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