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!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

When Perfect Comes Along

I had a disturbing moment of God bringing me up short the other day. I'd like to think that I'm the only who ever  falls flat on their face in their own depravity... But at the same time, I am ever so mindful that I live in a fallen world, in the midst of fallen people. And so, with an awkward downcast glance, I share this with you just in case you haven't had this same realization yet. Or just in case you need the reminder. 

I spend a decent amount of time just thinking to myself- as a mother to two little ones who can't talk yet, it's one-sided at best when I vocalize my ramblings, so I usually just keep them contained in my head. The great thing is... I can still converse with God in this silence. 

Two days ago, I was silently thanking God for our newest place of residence. I was thanking Him for a place with quietness and peace, a front yard and back yard, and a place for a clothesline (Sidenote: it never ceases to amaze me how my priorities have changed in the past 10 years! For so many reasons, I am overjoyed to have a clothesline! 10 years ago- I could haves cared less about a clothesline...but I digress.)

I was also telling God how happy it made me to see my little Corbin walking barefoot in the dappled sunlight, how great the trees around the house are, and the beauty I see in the rocky ledge. And then I thought/said: "And the house isn't too bad. I wish I could change a few things, but not so much that it's even worth complaining about! Someday, when I finally have my own place..."

"Your perfect place?" God asked.

I smiled in my heart,"Yup! Someday, we'll finally have the perfect place to live!"

"Will you even recognize it as perfect when perfect does come along?" He asked. 

And boom- I saw in my mind's eye all the dissatisfaction and discontent I carry in my heart. 

Why am I always striving for something different, something else, something "better"? 

When "better" or "best" or "perfect" does sit on my doorstep, do I even recognize it? Or do I walk on by, thinking it will come in some other form? How much "perfect" have I already missed out on because I never gave it the chance to be here, now?! Why don't I let "perfect" be TODAY, instead of thinking it's far off in the future?

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my mind around this little house being the ultimate "perfect" place for my family. And honestly, I don't think it is- this is just a short stop along the way. However- if I realize it is perfect for this short stop, then I won't be blinded to all that God has brought our way. 

If God does all things perfectly, and if He has placed us here for this time, then it is perfect.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Raising An Adult

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is getting started. It's not necessarily for a lack of material, or because life is so predicable, or because I'm hiding in a cave- it's more a problem of having too much on my mind and in my heart, and too little time to sit down and express it. That's what happens when you give up your right to yourself and copious amounts of "me" time and take on the title of "Momma". 

On my heart and mind today is the oft-mentioned sentiment, "We're not raising babies, we're raising adults". This is true. But sometimes, the personhood if a very young child is a little hard to grasp- until it is staring you in the face looking for answers to life. Every day I watch as Corbin grows a little more physically, and exponentially more mentally! It's such an exciting time of life for our little family, as well as a daunting one as a parent. I watch this little man and see his imagination growing, his vocabulary increasing, his daring little spirit challenging the boundaries of everything he knows.

I want him to be that arrow that shoots out from the quiver, headed for a mark far beyond what his parents could ever achieve. 

And every day as I watch this little man grow and develop and capture my heart again and again- I realize that I am incapable on my own.  I am humbled by my inadequacies. I repeatedly come up empty just when I need to be full...

But God.

I can't do it on my own. Not child raising, not breathing, not a single thing. But with God, I have more than all I need. 

Daily, I see Him fill the gaps for me. 

Daily I am reminded that He is the Creator of this precious arrow. 

All I have to do is give it all back to Him. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Way God Provides...

The other evening I was making supper for my little family, and I stood at the counter, between the stove and the sink, and reached into the cupboard below me. I pulled out some pots and pans- only the ones that I needed for this particular meal, though. From the cupboard above the sink, I searched around for the ingredients I needed, mentally checking them off the list as I scanned the recipe in front of me. 

Laughter from my husband and son bubbled from the other room as Corbin enjoyed his daddy's attention after a long day away. 

For some reason, on this particular evening, I was incredibly content standing there with my apron on and cooking away (I don't mind cooking, but I confess that it's not something that I always enjoy...and I was finding a lot more joy in it at this moment!!)

My thoughts floated back to when Collins and I first got married- after a long process getting a visa to come to NY, everything else happened in a whirlwind and before we knew it, we were packing our lives in Uganda into 1 backpack and 2 suitcases each...and most of it was jewelry and handcrafts that were coming as gifts for other people!  5 days later, we were married and started out our lives together in a house my parents own that had been sitting empty...quite empty, in fact...for about a year. We had the basics, and little more, for those first few weeks. It was not the easiest of transitions, let me tell you! (But not for a moment do I regret saying "I do!" in the midst of it all!)

To think of our lives today, and the gains we have made together- as a couple, as a family, as individuals; socially, spiritually, and of odd particular importance to me as I made dinner, materially- I was rather overcome! 

God has blessed us SO MUCH! We have had to work hard- but God has given us the ability and the knowledge and the situations in which to do that. We have had to sacrifice, and we have had to learn the hard way...and a few times, He let us off easy by learning from someone else's mistakes. But He has ALWAYS been there guiding us. Every single time that I have faltered and wondered if even God could take care of a situation, He more than outdoes my wildest dreams...He has my good in mind!

So you, my friend- if you're wondering if God can provide for your need- call me and invite yourself to my house. And we'll have a cup of tea (with spices from Uganda) or coffee (also from Uganda), whichever you prefer, and we will chit chat and I will tell you some incredible miracles of God showing Himself more than able. 

Believe me- He is good. My God can supply every need...abundantly, powerfully, gently, and in His perfect timing!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Old Oak

My parent's old farmhouse sits on the top of a rise, way out in the middle of nowhere. If you stand in their kitchen, there are 2 large picture windows that look out over the slope of the hill...a strip of grass, a patch of garden, a lone grapevine, a scraggly fence that borders a pasture which in turn rolls down to the marshy edge of a creek. 

Possibly my favorite sight from the windows- no matter the time of year- is an old Oak tree that stands just at the edge of the marshy creek. I've taken countless photos of the tree, always hoping to catch the essence of the tree that I'll be able to keep when the tree falls. I don't ever remember this Oak tree having very many branches, let alone any leaves. All that is left of it is the skeleton- but I still find it to be the most beautiful and poetic tree I've ever seen. My dad and I will often comment on how sad we will be whenever a windstorm gets the best of our favorite Oak...and we remind ourselves that it will probably happen sooner than later.

I sat at my parents table today, looking out the window at the ice and snow. The wind was howling around the house and I found my sentimentally looking at the Oak and silently grieving the day (maybe even today, with this wind!) when the Oak would be gone. I noticed the branches on the neighboring maple trees waving madly, and the whole of a nearby elm was swaying as if it might tip over at the next gale. The Oak, however- seemed to be immoveable. It was almost as though the buffeting that all the other trees were receiving was nothing to the Oak. Each time we felt the house shutter, the old Oak stood firm, it's bare majesty giving testimony to deep roots and years of perseverance. 

The Oak is old. It is long past it's prime. The life is out of it. But it has a heritage that is lasting much longer than itself. It set itself a foundation that has endured the test of time and the lessons it whispers are worthy to be learned.