Wednesday, July 1, 2015


In the summer of 2010, I was asked to be the blogger of Project Hope Worldwide, a non-profit organization began by three people at our church. PHW was about to open an orphanage in Lira, Uganda and needed someone to write about their new journey. I was captivated right away by what I learned about the plight of orphans in Uganda and it ignited a passion in my heart like I had never had before.

Then in September 2010, I was asked to go to Uganda with four other people to visit the project. The orphanage would be opening soon and they wanted me to see it for my eyes and get the stories of the children that would soon be moving in. To be clear, I had been touched by the plight of orphans, but I had absolutely NO desire to travel to Africa. I thought it was something neat other people did, but it was NOT for me. It was too far away, there was too much risk, and I just didn't want to travel there. But, after praying about it and after I received confirmation from my husband that I should go, I reluctantly said "yes" - and that's to put it nicely.

I was terrified to go. I cried and and worried about it all the time. But I knew God wanted me to go so I could not say no. Three months later I found myself on a plane to Uganda. I admit, I did not love it at first. In fact, I didn't even realize until about a month after I was home how amazing the trip was and I even began to long to go back. I did go back in June of 2012 and my husband, Steve, went in the summer of 2011. In December of 2011, our family felt the call to adopt from Uganda and we lived there for two months while we received legal guardianship for our son in the spring of 2013.

If you would have told me in the fall of 2010 that I'd be leading a group of friends on a missions trip to Uganda someday, I would have told you you were out of your mind. Funny how God orchestrates events and brings people together according to His will and purpose. This has definitely been a huge life lesson for me in that God doesn't always call the qualified and He equips those that are called. So this blog is dedicated to my fourth trip to Uganda with five amazing women. We are all so thankful for the support and prayers we have received over the past year in preparation for this trip. It was truly life-changing and we are all deep in prayer with how we can continue to serve God with our talents and abilities and tie in all we experienced in Uganda.

Here's the breakdown of our daily schedule - click on the link to see what we did that day...

Day 16 & 17: Travel home!

Final thoughts (to come!)

Days 1 & 2: Travel to Uganda

Our day to travel was finally here! We said our sad "see ya soon"'s to our families then checked in at the airport in Tulsa. (Sonya met us at the Dulles Airport in DC.)

We flew 3 hours to DC where we met Sonya, 8 hours to Brussels, and another 8 to Uganda. Looong 2 days of traveling. We were getting a little cookie towards the end.

And we made it! A driver from our guest house picked us up at the airport. Amazingly, all our stuff fit!

Time for some zzzzz!!!

Day 3: Entebbe

We stayed 2 nights in Entebbe at the Airport Guesthouse. The grounds were so beautiful - we enjoyed exploring & listening to the sounds of birds & insects. The breakfast was great, too!

Our drivers, Brian and Steven, took us to the mall to exchange our $, purchase bottled water, and eat lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Cafe Java's...

When we were finished with our "errands", they dropped us off at our guest house then loaded up their van with our tubs and suitcases of donations and took them on to Arise and Shine Babies Home in Jinja, Uganda. This helped lighten our load then we were able to go through the donations at a later time when we were at the babies home volunteering.

Day 4: Jinja & the Sole Hope Guesthouse

The morning of Day 4, we had a delicious breakfast of banana pancakes and African tea at the Entebbe Airport Guesthouse - so good!

P.S. - Note to self: short people with short torsos should not wear long, full maxi skirts! I look prego! I digress...

Then our good friend & driver, Francis, came and picked us up to take us to Jinja.

I don't know if I could ever get used to how they drive in Uganda. This is my 4th trip so it is not nearly as stressful as when I saw it for the first time. And I even sat in the front seat this trip, which you could not pay me to do previous trips so I feel I've come a long way! ;-)  We best explain it as total chaos - nobody pays attention to the lines on the road, the speed limit, or traffic signs. And amazingly, we only saw 1 or 2 accidents while we were in country. And I can never complain about our traffic in the States after driving in Uganda. There is no comparison. So many cars, boda bodas (motorcycles), walkers, and bicyclists. Crazy crazy.

It was such a relief to pull into the driveway of our next guest house, the Sole Hope Guest House. This was by far our favorite place to stay and we highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Jinja. Such a nice home away from home.

We were even welcomed with homemade banana muffins! What a treat for us weary travelers!

They served us a delicious meal for dinner every night and the kitchen was stocked with fruits, veggies, and leftovers that we could snack on during the day.

Their avocados are HUGE!

We made our own breakfast every morning with fresh eggs from their chickens...

Our bedroom...

And "fancy" bath...

As you may know, Sole Hope is an organization that holds jigger removal clinics, typically at schools or local villages within southeast Uganda. At these clinics, children (and some adults) are treated that have jigger infestations in their feet. (We had the opportunity of serving at a clinic on Day 10 and I blogged about it here.)

According to their website, "Jiggers (NOT CHIGGERS– jiggers are parasitic burrowers) are small chigoe fleas that live in the dust, and are found on the dirt floors in schools and the homes of many families in Uganda and other similar climates. These parasitic insects cling to and infest livestock, transferring jiggers into homes primarily in rural areas. The female jiggers burrow into the surface of skin that has been exposed to the flea. Once embedded in the body, the jigger lays eggs and creates up to pea-size egg sacks and continues to multiply by laying more eggs. These wounds are painful, and cause difficulties for victims in daily activities such as walking, playing, and attending school. The infection can lead to severe inflammation, ulceration and fibrosis. It can also cause lymphangitis, gangrene, sepsis, and the loss of toenails, amputation of the digits, and death may also occur. There is also a social stigma and shame associated with the victims of jiggers which causes them to hide the problem which makes it worse. While jiggers in small numbers are not deadly, the secondary infections (gangrene, tetanus and other diseases) caused by jiggers can be fatal." After receiving treatment, they get a new pair of shoes and are educated on how to prevent future infestations.  Such a great organization doing amazing things for our friends in Uganda!

But this is where Sole Hope needs our help in the States and even around the world. We can hold Shoe Cutting Parties where we gather with friends and cut out shoe patterns from gently used jeans. The patterns are then sent to their corporate office in North Carolina where they are checked for quality then sent on to Uganda. Hired tailors then make the shoes from the denim cutouts and soles are made from recycled tires.

After we toured the guest house, we went to the back of their grounds where hired tailors actually make the shoes that are given to those who have been treated at the clinics. We got to see the entire process with our own eyes which was so amazing because we have all held or attended several shoe cutting parties, ourselves, so to see the process come full circle was pretty mind blowing to us!

So what are you waiting for? Check out your calendar and schedule your own Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party today! It's such an easy way to help out but makes a huge impact on the other side of the world!