It can feel so overwhelming here in Uganda at times, BUT...I choose to remember we have a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. When you see the devastation and heart ache day after day, it can feel like it's just too much. You hear the stories of these heroes of faith and you are reminded that the scripture in Is. 61 is true..ashes are replaced with a crown of beauty. I saw one of our teachers at Hope yesterday. Her name is Teddy. She is a beautiful woman and truly carries joy and love with every step she takes. As I sat in the car admiring here, Alisa shared with me what Teddy's last week had entailed. She lost her only daughter (8 years old) to malaria. A little mosquito bite with the combination of lack of medicine took this girl out. It shouldn't be!! But yet...here she was, at our school pressing on and loving our children. From first appearances you wouldn't even know that she was carrying heartache or despair. She was shining as though she had been bathed with the oil of Joy. This is life in Uganda. As we prepare to "open" Field of Dreams, our Ugandan base, we are hiring new SMI team members. We will have guards to help with the gate as well as the entrance of visitors. We are hiring a man, Jeffrey, who was working as a head guard from a hotel we have stayed at many times. He was working almost 24 hours a day with little pay and was pretty worn out. As Randy shared his story with me, I was pierced to the heart. He was a child soldier in Northern Uganda years ago. He was forced into the LRA for 3 years. He must have only been a young teen then. The heartache and tragedy that he endured during those years isn't even comprehendable to me. After three years of torture and devastation, he escaped. He has 2 children still living in Northern Uganda while he is in the South because of work. He is now a born again believer...pressing on to the prize ahead. What an honor to work along side this man. I know his heart will be touched even more as he helps at the Field of Dreams. Remarkable the perserverance of these people. I am sure he must have a crown of beauty. This is life in Uganda. At dinner lastnight Randy shared about a phone call he received from a Ugandan church friend. This friend's father has been battling sickness and hanging on from the grip of death. He was walking to the bathroom and fell, only to break his hip. When Randy asked his friend if she took her father to the "good" hospital, her reply was....no, we took him to the local clinic. They put some wood on his legs to brace it. Because of the lack of resources, she had no choice. I just cringe at the thought of the immense pain. Imagine having your leg set and someone putting sticks on both sides of your leg to hold it in place.....I don't know if I could do it. I don't know whether he had any pain medicine or not. I don't even know if they have it at every village clinic. If he couldn't afford to hire transport into the "good" hospital, I'm not sure he was given the luxury of a pain killer. The thought makes me want to cry, BUT, instead, I will praise HIM, because I know, with him all things are truly possible. I will wear a garment of praise and will not despair. Because of HIM, I can hope and believe that Jesus will help this elderly man. This is life in Uganda. Life here in Uganda can feel overwhelming, yes. You sometimes don't know what to do or know how to truly help. You hear these storeis at every turn. You can get paralyzed wondering what to do, BUT then I remember all of the amazing things JESUS has done. Miracle after miracle that you see and hear about. This week at Awaken to Love we will meet some amazing Ugandan friends. We will hear a woman share her testimony of being healed from a tumor in her breast, suddenly. Not only that, she prayed for a woman who was dead one minute and alive the next. Another woman will share her story of having a tragic car accident and experiencing a miraculous healing. Another man was the town drunk and when he accepted Jesus, he suddenly overcame his addiction to alcohol. This too is life in Uganda. There are so many stories of victory here, that I must remember...there is a crown of beauty to give to those who have had ashes and loss...there is oil for joy and gladness for those who are mourning...there is a beautiful colorful cloak of praise to be given to those who have been in despair. I intend to share as much beauty, joy and praise to those I meet every day while I am here. What an honor and blessing to do this. Living life with purpose is what life in Uganda is all about.