Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our day in photos

Saturdays are very busy in Uganda because we have the Saturday program with the sponsored kids. Today we went to Namugoga CDC (just over 100 kids there) to take part in their program. So we were up early (after a late night and hearing the wonders of the Ugandan symphony - for those who don't know that means the sounds of car horns beeping, music and karoke from the bar next door, the Muslim prayer call, and various birds cawing at all hours).

Once we got there we had some short devotion time with the teachers and then joined the children for their praise and worship and devotion time. I taught them a new song they had never heard before (King Jesus is All). This is a little out of my comfort zone. I love to a group. And this was teaching them a new song they had never heard and doing it acapella.

We then broke into the classes. We were split into three groups. The teachers taught the main lesson and then we shared after that. And then it was time for games and crafts. My dad was in charge of playing games with the kids. My mom did the craft, which was making crowns out of paper lunch sacs that said, "Jesus is my King." The kids had a hard time working with scissors because they've not had much practice. So my mom ended up cutting around 70 crowns that the kids decorated and put on their heads.

I brought face painting crayons and drew hearts, smiley faces, crosses, flowers, and rainbows on the kids hands.

And when they ran out of hands to color, they wanted them on their faces.

Some of them were tricky. I would draw on their hand and then I think they would go and wash them, come back, and ask for another, because sometimes I would touch a hand that was cold and damp. But it didn't matter. They had so much fun.

I was taking some photos of the kids while standing under a tree when this little bugger fell into my shirt.

That sent me a dancing (Denise, can I get an Amen!). And you know how it is when a bug is crawling all over you. Even when it's gone you still think it's there and it makes you itch.

We enjoyed a lot of laughs with the kids. They are quite entertaining. This is Solomy. She's sponsored by our friend Denise. She was full of it today. She kept mimicking everything my dad did. She made all the same faces he made. Tried to whistle like him. And he even taught her how to say, "Okie dokie!"

After the program was finished, we were so close to Upendo it would've been a shame not to go, so we made a surprise visit before heading back for dinner. I just love those kids more than I could ever say.

And now we're ready for a good night's rest!

- Aly

Friday, July 29, 2011

We're here!

We made it safe and sound! The sweetest words I've heard all year were "Welcome to Uganda." It was a long journey, and we were so relieved to finally get off the plane! Our first "long flight" was only 6.5 hours, which actually isn't bad. The second one was just over 10 hours. It felt endless! But even after we finally landed in Entebbe, we still had an hour and a half drive to Kampala. We didn't get into our guest house until around midnight. Luckily, Reuben didn't make us get up very early so we had time to catch up on sleep. After getting around 4 hours over the 28 hour travel time, we all but collapsed on the bed.

We spent our first full day in Uganda at the Head Office. I no sooner walked in and was greeted before they put me to work. Saturo, one of the workers in the child welfare office said he needed to use me as much as he could in the time I was here. So I helped him with some computer work. Actually it was one of those "God things," because I recently started doing computer work for a friend of the family who is an engineer. So the during the time I've spent working for him I learned how to do exactly what Saturo needed me to!

We joined in for staff fellowship in the afternoon and were able to catch up with some good friends.

Today we traveled up to Upendo (which used to be known as Camp El Har for those not familiar with the name change). There have been so many changes since we were there last. Most notably of course being that the children are now living there.

As soon as we pulled in Eva came running out of her classroom to us. And shortly behind her was Harriet and Thereza. When I saw Thereza I almost broke down and started to cry because she looks so good, and I'm just amazed at what the Lord is doing in her life.

But just as we are so excited to see everyone again, we are already quick to see the difficulties people are facing. There are so many struggles and needs. We know for sure that one reason the Lord has brought us here is to encourage these people and meet them exactly where they are. It's easy to see the smile on their faces and think all is well, but on the inside they are hurting and in great need of encouragment. So please join us in praying that we will have many opportunities to encourage and strengthen adults and children alike.

I have no pictures yet, but it's only our second day so don't worry! Tomorrow we will be going to one of the Saturday programs and look forward to spending time with the children. And of course I will be begging to go to Upendo every spare minute we have!

- Aly

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


There are four words every traveler hears. From road trips with the kids to long flights overseas, these four words echo throughout cars, buses, trains, and planes. No matter how many books you bring to read, how many snacks you bring to eat, how many crazy games or movies you watch, these words will always find their way out.

Are we there yet?

This is a child's favorite phrase on a long trip. Are we there yet? Now, most kids are smart enough to figure out if the vehicle you are in is still moving, you're not there yet. They're saying one thing while meaning another.

When they say, "Are we there yet?" what they're really saying is, "I've done every possible thing I know to do. I've played every game, read all my books, colored all my pictures, watched Despicable Me 3 times, and listened to all the music I own. I don't know what else to do. Please tell me we're there."

Do you ever feel that way in life? You know God has something big ahead for you. You know that He has something more for your life, something that will make it really matter, but you're just wondering, "Are we there yet, God? I've done all that I know to do. I've prayed. I study my Bible every day. I joined a Sunday School class and started going to Bible Study. I've served wherever there was a need. I don't know what else to do, and time just feels like it's standing still."

Are we there yet?

Are you looking for more in your life? I'm not talking about more money or more possessions. Are you looking for meaning in your life? I think we're all hoping that there's something a little more for us in this life. We want our lives to matter. We don't want to be useless and unfruitful, yet sometimes it just feels like we're stuck in a place where we've done all we know to do, and we just want to know if we're there yet.

I don't have a quick and easy fix for this. I wish there was, because it sure would make my life so much easier right now. But I think that it's in times like this that we are just where God wants us to be. Sometimes I think God needs us to get to a point in our lives where we have no idea what to do, so that when we've exhausted ourselves in trying to do things in our own power all we have is Him. He brings us to a place where we have no other option than to rely on Him to guide us through. In those moments, our faith and dependence on Him grows. As our faith grows, He can work through us more. And as He works through us more, we get closer and closer to the answer to the question

Are we there yet?

- Aly

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Always Worth It

Today is the day! For the next 28 hours or so we will be making our way to our second home in Uganda. Even though this will be our fifth time as a family to make this trip, it's still a step of faith. Up to this point, we could decide not to go. Stepping on the airplane means no turning back.

It's never easy to take a big step of faith. There are fears, concerns, and other spiritual battles going against you. It's the tug and pull between the heart and the head. The heart says, "Go. Serve God with all you have. It's where He wants you, and it's where you're meant to be." But your head is sitting there analyzing everything along the way, and ready to give you a million reasons not to do it.

There's always a tug between faith and logic. We can't apply logic to our faith. Faith just doesn't make sense. That's why it's called faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." There is nothing concrete to grasp in faith. If we try to think of things logically, it goes wrong very quickly. Logic is man's way of trying to make sense of things, but God doesn't want our logic. Our logic is pre-school compared Him.

Logic and faith can never coexist.

But our faith should always defy logic. God rarely calls us to do things that make sense. That's why so many people stop at the cross and just look. They stop there and don't pick up their own cross and follow Christ because it doesn't make sense to them.

Taking a step of faith will never be easy. But it will always be worth it. When we take a step of faith, it doesn't go unnoticed by God. He will always reward us for our faithfulness. It may not be right away, and it may not be exactly in the way we expect it to come. But He will always take notice of our steps of faith.

What is God calling you to do? Are you ready to step out in faith to serve Him?

It will never be an easy step. But it will always be worth it.

- Aly

Monday, July 25, 2011

All Packed!

As of about 5:00 this evening we were officially packed.

I'll give you a moment to recover from that news.

We have never been packed this early before. It is a new record for us. We're usually up until well after 10 trying to do all of our packing. But someway, somehow we fit everything we needed into all 6 of our bags, packed at exactly 50 pounds each. And we actually have a little bit of downtime.

I'm still a little nervous because past experience says this is absolutely insane. So I'm waiting for someone to find something big we're supposed to take which would set us off in a frenzy of repacking. But let's pray that doesn't happen.

We took our first anti-malaria pill today. My mom and I are a little dizzy from it and have a headache, but otherwise we're doing well. We'll get used to it in a few days.

Four of our bags packed to capacity and ready for three amazing weeks of ministry!

I will be doing my very best to update the blog as much as possible while we're gone. The internet connection isn't always the best while we're there, and whether or not we have electricity will also play a role in how often I update. Also, when the team arrives on August 3, this will really pick up and finding time to update may prove difficult. So I say that as a fair warning, but I promise to do my best to update as often as possible. As we always say, "No news is good news!"

Tomorrow, we set off on a new adventure. Thank you for praying for us as we go!

- Aly

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Our house is a mess! It was piled high with supplies before but now all those piles are strewn across our living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. We are now playing the packing game.

Here's how it works. We get 6 bags total that weigh 50 pounds each. Typically we each take one suitcase and use it as our own to hold our clothes and personal items and then add supplies to them. The other three bags are for supplies that we bring along. We also each get one carry-on. We pack a few changes of clothes, some snacks for the plane, medications, and any other important items that we can't live without (such as the camera).

We pack pretty much everything into ziploc bags because it protects our stuff from...well our stuff. One year my mom's bag was inspected and the guy didn't close one of her shampoo bottles all the way so it leaked all over everything. Luckily she packed everything in ziploc bags and the only mess to clean was to wipe off the outside of the bags.

So that's our life right now. Packing, packing, and more packing.

It's a tough balance because we might get one bag packed to it's limit in size but it's nowhere near where it should be in weight (it's either over or under). Or we meet the weight limit and there's still tons of room left. So we end up packing, weighing, shifting things around, packing again, and weighing again and again and again until finally all bags are at the limit for weight and size and everything is packed.

We still have one more day to get everything done, and there sure is lots to do. Both the great and scary part is, if it doesn't get done then it really doesn't matter because in another day it won't matter anymore.

We're trying to enjoy every single moment of this trip and its preparation. But I think I speak for us all when I say that this is the most stressful part. We go nonstop, we're trying to make sure we have everything, and we're staying awake late and are up early. But on Tuesday when we pass through security at the airport it's like suddenly the weight is lifted, and all that's left is the work that God has set before us.

And for that, we couldn't be more excited!

- Aly

Saturday, July 23, 2011

From the Archives: First Night in Igamba

Back in 2007, we made our first visit to Igamba. It's a village about 75 miles from the capital city, and is now one of our favorite places to visit. It must be one of those "God things" because my first encounter with Igamba was a bit of a rough one.

We were with a team that year, and six people were chosen to head to Igamba early while the rest of the team stayed in the city and would meet up with us a few days later. As we arrived at our guesthouse, we all were given our room keys and shown to our rooms. My parents and an older man, Jimmy, had rooms in the main house. But my roommate Madie and I and another one of the guys were led outside, through lines of hanging laundry, down a narrow sidewalk to our room.

It was still light out, but the sun was soon to go down. We tried to get into our rooms but they used skeleton keys which made it very difficult to get in. We kept trying and trying. We finally made it into our room which had two beds and only one mosquito net. So we talk to the worker and ask for them to bring another.

As we wait, we start to settle in and check everything out. I was walking around and really needed to use the bathroom. I remember praying, "Please Lord just let there be a toilet." I strolled into the bathroom. And good golly the Lord answered my prayer. But have you ever had a situation where God shows you his sense of humor?

There was a toilet. But no seat.

And when I went to flush, there was no water.

I believe so much in life involves how we react to our circumstances and that day Madie and I chose to laugh about everything (because otherwise we might cry), which is good because it was just getting started.

The manager of the guest house came in to hang the second mosquito net. She brought a ladder, hammer, and nail and was trying to drive the nail into the ceiling. She didn't have much luck. But the light in our room was hanging from a pole so she just tied the mosquito net to the light.

Madie and I just chuckled. When she left we started to joke about the mosquito net bursting into flames (don't worry, it didn't). I said, "Well at least if the net catches on fire we can climb out the window." This was another joke because all windows in Uganda have bars on them to keep unwanted guests out, so there's no climbing out of them.

But the joke was on me, because I went to go pull apart the curtain to look outside. But I couldn't see anything. It was pitch black. I thought it was strange because it was still light outside. Then I saw a little candle burning, and I heard pots and pans clanging really loud. Then I heard someone talking as they walked by me. I ran over to the bed while whispering, "Madie, I think that's the kitchen in there." She didn't believe me at first, but we both soon agreed that it was definitely the kitchen.

We get ready for bed and tuck ourselves into our mosquito nets. And because we're not used to the whole mosquito net thing, we forget to turn the light out so we have to get up and turn it off and re-tuck ourselves in. Our nets have giant holes in them and bug guts all over them. And really, it doesn't matter whether it's clean or dirty, I don't like it when the mosquito net touches me all night. So I'm sleeping on my back, with my hips twisted to the side and my feet tucked up and my arms as close as they can get to my side.

We eventually fall asleep until


What on earth? Plink....Plink

At first I think it's our sink leaking, so I thought about getting up to turn the nob and stop the leak. But then I remember we have no water in our room. (I should mention that everyone else on our team had water except for us). The sound is coming from the kitchen and it can't be stopped.

Eventually I fall back to sleep until just before the sun is about to come up when suddenly the voice of a man chanting comes screaming into our room. It sounded like the guy was in the room with us. We both sit straight up wondering what on earth is going on. It was the Muslim call to prayer. There must've been a mosque next door.

Finally the alarm goes off and we have to get up and get ready for the day. We still have no water so we proceed to wash our hair by pouring bottles of water over our heads.

And now everytime Madie and I get together all we have to say is, "Remember that first night in Igamba?" And all we do is laugh (because otherwise we might cry).

Madie and I in 2009. The roomies will reunite on August 3 when the team arrives in Uganda. I'm looking forward to more fun adventures to laugh about. (You can click here or click here or here or here to read more about my adventures with Madie. There's never a dull moment with us!)

- Aly

Friday, July 22, 2011

Drought, Famine, and Hurt

Last night I seriously thought I was already in Igamba. It didn't matter how little I tried to move I could not stay cool. I hardly slept, and have been so tired all day. So that means that at this point in the night, my brain isn't working so well.

We haven't had any rain around here in well over a month. After a long winter and very rainy spring, I have to say I'm surprised that it's been so hot and dry. Our once green grass is brown and crunchy. And every plant just seems to be begging for rain. My car is covered in dust and dirt. And the ground is so dry it's starting to crack.

In my email today I received one from a relief organization about a drought in East Africa. It's not something that has hit the front pages of the news. Unless it involves dictators or violent changes in government, news from Africa is rarely deemed front page worthy. Yet, so many lives are being affected.

The drought covers all of East Africa, but is the worst in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. We have gone about a month without rain here, but portions of this area have gone over 2 years with little to no rain. And for families whose lives are sustained by growing crops and raising livestock, this is a big deal. No rain means little to no food for over 10 million people. They are actually close to declaring famine in parts of Somalia due to the food shortages.

It's so easy to think of this sort of thing generally. It's happening to people far away in an area most people are not familiar with. But imagine with me for just a moment that it were happening to us. Imagine that it was your children or grandchildren or nieces and nephews that were dying because you had no food to feed them. Imagine not being able to provide for your family because food costs are rising and you can't work enough to buy food for today let alone tomorrow or the next. Imagine watching your neighbors and friends become sick because they aren't getting the nourishment they need.

I don't want to paint this pathetic picture to make you feel guilty. That's never my intention. My hope is that this will challenge you. So often we (including myself) have such a hard time seeing the world beyond the walls of our home or the boundaries of our town. All we know is what we see, and we become so caught up in our own lives that we become blind to the struggles of others. And I'm not just talking people halfway around the world facing famine. Sometimes we are so blind to the struggles of the person sitting across the aisle from us at church, or the person sitting next to us in class, or our coworkers, family members, and neighbors.

We live in a world that is hurting. What are we doing to ease the pain?

We live in a world that is filled with hunger. What are we doing to provide nourishment?

We live in a world that is surrounded by drought. What are we doing to quench the thirst?

We live in a world flooded in darkness. What are we doing to bring the Light?

- Aly

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Last Supper

Wowzers! Was it hot today or what?! The heat index had us close to 100 degrees today! You could sit still and still have sweat pouring off of you. Today's heat was pretty close to what it's like in Uganda when we go to Igamba (though a little less humid). So imagine trying to walk around doing home visits and playing games out in the sun with the kids all day long in this kind of heat, and you'll start to understand our how are days are in Igamba. There's no hot water there and let me tell you, it is a blessing to take a cold shower!

Despite the heat, this evening trip tradition came first, and we were off to have our "Last Supper." If you're new to the blog, the Last Supper is a meal we share with our good friends Allen and Debbie. It's never actually our last dinner before we head off to Uganda because the night before we leave we are so busy trying to shove everything into any left over space in our suitcases that we barely have time to even eat dinner. But it is just a special and delicious meal that we share with great friends. Allen is a pastor and Debbie is a nurse. They have both been on short-term trips to Guatemala, and Debbie has also gone to Haiti and India. They understand the craziness that goes along with preparing for a trip, the madness of packing, and how it feels to step out in faith in a big way. They're always there to encourage us, listen to our stories, and make us laugh. And when we come home from Uganda after all the traveling and we smell and we're tired...and we smell, they pick us up from the airport, we all go out to eat pizza, and they bring us safely home so we can shower and sleep.

We are so thankful that the Lord has given us these friends.

Tonight a trip tradition was fulfilled. And now, we're ready to go! (Well except for the whole packing part. But that will come).

- Aly

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This is the Stuff

There's a song by Francesca Battistelli that goes:

I lost my keys in the great unknown
And call me please cuz I can't find my phone
This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess I forget how big I'm blessed

If you've ever been around our family in the week leading up to the trip, you'd know how much this describes us. I lost my camera battery. I've been searching for it everywhere I can possibly think to look. In the meantime, I've found a comb I've been looking for that turned up in one of my bags, a check I had been looking for that had fallen behind my dresser, and my goggles that I had tried to find while I was babysitting last week. I've found everything I was looking for except my camera battery.

And it's driving me a little crazy. I think we're all feeling a little nutty these days. There's so much left to do our days are filled with frenzied prep. The house is closing in on us. I inherited the neat and tidy gene from my mom so the mess is getting to us, but there's nothing we can do until we can start packing.

But in the midst of it all, we have to take some time to stop and remember how blessed we are. We are running around like chickens with their heads cut off because we get to go to Uganda! If we weren't running around crazy, it would mean no trip, not seeing all of our kids and Uganda family. God has blessed us so much with this opportunity, and it's not one we take for granted.

And we hope that in the midst of the craziness of your life, that you won't forget how big you're blessed either.

- Aly

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Survivor: Airplane

Each year, our adventures have allowed us to see some pretty interesting places. We've breathed in the fresh air of Dubai (below), Belgium, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, and Rwanda.

We've taken in the sights of the mountains of Ethiopia (below) as well as the Alps.

And we've seen where the Mediterranean meets the Sahara Desert.

We've slept on floors

and seats for hours that both felt to zoom past and drag by at the same time.

We've had McDonalds in Amsterdam and Dunkin Donuts in Dubai.

We've watched more movies, listened to more soundtracks, and tried in vain to get comfortable more times than we can count. We've stolen each other's airplane pillows, blankets, and leg room any chance we've had. And in one week, we get to do it all again.

3 People. 3 Flights. 26 Hours of travel. 3 Weeks of ministry, and travel home.

We should be on Survivor.

- Aly

Monday, July 18, 2011


Oh today has been insane! We spent most of our day out shopping for supplies for the trip. Walking up and down the aisles of Walmart trying to make sure we're remembering everything so we don't end up making a million more trips. We've learned a lot over the years. For the first few trips, we would have a bunch of different lists here and there but we never kept them. But then we (meaning me because I'm the crazy list-maker of the family. I just love being able to cross things off my lists!) started keeping track of what we were bringing, how much we brought, and how much we actually used.

We have a lot of gifts and supplies to take over as well, so things are really starting to pile up around here. Our house is starting to close in on us!

A friend of ours who goes to Uganda with the teams in January called last night and asked jokingly if we were packed yet. She said with a laugh that we're still a week away from leaving. If we started packing today we'd end up repacking three times a day which means packing our bags 21 times over the next week. It's bad enough to try to pack things once.

So now we have piles. There are piles of clothes, some ours and some for the kids. There are piles of kids craft supplies and piles of medicine. There are piles of bandaids (we tend to injure ourselves a lot in Uganda which becomes a game that I'll describe later). There are piles of gifts and piles of food.

And somewhere in the abyss of those piles is one of my camera batteries. And I'm hoping I can find it before we leave!

- Aly

Sunday, July 17, 2011


The Women's World Cup has officially come to an end. I've been joking for the past few hours that if I wasn't just over a week away from going to Uganda, my summer would be ruined. Sadly, it's more truth than it is a joke.

I love watching women's soccer. I love the sport, and especially the competitive nature of the World Cup. But I think what draws me in is the team itself. These are strong women who put everything they have into what they do. With modern technology I can follow the players on twitter and facebook and the official US soccer blog, and by doing so you start to see that these aren't fame hungry girls. They're just like me or any other young woman, and so it's easy to become invested in the team itself. I've followed this team for the last 12 years. So their loss today against Japan was hard, not only because it was the World Cup but because I knew how much they wanted it.

I bought the jersey of one of my favorite players, Carli Lloyd. When I received it in the mail it looked so sharp. It had the US soccer crest against a black background. I went to turn it inside out to wash it and I noticed that on the back of that US soccer crest it had one word:

That's one of the many things that's been so great about this team. They've come together through thick and thin. They were the last to qualify. They had an uphill battle. They lost in one of their group games. When they win, they do it together. When they lose, they do it together.

So many times in life, we act like we have to go it alone. Whether we're facing difficult circumstances, or trying to accomplish a goal, our mentality becomes "I have to do this by myself. I have to go through this myself. I have to take care of this myself." But that's not how God intends for things to be. He created us to work together. We're not supposed to go it alone.

I think of this trip, and we have so many people supporting us in so many ways that even when we're facing struggles we know that we're not alone. We're doing this together. And when we can come together as God intended us to, when we have that fellowship among believers, that's when we can make the biggest difference.

The USA didn't win a World Cup trophy today, but they embodied the heart and soul of not just us as Americans, but us as people. The difference didn't come in winning when the final whistle blew. It came as they gave their all, as they played their hearts out, and as they worked together. If we as Christians can do the same thing, imagine the imact we could have.

- Aly

My favorite player quote of the tournament came from a tweet by forward Lauren Cheney after the team lost to Sweden in group play a few weeks ago. She said, "So thankful our worth isn't in wins and losses. Trusting the Lord with our path." Now how awesome is that?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

From the Archives: Have you had the ole?

The year is 2009. We were with a team of about 10 people had been staying in Bugongi, a village not too far from the Rwandan border. We spent a week with limited electricity, limited water, and a toilet that worked on a limited basis. We ate rice at every meal and had more bananas than we knew what to do with. We painted, we played, we spoke at churches, we hiked the hills, and braved the bugs...well most of us. (This is where the tick made a home in my toe and all the rest is, thankfully now, history).

But we made the most of what we had and always found ways to laugh and have fun.

We spent quite a good portion of our days painting at the childcare center. The fumes were pretty strong from the paint, which may have added to the fun. I'm not sure. As we painted the main hall both inside and out we found many interesting creatures. There was a dead bat in one of the side classrooms. And dead bats falling from the rafters outside. There were live bats very disturbed by our work, which sent my mom screeching more than a few times. (I think bats hold grudges because the ones that didn't swoop at us during the day would come swoop at us during dinner at night).

One of the AMG roof, found a little critter up there, and brought it down. Later on another worker was talking to us and he asked, "Have you seen the ole?"

We were perplexed. "Ole? The old? The old what?"

"No," he said. "The ole."


"You know. Ole," he says, then spells, "O-W-L."

"Oh. The Owl."

Up on the roof they found an owl's nest with a little baby owl. He was so cute, and he stayed under a small bush on the grounds of the center. A few days later, the kids came for the Saturday program and started looking at him. And, because they're kids, the looking turned to poking.

Fastforward to our last night in Bugongi. They have a special meal for the team, and towards the end they come out with this meat on a stick. We have no idea what it is, and one of the guys on the team looks at me and says

"Oh my gosh, is that the ole?"

And as he says that our team leader is coming around giving us each a stick of meat, all the while ever so quietly saying,


- Aly

Friday, July 15, 2011

So Blessed

In preparing for this trip, we have been so blessed through the support of friends, family, and even complete strangers. Financial support continues to trickle in bringing us closer and closer to our goal. And God has used these people to remind us He will always provide for us.

A college classmate of mine sent us over 150 bracelets to hand out while we're in Uganda. This is such a blessing to us (because we haven't had time to make any ourselves) and it will be such a blessing to the people who are so thankful to receive a small gift. We love to hand these out on home visits, and there is nothing better than seeing the smiles on the faces of children and adults alike as we place the bracelet around their wrist.

I went to a local ministry here in town where you can get used clothing and other items for a very cheap price. I went down to look for some clothes to take for the kids and left with a garbage bag full. When one of the workers realized who I was and what I was doing, she started throwing more clothes in that she hadn't put out yet. And when I went to hand her the money for them she said, "You keep it. That's what we're here for."

So many people are making their mark on this trip. We may be the ones that God has called to go but we are not the only ones making an impact. And for that we are truly grateful.

And oh so blessed.

- Aly

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Last Ozone

I had my last ozone treatment before the trip today. It's making my brain move a little slowly so there's probably some resting and a nap in order for this afternoon.

What is an ozone treatment? I'm glad you asked. You hear so often that ozone is harmful to your body but it's actually not. It's just three atoms of oxygen (the treatment is also called triple oxygen). Actually, when you breathe in the fresh air at a clean seashore, or the smell of the air after a lightning storm, or even the smell of clean laundry on your clothesline you're smelling ozone.

In this context, it is used to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi in the body. It has an antibiotic effect. But unlike antibiotics, it kills pathogens without harming normal body cells.

I've been receiving this treatment since May 2010 and it helped completely change my health. I started off getting them once a week. After some time I made it to once every other week, and I am now getting them only once a month. Now it's more for maintainence, to make sure it'll kill anything that's still hanging around and to give my immune system a little boost.

Last year I was experiencing a lot of joint and muscle pain, weakness, and fatigue. And these treatments (along with a very strict diet) have helped me literally get back on my feet. I think in our society, we think there should be a quick and easy cure for everything. But what I've learned over the last 2 years is that often times, our bodies just need time to heal and along with time they need the right nutrition and support. And that's what ozone has done for me.

Here's how it's done (if you're not a blood person, maybe you don't want to keep reading):

I go in and sit in a nice comfy chair. I get my blood pressure taken (which by the way has lowered significantly since I began the treatments). Then I'm hooked up to an empty iv bag. I get injected with heparin so my blood won't clot and then I sit there as blood empties into the bag that sits on the floor. It starts off pretty dark.

When there's enough in there (and it doesn't take much), Larry comes over and injects the bag with ozone, making gurgly noises in the iv bag. He shakes it up and right away there's a noticable difference in the color of the blood. It's much brighter with all that oxygen in it.

And then he hangs the bag up and the blood comes back into my body ready to do it's thing.

Larry wraps my arm in a pressure bandage and I'm on my way. I usually get a headache from it, and I get a little sleepy. But after a few hours I feel good as new!

Nothing like a good immune system boost before heading off to Africa!

- Aly

**A lot of people have been asking how my health is. So I want to say it loud and clear. I am perfectly healthy right now. These treatments are helping to support my health, but they are not sustaining my health. I am amazed at how the pain is gone, my energy is back, and I can be normal again. Truth be told, I'm healthier now than I was before I was sick. And I can run circles around the average American. I'm so grateful for the prayers people have said on my behalf and so thankful to God for answering them!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Released for Good Behavior

For the last 19 years, my dad has worked as a corrections officer at our local County Sheriff's Department. He's spent many a day booking inmates, watching the floors, and working in the master control room.

Through the years, his job has helped us get back into the country, move more quickly through road checks (especially during the days of Bucky), and maaaaybe helped me out of a parking ticket (that was so not legitimate in the first place. I got a ticket for parking in an employee lot that I had the code to because I was an employee, but that's beside the point).

He's often said he's serving a life sentence 8 hours at a time. But today he was released for good behavior.

No more overtimes. No more troublesome inmates. No more politics or stress from the job.

Yep, look out world. Dean Houser is officially retired. And though he's more than ready to retire from cop work, you can be sure he won't be retiring his cop walk.

When asked what he'll do next he said, "I'm going to Uganda!"

- Aly

If you'd like to send along your congratulations, I'm sure he'd be grateful. Just e-mail him at

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where we Stay

People often wonder where we stay when we're in Uganda. It's a legitimate question, one we even wondered the first time my dad went in 2006.

Typically when someone thinks of Africa they imagine one of two things. They think of the Lion King with the grasslands and the animals (which of course do exist, but generally only on game reserves).

Or they might think tribal villages, men with spears, women weaving baskets, and grass huts.

(Fun fact: we actually stayed in one of these. This is where the bat story of 07 happened.)

We've stayed in a lot of different places over the years. Actually now that I think of it, we've stayed in the above style structure called bandas every year (we stay in something similar when we're in Igamba).

We've also stayed in an office. Notice the mosquito net being held up by the bookshelves and door...and peanut butter on the bed.

But the place we've called home for the last 4 years has been the Kolping House. (I almost typed Kolping Houser - I think I'm going to suggest the name change when we go).

It's an oasis of sorts. A (mostly) quiet safe haven (though it is where I coined the term symphony of Uganda). It's simple. The rooms have two beds, mosquito nets, two chairs, and a bathroom.

It's a place to lay our heads, to regroup, to recharge our batteries (literally and figuratively), to have time to process it all. It's a place, that for a few weeks every year we call home.

- Aly

Monday, July 11, 2011


Sometimes when people find out that we live in New York they get all excited, as if all people from New York live at the Statue of Liberty or on Broadway or something. So we always make sure that people understand that we're from Western New York. Instead of using buzz words like "Empire State Building" and "Rockefeller Center" (which if you're from NYC you're probably laughing your head off at those right now) we use words like "Lake Erie" or "Niagara Falls/Buffalo" or "Lake Effect" (that's snow for you southern folks).

Not quite as glamorous, I know.

There's a few things you should know about Western New Yorkers. Unlike our eastern counterparts, we are pretty conservative. We stand by our sports teams no matter how incredibly terrible they are. We are nothing if not loyal. And if you're not from around here, and you tell us how much you love to go eat "Buffalo wings" from "Applebees" we will laugh and depending on how convinced you think you are that you are indeed eating "Buffalo wings" we may even openly mock you.

Now, we live in a small town of approximately 600 people. The closest Walmart is a good 25 minute drive away. The closest thing to a traffic jam we ever encounter is when a farm tractor is driving down the road (substitute snow plow for tractor and you'll have the winter equivalent). And let me tell you, nothing slows you down like a tractor ambling down the road.

So you send these country bumpkins halfway around the world to Kampala, Uganda, a city of about 1.6 million people, and things get interesting. I have never seen traffic like this before.

There are no rules of the road in Uganda. Actually, let me rephrase that. There are rules of the road, we're just not sure we understand them. It involves a lot of honking and light flashing...

All on the wrong side of the road.

And then those taxi's are everywhere. And the police don't have cars to drive around in, they stand on the side of the road and if they want you to pull over they make some kind of signal and you just pull to the side of the road (the wrong side)...

And there's people on the road trying to sell you stuff while you sit there...

My dad loves this next picture. The amazing thing is that he's not in any one of those vehicles you see, that's how close they all are.

It can sometimes take hours for us to get from point A to point B. That's where that hurry hurry wait comes in. We hurry around and end up waiting in traffic. But it's time we spend getting to know our driver and enjoy taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Uganda.

Just seeing these photos has me all excited. Won't be long, and we'll be back!

- Aly

Somewhere in this post there is a Volkswagon Beetle. Can you spot it? Oh and Punch Bug! No punch backs!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I don't have much for you tonight. My mind has been BLOWN by the epic matchup between USA and Brazil during today's quarterfinal match of Women's World Cup soccer. It was insane! I was sweating and shaking and my adrenaline was pumping, and now I'm exhausted. I can't imagine how those players feel! (You can read about it here if you want).

But I will leave you with this...In the past week, between my young cousins, church softball games, and all the kids I babysit, we've spent a lot of time with little kids. And if you're around kids for any length of time, you'll know just how funny they can be sometimes. Here are some cute things they had to say:

My 6 year old cousin Ryan telling his mom about a 2 mile bike ride he and my mom went on: "We went on a 2 year bike ride!"

2 year old Adarah is up at our house with her three brothers to swim in our pool. I tell her she has some grass on her chest, and when she can't find it she puts her hands on her hips and looks at me all sassy and says, "Whaaaaat?!"

Bringing 2 year old Madi and her two sisters to swim at my house, she has a squirt gun. I ask if she's going to squirt me with it and she replies: "Well I could, but I guess I won't."

And my favorite of the week. At a church softball game I'm playing catch with some of the kids and we look up to see two airplanes flying overhead. Kameron, (I think he's two) looks up in the sky and says: "Look! They're throwing caaaandy!!!"

Sorry, that's all I have for you today. I need to get some sleep and let my mind settle after that soccer game!

- Aly

Saturday, July 9, 2011

From the Archives: How Many Cows?

As a young, single woman, I have dreams of one day stirring things up and getting married (I don't understand why people say they're going to "settle down" and get married. My life is rather settled right now, so I hope to one day stir things up and get married.)

I think every girl has visions of the day that the man of her dreams will propose to her. It's a different vision for every girl. Some want big displays of affection while others, like myself, dream of something simple but well thought out.

What you may not know, is in the last few years I've had two proposals thrown my way.

In 2008, at the young age of 20, we were visiting a church in the outskirts of Kampala. My dad and I were greeting some of the people. It's customary to shake a person's hand when you arrive somewhere and then again when you leave. Generally it's a quick shake, not much lingering. But this one particular young man took my hand and wasn't letting go. And after we exchanged greetings, he continued to hold my hand as he asked my dad if it was appropriate for an African man to marry a white woman. Then there was some discussion about a bride price and how many cows a girl like me is worth in Uganda (apparently 30 thank you very much).

Meanwhile my hand is sweating, and I'm giving my dad the "please put on your cop face and save me!" look. I was able to wiggle my hand free.

"Oh is that my mother calling me? Coming mother!"

My second proposal came on the flight to Uganda last year. There was a team of guys from Libya who played sitting volleyball. I didn't even know that existed, but it does. The Delta flight we were on, which never holds the plane for any passenger, was holding the flight for these passengers for 1 hour. Our family always seems to be placed in the middle section of the plane. So we get to sit together, but there's always that one seat occupied by a total stranger, who usually gets the honor of sitting next to my mom who is one of those people who has to get to know the person next to them (which I guess is ok on an 8 hour flight - you wouldn't want to feel completely awkward for 8 hours).

So she starts talking to Amin, a very handsome 21 year old sitting volleyball player. He didn't speak very much English, yet he was able to communicate enough for us to understand he loves America, thought I was cute, and would really like to get married so he could move to America.

There's something about a man using me to gain citizenship that's an automatic turnoff for me.

Maybe if he had offered me some cows...

- Aly

Friday, July 8, 2011

Holy Cow!

At the interchange of the I-90 and I-190 in Buffalo, NY, you can find several bronze buffalo statues grazing on a small hill in the grass between lanes.

So when we saw something like this for the first time in Uganda...

We thought, "Oh how fun! A cow statue grazing in the grass." But then something strange happened. The statue let out a deep, gurgly moo.

Cows are everywhere in Uganda. The lucky ones can be found with a rope tied around their neck, held by their owner or maybe tied to a tree, grazing in nice green grass.

But more often than not, you can find them roaming just about anywhere (like this cow standing by a busy city street)...

...eating just about anything (yes, that's garbage).

In Uganda, pedestrians don't have the right of way on streets. If you step out into traffic, there's a very good chance someone will hit you. If you want the right of way on a street in Uganda, you have to have big hooves, long horns, and the loudest, scariest moo you've ever heard.

Now who wants a nice juicy steak?

- Aly

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Livin on a Prayer

Well we've already reached the halfway mark on our 40 day journey to Uganda, and we can hardly believe it. It's crunch time. In the next 19 days there are supplies to purchase, Bible lessons to prepare, medications to start, bags to be packed, and unpacked, and repacked several times. There is work to be done here at home, thank you's, itineraries and prayer cards to send, things to put in order, friends and family to visit, good-byes to be said, appointments to be kept, and let's face it, it's finally hot in Western New York so a pool to be swam in.

There's so much to do, and time is not on our side to get things done. As the title of this post says, we are livin on a prayer. So we ask that you would pray for us in these last couple of weeks before we leave.

Pray that:
- The Lord would help us to stay unified as a family (Satan's favorite tactic is to divide and conquer)
- The Lord will prepare our hearts for what's He has in store for us and that He will guide us and give us strength every step of the way.
- The Lord would continue to provide everything spiritually, physically, and financially for this trip.

Thank you for walking this journey with us. We don't know what we'd do without you keeping track of us, encouraging us, loving us, and praying for us.

- Aly

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hurry. Hurry. Wait.

We were making our final descent toward the airport in Amsterdam. Depending on what time our watch was set to it was either way too early in the morning or ridiculously late at night. Our flight was an hour late leaving Detroit, and with only an hour and a half layover we had a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time.

Oh yes, and there was a language barrier.

The "kind" International Delta employee (can you even use those two terms together?) awaiting the passengers at our gate informed us that our flight was already boarding and we should run because they don't hold planes for passengers, and no she didn't know what gate the flight was departing from.

So we're running through the airport trying to find someone who will help us. If you know anything about the Dutch and their hospitality then you won't be surprised when I say we finally found a machine that gave us all the information we needed. So we ran around in circles, because the Amsterdam airport is a bit confusing, and it was early in the morning/late at night, we were sleepy, and hungry, and hey look! They have McDonalds! But still there's no time.

We finally find our gate and there's a huge line of people waiting to go through "security" (and I use that term lightly). We have enough time to all take turns using the restrooms which were placed oh so conviently at the end of the line before taking off on our next flight.

Hurry. Hurry. Wait.

It's the term our family has coined our missionary motto. We rush around as fast as we can to get to an airport line, or prepare a lesson for Sunday School, or finish painting a room, or even just get ready to leave the guesthouse in the morning, only to wait...and wait...and wait some more.

The Houser's missionary motto applies to a lot in life doesn't it? Have you ever found yourself going through cycles in life where you rush around to get something done? Maybe it's saving money to buy a house, or preparing your family for a new baby, or getting your degree so you can find a good job. And in all the hustle and bustle and focus of just getting to that time takes you away from actually enjoying the moment. And then suddenly you find yourself in a waiting period. The housing market plummetts. The baby is taking his or her dear old time coming into the world. Or you have the diploma in your hand just as the job market takes a dive.

Hurry. Hurry. Wait.

Maybe it's a missionary thing. Maybe it's an American mentality. Or maybe it's just the way life goes. But so often we tend to want to rush through whatever season of life we're in to get to the next one. Or we have to hurry to meet this deadline, or hustle to get achieve that goal. And then we get to the waiting time. We reach our destination. We finish the project. We finally made it, but we don't take time to enjoy it. There's something else that needs done. Somewhere else to hurry to. So we lose patience in the wait.

As you go about life and we prepare for this trip, with all it's hurry hurry waits up ahead, I encourage you while challenging myself and my family:

Take time to enjoy the hurry. And don't rush the wait.

- Aly

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today's Happenings

Well we are officially 3 weeks away from leaving, and I think it's all really starting to settle in that this is actually happening. You'd think going for the past 4 summers would be enough preparation, but it's still just as huge, just as amazing, and just as much a big deal as it was the first time. It's just now we have a better handle on what to pack.

Today my mom and I went shopping. My mission: to find a neck pillow. I left mine on the plane in Amsterdam last year...on the way to Uganda. Which means I had an 8 hour flight into Entebbe, and then then entire trip home (two 8 hour flights and a one hour flight) without a neck pillow. It was not fun.

The operation was successful, and I found what I hope will be a very comfortable neck pillow. Now my next mission is to make a cover for it that will somehow allow it to attach to my bag so I don't lose it again. Maybe I can make a belt so I can wear it around my waist. I'll call it a fanny pillow.

All in all it was a good shopping day, and we found some awesome deals (Old Navy has some huge sales going on). But it's also been a long day, so now it's time for some sleep...well right after I catch up on some soccer.

But before I go, I have a prayer request. We spent part of our day in the hospital visiting a friend of ours whose son was in a motorcycle accident with his girlfriend last night. He was very lucky to only break his leg. He had surgery on it today, but his girlfriend has a bad concussion and is disoriented. So if you could keep them and their families in your prayers it would be greatly appreciated.

- Aly

Monday, July 4, 2011

Celebrate Freedom

It's estimated that collectively Americans will eat over 150 million hot dogs today, which translates into approximately two per person. I, of course, can't eat hot dogs anymore (unless I dream about it) so if someone out there would be willing to eat my two, I would be so grateful.

Independence Day is a day we spend with family and friends, a time to be proud to be American (where at least we know we're free). It's a day to forget about the economy, gas prices, American politics, the indescresions of American politicians, and debates about gay marriage, abortion, or any other in a long list of tough issues.

It's a day when all Americans can come together, regardless of race, religion, sex, or political distinction and celebrate our right to have a say in government policies, critique our leaders, and have opinions without fear of what could happen to us.

Today we celebrate the freedoms that not many have, freedoms that at times are blessings in disguise, freedoms that make us uniquely American.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

- Aly

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Blessing of Sponsorship

Child sponsorship has been such a blessing to our family. It's where our ministry in Uganda started. The decision to sponsor a little girl from Uganda almost 7 years ago has led us down a path filled with both blessings and hardships, every single one of them worth it.

It all started with this sweet girl, Eva. She was 8 years old when we began sponsoring her. She came from Igamba and had a difficult life. Her father died and her mother struggled to provide for their family. She remarried and started selling alcohol from their home. They mistreated the children and even took some of the children out to the bush to abandon them. If it hadn't been for this sponsorship, Eva would've faced the same fate. But with God's intervention through AMG sponsorship, she was taken to Camp El Har orphanage (now also known as Upendo Christian Academy). She is at the top of her class, often leads worship for the other children, and is a leader among her peers.

I met Mariam and Sophie in 2007 on our first trip to Uganda. They also live in Igamba. They weren't sponsored then since they were still very little. Sophie was just 2 and a half or 3 years old, and Mariam was just one year older. They captured my heart the moment I met them and after returning home I couldn't get them out of my mind. I knew I needed to find them and sponsor them. At times I didn't know how I would be able to afford the sponsorship, but the Lord has always provided. It's been such a huge blessing to watch them grow over the years, and I'm looking forward to watching them continue to grow and hope one day they will be leaders at their center. When we go to visit, between Mariam's quiet, sensitive nature and Sophie's spunk, I've got my hands full but my heart is even more filled with love because of them.

We began sponsoring Bridget not too long ago. She also lives in Igamba (noticing a theme here?). She is the little sister of Bill the boy with the smile wide enough to cover all of Africa. We began to sponsor her after our trip in 2009, shortly after her mother died from heart complications after surgery. Her family has always been very special to us, so it seemed only fitting to do our part to ensure a bright future for her. She has a great smile like her brother and makes some of the most adorable faces. Her soft, sweet voice brings joy to our hearts.

If you hear us talking about our sponsored kids, you may notice how we refer to them. Mariam and Sophie are "my girls." My parents regard Eva and Bridget as their girls, and I see them as my sisters. (That distinction is also held by all the kids at Camp El Har/Upendo). They are part of our family and will always hold a piece of our hearts.

Do you sponsor a child through AMG International in Uganda? If you do, we'd love to hear from you. If you email your name, the full name of your child, and if you can, the name of the child care center they attend to we would love to try to meet them. Of course we don't always get a chance to visit all of the centers while we're there, but we may be able to get an update for you from the staff.

Our sponsored kids are part of our family and we'd love to connect you with your sponsored child or children.

If you don't sponsor a child already and would like to, we'd be happy to find one for you while we're there. Just email us and tell us you're interested. There are so many needy children in Uganda who are looking for someone to love them into their family.

- Aly

Saturday, July 2, 2011

From the Archives: Smile & Watch the Birdie

Today's story from the past comes from my dad and the very first trip he went on in 2006.

Aly just loves when I use some old expression to describe something I'm talking about, so when I chose the title for today's blog she gave me that look….. Anyway the above title would be synonymous with taking pictures. Pictures are very much a part of our work in Uganda. We use them not only to preserve memories of the trip, but to also use them in our presentations to show the differences of another country and culture. The pictures show the beauty of the country and its people along with their needs and living conditions however, capturing these scenes can lead to some interesting experiences.

As our team was returning from Igamba to Kampala I took an opportunity to capture some pictures of the cascading Nile River as we were crossing a bridge near Jinja, the source of the Nile River. A couple points to be noted here are:

  1. At Jinja there is a dam that supplies hydro-electric power to most of Uganda. Given the importance of this fact, along with the need to protect the power source, the dam is guarded by the Ugandan Army.

  2. It is illegal to take pictures of the Uganda Army.

With that being said I was able to capture the pictures I wanted to take on this return trip. I took the pictures as we entered the bridge and had what I wanted by the time we were in the middle. At that point I innocently pulled my camera back into the taxi our team was riding in. Unknown to me on the exit side of the bridge the Uganda Army had a station. It was at that time I discovered how alert the soldiers stationed there were as our taxi was immediately motioned over and very quickly surrounded by several members of the Ugandan Army. One of the soldiers stationed himself along the taxi by the window where I was sitting. Although he was speaking in his native language it was very clear to me that he was upset especially as he was using a big stick to poke me in the ribs identifying me as the owner of the camera he had seen. Two other soldiers opened the front and side doors of the taxi and wanted to see the pictures on my camera. The taxi full of team members were concerned what the camera may reveal, but I assured them there were no pictures of army personnel, but that was yet to be determined by the army themselves. Fortunately the soldiers I had to deal with spoke English which made communicating much easier.

I turned my camera on and showed the soldiers the last picture I had taken of the Nile River. After looking at that picture they instructed me to click it indicating they wanted to look at the next picture. They had me continue to click through numerous pictures at which point I was beginning to get nervous because the soldier outside my window was still poking me in the ribs with his stick and shouting in my ear. I really was beginning to think I may be headed for prison. At this point the AMG national with us got into a heated discussion with the soldier outside my window which didn't really seem to be helping my predicament any. Soon the soldiers at the door said something and the soldier at the window walked away. The soldiers at the door had me click through some more pictures after which they said something in their native language, smiled, closed the door and walked away allowing us to continue on our journey. I asked the national that was with us what that was all about. She replied that they realized I hadn't taken any pictures of the army nor compromised the security of the dam, but they liked my pictures so much they wanted to see the rest of them. For those who know me something like this can only happen to me.

How do I tie this to the ministry? As we travel innocently down the highway of life speed bumps appear challenging us to whatever test has been presented to us. We must face these bumps and have faith that God will see us through. I know during all of this incident team members were praying. At the time I wasn't sure if they were praying that no one went to prison or if anyone has to go to prison please let it be just Dean. I'm guessing it wasn't the latter since I'm sitting here at home and not in a Uganda prison, which would indicate that God does hear and answer prayers. And I truly thank Him for that.

The story doesn't end there. The last day of the trip we were traveling to the airport along Lake Victoria. It was late evening and the sunset was beautiful. The sunlight made it difficult to see the screen so I had to take pictures using the view finder which gave me limited sight of where we were. All of a sudden the blue sky turned brown. I took my camera down and there we were at the entrance to the airport and yep there stood a member of airport security looking at my camera. The whole team let out a groan as one was heard to say "here we go again………."

- Dean

Friday, July 1, 2011


So the Women's World Cup is in full swing, and this girl has World Cup fever! My family keeps laughing at me because every time they walk into the living room I'm doing the same thing - watching soccer.

This is really the first time that I've ever sat down to watch all of the games. Before I was really only interested in watching the USA games. But they've been a lot of fun to watch. (Stick with me. I'm going somewhere with this, I promise).

On Tuesday, the North Korean women lost to the USA 2-0. Now the North Koreans are very hush hush. They always have closed door practices, they rarely play games outside of world tournaments, and the players aren't allowed to talk to the press. So no one really knows much about this team. After the game, the coach of the North Koreans went to the press and blamed the loss on lightning. He said that during a practice leading up to the World Cup, his players were struck by lightning and a bunch of them were hospitalized. Seriously, I can't even make stuff like this up. If you don't believe me, the news article is here. What's funny is that no one knew about this until after they lost.

Now, in the opening match on Sunday Canada's star player, Christine Sinclair, took an elbow to the nose as she was running toward goal. A defender stuck her arm up and Sinclair took an elbow right in the nose, and she went down hard. She had to step off the field for a few minutes. If you've every been hit in the nose you can imagine the pain.

Now I would think if there were any excuse to take a seat on the bench and let someone else finish out the game she started, a broken nose would be a good one. But not for Sinclair. She went back out into the game. And not only that but she also played in the next game on Thursday with full face mask.

And if that wasn't enough partway through the game a defender from France went to clear a ball and happened to clear it off the face of Christine Sinclair. Again, she went down. She already has a broken nose, just got hit in the face again with the ball, has a gash over her eye where the mask dug into the skin, and on top of that her team was losing...big time. Now seriously, if there was any excuse now to throw in the towel, any of these would be good ones.

But not for Christine Sinclair. She finished out that game. They still lost. She still has a broken nose. And they won't advance for a chance to win the World Cup. But she gave her all and left everything she had out on the field.

There are so many times in life when we're facing an uphill battle. The situation before us looks utterly helpless. The cards are stacked against us. We're hurt, we're tired, and the expectations we had weren't met. The question is how will we react? Will we make ridiculous excuses that don't fool anyone? Or will we give it our all until the very end, never giving up but giving everything we have?

You know, it's funny. I had the idea for this post earlier today, but time slipped away from me and I didn't have a chance to write it. Then some things I've been struggling with got me down, and I was seriously ready to give up, throw in the towel, sit on the bench, and let someone else finish the game I started.

But that's not the life God wants us to live. See, the thing about the struggles we face in this life is we have a choice in how we'll react. Perseverance doesn't mean that we're okay with or enjoying the pain we're dealing with. It just means that we choose not to give up despite that pain. So I want to encourage you today (and myself too) no matter what you're struggling with, if you know Christ then you have the power to persevere. Don't give up, don't throw in the towel. Even when the cards are stacked against you. Give it your all and leave everything you have on the field.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world. - 1 John 4:4

- Aly