Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Surrender

I thought it might be interesting to talk about the word: surrender. I hear this word a lot as a Christian. More so than when I didn’t really believe in anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely heard the word before; but mostly when I did, attached with it was always a great big negative connotation. By nature, I think the word surrender is not really such a good thing.  It's something weak(er) people do.  In sports, or in the game “tag”, or even in combat - to surrender, is basically to loose or give up, right?  Even by definition, Webster's dictionary presents it such as this:
sur·ren·der verb \sə-ˈren-dər\
: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed
: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else
: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

So yes, definitely not viewed upon as the best skill set.  I imagine there being a lot of shame tied to this word based on its definition.  So let’s place this word under the list of weaknesses rather than strengths, right? Wrong.
I’m not really sure how to explain it, other than this is one of those things (well words in our case) where Jesus sort of took it and changed it from being a bad thing to a good thing.  Interesting how that was basically his life’s mantra, right?  Taking things that were once sick, dirty, dead, bad; and turning them to be healed, clean, living, good.   
So, let’s talk about how this transition happened.
As we read about the life of Jesus, we learn that the very essence of the word surrender is displayed in his single-minded devotion to God.  You see, his very purpose, his life’s goal, was to come here to earth to accomplish the will of God his father as an act of love and obedience. (John 4:34).  And he made it very clear that his entire life was in complete submission or surrender to God.  (John 9:4, John 10:25, John 5:17, Luke 22:42) I believe we just read this in the definition above: 'to give the control or use of (something) to someone else; to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you'.
Christ’s single-minded devotion or commitment to the will of God [the Father] was the result of him surrendering his life and will to God ’s agenda. Total self-surrender.  Even to the death. Such surrender meant giving Himself up sacrificially for mankind’s redemption in keeping with the Father’s plan (John 3:16).

Let’s also talk about as Christ recruited his disciples he made it known to them that in order for them to truly follow him the first requirement was total self-surrender. "Calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it". (Mark 8:34-35)
 
So it basically goes like this: 
1. We have our absolute, our creator – God.   
2. Then we have Jesus, his son, who surrendered his life to God - which in turn caused him to surrender his physical life here on earth, all so that we, as sinners might be saved, redeemed. 
3. So in conclusion, we, as sinners who are now forgiven because of this act, are to live our lives in total surrender to God.   
Suddenly surrender looks a lot different, huh?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

God offers us rest and total peace, all we have to do is come to him in faith, trust him, yield to him, depend on him. Admit to ourselves that we can’t possibly save ourselves.  It takes quite a bit of pride swallowing, but in the end it’s almost relieving. A weight is sort of lifted as life is pried from our hands and given back to its rightful owner – God. 

So I challenge you, when contemplating this word: surrender, to face your reality and look at the state of the overall world around you.  It’s a pretty broken world isn’t it? Truth is, we live in a world where bad stuff happens, a lot. A world, where when we're honest with ourselves, most of it is completely out of our control.  And even when we do seem to have some sort of control over a small part of it, somehow we always manage to mess it up.  And I think this is what God is trying to say to us all the time:
"Why do you keep trying to control things? Why do you keep trying to control your life, your destiny, people around you, your kids, your spouse, your tomorrow, your everything!?  How do you not understand that I created you? I created you with purpose and that very purpose is found in me and me alone.  So, give up, surrender, 'because you know that you will not win or succeed' on your own. I love you and therefor if you surrender your life [and allllll of your wills] to me, I will give you so much more.  I will give you everlasting peace, and above all, eternity."

So then, this word: surrender, while it may carry around a bit of a negative connotation in our everyday world, is surely a large part of the pathway to our spiritual maturity and effective Christ-like ministry.

Monday, April 28, 2014

good.

Typically, whenever I am given the opportunity to share my personal faith (Christianity) with someone who has opposing beliefs or no beliefs at all; whether it’s a close sibling, a friend, a person I recently met, whomever; the one word that seems to almost always frequent the conversation is: good. 
Here are some examples of what I mean:

“I don’t really see the point or purpose of religion, I’m a good person.”
“In the end, if we live good lives, isn’t that all that really matters?”
“So and so was a good person, how can you tell me that they might not be in heaven?”
“It doesn’t matter if certain people choose to live out certain lifestyles, as long as they are good people, then that’s all that matters.”

The list goes on…

But I can’t help but wonder inwardly [depending on the time I have with the person, then sometimes outwardly] what is good? What qualifies a person or a work to be “good”? Yes, I understand that good is the opposite of bad. But who determines the two is what I am really meaning. What if one person (I) sees something as good, and another (you), sees it as bad? Who is correct? Who is right? Who is wrong? What if one person (for example, a dictator of one country) sees something as “good”, and another (a government of a different country) sees it as bad? Who’s ultimately right? Do you see where the slope starts to get slippery? Seems to me that good is more grey than it is black and white.

Thus posing the ultimate question(s): Morally, who determines good from bad? Where does one, who does not have Christian beliefs, get or derive their moral compass from?

Furthermore, my question to the person who does not believe in Christianity is: To whom or what do you look to for the answers when contemplating right from wrong, good from bad? And personally, when reaching an area in your life (or maybe even in the lives of others) that is grey and unclear, where do you go, whom do you look to, to recalibrate your compass?

- Perhaps you look to the stars, the mystifying and seemingly never ending galaxies, in pursuit to make sense of the here and now, thus guiding you to what is good, and what it means to be a good person.

- Perhaps you meditate and focus on your inner self and search from within to gauge right from wrong.  You take more of an individual approach and determine what is good for you, and you stop there, because that’s all that really matters to you.

- Perhaps you look around you in the present moment, and maybe even a bit into the past history, and determine from others what is good, and what it looks like to be a good person and vice versa.

- Perhaps you have a religion that was passed down to you through your parents or your spouse that you go to to gauge your moral views. One that isn’t so much a personal relationship but a religion nonetheless, so as long as you just do your duties and perform the proper rituals you are good to go. 

**Disclosure: In no way am I mocking or being sarcastic as I describe these possible avenues for moral judgment/determination.

So, as you can imagine, naturally I have some follow up questions for anyone who might agree with any of the avenues that I listed above:

When you study the stars and gaze into the unknown, are you given answers that you could undoubtedly trust your life and the lives of others upon? When you search from within your inner self, can you be sure of the answers you conclude with to really be true? Can you hold those answers apart from sheer emotion(s), thoughts, personal opinions, etc.? Can you in fact trust yourself to have the absolute answer of what it means for a person to be good versus bad?  When you look around you to others to gauge good from bad, can you be sure of the two without a single doubt?  When you study your religion or religions and seek direction for your life by means of different practices or rituals, can you embrace your beliefs without feelings of personal shame or guilt or condemnation? Can you really trust your religion with your life?

And, as you explore these different avenues, have any of these sources ever brought you personal transcendent and lasting peace? Peace that actually surpassed devastation, or trauma, or grief, or conflict – allowing you to conquer anxiety or depression and overcome certain situations. Can you truly say that outer space, inner-self meditation, the opinions of others, or impersonal religious practices; bring about a true and lasting peace, therefore giving you a satisfying definition to the word good? Or, are you left feeling uneasy and sort of unsure?

Maybe you are thinking, “wow, this is so not a big deal, you are totally over thinking the meaning of the word good.”  But I beg to disagree.  Despite what you may think, this is a subject that matters for our present here and now lives, and this is also a subject that definitely matters for our future.  What about after we die? Surely being good or bad must matter then, right? But let's get back to our present lives. Despite, any ignorance we may have, we still live in a very plural world. A world made up of millions and millions of different, not to mention unique, minds. A world where no matter what we choose to think, individuals effect other individuals.  A world where [human] justice and injustice matters.  I can’t even begin to list the number of travesties that have occurred and are occurring in this world because one (or many) was convinced that they were making a good decision.   

I defend Christianity because I believe that only God is good, and perfect, and true.  He is Lord over all creation, and ultimately, He has laid it out to people (everyone) in writing how they are to live and treat others.  I believe God is our moral compass in life.  I believe that the very God who created us is the one whom we are to abide by and in. God who sent his own son, Jesus Christ into this world to save his people from their sinful selves (nature) so that they would have eternal life after death here on earth.  I believe God directs his people presently in this world and loves them and wants the best for them.  So when we are gauging good from bad, and right from wrong, we are to go to him, by means of prayer and reading the bible, which contains not only His word and commands, but also the very account of Jesus’ life, including his willingness to sacrifice his very own life to save his people.  I know in this life bad things will happen (and do happen) and some questions may never be answered, but that's where trust and faith come in.  We look at the life of Jesus and model our lives accordingly to his and trust in God for wisdom and direction. And through this belief in Christ we attain the Holy Spirit allowing us to be filled with peace that surpasses all understanding.  Joy that is ongoing. Life that is everlasting.   

So perhaps maybe the next time you are discussing your faith with someone, these are also things that you might ponder and therefore delve into a bit further.  What does it really mean to be a good person?   

Friday, April 11, 2014

Satan: Robber of Joy

Daniel 3 (13-29)
Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king.  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.  Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace.  Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 
He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king's counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

_ _ _ _ _ _

Despite the countless amount of talking points that this chapter has to offer, I wanted to focus on the fact that these boys didn’t smell.  {Insert witty comment here}. In all seriousness though, God not only shielded them from what appeared to be their imminent death, but He went so far as to preserve them from even carrying the burning scent of what they just went through on their bodies after it all. Think about this for a little, because I think this is a detail that could totally get overlooked.

Often, when we go through a messy trial or storm (be it a trauma, a breakup, a loss, or just anything awful and traumatic) we come out with a “smell” so to speak.  Something that we have lingering with us to constantly remind us of the bad, the terror, the regret, the guilt, etc.  Some smells come in the form of depression, haunting memories, triggers, perhaps even physical scars, consistent flashbacks, etc.  This smell robs us from any and all joy.  It robs us from seeing the good in what might have been the most terrible experience that we have ever gone through.  It robs us from seeing Jesus through it all and recognizing His redemption and sovereignty. It robs us from hearing Jesus, knowing Jesus; and above all, from praising Jesus.


“… I think there is no doubt that one very great effort of the adversary in the fiery furnace - if he cannot stop us getting out and cannot consume us in the fire - is so to leave the marks and smell upon us that for all succeeding days people will associate with us the matter of suffering and trial. You see what that does - it draws attention to us; and the devil does not mind that, because if attention is drawn to us, the Lord is hidden. Having a smell of burning about us means that the suffering and the trial that we have been through have beclouded the glory.”  T. Austin Sparks      


All to often we become cynical, embittered, fearful and ultimately paralyzed after a great hurt or great loss.  Sometimes we’ll attempt to avoid anything that may cause us to ever become vulnerable again, anything where we might set ourselves up for a repeat hurt.  We’ll quit missions, we’ll give up on going to church, we’ll NEVER open up our hearts again, we’ll give up trusting people or better yet trusting God, we’ll stop reading our bibles and we’ll start blaming God. We’ll carry this hurt with us just as if we are wearing the same smoke-filled clothes every day. Day in and day out.  We’ll smell it and you better believe others will smell us too.  Oh, and Satan wins.  


Instead, I believe God calls us to wash that smell from the fire off of our clothes, or get some new ones if that’s the case! Yes, no doubt we will be forever changed from what we just went through, and some memories will always be with us, but no matter, we are stronger because we got through it! God calls us to focus on the positive rather than dwell on the negative. He calls us to focus on Him not us! God calls us to rely on His character found in His word. God is sovereign and there isn’t anything that occurs where He is not in control.  We may never know why things happen, or be given explanations or reasons for some things, but we can rely on one ultimate truth: He is faithful.


Keep praising, even when it hurts. I know I am.


“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”    1 Peter 4:13


“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Job 1:21

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two of the most disastrous forces that we are most commonly challenged with here:
1. The lack of hope in Christ.
2. Malnutrition. 
Please join me in prayer against these two highly preventable things.  By coming alongside me and praying against these two issues I believe that great things can and will happen in this country.   I know this because a movement is already happening.   And that is ALL due to prayer and the amazing work of our Savior.  Over the past two years that I have been here I have seen the lives of close to 200 children and their moms be changed for the better.  I know seeds have been planted, I am just left to hope and pray that by the grace of God they are being fed daily and are growing.  I feel that it is no coincidence that over half the children/moms that have come and gone through our program are either Muslim and/or come from families that practice witchcraft.  I know that God orchestrates the coming and going of each and every person here.  I know he has a plan for them ALL, while they are here receiving treatment and even after they go home.  Because He is sovereign and He is good.  

So I guess as you can see, I sort of stopped blogging for a while.. It wasn't really planned, it just kinda sorta happened.   I suppose for a little while there, I just sort of lost my "vision" for this blog or what it is that I really wanted to share with people on this thing.  But here I am, back and ready to fill you (or whoever is still left out there reading this thing) in on some updates on my life here in Uganda.

First things first, I should tell you I was fortunate enough to go back to America for a few months back in March.  (In missionary terminology I believe you could call that my Furlough).  It was pretty great.  I really had an excellent time.  Some much needed rest and time with my family & friends was had and yeah, it was just overall really great.  Though it was pretty hard to leave this time around,  I am now back, and for now I really do believe this is where God wants me.  Well, I should clarify, I have been back since June... (again sorry for my terrible ability to write a blog).

Since getting back, life here has been nothing short of pretty amazing.  In just this 3 months time I have seen 36 little lives go home healthy, happy, and fully restored.  Once having been so weak and frail - now strong and full of energy.  Their moms once being so hopeless and ready to give up on their children - now filled with hope and wisdom and knowledge of both Christ and the importance of nutrition both in their lives and the lives of their children.   It has been amazing to witness and experience.  I am, and continue to feel so blessed and honored each and every day to be part of the ministry work that God is doing here in this place.   I'm so happy to work alongside of people so dedicated and willing to go above and beyond to help their neighbors.  I am honored to call each and everyone of them my friends. 

And unfortunately in this life along with the joy comes sorrow.  In my time being back I have seen eight precious lives taken away from this world [in my eyes] way too short.  Some of them, not even being here for more than a few days, they were simply here one day and gone the next.  I suppose I/we will never know the why's or what if's, or what their reasons were for being so sick for so long without going for any treatment...  But we can choose to believe that they were brought here for some sort of reason, even if it remains unknown, and that our paths just didn't cross by coincidence or chance, but rather on purpose and for His good and His glory.  We can choose hope.  Because after all, isn't that what we were commanded to do?

In awesome news God has answered a great prayer of ours and has brought us a woman by the name of Peace!  She is a Ugandan Nutritionist and has been an awesome asset to our team here at SHC.  She has a lot of experience under her belt and has so far been working great with our moms and nurses.  Praise Jesus for Peace! We are still in the searching process for a Doctor so continue to pray for us as we do that. 

In other news, our dairy goat Margie has had somewhat of a tough year.  As some of you know she had a baby girl earlier this year.  Well, due to a tragic event (falling into a pit in our backyard) our baby goat drowned.  Many tears were shed over that goat (and from personally speaking I can tell you a lot of them were my very own).  So awful.  But, Margie has pressed on and has been continuing to produce A LOT of milk for us! Which has been really great and not to mention nutritious!  Recently, we just bred her and are praying for another baby girl.  Fingers crossed. Proper fences have been put up in the yard and I am trying to stay hopeful :) 

I think that's about it for updates.  Again, my apologies for failing to update this blog at a normal rate.  Here are a few pictures to possibly make up for what a disappointment I have been.

Thank you for praying!  Be blessed.




Photos by: Jacqueline Kramlich


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1


This verse has been sticking with me a lot as of late.  For more reasons than I could even begin to explain really.  As I sit here and think over a lot of my life’s happenings, this verse literally applies to each and every one of them.  Everything has its time. Everything has its season.  Everything.  God controls it all.  Nothing is in vein. Nothing is just by chance.  And as I meditate on this verse and reflect on all the words that it’s made up of, He becomes more real, more evident, and my faith begins to increase. I begin to realize in a deeper and more meaningful way that he is right here with me, with us all, governing over everything, ruling over it all.  Orchestrating perfectly with a purpose. His purpose.

This verse brings me peace.  Even if I haven’t a clue as to why something happened or what possibly the purpose or reason could be in something.  This whole chapter in Ecclesiastes tells me that there is no such thing as coincidence.  There is no such thing as chance.  But in turn, there is order. There is purpose.  There is reason. And he is sovereign. 

He is real.  I know this because even in the midst of total devastation and disaster I can still feel his presence.  I can feel a lasting peace that sort of just hovers over the circumstance or situation.  A reassuring comfort letting me know that he is who he says he is and that no matter what, in the end all things will work for his good and his glory.  I won’t lie, in these very circumstances and situations I still feel anxiety, stress, fear, doubt, frustration, guilt; you name it.  Every awful, scary feeling or thought, I have thought it, I have felt it.  I still feel them. But, I pray through them, and just like everything that isn’t true or real, they slowly start to diminish and his truth is revealed.  His peace begins to surpass it all. 

I know that he is real simply through his provision.  He provides. He provides. He provides. I will never be able to say that enough.  Whether it be through finances, through friendships (both new and old), peace, and grace, he has provided for me countless amounts of time.  In these past few weeks alone, God has provided in such amazing and astonishing ways. 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1: 6-8

Through the fire we are refined.  Therefore its having gone through these devastations, these trials, these circumstances that I am found to be even more thankful.  Though these times are hard, still are hard, I will continue to praise him through it all.  I will praise him because he is in total control.  He knows the purpose and reason in everything.  I will trust in him. I will choose to put my faith in him and not in my worries or fears. In him alone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“I lit my love and watched it burn. Asking nothing in return except the lessons I will learn, holding Crazy Faith.”

Crazy faith.
Before this year, before coming here, I would say I never really had experienced this type of faith firsthand.  I had read about it, sure, like in the bible, or heard stories of people going through insane situations or circumstances and never ceasing to be faithful; but personally this type of faith was kind of foreign to me.  Over this past year though, I have come to know this type of faith quite well. And as exhausting, as hard, as risky, and as draining as it is, I am grateful for it, because in the end it’s always worth it.  Honestly, this faith is the only kind that I ever want to have from here on out.  The kind of faith where to the world it seems maybe crazy to be so hopeful or trusting, but to you it seems only right. This is the type of faith that I personally feel we are all called to have. This type of faith is what makes God all the more real. This is the kind of faith that seems to come almost naturally to my friend Renee, each and every time a new child is admitted to be rehabilitated here.  This is the type of faith that keeps this ministry alive and running.

Sometimes, well a lot of times as of late it seems, children come here in a really severe state.  They come so malnourished that you can physically see the damage done all over their little bodies.  You can pretty much see how their entire body has been affected by the lack of nutrients given to it; their skin, nails, eyes, everything… They come suffering. They come sad. They come weak. They come scared.  Some people might even consider this point to be at the brink of death.  And that is probably a true statement for some, considering if their outside body appears to be that damaged, its scary to think what their internal damage might be. 

These types of children come from all different situations. All different families. All different backgrounds.  All different stories.  All that being said, I have come to know that it is not our job, or my personal job even, to judge their stories, to judge their caretakers, or their families.  And as easy as that is to do sometimes, we have but one responsibility here and that is to love them.  Love not just the children we are treating but their caretakers as well.  Unconditionally.  As if they were Christ themselves.   And in doing this we need to serve each and everyone of them wholeheartedly, having faith that is, well… kind of crazy.  Faith, believing that these children will be fully healed both physically and spiritually.  Faith, that after being in our program their caretakers will be changed for the better, and that this type of situation won’t reoccur.  Faith, that no matter what, God is in pure and total control.  Faith that His will will be done here, just as it is in heaven.

The risk for heartbreak, for the most part, is certain working here at this center.  It’s one thing to just care for someone when they are sick, but it’s another to pour out your heart to someone who is so sick that you honestly don’t know if they are going to live to see the end of the week.  I am aware of the importance of guarding your heart, and I am in constant prayer asking for help in doing just that everyday, but it would be selfish of us to refrain ourselves from opening up our hearts to these children just for the sake of avoiding the hurt that might come.  Right? Yes, it would be foolish really because each and every time there is a lesson that we are taught.  Each and every time we are more refined. Whether the outcome is joy filled or sad filled, we can be certain that there was and is purpose in the lives of each and every child.  I know this because I have faith in His promises.  I know this because I believe that what seems impossible to us here on earth, to Him is possible.  I know this because this is what He asks of us - complete trust and total surrender.  I know this because I have crazy faith.

**Side note: Yes, I am aware that the lyrics above are to a love song that is not really all that relevant to what I am talking about in this blog, but it’s ok, because they are from an Alison Krauss song, and well, the song is great.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

So, its that time again.  Time for america. Yes, that's right.. this blog comes to you from the living room of my mom's condo in new jersey.  I have been back for just a few days now and will be here until the end of the month, and then it's back to Jinja, Uganda for me again.  What was once only supposed to be a 6 month short term volunteer trip turned into an additional 4 month trip managing the house at Serving His Children for over the summer, has once again turned into another trip.. but this time for a bit longer.. and this time a bit of a different position. 
This time I will be traveling back to Uganda where I have committed the next 2 years of my life serving as the assistant director of Serving His Children. Yep, a pretty big commitment that is for sure, and quite a scary one when I really start to think about it, but after quite a bit of time in prayer and lots of thought and consideration I am at peace with my decision.  I really don't know what to think when I try to imagine the next two years of my life, but I'm okay with that.  I'm okay with not really knowing what will come of the next couple of years.  I'm okay with not knowing because I know in the long run I am in good hands.  
The last 10 months have been amazing.  And as cliche as it sounds, they truly have been life changing. They have been filled with joy, and although there have for sure been some trying times, God has been faithful and the joy has outlasted it all.  I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given, each and everyone of them.  I'm so thankful for all of the people that have come in and out of my life in my time thus far.  I'm so thankful to be able to work alongside someone who has become a great and dear friend of mine.  I'm so thankful to be serving a God who is so good, so powerful, and so so merciful and full of grace.  
In my short time back I plan to fill it with friends, family, food and sleep. I'm happy to be back, yes I am. God has blessed me with so many wonderful friends and family members to be my support system and I can't wait to spend some time with them. And just as equally, I can't wait to get back to what I have known for the last 10 months of my life.  I'm excited for what's to come and even though there is a lot of "unknowns" out there, I am hopeful.  
I wanted to share with you all some pictures.  Pictures of just a few of the awesome and powerful transformations that God has so graciously given me the opportunity to witness firsthand.  I'm so happy and will forever be blessed to have been a part of these children's lives, to be part of their stories. I hope you enjoy.  It's these very pictures that help us to remain hopeful in hard times.  It's these very pictures that are living proof that our God is at work here.  He is the ultimate healer, all glory and honor belongs to him forever and ever.
thanks for taking the time to read! 
be blessed!

Brian Before

   
Brian After
Muzafalu Before


Muzafalu After
Scovia Before

Scovia After