For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. Ecclesiastes 1:18

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him. Philippians 1:29






In May I stood in front of a crowd of 500 people and spoke of our sweet adopted grandmother, Grace:

“Grace is an 80 year old woman, blind and all alone. The cold rain drips through her grass thatched roof and onto her face which she covers with a plastic bag. AIDS makes it impossible for her body to fight off any illness, including the tuberculosis that is wreaking havock on her already-emaciated frame. Malnutrition makes it impossible for her to even sit, let alone walk.

Today, Grace is an 80 year old woman loved by many, and loving the Lord with her whole heart. She is warm in her hospital bed. With the help of medicine and Jesus, Grace has gained weight, partially regained her sight, and is able to stand up to greet me. Today, Grace is still dying. But today Grace is dying with dignity, with love surrounding her, and with a place prepared for her in Heaven.”

In June, just a week after I came home from my time in the states, Grace went to that place prepared for her. Though still warm in her hospital bed, she had once again deteriorated to being unable to even hold up her head. She could barely speak, but rather just groaned or moaned to let you know she could hear you, that she was still here. I was able to be with her just hours before she went to be with Jesus. Her poor little body simply could not fight anymore. As I held her hand in those last hours, I w

hispered to her not to be afraid. That even though she was in immense pain, Jesus had not forgotten, He was preparing her place and soon she would be with Him forever. As I spoke the words into her ear, my heart said a silent prayer, “Soon Lord. Quickly Lord. Please. Please, please.”

Selfishly, I was devastated by her death. Selfishly, I hated having to tell me sweet little girls that there beloved grandmother was no longer here. Selfishly, I miss her sweet, hilarious personality and her kisses and her whispers in my ear. But more than I am sad, I am so thankful for our time with her. I am thankful for what we learned from her and what she learned from us. I am so thankful that God brought her into our family. And I am beyond thankful that she is now safe with Him.

A few weeks after we lost our sweet Jja jja, another friend joined us in our home. Napongo was a severely malnourished, HIV positive, beautiful 4 year old little girl. She had huge, infected wounds on her stomach that was swollen and distended from malnutrition and parasites. It is a common belief here that if you make many small incisions on a child’s stomach and rub local herbs and salt in them, that the swelling will reduce. Obviously this doesn’t work and had left napongo covered in nasty, oozing cuts. At first, I tried giving her 14 year old Auntie (who also happened to be Napongo’s primary care giver while her mother had gone to the big city to look for work) the medicine Napongo needed, clean bandages for her jigger infested feet and infected belly, and nutritious food. When I came back a week later to check on her though, I only found her condition worse. I think I don’t really need to tell you what happened next – we took her home, along with her 9 year old sister Alapea to be our translator since none of us speak Karimojong. (we are learning though!)

Napongo’s is a beautiful story of redemption, healing, and God’s incredible grace. I spent hours upon hours digging the jiggers out that had burrowed deep into the girls’ feet. My sweet children welcomed Napongo and Alapea with open arms and we fed them and loved them just as much as we could. Napongo was put on medicine and began gaining weight rapidly, turning into a healthy, happy 4 year old. Unfortunately, she never quite learned to use the toilet, and I am forever indebted to my children for helping me clean up all the poop left in all corners of the house. Today, Napongo is back at home. Her mother has returned from Kampala and is surprised to see how well she is doing. So far, she seems to be doing a great job of maintaining her care, which is such an answered prayer.

During the time we were caring for Napongo, my sweet friend Ashley lost her daughter to a sudden and unexpected bout with pneumonia. Just days later, my good friend Santina gave birth to a beautiful baby and as I sat on her dirt floor, covered in afterbirth and cradling this precious little life, she announced that she would like to name her daughter Katie. A few days later, my friend Kodette also had a baby, but the baby was almost 3 months early, and after being refused treatment at three different hospitals because of her tribe, this baby girl also went to be with Jesus.

Suffering. Rejoicing. Squalor. Beauty. Love. Pain.

If you have been keeping up with my blog you read about 23 year old Nabakosa, who my friend Renee was nursing and who I promptly fell in love with. Her death just 12 days later was far more devataing that the death of Jja Jja Grace. Of course, I was still rejoicing that Nabakosa, who had lived such a life of neglect and despair was once again with her maker, dancing with angel. But I was also infuriated at how preventable her situation was. She was in her awful state ONLY because no one had cared for her. No one had loved her. No one had even given her a second thought. Just typing it causes me to weep – to have no human interaction, touch or love for almost 23 years is simply unfathomable. My precious children spent hours sitting on our kitchen floor praying for Nabukosa when we were not at Renee’s loving on her. She had such a special place in her heart. When she died, I looked at God and plainly told Him that I was tired of this. Tired of telling telling my children that another one of their friends had died of something preventable. Tired of witnessing the suffering of these precious innocent people and wondering why God didn’t bring them to us sooner so we could do more to help. Trusting in His perfect plan but still wondering.

Today 20 year-old Maria and her 6 pound, 2 year old, beautiful baby girl Agnes are staying with us. Maria brought Agnes to me on death’s doorstep a month and a half ago and asked if I had any medicine that could help her because the baby she had before Agnes died a few years ago. I knew this baby needed a whole lot more than medicine, so we brought them home where I could monitor baby Agnes and teach Maria to make high fat milk and other things that are nutritious for her baby. Our whole family absolutely adores Agnes and Maria and Agnes has gained almost 4 pounds since being here. Most exciting is that Maria has been listening to the Bible read in Karimojong! She carries her “proclaimer” (a little radio-like device that proclaims the Bible in different remote languages) around with her everywhere – there is constantly a man’s voices shouting the Gospel in Karimojong through my house at maximum volume. I cannot wait to see what the Lord will do in her heart.

Today I drove into Masese with my van full of singing children only to find that my dear friend Mary had lost the baby she has been carrying for 7 months. Jja Jja Ruth passed away after she was sent home from the hospital where they said there was nothing more to do. Patricia’s biological sister Shariwa is about to lose her baby to the worst case of malnutrition I have ever seen because she stopped prostituting her self when she came to know Jesus 6 months ago, and now has no money for food. They will live with us now while we nurse the baby back to health and look for a job for momma.

I would like to tell you that as I become more and more surrounded with sorrow and squalor, it gets easier or less painful. But it doesn’t. The brokenness of this world does not become any less sad. Each and every time, it is overwhelmingly devastating that people have to live, and die, like this. While it does not get easier, I have found that I am able to face each one with a little more hope. I always hope that my friends will live here on earth with me, but I tell them all with a new sense of urgency about Jesus because mostly, I want them to live with HIM, whether here or in heaven. I see the sadness, but I also see the redemption.

If we are really following Jesus, we will go to the hard places. Being a Christ follower means being acquainted with sorrow. Because we must know sorrow to be able to fully appreciate Joy. Joy costs pain, but the pain is worth it.

So we go. This is where our family is today and where I hope to stay – loving, because He first loved us. Going into the pit, entering into the sorrow because He entered for us first and because by His grace, redemption is on the other side – again, and again, and again.

77 thoughts on “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. Ecclesiastes 1:18

  1. You don't know me, but yours is one of only two blogs that I follow – the other is my sister, “Katie”. Our family, here in Falkner, Ms, have come to love you and yours way over in Uganda. How a love for Christ and his children can unite even across oceans! I know that you probably have a lot of people tell you how “special” you are for what you do. I do not write to say that, but to say how amazing God is and how good He is to give “special” grace for incredibly hard circumstances. I am continually blessed by your honest portrayal of your struggles, and the grace that He gives to get you through them. May He continue to send you His children who are in need, AND continue to give you grace, wisdom, and protection as you obey Him by loving them. I wish I could come stay a month with you.

    Much Love in our Dear Saviour,
    Laura McCoy

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  2. BTW, Morgan Price, who I know has “talked” to you some, and is planning to meet you when she comes to Uganda soon, is a good friend. I pray that you will be an encouragement to each other.

    Laura

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  3. Katie,

    I found your blog last night after a fellow blogger linked to this post. I read your post and I was completely overwhelmed and intrigued. I went back to your very first post and read until the wee hours of the morning. I logged on again tonight and I have now read every single post. I have laughed, I have cried, I have re-evaluated my priorities. You amaze me. Your faith in God and your love of people is so VERY inspiring. Your willingness, your selflessness, your strength and determination, your faithfulness in doing what God has asked ALL of us to do…well, I just can't find the words to explain all that you are! You are a beautiful child of God. You are changing the lives of every single person that you encounter in Uganda. You are changing the WORLD by sharing your story with us. Thank you so much for all that you do and for sharing it with us.

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  4. Yes, wherever we are called, it gets hard.

    Even as a CBA novelist!

    Thank you for reminding us scripturally that God will go with us, that He is IN us to support, to sustain.

    Blessings through Him,
    Patti

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  5. OH, dear sweet Sister…how I long to wrap my arms around you. Thank you for your transparency, for keeping the poor and weak ever before us, for your faithfulness. Thank you for letting us see your pain, the sorrow, and reminding us that we MUST not let up. You will continue to be in my prayers.

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  6. Whenever I read you posts my heart just feels this huge ache…. and a pull to your work!!! I want to help so much more that financially!!! I want to BE THERE!!!
    I'm praying for you all…. and for your ministry, and that God will do marvelous things!!!
    love in Christ!!!

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  7. To the woman who has 14 children, and kills her own chickens, and raises her own goats, and has a pet monkey, and shares blogs with amazing truths AND reads all her comments, and still finds time to write a book … and I can't even find the right words to leave a comment 🙂 I just would kind of like to be you when I grow up. I thank God for you whenever I think of you. Yes, yes I do. I don't know how to pick a “favorite” part of this post, but I really did love the part about Maria with her proclaimer. That is just so amazing. xoxo

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  8. I think many wept when they read your post – as I did. In my tears I called for a blessing for you, for Renee, and for all the blessed people that you sacrifice yourselves to love and help. I don't understand the 'whys' of all the pain you witness and share in. I don't understand the unfairness of it all. All I can do is to put in my little seed (prayers and donations) and ask God to help you.

    The words of a new song that has become my anthem in the past month came to mind. It's called “Little is Much” by the band “downhere”. I hope it brings you some comfort as it does me:

    What is the measure of a life well-lived
    If all I can offer seems too small to give?
    This is a song for the weaker, the poorer
    And so-called failures.

    Little is much when God's in it.
    And no one can fathom the plans He holds.
    Little is much when God's in it
    He changes the world with the seeds we sow.
    Little is much, little is much.

    Who feels tired and under-qualified?
    Who feels deserted, and hung out to dry?
    This is a song for the broken, the beat-up
    And so-called losers.

    Consider a Kingdom in the smallest seed.
    Consider that giants fall to stones and slings.
    Consider a child in a manger.
    Consider the story isn't over.
    What can be done with what you still have?

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  9. I love your blog and how you are serving Jesus so passionately. I will be praying for you SISTER!

    Keep the faith! I have done ministry in Ukraine and Russia. Am currently in the States ministering to my family. Peace–dianne 🙂

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  10. Do you know

    really KNOW

    that you're making a difference?

    Because you are. Not just in Africa.

    Through your story and your link to the Radical series, the Lord began a work in the hearts of our son and daughter in law. She says when she began to read your blog, she would whisper to my son as they lay in bed, “Let's go help Katie.”

    But God did something different with them. They have sold everything and moved with their 4 little boys to Haiti. My son teaches school. His sweet wife is making “home” and getting involved in ministries and blogging things that break my heart and make me so happy.

    And I think you started it.

    I really do.

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  11. Katie,
    You are a true hero in my eyes, the work you are doing over there is amazing. We cannot even begin to imagine what you go through on a day to day basis, but your strength shines through. You love on those children and call them your own.

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  12. I just came across your blog and am thankful for it.

    I can't find the words to tell you or express to you my gratitude as it just seems inappropriate to even try to write it here.

    So from one sister to another, “THANK YOU!!!”

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  13. I love your heart. You are a blessing to me and so many others. I'm just seventeen now, but in a few years I hope to be doing something half as worthwhile and inspiring as you. You are amazing. and you're daughters are beautiful. Praying for you, your heart, your girls, and your ministry.
    so.much.love.
    God Bless

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  14. Wow. I absolutely love reading your posts. They inspire me every time.
    Today, it was your last two paragraphs.
    Simply amazing and definitely a challenge.
    Praying for you, your family, and your many friends that in everything and everyone Jesus will be glorified.

    Jess

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  15. Thank you for typing out all of those painful stories.
    These are things that never even cross the mind of most people. It is amazing how desparately the lives are lived and yet they some how find joy in their journeys–often more than others. I am sure that eternal view is the only save to ease the pain. This is the view of the world the rest of us need to wake up to the REAL reality. The depth of sorrow…is SO deep.

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  16. Your blog is amazing, Katie. I know you might never read these words, but your blog really opens up a window for me into what it is like living in Africa, where there is such hunger and disease. And it is so good to know that you are there, the antidote to this: providing love in a very arid place.

    God bless you, Katie. If I can only be as strong as you…

    Jim Bures

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  17. Katie, you are an amazing woman. Your courage and obedience to go to the hard places is incredible. My daughters and I have been following your blog for a few months now and you and your girls are ever in our prayers. (And really, as a Mom, can I ask for a better witness to what it means to live for Jesus?)

    Praying Psalm 30 for you today.

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  18. I cry every time I read your blog. Not only for the sorrow and pain that others suffer so needlessly, but also because of my own guilt over my failure to do more to help… Thank you for always holding me to a higher standard, modeling Christ with your actions, and reminding all of us that we need to do our part, sacrificially and without ceasing. VFC Guy

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  19. Katie,

    I am so inspired by you. I feel that God wants me to be like you when I grow up. I hope God keeps you safe. I like reading your blog. It's helps me see how we are supposed to help others in the world.

    Yours truly,

    Anna
    10 yrs old

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  20. I am new to reading your blog but I love it! You are amazing!! Thank you so much for doing what God has called you to do! I love reading your blog! God bless you and I am praying for you!

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  21. Thank you for taking the time to share…His grace is surely upon you to live among these dear ones and to love them with His love…I do not even know you…I found your blog through Amy Jorgensen's blog (my son is married to her sister, Lisa). I am completely debilitated in my health and struggle so, but I do not live in squalor, I have never dealt with the poor conditions that these precious ones do…reading your posts brings me much needed perspective. Thank you.

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  22. Thank you for taking the time to share all of this…God's grace is surely upon you to live among these dear ones…to love them with His love…thank you for doing so…for going to the hard places (praying for His continued grace). We do not know each other. I found your blog through Amy Jorgensen's blog (my son is married to her sister, Lisa). I have dealt with debilitating illness for the whole of my adult life (closing in on almost 30 years, now)…there has been great struggle and a search for understanding…but I have never lived in squalor…I have never known poverty. Reading your blog brings me much needed perspective and I thank you…I have been ministered to and blessed today by you…thank you for serving our Lord in the way that you do…so sacrificially…again,thank you for going to the hard places (praying for His peace and comfort to keep you at all times).

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  23. There is truly nothing new I can say to you Katie. This blog of the reality we would rather not be aware of is truly changing the way the world sees our role and responsibilty to “the least of these” not only that you just have the gift of making a personal relationship with Our God seem so easy and possible. I am not very mature in my walk with God, but he is doing wonderous things in me and quite honestly just reading of your daily walk with God in Uganda helps me understand the true meaning and feeling of the Word. Thank you for this Katie. Thank you for having a broken heart for the terrible circumstanses the people of Uganda suffer with everyday. Thank you for sharing your love and life with God. You began with the intention of helping Uganda through all their strife, and you have ultimately changed the lves of so many other people of the world, that really want to know “is God real” It is very apparent through you that God is real, God loves each and every one of us!

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