all night...

I said to her, "Get my dad, but don't get out of your mosquito net." So my dad comes in and I told him, "I think there's a bat in our room." Then he CLOSED THE DOOR. Not a very heroic response.

I didn't hear what my dad told my mom. All I heard was a yelp and the slamming of the *bathroom door.

*I'd like to note here that she closed herself into a bathroom with walls that didn't reach the ceiling...

My dad comes back into the room with a towel over his head. I'm still not 100% sure of its purpose. Maybe it was his version of a super hero cape? I'm grasping here. But again, I shouldn't talk since I stayed safely inside my mosquito net. He turned our light on and our little flying friend crawled back up into our thatched roof to patiently wait for another persons pillow to poop on.

Now do you see why some of these aren't the stories we share at church? But honestly we have a lot of fun, and have to laugh and joke about some of the things that happen to us. People might hear these stories and think we're crazy and that they'd never go somewhere like that.

But the work we do and the friendships we have make it all worth it.

- Aly

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life Happens

Preparing for this trip may take a lot of time, but in the weeks leading up to leaving, life still happens. The house still needs cleaning, the laundry needs washing, and family needs loving.

Life still happens.

This week we've had my 4 year old cousin, Joey, from Sunday to Wednesday, then watched my 5 year old cousin, Ryan all day Thursday, and had a graduation party for yet another cousin today.

Life has been busy.

And to add to all of that we leave in 18 days! I can hardly believe it, but it's true. We are over halfway through our 40 day journey (which technically ended up being a 45 day journey), and it's crunch time.

Bags need to be packed, Bible lessons need to be written, medications need to be in order, clothes need washed, supplies need to be purchased, and goodbyes must be said.

And all the while, life still happens.

We greatly appreciate your prayers during this time - pray that we won't become too overwhelmed, no one gets sick or injured, and that we won't get so caught up in the preparing that we miss opportunities for ministry along the way.

- Aly

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Just Moments Away

For my senior trip in high school, my class went white water rafting. Why the board of education would ever decide it was a good idea to send 90 teenagers down a rushing river just before graduation is completely beyond me. When I looked at the brochure I was a little nervous about the thought of it all. The whole water rushing over giant rocks to form a swirling vortex of doom was a little frightening to me. But the people in the brochure looked so happy...

The fact that my parents had to basically sign my life away so I could go on this trip should've sent off some red flags right away. But at 4:30 in the morning I boarded a greyhound bus with the rest of my classmates bound for a river in PA.

After securing our helmets and life vests we were off - just me and three other girls in one tiny raft.

On the first rapid we hadn't quite mastered the whole steering thing, got stuck on a huge rock, and had to get out and pull our raft around it.

At the second rapid, the guide pointed out an area to avoid, and since it was only about 30 feet from the first rapid, our steering hadn't been perfected and this madness ensued:

3 out of the 4 of us fell out of the raft (me being one of them -I'm in the white shirt). I bashed my knee against a giant boulder and had to swim back to the raft to be pulled back in. What I didn't know before I chose my raftmates was that 2 of them didn't know how to swim, and they happened to be the 2 that fell out with me. Seeing me swimming so easily they grabbed on, pulling me under.

When we all finally were safely in our raft again (2 paddles short) we didn't have enough time to make our meeting area before being sucked into the next rapid. We screamed for help but to no avail. We then waited near a rock for what seemed like days, all convinced that at the first opportunity we would quit.

My physics teacher said it was the only time that he'd ever seen me so frazzled. But with some encouraging words, and some switching among rafters we kept pressing forward and finished out the trip. Within minutes of my decision to continue on, I saw beautiful wildlife and conquered huge rapids in the face of fear. Believe it or not, it awakened me spiritually and set me on the path I'm on right now. (And since I injured my knee I had a pretty good reminder long after we were back on dry land).

I share this story with you because I think we all face times in our lives where we feel like we've been tossed from the raft and get lost in the current. It is so tempting to give up. At times I've felt it with this trip. I have a few days where I feel awful physically and think things would be so much easier if I just gave up.

But if I give up on going, I also give up on the blessings that God has in store for me. Giving up means I'll miss out on the transformation He's working within me. I don't want to live a life of mediocrity when it comes to my faith. I want to be open to His purpose for my life.

I've noticed that in the moments when I am most discouraged and feel like I just want to quit, if I just stick with it, blessing is just moments away. I don't want my fears to keep me from the blessing to come.

What about you? Do you feel like giving up? If you just keep pressing forward, could you be moments away from a blessing?

- Aly