Monday, December 9, 2013

freezing weather and two sweet little girls....

It's crazy to think that just a week ago, I had just spent the day at a pool basking underneath the blazing hot summer.  The sun that day was surprisingly strong and I ended that day a little more red than anything.  And today I sit in a Starbuck's enjoying the warmth of the inside as I look out out to a light dusking of snow and temperatures that are anything but warm.  Heating blankets, hot drinks, and warm clothes are all sweet things.  It has been such a gift seeing loved ones... it has been a RICH 3 days and I am really excited to have another month visiting family and friends. Just wanted to give you a few updates on two little girls that I have been sharing with you all about.  Little Shakira is doing well.  Recovering from such a huge operation is HARD work... but report has it that she is doing well.   And that is really really exciting! Thank you to so many of you who have prayed, supported, and journeyed along.


Momma Shakira and little Shakira

And little Gina went home to be with Jesus the other morning.  For the most part, we stayed away from taking pictures of this sweet little girl.  A physical body that is not doing well can be so vulnerable and personal and we wanted to maintain the dignity of this precious little girl.  But this picture is perfect.... it captures the sweet personality of this precious little girl.  ( c :   Her story was a stretcher for me... but I am so thankful to know that at this very moment... she is FREE.  Free from the disease that took her and with Jesus.  Shortly before Gina breathed her last, her Dad accepted Christ.   She left this world surrounded by those who cared and loved her and there is hope that they will all be reunited again.  And that is awesome! 

This little girl is FREE and while there is sadness, there is hope.  Hope in the promises of our God.  He is faithful, He is true, and He is sovereign.  And this little girl is very much alive! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Winter Update 2013

Holla! Holla! This year has been such a gift! This link will take you to my Newsletter.  If you would like to get on the mailing list for this, please let me know.  Celebrating the power of our God and the good things He has.... for each of us! Blessings to you all.  The next time I write... I'll be on the other side of the ocean! ( c : 


In just a few hours, I will be hopping a plane and heading back towards my home in the States.  And that is exactly what it feels like.... leaving one home behind and heading to another.  This place has become home to me and I am so thankful to be returning in January.  In the meantime, I so look forward to just being with so many friends and family.  And with hours before I leave, I wanted to get an update to you all.  And it will probably be pretty short.  I'll pretty much let the picture speak for itself. Shakira went home yesterday.  And she is doing great! Thank you for journeying with her, for journeying along with me, and for being such a source of encouragement to me.  

I am hoping to get my newsletter up and posted before I leave in a few hours.  It's a little bit of a battle.  Apple Mac Pages and this blog don't seem to be the best of friends.... or probably a more likely scenario is that my lack of computer savy skills is making it hard to post the pages document to blogger.

Friday, November 29, 2013

a mixture of emotions

I am struggling with words today and while everything in me wants to share more... to bring to the surface the many different emotions that are still moving within my heart, I realize that they aren't quite ripe.  Yesterday was a day full of emotions.  A day of Thanksgiving and a day of Resting in the fact that God is good even when things are just hard.   I knew I was heading into Kampala to see sweet Shakira who was fresh out of surgery and still in the ICU.  I didn't know what other things God had planned for the day.  None of us do.  It's something I am being reminded of all the time.  I might have my plans... but way more often, He has other plans.  And so after picking up my Uganda Drivers license and doing a little shopping for my family group, my friend and I headed to Mulago Hospital.  

A place that I have become very familiar with in the last several months.  Tucked back down a hallway in the ICU we found.... 

a very sleepy little girl.  

and an excellent nurse who was
appropriately insistent that Shakira do some coughing.    
After coughing for the nurse, it was time to rest.  Her momma was right at her side.  
And while Shakira slept away, I decided to assess her heart myself.  ( c :  

And I was just visiting.  A. Deborah, coworker and friend, has been with this
family all week long! Thank you Auntie Deborah! Your presence has been a gift!
Shakirah's little sister hanging at the hospital.

And with a Thanksgiving dinner to get back to it, we said our goodbyes quicker than we wanted to and hopped back in the van.  We had one more official stop before heading back home.  About a month ago, I shared with you on the blog about a young girl named Gina. She had arrived at the clinic very ill with sickle cell complications and a low blood count.  And indeed when we saw her, we knew she was very, very ill. We sat with young Gina and her momma and spent time talking and praying.  Young Gina gave her heart to Jesus and her life was forever changed.  Since meeting her at our clinic, little Gina has been in the hospital.  First, at the hospital here in Kiwoko and then she we brought her to Mulago.  Since then, her condition has only deteriorated and it is clear that her time on this earth is limited.  In addition to the sickle cell, her body is fighting suspected metastatic cancer.  The doctor lifted up a chest x-ray and a tumor was clearly seen.  Leaning close to Gina's face, I greeted her. Her eyes struggled to focus and as they tried, I asked her how she was.  She told me she was fine.  Her small body working hard to breath. I held her head and I prayed over her.  I could feel my own heart muscles feeling the pang of stretches far beyond comfort.  I was looking at the precious face of a girl just six years old with her baby teeth still in place barely able to speak.  I told her in my not so smooth Uganda that God was with her and she lifted her eyebrows indicating an agreeance with my statement.  And He is.  He is JUST as actively present with her as He is with little Shakira waking up from a life-saving open heart surgery.  And so with emotions still trying to find words, I rest in knowing that my God is good.  And so the plan is for little Ruth to be taken from Mulago on Sunday and to be brought back to her home in Kiwoko.  There she will be made comfortable and to be surrounded by those who have come to love her.  And I rest because she is not alone.  Her Daddy is with her preparing to bring her Home.  


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

less than 12 hours.....

And tonights blog post will be probably one of the shortest ones yet.  In less than 12 hours, little Shakira will be in surgery.  
And instead of asking people what's bothering them 

and taking careful documentation.....

And having absolutely no idea of how to help.... 

except to do what comes naturally.... smile...

Little Shakira will be the one receiving care.... she will be having surgery on her heart....   A surgery that will allow her heart to grow and function well.  And while she definitely isn't short of energy now... my prayer is that this surgery will allow her to have energy for years to come.

And they are off.... 

And so is Shakira.... 

And it's very possible that one day soon... Shakira will be the one pulling an unsuspecting child in a "jerry can" mobile.  

Jesus, I thank you for Shakira... and the gift that she is to so many.  Her smiles, her hugs, and her zeal for life.  As she sleeps tonight, I ask that you would fill her with peace and a keen awareness of your presence.  I ask the same for her momma as well.  And as her surgeon also sleeps... I ask that you would refresh his body and mind.  That as he works on Shakira's heart... that you would work through Him.  I rest in knowing that you have Shakira... you have her today... tomorrow... and all the days that you have planned for her.  Thank you for the gift that she is.  Thank you that you are in control and that you have your baby girl....close to your heart.  You have good for your little girl and I stand in anticipation of watching your plan for her unfold. 

And so little Shakira.... God-willing I'll see you on Thursday.... for now may your spirit know that so many are lifting you and your momma  up in prayer..... 

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Closed Hole, a Closed Door and a Healer that heals ALL.

The sun has just set over Kampala and many bugs are greeting the night with great enthusiasm.  Various other sounds are heard as I sit here.  I can hear the faint barking of a dog, people talking in the distance, and the movement of various vehicles.  And as I sit here, I ponder the gift of today.  The gift of being able to be present with Adong Betty and her momma as they received some really good news.  It has been one month since Adong Betty was admitted into the hospital for closure of a huge hole in her heart.  Her momma reports that there has been improvement in Adong's health.  The echo this morning confirmed this.  Prior to her discharge last month from the hospital, Adong had an echo of her heart.  Basically, the doctor used a special ultrasound and was able to see her heart in detail.  And the echo showed that there was significant closure of the hole... but there was still a residual hole present.  Her heart function, the strength of her heart, was also weakened by the procedure.  Still, even with this information, her surgery was considered successful and she was scheduled to come back today for a follow-up.   Today, the echo showed COMPLETE CLOSURE of the hole.  Her heart is still weakened, but the doctor did not seem at all bothered.  She went home with an added medication that will help in strengthening her heart muscles and the plan is for her to return in six months for a review.  Adong had lots of smiles today.  She was noticeably more comfortable with the various things asked of her by the doctors and nurses.  She has grown.  Her trust has grown.  Her smiles have grown.  And my prayer for this young girl is that her other heart.... that her nonphysical heart will also be strengthened in the coming months.  That she would know the love of Jesus who has journeyed with her from the very beginning.          

A careful listen of her heart by a doctor. 

All smiles from Adong! 

Thank You for loving this family with your prayers and generosity!  
And off they go! (Adong is behind the driver and in front of her momma hidden underneath the wrap her momma is holding).  Looking forward to seeing her in six months and keeping you all posted!

Thank you to each and everyone of you who have journeyed along with Adong and her family. 

Little Fatiyah was scheduled to have open heart surgery on Wednesday.  Several of us drove in early Wednesday morning to be present as this little girl underwent major open heart surgery.   We arrived at the hospital shortly after 8 AM.  Surgery was scheduled to happen any minute.  We circled around Fatiyah and her momma and prayed over this little girl.  A short while later, the surgeon came over.  When asked if he was ready for surgery, he said no.  Last minute discussions amongst the team that would be working on Fatiyah left them hesitant to proceed.  To be honest, it was a hard moment.  Saddened for a momma who was anticipating her daughter having a needed heart surgery that would not only help her heart, but also bring her one step closer to having very necessary surgery on her skull.  Heaviness at realizing that for this little girl, surgery is not an immediate option.  And mixed in with the sadness for momma and Fatiyah,  I found myself struggling.  All the prep work had been completed.  Fatiyah had met with specialists and gone for pre-op reviews  and green lights had been given.  And the decision to not proceed on the morning of surgery was hard.  And it's important for me to acknowledge it.   Because it was there.  The worry of people's questions to a last minute cancellation shadowed my heart.  It was almost like my own heart was under the probe of an echo machine.  And a "people pleaser/taking on too much responsibility"defect was illuminated.  And I don't want it.  And so I am going to the greatest Heart Surgeon I know and I am trusting that He will redeem and heal this area of my heart.  Because I want my heart to be as healthy as it can be.  Not for man, not for things, but for Him. 

And I love the fact that God can be working in Fatiyah's heart, her momma's heart, Adong's heart, my heart, your heart all simultaneously.   And His healing is not limited by the physical.  It goes much deeper than that.  And I rest in that tonight... for myself, for Fatiyah and her mom... and for the countless other children and adults waiting life-saving operations both physically and spiritually.

Ezekiel 36:26
"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another heart about to be changed forever....

Good day to each of you! This is a blog post that I wrote for the ministry blog  Just wanted to share with you all an update on these three little girls.  More later... about things coming and things that have been happening. ( c :

Adong Betty a few hours after surgery. 
It is hard to believe that in less than one week, God-willing, Fatiyah will just be coming out of open heart surgery.  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were having our initial conversations concerning four little girls who needed heart surgeries.  And here we are,  celebrating the surgery of one and preparing to journey along with two more little girls as they anticipate surgery in the next two weeks.  It’s been a neat season of watching our God take care of His little girls. And I look forward to watching and reporting in the coming days and weeks.  I’ll be eager to give a report on Adong Betty who underwent heart catherization surgery three weeks ago and is slotted to return to Mulago next week for a recheck.  Her post-op echo showed a residual hole and the prayer is that in these last 3 weeks the remainder of the hole has closed and that her heart has strengthened.  I’ll be sure to snap some pictures and assure her that many are praying.  As for Fatiyah, I ask you to stand in prayer with her and her mom.  She is slated to have surgery next Wednesday.  She will leave for Kampala on Sunday and be admitted onto the ward for a variety of pre-op testing, observation, and interactions with the various doctors who will be working on her. This surgery is the first of two major operations that she will need to have.   After her open heart surgery, she will be slated to have surgery on her skull which has not properly expanded thus allowing her brain room to grow into.  Thank you for journeying along with this sweet little girl.  As you pray, will you pray for peace for her momma, wisdom for the surgeon(s) and doctors that will be working on her, and that even in her young age, that Fatiyah would know the presence of her Heavenly Father.  Thank you.  Shakirah, who is scheduled to have surgery two weeks from today, was just discharged from the hospital. 
Down with pneumonia, she spent several days in the hospital quite a sick little girl.  This is significant for any child, but for a little girl preparing for a huge open heart operation and little physical reserve, this is a BIG deal.  I ask that you would join me in praying for strength and healing for her body.  As of right now, she is still slated for surgery on the 27th of this month.  If the date is changed, I will let you know.  It is a gift to be on this side watching these young girls journey this journey.  We, as a New Hope family, are so thankful for each and every one of you who have prayed faithfully and given so generously financially.  Thank you.  At this time, we have approximately $9000 of the needed $12,000 dollars needed to cover the cost of the surgeries.  We trust in our God who provides for His children.  If you feel led to donate to these girls, you can do so by going to and clicking on the donation tab.  Please make sure to designate your gift for heart surgeries so that the money can be properly distributed.  I look forward to keeping you up to date in the coming days and weeks of how these young girls are doing....and assuring them and their momma’s that they are indeed being lifted up in prayer! Thank you for journeying along with us as we journey along with them with Jesus.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A little chicken, a knife, and dinner!

So I just wanted to share with you all a very traumatic experience of my life.  So traumatic in fact that I am surely convinced that I will need serious therapy and plenty of coca cola! ( c : Well, if that previous sentence wasn't dramatic enough... I'll show you the pictures and let them speak for themselves.  If you are into animal protection/rights... then this might be a post to avoid.  Here goes....

Doing my hair in preparation for the killing.  

In order to kill a chicken... you have to have a chicken 
And you have to have a knife. 

And you have to position the animal just right... was worried about hurting his feet and wings.  

Trying to balance myself and ensuring that the chicken wasn't in pain.  (Talk about denial!!)

trying to psych myself up to kill the little chicken.  Was so hoping there was an alternative.  

But there wasn't.  Dinner was calling!  
And so back to business..... 
And up from business... BREATHE... and prepare... What am I about to do?  The poor chicken.... 

And back to business.... And at just about this moment... the chicken made a desperate plea for life... and well, the rest is history..... absolute history..... 

I surrendered..... Handed off the knife and 


 ran around...... 

and while I was running around... Sam took over.  I mean, there was chicken to eat.  

I gave the chicken an empathetic throat grab.... 

while the chicken died.  

And then I rejoined just in time to.... 

pluck off the feathers.... 

I promise I was careful as I removed all those feathers.... 
 And well.... after all this drama... it was time for a coca cola.

and not just ONE coca cola.... but a whole bunch! 

And that is the story of one little chicken.  I can tell you right now that that chicken didn't taste so good that night.  I mean... as I chewed, I kept thinking of the chicken that had been VERY much alive hours earlier. And well, maybe next time.... I will be intentional about NOT being present at all during the slaughter of the chicken.  

And that is a day in my life.....  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A smiling young lady with a FIXED heart!!!!!

Well, the first of the girls needing heart surgery is out of surgery and doing well! Monday evening, I received a message that Adong Betty was supposed to be at the hospital.... then... for surgery Tuesday morning.  The problem with receiving the message at that time was that I was sitting at the dinner table at New Hope and Adong Betty was still at her home in Kobwin... a 10 hour journey by bus AWAY from Mulago Hospital.  The hospital had called Adong Betty's uncle and attempts to contact me had failed because my phone while on and seemingly connected to the network was not accepting phone calls.... BUT it all worked out.  Adong Betty, her mom, brother, and uncle made it to the bus in record time.  I did a lot of last minute things and headed out from New Hope to Mulago hospital early the following morning.  We arrived and the staff at Mulago hospital were and have been amazing.  As we were settling her in completing necessary paperwork, starting her IV, and getting her settled into her bed... I stepped away briefly....  and in the process, I saw this sign....                                                  
And what caught my eye was the line that said "Riley Children's Hospital".  And I paused... because this hospital is from my state...... a hospital where I had helped in the transfer, on several occasions, of children needing more specialized care.  What a small world!  And though it's not the hospital I worked at back in Indiana... it does feel a little bit of home meeting my new home here.  The coming together of two worlds.  And Riley is a GOOD hospital... and their staff along with medical professionals at Mulago.... worked on little Adong!  It's neat! 

And so much of yesterday was waiting around.  Betty was scheduled for surgery at 3 PM.  It was a long wait for her...and though there were times where she was anxious..... she was also restful and responsive to the care and love from her momma and your truly.  At 3:30, the doctor came in with bad news and good news.... good news being that she could eat and bad news that surgery would be postponed till the morning.  Adong was relieved and I was totally content with the news.  There is a gift in having a surgeon (or surgeons) who have a fresh mind after a nights sleep over one who has been doing surgery all day.   And as I left yesterday afternoon, Adong was drinking and eating.... and smiling.  

This morning, surgery started just a few minutes before 8.  After about 2 hours, we were told that everything had gone well and that she was in the ICU.  Momma Adong went back first and was able to see her daughter and just be with her.  A while later, her momma sent me back.  And what I found was a sleeping girl with GREAT vitals.  
Sleeping off the anesthesia

BP good, oxygen good.. and pulse rate good.  A few irregular beats...but nothing alarming

And as she rested.... I celebrated HIS faithfulness to HIS little girl  He is the God who Heals.

And then little Adong started waking up.  And as she did... the smiles came.  We played with my camera, we played with the little stuffed beanie baby the staff had given her.... and it was good.... very, very good.  

  And then her momma served her some tea.  Laying flat (necessary for a period of time after a cath procedure) can make drinking tea a little challenging.  Her momma patiently fed her baby girl...some tea.   Momma Betty knows that so many have been praying and that people have given generously.  Her face glows.  Her baby girl has been given a huge gift and in the process, their spiritual hearts have been touched in AMAZING ways! 

Thank you for giving so generously.  Thank you for praying so faithfully for this one young girl. Her life will never be the same. 

Thank you.  And Thank You Jesus for providing for your baby girl.  Thank you for being in and ahead of ALL The details.