"When He calls me, I will answer...
I'll be somewhere working for my Lord."
My call is Mbale, Uganda.
Specifically at Lulwanda Children's Home- a home for 90 precious orphans.
Who am I?
I am a child of the King, Most High. Saved by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. And because of this, I have stepped out in faith and moved to a foreign continent and culture.
Born in Texas, I moved to Mbale, Uganda in October 2007 (at the age of 24) and have lived there ever since.
The nitty-gritty:I am an independent missionary, trusting God as my Provider and believing that mission work is a partnership between those who are willing to go (me) and those who equip and send (through prayers and finances-- you).
I rest under the immediate authority of my Ugandan pastor and the LCH administrator. And am blessed greatly by my overseeing church, Midland Bible Church, who help me in many practical administrative aspects of my ministry that would be difficult to take care of while in Africa.
I currently serve Lulwanda Children's Home as program coordinator: organizing and coordinating the programs of the Home, school, and clinic; overseeing sponsor connection and relationships (on the side of the children); and hosting American visitors that come to the Home.
Why Africa?I wish there was an exciting story to tell about "why Africa", but there is not. Since I was fourteen years old, I have been captivated and intrigued by anything Africa... especially the sweet kids. And as I got older, the interest and unexplainable love for the orphans of Africa continued to grow. There is no explanation for it but that my Father in heaven was stirring a love in me for His children across the world.
How did I get to Uganda?I love this story because it is more beautifully orchestrated than I could ever do on my own.
When growing up, whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do I said, "I want to live in a mud hut in Africa and run my own orphanage." Although not exact it is close and God knows best, especially that I would not be able to survive in a mud hut.
As I stated before, my interest in orphans in Africa started as a teenager and only grew as I got older. My plan was to finish studies at University and apply to a mission organization that would then send me to Africa. (I did get to go on my first trip, to Namibia, when I was 20 years old). But, my mom died at the very end of my junior year of University and as I graduated the next year, I didn't feel that it was the right time to move across the world. I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to grieve Mom's death.
God had a beautiful plan for me right after University... I spent a year being blessed, encouraged, and spiritually challenged through a discipleship program at TbarM Camps. I also made some of the best friends of my life. It was truly a gift from God. (I even got to travel for my second time to Africa and hike deep into the jungle of Cameroon). But at the end of this year we all worked summer camp, and if you know anything about summer camp, you know that you only have 24hours off in a week. As the end of the summer rolled around, I wanted to start applying for mission organizations but didn't know which one, didn't have time to do the applications, and didn't know where I would live in the waiting process of working out all the details. The cooks at camp lived in Midland, Texas and invited me to apply for their church's internship. So, I did and was accepted.
Having never been to west Texas, and honestly never planning to, I moved to Midland- where I saw tumbleweed for the first time. From the beginning of my internship I told the elders of Midland Bible Church that I could not commit the full year because I was applying for mission organizations to see how I can serve in Africa. Two months into my internship, I was sharing my heart and where I felt God leading me with one of the elders and he said, "You know we have connections with an orphanage in Uganda?" I knew that the church had been doing church-plants in Uganda for a number of years, but this was the first I had heard of an orphanage. (Again, God is so awesome!) Well, that got the ball rolling and after communication between Midland Bible Church and Grace International Children's Foundation (GICF), I was invited to spend three months working at Lulwanda Children's Home (with the potential for a longer-term opportunity) to see if I fit with Uganda and if Uganda fit with me.
In May 2007, I got on the plane for Uganda. Who knew all that God had in store! But the story of God's faithfulness doesn't end here... When I arrived, I thought I would teach Physical Education to the kids, but quickly learned that these kids don't need any help playing :) But, while I was there, a group of American teachers came over to train our teachers in a phonics program. I sat in on the trainings and it by the end, it was obvious that teaching phonics was a perfect match for me.
Fast forward... at the end of my three months I said my goodbyes, with huge tears in my eyes, not knowing if I would be back. I had fallen in love with the people of Uganda, especially the children of LCH, but was unsure how this would this all work out. There was no agency to send me and GICF had never had a long term volunteer before. After a month of anticipation, that seemed to tick by forever, I got a call inviting me to return to Uganda for a year commitment (Again, God knows best, and after 3 years I am still at LCH).
And the rest is history... (there is so much more I could say about God's faithfulness and beauty in this story, but I tried to make it short)