Friday, May 22, 2015


To be honest I have tried to restart a blog about a million times before this one and just didn’t have the energy or the will to actually post something that didn’t have my whole heart in it. I have become so numb to just posting what happens on a day to day basis and giving details about a day. I feel like we are close enough for me to get real in these posts. To talk about peoples’ lives and how people interact with one another.

                This is how the week started and what I had written on Monday…

Well it is Monday morning and I am not sure where to begin. I want to tell you a little something about responsibility and conviction. I want to tell you why being a long term missionary in the midst of short term volunteers is hard. I want to share with you why God allows difficult individuals into your life that you end up being thankful for.

I am realizing slowly that when you are a long term volunteer your view begin to change slowly. I am not sure why but my frustrations come in waves and all at once. The honeymoon phase is long gone. A couple of weeks ago we were able to put on our first overnight with our youth in Zirobwe. It made for a long night but there was loud music, dancing, preaching, and LOTS of preaching of God’s word. We want to reach this community on a whole new level. Our short term volunteers are not able to see this goal as passionately as they haven’t seen the growth and the struggle that this community has gone through in the last year. Some people view a night like that loud and exhausting…and it was! But more than that is made an impact on that community that you could not replicate any other way.

It got me thinking about service and giving our heart to ministry and committing to being a part of something that is way bigger than me. Coming to Uganda with Empower A Child or any other organization you have to come with the mindset that you are coming to serve and not to be served. That coming here means sleeping on a concrete floor in a tent, three showers a week (a hot one if you are lucky), it means dirty hands and feet, it means foods that are not out first choice, cars that break down, late starts, late nights, and early mornings. I am not going to sugar coat it for you and I know I have said this a handful of times before but living here is not easy. “the sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning…”

The joy that comes from serving in ministry far surpasses any of the things listed above (among many others).

Then this week I had an interaction that encouraged me….



 A couple weeks ago our visit lost an older gentleman, Aaron, who was about 80 years old. He loved to sing praise and worship songs and gift the team with a few eggs. He had a lame arm and his eyesight was not top notch. He would often sing for church but didn’t even have the strength to hold the microphone. He LOVED when we would visit his home and he would share his life with us. Porsche and I attended his funeral and it was a sad loss for the whole community I didn’t realize the impact that Aaron had made on so many different individuals. He was a blessing to so many and he has left an impression on my heart and the hearts of others. I have felt convicted since his lost to reach out to the older community members and see how we can learn from them. That is not the man I want to tell you about though.


This week, our team went out into the little nooks of the village that we are often to neglect because we don’t know them so well. We had a survey that went over basic things like where they fetch their water from, medical history, Education, and the most important one the social issues and challenges within the village. We went to many homes over the course of two days. Even though it was structured each home had something so different and unique to bring to the table and it was a blessing to get to know different individuals. When we got to Aarons home we found his neighbor across the dirt path that looked to be about the same age as Aaron. When we asked him about the social issues of the community he told us that disobedient children is the biggest social issue we have right now and that is what we need to work on as an organization to help improve.

Sylverio , born in 1935, in a small village in Kenya. Grew up with 15 brothers and sisters. His parents were farmers. Their biggest source of income was the cotton that they grew; they received 40 shillings (less than a penny) to every kilogram of cotton that they sold which could buy them quite a few things in the time that he was growing up in. When he was a child some Catholics from France  came to his village and really fell in love with him and offered to take him and his mother to France to study. Men in Africa are supposed to be the ones to provide so Sylverio’s father refused them to go and the French men continued to find other children. His father became so enraged with Sylverio that he disowned him and told him not to return. For a long time he was travelling and sleeping in the forrest. He would get all kind of nightmares, and really felt a demonic presence in the area and said many nights that he slept with demons. When he would be going to sleep he could hear them bathing not too far away from where he was laying. The French men went looking for him and ended up finding him and taking him in. He stayed at the seminary with the Catholics for a number of years. There were two men that loved him and that would help take care of him. The older one ended up passing away and the other one got transferred to a different seminary so there was no one that would be around to take care of him and look out for him. By this time he was a young man. The French men gave him 50,000UGX shillings (like $20.00) which again he felt like he was a rich man. He chose not to return to his father’s village and settled in a different place. When he was about 35 Idi Amin came into office and all kind of politics came about and cause so much confusion within the country. A Ugandan president known as “The Butcher” and who is known for the cause of 300,000 deaths during his presidency. Sylverio told us that there were several really corrupt leaders around that time as well. He said that he has seen some of the most in humane treatments of individuals that are just unspeakable because of how horrible they were. During this time only 4 of his 15 brothers and sister survived these regimens. He told us at one point the soldiers would come in and just make people get onto their knees and they would pee on them and then shoot or kill them in any way that they would see fit.  When he was younger and the soldiers were around for a different corrupt leader he would go into hiding in the bush when he came home he had to be so careful, he shared that if the door was left open you knew the soldiers had gone out but if the door was shut you had to be so careful because they could be in your home. He didn’t share much about his wife, but he made sure to tell us that he was a man of one ring and the importance of having one wife. They had three children and only one survived the rest had died. After some time his wife became adulterous and he couldn’t bring himself to forgive her and his daughter chose to side with the mother on all occasions and forget about her father. He now lives in the same village as his daughter but has no relationship with her. I asked if he would ever go to her and ask her why they can’t have that relationship and he posed the question to me if it was your daughter would you run after her and try to encourage her to love you? He told us that he could never be the one to go to her. On two separate occasions he has given his daughter a large sum of money and has heard no thanks in return. She even kept a death of one of his grandchildren and their burial hidden from him because of the anger she has. I think it is possible there is some resentment within his own heart. He has a few acres of Coffee that he sells on a commercial basis and gets one meal a day.

He has a quick wit and likes to challenge what you say. When we first arrived he was trying to teach a few phrases in Luganda and he was speaking a million miles an hour. We started talking about Luganda that we both know and at one point he asked me why I was arguing and that I should listen to what he has to say. When we asked him what advice he would give to us he told us to stop quarreling with eachother. Let things go and just wait for the Lord.

Sylverio accepted Christ into his life 5 months ago from the example that Aaron had and has a strong desire to learn more about God. I told him about the bible classes held at the church and he wants to learn. He said that is the only education that he wants to learn. I have so much to learn from this man but at the same time I have so much that I can help him learn in the spirit. So thankful to have a grandfather figure in my life now that wants to learn about me and what I do! I am so thankful the Lord let our paths cross.


It got me thinking about genuine love- I have written a blog about being genuine so you can reference that if you want to feel my heart on that one. But that God calls us to love one another in a genuine way. A true. Real. And authentic way.


So all of this to say. Don’t be discouraged in the ministry God has you in right now. Be patient. Don’t quarrel. Let the Lord direct your steps and reach out to those who have more wisdom then you. Accept correction and rebuke. Learn from others. Look for the best in every situation.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Taking a walk

There is something so surreal about being able to slip my shoes on and walk through the compound, out through the gate and then down the dirt road to the market. Picking up fresh foods and bargaining prices with the local people in a different language. Being pulled so far out of your comfort zone that the Lord is the only thing you can rely on.

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, but it always amazes me how the Lord reveals things in my life at just the right time.

This week we had a holiday program (The school year is split into three terms) As the first term is over they get a three week period off to revise their books and spend time with their families because many of them go to boarding schools far from their homes. So we as an organization spent some time pouring into our sponsored kids and having bible study/ letter writing/ health talks. I go to work with the 10th- 12th graders and I am so loving spending time with these kids. Not only do they scare me to death, they make me laugh and give me something to think about on my side. We talked through self- esteem and peer pressure mostly- but we also went into talking about how they are going to be the leaders of Empower A Child when we all leave. I am not just gaining names on our sponsorship list, but I am making friends. I will get to see these kids more during this year. I will get to be something that is stable in their life and get to encourage and love them and share more about God!

It got me thinking how can I use this for my future? What does the future hold for me and how can I get started on what God wants for me?


I started looking into Liberty University for starting to take online classes. I would love to be able to carve some time out and get going on my studies just something I am thinking about.


I am on a juice kick right now of butunda (passion fruit), oranges, water, and a little sugar. I can get all the things I need just around the corner from the house.

 Visa update- my volunteer work permit is being processed and should be finished up in the next two weeks. I am so thankful that this part is almost over and I won’t have to stress or worry about my visa expiring for another year.

We do a lot of what we call “bathroom worship” there are good acoustics in the bathroom area so last week all the girls got together and we just sang songs of worship to the Lord and shared what God was doing in our lives.

 I am getting so excited for the team from CRCC to get here and serve alongside them. This team has grown and morphed into what it is today. I have really enjoyed joining them via skype during their meetings and laughing and joking with them.

We are moving into the season Ugandans call Mzungu season- when all of the white people get out of school and come to visit Uganda. With that the organization is gaining and losing volunteers. During the winter we usually have a handful of long term volunteers. Well. All of them just left and we have new faces at the house. It is like a fresh start. Starting new and fresh. I was sad to see the people that had become my family move on to new things but also a huge privilege to see what God is going to do in their lives in the coming months. Also knowing that there is going to be a wave of volunteers coming in that either need or give encouragement to this team.  

I have been stepping up and working a lot more with the social media side of things: sending photo and story updates on what is going on here on ground.

We have been going into homes and helping the older people of the community of Zirobwe and just spent time listening to what is going on in their lives and asking them to share with what God is doing in their lives currently. An older man who is partially blind and struggles to walk to church was visited by us a few weeks back. He brought four eggs that were carefully wrapped to one of our staff members just to thank her for our visit.

My head feels like it is spinning-kind of like this blog just short and choppy. There is just so much going on I am not sure what to say. You know when you get into a lull? And you are not sure how to get out of it? I feel like that is where I am right now- going through the motions. Serving and giving my heart. It is just getting to a point where I feel like I am just fulfilling tasks without being able to fully recognize the blessings that the Lord is bring to my life through these experiences. I don’t have that same fresh look that I had when I first got here.

Facebook and other social media are so good at sugar coating things and making it look like I live a perfect life and that being a missionary is only about blessings. I can assure you, what you see on social media is true. Every story, every photo I post has so much life and joy in it. There is two sides to every story though. I just feel stuck.

It is hard; hard to be on the opposite end of the world. It is tiresome to have people constantly grabbing your arm or whistling for your attention. I am so over the carbs.

Just feeling Ezekiel 37.

Last week I was reading in 2 Corinthians about Paul receiving the thorn, a messenger from the devil as scripture says. Paul goes on to beg the Lord to take the thorn away and the Lord responds with, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” … Paul late says “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  That even through a period of weakness, even when I feel like there is a thorn in my flesh- that the Lord is still a sovereign God who will be there through anything that He makes me strong.

So continue praying with me- pray for the team. Pray for me personally that I would continue to seek God’s face even in the times I don’t “feel” Him working right here. Right now. Pray for the children that we are witnessing to and the street evangelism that we do on Friday during the day in a nearby slum area and in the nights with the prostitutes.

So even in the moments that I am just walking to the market, that I will find joy in just being alive and getting the opportunity to serve.

If you would like to send me some encouragement via snail mail or a care package I would be so thankful for that:

Shannen Kennedy

c/o Empower A Child

PO Box 33273

Kampala, Uganda  


Yours truly,