Grace. At Home.

needs

From the moment you get that dreaded email from Shaun Groves all you can think about is two things. The first is how many planes am I going to have to ride to get to wherever it is he wants us to go? And the second and most daunting is, what in the world is my first post going to be from whatever country he’s going to ask me to go to? You fret about the first words. You want them to have equal parts seriousness and funny and catching up because hey, I usually talk about houses and paint colors and BAM…

Uganda.

Nine years ago Chad and I were losing a business and I knew we needed to sell our 2400 square foot average dream house. Sometimes your plans for settling down don’t happen near the way you’ve plotted it all out. Sometimes you can’t imagine things ever going your way. Sometimes you are so deep in your own story you don’t even realize what is happening on the other side of the world.

Nine years ago a mom was raising her baby. Her husband was working. They lived in a village. It was home. Like me they had plans. Then because of rebels and war the family was captured. They were forced to walk long distances. They were forced to work. They were forced to watch as family members were killed. And all they have to remember are a few photos.

family

 

tassel

The well-placed tassel on the rear view mirror sways as we drive on a dirt road that turns into a dirt path that turns into a beautiful peaceful country. We’re in northern Uganda and we just left the local church that doubles as the Compassion center. We were on our way to eleven year old Grace’s house to meet her family.

They want us to hear their story.

They want you to hear their story.

company's coming!

Grace’s mom runs out to greet us when we pull up. Isn’t that what we all do when company’s coming? I like her already.

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Grace and her mother usher us to their back yard. We listen to a mother tell of seven years of horrors as goats and chickens tried desperately to get our attention.

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Mom’s demeanor goes from joyful to somber.

Grace sits still next to her mom and listens as she tells us about how her husband, Grace’s dad was killed, how they were taken captive, freed, and captive again. How rebels cut off her grandmother’s breasts. How people promised to protect them only to chase them away. Not once, but twice.

I can’t help but wonder what I was doing the day Grace’s daddy was killed. What was I fretting over the day her mother held her hands up and surrendered after watching as the men in their family were beaten to death? And how am I even sitting here with an empty bottle of Fanta soda in front of me typing out the words “captured” and “daddy was killed.”?

This really happened. It doesn’t sink in. And still hasn’t.

grace's home

Grace stands proudly in front of her brick home. It has a metal roof. My house has a metal roof too.

Eighteen months ago Grace’s family bought land and built a house with money that a leader of their clan gave them after the sale of the land they once owned when they were a family.

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It’s a beautiful little plot of land. Actually, the word peaceful describes it best. And slowly this Peace is soaking in deep.

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Mom is strong and prays and says she remembered the story of Job during her seven years of wandering, hiding and being held captive. Grace sings at the Compassion center, she has friends, she is a leader.

Her mother tells us that there was not money for a bed for Grace but, through her sponsor and Compassion, Grace has a bed. Grace has a bed but not sweet dreams. She still has nightmares. A little girl, who has lived most of her life on the run, moving around and in captivity now has a safe home and a bed but still can’t sleep. The people of the Compassion center and her family pray for her. The nightmares are less frequent but still haunt her. The war is over but the children are still affected.

Repeat that story thousands of times. And you have Uganda.

 

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This is Grace. You’d never guess from her beautiful smile that she suffers from nightmares.

Lira Day One

Lira Day One

Lira Day One

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Eighteen months ago Grace moved into her house.

Eight months ago we moved into our house.

Neither of our homes are finished but both are serving their purpose. They are providing protection, a place to come back to, a place of restoration. A new beginning.

All homes are fixer-uppers.

All lives are fixer-uppers.

In Uganda.

Outside Charlotte, North Carolina.

And in your own yard.

You and I have the resources to make fresh starts, take a risk, choose a school for our children, buy a bed.

living & life

 

Grace’s mother said she is so grateful for Grace’s sponsor. Because of her sponsor, Grace can go to school, get immunizations and have Hope for the future. The local church checks in on her family who now have something they didn’t have for seven years. Community. And Grace has a encourager from another country who writes her letters and tells her they are proud of her. Every child deserves that.

I hope that the fact that I got on many-an-airplane twice in my life to travel with Compassion is a testament that I fully trust Compassion International and the work they are doing. Our family sponsors three boys, Topiwo, Kim and Jose–all direct results of these compassion trips and reading posts written from bloggers that I trust.

Lira Day One

There are still children, real boys and girls with birthdays on your birthday, and smiles that just melt your heart that are waiting for a sponsor. Click here, fall in love, and find your sponsored child. Our goal for this trip? To match 400 children with sponsors in Uganda.

If you sponsor a child (or children) already, or just started today, want to leave their name in the comments?

Be sure to keep up with all of the stories from the other bloggers at their blogs:

Chatting at the Sky (my sister and YOU MUST READ THIS POST TRUST ME)

Joy the Baker

Goins, Writer

Shaun Groves



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Comments

  1. Hi Nester, You’re absolutely right. We have to put ourselves in perspective to realize others needs. As I wake up every morning and sip my coffee, I can’t help but wonder about all the people around the world. I think about how many people have too much and other too little… I pray. Thank you for sharing, inspiring, and educating all of us. Many blessings to you on this journey. Sincerely ~ Vanessa

  2. “I can’t help but wonder what I was doing the day Grace’s daddy was killed. What was I fretting over the day her mother held her hands up and surrendered after watching as the men in their family were beaten to death?”

    How’s that for a perspective-change this Monday?! Thank you for those words and this whole post. And the picture of the girl with the sleeping baby on her back because THAT is beautiful.

  3. Eileen & Quentin Anderson says:

    George Mwesige is the young boy we sponsor. He lives in Uganda. Blessings on your journey. Thank you for the information.

  4. So excited to see these posts coming in and continuing to pray over the team.

    Compassion is absolutely worth trusting and it is changing lives. Our formerly sponsored daughter in Uganda recently had a baby, which she named after me and my husband. Baby Michelle Jason is a living testimony to the relationships that are possible through sponsorship.

    Seeing as you asked for names, we currently sponsor Precious, Bertille, Ncheshia, Magid and Obwini. We also write to rodrigo, Johan, Elin, Yishak, Yolanda, Meenadevi, Alice, Uwera, Kazihizina, Akimana, Mkapa, Onen and Madina through the correspondence program.

    I pray that we can pour our love and encouragement into these sweet blessings, and make a difference in their lives!

  5. Beautiful. Thank you — for your words, for your action, and for how you care about homes halfway around the world. Honored to know you.

  6. I sponsor Asha in Tanzania. This was a lovely post. It made me rethink some things (yet again!).

  7. This is the first compassion blogging trip I have followed.What a beautiful post for me to read first. Our compassion child is Samuel, in the Dominican Republic. I may never get to meet him or his family, but I love them so much. GOd built that love through prayer and giving.. Praying the people who come in contact with the CompassionTeam are richly blessed and know how loved they are.

  8. Love this post. Thank you for writing it! All of the tragedy doesn’t completely sink in, but you made it–and the tangible hope that Compassion helps provide–more real by sharing people’s pictures and stories.
    We sponsor a little guy in Rwanda and I think I need to hear these stories more. It’s easy to forget both the needs and the impact that sponsorship makes.

  9. So good, Myquillyn.

  10. Myquillyn, this post is perfection. Thank you for telling us Grace’s story. She is in my families’ prayers along with our 4 sponsored children Assou, Lucilia, Felipe and Santos.

    And you’re in our prayers too, beautiful friend.

    Much love always.

  11. And that? Is Uganda.
    Beautiful. Powerful. Heart-stirring.
    And you have made me terribly homesick.

    [Her name is Anna Pamela, there in Uganda with you. And then there is William Mambo. And Happy and Josue and Jackelyn and Lydia and Xiomara and Josiah and Sam and Maaikia and Jonelson and Christian and Hulda and Jean-Thomas and Jonny and Eric and Apriana. And I love you for loving all God's children -- loving Jesus.... Praying with you.]

    • I think I should have put a warning that sponsoring children is addicting.
      ALL THOSE names, Ann! And yes I counted, 17? Seventeen future leaders, family dynamics changers, and diverted stories. If I knew how to make one of those heart shapes on my computer I would use it excessively right now.

  12. Beautiful. Thanks so much for being willing to go and to share with us. I sponsor sweet Mary in Tanzania – a direct result of your words the last time you traveled with Compassion.

  13. Deirdre Hopkins says:

    Freeman in Ghana. Keep writing, it’s so refreshing.

  14. “Repeat that story thousands of times. And you have Uganda.”

    And because of hope, because of redemption, because of Jesus, because a few have decided on their watch they wanted to bring hope, tell the truth of redemption, give from their own lives, Uganda’s story is being rewritten.

    Beautiful.

  15. I have sponsored Saranya in India for almost 5 years. My sponsorship is a direct result of a Compassion Blogger’s tour to India. And the blessings to me when I read this precious girl’s letters are indescribable!

  16. This post should come with a “warning you will soon be unable to resist sponsorship” – ADORED everything about this. Everything. Even the part where my kids wondered why I was crying in front of the computer.

  17. Sarah Ramsey says:

    Ruth in Ghana. We pray for her, talk of her, give to her and love her so much. Her letters leave us giddy with excitement. She is family. Thank you for your blog!

  18. i am in tears.

    good words came out here, friend. thank you.

    i wish i could i would reach through this screen and thank grace and her mother for sharing their story.

  19. Judy Foust says:

    Our Joshua Kuranga is in Uganda, Bubirabi Child Development Center, from Buwalula near Mbale. He has just turned 18 and we have been “family” since he was 5. We wonder what his life and sponsorship is like now that he is 18! How do things change for him and fellowship at this age? It is heavy on our hearts to know if he is well and in community that is as encouraging and loving as Grace’s. We pray for his safety and health and do not hear from him often but he always expresses love and thankfulness to us. He wanted us to come see him as he saw other meeting their sponsors. It was hard to tell him we were not able to come at that time but want to! We want to be a blessing to him!

  20. Florri – that’s her name. The 8 year old girl in Haiti that has completely captured my heart since the moment I clicked the “sponsor” button. What was supposed to serve as a blessing to her has turned out to be an even greater blessing to me.

  21. We sponsor Anthony Gonzales from Peru.

  22. What an amazing post, the tragedy and the hope that you so beautifully put into words. Thank you for sharing!
    We are blessed to have Maria, Allan, Danna, Camilo, Katherine, Loveda, Loury, and Denisse as part of our world-wide family! We were so thrilled to meet Maria, Danna & Allan this past summer.

  23. My little girl that I have been sponsoring for the last 7 years is Brenda Wegosasa – Uganda at the Bugimotwa Child Development Center. Thank you for sharing your stories and taking this leap of Faith. We will pray for your journeys!

  24. We sponsored a child after reading about your last trip. Our little girl is named Candida Rosa, and she is from Nicaragua. It’s been a wonderful experience for our family.

  25. I sponsor two children in Uganda! Otwee Ambrose in Lira and Kiconco Venesse outside Kampala. And I’m afraid to click on one of your links or I’ll end up with a third one. If you see either of my kids, I’d love for you to tell them their sponsor is thinking about them and praying for them!

  26. Very beautiful, friend. I got tears and goose bumps. As I read your post, my six year old came out of his room, his eyes all brimmed with tears, scared of the invisible monster that could be hiding in his closet. And as I tucked him back in and prayed over him, my throat closed tight thinking of Grace and the very real monsters that chase her in her dreams.

    Oh how I love this ministry and the work that they do for these children. I’m so glad you were brave for a second time and you’re giving us more of these stories as only you can. Love you and praying for you!

  27. Sue Darger says:

    My three daughters and I sponsor Elizabeth Kibone at Mufutu Child Development Center. If you have a chance, PLEASE hug this precious girl and tell her that we love her so very much and pray for her every day!
    In Christ’s love,
    Sue Darger

  28. Inspired by your last Compassion trip, we are now sponsoring a beautiful little girl named Jacqueline via Compassion. She lives in Haiti. Thanks for opening our eyes to Uganda, and for sharing your inspiring insight on these trips! ~Kerri

  29. Love this post and love Compassion! I’ve been a sponsor for over 19 years and never looked back.

    Since you asked for names….there’s Portia and Nadege and Joseph and Jackson and Duncan and Stephen and Orm and Ruth and Jazmin and Emanuel and Jerry and Hondy and Yoselin and Veronica and Antoni and Luis and Josseling and Joylyne and Bulu and Ayon and Preeti and Rubi and Lian.

  30. I have a global Compassion family – Maria and Milagros from Peru, Jacquie from Togo, Nahomi and Gissel from Honduras. I hope I have the chance to meet all of them at some point! Its a blessing to be a blessing! :)

  31. My family and I sponsor a beautiful little girl in Kenya named Margrate Mmbone Kanagaa. We love her so very much and she is truly a precious “pearl” which is what her name means. Our sponsorship was a direct result of following your trip to Tanzania as you visited your precious Topiwo. In November 2012, my 22 year old son, who is a Registered Nurse, traveled to Kenya, Africa for 3 weeks on a medical mission trip. He was a part of the “Bonyo Kenya Mission” group who, named after its founder, Dr. Benson Bonyo, travels annually to the village of Masara, Kenya to offer medical assistance to those in need. To support our son in this journey, our family decided to sponsor a child from Kenya. After reading your blog post about your experience with Compassion International and following your trip to meet Topiwo in Tanzania, I knew CI would be the organization through which we would sponsor a child. During our son’s “send off” party, we presented Margrate and our commitment to child sponsorship to him. He was elated. It was a beautiful gift to him. CI is an organization that truly lives out their mission of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. My family is entirely blessed and honored to partner with CI and be a part of this mission! Thank you for sharing your passion for children in need. You are making a difference. I will be praying for all of you on this trip. Beautiful post. God Bless!

  32. She has a bed but not sweet dreams. We’ll add Grace’s dreams to our prayers while you’re there.

    Might snow at the farm tomorrow :)

  33. Wow. My sweet Jariett is from Uganda. I guess I never realized the reality of the war, and what it did to so many families. I’m sure her family has faced terror of some sort. Thanks for the education. If you happen to come across my Jariett give her a great big hug for me! Praying for the group, and looking forward to learning more about the place my child calls home.

  34. Those beautiful faces!

  35. I am just crying tears of … joy? no… compassion? Sorrow? Just emotion, stirred to action. Thank you!

  36. Thank you so much for sharing your trip (and for saying “yes” to go in the first place!). I am especially excited about this journey, as our family sponsors a little boy in Uganda! We chose him because he was born on the exact day as our son. He is our boy’s “twin” across the world. He is four and from the southern tip of the country. His name is Allocious, and he is the most precious little peanut you will ever see. He has a baby (brother or sister, we don’t know which) who was born in June. We have a baby who was born in June. How amazing is that? God is good. I will enjoy reading about your journey and I already love all of the photos! Blessings!! :)

  37. Gussy Sews sponsors sweet 4-year-old Devotha in Tanzania. The fabric we brought back when we went in May 2012? We sewed it into Gussy pouches and committed to providing for Devotha. Beautiful post, my friend. I know these are hard to write. XO

  38. we sponser juan in guatemala and fabrice in rwanda. fabrice just wrote me a letter today.
    i love reading your compassion posts.

  39. Nasim in Bangladesh. She will turn 4 on Wednesday.

  40. Laurie Sigel says:

    We sponsor Aimable in Rwanda. He is in 4th grade and has begun to actually write the letters himself. He is our second compassion kiddo – the first left the program when he turned 18. Love your pictures!

  41. Abel in Tanzania

  42. Elizabeth from Tanzania, because of you and God and a little bottle of blue nail polish. Love you friend.

  43. Evelyn, age 4, in Ghana.

  44. Carla Carey says:

    Omary in Morogoro, Tanzania. His picture and profile were handed to me when I was 22 years old and rocking out to a punk Christian band at the infamous Spirit West Coast music festival. The spokesman for Compassion at the festival said on stage that if you wanted to pick a different child than the one you were handed then you could go to the booth and give back the profile you were handed and choose another one. I was shocked! How could I (or anyone else for that matter) think “I don’t want THIS child, I want a different one.” God handed me Omary for a reason and I will support him for as long as I possibly can. He was 5 years old on that day I received I him; he’ll be 16 in October this year.

  45. Wow, this post is truly amazing! My husband and I sponsor a young 6 year old girl, Apophia in Uganda and I would give anything to meet her one day! Each time I get a letter from her in the mail my whole world just stops for a second and I realize what is truly important in life. Thank you for blogging, I will continue to read!

    Also… I am from outside of Charlotte too! –Matthews :)

    Thanks again,
    Nicole

  46. We sponsor Matthew and Edwin in Uganda, and several more well-loved children from around the world! I’ll be happily following your posts this week!

  47. Nicole Roth says:

    We sponsor Doreen Kyarimpa from Uganda. She is 17. It has been amazing to watch the transformation taking place in her life because of Compassion. Incredible!

  48. I’m in tears. I was in Uganda last summer. I can see what you are seeing. I can smell it and feel it with you. My heart is there.

    We sponsor Sarah in Uganda. I love that country so much. I’m so thrilled to follow your journey. I’m cheering you on and believing God for beautiful things while you are there and for lives to be changed as people learn about Compassion and are praying about sponsorship.

    Thank you for sharing! Praying for you all.

  49. Thank you for sharing Grace’s story with us. A story like this is hard for me to read, because I’m kind of a person who doesn’t watch/read news because I don’t like to hear a heat breaking news. But sometimes we need to face the hard reality and see what we can do to make it better. I’m going to share this story with Steve and we will seriously discuss sponsoring a child in the near future. Have a safe trip, my friend. ox

  50. Jill Baurle says:

    We just recently started sponsoring our first Compassion child. His name is Ambrose from Uganda. We are so excited to be a part of Compassion International and are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us and Ambrose through the next several years! Thank you for your posts – they truly are inspiring!

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