Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Friends

Last night was ESL class, and I can't even express how much I look forward to Monday and Tuesday evenings when I get to see all of my friends. And really that's what I look forward to the most, just seeing their sweet faces and talking with them for the few minutes before and after class. I know they come to learn English, and I know that I'm supposed to be teaching them, but more than anything I love to love these people. I'm an awful teacher. I don't know how to effectively teach ESL, but I see the progress everyone is making. So this is totally God working through me, because every week they come back. I know it's partly for the English, but I also know that they keep coming because we've developed genuine relationships with each other. They all greet me with a hug, they ask me questions, they ask how Scott is doing, they invite me over for dinner. I am now part of a community and culture that is so completely different than anything I've known and yet I feel so welcomed and loved. And it blows my mind. These people have been through so much, and have witnessed things that I pray none of you have to endure. They've been hungry, they've been tortured, and they've been forgotten and tossed aside by everyone. But God, He hasn't forgotten them, he's brought them to Indianapolis, Indiana and he has allowed our paths to cross, and He told me not to forget them either. So last night, when my new friend Zenebe who is desperately trying to learn English (he's the one on the right and has only been here for a few weeks) said, "Whitney, please don't forget me, I need you to help me". My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. This is it. This is what God has been whispering to me throughout this entire journey. The word "HELP" has always been in my mind. I want to be in Africa so bad it hurts sometimes. I have no idea what I would do once I got there, no plan at all. I just know that I want to help. Sometimes I feel like that's not enough though, that I need to be doing something more specific. Then I think, it's not about me and what I want. It's about others, and if I see a need, then I need to help. I don't need to be in Africa to do that. I have spent alot of time focusing my efforts on getting to Africa. And right here in front of me is Africa, God has brought Africa to me and he has commanded that I not forget that these people are right here, and they need help too. I can't accurately express how much of an honor it is to serve my new friends. That God has chosen me, that He picked me to carry out this part of His plan for the Kingdom. How awesome!
I'll serve my friends here while I wait to be in Africa, and I will do it joyfully because I love them and I care deeply about them. And I know that if I do make it to Africa someday that God will choose someone else to love my friends just as much. Isn't it exciting to dream about these things? To dream about what God will do in your life 5 or 10 years from now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


So I've finally finished reading all of the posts on Katie's blog ( Katie is the girl that I've been following for a while now, she lives in Uganda. I wish I were more eloquent and could use the right words to describe Katie and what's she's doing in Uganda, but for now, AMAZING is all I can come up with. To truly get a complete grasp of what is going on in Uganda you have to read her blog and do your own research and if you're able, go to Uganda. Anyway, I just wanted to share a few excerpts from a couple different posts that have broken my heart.

From Katie:

Friday was my favorite day so far, I think. Maybe it is because I had finally slept through the night, haha. When I woke up yesterday morning (next to sweet Sumini, my favorite sleeping buddy) Margaret, Prossy and Agnes, my three oldest daughters marched into my room. “Mommy, there are children we need to help please.” “Ok,” I said groggily, “where?” They took me to the abandoned house down the road. In the back room were seven children lying in a pile on the dirt floor. They were completely starving and filthy. The oldest is 11 and the youngest 2. I have never seen children so sick, and I have seen some very sick children. They all have severe ringworm, malaria and scabies (my favorite…) among other things. 2 of them, who I am guessing are HIV positive, are the skinniest things I have ever seen; I’m guessing 4’6” 35 pounds. So of course, we brought them home. I have never been so proud of my family as I was when I watched their reaction. Prossy, Margaret and Agnes went straight to the tub to give them baths. Mary combed their hair while Helen and Sumini rubbed lotion on them. Nabayego boiled eggs and made toast. Scovia made tea. Sarah, Joyce and Emily went to their room, sifted through their clothes and picked each of the children a new outfit. In less than an hour, they were a new bunch of children. All bathed, dressed, fed and running around my house. Margaret looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, “Mommy, I love these children.” Me too, Margaret. Me too. This is what it looks like, I thought. We sit in church and TALK about compassion, unimaginable love, revival. And then an hour later, we are still sitting there talking about it. REVIVAL is happening. NOW. Compassion is working; unimaginable, selfless love is real. It is right here. I can stand and watch the children I have loved and cared for compassionately love and care for others. My five year old knows how to be Jesus. My heart is so full. And I know that God fills my heart up in those moments to prepare me for the next one. As I help the littlest girl, “Jane”, my heart broke. My thoughts wandered. She doesn’t belong to anyone. No one will claim her. But God does. She is a child of the King. She belongs to a Wonderful Maker, and yesterday and today, as I lay her in my bed, she belongs to me. "Mommy, I love these children." Today, my family will claim the unwanted and unloved for He who loves all.

One more from Katie:

Yesterday a sweet little girl named Rita came to my house with two teeth that had been completely eaten through by a cavity and were almost completely rotted away. The holes looked like they were starting to get infected and the nerve was exposed; I cant imagine how much pain she was in. I took her to the dentist, and they said they were closed. The dentist was in a hurry to leave and wouldn't help me, but he said I could use his things and do it myself. Of course I was terrified, but I was more scared to think about the teeth not being removed immediately; they looked so painful. I gave her a shot to numb her mouth, waited about ten minutes, tried to sterilize these tweezer things with a match and dug out what was remaining of her poor little teeth. I don't think she could feel it, but my heart hurt for her.
I took her back to my house, made her a hot bath and some soup. Then she had ice cream and slept in my bed under a big blanket. As i tucked the covers in around her and kissed her head she looked up at me with these big, wondering eyes. Unbelievable as it is, she was SOOO happy. She told me that this was the best day of her life, even though her mouth hurt. She said that she would get her teeth pulled every day if she could stay with someone like me. And that made my heart hurt even more.
There are so many children out there that don't feel loved on a daily basis. So many children that don't have a person to hold their hand or rub their back when they are scared and in pain. So many children who don't have the simple pleasures of taking a warm bath or sleeping under a blanket. I would move all of them, ALL of them into my house if I could. I wish I could love them all. I wish more people cared enough that they also wanted to love them all. Sometimes I just can't even believe how blessed I am. I have always been loved, always been cared for, always been warm and well-fed. Its frustrating sometimes, but mostly its just motivating. Sometimes I feel so tired, and then something like this happens and I am reminded that I can give a child the best night of her life simply by making her soup and kissing her forehead. Simply by loving her.
Sometimes I feel so tired that I think if I give away any more of myself I may actually be empty. And then I remember, It is only in giving away the love given to me by the Father that I am ever actually full. And so I keep going because of Rita. Because kissing her forehead and saying 'I love you" actually did change the world for that little girl. Because maybe through my hands she can get just a glimpse of a fraction of the love her Maker has for her. There is nothing better.

Whitney here:
I know people think I'm nuts sometimes, as much as I talk about Africa. But I picture myself there almost every waking minute, and it's real. I want to physically seek these children out. Those that have no one, those that no one wants, those that have lost all hope that anyone cares about them. I want them to know how much they are loved, I want them to know that they are not forgotten. Even just ONE, one child, if I can show this to just one child. Most women probably feel this in their heart, a longing to care for others; but how many of us actually go outside our family or close circle of friends to truly care for those that need loved probably more than anyone they "know". God didn't say, you should feel led before you help the widowed and the orphans. He commands us to "do what is right, help those who have been robbed, rescue them from their oppressors, help the orphans and the widows". (Jeremiah 22:3). I want to do this every day of my life.

Scott subscribes to something called Daily Reading from The Ransomed Heart and every once in a while he'll send me one of the daily emails. So this quote is an example of God's perfect timing. Just the night before we had a long discussion about how much my heart hurts for the orphans in Uganda and how I so much want to be there to take care of ALL of them. The next morning he sent me this email. This was the first paragraph: As large as the role our mothers have played, the word “mother” is more powerful when used as a verb than as a noun. All women are not mothers but all women are called to mother. To mother is to nurture, to train, to educate, to rear. As daughters of Eve, all women are uniquely gifted to help others in their lives become more of who they truly are - to encourage, nurture and mother them towards their true selves. In doing this, women partner with Christ in the vital mission of bringing forth life. There has never really been a desire in my heart to have a child biologically, it may happen at some point and for the first time in my life I think I'm ok with that. But please hear me when I say that I'm ok if it doesn't happen either. I believe there are lots of reasons why I'm here and lots of things that God wants me to do while I'm here and I think that one of them is to partner with Him in bringing life. And that doesn't mean that I must physically carry a child in my womb, that's certainly one way and that's totally awesome. I can just the same give an orphan life whether it's through adoption or just straight up LOVE, how amazing is that. God didn't give us specifications on what way to show love, he just said to do it. Through love, no matter who's receiving it, you can provide life. Sometimes it's hard for me to put all of my thoughts into complete sentences so that those reading can understand. What I'm trying to say though is that my heart physically feels torn in little tiny pieces for the orphans in Africa and particularly in Uganda. I know there are orphans all over the world, but God has specifically placed Uganda on my heart, I don't know why but that's just what He does. Thankfully He's placed Russia on someone else's heart and India on someone else's and Thailand on someone else. Thank you God!! But for me it's Uganda and it's sweet orphans, and I don't know what God has in mind for me beyond that but it's so exciting to think about. I'm excited about the hope that I have of being in Africa some day actually meeting the children whose faces I see in my dreams. I pray that God gives us the opportunity to adopt from Uganda. But even more I pray that soon God will use me in Uganda to just BE with the orphans. I know he already has an idea of what that is going to look like and there is a serious joy in thinking and hoping about this day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where to start

I thought I would get things rolling by posting an email that I recently sent to a girl that lives in Brentwood, TN. I've never met Gwen, I don't know anything about her other than what I read on her blog, but I've pretty much stalked her as well as Suzanne and Katie for the last few weeks. I found all of their blogs through a friend of mine who is Suzanne's sister-in-law. Both Gwen and Suzanne along with their families, are in the process of adopting from Uganda, Africa. Katie is a young girl, also from Brentwood who now lives in Uganda. So, she lives in Africa full time, she runs a feeding program for one of the villages in the area, she is the mom to 13, no 14 beautiful girls and she also has a ministry called Amazima where she has over 400 children that she gets to see on a weekly basis. Umm, she's probably the coolest person I know/have read about. I STRONGLY encourage anyone reading this to check out her blog at and when you're finished reading all of her posts, and trust me, you won't be able to stop once you've started, go to and buy some of their cool stuff. All of the money goes directly to feed the children that Katie works with.
Ok, so here's the deal with the email. I had a question that I wanted to ask about some of the stuff that is for sale on the website. It was going to be just a quick email asking my question. It turned into ALOT more than that as you'll see.

Scott and I have talked alot about adopting from Africa, and we both know at some point we will move in that direction. But it goes even deeper, there is a STRONG longing in my heart to be in Africa, to be among the people, and especially the orphans. I've known this for a long time, but have kept it to myself for fear of thinking I was being ridiculous, or just thought it was a dumb idea. I was afraid of people shooting down my dreams. But I know now that the desires of my heart are not ridiculous, and I will continue to seek even deeper into my heart and into God's heart to find out exactly where he wants us to be, and how he wants to use us.

So, below is the email that I mentioned and little bit of what's been going on the last few years.

Hi Gwen,

You don't know who I am, but I am a good friend of Mandy who is Mike's sister. We go to church together, and I have been following Mandy's story for quite a while, regarding their adoption of little Mia from Calcutta. Through Mandy's site, I found out about Mike and Suzanne and then found your blog as well as which then led me to Katie's site, which I am still in the process of reading every single post, I can't stop! Mandy told me a little bit about how you guys are all tied together and it's so cool how God planned this all out. I LOVE that He has placed you all directly in front of me, and I just wanted to share with you what has been stirring in the last few weeks after reading all of your blogs. This totally isn't like me at all to share my story with someone I don't even know, so this is clearly God and he's long winded today!

A few years ago my husband and I saw the first Invisible Children documentary and my heart was broken in millions of little pieces for those children who have suffered so much and didn't have a mom or a dad to turn to. Immediately I was ready to jump on a plane and go to Uganda to find them...ALL of them, and just stay with them. I didn't know what it was going to look like when I got there, I didn't know what I was going to do, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to communicate with them. The only thing I thought I did know was that I could at least love them and just be in their presence, if I could just tell them that God hasn't forgotten about them and that He does love them. I just wanted to make them feel better. So, for several weeks I tried to come up with a plan so that we could go to Africa, and I was serious! I prayed and prayed for God to make it happen, but he said it wasn't the right time...I was crushed. I am so blessed though to have a husband who truly seeks every minute, to hear what God is saying and he told me that I needed to stay here for a while and find those in my own community that I could love and be in the presence of. So I searched and searched, and I was intent on finding a family from specifically Uganda, that I could help...I couldn't find anyone! Through all of my searching though I ran across a newspaper article about a refugee organization that was headquartered in downtown Indianapolis, just a few miles from where we lived. I contacted them to see how I could help, and more specifically did they know of anyone from Uganda that I could meet? Unfortunately, they did not resettle many people from Africa, some...but not many. 90% of all of the people that come to Indiana are from Burma, but there was always a chance at some point that a family from Africa would be placed here. So, I thought this was as close as I was going to get and if nothing else I could wait until an African family was placed here, so I decided to go through all of the volunteer training. I was immediately assigned to a Burmese family that had only been in the US for a few short days. A 50 year old mother and her 13 year old son. It was tough, we couldn't communicate at all but it's simply amazing what a smile can communicate and I loved every single minute of my time with them. I mentored them a couple nights a week for about 4 months (1 month longer than what the organization asks for from mentors...I just didn't want to leave them) when I got a call from Exodus (the refugee organization) saying that there was a new family being placed here from Congo, and they would like to have a mentor, would I be interested? Ok, so it's not Uganda but relatively speaking it's not that far away. I was so excited!! I met with them just after they landed at the airport. It was a father and his two children, an 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter. I found out after a few months that their mother had been abducted when the LRA raided their village and for the last 6 years they had been living in a refugee camp in UGANDA! We all hit it off from the minute we met, and my husband and I have been living life with them for the last year or so. I immediately found out how much they loved God, and I started taking them to church with us every week. They didn't understand a word of what was being said, but they would dance during worship the whole time praying in their language, and my heart couldn't stop dancing! They spoke no English when they got here, and one of the requirements for all refugees is that they attend an ESL class that is offered by other volunteers within the organization. So, I started going with them to English class every week and my life hasn't been the same since. Each Tuesday we have about 50 refugees, mostly from Burma with the exception of my family and one other from Eritrea and one from Iraq. This is exactly what God had in mind when he told me to stay here for a while and love on those right in my own community. I help to teach the class now, and though it's so tough to teach our language to grown men and women who may not even read and write in their own language, more importantly I get to spend time with them every week and just love them and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to do what I'm doing right now.

For the last couple of years, I have been filled to the brim with God's love for these people, and I know they will always be in my heart. I have seen him provide food when they didn't have any, turn the electricity back on in their tiny little apartments when they couldn't pay their bills. I've seen him send people to me with donations of everything you can imagine so that I can give it to those in need. He's provided my husband and I with extra money that we could use to buy school supplies or take someone grocery shopping. He has allowed our small group to volunteer once a month to help teach at one of the ESL classes. Dozens and dozens of bicycles have been provided for those who need transportation. I could go on and on. I've been in awe of his awesome power! I have also been completely broken at times with love for these people. There is a love inside of me that I didn't even know I could posses. But in the last few weeks after reading about Katie, the same thoughts are coming to the surface again. The orphans, and especially those in Uganda, those precious children that in my mind each have a face, and for the last few weeks I have seen a picture of each and every single one of them, they have grabbed my heart, and I don't want them to let go.

We're praying right now for clarity in what our next step will be. I know that God already knows, but wanting so much for him to reveal to us what he wants, and HOPING that the desires of my heart align with those of my Father. Where can we best be used and what should we be doing? Is it adoption, is it a full time ministry? All I know right now is that it's Africa, and I hope that it involves Uganda and it's beautiful children. Just last night I had a complete meltdown with my husband about how much I HURT (I wish there was a stronger word, but I can't think of anything right now) for the orphans all over the world that don't have a mom or dad. I don't even know if that's the most important thing for all of them, maybe it's just love and if I can provide that maybe that's what they need the most. But right now I don't know the answer.

My goodness, I know this is really long and I can't believe I actually wrote that much. You guys are amazing, and I hope you continue your hard work. I can't imagine what you go through on a daily basis, hearing probably much more than we do about Katie and her ministry. You and Suzanne and your're truly are servants of God. I will keep praying for the Mayernick's and little Josie, pray for healing and strength in her little body. Prayer for wisdom for the doctors in Uganda and the doctors here in the US when she returns. I look forward to hearing about God's plan for her life, because He certainly has something great prepared for her. And I pray for a phone call from Amazima for you guys, that you are able to bring your babies home soon!

Thanks for listening!