Sunday, February 15, 2015

It Is Always Worth The Effort

These thoughts are a bit removed from my current every-day work and life, and yet are so present for me. This will have nothing to do with life-giving rain water. It will have everything to do with watering a life, though.

My heart has been overwhelmed, completely filled to bursting, with emotion 4 times in the past week. 

It was 8 years ago that I stepped onto Uganda’s soil for the first time, made the drive in a coaster bus from Entebbe to Kampala, purposing not to let my heart become attached to anything here. 

Within that same week, my heart was crushed by a group of boys in their early teens who possessed a zeal for life unlike any I had ever witnessed before. My eyes were opened to the possibility of a life being strengthened by my involvement and encouragement. God revealed things to me that radically changed the course of my life.

 I have not always been happy and agreeable about some of those changes, and yet I know what God showed me deep in my heart and He has shown over and over that only He could have orchestrated some of the events that have carried me up to this past week. 

A series of circumstances that I never could have foreseen led me to a season of life working with street children. It has been the most difficult, the most rewarding, the most challenging, and the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. I love love love seeing the lives that others have cast aside and finding the glow within them that makes them a precious child of God, and fanning that ember until the young man can break from the chains of the street into a responsible adult. 

Currently, I am not directly involved in working with street kids. I miss it, but that’s not the area of ministry that God has directed Collins and I into for this season. But “my boys”, the young kids who are now young men, are ever present in my mind and heart. 

Episode 1:
 I was talking with a young man who is one of my “firstborn sons”, one of the boys that lived in the home in Ssenge that I helped staff. He was simply telling me his plan for the day, and as he walked away I called after him to say, “I’m proud of you! I’m proud of the decisions you are making for your life today!” and then I choked up because when I first met him years ago, I never ever would have imagined a conversation like the one I had with him last week! I always prayed and dreamed that my boys would grow into responsible adults, and yet…as a mother, to see them walking in the fullness of what God created them to be, completely humbles me.

Episode 2:
As I navigated through traffic the other day, I inched our big safari-rigged vehicle to the intersection I dislike the most in all of the city, and then as I swung around the corner and finally was headed toward home, I saw another young man, one that had just been a small quiet boy in our programs in Kivulu years ago. I pass him at this intersection regularly, he has a bit of a job helping to park cars and controlling traffic so that customers at a series of shops can get in and out of their parking places. I saw him standing there in his bright orange vest, and as we made eye contact, he broke out in a huge smile and waved to me energetically. I smiled and waved back, and kept smiling the rest of the way home because again, God reminded me that every single moment poured into that boy was worth it, to see him smiling and moving forward in life!

Episode 3:
I was on a boda (motorcycle), trying to hurry to an appointment in the city, mentally running through the list of things I needed to accomplish before heading home. I’m not even sure now how my thoughts wandered, but I found myself thinking about Ibra and how I wanted to suggest he come visit…but wait!! He’s gone!!! My Ibra…gone. Only 20 years old. He’s been gone for over 2 months now, passed away in a freak accident. 

I keep thinking about him and wanting to see him, and the pain that he is no longer here is so sharp and intrusive, my heart literally aches in my chest and the tears burn under my eyelids. Last October, he called me when I was still in NY to tell me that he needed my help, he needed to talk to me. We shared on the phone, and I assured him that I would see him soon…his call put a fire under me to finish everything in NY so that we could get here to UG, so that I could be here for Ibra, be the mentor and mother and friend that he needed me to be. 

I never got to see Ibra again. He is gone. I recently looked at his Facebook page to see his face again because I’m missing him so much, and he had put me as his cover photo. His picture is nestled into the picture of me. It broke my heart again…every ounce of energy and debate and taking chances over and over to prove to him that if he would be trustworthy, then I would trust him, were worth it. He knew he was loved. Every moment I poured into him was worth it. I just wish I could tell him one more time how precious he was to me.

Episode 4:
 Just this morning I learned of the death of another former street boy. This one, I didn’t know. But I do know he was killed unjustly, happened to walk down a street at the wrong time. I know the pain that his death will bring to the family, the family of street kids and the people that work with them, the house mom that continued to reach out to him and never gave up on him, loved him as Jesus loved him. My heart breaks for the young on the street who are never given a second chance, for the ones who pass away unnoticed by the world. The ones who are seen as a menace, when really they are precious souls. Every ounce of effort poured into this boy- a boy with a sense of humor and loved to make people laugh, who babysat the cook’s grandchildren and helped them take their first steps- was worth it, because every life is precious, and every life deserves another chance. 

With each of these incidents, I always end with the thought:
 It is always worth it. 
The blood, the sweat, the tears, the prayers- they are always worth it in the end. Giving up on a person is not an option, because we don’t know when the time will come that we don’t get to give them another chance. 

And God doesn’t give up on us. He says we are worth the blood, sweat, and tears too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Three Months and Counting...

We’ve been in Uganda for 3 months and a week already. 

We’re finally reaching a point of feeling more settled- our house feels more like home, we are establishing routine, we’ve figured out how to function in our setting. We’ve gone through bouts of illness and homesickness, and we’ve had holidays and reunions with family and friends.

(Don't worry, Caleb was fine...He hates having family photos taken.In all the other options, I'm the only one looking at the camera. :-/)

In the past 2 weeks, we’ve had a few things stand out starkly from the background of every day life to remind us why we have made this move, and why we have dedicated ourselves to the work we’re involved in. 

The First Thing:

It has not rained here in Uganda in about 6 weeks. Everything is dry and very hot- hotter than normal for this part of the country. Everything is coated in a thin film of orange dust. Little plumes rise from beneath our feet whenever we walk to the little shop kitty-corner from our house. Our few little potted plants pathetically soak up the water we pour on them each day. We don’t have a garden as of yet, but if we did, it would need constant watering to be productive. 

Because of the general lack of water, the Department of Water and Sanitation cuts back on water that flows through the taps, monitoring and portioning out what can be used. This often means that in the early hours of morning (5-6 am), metered water is available, but the rest of the day our sink is dry. 

We have the blessing at our house of having a small elevated tank that fills when the metered water is available, and then is gravity fed to our bathrooms during the day, allowing us to shower, flush toilets, and wash our hands.

Not everyone has a blessing such as this. 

We also have an additional blessing of a 10,000 liter rainwater collection tank in front of our house, just like the tanks that our ministry, the Ugandan Water Project, places in communities all around Uganda. Because of this tank, we have not felt the drought nearly as keenly as has most of the rest of Uganda’s population. Because of this tank,(which was filled to overflowing in the copious rains we received before the dry season abruptly started), we have had the water we need to function well in our home- we never lack for drinking water because whether from the tap or the raintank, we can pour it through our Sawyer Filter and have safe, clean drinking water. We use the water from the tank for everything we need- washing clothes, cleaning the house, washing dishes and bathing the boys after they are covered in dirt and dust from their sandpile! :) 

Not everyone has a blessing such as a rain tank.

 Our landlord was wise to install the tank when he built the compound, and we are so thankful for his foresight. It has made us ever more aware of just how important the work of Ugandan Water Project is in communities- in many places, a UWP rainwater tank is the only source of potable water for miles, and it makes a huge impact in the health and well-being of a community. As we thank God daily for the provision of water in our lives, we are also thanking Him that we have the opportunity to share such a blessing to others in our beloved Uganda. 

The Second Thing:

Collins has been traveling with the UWP Installation Crew, going to the communities that are the newest recipients of UWP Rainwater Collection Systems (for more info on a UWP system: After a set of installations in a community near Masaka, he related to me that one of the tanks was put in place on a Muslim school. The headmaster of the school told Collins that he just didn’t understand how this miracle of a tank was being bestowed on them. 

“The person that referred me to UWP and helped me apply was the Pastor of that church in our village. But I am a Muslim. Why would he want to help me? He runs a school here in this village as well. I am his competition for students! Why would he want to help me, his competition? If I was his friend, I could understand!”

(I have tears brimming in my eyes as I type this, I am so overwhelmed by God’s goodness!)

Collins told the man that we at UWP are ambassadors for Jesus- and Jesus gives His love freely, and so do we! It is only because of Jesus that this man can see such a miracle extended from his Christian “competition”. 

Collins told me this story as we were sitting in a traffic jam, and his face lit up as he said, “I go expecting to plant the seed that Jesus is free to everyone…in this case, the Pastor had already planted the seed, and I just had to water it!” 

We love the revelations that happen when our eyes are opened to see more clearly how our everyday actions impact the lives of others! We’re thankful for everyone that has supported us to bring us to this point- relocating across the globe  is full of great challenges, and we are refreshed to know that our efforts are having an effect! 

Thank you for standing by us, and please, keep us in your prayers! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In The Stars

Parenting is the most rewarding, difficult, creative, and stretching thing I have ever found my self in the midst of without really realizing what I was getting myself involved.

For real.

On a sunshiney Monday morning a while back, (there was still ridiculous amounts of snow on the ground here in NY) I had turned on worship music while making breakfast for my two cherubs.

Corbin asked and I assured him that, Yes, this was Jesus music we were listening to.

Then he pointed up toward the brilliant blue sky outside the window above the kitchen sink and said matter-of-factly: “Jesus lives in the stars.”

I looked at him in amazement because I have never told him “where” Jesus lives. And I definitely had never told him that Jesus lives in the sky.

“Corbin sweetie, Jesus doesn’t live in the sky, He lives inside us in our hearts-…” and as soon as the sounds passed my lips I thought, “How does THAT make any more sense to a 2-year-old than the stars do??”

I dropped the conversation, but breakfast in bowls, said our “Thank you Jesus for this food!” and proceeded to feed the baby. Corbin began to lounge in his seat (not proper table manners, young man!) and then asked:

“We go visit Jesus in the stars today?”

What?!!! Where is this kid getting this stuff from?!

I want my children to know Jesus personally. My desire is to be able to tell them who Christ is and how alive and living my God is. I want them to have as vibrant and real a relationship with God as I have the joy of experiencing in my own life.

As I looked Corbin in his little round face, all the doctrinal phrases and theological concepts that get debated between church groups dropped away, all the heady thoughts of how much a person needs to “do” to “be” a Christian disappeared.

Try to break down what you believe in to a 2-year-old so they can grasp an understanding of it- and you’ll realize how simple and yet how challenging it really is to walk your talk.

“Jesus lives in our hearts, Corbin. And He goes with us everywhere we go.”

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can’t be hidden.” Matt 5:14

Post script: As far as Corbin thinking that Jesus lives in the stars…I puzzled over that for a while. Later that same morning, he pulled a left over Christmas card from the bookshelf and brought it to me. He pointed out Baby Jesus, Mama Mary, Daddy Joseph, the cows, the sheep, the Kings and, up in the sky, “the star, where Jesus is!”

Yes, of course. The kings followed the star in the sky to where Jesus was lying in the manger.

The kid is smart!

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Exactly We Will Be Doing In Uganda

“So, what exactly are you guys going to be doing in Uganda?”

Every time someone asks me this question, I’m a little bit taken aback- I mean, really, can’t everyone just read our minds and know what’s going on!? :)

But seriously- I discover from time to time that not everyone is up-to-date on the Alinaitwe’s plans. And, truth be told, the plans have changed a bit- we’ve tweaked things here and there, and we’ve been re-molding and re-shaping them as we see ever more clearly how God is preparing us for what His plans are for our family. 

And so, to keep us all on the same page, here’s an outline to clarify what we’re up to:

1- Ugandan Water Project: Give Water. Give Life

The UWP started 5 years ago over a summer BBQ...and has grown into a vibrant humanitarian organization providing clean water to communities in Uganda, primarily through rainwater collection tanks. There are currently 136 (and counting!) tanks in Uganda, affecting the lives of 50,000+ people! UWP has also begun the next phase of  affecting communities with life through the Second Steps program, using small business development projects to help individuals and families break the grip of poverty and move into meaningful relationship in their lives. (You can read more about UWP here.)

Almost from its inception, Collins and I have partnered alongside Ugandan Water Project as friends and collaborators. UWP Director James Harrington, and his wife Christy are close friends of ours, as well as mentors and our favorite people to bounce ideas off of for our “Uganda plans”. 

We are now REALLY EXCITED to officially be joining the ranks of UWP personnel, and when we land on Uganda’s red-orange soil again, it will be as UWP missionaries!!! 

(Its a little hard to adequately express just how wonderful this is! When I think back to the first time James and I met in Kampala, to the friendship our families now have, and to the way that God has answered prayers, it is simply incredible to look back and see how God has orchestrated so many events to prepare us and the UWP for just such a time as this!)

Practically, our role as UWP missionaries will be 3-fold:

A- Water Project Managers- Ensuring that pre-site prep work, tank installation, and follow-up maintenance happen in a timely manner and working to perfect the rainwater collection system process. 

B- 2nd Steps Project Managers- Working alongside the 2nd Steps participants, we will be coaching them in the expectations, plans and goals for their small business development. 

C-Team Hosts- The Ugandan Water Project is intentional about building meaningful relationship in order to transform communities. To do this, short term teams visit Uganda 3 times a year. We will help facilitate the teams’ experiences through education, mentoring, and logistics. 

2- Street Kid Ministry

Collins and I have a unique burden for a specific group of street kids- we see so much promise in older youth, those who are right on the verge of adulthood. They need mentoring and coaching as they navigate a difficult time in any young person’s life. We want to provide them with resources and training to help them become responsible adults in proper relationship to their communities, their families, and with God. We know that, individually, we cannot change Uganda- but if we are able to point the next generation to God, He will raise up the next leaders of Uganda who will have a vision for what their country can become. 

3- Supplemental Services to Homes

I remember a large New Year’s Eve celebration that a group hosted for street kids in Kampala one year. I counted approximately 500 children in the food line that day. I recognized a large majority of them. Collins knew almost all of their names. There is no lack for the children who need caring adults to pour into their lives. 

At this time in our lives, and after a lot of prayer, we do not feel that God is immediately calling us to open any sort of home ourselves. God has given us two beautiful sons, and we know that as parents, we must pour into them. Somewhere down the line, we hope that God will open the doors for us to be able to again be parents to children whose lives have been redeemed from the streets. 

Until that time though, we know many children who have been placed in rehabilitation and transitional homes. We worked with them on the streets and through our drop-in programs; both of us also used to staff homes and we know that constant need for more people to pour into the lives of the boys once they are off the streets. We would like to provide some of the services the boys need by maintaining our relationships with them and working alongside the organizations and staff they live with to help them as they develop into adulthood. 


Originally, we had planned to transition our family from NY to UG in early January 2014. We know that God can move mountains, work miracles, and do all manner of things that we could never even imagine. Short of any of that, however, we will need to push that date by a few months. For months now, we have lived in a perpetual state of simplifying and minimizing our possessions, knowing that we’ll be packing up for good sooner than later. So, in a sense, we will be ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

That moment hinges on several things out of our control. 


Our move to Uganda is not for the money. It’s true, we love the weather there. We know without a shadow of a doubt that what we are embarking on is a small line in a story much greater than just us- it’s a story of God’s love and the way that He draws people to Himself! He wants each one of us to be involved in His story. And so we are inviting you to partner with us, to come along with us on this journey, and see what God has planned for these next moments in time- I can promise that you will not be disappointed! 

This may mean that you buy a passport and come visit us and see first hand another angle of God’s love. 

This may mean that you tell your next-door-neighbor about this couple with 2 curly-haired boys who are moving to the other side of the world...or maybe you’ll just hit “share” on a post on Facebook when you see us link the next blog post there. 

This may mean you find creative ways to rework your budget so you can donate some money, either a one-time gift or on a monthly basis. (On the sidebar at the top of this blog you will see a link to our GoFundMe Account- this is a fundraising campaign for our plane tickets-to UG and back- and our start up costs for transitioning a family of 4 to Uganda.) (You can also share our fundraiser website with everyone you know!! It's simply!)

This definitely means that you reading this blogpost is no accident, and God wants YOU to be involved in restoring the relationship between Him and this world we live in...and we’re offering you a specific way to do that!

2- Our Sending Agency.

There’s a lot involved in moving to the other side of the world as missionaries. I did it once as a single woman, on a minimal budget. It was really easy to just jump on a motorcycle to get to whichever place I was going on any given day. I was very independent.

We are a family now, and moving as a family looks significantly different. We also want to bring you (and your friends and acquaintances and families!) along as partners in the journey. And we need help and support in doing that. 

Collins and I have applied to and are going through the process of becoming part of a fellowship of missionaries. Because we are not finished with the process yet. we are not able to share too many details- but we would ask for prayers in this area. If all goes well, we are praying for a meeting with a committee in mid-December;  once our meeting with the committee happens, and if we are approved, time will move very quickly and we will fly as soon as our budget is fully funded!

Timeframe Again:

When we reach Uganda, we initially will be working full-time in the roles outlined above for the Ugandan Water Project. 

We have committed to UWP for 2 years. 

During that time, we will also be reconnecting and building the relationships and structures needed so that as we phase out of our roles with UWP, we will phase into parts 2 and 3 outlined above. 

We’re excited about all that God has in store for us- we hope you’re excited as well, and we really, really hope and desire for you to join with us! We KNOW God is going to be doing awesome things in and through us, and we want you to experience that as well!

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Leave us comments. Visit the UWP site. Follow our GoFundMe Donate button or click here and share with us. Follow this blog so you know where we are and how our plans are being pulled together. It’s going to be a wild ride!!

So, that’s what we will be doing, in case you were wondering! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Uganda, Here We Come!

We are finally on our way!!!

When Collins got on his knee and asked me to marry him, there was no hesitation in my heart about saying, "YES!!!" I knew that my answer meant that Uganda would be knit into my soul in a unique way. 
 I also already knew that the quiet whispers of God into my life were leading Collins and I into a ministry that He has for us, and He has been forming us- individually, as a couple, as parents and as a family- into who He wants us to be to fulfill a purpose for Him.

If you've talked with Collins or myself much, you will know that Uganda is never far from our hearts or our thoughts. For a year now, we have been actively planning our return. For the past few months, it seems like lots of things were making our plans stall, and we were getting discouraged.

But God ALWAYS comes through.

And just as we thought that our strength to press on was almost gone, we were inundated with friends and complete strangers walking up to us and speaking words over us that we knew in our spirits were from God- reminders that He has put these dreams in our hearts; encouragments; inspirations;  excitement for our future. 

It gave us the boost we needed in order to make a final push and get out of the slump we were in and start moving again! Thank you to all of you who have spoken into our lives in the past 2 weeks! 

We are currently waiting on a few decisions to be made- when the details get worked out, we will be able to share them with you, until then, please be praying for favor for us. 

And stay tuned. We know that the dreams God has placed in our heart are specific to our family- but we also know that we are only a small part of a much greater story- the story of our God and His love for His children! 

We invite you to come alongside us and be a part of what God is doing! 

We've also started an online fundraiser at Please visit, donate, and recommend us to your friends! This is the first step in a very exciting journey!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

You have to say I'm Sorry

I crouched down to his eye level...again.

"Look at me. Right here. Look at my eyes."

He looks everywhere EXCEPT for my eyes.

"Sweetie, Look at Mama. You have to say I'm sorry."

(Every other word in the English language, and for that matter, any other language that has a presence in our home, he can mimic. In fact, he can mimic "I'm sorry" as well. Interestingly enough, he does have a little trouble pronouncing the sentence; one day, I tried a bunch of words out on him: "Sink" "Duck" "Door" "Sky" "Puppy"...they all came out great! His "I'm sorry" sounded more like "I'mss". I quit the parroting act for the time being, but when I was dressing him later, I verbalized my thoughts..."Little man, I can't believe how hard it is to get these pants up over your thighs!" "Thighs!" he declared. My child- you can say "thighs", but you can't say "I'm sorry"?!?!)

He begins to whine and squirm. I reseat him firmly on his bottom in front of the refrigerator. 

"Say, 'I'm sorry', and you can get up. But you have to say it."

In my head, I'm ready to let him go. I'm pretty sure it's pointless. But then I see the sideways glance, and I know, I KNOW, that he knows what he's doing. It has been almost 15 minutes of this showdown, and I want to throw in the towel. I silently ask the Lord to renew my resolve to follow though on this. I also silently express my bafflement at the stubbornness and willfulness of a child so young!

"God, have I missed something? Have I taught him to be like this?"

"Sin," was the reply. "He has a sin nature. But he is still a child. You, dear many times have I told you to look ME in the eyes? How many times have you avoided saying I'm sorry to one that you have wounded? How often do you refuse to accept forgiveness?" 

Never have I seen my own sinfulness as clearly as I have parenting a toddler. It makes me wonder how often my Lord crouches down to my eye level and says, 

"Look. Right here. Look at my eyes. I love you. I forgive you. Let's try it again."

Monday, September 16, 2013

With Child-Like Faith...

I was sitting in church on Sunday while everyone else was standing for worship. Normally, I would be standing as well, but Corbin needed a bit of a cuddle while he drank a was just that time of day when he needed to take a quiet minute with his Mama. I was pleased to oblige- I don't always get the chance to sit and cuddle him. 

After settling him in the crook of my arm and seeing his big brown eyes look into my blues and smiling down at his precious little face, I was thinking how for much of my life, I've always preferred to worship and pray with my eyes closed- a discipline begun to prevent myself from being distracted, but more recently because in not being distracted by those around me, I can let myself become fully engaged in worship and God has pulled me deeper into His presence in stunning and incredible ways- I've seen visions of glory that I can never fully express in words! It's glorious!!

Lately, however, I realize that I'm spending more time with my eyes open and on my boys- making sure that our presence in the service isn't too distracting to others. 

My thoughts trained back on our Pastor just as he mentioned "Child-Like Faith...". He continued on; I stayed on that phrase. I looked again at Corbin nestled against me. So fully trusting. Looking at me with those eyes. Knowing that I'll hold him until he is ready to jump down again. Knowing that I'll be there when he runs back to me after playing. Trusting that I'll feed him when he's hungry. Believing that I'll hand him the cup of cold water every time he thirsts. And yes, even, that I will be there to catch him when he climbs on the back of the couch and then jumps off! A parent will take a flying leap to catch that little body as it gleefully flies through the air because that child is COMPLETELY TRUSTING- with Child-Like Faith- that those arms are going to be there to catch him when he falls. Believing that my eyes will be upon him, even when everyone else's are closed.

I was challenged anew. Do I really have that sort of faith? The kind that presses forward, perhaps in a bit of ignorance, but TOTALLY RELYING on God to be there, no matter what it is. Food. Clothing. A journey. A move. Relationships. Finances. 

That He has His eyes on me, sees me when I need Him, and even knows before I know that I need Him.

I have a flying leap that needs to be made. I need to climb on the back of a couch and jump- and too often I've doubted that my Heavenly Daddy will be there to catch me before I crash back to the ground. I'm not sure why I doubt- to date, I don't have any broken bones or bruises because He's always been there. He has always been watching for me.

So, moving forward, using this lesson from my son snuggled against me, with Child-Like leap isn't from an actual couch, but it's a leap nevertheless, and it will be recorded here. 

Stay tuned!