Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Visa is in and I have BIG news

Reunited and it feels so good! I wish I could truly put into words the happiness in my heart at this point. My visa had expired in January while all of the paperwork for the work permit was being processed. Porsche and I have walked a long journey together of countless hours of stress and tears. Times where the devil was clearly trying to convince us that Uganda was not the place for us. Other times of just laughter so we wouldn’t go insane. While there were truly moments where I was ready to give up and walk away from that internal affairs office full of corruption and bribery- I am so thankful I got to do it alongside the most patient and humble Godly woman I have ever met. (for those that know me you know I don’t do so well with being patient). I am happy to say that I am an official volunteer at Empower A Child Uganda and have a valid work permit for a whole year. Thank you for all of your prayers and support you have no idea how much peace it brought into my life.

Round two comes next July- mark your calendars! J

Like I talked about in my last blog post- this summer was a crazy adventure. I am so thankful I have been here in the busy season to see all of the passion, talent, and energy that short term volunteers really bring into this organization.  I have been currently working as the MST (or volunteer) coordinator on ground as well as a communications intern. Communications has been a journey of keeping stories up to date  and posting content on Facebook. As far as the volunteers go- I act as a middle man in between staff and volunteers, share insight/personal experiences, and just answer questions as they come up. My bed is an office 24/7 open for encouragement or just someone to talk to for many volunteers that have come through. God has taught me so much about what good leadership looks like and, unfortunately, what it doesn’t look like. That a good leader is one who is the first to do the work. A good leader gives Godly insight in a humble way. Correction comes with a gentle word. And patience above all else is a must. At 20 years old I have seen so much of God’s hand so clearly move in my life. When I arrived last summer I missed a great team that came through but thankfully this summer was a lot of repeats from summer 2014 and I got to connect with the rest of the family.

 Every volunteer that comes through sees what I get to see every day and every month in and out. That this place is more than a mission field, more than a destination for someone seeking some adventure. It is the very place that Gods kingdom is being built and grown. It is a place where people find peace where they think they are going to fulfill some humanitarian desire. In the end they find that this place draws people closer to the Lord. It strips down every fear and every comfort zone. It pulls you into a place of unknown territory. Languages you can’t speak.  Food that you may not recognize. Spiritual warfare that goes far beyond our reach and scope from the state side.

Last week we visited Pastor Fred and his family at their home. It is a beautiful 25 minute walk away from the church through the bush and through pineapple gardens. The hot sun beating down and little footprints left in the dust on the travelled road in front of you. Fred’s wife and children have been suffering from being sick from Malaria to measles and everything in between for the past 3 months. As a projects team we wanted to go pray with them and just let them know that we are thinking of them and that we miss seeing them around. Freds wife (Ruth) works in our women women empowerment program as well as acting as the church treasurer. They have 9 children so they are very close to my heart as I am from a family of 8 children. A few of them are sponsored while others are not yet on the sponsorship list. Anyway when we arrived Ruth was very open with us about her story and just had shared how the doctors tried to inject her with meds or pull blood but were not able to do either. They couldn’t explain why she was sick. When they got back a home a pastor from Kampala came out to pray over her and her family. It is assumed that there is an older woman in the community not too far from Pastor Fred’s home that is heavily involved in witchcraft in hopes of being rich has brought some demonic spirits into the area. Ruth has had several manifestations where she was told that her children would fail exams and that it would kill her and her family. This being a God fearing home committed to praying for one another. Her children all fell very sick but after lots of prayer they are on the mend. This is one testimony of what our children and families here in the community of Zirobwe endure on a daily basis. Living in complete fear of what the devil is a part of. Something that our eyes are so shielded from in the states has such a heavy a saturated presence here.


I am moving into a completely new season here at Empower A Child. I will be moving away from working with the international volunteers and focusing on the media aspect. We are starting up a Media and Marketing Department. Our purpose is to find local market within Uganda to be able to boost EAC and gain supporters. We will be working primarily on branding Empower as a whole and really bringing out the name of EAC for the community to recognize. We will also be working with external organizations to fundraise for our department- making documentaries and taking photos for them. This is a small department with BIG dreams and I am very confident that the Lord is going to big things through this department. I am looking forward to learning new things and gaining some new experiences. As many of you know our hope is to be relocating to the village as an organization and that will be coming up in the next few months. I will not be moving to the village and will reside in Kampala and work to build our name in the city. As this is a big change to what I had thought I am so excited and really looking forward to this new season. If you have any advice or encouragement as far as marketing goes I will take anything I can get. With this being said I would love to be able to get some new equipment and update my own personal software to be able to work on personal projects in a more professional way. I would like to update my camera and be able to present more quality work. I am looking for $3,000 to update everything. If you feel led or know someone who would be interested in helping me reach my goal I would be so grateful. Please share this on Facebook and pass it along to those via email that may want to give towards this goal. If you would like to give a one time donation please follow this link or scroll to the top of the page and click on the DONATE NOW button:


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sweetly Broken

Doing the dishes with my sponsored kid and her brothers <3

Life is a funny thing.

Well actually it is not so much a funny thing, but rather a series of many seasons. Seasons that come together and fall apart at other times. In the last year I have spent here in Uganda with Empower A Child- I have learned so much about who God is and how he has worked and is working in my life to prepare me for the season at hand. He has also proven himself over and over again and revealed that I don’t have to be all over the place that I can just focus on today and not worry about what tomorrow is going to bring. Sometimes I sift through everything going on at the time and feel so desperately overwhelmed. It is just after those moment that I get to choose a response I get to decide whether I am going to make or break a situation and I am the only one who can be responsible about how I feel about a situation or season.

Summer. Summer is hard. And exciting. And exhausting. And incredible. Just like it would be anywhere else in the world. At one point this summer we had around 25 volunteers living under the same roof and breathing the same air. It was quite the experience.

Maggie just opened a beauty shop in the village
First off let’s just talk about the fact that my mom and sister, my two best friends on planet earth got to come be a part of what God is doing here. They got to speak the language, eat the food, and love on all my women and kids in Zirobwe. My heart was so full. While they were here there were times where it seemed to be difficult to have them relate to some of the things that I am used to for example: The squatty. We always got a good laugh out of mom trying to go in there and not throw up. They both stomached it so well. We got to take taxis into the city and ride a boda to my favorite restaurants. Those moments of sitting on her very springy hotel bed and laughing as we could smell the African air and sharing about life and just having that one on one time to be encouraged and just reenergized by one another. The first night they got here I spent the night at the hotel with my mom and we stayed up so late catching up on life and had a hard time going to sleep. It was a similar feeling to Christmas Eve when you are just too excited you can’t stand it. We eventually were able to fall asleep and then was awoken by a loud thumping around 3:00am she turned over looked right at me and asked in with a curious face, “WHAT IS THAT NOISE?!” I just chuckled and explained it was a club around the corner that was still going and she was shocked and I smiled and fell asleep again. It was those small things those small moments that are stuck in my head and just so much fun to have. Not to mention the fact that both Megs and my mom are able to picture where everything is now. That when I text them on whatsapp, “ I am going to walk to the school and then to the guesthouse,” they know that very distance because they have walked it. It was a HUGE blessing that I cannot fully explain to have the whole team here. The staff and community members were touched by their diversity and just shared that it is so obvious that our church family is truly like a family. I will never forget back in 2013 as I was preparing to come and one of the stipulations my mom gave me was that she would financially and  physically never be able to come visit me in Uganda if I chose to be here long term. The Lord provides. He always does.
Nothing like sharing village life with my favorite ladies

The friendships I have made this summer far surpass anything I could have ever imagined. The Lord has been so gracious to provide so many people from all over the world to serve with EAC and help grow our sweet community. We have had many MST’s come through and be a big part in their own way. I have been so touched by the generosity and the energy that they have had to give to this community and seeing how they relate to families is so beautiful. It is amazing to see how God works that each volunteer connects with a different family and a different child. It isn’t this motion of children picking a white person or vice versa but it is literally the grace of God that brings these people together. He lets peoples paths cross in a beautiful way. I am grateful for that.

While my mom was here we got to do a lot of singing- if you are from Port Orchard you know how we Kennedy girls sing all the time. It was so fun to break out into random harmonies and sing like we were home but on the other side of the world. One of the first weekends we got to sing with my sweet friend Rachel. She is a student in university right now and when I arrived a year ago we met for just a brief 24- hours.  I had immediately felt connected to her because she was a pastors kid but we were not able to spend too much time getting to know each other. When she went home we followed each other over Instagram and Facebook randomly commenting on different posts when she got back this summer it was like she had never left and she has become one of my good friends. She is heading home on Saturday and I am really going miss her she has been a true gem and encouragement to me. I am so thankful to have those friendships on the other side of the world of people who can completely relate to what I am going through.  After Megs left Porsche, my mom, and I got to sing at church for my mom’s last Sunday and we got to sing with the one and only Netron…Or Martin as I call him. He works with the organization with our sister company View Africa safaris and is a great gospel rap artist you can check out some of his stuff here: https://www.reverbnation.com/netron   He has been such a blessing and a good friend. I like having friends that appreciate good music, pizza, and Jesus as much as I do! 

Visa update: Still no luck on a visa. It has been expired for just over 4 months. Things here sometimes can take a long time. Our

administrator is heading to the internal affairs office today to see if she can get them for us. This has been a long process but this thing that was once stressing Porsche and I so much- we have such a peace about now. It is truly one of those things that you just have to give to God.

I have learned that delegation is key to success. That it is okay to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness but a sign of good leadership if used in moderation.

My last blog post was about my sweet new friend Sylverio. Let me tell you a little bit about what has been going on with him. The local pastor goes and picks him up every Sunday bright and early for church. He often shares testimonies of what is going on in his life and how we should all live a Godly lifestyle. A few weeks ago I went to his home with a handful of volunteers and a staff member. We bought him some food and soap and some basic things that he would otherwise not have access to. We also brought some scrubbing brushes and a heart to help. We cleaned out his small home and mopped the floors, cleaned the dishes, and began cooking him a meal. When Sarah (our Community Development Coordinator) and I were mopping we noticed that his door had been shut and locked. We quickly unlatched it to look at the nature of the room. It was dark and musky, The mattress was covered in dirt. The whole house smelled of rat urine and there were dirty clothes everywhere. We asked him if he would allow us to enter and he quietly dismissed it and asked that we only mop the floor very briefly and then leave that place alone. After we finished we prayed over his life and his home that the Lord would continue to reveal himself in big ways. We left the pot of food cooking over the fire and walked away with such a peace in my heart. As we walked back to the church the sun was starting to set and clouds had rolled in and it was slightly drizzling. I was stopped by another village women and greeted them as they were heading home from a long days work in the garden I kneeled to my knees and greeted them in Luganda- asked about their day- and we laughed at my broken Luganda. They handed me one of their pineapples they had just got from the garden and invited me to come to their home for a meal.


                Later in that week we got news that Sylverios wife had come home after we left and was furious that we had entered her home without her around and she lashed out at her husband. She ate all the food we had cooked and told him that she was not going to take care of him anymore and that he could get a mzungu to do it for him. My heart sank as I had thought my heart was completely in the right place. It really made me reanalyze and question had I gone to clean his house for all the right reasons? Heavy hearted I just began to pray. Also realizing that she is a non believer with a hard heart and a desire to see our ministry fail. My heart began to break for her. In her old age being so stubborn and having so much anger and not realizing the peace and the freedom we have in Christ. I am not sure of her name but if you could pray for her and her heart to change. That the Lord would convict her of this I would be forever grateful.

As the summer winds down and the volunteers head back to work and school please be praying for our off season team. The Lord is already putting it together as we speak. Yesterday we just picked up a girl in her 30s from Scotland who is spending a year with us here in Uganda. I have only known her for a few short hours but I am already feeling like our friendship has been there for a long time. So incredible to see how the body of Christ operates. I know that he is going to be doing big things as we head into the fall and I am so hopeful to see where He leads me.

The Lord has also been teaching me how to be sweetly broken: That the Lord has been so gentle and gracious to me. That in every situation he truly gives me a way of escape. That I have the power to control my attitude and my response in every season that I don’t have to worry about what God is doing in the lives of others but my life. This little gift of life in me is the only thing I have to worry about.

Summer besties Rachel and Taylor <3
Recently Porsche and I met up with some friends of friends that are starting a new organization here in Uganda. They have spent quite a bit of time here and are hoping to be here long term. They are looking into citizenship and they live in a remote village that is about six hours outside of Kampala. We don’t get to see them often but when we do it is so fun to have a connection with people that are going through the same thing but in a different part of the country.  They spent Sunday afternoon catching up with us at our house and we exchanged funny stories of learning the culture and the language. It is truly a blessing.

Even as we go into this next season I know that the Lord is going to be glorified in every aspect of this Organization some of the area you can be praying for:

I am getting ready to enter into a new chapter and have some exciting news coming up so keep your eyes peeled on how God is going to be shaking things up a bit on this side of the globe. I will be keeping you posted. 
We just put glass into the windows in the guesthouse that is out in the village and hosted our first medical clinic in the new facilities. We saw over 1,700 people in the three days that we were there. On one of the days there was 22 people that had accepted Christ into their lives. That was just one morning after they had heard someone share the gospel message. We are slowly transitioning into that place as you are all very aware of and we are hoping to be relocated in the next couple months. It is incredible to think about how God has worked in that place and how he will continue to use this organization to bring change to the community. If you want to be a part of Empower a Child and get involved with what God is doing here through sponsoring a child for only $35 please visit: http://www.empowerachild.org/sponsor-a-child/list