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 housers4uganda@yahoo.com. 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 housers4uganda@yahoo.com