I spend much of my time in a little slum outside of Jinja called Masese that is heavily populated with Uganda’s outcasts, the Karamajong. Those in the community who are not Karamajong are shunned by society for other reasons, extreme poverty or illness or uncleanliness or all of the above. To say that I am in love with the people of this community would be a huge understatment. I do not really even have words to describe the way I cherish these beautiful people. They challenge me, they love me unconditionally, and they allow me to see Jesus in their faces. They have taught me much, one of the biggest lessons being the tension between inefficiency and faithfulness. I want to help them all, to fix all their problems, to successfully find a solution to their horrendous living conditions. But sometimes in an unideal situation there is not an ideal solution. The projects Amazima has strated in this community, are wonderful, but only meet the needs of some of the people, only scratching the surface of the problems. God assures me this is ok. If I continue to preach the Gospel and more importanly LIVE the Gospel in this community, though the outward conditions of the people may never change or may change very slowly, but if these people can come with us to Heaven, a few years of suffering will pale in comparrison. In the mean time, He allows me to see Him in their faces and to love Him in bandaging their wounds and letting their charcoal and mud covered children curl up in my lap.

I have recently been humbled by the privledge to get to know twenty of this community’s women on a very personal level. Juliette was a prositute, sneaking quietly away from her home after her children had fallen asleep and selling her body to be able to put some food on the tabel for them in the morning. Veronica was brewing alcohol as a quick way to make money to support her children, one of whom was litterally dying of starvation. On days when alcohol didn’t sell, she would bring the mash that it is made from home to her family and they would swallow it until they fell asleep. She was making her children drunk so that they were unable to feel the pains of hunger. Todi, widowed after her third child was born, had recently taken in her sister’s five children after her sudden death. “What was my choice?” she asked when explaining the situation to me. “God says I look after the orphans, I look after the orphans.” The of them sleep together on the floor in a home about half the size of my giant kitchen table. Jja Jja Maria looks afer her three grandchildren thought she can barely walk due to severe back pain. Kasifa only has use of one arm as a result of polio when she was younger but uses her one good arm to pick through the trash for some food for her 6 children. They each have a story that would blow your mind.

About 8 months ago, I gathered this group of women in the local mud-and-stick church. All different tribes. All different ages. All different hardships. They had one thing in common: they were all trying to support their families and feed their children and they were not succeeding. And they all had stolen my heart. With the help of some sweet friends, I began teaching them how to make these recycled-paper bead necklaces that are all the rage in Uganda. We spent the first few months just getting to know eachother as we learned, crying with eachother when someone announced that their HIV test had come back positive and laughing with eachother when someone made an awfully mishapen bead. And through this porcess something happened that is incredibly rare in this slum community: we became friends.

Last months, one of the members of our group died suddenly. She called me in the morning to tell me that she had a headache, and by the time a friend got there to check on her, she had passed on, probably due to very advanced AIDS that she had been fighting for as long as she could remeber. I was devestated by the loss of sweet Christine with her huge smile and her gentle, cheerful spirit. But I was also full of joy. Just a few weeks earlier, after a lengthy conversation amoungst the women in our group and lots and lots of questions, Christine had given her life to Christ. The next Sunday at church, we celebrated her baptism. Christine may be gone from this earth, but I KNOW where she is. Death does not claim the victory, Christ does. I watched Jesus Christ make Christine a new person in her time on this earth. Her once frail sick body was suddenly able to move with more energy and work with more vigor. Her smile expanded to fill her whole face and there was a new light in her eyes. Praise and thanksgiving were always on her once cracked and bleeding lips; she was quick to encourage all her new friends. While before she complained that she did not have enough, her new Christ-following self thanked God for EVERYTHING right down to the bitter leaves she used to brew her morning tea. At 47 years old, Christine found what she was looking for. He makes all things NEW. And I know that now in Heaven, Christine’s once ailing body is now fully restored, made perfect in Christ. I am so thankful.

At her funeral, the remaining 19 ladies stood up and said beautiful things about Christine. And afterward, in a community where the culture is strickly every-man-for-himself, where people can hardly feed their own children, let alone their neighbors, those 19 women pooled their rescources and cooked everyone lunch. The community shared a meal together as they never have before. My sweet friends made sure that Jesus was not only glorified in Christine’s life, He was glorified in her death.

For those of you who have been wondering what happened to Jja Jja Grace, our sweet grandma that I had wanted to move in with us: the women took that into their own hands as well. At a loss for what to do one day, I asked the women in 7 of then would volunteer to spend a few hours with her one day of the week. To my wonderful surprise, not seven, but all 20 of them volunteered. I put Jja Jja Grace’s 9 different medicines in seven envelopes, one for each day of the week. On Mondays I go to her house, taking enough food and charcoal for the week and the envelopes of pills. Each day, two or three ladies go to Grace’s house and wash her clothes, cook some of the food, make sure she swallows all her pills, and just visit. They love it, and so does she. There is only one thing I can think of that feels better than helping your neighbor: empowering your neighbor to help their own neighbors.

There are still days when I walk through Masese and feel completely powerless and totally overwhelmed. The illnesses are more than I can treat even if I sit in the make-shift clinic in the back of my van for 15 hours a day. Sometimes the sadness seems almost unbearable, the problems unsolvable, the wounds unhealable. I will keep trying anyway. In an unideal situation, there is often not an ideal solution, this side of Heaven. But this is what I know: Resurection is real. Life is more powerful than death. Light can pierce darkness. I may never see the end of horrendous situtaions on this earth, so instead of trying to fix the situation here and now, I will focus on helping these people come to Heaven with me, so that we may say together “Death and sadness have been swallowed up in a victory. Oh Death, where is you victory? Death where is your sting?” Christ has overcome the mess that is this world and I am humbled to get to witness His salvation on a daily basis.

Recently, one of my favorite men in the world, my dad’s big brother and my Uncle Denny passes away after a long and gueling battle with cancer. He may have been one of the kindest, gentlest men to ever grace the planet. He knew what it meant to live simply and LOVE deeply. I believe that I am a better person because of his example of selfless, unconditional love. (If you haven’t noticed, I have been blessed with A LOT of examples of selfless love in my family, and I am so thankful.) I know that every person in my family and everone in the town of Williamsport is morning the loss of this wonderful man. But we know where He is. Unlce Denny, like Christine, found what he was looking for. He is now a new creation. The way he lived his life makes his death a celebration of the day we see him again. I bet he and Christine will be friends. How I can’t wait to embrace them both one day.
**Will you please consided buying a necklace (or 10!) from these sweet ladies who are working so hard to support their families and see positive change in their community? You can purchase them here http://147millionorphans.com/uganda-necklaces. Check back often because we have four new designs coming soon! Thank you, always, for your continued prayers and support.

93 thoughts on “

  1. Thank you so much for your post, Katie! Humbling! Thank you for sharing with Christine and all the people there. It means everything!
    I am praying for you today and for all that depend on you there!


  2. Auntie Katie,
    My heart continues to break with you for those who are suffering and not seeing the love of Jesus from others around them.

    In the words of Mother Teressa

    I'm ready to embark on another journey to Zambia and live among the needy, once again. I'm eager to share the love in word and Deed and pray that I'll have the strength and wisdom that only our Savior can provide me (like you), from day to day.

    My prayers are with you along with my heart. I find myself often dreaming of coming to work beside you and leaving my home and Zambian's behind. It's such an encouragement to see someone else out there with the heart for the under dogs in life and your endurance never ceases to amaze me.

    Hugs to you Katie-


  3. It is tempting to desire a blanket solution. But each situation is as unique as the individual. I believe the individual or personal level is where God asks us to work. Perhaps I am beginning to realize that God can work around our weakness, imperfection, selfishness, and lack of time/resources if we submit to His power and obey His commands. God gave us His grace because we need it, not because we might like to have it. Even our best righteous acts look like dirty rags in comparison to God and His glory (Is 64:6). Jesus said in response to the rich man calling him “Good Teacher”, “No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

    The “love your neighbor as yourself” standard or goal is unreachably high without Christ and Holy Spirit until we are risen again with Christ. Before that time comes, we are encouraged and instructed by Paul in Philippians 3:12-16

    “12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
    15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

    I think “press on” means with His leading, His strength, His wisdom, His power, His provision, and His love. With all He has given to us, let’s all obey Him, and press on together!


  4. The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Isaiah 60:19
    I thank God that you are an inspiration to me. Thank you for your heart. May God bless you and keep you safe.


  5. I love your heart. I love your work. I love your honesty. You remind me of my friend Sarah. You challenge me and make me want to stay so close to God, completely surrendered to Him so that I can be used by Him to touch others. God Bless you Katie!


  6. I purchased a necklace and I want to do more. I don't have much to offer in terms of monetary donations, but please, tell me what I can do. I read your post on November 20, and I was wondering how Angelina is doing? Her story moved me deeply. I imagined my own two-year-old in that condition and the grief is unbearable. Please, let me know if there is anything I can do. I can try to gather supplies that you need and ship them to you, or.. I don't know. But I know I want to help.
    My email is HISchild037@gmail.com, and my name is Theresa. God bless you and your girls. Your love is big.


  7. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing! And that sweet baby dripping in those beads…precious! Who wouldn't want to purchase them after that?! 🙂


  8. A friend of mine posted this quotation on her Facebook, and I immediately thought of you:

    “Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says “Oh crap, she's up!””

    I keep you and your family in my prayers. You faith is an inspiration.


  9. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few. Praise God that these women are learning to work and provide for themselves and their babies. Praise God as you work along side them and share about the love of Jesus. I am in Ukraine adopting my 5th Son and as I look into the faces of the children, I, like you am overwhelmed. I purchased 5 necklaces and intend to give them as gifts with you blog website attached. May the Lord bless and keep you as you work His harvest!


  10. Katie, I just wanted to pop on and wish you a Happy Mother's Day. I am so grateful God allowed me to find your blog; you and your walk with Jesus inspire me. Thank you again for sharing your life so intimately with so many people you have never met. God bless you and your family! With love, Joanna


  11. Katie-HAPPY MOTHERS DAY. Those children must cherish you so much. They might not have ever known such a love without your sacrafice on their behalf. May the Lord's presence be ever so great over you on this special day. You are so special to so many all around. We are thinking of you today.


  12. Happy Mother's Day Katie! You don't know me but I pray for you often and have been reading for over a year. My heart breaks for these women but swells with joy at hearing the work that God is accomplishing in their lives through you and others. Thank you for sharing about the Radical series as well – God is wrecking us and breaking our hearts in deeper ways that we thought possible.


  13. Hi Katie. Right now I am living in Nateete, near the Kampala area of Uganda for a few months. My hometown is a completely flat region in Canada. Last week I had the opportunity to go to Mongalo (sp?) where the Uganda Jesus Village has some land. There is a high peak/plateau that they want to make into a prayer home, and I was meditating on Isaiah 25, about the mountain in which God will prepare a feast, and swallow up death & tears forever… This week we hope to go to Jinja where a local pastor is prepare places for us to visit… Thank you for how you are loving Jesus! May He pour out His Spirit upon you, and the women, men and children in your midst. Love, Carla Raes


  14. I received my beautiful necklace last week and if the story behind the necklace wasn't enough to speak of, the absolute beauty is! They are fabulous so if you have not yet ordered yours, do it now! They will make beautiful gifts as I do not know one woman who would not be proud to wear these jewels.


  15. God Bless You.

    1) When my cousin was a young lady God told her that if she married her boyfriend then He, God, could not bless her the way He had planned. She broke up. Today she is in her sixties. Her son is a Pastor, God fearing and a spiritual leader.
    She and her husband have been pastor's in a church and a blessing all their life.
    I know about her sacrifice because my mother was nanny in her home for her younger siblings at the time.
    Interestingly I have met the person who was her boyfriend and it is exactly as God told her. She would never have been blessed the way she has been until now or been able to be the blessing she has been if she had married him. He is a great person I have nothing bad to say about him but life would have been so much different for her.

    2) When God puts his sight on you, you can run (Jonas), scream, fight what ever, He gets it the way he wants, thankfully. If we do not give up the things he points out to us He removes them and that in my experience is twice as hurtful as giving them up on his advise.

    3) I found your blog five days ago. I was searching on orphanages in Africa and found a blog that mentioned your blog. I have been reading at least 10 hours now and gotten through it all though some of it I will go back and reread.
    Why did I stick… well You are the first I have read that reminds me of Mother Teresa. The way she describes God's love and the “love your neighbor” command is so the same.

    4) I am planning to move to Africa. I check you blog every day now.

    Thank you for the insight gained through your blog.


  16. You are so AMAZING, and God is being glorified in your every word. Thank you for bragging on HIM and His power, which enables you. I have gotten a reality check in reading your life stories. Our problems are so frivilous compared to what you are dealing with! We are so blessed in the USA, we have NO idea what we have. Thank you for sharing your stories, and being a faithful and obedient daughter to the King. I look forward to speding all eternity with you, as we praise God together.


  17. So glad you posted this, I bought one for every woman in my family for birthdays and mothers day and every time I wear mine I get tons of compliments. It so great to think about the hands that made these beads and the necks that might have worn them before me. Reminds me to pray! Many blessings!


  18. I found your blog because a friend of mine posted it to facebook. I'm so touched by your blog and the work you are doing. I clicked right over and bought some necklaces. God bless you.


  19. Katie, thank you for everything that you do for so many. I know that you are ragged and weary and I also know that God is holding you so closely. You are an inspiration to us here in the States. I was honored to place my necklace order.


  20. I bought two of these necklaces for my mother and mother-in-law for Mother's Day. 🙂

    May you be blessed as a mother and mother-figure to so many! Many blessings on you and your ministry!


  21. Hey Katie!
    You don't know me, but someone gave me your blog link on my blog. I just wanted to lift you up and encourage you! You are not only changing Uganda and Tennessee my friend, but you are changing the entire world! I'm in Vietnam right now with 40 other lovers that are being challenged and encouraged by you continually. We were in Africa from January to March and actually in Jinja for a short time! Keep pressing in Woman of God! The impact you are making is far greater than you will ever even know! Oh how He loves you Katie, Oh how He loves you!


  22. Katie, you are such an inspiration. These people are so lucky to have you. I'm so lucky to have found your blog. Of course I bought a necklace. I'm going to take it to a little boutique in my neighborhood hoping that they will buy several. God bless you and all you do.


  23. i ordered one and it is a new favorite!! i love telling my friends about the beads!!!

    thank you katie for reminding me the face and hands of Jesus…priceless.


  24. Hi Katie,
    Im sure so many people are following you and just falling in love with you by your blogs even if they never met you. That is the same for me, but know that your blogs are making me fall in love with your family in all your temporary homes. Just a few months ago I was in Uganda near you. Wishing I could have come and met you. Know that you are not alone, and I have a heart that feels like it might explode too. Its like the best hurt in the world.You just get to see Jesus everyday in those beautiful African eyes. AHHHHH. So…… flipping……., make your insides burst in joy, that really has no English words to describe it. Loving you over here in Asia!


  25. I have decided to be a missionary and you have inspired me greatly. Thank you for all you do.
    “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, do what it says. He who listens to the Word, but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at himself in the mirror, and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But he who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, not forgetting what he has heard but doing it, that man will be blesses in all he does.”
    Somewhere in James 1. 🙂


  26. Katie,

    It always moves my soul when I come to your blog.
    I will continuously pray for you.
    I didn't know that you needed people for the beads, I chose the bag 🙂 Love the 147 million bag.

    Oh girl, you are such an angel on this earth.


  27. I just got my necklaces the other day. They are BEAUTIFUL!!!! I love wearing it and thinking about the people you are helping. You are doing amazing work. I'll be praying for your ministry as I wear your beautiful jewelry.


  28. Katie,

    Continuing to pray for you, your girls, and the Lord's ministry there. Keep your heart and mind fixed upon Him!

    In the joy and peace only Jesus can give,



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