Saturday, December 31, 2011

Made it!

I made it safely to Uganda late last night. The flights were long but aside for some minor turbulence and a shaky landing into Entebbe, Uganda it wasn't so bad. I was a little nervous when at first my bags didn't arrive. But eventually they came around the carousel next to each other. I met up with Michael, the driver, and Dorothy, a former AMG child and off we went.

I've been staying at Reuben and Florence's home (he's the director of AMG Uganda). It's been a nice stay. Florence makes excellent food. I spent today resting a little, shopping for some needed items and attending my first Ugandan wedding.

Tomorrow I will head to Upendo where I will stay until the team leaves for one of the villages halfway through their stay. I will set up the house and get settled in after church. I will cook for myself and basically make it my home for the next 2 weeks. It will surely be an interesting experience.

Please pray for me through this week before the team comes. They arrive on Saturday. There is much to plan before they come. Also pray for me as I will be staying alone in the home (with no electricity). Pray for my parents also as I know they are worried. But I know that God is here with me. I feel His presence all around me.

I wish you all a very happy and blessed New Year! I will try to update again soon.

- Aly

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Day at a Time

Tomorrow's the big day. I will take up my suitcases and head off to the airport to depart on a new adventure.

I spent all day today packing. It really seemed like nothing could go my way. Nothing was fitting right and the bags were always too heavy. But finally we figured it all out. Although I do keep finding things I forgot all over the house and am trying to find places to cram them in.

I ask for your prayers as I head out tomorrow. Prayers for me, that God would give me courage and strength and that I would feel his presence like never before. And also prayers for my parents, frieds, and family, that God would give them peace in their hearts while I'm gone.

This is a huge step of faith, and I would be lying if I didn't say that at times I feel overwhelmed with fear. Afterall, I am just a regular person. But God has called me to do something amazing for Him and I know He will bring me through whatever is ahead. My job is to just take it all one day at a time. I know that I am going to learn so much about God and myself over the next three and a half weeks, and I also know that lives are going to be changed, my own included. I pray that I can be open to whatever He has for me, and that I can enjoy every moment I have on this journey whether good or bad, happy or sad.

I'm glad you are on this journey with me. I will try my best to update the blog as often as possible. But, as always, I don't know how internet connection will be during the trip. You may be hearing from my parents as I will be calling them to update them on what's happening.

I honestly can't thank you enough for your thoughts and prayers. I can feel the surrounding me.

- Aly

Monday, December 19, 2011

Life Changing Promise

Seven years ago, we made the 10 minute drive to church and listened to a man talk about children in Uganda. That day we took home a little girl named Eva and began sponsoring her. I made a silent promise that day, one that would change my life. I promised to one day go and visit her.

It's amazing to me that in just 10 days I will be headed back to Uganda to see her for the 6th time.

Last week I received what I consider to be a very special early Christmas gift. I told you how I started sponsoring a little boy named Rodrigo from Peru. He's brought such joy to my life since then. My sweet friend Denise went with AMG on a Bundles of Love trip, which is the program they put on to give gifts to the children at Christmastime. She hopped on a plane headed for Peru and brought back some pictures of my handsome boy (and, yes. This is where I shamelessly brag about this sweet boy God blessed me with!)

I can hardly stand the cuteness!

With his sister and his Santa hat!

This is our friend Denise. I love the look he has on his face as she's showing him the hot wheels car!

As a result of that first sponsorship of Eva, my life has changed so much. Having our family sponsor her led me to Uganda where I met the girls I sponsor, Mariam and Sophie. Meeting them has had a lasting impact on my life. In fact, meeting them was why I chose to sponsor them in the first place. It led me to meet countless other children that I love with all my heart. But it also led me to Rodrigo.

When I started sponsoring him 2 months ago, I made another silent promise, one that I know will change my life. And one day I hope to go visit him. To see him and hug him and love him myself. And it is amazing to me how God has used these children, no more than a handful of years old, to a better understanding of His love for us and to allow me to do things and go places I hadn't imagined of before.

- Aly

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turning Someday into Today

I know, I know. I've been neglecting the blog lately. I've said it before, but I really can't begin to explain how crazy it is to work, coach, prepare for Christmas, and on top of all that prepare for the trip. I've never had to prepare for a trip this time of the year, and I must admit it's left me feeling a little off balance.

But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about today. My dear friend Karen wrote a blog post today about a girl she met in Uganda last summer. (You can read the post by clicking the link here.)

Her name is Angel. She was one of those kids that Karen just happened to find while out on home visits one day, but really I think Angel was meant to find Karen. You see, Karen hadn't been to Africa before. She works in the child sponsor department at AMG, so she has read the stories on paper. She's seen the faces through photos. But this trip, the stories and faces became real. And Angel is one such child.

After following Karen around, holding her hand, not wanting to leave her side it was finally time for us to get on the bus and leave. But just before we did, Karen found out that this sweet face that smiled at her, the precious hand that held hers all day long belonged to a child who is HIV positive. And a piece of her heart broke.

This child is a total orphan. If you read the information on Karen's blog you'll see that she was abandoned in a pile of garbage by her family after her parents died. She was literally plucked from the trash by a man who doesn't have the money to care for her. She's a child who is broken and in need of hope, so Karen is searching for someone to sponsor her.

Proverbs 3:27-28 says, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'come back later; I'll give it tomorrow' -when you now have it with you."

I think so often we have this someday mentality. "I'll sponsor a child someday." "I'll get involved in ministry or missions or volunteer work someday." But according to this verse, if we have the time, resources, or talents to do something to help others right now then we need to do it.

We shouldn't spend our lives relying on someday because someday may never come. We may never have enough money, or have enough time, or get whatever it is we think we need before we can act. If we keep putting things off until someday then we will miss out on the blessing God has in store for us when we decide to act today.

So what do you say? Are you willing to turn your someday into today? Will you take a stand to help this child become who God has called her to be by sponsoring her for $28 a month? Today is the day you can change a life for eternity.

- Aly

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wondering Where I Went?

I spent the weekend visiting with my friends Karen and Ashley. I met Karen last April when I traveled to Chattanooga for meetings at AMG headquarters. We had been emailing before that and became instant friends. Karen was on the team that went to Uganda this past summer and she brought her friend Ashley. We all struck up quite a friendship in the two weeks we spent together and have been planning this get together for a few months now.

It was a time to spend hanging out, catching up on life, and enjoying each other's company. But it was also a time to just get away. Sometimes it's good to take a step back from everything. For me it was a time to gain some perspective on a few of the things that have been going on in my life recently. For one weekend I could just step back and have some fun instead of stressing over the trip (which starts in 24 days). Some things that had been cloudy in my mind are now a little clearer.

But just as everything else in life, it had to come to an end. I said good-bye yesterday, hopped on a couple planes and headed home. This morning I woke up, went back to work, and coached the girls in a hard-fought loss this evening. Life is still moving as quickly as it ever was, but after a few days away and a little perspective on things that I can tackle the obstacles ahead of me.

Just do me a favor. In a few days or weeks when the stress piles up again, remind me to take a step back and get some perspective again. I think I'll need it.

If you're finding yourself in over your head today, don't be afraid to take a moment to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Things may be rocky now, but God has a much bigger plan than what we see.

- Aly

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Love One

Every 20 seconds, someone loses their life to AIDS. But the impact of those deaths reaches far beyond that one person. A mother just lost a son. A young girl just lost her best friend and playmate. A teenage boy just lost his mentor. A school just lost its best teacher. The shop down the street just lost its owner. And a hospital has one less nurse to treat the sick. Wives are left heart broken and children are left orphans without any hope.

In the time it took you to read that paragraph, another community lost an important member.

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.

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 don't know they have it. They are among the walking dead. And those who know they have it, often can't afford to buy the medication that will save their lives.

The people who are impacted the most are the children. They're left behind as the family's breadwinners, raising their younger siblings, growing up faster than any child should have to all because of this silent killer.

Today is World AIDS day, a day to raise awareness about this global pandemic that is now second only to the Black Death as the largest in history. It's a day to look at the facts before us and take a stand.

I'm wearing a special shirt in honor of my brothers and sisters at Upendo who've been affected in some way by this disease. These are sweet kids who have stolen my heart over the years.

On the front the shirt says 147 Million Orphans (the estimated number of children living without parents in our world today). On the back it says this:

That's all God calls us to do, just to love one. When we see the statistics they can feel overwhelming. 2 million people will die this year of AIDS alone. That doesn't include the million more that will die this year of malaria, or the millions more that will die from hunger. By ourselves we can't rid the world of these statistics. But we can make a difference if we would do what we could for one, if we fed one, if we helped give medical care to one. The world is much too big for one person to do all the work. But we can make a difference if we just love one.

- Aly

Monday, November 28, 2011

Voice of the Voiceless

As I wrote on Saturday, I have been beginning to really look into what God's word says about poverty. Today I read a passage from Deuteronomy.

When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don't go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don't go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. When you gather grapes in your vineyard, don't glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. - Deuteronomy 24:19-21

The Lord has given myself and also my family a heart for the widows and orphans of this world. These are some of the most vulnerable people on earth. They're considered easy targets. For widows, many of which live in male-dominated cultures, they have no men to protect them from those who would take advantage of them. In fact we've heard so many stories while in Uganda about people who have taken advantage of widows, using them to gain something whether it's receiving help for their own children at the widow's expense or taking over land or property. For the orphan, without parents to care for and watch over them, they are at the mercy of others. If a family agrees to take an orphaned child in and feed him so long as he works all day doing hard labor, that child has no choice but to do whatever will feed his stomach.

But God calls us to take a stand, to care for those who some consider sitting ducks. God is commanding us to look after orphans and widows. In the day that this passage was written, the illustration of fields, vineyards, and olive groves would have been easy to understand. While it still it, I think it's easy for us to say, "Well I don't harvest crops so this doesn't really apply to me." But that couldn't be less true. Whether we put a plow to the earth or not, we collect a harvest. We may not grow more rows of grain than we need, but do we make more money than we need? Notice I'm not talking about wants. I'm saying do we make more money than we need to cover our basic needs? We may not have olive trees, but do we something else to share, some talent or time to care for others?

If we love God as much as we claim to then we must obey Him. Part of that obedience is to take care of the widows and orphans of this world. We are to take a stand for those who have no voice to cry out for help, no strength to stand up for themselves, and no one else to turn to in a time of need.

- Aly

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hard to Believe

It's hard to believe that in a few short weeks I'll be walking these rusty dirt roads,

be greeted by street vendors,

seeing smiles on the faces of the children I love,

saying hello to ones I don't know yet,

blowing bubbles,

and joining together with my sweet brothers and sisters in Christ to make a difference.

It's hard to believe, but believe it I will because God has some big things in store, and I can't wait to take part in it all.

- Aly

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Gaping Hole

As I was reading my Bible this evening, I really felt God leading me to dive deeper into what His word says about the poor. After coming home from our last trip, I read A Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision. It is an amazing and eye-opening book that I highly recommend. So many sections stood out to me, but I want to share one that keeps coming to the forefront of my mind and is the inspiration of this study of what God says about poverty and helping the poor.

The author talks about his friend Jim Wallis who, as a seminary student, conducted an experiment with a few of his classmates. They perused all 66 books of the Bible, underlining every passage and verse dealing with poverty, wealth, justice, and oppression. After this, one of the men took scissors and cut out each of those verses leaving a tattered Bible that barely held together. When Jim would speak in public about poverty he would hold this Bible up and say, "Brothers and sisters, this is our American Bible; it is full of holes. Each one of us might as well take our Bibles, a pair of scissors, and begin cutting out all the scriptures we pay no attention to, all the biblical texts that we just ignore."

That is a very powerful illustration that at times is hard to accept. But unfortunately it is entirely accurate. If you don't believe me, then just watch the news. Did you see all the footage of the Black Friday madness? People were getting beat up, and crazy ladies were pepper spraying people because they tried to take an X-Box she wanted. I understand that's the extreme end of the spectrum but as Americans we live with a mentality that everyone in the world lives as we do. Unfortunately, it's just not so.

That thought is overwhelming me tonight. As I sit warm and safe in my own room, one of many rooms in my home, complete with a bed, electricity, the computer I'm typing on and more, there are young women just like me sleeping on the hard ground. They have no dressers filled with clothes. For some, what they are wearing might be all they own. There are children who went to bed hungry tonight, and tomorrow morning they will still be hungry because their families have no money for food. There are babies crying who won't be held, and old grandmothers who have no idea how they will provide for their grandchildren now that they have been left orphaned by AIDS.

Please know that it was not my intention to make anyone feel guilty, but rather I am trying to give perspective, as well as process all the thoughts in my head. What we see today, everything that surrounds us right now, it isn't the norm in this world. It's easy to think that because it's what we see immediately in front of us, but over 40% of people in this world live on less than $2 a day. That's almost half of the 6.5 billion people living and breathing on this earth.

And tonight, I can't quite seem to wrap my mind around that.

- Aly

Friday, November 25, 2011

Making a Difference

I love the day after Thanksgiving, not because I could buy a 55 inch LCD TV for $600 (even if I had the money where would I put it?), not because it begins the Christmas shopping season (leaving Walmart a war zone for the next 5 weeks), not because I can finally listen to Christmas music (I've been listening to it for the past month), and also not for the leftovers (but let's face it, that's a happy bonus).

No, I love the day after Thanksgiving because I can finally legitimately wear my Christmas socks and not face scoffing or public ridicule. My personal favorite are my candy cane socks:

I also have a red and white pair of knee socks I love.

But unfortunately there are still those Grinches who poke fun and for them I wear these:

Since I'm a teacher, I feel like I can justify wearing such things because they're cute and kid friendly. Though I am treading a fine line here and need to watch out because first it's all cute and innocent. I'm just wearing cute Christmas socks to make my students smile, but next thing I know I find myself buying a sweater at Christopher and Banks with Santa in his sleigh with 8 tiny reindeer and Rudolph's nose actually blinks, and there are bells that jingle every time I move. Not that there's anything wrong with Christopher and Banks, but it seems like a vortex that sucks Elementary School teachers in and I'm only 24 and just don't want to go there yet.

But all joking aside, today begins the Christmas season. And how do we, as Americans kick it off? Black Friday. A day of deals on things people usually don't need using money they usually don't have. This is the time of year I wrestle with myself any time I watch tv or go out to pick up a few needed supplies. The ads they have out this time of year will catch our eye like they don't any other time of year.

1 John 2: 16-17 says, "For the world offers only a craving for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along wth everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever."

So as the countdown to Christmas begins, let's focus not on all the stuff of this world that's fading away, but focus instead on things that last. What will you do this Christmas season to make an lasting difference in someone else's life?

- Aly

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

"Thank God there is enough.

In God there is enough love to cover every mistake

enough light to brighten the darkest hour,

enough power to meet every need."

- Author Unknown

Wishing you and your family a Thanksgiving filled with blessings!

- Aly

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Butterfly

A few months ago I was talking to my dad outside when out of the corner of my eye I saw a beautiful monarch butterfly sitting on the grass a few feet away. I quickly grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures of this elegant creature, one that typically doesn't stay still to get many good shots.

There it was in all its beauty. The deep orange, the long black lines and white dots on the wings, the furry body. A creature so delicate, so elegant right before my eyes.

But I haven't given you the full picture. This butterfly, though beautiful, was anything but perfect. In fact, it was in what was probably the last moments of its life. You see, it had lost a good majority of its wings and couldn't fly anymore.

It was hurt, damaged, falling apart, and without a hope. A butterfly can't survive if it can't fly from flower to flower for nectar, and a butterfly can't fly if its wings are broken.

So many things that are going on around me lately have reminded me of this butterfly. People who appear to be doing wonderfully at first glance, but underneath they're damaged. They're hurting. They're falling apart. And they are desperately without hope.

As we've been speaking at different churches, my mom has been talking about this very idea. Sometimes we can see people's hurts. Take this butterfly. It's pretty easy to see that it is suffering. But sometimes isn't quite so evident, and often times we present ourselves in a way to make others think we have it all put together even though we're barely hanging on.

I share this with you today as a reminder to both you and myself that we, as Christians, need to be more sensitive to those around us. It's not always easy to catch, but when we take the time to stop and ask someone how they're doing and really mean it then I think we can become part of the healing process. You or I could be the one person who sees someone when no one else does. Think of how that one act could start changing lives...

- Aly

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This weekend, we spoke at two different churches about our trip. Our ministry has extended far beyond just going to Uganda, but also to reporting back to our supporters and really anyone who will listen to what God is doing. We choose some of the stories that have impacted us the most (stories we generally haven't shared on the blog) and we share at churches about whatever God has laid on our hearts.

Our family has been so blessed by those of you out there who have supported us both in prayer and financially. When we are in Uganda, we never forget to tell the workers and children that even though we are the only ones they see, there is a network of amazing people back home who help us do what God has called us to do.

This really is a team effort and without each of you out there supporting us in some way we couldn't do what we do. Whether it's reading the blog and saying a quick prayer, praying for us every day or every week at church, supporting our work financially, making bracelets, donating clothes and supplies for us to bring, or sending us a word of encouragement, each of you have a role in this ministry and it's impacting the world for Christ.

So I just wanted to take this time today to thank you for the role you are playing not only in our lives, but the lives of people all over the world. When each of us work together, we really can make a difference for Christ in this world!

- Aly

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Being Still

I've spent the better part of today lounging around in sweatpants and a fleece, skipping basketball practice this morning (you know something is up if I skip practice) and trying, with little success, to stay awake. There's a bug going around school, and despite all the hand washing and sanitizing I couldn't keep it away.

Since returning to full health from my long-term sickness, I haven't had many colds or flu-bugs. But when I do feel under the weather, I find that I can't stand resting. I know it's what my body needs to get better. But after spending so much time before laying around doing nothing, the thought of laying around all day drives me a little crazy. It's funny because while I was so sick, I learned how to be still and I didn't want to forget how important it is to slow down every once in a while. But now, being still feels like torture, like a child in time-out. I just want to keep saying, "Can I get up yet?"

But I have to remember that sometimes being still is exactly what we need. It gives us time to stop and listen, to process what's really going on. It may not be fun, and it may not be easy, but sometimes it's necessary.

I know I'll be back to reading stories, teaching multiplication, and shooting jump shots before I know it. But for now, as hard as it can be, I'll try to enjoy being still.

- Aly

Friday, November 18, 2011


Things have been quite busy around here and only threatening to get busier. I've been teaching every day at school, and then after I'm done with that I have been helping coach 7th and 8th grade girls basketball. Working with 7th and 8th grade girls can be just plain exhausting! But I'm enjoying every crazy minute of it.

But it hasn't left much time for updating the blog, or really anything else for that matter. But today is a special day as I prepare for my next adventure to Uganda. Yes, for those of you who have been reading for a while now you may know where this is headed...

I am 40 days from leaving!

Now there's two ways to look at this. First is that I still have 40 days before I leave. It's over a month. There is still time to get things done. But on the other hand. I only have 40 days until I leave! There's so much to do and I only have a little over a month to get it done. See the difference there? It's all about what perspective you look at it from.

But either way there are 40 days left. I may only have 40 days left to raise my support, buy any needed supplies, and pack. But I still have 40 days to spend time with family and friends, sleep in my own bed, eat American food (hello Thanksgiving and Christmas!), work, and encourage 28 middle school-aged girls every day. Just as always, I want to enjoy every part of this adventure, which starts long before I step foot on distant lands. And I know without a doubt this will be a trip like no other.

I will try to update every day from now until I leave. But if I miss a few days, please forgive me and know I didn't drop off the face of the earth. It just means I'm caught up with soaking it all in and enjoying each moment of this journey.

Thanks for coming along with me.

- Aly

To understand why I chronicle the 40 days before we leave, check out this post

Friday, November 4, 2011

With Buzzed Hair and a Cheesey Smile

Today is my birthday. Twenty-four years ago, God put me on this earth for a purpose. And while I'm still working at trying to figure out just how that purpose will come about, I know without a doubt why I'm here. God has given me a love for children and a deep desire to be an advocate for kids all around the world who are suffering. Ever since we began sponsoring Eva 7 years ago, my focus has been in Uganda. There are so many children there that I love, and so many more that I hope to meet in the coming years.

But recently God spoke to me through a little boy in Peru. One Friday night I was sitting with my computer, enjoying a peaceful night at home. Every so often I check AMG's website for children needing sponsors. I love to look at the kids from Uganda to see if I know any of them. But as I scrolled down, a sweet 5 year old boy caught my attention. His buzzed hair and cheesey smile reminded me of my little cousin Joey, and my heart instantly melted. The information next to his picture said he lives in a very poor neighborhood outside Lima, Peru. His two-room house is built with bamboo and scraps of wood.

But it wasn't his sad story that stood out at me.

For just a moment, God gave me a glimpse through His eyes. I didn't see a poor little boy whose family struggles to meet his basic needs. Instead I saw what God wants him to be. A pastor, teacher, doctor, politician, a man of God with a purpose. And with that thought, a feeling stirred and a still small voice said, "Sponsor him."

Now you've met my sweet girls Mariam and Sophie. I have been so blessed to be part of their life as their Muzungu Mommy but since I started sponsoring them 4 years ago, I have constantly had to rely on God to provide the money for them. At times I've really struggled to keep up with their sponsorship, but I made the committment and I know that God will provide. The funny thing is, when I heard God telling me to sponsor this little boy from Peru I was trying to come up with all sorts of excuses as to why I couldn't.

I don't have the finances.

I can barely keep up with sponsoring my girls.

I have so much on my plate right now with the trip coming up.

I would want to go meet him and I don't know if I could get the funds to go to Peru ever.

Excuse after excuse. But this little boy wouldn't leave my thoughts. I went to bed that night thinking about him. I woke up the next morning thinking about him. That next day I went to Walmart and was buying some supplies for a project I was working on. Without thinking much of it, I spent more than the $28 it would take to be sure he has food and medical care for one month.

And it hit me. I can spend that kind of money on things I really don't need without batting an eye and here I am wondering if I should sponsor another child...I felt awful. I text my friend Karen right away. She works in the child sponsorship department at AMG and I told her that on Monday she needed to take him off the website because that boy is mine. I think she was a little shocked. Not that I would sponsor another child, but that it would be a child from Peru. And others at AMG were shocked too.

God spoke to me through a little boy with buzzed hair and a cheesey smile.

So I thought, what better day than today, my 24th birthday, to introduce you to my son, Rodrigo!

Is he not just too precious?! I'm so excited to be part of the story God is writing in his life.

My birthday wish this year is to see more kids just like Rodrigo reach their full potential in Christ through sponsorship. If you're someone who has never considered child sponsorship before, I ask that you would consider it now. If you are someone who has thought about it but you're not sure you could do it, I want to encourage you to take that step of faith and sponsor a child.

For $28 a month you can help a child go to school, receive medical care and nutritious meals. And best of all, he or she will hear about the love of Jesus through AMG's programs. But most of all, he or she will witness that love in a tangible way through your giving.

You can email us at or visit AMG's website here to find out more.

I want 24 to be the year with the biggest impact so far on these kids. Will you help start it off with a bang?

- Aly

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Adventures

Have I left you in suspense long enough? Wow things have been busy!

After coming home from Uganda this summer, my mom announced that none of us were going again until we got the outside of the house painted. So my dad has been working hard to prep the house and last weekend the weather was so beautiful we were able to paint almost all of it! For it to be in the mid 70s to lower 80s in the middle of October is pretty amazing for Western New York so we soaked up every moment we could and boy were we sore after! We just had to get it done because....drumroll please....are you ready for this? Because this is my BIG NEWS!!! (You're sitting on the edge of your seat aren't you?)


Read that one more time. Did you catch it? I said I'm going back, as in me, as in Aly. Yes, I will be returning to the country I love so much just a few days after Christmas and coming back near the end of January. And just when you thought it couldn't get any more exciting there's more...

I will be serving in a provisional role as "Team Coordinator." So I'll be working with the AMG Uganda staff to plan the ministry work the team will be involved with, including activities during the weeklong youth conference, children's programs, church services, and home visitation. I'll also be organizing other details of the team's stay like their transportation and accommodations.

I've already begun planning with the AMG Uganda staff and look forward to what God has in store for me over the next few months. It will be the first time I've traveled to Uganda without my family. I'll stay at the guesthouse at Upendo, so I'll have plenty of opportunities to interact with the children who stay there during their holiday break. I'll have one full week of in-country planning work prior to the team's arrival. Then I will join together with the team for the other 2 weeks taking part in the ministry work and working as a liaison between the Uganda staff and US team.

I ask for your prayers as I press forward. Please pray for the people of Uganda, that we will know how to best serve them. Pray for the team members. Pray for God to give my family strength and courage to let me go. Please pray for me, that I will know God is with me every step of the way. And finally, pray that God will provide the financial support I need to go.

I'm very excited about this new adventure God is taking me on. I'll try to keep sharing along the way as I prepare for this trip, so keep checking in.

- Aly

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Ministry Continues

Things have been a bit busy around here over the last few weeks. I've been substitute teaching a lot more than I anticipated this early in the school year, which is a huge blessing. It feels good to get back into the classroom, and with teaching jobs so scarce in our area, I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to work.

We also spoke for the first time at church about our trip to Uganda last Sunday. In some ways we were very excited to finally start to share our experiences, but at the same time it was very difficult to share some of the stories. It was a very emotional presentation. We have a few more churches lined up and are looking at setting up some more. Our ministry doesn't end when we step off the plane at home. It's more like it's just beginning. We love going to Uganda and joining in the ministry there, but we also love to come home and share our experiences with our sponsors as well as new people in the hopes of raising awareness of the needs and ways each of us can help.

If you're from around us and would like to hear us speak, here's a look at our schedule for the next few weeks:

Sunday, October 2 - Jamestown Community Church Service on Camp St. in Jamestown @ 10:50am

Wednesday, October 5 - Open Door Baptist Church off Rt. 60 in Cassadaga @ 7pm

Sunday, October 16 - East Leon Wesleyan Church Service on Mosher Rd in Cattaraugus @ 11am

Sunday, November 6 - New Covenant Assembly on Arlington St in Jamestown @ 10:30am

Sunday, November 20, Ellington Community Church on Thornton Rd in Ellington @10am

If you'd like to have us come speak to your church or group, just email us at We'd love to set something up with you!

Stay tuned to the blog for some exciting news coming your way. It's another reason that things have become so busy around here. I can't wait to share with you what God is preparing me for...but I will. (And good golly if any of you are thinking I'm having a baby then I might have to slap you silly!)

I'll leave you with a photo because, let's face it, blog posts are much more fun when there are pictures. This little one was happy to take a drink from my mom's water bottle just as long as she didn't have to look directly at her.

- Aly

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No Regrets

Two years ago today, my average, post-college-graduate-the-world-is-my-book-to-write life was turned upsidedown. After battling a few days with terrible headaches, body aches, a fever, chills, and sweats, I headed off to the doctor. He began treating me for malaria, and so began a journey that I thought might never end.

For months my days consisted of laying on the couch with barely the energy to be upright long enough to eat or shower let alone go to church, which I didn't for 3 months. I was so weak I couldn't open my own waterbottles or even the bag inside the cereal box. My brain was clouded, and I (a teacher and lover of writing) found myself unable to think of words or able to focus. My heart pounded just a little off beat. I slept all afternoon while staying up unable to sleep half the night. My muscles felt like someone was constantly sqeezing me, and my joints felt like they'd been replaced with sandpaper that someone lit on fire. All as a result of something I picked up on our trip to Uganda in 2009.

(September 2009)

Never in my life had I felt more alone, misunderstood, helpless, or useless. Yet for some reason I still could usually find it in me to smile.

(January 2010)

Afterall, I had parents who took care of me night and day. My best friend came almost every day to just sit with me. Countless people, many complete strangers, prayed for me. I was anointed and was given 3 healing services at different churches. Congregations at churches we speak at throughout the year laid hands on me to pray for my healing. Others prayed for me in my absence.

But God chose to withhold healing for almost a year. Even then it wasn't some instant act where I jumped out of bed one morning declaring my healing. It was a slow and often painful process filled with diet changes, treatments, and herbs that made me feel worse before I felt better. Becoming healthy was a conscience effort on my part that took months more of constant reliance on God for strength to carry on.

With each trial I faced, I felt God give the promise of healing, and so He gave me the strength to overcome. When I was at my worst physically, I penned this in my journal:

I find it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ. Great things happened in Uganda while we were there. Great things will continue to come fro the work we did. I have no regrets, only the satisfaction of serving my Savior in one of the most amazing places in the world."

Despite the dark times I faced over the last 2 years, I learned first hand that even through trials, God remains faithful. He is ever present no matter our circumstances, and it is He who gives us strength to pass through the trials. Even though we often can't see it at the time, God has a purpose in our struggles, and one day He will begin to put the pieces together for us.

Today is a day of celebration for me. I am amazed at where God has brought me today. Back to full strength, healthier than I have ever been, and ready to once again take on the world. But this day will always serve as a reminder to me of God's power and faithfulness amidst the storm and his purpose amidst the pain.

(August 2011)
Thank you to all those who prayed.

- Aly

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I was a Freshmen in High School. I walked into French class to see my teacher, who would usually be up joking around, sitting in the room with the lights off, a look of shock and fear etched across her face. We sat there for the next 40 minutes in the dim room listening to the radio as we heard phrases like "plane exploded," "towers collapsed," and "act of terrorism." My 13 year old mind didn't know how to process it. None of it seemed like it could be real. Yet, when I went home that afternoon I saw it replay over and over with my own eyes.

Even today, after 10 years has past, seeing the footage brings all the emotions back, and my 23 year old mind still isn't sure how to process it.

Fear. Shock. Grief. Helplessness. Hopelessness. Outrage.

For those old enough to remember September 11, 2001, it will be a day that is never forgotten. Thousands of people died, but every person on this earth was impacted in some way. Even today, we live our lives differently. We can't walk through an airport or even go to a sporting event without some kind of security check. At times it's difficult to even remember what life was like on September 10, 2001, when you could see a loved one off up to the gate at the airport before anyone stopped you, or you could take a full bottle of shampoo in your carry-on.

But 9/11 wasn't just a day marked by tragedy. It was a day when, despite the acts of hatred poured out on our country, acts of love prevailed. It was a day when people gave their own lives just to try to save another. It was a day that, despite the tragedy that caused it, God saw the way His people reacted, how they pulled together, served and loved one another no matter the consequence. It was a day when the picture of what the Gospel should look like was painted in the present tense.

On this day 10 years ago our lives changed forever. May we always see past the tragedy to the picture of love shown through ordinary people. And let us carry on and honor the fallen through our service to God and to others.

- Aly

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meet Mariam

You've met Timothy. Now meet his little sister and competition in cuteness, Mariam.

When we first saw Mariam, her father had brought her and Timothy to the center from school. They needed to go home quickly and change their clothes, and then they said they'd come right back. But Mariam wasn't having it. She wanted to stay with us, not go change her clothes. Her dad walked away, Mariam in his arms crying like he just crushed her dreams.

So when they came back she was so excited! We said Timothy had lots of personality. So Mariam must take after him.

She is full of it! Always making us laugh.

We tried teaching her how to blow bubbles. She kept putting her mouth on the bubble wand. It was fun until she tasted it. She would scrunch up her nose and wipe the slime off her lips as fast as she could.

When she'd try to blow a bubble, she'd huff and puff until all the bubble juice went in my face.

My mom gave her some Smarties (her secret way of getting kids to love her forever - though I guess it's not so secret anymore). And Mariam disappears. A few minutes later she comes back with her little boyfriend in tow. His name is David. They have lots in common. They love popping bubbles and eating biscuits (also known as crackers) and they both love Smarties.

The name Mariam means bitter. But there is nothing bitter about this little girl. She's three feet of pure joy and sunshine!

- Aly

Monday, September 5, 2011

timothy, Timothy, TIMOTHY!

We first introduced you to Timothy in this post. We met him last year on our trip in 2010. His father is a teacher, and his mother is one of the cooks at the center. Since last year, Timothy has started school. We were afraid we might not get to see him. But one day, he came to the center with his dad while our team was putting on a program for the youth. He wasn't too sure about things at first. He'd had a long day at school and was a little tired.

But it didn't take long for him to be the same Timothy we remembered from last year.

Let's just say he has a lot of energy.

And a whole lot of personality.

And the fact that he speaks English with an adorable little Ugandan accent only adds to the fun that is Timothy.

He thinks he's hot stuff though. He struts around the center like he owns the place.

That might be true if he didn't have a little competition...

...his little sister, Mariam...

- Aly

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Break And Some New Photos

I took a little, slightly unexpected break from the blog. So many things have been happening over the last week. So I needed to take a little break from updating the blog. So please forgive me for that.

My mom and I spent some time visiting my 3 cousins. We taught the younger 2 how to ride their bikes with no training wheels. We tag-teamed it most of the time. Joey, who is 6, is definitely the more rambunctious of the two, so I guess I should've taught him how to stop without having to jump off of his bike before I let him ride down the street at full speed sending me chasing after him knowing I'd have to be there to catch him before he fell over. Luckily I kept up with him pretty well, but I must say my quads are sore!

Joey thinks he's pretty cool now!

And we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog...

Last week we received a few letters and photos from our sponsored kids. Even though we just saw them (or maybe because we just saw them) I was so excited to hear from them. And even though I just took a bunch of adorable cute pictures of them, I was so excited to get these.

Now I've shared some about my sweet girls, Mariam and Sophie, on the blog before. God has surely blessed me with these two girls. When I saw these pictures I literally laughed out loud because they couldn't have captured their personalities more if they tried.

Here is Mariam.

She's so proud to take the photo to send to her sponsor. She stands up nice and straight and gives her biggest smile, and is so excited because she just loves me so much and she'll do anything she can to make me happy!

And then there's Sophie, who loves me in her own spunky little way. And apparently when it was her turn to get her picture taken she was less than excited and stood there thinking, "Can we just get this over with already?"

These two girls have brought me such joy over the years. They've made me cry, shake my head in disbelief, and laugh until I can barely stand. God has used them to teach me life lessons I will never forget. And though sometimes I wonder where they would be if I hadn't found them, I more often wonder where I would be if they hadn't found me.

- Aly

Child Sponsorship changes lives. If you're interested in making a difference in the life of a child, as well as in your own life, please contact us at

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Buddy's Buddies

There's one thing that tops our packing list every single year. And that is our little friend Buddy. We can't leave for Uganda without him. He's packed safely into my suitcase every year and is ready to give out hugs to anyone who comes his way.

His favorite place is Igamba. I brought him along for the Saturday program. The remembered Buddy right away. I didn't even need to introduce him. They already knew his name. After a short reminder that Buddy's home is in America so the kids should be sure that he made it back to one of the team members before they left, he was loved on by young and old alike.

Buddy especially enjoys seeing old friends. So he was so happy to finally make his way to Mariam and Sophie.

But, he was most happy to see Bridget. And I think Bridget felt the same way. She held onto him, hugging him wherever she went. Until...

Buddy met Alice. She's the daughter of one of AMG's volunteer teachers, and she loved Buddy. She wasn't too keen on sharing him with anyone else. So once she found Buddy, they were the best of friends for the rest of the day.

Buddy also made friends with Alice's bear, Barry. Ok, so maybe his name wasn't Barry, but Buddy thinks it would be a good name for a bear.

Once Alice got her hands on Buddy, she didn't want to let him go. She was pretty confident she was taking him home with her which meant we kept a pretty close eye on Alice for the rest of the day. Luckily she was cuter than cute. My dad (of course) taught her to say okie dokie, and also got her to say Deeeee-licious!

I'm not sure how we ended up getting Buddy from her in the end, but he made it safely back home with us, a little dirtier and more loved than ever!

- Aly
(This post was approved by Buddy himself. He gave it two paws up.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Live a Life of Love

This sweet little girl captured the hearts of myself and my friends Ashley and Karen.

It's not hard to see why with those big beautiful eyes, the long lashes, and the adorable smile. It could've turned into quite an argument about who would get to bring her home. She was always standing at the gate watching us. She would come to the center wearing rags. The first time we saw her, she was wearing shorts that were so tattered you could barely find a place where they intact. She also came at one point wearing a shirt for a skirt.

Her belly was big, but still her smile was bigger. It's amazing to me that these children can come from such poverty and still smile, still laugh, and still play.

Some of the ladies at our church made some clothes for us to take with us to give out to the kids. So the last day we were in her village, Ashley tracked her down. She came and stood at the gate as usual. The unsponsored kids know they can't come in unless invited, so I went to bring her into the office.

At first I think she was a little afraid of what was going on. My mom found a neon green shirt and small pair of shorts for her to wear, and she realized she was getting new clothes. Ashley took her by the hand and led her back outside. We all gathered together, the team, staff, and all the kids that were around the center. We held hands and began to pray. Ashley said that during the prayer, the little girl's shorts fell down (they were a little big). She said, the little one looked up at her with those big brown eyes then let go of her hand, pulled up the shorts, and reached back for Ashley's hand.

Somtimes the deepest connections aren't made through spending hours with someone, but just a small moment in time. Sometimes gratitude isn't found in what someone says, but seen in a simple glance. And the greatest love that we can give is rarely spoken through words, but shown through actions.

"Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ." - Ephesians 5:2

- Aly