A lesson learned and learned and learned again

20121231-090810.jpg We close out 2012 in Arkansas. As I look out the window at the snow, which slowly melts on the ground, I feel a similar thawing in my heart. It’s grey and gloomy, but the hope of Spring calls with promise. There are a few months before the grass will begin to green and the flowers bloom, but I know it’s coming. The snow and ice provide a necessary fertilizer. I just have to wait for the beauty to bloom.

It has been a hard week in more ways than one. My heart has been broken and twisted and squeezed and tugged. I have mourned mostly in secret because who wants to be around a killjoy at the holidays, right? But I’ve been sad.

You see, I have been to the orphanages. I know what they’re like. I have seen the children. And for more than half my life I have been waiting for the moment when I could bring one home. So this week has been a punch in the gut. Had we begun the process six months earlier, things might be different, but we didn’t and God had a reason for that. I don’t know what that reason is, yet, but I trust His timing even if I don’t like it.

As I enter into 2013 I believe God has laid the word “Wait” on my heart. This will be my challenge this year. I will wait upon The Lord. Hope is not lost. There is a chance the adoption will be able to proceed. But there’s a better chance that it won’t and I am waiting for God to tell me what He has planned.

I am praying for the little girl that is supposed to be ours. I have even begun praying for her by name. A name has been on my heart for some time now, but I haven’t had the guts to say it out loud. But this week changed that. I am crying out for her by name. I will share that name with all of you when I feel the time is right, but just know that I believe she is real and I believe she is out there waiting for us.

I haven’t written much in the last few weeks. Usually at the end of the year I post my top posts from each month as an end of the year recap, but I don’t have the heart to do that this year. I did, however, receive a report yesterday that revealed my top post of 2012. This was my most viewed post and it surprised me.

It didn’t get the most comments and it wasn’t passed around more than the others. But it remains my top post.

The title of this post? Hope is Slow.

I needed that reminder yesterday and today and for the rest of my time here on Earth. I will always need to be reminded that the hope that I long for is slow, but IT IS NOT DEAD! Hope is alive. Hope is real. Hope is here.

But hope is slow.

It’s fitting that that very post would be revealed as my top post in a time when I feel like hope is dying. It is right that it was revealed to me yesterday when I needed it most. It makes perfect sense that the words I needed to read again would come from the very trip and experience that pushed Lee and I over the ledge of doubt and gave us the courage to step forward toward adoption in faith.

Hope is slow, friends. But it is not dead.

Happy New Year.

To read all my posts from my trip to Tanzania with Compassion International, click here. This was the defining moment of my year. I will carry those lessons with me for life.


Would you consider sponsoring a child from Compassion International today? Your small investement yields huge rewards and gives children freedom from extreme poverty and the confidence to dream.

Would you do me a favor and just take a peek at this page? Look at these children and pray for each one by name. As you pray, would you open your heart to being the one who steps out in faith and gives them a hope for a future?

It’s blogging month at Compassion International and bloggers across the internet have chosen to unite their voices to rally for hope. Extreme poverty is not the end for these children and those of us who are blessed with abundance have the opportunity to take part in miracles. Having travelled to Tanzania with Compassion just four short months ago, I feel like the words and the memories are still so fresh. The smiles and the laughter of the kids still rings in my ears.

I listed every post from my trip to Tanzania here so if you would like to learn more about how child sponsorhip can change a life, look through those posts and journey back through the dusty roads of Africa with me.

If you have any specific questions about Compassion International or how sponsorship works, feel free to ask them in the comments or to email me at kellistuart00 (at) hotmail (dot) com. Thanks, everyone!


Are you involved with Compassion International? How has child sponsorship impacted you?


All photos taken by Keely Scott


I’m not sure if you heard or not, but I went to Africa a couple of weeks ago. I may have mentioned it a time or 500. Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed to bring it up again but just know that everything swirling inside of me has been filtered through that one experience.

See the thing is, I feel like I have a million things to write, but I can’t seem to get them out because I’m a bit scared. Petrified, really. Because who am I that anyone should care what I say? I like to hide behind the light, humorous posts in some regard because they’re safe. I spent a lot of time as a youth taking myself too seriously and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m a blogger who actually doesn’t really like to talk about herself.


But there are other things than just the humorous that I want to share and I’m just so…scared. I’m scared because I don’t want it to all be about me. The fact of the matter is I don’t believe myself to be a great writer of spiritual things. I’m not a super critical thinker, I don’t have the beauty and eloquence of words that so many others hold when unpacking the mysteries of faith. I’m a good writer, yes – but writing about the God of the Universe scares the crap out of me.

See what I mean? I just used the words God and crap in the same sentence…twice. How eloquent am I?!

I mentioned these fears of mine to Shaun one evening in Tanzania and he encouraged me to read 1 Corinthians. I’ve pretty much camped out there since we returned, particularly in Chapter 2.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come to you with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (emphasis mine)

Friends, this is how I feel. I fear writing too in depth about my faith not because I worry about offending (though I certainly do desire this to be a place of comfort for everyone from all faiths and backgrounds and walks of life), but more because I so badly do not want to misrepresent the God I love. Does anyone else feel this way? How do you overcome it?  

There are so many words to say – so many songs to sing – so much praise to give. The Earth itself cries out to Him – why wouldn’t I?! Of course, the humorous posts are where I’ll spend more of my time because I strongly believe that one of the greatest gifts He gave us was laughter and my goodness isn’t there so much joy to be had on this Earth?

For example, Lee and I sat in bed the other night and laughed until we cried at this old gem of an Al Denson video that we found after both sporadically belting out a rousing rendition of “Be the One,” which only solidifies how terrifically dorky we are, but I fell asleep with a smile on my face and a prayer in my heart.

Lord, thank you for laughter. And thank you for cheesy ’90’s Christian music videos.

I love laughing with you guys. I love it so, so much. But I don’t want to hide behind the laughter because I’m scared. Just know that when I speak of my God, I do so with much trembling and not with persuasive words of wisdom. We will still laugh…a lot. But there are also words stirring that I will need to write at some point – all to His glory.

I just need some time to let them develop and the courage to hit publish.

PS – I don’t say any of this as a means of fishing for compliments. In fact, I feel kind of weird and I will probably sit on this post for a bit before hitting publish because I do NOT want to look like I’m asking for people to say nice things about me.

PPS – Thanks for taking the time to read this and for being a community that loves to learn and grow and laugh. I don’t really think of myself as having anything to say worth reading, but my goodness I’m glad to have you guys around. Makes this life journey a little less intimidating and a lot more fun!

PPPS – I don’t like to use emoticons in posts, but I feel like this one is begging for a smiley face – 🙂 .

Rise of the Planet of the Blue Monkeys

“Excuse me?”

I peeked up out of one eye to see her exaggerated gesture. She had a smile of complete apology on her face, and I gave her a quick nod and held up one finger politely before bowing my head to finish the prayer.

We held our packed lunches on our laps as we prayed, thanking God for a blessed week and seeking travelling mercies as we prepared to head back home. We finished the prayer and I opened the top of my lunch.

“Excuse me?” she said again and the entire group looked her way. This time her gestures were a little more wild and…insistent. She really wanted our attention.

“You should watch out for…monkeys.”

She pointed and we all turned and that’s when I saw him swinging toward us in the tree. Shaun sat on the end, next to the tree, Keely next to him and I was next to her. My first thought as he swung near was, “Oh how fun. A monkey. Yay!”

Then he screeched BONZAAAAAIIIIIII (a Tanzanian monkey issuing a Japanese battle cry? It could totally happen…) and leapt from the tree, landing on the ledge just next to Shaun and my second thought was, “OMG – HE’S GOING TO EAT MY FACE OFF! RUN!”

In my imagination, he looked just like this as he came swinging toward our table:

Image Still from Rise of the Planet of the Apes

And yeah…our monkey had his cronies in the background, too…

I’m not entirely sure how I made it out of that covered pavilion so fast. It’s all kind of a blur. There’s a chance I may have pushed someone out of my way as I fled. I also made sure I left my wide open lunch box behind for the attackers. It was my method of self-preservation.

So it was that in less time than it takes to say “Woman loses face in rare Blue Monkey attack” I was outside, jumping and shaking and laughing that trembly, “Haha, wasn’t that funny how we almost died” sort of laugh that you do when you’re trying to act cool, but you know you really look like an idiot.

Then everyone wanted to know how I got away so quick. The answer?

I flew, people. I sprouted wings and flew.

In the end, the monkeys made off with quite a spread. Banana chips, apples, chicken legs and some bread. In fact, they actually took several things directly out of people’s hands. They were brazen, these monkeys. Brazen.

They didn't even try to hide their thievery...

Sure he LOOKS cute and fluffly. But don't be fooled...

Who me?

There are a couple of lessons we can all learn from the Great Monkey Caper of 2012 and those lessons are as follows:

– First, when someone is desperately trying to get your attention, it may be to your benefit to stop praying and listen. Especially when you are in the middle of Africa with a wide open lunch box. You’d think that would be common sense, but…well, it’s not. Learn from us.

– Second, if you’re sitting next to me during a monkey attack, know that my first reaction is clearly Flight, NOT Fight, because while I would LIKE to be able to say “I got your back” if ever we’re under monkey attack, the truth is if Blue Monkeys are swinging our way shouting Japanese warrior cries I know with certainty that all I need to do is run faster than you.


And we all say…Amen.

The normal that is

I didn’t have the chance to speak to my kids at all last week while I was gone. Really, it was for the best. It’s easier on them if I don’t call and…well, it’s easier on me.

Upon landing in Atlanta, I called my family and for the first time in eight days I heard my first born’s voice over the phone. He has always has the sweetest voice and this phone call was no exception. On the phone he is still little, the high pitched nature of his melody singing through the phone and straight to my heart. I would have cried if he hadn’t made me laugh.

“Hey Mom,” he said. “You sound different.”

“I do?” I asked. “How do I sound different?”

“Well…,” thoughtful pause, “You sound Chinese.”

Boys. No matter where you are in the world, boys know how to have a good time and make you laugh.

Scott Williams had all of us fist bumping all week long. Is there anything more universal than the fist bump?

I’m slowly reintegrating into everyday life. We started school today, much to the kid’s chagrin. We’re almost done with the year, but there’s still work to be done.

As we prepared to come home, Shaun warned us that we may experience feelings of frustration, confusion, anger and sadness. I’m so happy to report that I am apparently totally normal because I have experienced every single one of these emotions.

Every. single. one.

Prayers are coveted. For me, for my children, for all the bloggers who went on the trip. Shaun laid out some specific prayers in his post today. My poor children are, unfortunately, bearing the brunt of my emotions. I may, OR MAY NOT, have plopped a glass jar on the counter yesterday and told them they will have to pay me .25 every time they complain about something.

My nerves are a bit frayed.

 Jet lag hasn’t helped.

We will adjust to this change. It’s funny, every single thing around me is exactly the same as when I left (well, except for my house, because my mother-in-law, who is an awesome decorator, redecorated and organized my house while I was gone and Sweet Mercy it looks nice around here). But while everything looks “relatively” the same…

It all feels so different.

Even blogging.

Bear with me Pray for me as I adjust.

Oh, one more thing…

We ran out of Nutella today. THIS DOESN’T HELP THE SITUATION!

That's 12 pounds of awesome that somehow disappeared...


Photos of everything but Nutella by Keely Scott

The Ugly Beaver

Photo by Keely Scott

Yesterday I stood inside a beautiful building with a thousand other believers. Lights flashing, hands raised, sounds blaring, we joined together in praise of the One who created us all. The one who still works miracles. The One who has not forgotten, has not let go, has not surrendered His creation.

But worship was different for me. As we entered the sanctuary with it’s four solid walls, high, vaulted ceiling and cushioned, comfortable seats, I told Lee that I feel different. Not different in a “I want to sell all we have and live in a hut eating bananas and tangerines” sort of different, though. It’s more of a, “I’ve seen God’s power and ability to move in and through His people and I don’t ever want to lose this feeling of awe and gratitude for who He is” sort of feeling.

Then the music started and instead of singing along, I cried. Not a cute, trembly chin, single tear rolling down the cheek cry, either. It was the kind of cry where you bite your lower lip hard, shoulders trembling, BOOHOOHOO ugly cry.

Kind of like a beaver. I was ugly beaver crying in church. Thankfully the music was loud so no one could hear my blubbering. But I kind of felt sorry for the people sitting beside me. I think I shot out projectile tears that showered them completely.

The words mean something different now. I hear “How Great is Our God” with the image of a family living in squalor running through my mind. I hear lyrics like, “You take our suffering,” and “I have freedom now through You,” and they are filtered through a different context.

I don’t know what suffering is.

In the grand scheme of things, I really don’t. My perspective has shifted mightily. As we celebrated Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help thinking of the mothers around the world. The ones who love their children just as much as I do, who want great things for their babies, just like me.

Photo by Keely Scott

We aren’t that different. And yet, we are so different.

I don’t know how this trip will impact our family long term. I don’t know how it will change us as a unit or what direction it will lead us in the future. What I do know is this: The emotions of last week will fade away. With time, I will become less moved.

I won’t look like a beaver in church forever.

But the conviction behind those emotions? Oh how I long for it to remain. That’s the thing I don’t want to change – I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want it to fade with the passing of time and the continued pressure of commitments and desires.

Right now, I look a little like this:

A deer (with bloodshot eyes) caught in headlights. I woke up yesterday morning (after sleeping for eleven hours) and my first thought was, Did that really happen or was it a dream?! I feel like it went by so quickly. In the blink of an eye, eight days passed and I was a changed person filled with distant memories of sitting in a Maasai hut, helping a Tanzanian family prepare dinner and slamming Cokes with tiny Tanzanian girls.


I stumbled to my kitchen and had my first cup of real coffee in over a week and then my senses kicked in. It was real. I was there and for the first time in a long time, I came face to face with my Savior. He was dusty and dirty, sleeves rolled up serving and loving the least of these.

He was a mother leaving her children while it was still dark so that she could give them the food they needed to grow.

Photo by Keely Scott

He was a pastor with  a calm, gentle spirit laying out his vision and hope for a future that allowed the church to fully support and love their own community.

Photo by Keely Scott

He was a young man with an infectious grin and a heart so big for those in need that he spent his days singing and dancing with them.

Photo by Keely Scott

He was an older man, walking the dirt paths greeting everyone he passed with a grateful Praise God or Hallelujah!

Photo by Keely Scott

I went to Tanzania with the idea that I had something to offer, as though somehow I had words powerful enough to make a difference in this world. Upon returning home, however, I received an email from someone who handed me my bag out of the overhead bin on the airplane. He saw the Compassion tag and looked it up online and eventually found my blog.

He’s now interested in sponsoring a child.

See, God didn’t need to use me at all. I’m grateful and honored that He did, but He really didn’t need me. He’s got this all under control. The widows, the children, the hungry and sick. He hasn’t lost control. He was in Tanzania long before I got there.

*cue ugly beaver tears*


Click the above photo to sponsor a child from Tanzania, or click this link here. You can also check in with the other bloggers here. I promise I won’t talk about my experience in Tanzania forever, but as I slowly begin to process a few emotions, I may mention it a bit more. Thanks for reading along and taking this journey with me…

The Many Ways to Be Involved in Compassion International

Hey guys!

So here’s the deal. We’ve talked a lot about Compassion this week. Um…actually we have talked exclusively about Compassion this week. I’ve talked so much about Child Sponsorship, which is the core of what Compassion does, but there are SO MANY ways for people to get involved with this ministry.

So maybe you already sponsor a child and you want to take it a step further. Or maybe you don’t yet sponsor a child, but you would like to help contribute to the work Compassion is doing all around the world. Here are a few ways you all can be involved in Compassion International.

Child Sponsorship. For $38 a month or, as Scott Williams explained it, for 5 quarters a day you can change a child’s life. Through sponsorship, your child will have a lifeline to the world outside of his own. He will know that someone all the way across this great, big Earth cares about him and wants to see him succeed. Sponsorship is freedom.

The Nester and her sponsored child. Both are equally adorable...

– If you already sponsor a child, perhaps you would be ready to take a next step and sponsor a second child? Or, a step further, Compassion has an amazing program aptly called the Leadership Development Program. This is designed to prepare students to be the leaders of tomorrow. The commitment is higher, but the reward is so very great. For $300 a month, you can provide the funds for a student to attend the University. She will also receive discipleship, mentorship and leadership training by a dedicated Compassion staff member.

– Compassion International also has the Child Survival Program, which works alongside the local churches to help at-risk mothers, infants and toddlers by offering nutritious food , prenatal care and extended health care after the child is born. They also provide infant survival training (24,000 children under the age of 5 die from poverty related causes every day) as well as spiritual training and education. This program can actually help give parents a leg up and keep their child from needing assisstance through the Child Sponsorship Program.

– You can become a Compassion International Advocate in which you “use your gifts and influence to raise awareness of the needs of impoverished children and encourage others to respond to the biblical mandate to love the poor.” In order to become an Advocate with Compassion you must first sponsor a child.

Are you a sponsor who has the gift of letter writing? You can sign up to become a Compassion Correspondent and write to children who have not yet received a sponsor or to children who are already sponsored but haven’t received any letters. As we’ve all seen this week, letters are an amazing tool of encouragement in a young child’s life. This is a priceless way to minister to children in need.

If you aren’t ready to make a regular, monthly commitment but would like to give a one time (or more) gift, please look through the Compassion Gift Catalog where you can purchase anything from a Drought Survival Kit, to Chickens and Goats to entire computer labs. Every one of these gifts is invaluable and needed and will be met with an enormous amount of glee and gratitude.

There are so many ways to be involved in Compassion and please know that each gift of time, resources, love, prayer and encouragement makes a huge difference. Want to see another video of how Compassion is changing young lives?

I thought so!

Sponsor a child today. Or, ya know…do one of those other things I mentioned up there.

To sponsor a child, click here or click the image below. And, as always, please follow along with the other bloggers who are here with us. Nester met her sponsored child today. You’ll want to see it.


On Zebras, Donkeys and Speaking Swahili

I tried to think of a brilliant way to start this post. I desperately wanted to channel my inner Ann Voskamp and write something eloquently beautiful and poetic about all that I saw today but, honestly, all I’ve been able to come up with is…


This is a beautiful country. In every sense of the word, Tanzania encompasses the majesty and beauty of Creation. Mt. Kilimanjaro opens up to rolling hills and wide, open valleys surround plains rich and green. Cattle lumber slowly up the hillside, their shepherds walking beside. It was all so peaceful, driving through that wide open countryside.

At one point, we made out a herd of white-ish animals dotting the distant horizon. Our trip facilitator, Mary (who is fifteen shades of awesome, by the way. I’d like to adopt her…) told us they were probably just donkeys. But we felt certain they looked like Zebras so collectively we decided to tell you that WE SAW DONKEYS THAT LOOKED LIKE ZEBRAS TODAY! (Zebronks? Donkbras?)

Imagine that there are Donkeys that look like Zebras (or Zebras that look like Donkeys?) on the horizon and it'll be like you're right there with us.

In a lot of ways, today was totally refreshing and in other ways it was another glimpse into a world that has left me with eyes wide open. I fell in love with this country today and I won’t be the same.

When we stepped off the bus, we were once again swarmed by a sea of brown faces, only this time something was a little different. I could understand them. I kind of wondered for a second if I’d learned Swahili overnight while I slept. My mind automatically wandered down a rabbit trail (because it does that sometimes often) and I imagined a big computer downloading all this new information into my brain kind of like the Matrix.

Then I realized they were speaking English, which is way less cool than if I’d told you I woke up speaking Swahili fluently so you’re welcome to now imagine that I speak Swahili. There…isn’t that fun?


Look at me speaking Swahili! Oh wait...

We spent a couple of hours with these beautiful children and they so ministered to my heart. They are precious and darling and good and sweet and smart and oh so funny.

He's got the moves like Jagger

I’ve been struck often by the ease and exuberance with which everyone speaks of faith in this country. When you truly know and understand what it means to have to trust God for your daily bread, the nature of your praise to Him comes out with an authenticity that left me feeling ministered to by these children – not the other way around.

We left the center in Longido, where 244 children are currently served by Compassion, and we drove out into the countryside to visit some of the homes. But these were not just any homes. Many of the children in this particular program come from the Maasai tribe, an ages old group that has kept many of their ancient traditions.

The driver dropped us off on the side of a deeply rutted dirt road and we marched quickly through the brush to a round village settled in the African plains. The small, thatched houses stood in a circular fenced area. They are traditionally built by Maasai women and are constructed of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung, human urine and ash.

Ducking inside a low roof, (read this post that Shaun wrote a couple of years ago about why you have to duck down inside a Maasai hut. It’s well worth the read…you just have to promise to come back here and finish reading this post too, deal?) we made our way to the center of a very small, circular room. The only light came from a square in the wall no bigger than my fist and the slow burning embers of a fire. Crowding together, I tried to discreetly swat away the flies (thousands of them…I may have nightmares tonight) as I took in the sights.

Keely wasn't with our group today so I had to take my own pictures. Try not to be jealous of my mad indoor photography skillz...

The home belongs to Lema, a beautiful girl of thirteen. She was painfully shy and I found myself wondering if she was only that way at home, or if she came out of her shell more when around her schoolmates.

Lema’s mother spent the first several minutes of our visit looking desperately for the few precious sponsor letters her daughter had received. She finally pulled out two tattered pieces of paper, one torn in half, and showed them to us. Letters written long ago, but kept as a reminder of grace.

The visit was distracting, mostly due to the fact that a neighbor, who had been taken in by Lema’s mother, sat in the corner blurting out words and songs repeatedly. After the recent birth of her child two months ago, this woman had had a psychotic breakdown. Lema’s mother was looking after her, protecting both her and the baby.

The sense of community was palpable and real inside those walls.

The Maasai are good and loving people. Many have become Christian, yet they still maintain some traditions that I, in my very Western mind, cannot wrap my mind around. Girls can be married at the age of 12 and when they are chosen by a man to be his wife, they have no choice but to comply.

The Compassion Office in Longido is working hard to educate the Maasai about the dangers of some of these customs while also maintaining respect for the valuable and unique qualities of who they are. Though the conditions were primitive and a bit shocking, it did not feel wrong. Compassion recognizes the beauty of this long-standing tribe and only intervenes if the customs will interfere with the health and well-being of the child.

I love this about Compassion.

I feel like there are too many things to say and not nearly enough space or time to say them. When I agreed to come on this trip I was told from the beginning that I had complete freedom to write what I saw and felt about this ministry. I already had a love and an admiration for Compassion before I took this journey, but now I adore it so much more. I want to tell you everything I can, every way you can give, every way you can be involved.

But it would take too long so…tomorrow?

Tomorrow I will tell you some of the ins and outs of Compassion International and different ways that you can be a part of the miracle that God is working worldwide.

But today I just wanted to tell you one last story. I wanted to tell you again, thank you. Thank you for reading and encouraging me. Thank you for supporting this ministry and for helping to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

To sponsor a child, click here or click the image below. And, as always, please follow along with the other bloggers who are here with us. Nester met her sponsored child today. You’ll want to see it.


Miracles So Great

We walked around the corner, feet covered in red dirt. The squared off section of houses surrounded an open courtyard where two tiny little girls greeted us with wide grins. They held dry rolls in their hands and they squealed with delight at a black duck waddling around their bare, dusty feet.

They looked up at us in wonder, our white faces a stark contrast to everything they’re used to seeing. Laundry hung in long, damp lines and we waited for the girl’s mother to leave her station selling fish so she could join us.

Ducking into her home, it took a second for my eyes to adjust and my heart beat to slow. We stepped into a room that was roughly 7×7. A bed, crudely built out of long wooden planks and filled with rags, sat beneath a strip of cloth hung hammock style across the room. A bed for four.

And that was it. That was the house. Meals are cooked in a pot outside over a fire. A small pot of potatoes sat on a stoop outside the door. Fabric hung in place of window panes. This is a life I have never seen before.

It has wrecked me.

I’m struggling a bit to find the right words tonight. I saw absolute poverty today. A mother with three small children and no family nearby to help. She gets up before the sun every day and leaves her babies alone. It’s a necessity if she wants to feed them.

I didn’t know or understand how to take in everything I saw and heard. We left and walked the short distance to the local market where this mother works long, hard hours every day buying and selling fish. Enough to pay the rent and hopefully buy food for the waiting mouths.

Janet, who could not have been more than three years old, clung to my hand and lead me down the rocky path with such confidence that I found myself amused. But also sad. She’s a toddler with a wide, mischevious grin. How does she know this well worn path so well?

Sweet Janet and the Jolly White Giant

This sounds like a hopeless story, doesn’t it? I assure you it is not. Because there’s more. The home we visited belonged to Mwajuma, a spunky ten year old who has had a loving and faithful sponsor for five years. As soon as we all sat down, Mwajuma proudly pulled out a smooth white envelope and reached inside, pulling out the precious letters and photos.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” we asked Mwajuma.

She grinned shyly. “A doctor,” she answered, almost in a whisper. “I love science and math.” Looking through the letters, I noticed one line written by her sponsor. “I’m so glad to hear you like Science,” the letter read. One simple phrase, written by faith.

Hope for a future.

We left the small city of Mwanza today to fly across the country to Arusha. As I sat on the plane, my head pressed against the cool glass, I watched in awe as we flew past Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the hot tears fell.

Our God is a God of miracles. The very God who fashioned that snow capped mountain in all its glory, lovingly fashioned Mwajuma. He knew her frame and the way that her lips would press together when she smiled. The God of miracles hasn’t forgotten Mwajuma. He does miracles so great.

When we landed, I wiped my cheeks and followed the group to the van where I continued to watch in awe as we drove past the African countryside. We came to the Country Office, where a staff of 66 people are dedicated to serving well the 65,419 children being served by Compassion in Tanzania. Before we began, they led us in a few songs of worship. One of the choruses went like this:

For you are great

You do miracles so great

There is no one else like You

There is no one else like You

Before leaving Mwajuma’s house, we asked her mother how we could be praying for her and the children. “Please just pray that Mwajuma will continue to learn so that she can one day follow God and become a doctor.”


We prayed and asked God to specifically pave the path for Mwajuma to become a doctor. When I lifted my head, I looked into the eyes of her mother who sat still on the bed, her hands folded beneath her chin. Her eyes were bright and wet and do you know what I saw in them? Just…take a guess.


Mwajuma has hope. I know I’ve talked about hope a lot this week, but it’s alive. It is alive! I didn’t leave Mwajuma’s house feeling hopeless. I was shocked and I was sad, but I was not without hope.

Mwajuma's baby sister, Jackie. Eat. Her. With. A. Spoon.

I left the head Compassion Office even more buoyed by this idea of hope. The staff exudes the emotion. Praise spilled forth from their lips, not hopelessness. The hands and feet of Christ Himself in Tanzania, the staff are under the leadership and direction of Joseph Maila and they are living hope every single day.

Absolute poverty amidst absolute hope.

I confess, I’m still trying to reconcile those things. I want to do so much more now. For thirty-three years I’ve lived with the awareness of extreme poverty and I’ve prayed about it. I’ve given here and there. We’ve sponsored a child. But I didn’t know. I didn’t understand.

And now? Now I do. I’m without excuse anymore. The gap between awareness and action has to close. What does that mean? I’m not really sure. It feels a little cliche to sit here and write these things. Of course I’m going to feel a greater call to action while I’m right here in the midst of it all. I mean, I’ve been to church youth camps. I’ve seen how these things work…

But what happens when I return home to my comfortable bed, my large house, my grocery store and the steady paycheck that allows me to get whatever I want whenever I want?

What then?

Honestly, that is my challenge. Hope is slow. Even for me…

But I can tell you with confidence that I know where I’ll start. I will start by writing our sponsored child more often. I will encourage him and build him up and love him like he’s one of my own. It’s a start and though it feels so small, I promise…it’s not.

Because we have a God of miracles and He is still moving and working. There are an estimated 22,000,000 children under the age of 18 and the percentage of those children still living in extreme poverty is high. 65,419 children are already registered in the Compassion program here. Do you know what that means?!

It means God has a LOT of room to work miracles. Miracles so great.

So what about you? What is your call to action? Won’t you be a part of the miracle?


Photos by Keely Scott

Follow along with the other bloggers here. Seriously. You want to read their stories…

Following the Dream

I ripped the heads off of fish today. In case you didn’t read that right…


Want proof?

I sat next to Moses, digging my hands into a basket of dried fish and tearing the heads off one by one. He does this every day so I figured I could conjure up the courage to do it just this once. (Conjure. That’s a great word. We should use it more…)

Moses has been sponsored in the Compassion program for one year but, unfortunately, he has never received a letter from his sponsors. He doesn’t know who they are, but it hasn’t diminished the gratefulness he and his family feel for their gift.

Sponsorship means that Moses can go to school now and so much more. He can play soccer with his friends in a spunky red uniform. He can learn songs and scripture and he has hope for the future. When times were tough and famine hit, his family received much needed assisstance. It’s amazing what $38 a month can do.

While sitting with Moses and his mom, we asked what she hoped for her son, the youngest of four children all living with her and her husband inside a mud house no bigger than my kitchen.

“I hope that one day Moses will grow to be a great and wise man who knows God and follows the dreams God places in his heart.”

I wish the same thing for my children. Two mothers, worlds apart, but really not all that different.

We walked with Moses to buy water so we could help him wash dishes – a chore that he performs every single day for his mother. He is a shy, sweet boy who rarely smiles, until…

His older brother, Lousobya, pulls out a beautiful Butterfly sewing machine. Their father used to be a tailor before the work disappeared. And now Moses learns the trade of his father and big brother. Lousobya helps Moses thread the needle, tongue peeking through the teeth in fierce concentration.

And as the sewing machine whirs to life it happens. A smile spreads slowly across his face. Pride. He is participating in the trade of his father, the skill of his brother. He’s happy to show us that he, too, is learning these skills.

Hope is alive, friends. It may be slow, but it’s alive. It’s alive in the smiles and laughter and the joy of the boys and girls at the Evangelistic Assembly of God Church, which hosts a Compassion program serving 238 children. 42 of those children are still awaiting sponsorship.

They’re waiting for you.

But it’s more than just sending money. They want a relationship. These kids are just like my kids – like your kids. They need to be told they are worth something. These children are not defined by where they live or the circumstances that surround them. They are more than that.

They are smart.

They are joyful.

They are happy.

They are hard working and full of life.

When you sponsor a child you have the opportunity to speak wisdom and grace and encouragement into their lives. You have the ability to build in them the confidence to look beyond where they are and reach for the dreams God has placed in their hearts.

Letters mean the world to these children. Don’t forget that component.

Do you want to see who it is you are writing to? Trust me. Your answer to that question is a resounding yes.



If you are on the fence about sponsoring a child, let me encourage you that it is a decision that you will never regret. It is the best investment of time, prayers and finances that you could possibly make. If you at all feel a tug of the heart, then click the picture below and sponsor a child from Tanzania today.


Follow the journeys of the other amazing bloggers on this trip here.