Far from what I once was, but not yet what I'm going to be

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Next Big Adventure

Dear Friends & Family,

I recently had a mentor ask me, “When do you feel most alive?” I thoughtfully considered my reply and realized that I feel most alive when I answer the Lord’s call to go overseas and serve His people. Last summer, I was incredibly blessed with the opportunity to do just that – I answered the Lord’s call and I traveled overseas to Uganda for 7 weeks to intern at a Pediatric Neurosurgery hospital. Because of that experience, my passion for serving His people overseas was ignited even more; and I am excited to announce that in the summer of 2015 I will be travelling to Scotland to serve His people once again.

            In July 2015, I will be on a team with seven other women partnering with Young Life for 3 weeks in Scotland. We will be putting on Young Life camps for the local youth there.  Young Life recently purchased a campground in Crieff, Scotland and we have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the very first summer of Young Life camp.  The vision of Young Life is that every adolescent will have the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ and follow Him.  The mission of Young Life is introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.  I can’t wait to be a part of this mission and this vision! Each year I seem to think the Lord is done with me doing mission work overseas – and each year He shows me He is just getting started.

             As you know, there are many moving pieces when it comes to trips such as this, and that is why I am writing you. First and foremost I would like to ask for your prayers. Please join me in praying for the kids that will arrive at this camp, that their hearts will be prepared, even now, to experience the Gospel in a very real way and that their lives will be forever changed. I would also encourage you to pray for the leaders and property staff, that the Lord may give them strength and knowledge to come alongside these campers and walk with them through their journey. Lastly, I would love to ask for prayers of provision for our team as we fundraise over the next several months. My goal is to fundraise $3,200.00. I would like to ask and encourage you to support this trip financially in any way that you can.  Any amount will be appreciated and I hope you will come alongside me in this next adventure. I wholeheartedly believe that The Lord will do big things through this camp and through our trip in reaching kids who long to know Jesus and I am honored to be a part of this advancement in the Kingdom.

            Thank you for taking the time hear about my life and what is coming in the next chapter. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Love always,Cara Clancy

John 14:18​

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."

Well that's just not true. That's one of the biggest lies we've ever been told. Words have power. Words are like a hammer. They can be used to build something beautiful, or they can be used for destruction - to tear something down.

Lately, stones have had a symbolic place in my life. As I have unpacked different feelings/emotions and been able to process certain events and journeys in my recent life, I have come to realize I allowed my heart to become a heart of stone. I caught a glimpse of bitterness and my hard heart. It was an ugly sight to see in myself.

It took coming to a breaking point - a point of utter exhaustion and despair to finally look inward and see these things in myself. I couldn't understand why, in this moment, I didn't have the joy I always had in every other difficult circumstance.

"I'm so tired," I would say.

When I had typhoid, I took it head on with a smile on my face and the joy of the Lord in my heart. I didn't let it get me down. I didn't feel defeated. Every time I broke a bone, tore a tendon, was in the hospital or had to have surgery, the Lord gave me peace and joy and strength.

But this time was different. This time felt heavy. This time I'm tired. I'm so exhausted. I had come to a breaking point and finally looked deep within and saw the ugliness of my heart of stone. A heart of bitterness. A heart that needed to forgive and let go of past hurt.

The symbolic heart of stone really did some wear and tear on my body. I've been sick. I've been in so much pain. Finally, the doctors informed me - I have kidney stones. How ironic it's a stone. A stone that will cause much pain before my body feels better - but it's because I must face it, and wash the stone away before I can be refreshed and new again.

It's been a good season, though. Encouragement is never far away when you have the good mentors that I do. I find strength and encouragement in Psalm 71. I find encouragement in knowing that David - a man after God's own heart - struggled at times and had such deep pain and dark moments, even considered walking away at times, but never did; and the Lord commends him and considered David a man after His own heart.

And I find ultimate joy and encouragement today in this:

"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
Ezekiel 36:26 ESV


Thursday, October 9, 2014

I'm tired

I'm sick.


I'm not worried. Not stressed. No anxiety or fear has crept in.

But I'm tired. I am so tired. Mentally, spiritually & physically.

Throughout my life, I have dealt with countless injuries and illnesses. And I have taken on each obstacle with a smile on my face and the joy of The Lord in my heart. He has always given me the perseverance to push through. He has been my strength and my portion. He has always carried me through each trial and filled me with His peace that surpasses all understanding.

This summer was no exception. I had typhoid and I took it head on -- with a smile on my face and the joy of The Lord in my heart. He gave me patience when the doctors lost my blood and I had to wait an extra 10 days and had to re-draw all the bloodwork; He gave me peace when it took 6 weeks to be diagnosed and I was sick and in pain. He gave me a smile when the world was telling me I should be sad and disheartened. But I never doubted.

Here I sit. Just weeks later -- sick again. Exhausted in every sense of the word. Burned out. 

But I cling to the words my Jesus has said, 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I went to Africa and got Typhoid Fever

"So, was it worth it?"

The burning question -- a question I have been asked countless times. My answer? YES.

One word. Yes. It was worth it. It is worth it every day. It will be worth it for the rest of my life.

Let me explain. I spent 2 months in Africa. I ate the street food, I ate the food in the villages. I ate with my hands when there were no utensils, and at times I was unsure if the water I was drinking had been boiled. I did NOT get the typhoid vaccination before going on my epic adventure across the world - that was my own fault.

So yes, I contracted Typhoid Fever. What is it? Typhoid Fever is obtained by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It is a bacteria that lives in the body called Salmonella Typhi. Individuals typically develop symptoms 2 to 21 days after being exposed to the bacteria.

I developed symptoms a week after my return to the States. Headache, nausea // vomiting, muscle aches, weakness, neck pain, back pain, the food poisoning scene from bridesmaids was my life.

I finally received my diagnosis of Typhoid Fever after THOROUGH testing over a month and a half of ER visits and Infectious Disease doctor appointments. My bloodwork was sent to the CDC [they really did the whole 9 yards.]

After finally figuring out it was typhoid, the doctor informed me I would have to complete the Typhoid Fever treatment. It seemed simple enough; just a round of the harshest antibiotics at the highest dose possible. No big deal. However, I was warned that the treatment often makes patients sicker than the actual illness. No problem, right? I'm tough. I've gone through everything imaginable. WRONG. Day 1 of that treatment was the roughest day of my life physically. But I got through it. Thank you Lord.

I was also informed that since going untreated for awhile, the Salmonella Typhi will always be in my blood. How exciting! But no worries everyone, typhoid can only be spread person-to-person through urine and stool. And I always thoroughly wash my hands after using the restroom ;)

I have been praising The Lord that typhoid is treatable. I have been praising Him that the treatment is only 7 days. He truly has blessed me; I am so thankful.

Now back to the burning question we started with.

"So, was it worth it?"

YES. It was worth it when I was sick. It's worth it now, being on the treatment and feeling worse than I did just with typhoid. And it will be worth it every day of my life, knowing I have Salmonella Typhi swimming in my blood.


Because I saw God's love, God's work, God's children. Because I was able to be His hands and feet. Because I felt His calling and purpose. Because even in the midst of life's circumstances, The Lord gives me joy and peace and hope. He gives me strength.

Take the world, but give me Jesus.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Honesty Hour

I am struggling. My heart hurts. I feel so selfish saying those words because I have everything. I have the love of my Lord and Savior. I have a roof over my head. I have a family who is supportive, encouraging and loving. I have incredible friends. I have enough to eat today and tomorrow and all week. I have money in my bank account.

Why is my heart so sad? Why am I so discouraged?

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! (Psalms 42:11 NLT)

I'm struggling because I'm lost. I'm lost and confused and hurting. I've known since 5th grade what I wanted to do with my life. I had it all planned out. I was going to grow up and be a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Well things change. Life takes a turn; but I was still on track to become a PA [physician assistant] -- and work in pediatric orthopedics. It's been my dream. Since fifth grade!

Well here I am. One year away from graduating with my bachelor's degree and I'm lost. I'm confused. I'm discouraged. I'm struggling. Is this really what I want to do? Is this what I'm made for?

I so badly want to live a life of purpose. I strive for a life of meaning. Will this life be the life I desire?

I have new dreams. Dreams to join the Peace Corps. Dreams to do the World Race. Dreams that give my life purpose and meaning. I want to help people in a tangible way. I want to be the hands and feet of Christ -- to the ends of the earth.

We all have seasons of life. Bright ones. Dark ones. Easy ones. Difficult ones. The highs and the lows. I know this is a season. A season of growth and change; one where I am discovering my calling.

I believe The Lord speaks. I just need to listen. He will guide my steps and direct my path.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 ESV)

And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:10 ESV)

Speak Lord, your servant is listening.


Sunday, July 27, 2014


How was your trip? What did you do while you were there?

Two questions. Two simple, innocent questions. Questions I have been asked countless times. Questions that seem so easy, so harmless; why are their answers so difficult? Why are the words so hard to find?

It's difficult for many reasons. I begin to describe my trip and what I did, then I see the friend I am talking to start to lose interest. Do they really even want to know about my trip? Or do they just ask because they know it's how I spent my summer?

Those two months changed my life. I can't water it down. I can't give you a reader's digest version. It was 2 months FULL of love, FULL of life, FULL of healing, FULL of meaning, FULL of friendship, FULL of Christ. I don't ever want to downplay those 2 months.

But it's hard - it's so hard to put into words my experience.

Ernest Hemingway once said, "write hard and clear about what hurts." I do my best. Here is my greatest effort to capture the adventure of my life in Uganda. Why does it hurt? Because I'm no longer in Uganda. Because I left the people I came to love. Because the Lord broke my heart for what breaks His. Because my eyes were opened to the great need of so many people, while I live in surplus at home.

How was your trip?

Incredible. Amazing. Fantastic. Fabulous. Radical. Awesome. Stellar. Excellent. Spectacular.

What did you do while you were there?

I built friendships.

While in Uganda, I created lasting friendships. I still speak with my friends from Uganda regularly. The people there made a lasting impression on my life. They live in such a way that inspires me. They inspire me because they truly rely on The Lord to show up every day and provide for their every need. They are so  filled with joy. It was impossible to walk around the hospital or a village or into town without seeing several people smile. But these people truly cared about me. They wanted to know about my life and who I am and what I do and how I live. I became sick once I came back and they have covered me in prayer and ask almost daily how I am feeling and what the latest update is. I developed deep friendships with some of the most incredible people on earth -- and it happened in such a short time. I am so thankful for the conversations I had and the relationships I developed. The Lord was at work in each conversation and in each friendship.


Miriam. Spiritual Mother



I shared Christ.

I was able to witness people give their lives to Christ. What a joyous occasion to be able to celebrate individuals enter the kingdom and become a part of the family forever! The week-long outreach in Gulu impacted me as much as it impacted the people we were teaching. They taught me just as much about love and faith and service as I could show them through the life of Jesus Christ in God's word. The small group conversations with the women in Gulu were truly incredible - they showed their faith as well as their faithfulness to The Lord. It was inspiring. I was touched and I saw The Lord show up several times as they shared personal stories. Our God is great.

I held babies.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I have always LOVED kids. KIDS. Never been a fan of babies. They cry and pee and poop and puke. Sometimes they're cute, but I've never had the urge to hold one. Until Uganda. Oh boy did I fall in love with hundreds of babies. They captivated my heart. I held babies and loved on them like the Father loves me. It was so heartwarming to see the moms of each child smile so big each time I held their son or daughter. It's not often someone outside the family wants to hold their child; so for an outsider to come and show their child love is a really big deal to them -- especially if their child has hydrocephalus or spina bifida. But how can you not love those precious babes? It's a direct look into the Father's heart. He loves them. I love them. Each child was so filled with joy. Oh how I love them. I wanted to keep them all.

Did I mention I love kids?

I worked in a hospital with the most incredible staff.

The staff at CURE Uganda is absolutely stellar. To have a group of so many incredible individuals in one workplace is like a dream come true. I fell in love with each person I met. They all extended such a warm welcome and they exuded the love of Christ both to me as well as to each patient and their family. They truly are healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God. These spectacular people taught me so much about medicine, life, and Christ. They are so selfless. They work long, hard hours and they truly do love each and every patient that is brought through the doors of CURE Uganda. Each patient received fantastic care because the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, surgeons, and other hospital staff prayed over them and took careful care of them. It touched my heart and made me want to be a healthcare professional just like that in the future.

I was adventurous.

I was so blessed to be able to live a life of adventure. God created such beauty in His masterpiece called Earth. Uganda doesn't disappoint. Sipi Falls. The Nile. Jinja. Bungee Jumping. Hiking. It was all amazing and it all brought me closer to His heart. I crave a life of adventure. Uganda will forever be in my heart. I hope and pray that one day I may return.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

I prayed. He answered.

I prayed. I prayed that God would place a dream in my heart so big that if it came true, it would be clear to me; it would be clear His love is deep, it would be clear HE made my dream happen, and it would be clear I was made for this.

He answered.

I prayed. I prayed, "Break my heart for what breaks yours." And Jesus wrecked my heart. He wrecked my heart and he wrecked the perfect little life I had planned out for myself.

He answered.

I prayed. I prayed that God would reveal that people like me are out there. People that love, and love hard. People that desire travel. People that require adventure. People that write. People that understand what life is about. People that don't need things; people that get it.

He answered.

I prayed. I prayed that God would radically change the way I live. That I wouldn't come back home and return to a life of normalcy; but rather make important and intricate changes - changes like living on less and living for more.

He answered.

The Lord is funny sometimes. We pray and pray - at times expectantly and other times not so much. He always answers. He always answers. He doesn't always answer the way we expect or the way we hope; but He always answers.

The Lord is funny because I prayed my prayers and His answers were, at times, completely unexpected.

I prayed about a dream and The Lord answered. He answered by placing a dream in my heart so big that I knew I could never achieve it on my own. The Lord placed a dream in my heart to do medical missions in Africa. I didn't know how I would get there. I didn't even know where on the continent I would go - but I KNEW The Lord placed this dream in my heart, and I KNEW He would see me through. And He did. He finished this work in me. The Lord allowed me follow this dream and fulfill this dream. He gave me the incredible opportunity to go to Uganda for 2 months and work in a Pediatric Neurosurgery hospital. It was the most incredible trip of my life. It was the most fulfilling time of my life. I met the most amazing people. I fell in love with a new place and a new people. The Lord showed me His love for me through this dream of mine. He showed me His love is deep. He made it clear to me that I was made for this.

I prayed. He answered.

I prayed, "Break my heart for what breaks yours," and He did. He broke my heart in more ways than one. The Lord revealed to me areas in my own life where I was not putting Him first. This breaks His heart - and that broke my heart too. He revealed this to me through certain events that wrecked my heart and turned my little life upside down. I thought I had everything planned out - but the thing is: you can't plan out your life without The Lord. His plans are greater.

  Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

I tried to plan my future on my own. But the Lord's plan for my future is way better than any plan I can dream up myself. Though my heart hurts at times and feels broken, I have hope and I'm excited for what HE has in store for me - because His love is deep and His love is wide. He knows my every need.
He broke my heart in other ways when I went to Africa and saw true poverty, real sickness, and what it means to be abandoned. This breaks His heart; it broke my heart too.
But seeing these things allowed me to know the need and be the light. We are called to be the light of the world - and being in a third world country in the middle of all these things, it was amazing to be able to share Christ's hope and love and light.

I prayed. He answered.

I prayed that God would reveal people to me. He did. He revealed to me that there are people like me. People who love, and love hard. People that desire travel. People that require adventure. People that write. People that understand what life is about. People that don't need things; people that get it.

I prayed. He answered.

I prayed that my life would change once I came back from my trip. He answered. But I am still a work in progress. The Lord answered this prayer by changing my view of what is important in life - but I constantly find myself frustrated. You see, in Uganda, I never saw a child complain about anything. That is not an exaggeration. Being back at home, I work as a camp counselor for children going into kindergarten. My days are filled with whining and complaining and crying over things hardly worth the tears. Now, I find myself constantly frustrated at people feeling entitled, people's greed, and how spoiled our children are. Don't get me wrong - I love them with all of my being, and they still bring me joy; but I can't help but think of the precious kids in Uganda who have next to nothing and never complain. They find something in the trash and it will be their toy and most treasured possession for days.

My life did change radically. My heart changed. Everything that is important to me shifted. My priorities changed.
Money doesn't matter. Material things don't matter. Where I live doesn't matter. What matters is my relationship with the Lord and that I make those around me feel loved.
Love and Christ matter.

I prayed. He answered.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ships and Anchors

Hebrews 6:19 says "We have this hope as an anchor for our souls, firm and secure."

If our souls contain the anchor, then my heart is the ship. And right now I am shipwrecked. But there's hope. There's always hope.

I'm shipwrecked because I am no longer in Uganda, but I sure as heck ain't home. Where is home anyway? Home is just a word we use to describe a feeling, isn't it? "Home is wherever I'm with you." "Home is wherever we are if there's love here too." The list goes on. . .

But me -- my heart is in so many places, with so many people. My love is all over the world. Part of my heart is in America, part of my heart is in Jamaica, part in Guatemala, and part is in Uganda.

I'm shipwrecked. I'm a nomad. A wanderer; without a home. But that's okay -- I'd rather it be that way and have love. I'd rather be a nomad without a home and have parts of my heart in different countries than only be in Phoenix.

My life is full this way. The journey is long. Sometimes it's dark. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes you fall. Sometimes I'm scared. Sometimes I feel alone. But I have hope. I know I will eventually see light. I know my burden will lighten. I know my Father will pick me up. And I know I am being held ever-so-tightly.

I saw a lot when I was living abroad -- a lot of things that were heavy on the heart. But nothing compares to the emotions of coming home. It's the hardest part of the whole trip. I struggle with anger, anxiety, deep sadness, and other emotions I can't even put into words.

I didn't want to leave Uganda. I never wanted to leave. I don't want to go back to "normal" life in America -- where people feel entitled, where people complain about anything and everything, and where we have way too much. I don't want that life.

I want a life where I eat beans and posho everyday because that's all I can afford. I want a life where I live in a hut that I have to smear cow dung on. I want a life where I rely on The Lord for my every need -- instead of relying on myself.

But I'm learning that I can live like that anywhere. I don't have to be in Africa to live a life fully reliant on The Lord. I don't have to be in Africa to live a life that is poor in the world but rich in the kingdom of God. I can live like that anywhere. And what a statement to live like that in America -- where it's all about money, material things and "making it" on your own. I will not conform to the patterns of this world.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

My heart hurts coming home. But God is good. He knows my heart. He understands my pain and he knows my suffering. He hurts with me and comforts me. He is teaching me so much.

I'm thankful for this storm that is weathering my heart. I am thankful He is my anchor. I am thankful for the hope He gives me each day to carry on and know that loving His people is all I'm called to do. I am thankful for the ship that is my heart -- even though at times I feel shipwrecked, I will never sink.

Thank you Father for sharing your people with me for 7 weeks. Thank you Father for showing me Your heart. Thank you Father for letting me love like you do.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Goodbyes aren't easy.

Have you ever been to the beach, standing in the waves just admiring the beauty around you - when all of a sudden, the most powerful wave comes out of nowhere, catches you off guard and completely knocks you off your feet?

That's how I feel right now as CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda disappears in the rear view mirror of our van.

I feel blindsided and completely knocked off my feet. A wave just crashed into me out of nowhere when I was minding my own business admiring the beautiful people and beautiful places around me.

My heart hurts as I leave people behind not knowing if I will ever see them again; people who have left a mark on my life forever.

Goodbyes are never easy. Words never seem sufficient for my love and appreciation for the people I have met and built relationships with. But I consider myself so blessed to have built such deep friendships and sweet relationships that it makes saying goodbye so hard.

Is my heart wrecked? Absolutely. But I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful because it means my time in Uganda was well spent. The tough goodbye means my friendships are real and I have learned much and loved more. The difficult goodbye means I have been impacted greatly. What more could I ask for?


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Leap of Faith

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33 ESV)

I just love this story. What most people remember of this story is Peter's fear, which made him begin to sink. But what I see here is Peter's faith in the first place; Peter had to take a leap of faith to even step out of the boat, onto the water. Peter did have faith. Yes, he let fear and doubt creep into his mind once he looked at the storm around him -- like many of us do in our lives -- but he took the initial steps.

It is so important to keep our eyes on the One who does not sink.

On my adventure here in Uganda, I took a literal leap of faith. I went bungee jumping. 152 feet over the Nile river. You may think it's silly, you may call me crazy; but this was a leap of faith in my life.

This experience wasn't just a touristy thing for me -- it was symbolic. I often struggle with wanting to be in control of the situations in my life. I want to know the outcomes of scenarios and direct my own steps. But that's not how life works -- it's not how God intended it. I have to trust that His plan is perfect. So I leap. I leap into His loving arms, trusting in Him. I take a leap of faith.

As I stood up on the platform ready to take my leap of faith, the man who tied my feet to bungee cord asked me if I was nervous. I replied with, "yeah, a little bit." Obviously I was terrified. I have never been so scared in my life. He looked at me with a smile on his face and said, "You will be fine. In the name of Jesus Christ, I say you will be just fine." It's just what I needed in that moment.

I chose to tandem bungee with my gal pal Tina. Yes, I was still afraid as Peter was. But I took my leap of faith. And in the name of Jesus Christ I say, I am just fine :)

I pray you take your leap of faith; whether it's a literal leap, or just trusting The Lord with His plans for your life. Let go and let God.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Rafting the Nile

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. And you shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But so far, you have not obeyed. Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord : behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.”’” And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’” Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:14-21 ESV)

I rafted the Nile. The very Nile that was once blood. Now, you may tell me that it was only turned to blood in Egypt, but just let me have this -- please.

My adventure that was rafting the Nile was... Terrifying, invigorating, incredible, and just downright legit.

I never realized I had a "scared face" until I bought the professional photos that were taken of us going down the rapids -- and I saw my facial expression in EVERY.SINGLE.PHOTO. I look like I'm about to cry // I am close to death. Mark joked that if a couple of the photos were cropped, it would look like I just received some really bad news. I'll let you decide for yourself.

Even though it was terrifying, it was SO much fun. We were on the water for a total of 6 hours -- with a lunch break somewhere in the middle. We went down different rapids, ranging from grade 3 to grade 5. [To put this in perspective, a grade 6 rapid is known as "suicide" and no one (not even the guides) are allowed to attempt them.] So grade 5 is pretty intense, to say the least.

I am so happy we got photos of this incredible adventure. It is an experience I will never forget in all my life. The Lord really created a masterpiece when He made the Nile. It's amazing.

Now, feast your eyes on these awesome photos. Courtesy of Nalubale Rafting.

Thank you for following my adventure // journey


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Learning and Journeying

It's been a journey, this whole process.

I've been gone exactly 44 days now and it's been the most incredible time of my life. It's amazing how 44 days can change you.

In 44 days I have loved, I have learned, I have laughed, I have cried.

44 days and I'm not the same girl that boarded the plane in Phoenix that day. My eyes have seen things, my ears have heard things, my heart has encountered and felt things I never could have imagined.

It's hard to process everything that has happened, but as I sit here in the comfort of the guesthouse on the CURE hospital grounds, I feel at peace.

The journey that is my life in Uganda began long before I boarded the plane in Phoenix. It was weeks and months of preparation for such a monumental time of my life. It seems that with every big, monumental spiritual journey I go on with The Lord, I happen to go through the dark places first. And this journey was no exception.

It was hard leading up to this trip. I was nervous, I was anxious, I was broken and hurting. But in the dark places is where the Lord's light always shines the brightest. He never fails. His love is sufficient. He is enough. He never ceases to amaze me.

I read a book while living here in Uganda. This book is called "Kisses from Katie" and it is written by a young woman named Katie Davis who left her life in America and moved to Uganda. She moved here to become a teacher for what she thought would only be a year - but turned out to be permanent. She adopted 13 precious daughters and now runs a ministry called Amazima that helps support women in her village in Jinja get back on their feet.

In her book, Katie's words spoke deeply to my heart as I was beginning my journey. She said,
"I have learned along my journey that if I really want to follow Jesus, I will go to the hard places. Being a Christ follower means being acquainted with sorrow. We must know sorrow to be able to fully appreciate joy. Joy costs pain, but the pain is worth it. After all, the murder had to take place before the resurrection.
I'll be honest: the hard places can seem unbearable. It's dark and it's scary, and even though I know God said He will never leave or forsake me, sometimes it's so dark that I just can't see Him. But then the most incredible thing happens: God takes me by the hand and walks me straight out of the hard place and into the beauty on the other side. He whispers to me to be thankful, that even this will be for His good.
It takes awhile sometimes, coming out of the dark place. Sometimes God and I come out into a desert and he has to carry me through that too. Sometimes I slip a lot on the way out and He has to keep coming back to me. Always, on the other side is something beautiful, because He has used the hard place to increase my sense of urgency and to align my desires with His. I realize that it was there that He was closest to me, even in the times when I didn't see Him. I realize that the hard places are good because it is there that I gained more wisdom, and though with wisdom comes sorrow, on the other side of sorrow is joy. And a funny thing happens when I realize this: I want to go to the hard place again. Again and again and again."

So the weeks leading up to my trip were hard. They were emotional and at times they were dark. But The Lord took me by the hand and led me out of that place. He took me on a journey across the world to a land with broken people. He showed me His heart in a way I have never before experienced. And on this journey, He has taken me out of the dark places and brought me into His light. He has brought me such joy. Because on the other side of sorrow is joy.

Let us remember that The Lord uses everything and wastes nothing. He doesn't waste pain.

I was learning these things on my way to Uganda -- and these lessons have been so essential to my everyday life.

I see children with hydrocephalus and spina bifida everyday. I see children with brain tumors. I watch as mothers hear the news that their child has cerebral palsy and cannot be treated here. 

But The Lord uses everything and wastes nothing. God doesn't waste pain. It's in the dark places that His light shines the brightest.

Here in Uganda, I have experienced life and death in ways I never had before. I woke up one morning to the loudest wailing I have ever heard. A mother had lost her 22 year old son in the night. He passed away in surgery. It was a trauma case and this particular patient came to us in very bad shape. I later found out this man was married with 6 children.

But The Lord uses everything and wastes nothing. God doesn't waste pain. It's in the dark places that His light shines the brightest.

Do not forget in the darkness what you have been promised in the light. Christ shares in our sufferings. He does not apologize for our heartache, but He shares it -- even better.

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in The Lord."
(Psalm 40:2,3)

I wouldn't trade my journey for anything. There has been heartache and there has been pain; but those things have brought me to where I am today. The dark places bring me closer to the one who is the Light of the world. And for that, I am forever grateful. If it takes going through the pain and the dark places to know the love of my Lord better, then take me to the pain and take me to the dark places.

The dark places allow me to relate to the brokenhearted. The dark places allow me to have insight into what sorrow and pain look like; and I have learned how to cling to the One who will never leave or forsake me. Through this journey I have learned much that I can pass on to the broken and hurting mothers and families here in Uganda.

Thank you Lord for my journey. Thank you for the struggles; thank you for the pain. You have never left my side.

"When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then I carried you."
Footprints in the Sand


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not Hydro

I will now take a break from my light-hearted posts of funny memories and moments of the trip to reflect on the deeper and more meaningful, life-changing parts of this journey.

Day one working in the hospital, I was working with Dr. John and we took a patient and his mother into the medical examination room. The appointment started out normal - just like the previous 5 patients we had seen that day.

This patient was 9 months old and lay there in his mother's arms expressionless. As the mother explained to Dr. John her concerns with the child, she seemed hopeful and joyful -- for she was at the best neuro hospital in the country and knew her son would receive great care. This mom spoke Luganda - the native language - so Dr. John had to keep translating back and forth between me and the mother so I could understand what she was saying. Throughout their whole interaction, all I could do was just stare at the beautiful baby boy laying in his mother's arms. He lay motionless, expressionless; the entire time.

This didn't seem like hydrocephalus. She didn't mention a growth on the back indicating spina bifida. What did this precious boy have?

Finally, Dr. John looked at me and said "I think this child has cerebral palsy." We ran some tests to confirm. He was sure. He then translated to the mother and explained the condition of the child to her. I watched as her face dropped. The smile I had seen throughout the entire appointment was gone - and I wouldn't see it again. She didn't look Dr. John in the eye. She didn't look at her sweet son. She stared out the window with a stern face.

Dr. John proceeded to tell her that CURE does not have the resources available to treat cerebral palsy patients and we would have to refer them elsewhere. After explaining this and the child's condition in great detail -- still without any eye contact from the mom -- Dr. John asked her if she understood. She grunted in agreement and stood up and walked out the door.

My heart broke in that moment. The mother that came in to our exam room so hopeful and joyful, walked out a different woman.

I see so many success stories here at CURE -- so many. But this particular case on day one really hurt my heart. Could we do nothing for them? Did we really have to send them away? I know the regional and government hospitals are poorly run and they would not receive great care. But CURE is such a specialized hospital - and cerebral palsy doesn't fall into the category of treatments done here. 

But my heart.

And then I think of the success stories we have here at CURE. Every day we have victories and triumphs. Everyday lives are saved and healed because of Jesus Christ and because of His power in those who work here.

Sometimes it hits me. The immensity of it all. There is so much need - and I am one person. I am inadequate. And I knew that coming here. But sometimes when I work so hard to make one child smile or make one child feel loved, my heart breaks all over again for the thousands that live each day without knowing what being loved feels like and that go a whole day without a smile lighting up their precious faces. 

And then The Lord comes in a still small voice and whispers to me that this one is enough. It's enough that this one is feeling His love. Because that love is eternal. Eternal.


Monday, June 9, 2014

That One Time... PT. 2

This post is a continuation of "That One Time PT. 1." More memories. More laughs, tears, friendship and fear. Join me as I reminisce.

That one time I killed the demon cockroach. The team and I were sitting at the dinner table making a recording of our memories of the week, when we saw the biggest, scariest cockroach of our lives! And to make matters worse, it started flying. But I saved everyone's lives and killed it myself! :)

That one time Adam lost "what are the odds" and had to drink a whole jar of pickle juice.

Drink up!

That one time Jonathan lost "what are the odds" and had to eat a fish eye 

That one time Adam lost control of his body and slipped in the pouring rain... Hilarious

That one time we ate ants

That one time Tina was feeling sick and thought she had malaria... So she got a malaria test; it was negative and Dr. John laughed at her for thinking she had malaria

That one time Miriam ACTUALLY got malaria

That one time Mark and Jess poisoned us all with their cooking... 

That one time Ryne threw up 3 times on Sipi falls (because of said food poisoning)

That one time we went to Delicious Dishes (an Indian restaurant in town) and there was an explosion in the kitchen. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE fled the restaurant - except the 6 of us.

That one time Miriam said "You have a sunburn? Oh, I heard those hurt."

That one time Edwin tried his first pickle and HATED it. He thought it was going to be so good because he said he watched a "How I Met Your Mother" episode about how good pickles are.

That one time Adam held a chameleon on Sipi falls... And paid the boy who owned it because the boy said he needed to feed it rice. (Um, do chameleons even eat rice? Doubt it.)

That one time the president came through town -- right past CURE

The presidential parade

That one time Miriam told us that when the power goes out, it's because the president steals the power (meaning the electricity)... And we all believed her

That one time Adam shaved his beard for the first time on the trip, and he was afraid it would clog the sink and there was no trash can; so he kept the beard shavings in a plastic bag.

That one time Adam was on national television while we were in Uganda. (that's right, people. Adam was on "The Price Is Right -- and he WON A CAR!!)

That one time I cut an avocado in half with my superhuman strength (the pit and all)

That one time I thought I saw Christiano Ronaldo in the London airport

*NOTE: When I don't have my glasses on, it's common for me to mistake strangers for the wrong person... This has happened too many times to count

That one time I saw the favoritism in Dr. John's eyes shift from me to Ryne when he discovered that Ryne survived meningitis as an infant

That one time the van got stuck in front of the boys' apartment and they had to push it up the hill

That one time I had several women threaten to pour acid on my face... The threats come daily. Dr. Stewart says he will protect me - but I'm not too sure.

That one time Jonathan gave the wrong guy money on Sipi Falls. 

Sipi Falls

That one time Tina and I jumped in the natural swimming pool at Sipi Falls

That one time we went to get rolexes for dinner and we got swarmed by street children. All of us girls had our hair grabbed and pet and kissed, while Adam had his beard caressed.

That one time Tina and I were boda buddies and our driver decided to take the "scenic route;" a route we had never taken before. We had a moment of panic thinking we were being stolen 

Boda buddies - taking the scenic route

*This has been "That One Time PT. 2." Please stay tuned for more fond memories and hilarity! I am not yet finished :)