Morning Light.  Valparaiso, IN to Gulu, Uganda & Everywhere In between.
April 4 2014

Back in 2012 I released an album entitled Morning Light.  During the time Austin Hill & I wrote that song, we had no idea what an impact it would bring to thousands of people around the world, specifically young people in a third world country.  A little over two years ago I began partnering with a non-profit organization called Fields of Dreams Uganda.  Morning Light had already been released & I had been singing it in churches around America for about a month before I met a man named Mike Warneke in Evansville IN, the founder of FoDU.  The tune was catchy & people seemed to enjoy singing along with me during worship realizing our call as Christians to, not only be a light in the darkness, but to recognize Jesus being the light in the darkness.  Luke 1:78 & 79 (NLT) says, “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness & in the shadow of death, & to guide us to the path of peace.”  The ‘morning light’ this scripture is referring to Jesus coming to the earth for the first time.  The Morning Light of from heaven was (& is) about to BREAK THROUGH the darkness to provide peace.  It’s an amazing scripture.  The incredible revelation I gained about these two verses is that we are in the same boat as the people of Judea back when that scripture was spoken.  We, Christ followers, are waiting for Jesus to return for a second time to bring forth life & an eternal peace & promise.  While we are waiting for His return we are called to BE THE LIGHT in the darkness.  We are asked as Christians to call upon the Lord & ask the Holy Spirit to provide peace to those who sit in darkness. I pray that we can ask for that peace & receive it so we can bestow a whole heck of a lot of it onto others!
That’s really cool, but there’s more!  During my last journey to Uganda I gained an entirely new perspective on this song that blew my mind & tugged greatly on my heart.  The chorus of Morning Light states, "Your love is like the morning light. Breaking through the deepest night, I hear Your voice calling out to me." It’s going to be difficult to imagine, but picture this; You are five years old. The country you live in is currently a war zone.  You’ve grown up in the war & know no other way of living besides in a country that’s constantly on the run from an evil man & his army of deceiving rebels.  Your family has been ripped apart, perhaps your brother, dad or uncle has been taken or kidnapped from the rebel army.  Perhaps one day your mom left to get water from the well & never came back.  ..or maybe she came back but was severely beaten or raped, or missing a hand because the rebels attacked her & cut it off, but she somehow, by the grace of God, escaped.  As the sun sets one evening you fear the darkness setting in all around you because it is harder to see or hear the rebels coming to invade.  It’s hard to fall asleep but your eyes are so tired…because you’re five years old & played all day in the hot sun of Gulu.  You try to fight your sleepiness fearing you will be the next one they take.  As the evening sets in you somehow quiet yourself & fall sleep.  It seemed like right then, yelling begins to arise. Screams are being heard in the distance, at first you think you’re dreaming .. hoping it’s not real life… but awaken to see your seven year old brother waking the rest of your siblings to move quickly to the bush to escape the rebels who are about to attack the village.  He says, “We must move quickly but be so very quiet.”  You begin to feel tears in your eyes, but remember immediately that your father once telling you to be strong! As you begin to run you pray to God to give you speed.  You ask Him for longer legs to run faster & breaths that don’t make noise.  It seems like you’re running a marathon & somehow have determination to keep running.  As some of your siblings disappear in the darkness of the night you see your older sister ahead & just keep running through the thick grassy bush trusting God has the rest of your family in His hands.  You’ve finally reached a spot with your sister that seems safe.  Though the grass is itchy, you both lay down trying to catch a breath but trying to be so very quiet.  You lay as still as you possibly can to avoid any movement or noise.  Though termites are beginning to eat at your skin you strive to stay strong & not shoo them away. You ask God once again for strength & remember your father saying to be strong!   It’s a night that seems like it will never end.  Thinking to yourself, “When will the sun come up?” Five minutes later you whisper to your sister, “Do you think the sun will ever rise again?”  Laying in the darkness as still as a stick you finally (finally) see the morning light breaking through the deepest of nights.  You praise God quietly that the sun has come up & that you’ve lived another day safe from the rebels. 
I honestly don’t know what else I’d say other than this is real life for so many of my friends in Uganda.  It’s reality for the children who are in the orphanages & partner schools FoDU works with in Kampala & Gulu.  It’s now real life to me because the Ugandan staff I have gotten to know over the past year have first hand experiences like the one above & have shared their stories with me.  Though this is their reality, they do find peace.  They do find joy.  They are being a light in the darkness & praise God for every morning He has given them.  It’s incredible to hear thousands of children singing my song in Uganda & knowing they find hope in words that were written long ago. My prayer is that the healing hand of God would speak over us as we listen to His word & be encouraged that the, “Morning Light is about to break upon us,” once again.  Till that day may be hold strong & be obedient walking in the righteousness of the Lord.  

Spending One Month in a Foreign Country

I grew up in a small town in Indiana.  My graduating class had 54 students & I was prom queen in 2004.  I have a hard working father, mother & brother & know what it’s like to be loved.  Never once, did I think at the age 27 that I’d be spending one month out of the year in Uganda.  Never once, did I expect to have a heart that yearned for the orphaned & the widowed, the hungry & the vulnerable, the healthy hearted & broken hearted people of Uganda.  Never once, did I feel like I’d ever be forgotten.
In the past month I’ve learned to put my selfish tendencies aside & be ok with not having the norm.  I’ve been ok with taking cold showers once in a while, power outages & fighting cravings for cookies.  I’ve been ok without eating lunch, being dehydrated & having to experience things that I never thought I’d encounter.  I’ve met children, (CHILDREN) who have had to grow up so quickly in order to survive & help their families survive.  In the past month I’ve seen & met the most hard working people I have ever come across -- & my dad is a hard working man!!
So now that I’ve been in a third world country for over 30 days, now what?  What have I learned?  What’s motivates me?  What would I like the future to look like?  When do I get to go back?
Now what
Now, I’m back in America, the land of the free & the home of the brave.  If I were honest, I’d go on a rant about how it makes me nauseous to think about getting back into my routine.  To be home in a comfortable bed with a controlled climate, knowing that a majority of the children I have met in Gulu lack the comfort of a mattress & pillow to lay their heads.  To be home to lead worship in front of hundreds of youth groups & churches makes me scared to think I don’t even know what true worship is when I, accidentally forget to pray through out my day.  Honestly, being home makes me feel like I left my other home.  To know what America lacks is not in the seen, but the unseen. The joy I’ve experienced & seen in the Ugandan people has overwhelmed me.  They are always give glory back to God!
How has living in Uganda for a month motivated me?  It’s made me excited to think about the future – not only when will I go back or how long will I be in country next time, but it’s motivated me to think about what I need to do in The States to make people aware of what I’ve been living in the past thirty something days.  It motivates me to book a fall tour revolving around FoDU & the work they’re doing overseas.  It makes me want to share my heart with you & hope that you’re moved by the work The Lord is doing all around the world.  If I don’t motivate you to impact the country of Uganda, my prayer is that I’d motivate you to impact your home, your schools, your church & your community.   Hope is needed EVERYWHERE.  
Future Hope
If I could plan my life in an instant, I would’ve stayed in Uganda for 5 more months.  There’s a culture there that I cherish, people whom I love & a healing that’s taking place in that country that somehow heals my heart as well.  for the better. 
My Return
When is my next trip to Uganda? I am uncertain when my next flight to Uganda will happen, but I am hoping that I can go back within this year.  I may have the opportunity to do so in July or December.. but I must be diligently praying for this & that the funds would come in for a flight over! In 2015 I’d love to take a team with my music ministry over to be a part of this experience.  If you’re interested in dates, please email me at  

Day 24  To the North Once More
March 11 2014
Only having a short time in Gulu last week opened my eyes to a new challenge; building trust.  Fields of Dreams has only been partnering with these schools in the North for a month & a half & children aren’t running up to our team laughing & wanting to hold our hands.  The trust that we now have with our Kampala schools has not been built in the North yet.  There aren’t over 1,000 students singing my song & there aren’t 1,000 begging to hold their hands. 
As our March team drove up to Gulu from Kampala on Monday afternoon, it was exciting experience the drive through a team member’s eyes who had never taken that route before.  The road to Gulu is bumpy, dusty & emotionally draining as you see young children (as little as age 5) walking on a busy road with vehicles flying by at 60 mph.  These children are typically on their way to lunch, walking home from school or pushing a bicycle with gallons upon gallons of water to a destination unknown.  At the beginning of the drive I decided to spend time listening to music to pass time.  I made the choice of listening to a band called All Sons & Daughters, I had a new album from them & hadn’t had the chance before leaving The States to give it a good listen.  This particular drive was NOT the best time to listen in.  ..Or was it?  As I listened to songs talking about the least of these & how hope is coming & is here, I began to think about the changes & impacts Fields of Dreams is making as an organization.   FoDU’s slogan is, Hope is a Basic Need.  ..And they’re providing hope in every area they are blessed to do so. 
Today we visited two primary school, Koro & Gulu P.T.C.  We had the opportunity to observe classrooms & go over what a Dream Plan is with the older students.  When we split up to observe classrooms I quickly reserved the right to be with the little ones on campus & began my visit in the P2 classroom.  They welcomed me & I sat in the back with my friend Denis (FoDU’s Program Manager for the North) & the students counted from 200 to 230 in their native tongue.  These students were eager to learn!  The teacher asked students to write on the board numbers she’d call out, & almost every hand went up.  It was encouraging to see enthusiasm within these classroom walls.   The students were extremely focused & respected their teacher as well.  Me, being a 27 year old American, kept getting distracted by the wind slamming the door shut, the windows doing the same, the flies & the heat increasing throughout the hour & seeing Shane walk in the classroom with a video camera.  None of these distractions however phased the students.  They continued to keep a listening ear & seemed motivated to participate. 
One thing I struggled with as I observed the next classroom was the lack of resources on site.  The P1 teacher, after warmly welcoming me, did a few reading exercises on the board, (once again, in their native tongue – I didn’t realize they started teaching in English at P3) the same enthusiasm filled these students minds as the P2 students.  The teacher asked the children to get their notebooks out & so many of them were lacking pencils.  A majority of the students were mumbling about something & the teacher looked at me & said, “They are complaining about their pencils!”  I looked over at the student next to me & the pencil was just a little nub.  The P1 class was much bigger than the P2 class.  I think there were about 90 students in P1 compared to maybe 55 in P2.  The rooms were about the size of my living & dining room in my apartment, which are not that large.   
So these evening, as I sit in a dark room because the power is out in Gulu, I am left wrestling with the question of how can I continue to provide hope in Uganda.  How can I & my occupation of being a full time musician help provide hope to the hopeless, to the hungry, to the hurting, & to the one who cannot yet trust because of this country’s past.  I’m ecstatic to be in the North once again, to be challenged, blessed & see hope remain. 
Day 20  100 to Uganda, Kampala, Uganda.
March 7th 2014
Fields of Dreams Uganda impacts children through the vehicle of soccer & education.  Throughout the last (almost) 2 years I’ve been partnering with the organization I’ve had the opportunity to talk to YOU about the people here, the children I meet, the widows we support & all the good that FoDU is doing overseas.  During that process I’ve collected funds to help me travel to Uganda, collected funds to support our staff & collect soccer gear to bring to the students we impact.  Mike Warneke (FoDU’s Executive Director) has collected about 600 soccer balls, countless team jerseys & thousands of pairs of socks, shin guards…the list goes on. 
The problem with collecting all of this gear is knowing the ridiculous price it costs to purchase a shipping container to get all of the donated gear to Uganda.  Mike said a shipping container can cost between $6-8000!!! you know how many orphans & street kids FoDU could put in school with that amount of money?? (over 400 for sure!)
So what?  Mike has a garage full of soccer gear that’s waiting to get to Uganda, what’s the big deal?’ll get there eventually right?? The big deal is that YOU could come to Uganda for 10 days & experience what I’ve experience. You could meet people who I dearly love who have become family to me.  You could encourage children to follow their dreams & listen to the hopes of the future.  You could follow the calling of Christ & care for the orphan & the widow.  Yes, you might be really uncomfortable on two eight hour flights there & back.  Yes, you might be hot & dehydrated a couple days.  And yes, you might come to this beautiful country & not want to leave in just 10 days.  But what’s the big deal?  Would you like to help me, help Fields of Dreams get all the donated soccer gear to Uganda within the next year?  This will help FoDU not have to purchase 38 pair of cleats on a whim because we didn’t have room in a suitcase to bring them.   It kills Mike when he has to allocate petty funds to something he has in his garage.  The way we are getting gear in country now is by having each person attending a trip bring two 50 lb. suitcases full of soccer gear (packed by Mike, delivered to you at the airpot).  Having teams of only six or seven people at a time is an extremely long process to get the amount of gear that’s stored away in Mike’s garage. 
My challenge:  To get 100 people to Uganda!  …that’s 10,000 lbs of soccer gear! Pray about coming to Uganda with me in 2015.  Start putting aside money weekly for your trip & fundraising won’t be so intimidating.  If you’re interested in coming with me next year, please email me potential dates that would work out for you at  If you have a few dates in mind, please send them all! 
Thank you for your continued ear, hearts & prayers as I continue figuring out how to impact the people of Uganda & YOUR lives as well!  

Day 18 The Gift of Remembering, Entebbe Road, Kampala, Uganda.
March 5th 2014
If you met someone a year ago, would you remember what they said?  Would you remember that they encouraged you to keep striving for your dream? Would you be that person encouraging or the one listening & receiving?  I can barely remember what someone told me the day before yesterday.  Sure, some people have impacted me with wisdom & it’s stuck with me, but a lot of times I either struggle with remembering, or listening to begin with.  Ugandan’s are not like me.  They do not forget.  I’m certain they have distractions just like me & forget occasionally, but it’s very seldom in the people I know here, they have a gift of remembering.   
Today I had the opportunity to visit the home of a widow we partner with named Hannifah.  Hannifah & her family make all of our cloth products.  Our team was just expecting to meet her at her shop to collect a few items she had to finish for us before we head back to The States, but we were fortunate & honored to be blessed with lunch at her home.  The ladies had been working all morning cooking a chicken & rice dish that was delicious.  We were able to relax & chat about everything & anything.  There were a few small children around which made the afternoon a delight! Hannifah brought out the oven mitts she had been working on – it was cool to see the product unfinished – It was great to see the process of how the mitt was made & the care, time & effort Hannifah puts into making our products.   

Hannifah is in yellow between me & Mike! 
Hannifah’s nephew Abdul was home that afternoon on holiday from his University & he remembered Mike encouraging him to continue his studies to become a physician.  Mike’s kind, edifying words helped Abdul continue his education.  Mike had not seen him for a year though he’d been back to Uganda twice in that time & it was encouraging to me & hopefully Mike to know how impacting his words can be.  

Day 15 A Day at Rose’s Home.  Kampala, Uganda. 
March 2nd
Last week we had the opportunity to visit Acholli Hill.  The king of Uganda designated a portion of this hill for widows to live that came from the northern region of Uganda when fleeing from the war.   We arrived at Rose’s home where around 10-15 women were waiting for us to arrive.  I remember Mike telling me last Summer that when he went to visit Rose for the first time it was the first occurrence he had in Uganda where he had to walk over raw sewage to arrive at a friends home.  When we arrived, I noticed a little trickle of something streaming down the alleyway, but wasn’t grossed out because I was somewhat expecting it. 
We had an amazing welcome from these ladies, they warmly welcomed us with songs.  As we sat on the porch, some of the women shared their stories of escaping the war zone in the north.  Many had been rapped & kidnapped to be slaves of the rebels, some reminisced with stories of their uncles & family members being taken away to become soldiers, & some recalled the atrocious attacks on their homes & being forced to manipulate their own relatives.  This was a day I had to fight back tears.  Listening to their stories, listening to 
my friends tell these stories, was surreal.  I’ve watched movies & documentaries about other people facing the rebels & villages being destroyed by the LRA but these women, our national director, our project manager in the north, my dear Ugandan friends, have faced evil in the eye & have seen much destruction.  To hear these treacherous stories & to see the joy they have, blows my American mind!! To see the grace of The Lord living amongst all of these people here astounds me.   
Shane, Mike & I went inside to visit with Rose for a bit & gave her a few gifts that she adored.  We sat in her small room that was furnished well with two plush chairs & a couch & chatted with her about her life.  We were waiting for her son, Billy Graham, to come home from school, but instead of waiting another 45 minutes for him to walk home in a hot stuffy room.. we decided to walk in his shoes & pick him up.  We walked down the hill to the bottom, stepping from rock to rock to ensure we weren’t stepping in sewage to arrive at his primary school.  Walking through the small village was what I’d been wanting to experience since visiting Uganda last year.  The reality of the poverty, walking on uneven ground, through smoky piles of burning garbage & smelling raw sewage was an intense journey.  We’ve been somewhat joking about the ‘latrines’ at schools we partner with being ‘the aroma of Christ’, but in reality, it 100% is.  Jesus would be hanging out directly in the path of where Billy has to walk every day to school at 6 am & walks home on that same path every day at 4:30.  Through the muck & filthiness of it all.  The pride these people take in their homes is astounding though, seeing women sweep their porches & streets with sticks to make sure they look their best is reassuring of their pride & joy for where they live. 
The widows we partner with earn a living by making jewelry & handmade products.  Fields of Dreams & my music ministry support these women & their families by purchasing their beaded work.  By investing in these women, it helps to provide food for their families, put their children in school & support their community.  FoDU’s hope for the future is to purchase land for these women to live.  At any moment the government can disperse these women leaving them no place to live, eat or sleep. Our hope is to have enough land to have a football pitch for tournaments, have a secondary school & have a place for these women to live & sell products.  Our dream is very big, but I am thankful we serve a big God who knows our dream & provides the grace to dream even bigger!! 
Day 13  A Day at the Village, The Toolit’s Residence in Pader, Uganda.
February 28, 2014
Oh how I wish everyone reading this could experience what I did today.  Jonathan, Mike, Shane, Denis, Frank & I got in the van around 9:30 am to set out to a village named Pader where Denis’ family lives.  Before embarking on our trip, we got the Toolit family some sugars, salts & oils from the market & Denis was kind enough to buy us all a cup of fresh fruit for the two in a half/three hour drive.  As we were driving along the dusty bumpy road, Shane didn’t think we should call it a road.. J we drove by hut after hut & I was imagining what our day was going to look like. 
As we traveled through small villages Denis pointed out a small town named Odek - - this was the village where Joseph Kony, the LRA chief commander grew up & lived. It was where the war began.  As you know from my blog from yesterday, the northern region of Uganda is different than the south.  There’s a darkness behind every eye you gaze into.  They’ve seen & experienced more than I could ever imagine.  Our team got to hear some of the Toolit’s experiences with the war this afternoon. 
We arrived at the end of the Toolit’s long drive way & about eight of his siblings out of twenty were standing there waiting to greet us! We hopped out of the van & greeted each one of them then proceeded to walk up the drive to see beautiful huts & warm welcomes from the rest of his family.  They were so welcoming.  It was an honor to be in their home. 
As soon as we walked into the hut it felt 20 degrees cooler, it’s amazing how the architecture & the materials used to create these homes can make a hot day in Pader feel cozy.  Denis introduced our team to his family, his siblings came in randomly to shake our hands & greet us properly kneeling & saying ‘you are welcome’.  Denis & his dad, Patrick along with some of his brothers told us stories about the village & where they used to live before the war.  They also told us stories about how amazing God is for protecting them & saving them during the reign of the LRA in their village.  Throughout the afternoon the men continued talking about education & football & I excused myself to see if I could check out the kitchen! I walked into another hut just down the way & it was so toasty inside!! The women had been preparing a meal for us all morning & it smelled delicious! I attempted to help out… but Denis’ sister Jackie said I needed practice J to come!  The food at the village was the best I’ve had thus far!!
At the end of our time with the Toolit family, we had cake from a local shop in Gulu (it traveled pretty well in the sweltering heat & bumpy drive, it still tasted AMAZING..esp after not having many sweets for two weeks!), & gave Denis his birthday present which consisted of two new football jerseys.  Then the Toolit family wanted to give Mike’s wife a present for her birthday – They gave us a live goat!! .. & peanuts.  Though we cannot take the goat back to The States with us, the winner of the FoDU tournament in Gulu will receive him! His name is Asher.  J The Toolit family then gave Denis a present for his birthday & they gave him a live chicken!! We named her Etta J If I had the ability to tweet on my way home from the village it would’ve been something like,  “In a van with a chicken & a goat. #welcometouganda”  Ha! ..or something more clever I’m certain.   Our team gave the Toolit family the gifts we brought & I was so excited that they received the handmade gifts I brought them with such gratitude!! I gave Denis’ mom, Jenny J a handmade scarf & she absolutely loved it!! She made that excited African noise that’s really high pitched that I should try one day while in country!... then embraced me with a gracious hug.  The family was so welcoming. 
It was quite humbling to experience a family who lives in a village on the outskirts of Uganda.  It was amazing to see how they all worked together.  It was stunning to see how the Toolit family had brought in people to their family who were struggling physically who are taking care of them in their small village.  It was an honor to be part of their family for a day & see how key Christ is in their lives.  It was a great day in the village of Pader & I hope to go back very soon!! 

Day 12 Hope is a Basic Need.  Gulu, Uganda
February 27, 2014
Yesterday our small team of five journeyed to Gulu, a northern city in Uganda that is approximately a 6-7 hour drive from Kampala on dusty, bumpy, half put together road.  Since ‘Frank the Tank’ was in the drivers seat, I was fortunate to catch a 20 min nap before we stopped for a well needed beverage.  The further north we drove, the hotter it got & the dryer it gets.  As soon as we crossed the Nile River, we were in the north region, there were baboons crossing the road & eating bananas & there was a different feeling in the air. 
Today we went to five partner schools to hand out training jerseys, socks, cones & soccer balls.  Each of these schools are government run with a much bigger population in size than what we work with in the south.  We went to two schools with over a thousand students! As we walked onto 3 of the 5 schools, I could tell a difference between Gulu & Kampala.  If you know anything about Ugandan history, the people in the North have definitely faced much torture & turmoil.   The students at each campus don’t run up to you to hold your hand or touch you because you’re different.  They don’t waive excitedly because you are visitors.  They somewhat turn away out of fear or just lack an expression on their faces.  They’re not used to holding a hand, esp a strangers hand. 
Tonight we went to an Americanized restaurant (I ate a burger & fries & it was delic!) & our Gulu staff shared a bit of the history that took place in Gulu, specifically some of the students on the campus we visited today.  Florence, our education director in the North mentioned that the children don’t want to open up because they are afraid we might take them & hurt them or make them do something they don’t want to do.  It was a good reminder for me to hear tonight because I was attempting to give the students high fives & encourage them to hold my hand  -- but they haven’t built that trust with me yet.  It was only 6 years ago that the war ended in Gulu.  SIX YEARS.  Which means most of the footballers we’re working with at the primary schools that are in P6 & 7 were most likely kidnapped to fight for the LRA – forcing these young men & women to murder there own family members, eat dead carcasses or chop off someone’s fingers & hands when they were just children – who are still children. 
The stories we’ve heard from friends here in Gulu in the past & tonight are daunting.  One of our friends couldn’t even start his story about his cousin who past away in the war because he was already begun tearing up.  I have realized how much need there is for hope here.  Coach Walter said that many of these students do not believe in God because of what they’ve witnessed & been a part of here.  These kids were faced with evil straight in the eye.  I pray the King of Kings & Lord of Lords would open up huge doorways for us to impact these children with Truth by loving them as they are & encouraging their dreams for their future through football & education.  Hope is a basic need & praise God that Fields of Dreams Uganda has moved north to Gulu to install a hope for the future where, at the moment, it cannot be found.
To support the work of Fields of Dreams Uganda please donate on my stay classy sight:

Day 8  My Second Time to Uganda; Kampala Region, Uganda.
February 23, 2014
Arriving in Uganda for the second time is a vast difference from the first visit.  I remember being so anxious about everything; what to wear, what to eat, should I try this, can I do that… etc.  I felt nervous & scared of the unknown.  Unsure of my surroundings I was uncertain of what would come next.  Riding in the van with worry or distraught by the poverty surrounding me questioning my location & reason for getting out of my comfort zone. Fearful every time I saw a mosquito or bug & not impressed when I’d walk away with my muzungo hands a shade of dirty. 
Oh what a difference being in Uganda is the second time around! This time I walk with a different mind set, perhaps with a little more compassion which I am in desperate need for back home.  I am not afraid that any foods are going to mess with me & am not concerned when a mosquito bites me .. I probably have ten bites & I’m kind of proud of them (ha).  Though I’ve popped a few pepto tablets, my stomach has been good to me.  I think just knowing what to expect (for the most part) is helpful for my mind & heart to be prepared for where God desires me to be & that excites me!
Our February team left last night to head back to The States & it is only me, Shane & Mike left in the house.  It was very quiet when we returned home…but I am excited for the adventures to come! 
Prayer Request:  Please pray we do not get in a slump because our American friends have left us! May we continue to laugh, share & love on the people of Uganda & with each other as our team remains small for the next 12 days.  Please also pray for safe travels to Gulu (northern Uganda) in the middle of this week! 

Day 5 The thought occurred;  Blessed Hope, Uganda.
February 18th 2014
Day two at Blessed Hope Academy of Champions was refreshing.  One of the missions on this trip is to make children aware of their medical needs & how to treat them with first aid supplies.  The children had a great response to our nurse team & were very excited to receive the medical supplies given to their school.  So many of them on campus wanted to be doctors or nurses & they were quite inquisitive! If you’d like to read my roommates blog about a little girl who wants to be a nurse, go here!
I started the day just where I wanted to be, in the baby classes!! (like our pre-school classes).  Our team split up on campus & as I walked into the classroom the children started clapping to welcome me.  When the children settled down a little, the teacher asked if I had something to share or teach the students.  I said no, I am just here to observe… but that doesn’t really fly in Ugandan culture J I noticed the letter S on the board & the word & picture for sun, so I said I had a song for the class & taught them Oh Mr. Sun, with hand motions of course.  …looking back, I probably could’ve used a different song, because though everyone back home in Indiana probably wants the sun to shine on them… these kids should try to keep in the shade! Though I was more of a distraction than anything, it was fun to sit in with the little ones till 12:30 when their classes dismissed.  The teacher told me they only come to school from 8 – 12:30 then go home for lunch.  As they dismissed the 20 something of them started walking back towards the soccer pitch we went to the day prior.  Most of them lived down a road not too far from the orphanage, however, it broke my heart to see them walking alone.  I wanted to walk with them to see where they were going, how far they were walking… no one seemed to give it a second thought that they were traveling by themselves.  Some of the little ones come back to school for lunch after they change their clothes & sleep there, while others stay home with their parents or grandparents or whomever they are staying with. 
Since the baby class dismissed early, I wondered into the P7 class where they were doing math.  …not my strongest subject.  P7 is the highest grade for primary school.  They welcomed me & told me they did not have a teacher today because they were at a meeting.  It was impressive to see the students carry on in their studies without any direction what so ever.  They asked me to write a few math problems on the board & had me do a couple…luckily they were easy & I got a check mark on the board for passing! ..after someone got a check everyone clapped & were encouraging.  School is the same in America as it is in Uganda… they learn pretty much the same things, they get bored, distracted, however the children of Uganda, at least the orphans we meet, have such a respect for each other & their teachers.  They care for each other, because they’re the only ones they’ve got.  If someone gets a question or problem wrong they help each other out, JaJa Pat (Mike’s mom, JaJa means grandmother) said in the class she observed the teacher drew something wrong on the board & a student corrected her.. no one laughed at her or made fun of her for making a mistake, she just fixed it, said thank you & carried on! 
As the day went on, we distributed the first aid supplies, ate a delicious lunch under a beautiful tree that included Nile Perch, chipati bread & Mirinda, & had time to sit with the students & love on them while we watched the football players train.  Blessed Hope is a beautiful location.  It’s in the country about an hours drive from our lodging & the views on campus are incredible.  There are hills of green off to the distance with trees all around.  As I was sitting with a lot of the younger students watching the girl footballers play, a little girl about 3 years old sat down by me & put her head on my knee.  As I sang & laughed with the other 7 or 8 children surrounding me, the little girl ended up falling asleep with her little head on my leg.  While sitting & being love to these students, overlooking the green country side, the thought occurred to me; why would I ever want to go back to America?  I thought about all the nonsense conversations I have with a lot of my friends & how unimportant they seemed at that moment (the conversation, not friends).  I wondered how anyone in my situation couldn’t feel that way or think that thought.  To love on children who yearn for it.. they don’t need me to comfort them by any means, they’re all doing just fine on their own.. but knowing how much love I could be pouring out to them on a daily basis if I did live in country tore my heart a little.  I’m happy to have twenty something more days left in Uganda, to enjoy & experience the beautiful people here.  I cannot wait to see what the Lord shows me in the next days.  Tomorrow we are going to Jinja to relax & just be together with our team & do a little shopping!  

AFRIpads; Kampala, Uganda

February 16, 2014
The Fields of Dreams Uganda team set out early this morning to venture to one of our partner organizations, AFRIpads.  We joyfully greeted our favorite drive Frank &  piled into our van.  AFRIpads makes cloth sanitary pads & thanks to a lot of YOU, every teen girl at New Kabaale Bussega & Blessed Hope Academy will receive a hygiene kit that will give them a years worth of supplies! That’s over 200 girls plus the schools staff!!
As we arrived at New Kabaale we joined them for their church service.  A 17 year old young man preached about jealousy.  He used the example of being jealous of another student because they have a Bible & you may not.  He was telling these children to not convent one another’s things.  It’s so great to see the Word of God living & breathing & being applicable to lives all over the world.  After going to the students worship service, we ate lunch which, was a delicious beef soup with rice & Irish potatoes, including one of my favorite soft drinks, Mirinda! After lunch we sat down one on one with an individual to go over goal setting & future planning aka the Fields of Dreams Uganda Dreams Kit.  These kits assess the students skill level & finds out their interests so they can set achievable goals & reach them. 
The afternoon was the most impressive part of the day.  About 75 older girls at the orphanage met at the chapel to receive the AFRIpad’s hygiene kits.  These girls were embarrassed, like any teenager would be to talk about their menstruation cycle.. especially with male teachers in the room.  But once the spokesperson from the company broke the barrier & showed how important it was to learn how to keep they’re bodies clean, the girls were super attentive.  Throughout the talk we learned that some girls used Always but they’re so expensive that they cannot afford them on a monthly basis. Some of the girls used newspapers or leaves to use causing infection & embarrassment which lead them to miss school for days.   We also discovered that girls in different regions of Africa have used cow dung patties as pads to absorb blood during their period.  How unfortunate & uncomfortable. 
When we told these girls that we were giving them a hygiene kit with 8 reusable pads, instructions on how to care for them, a bucket to wash them in with soap, 2 nickers (aka underwear), a nicker peg to hang the pads to dry, they were amazed. 
How blessed am I to be able to walk into a store & buy pads every month when I need to?  How blessed I am to be able to see the priceless looks on these girls faces to receive such an amenity? For only $15 a kit, we can provide a girl with a years worth of supplies.  I spend that much on 2 months worth of pads back home.  It’s phenomenal to see how I can be a part of such an incredible team who impacts people around the world!
Day 3; Darn Headaches. ; New Kabaale, Kampala Uganda
February 17th 2014
Whelp.  It’s day 3 & I woke up with one of my headaches.  I couldn’t believe it & didn’t know what to do about it.  I went to our morning devotional, sat through breakfast, but couldn’t eat a thing, drank a half bottle of Gatorade & then proceeded to throw it up right before our driver came to pick us up.  When we made our first stop to AFRIpads to grab a few more supplies we didn’t get the day prior, I used their bathroom & threw up again.  It was not a good start to the day.  However, I did not want to miss out on anything that was happening on our second day at New Kabaale.  As we arrived on campus for day 2, the children were lined up in the hot sun waiting for our arrival .. we were a bit late due to Ugandan traffic & did not know how long the students had been waiting in the hot sun, but we did know that they would stand out there forever if that meant they would see our faces.  Our team walked to the front of 520 orphans, my head pounding with waves of nausea, trying to keep it together.  As the students began to sing, “This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made…” it took all that was within me not to break down in tears.  I felt them coming to my eyes & I had to tell myself to pull it together.  I was thinking, I am complaining about a stupid headache & these children lack so much.  I know that this is what I have to deal with & we all deal with pain differently, but it was a rough day.  I tried to stick with it throughout the rest of the day but ended up excusing myself to the van for a little afternoon nap – the last thing I wanted these orphans doing was feeling sorry for me.  I napped in the van & chose not to partake in lunch.. I know with my headaches if I eat, I will throw anything & everything up.  Our driver persisted that I have a little fruit that someone brought us – I did… & sure enough ten minutes later.. had to use the toilets..which were actual toilets… on site.  The smell of the lavatory probably helped. 
Finally around 3 or 4 pm I felt relief. Since I had been not feeling well I was just kind of lurking about the orphanage sadly enough trying to avoid the children.  When I am present around them I want to be my best to love them & encourage them, not to have them feel sorry for me.  One of the older football players we know, Eddy ended up sitting with me for a good while in the afternoon.  I told Mike the day before that I wanted to know Eddy’s story & he said if I asked he would tell it to me.  Though I felt bad for holding my head most of our discussion he told me his incredible story.  His mother died three days after his birth & his father left leaving his grandmother in charge.  He said his grandmother had a one year old baby, but hadn’t breastfed in over a year, she was still able to feed him – God is good, Eddy would say after telling me that.  It was super encouraging to listen to Eddy & see where he’s come from & to see what an incredible young man he is.  We found out the next day that Eddy has malaria, FoDU is fortunate to be able to help Eddy with medication during this time & we have provided him treatment in hopes to be well for the tournament on Saturday.  Eddy is the team captain, please be praying he feels great!!
Children with Hope
Blessed Hope Academy of Champions
Feb 17th 2014 (on the Ugandan calendar :))
(note I am still attempting to finish my blog from the 16th & 17th :)) 
This morning on our van ride out to Blessed Hope Academy, I asked if it was really only Tuesday morning.  Our team has only visited one of our partner orphanages in the past two days & I feel like I could go home tomorrow thinking about so many things.  As we drove out into the countryside about an hour away, I recognized children not in school.  It was about 10:30 in the morning & we were going to visit children in school… so this made me wonder what was holding these children back from attending.  Was it money?  A lack of transportation? No one caring about their education?  This made me sad, but thought how privileged the children were we were going to see at an orphanage.  Ironic isn’t it?
As we pulled onto the campus at Blessed Hope our van was charged with excited children who were longing for us as a team to love on them all day.  Some of the younger students just wanted us to hold them, or hold our hands, some of them wanted us to sing to them, which I gladly did, leaving a smile on their faces & mine!! These students at this campus seem to remember everything.  They remembered I was the auntie who sang Morning Light & they asked continuously throughout the day about other team members who visited them in June.  These are elementary students.  When I was there age I could not remember what happened the day prior.  These students thrive to be loved, want to love you, know they are loved, by us & by a big & mighty God. 
I had the opportunity to sit down with four students to do FoDU Dream Kits, that assess each child’s dream of what they want to be when they grow up.  When I first started, it was hard for all the children to open up.  I realized that all of these students were in P4, which should be fourth grade, but noticed that I had a ten year old, two eleven year olds & a fifteen year old at my table.  Even though one of the eleven year old girls was faster in answering the worksheets, it impressed me to see that they were all on the same page for the most part.  They were excited to sit with someone who cared about them enough to talk to them, & listen to what they want to be when they grow up. In Ugandan culture, after a student is done with primary school (typically 13-15 yrs old) they are pretty much on their own to decide where to go next in life.  Oh the pressure!! Where would I be if I had to make a decision for my life at that age?? I loved to see that Frank wanted to be a footballer because he had seen so many of the older students at his school become great players, Pauline was striving to be a pilot because her father is, Christine wanted to be a nurse so she could help people not be sick & Richard wanted to be a teacher to secondary students (high school) to help them achieve their dreams.  WOW – it’s amazing to see these children strive to such goals, have big dreams & be a part of the Fields of Dreams program that will help them achieve there goals. 
These students rely on each other.  There’s no one to hold them all day when they’re not feeling well, when a younger student is crying an adult doesn’t rush to their side, they comfort one another, they encourage one another. We need to continue to encourage them to reach their goals & strive for hope in every day. When Mike, the FoDU Executive Director, (or Uncle Mike as they call him in Uganda) prayed tonight when we arrived back at our lodging, he prayed that we would find joy amidst the family of children tomorrow.  It’s truly a family of children who care for each other when in need. It showed me that hope is a basic need  & I can provide that by loving on another child tomorrow & the next day.. & for the next twenty something days. 
On our drive home, I was once again discouraged to see so many young students walking home from school on a dusty dirty road.  However, knowing that there is an almighty, God who knows each one of those children by name, give me peace, hope & joy to see what their futures will become.  
Hope in a Song ; Amsterdam
February 14 (or 15 in Amsterdam) 2014
As we set off on our flight from Amsterdam to Uganda, I over heard Shane, Mike & Pat talking about each partner orphanage we would be visiting while in country.  As we were set for take off, I all of a sudden felt anxious & unprepared.  I told Shane that I wasn’t ready for this & he reminded me, “Well it’s too late now!”  Being a concerned friend who would have to deal with sitting next to my wavering self on an eight-hour flight continued the conversation & asked why I felt this way. 
I guess it just sunk in that I was making Uganda my home for the next thirty days.  …that I’d be exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually… & I also became aware that I would have to be eating the local cuisine for that extended period of time.  As I was speaking this out loud, the only prayer I knew how to pray was, Lord, make me readyReady my heart to love the orphans & widows you’ve called me to love for the next thirty days.  Ready my mind to understand that YOU ARE GOOD even if I don’t comprehend why third world countries exist & why I wasn’t born in one.  Ready my spirit to show compassion to the least of these.  I actually overheard someone say today that he called the students at the orphanages we partner with the greatest of these. It’s so incredibly true to watch these young people take so much pride in who they are meant to be.  They have such thankful hearts which can be overwhelming, & oh so humbling. 
Shane began singing one of my favorite songs that the New Kabaale Bussega students sing to us as a welcome song, in hearing that song, I was ready & excited that we were in the air for another.. eight hours…
My prayer : Lord show me how to ready my mind, ready my heart & ready my spirit.  May I be steadfast in all that you’ve called me to do.  May you bring forth clarity especially when we feel like we’re in a tunnel.  Above all, may I lean on You for understanding & my strength & give You all the glory, honor & praise! 
Blog Coming Soon! soon as I land in Uganda :) 
                                                                                                                      January, 2014
Thank You! 
It’s almost been a year since my first time to Uganda.  In one month I will be returning for a second time for 30 days in country!! I cannot thank you enough for your prayers & financial support from my last trip & throughout the year for my music ministry.   I pray the Lord would continue to bless you in what you are doing for the glory of His name!! 

What I'll Be Doing
The incredible thing about my partnership with Fields of Dreams Uganda is that I have the opportunity to tell people about those I’ve met in Uganda on a weekly basis at shows.  One of my main goals in going to Uganda for a month in 2014 is to be able to have more one on one time with the widows whose products I sell at my merch table.  It’s amazing to have met Hannifah & her family who make all of our cloth products & it was great to meet Rose along with some of the women from Northern Uganda who make all of our beaded work, but I cannot wait to walk home with Rose to meet her family, to see where she lives & to walk in her shoes for a day.  I want to know the heart of the people behind the products I’m selling -- & 10 days in February of last year was too short of time to get to do that.  During the trip in 2014 I’ll have the opportunity to invest in Rose, Hannifah & hopefully a couple new ladies from Gulu.  I will also be able to go to the orphanages to sing with the students & see the footballers kick a few soccer balls around the pitch, but what I’m most looking forward to is spending time with the people I talk about & think about on a daily basis.  I cannot wait to pray with them & know what to be praying for when I return to The States. 

Story Time & PRAY! 
Our team went to an orphanage called Blessed Hope Academy back in February of 2013.  I noticed a huge black water tank sitting next to one of the buildings on campus & came to find out that the tank caught rainwater for the children at the orphanage to drink.  I remember Pastor Joel from Blessed Hope talking about praying for rain.  Pastor Joel said he would pray for rain & wait, expecting the Lord to provide the rain for His children.  If I could ask for one thing from you from this letter, it would be to pray for rain.  That a sustainable amount of rain would be collected in that water basin for the kids to have plenty of fresh water to drink.   I’d ask you that every time it rained or snowed in your community, that you’d remember the children in Uganda & pray for rain to fall.   

I serve an extravagant God, who I know will provide rain for those children at that orphanage.  I know God will provide for every child I meet on the streets here in America & on the dusty roads of Uganda.   I know God’s given me the opportunity to visit the great country of Uganda for 30 days in 2014 with two incredible teams & I am expectantly waiting to see the Lord provide financially for this trip.  

How You Can Help. 
PRAY! More than anything I would love to have you praying for me in preparation for my trip, while overseas & when I return.   Specific prayer requests include but are not limited to : My headaches, pray they would cease in Jesus’ name & that they would not weigh me down while preparing for the trip or hit me while in country.  Focus, that I wouldn’t have jet leg or culture shock to experience & explore what God wants me to, may I be attentive! Funds, that all the money I need would be collected by February 1st. 
Fund Me! Ways to donate to my trip : paypal, click the DONATE button below OR mail a check to Fields of Dreams Uganda at 402 Court St, Suite B, Evansville, IN 47708.  Please ensure to write my name in the Memo!! 
Thank you for reading this letter & praying for me on this trip! Please go to JennieWellsand.Com/FoDU for a FREE download of my latest song Hope is Rising  - Once you reach this page it will ask for a password, type in the word hope. 
Grace & Peace to You! 

Jennie Wellsand