Because pictures speak volumes

I wanted to throw up another post because I felt like so much happened yesterday and it was too much for one post. This one is mostly picture heavy, because I’ve heard pictures speak a thousand words.

And also because it’s almost 1:00am and the last time I wrote a post on little sleep I ended up rambling on and on about Turkish Fish) which you guys should totally scroll down the comments because someone found the metaphor. She won a cyber high five from me for it…).

Me, leaping to victory. Have I ever mentioned that I'm a tad competitive?

There was a lot of fun to be had yesterday amidst the yanking and tugging of my heart. We played games (some form of Simon Says that I lost at and ended up in the mush pot because I swear the teacher was changing the rules during play…), we raced (let the record show I beat Shaun Groves), we taught the children the Macarena (you wish you were as cool as we are) and I stood in awe of Nester’s wicked Justin Bieber dance moves.

In the mush pot

This is us teaching the Chicken Dance AFTER we taught the Macarena. The parents of these children are probably soooooo glad we came and taught these.

Sure she can decorate your house on a dime, but her REAL talent is dance and Bieber is her muse...

We even put on an impromptu concert when the director asked us to sing a song. Shaun was all, “Oh they always ask us to do that.” I have to say, we rocked it. We may need to go on tour. Lord I Lift Your Name On High” has never been more moving.

Again, you wish you were as cool as us.

Pictures. I came here to show you pictures. I’ll stop talking now…

Slamming coke. I'm pretty sure they could have beat me at this game...

The parents of the children sang and danced for us and presented us each with a unique gift that they had either made themselves or purchased.

Receiving a small wooden giraffe made her a happy Nester.

Samson, the director of this particular Compassion project, is a man of great vision and has so much love for the children. I deeply admire him.

This is what it's all about.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child from Tanzania, click the image below. As always, you can follow along with all the other bloggers to hear what everyone else is seeing and learning. Thanks for all your support and encouragement, everyone. It means more than you know.


All pictures by Keely Scott.

Hope is Slow

As we ambled back up the rutted dirt path it finally happened. I knew the emotions would take over at some point, but I honestly didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed my second day here. On both sides, children scrambled about watching us with bold curiosity.

“How do you handle seeing this all the time?” I asked Shaun as we stepped gingerly over a stream of muddy water flowing through the red soil. My throat burned and eyes watered as the images of the family we just visited ran through my mind. It wasn’t the condition of their home that left me so affected, though the small, concrete structure that housed two adults and nine children did leave me a bit shocked.

The situation this family lives in is dire in more ways than just physical. There was a hollow emptiness in the eyes of the mother that struck me. A desperation in the grandmother’s voice that tore through me. Abandoned and alone, these women now work only when they can and pray for daily bread in the most literal sense.

Currently, two of this young mother’s five children are being served by Compassion – twins, Doto and Kuluwa. One is sponsored, the other is still waiting. They were all quiet, eyes downcast, shy. When asked what she hopes for her children, this mother replied, “I hope that they can grow up and do business so that they can take care of me.”

Doto is sponsored. Her twin brother, Kuluwa is not.

I left this home with a quivering chin. “How do you see this all the time and not feel overwhelmed?” I asked. “It just all seems so much, like it’s impossible to ever meet all the needs.”

“Hope is slow,” Shaun replied softly.

Just three little words, so simple to say but carrying weight and meaning far beyond what I can currently comprehend.



It is a beautiful word. It is ripe with expectation, with longing. Hope means looking forward, not back. Hope is a buoy in life. Without it we would be lost, for the opposite of hope is despair.

Thanks to the Compassion center in Buhongwa, Tanzania there is hope for this family. But what about the others? There are so many needs. So much that can leave you feeling hopeless, but…hope is slow.

There is more need in this world than any one person or group or organization can handle. When we’re far away from these situations it’s so easy to keep an emotional distance from the desperation. But even being here and seeing it firsthand, I find myself shutting down a bit. It seems impossible, insurmountable.

But hope is slow.

The hope to eradicate extreme poverty is not unrealistic. But it’s also not going to happen overnight and it absolutely won’t happen without the mobilization of masses. Hope is real. It is alive. But it is slow.

I will be completely honest with you. I felt a little hopeless this afternoon as I walked through the back alleys. This country, along with the people that inhabit it, is beautiful and stunning. But the dichotomy of how so many people live against the backdrop of brilliant rock formations, mountains, and a lake that gleams like a million crystals in the sunlight leaves me with a bit of vertigo.


Back at the Compassion center at the Africa Inland Church I saw hope. I saw it and I heard it. I hugged it and let it play with my hair. Hope revealed itself in the form of giggling faces, curious stares, sweet songs and a sermon from a ten year old named James that would put the greatest communicators of the pulpit to shame.

Hope. It’s slow. But it’s there.

Currently there are roughly 1.2 million children sponsored worldwide through Compassion International. That’s 1.2 million families who now have a hope for the future.

For the children who are sponsored with Compassion, hope is real. It means a future. It allows for more than just a meal now and then. It means education, health care, spiritual and leadership training. Sponsorship with Compassion is the birth of hope.

So far it appears that the theme of what I will learn this week is what it means to hope. I so often lose myself in the big picture. I see the need and feel paralyzed because how can I possibly do anything that will produce any kind of lasting effect? But though the need is great, hope is greater. It’s easy to get discouraged, but we cannot give up. I cannot give up.

I won’t give up.

Because hope is slow…but it’s also real.

Will you join the fight?


Clicking the above photo will lead you to a page where you can sponsor a child from Tanzania. If you are interested in sponsoring a child from the specific project center we visited today, there are 53 still waiting. You can click this link where a few of those children are listed as available for sponsorship.

There were so many experiences that we all had today. It seems every blogger gleaned a little something different from this visit. To see this experience through their eyes, click here.

All photos courtesy of the lovely and incomparable Keely Scott.




On Turkish Fish and Hope

It’s only fitting that I begin this first post from Tanzania with a metaphor. This metaphor involves flesh eating Turkish fish but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

I’ve been awake for a solid 48 hours with a couple of hour-long dozes here and there. So it’s safe to say that anything I type in this post could potentially be marred by the fact that my brain is moving about ten seconds behind my fingers.

Or maybe my fingers are moving ten seconds behind my brain. It’s hard to say, honestly…

After missing our connection in Amsterdam due to a weight/balance issue in Detroit, we spent a solid eight hours in the Amsterdam airport (or maybe ten…I dunno). While there, we came upon the aforementioned Turkish fish and our fearless trip leaders, Keely and Shaun, decided to allow the little flesh eaters to rid their feet of all impurities.

(And when I say Turkish fish, I mean that literally. They were imported from Turkey. I mean, I guess they could have been snagged from the pet shop down the road, but the lady was very convincing that these were, indeed, Turkish fish and that really sounds so much better for the story I’m telling.)

Our leaders allowing the dead flesh of their feet to be gnawed away by Turkish fish is where the metaphor comes in. I don’t actually know what it represents metaphorically because my brain is completely fried, but I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

If you figure it out you can share it with us in the comments.

We were rerouted through Nairobi (bonus country – whoop!) and then Kilimajaro and then Mwanza. That’s like 67 hours of flying time, which is only slightly an exaggeration. Okay, it’s a big exaggeration, but it felt like the longest day ever. And I LOVED every minute of it.

Half of our bags did not arrive in Kilimanjaro, which means that I smell and will for at least one more day. But that doesn’t matter to you since you can’t smell me through the computer so consider yourselves twice blessed.

Upon arrival we got to experience our first Compassion site and it was every bit as moving and sweet and awe-inspiring as I hoped it would be. My prayer in preparation for this trip was, “Lord give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart open to knowing You more.”

I feared coming here and being calloused to the work of Compassion. I’ve read the blog trips before and I worried that I wouldn’t have anything new to share. How would I write and what would I say? As we rounded the corner, though, and were greeted by dozens of faces smiling and grinning and waving, I knew that this experience would be unique. How can you not be moved by smiles like this?

With tears in my eyes I can tell you that Compassion International is doing amazing work. Maybe you already knew that and maybe you didn’t. On a base level I understood this, but to see first hand the gratefulness in a grandmother’s eyes as she stood in her stone walled home, looking into the eyes of her cherubic granddaughter who now has hope leaves an impression.

This same grandmother has received her own lifeline of hope through Compassion’s Complimentary Intervention Program, which provided food at a crucial time when drought dried the land and withered the ability to meet the most basic need of food. Grasping my hand as we walked down the rugged path, she thanked us repeatedly for our help.


This grandmother longs to own a home of her own, rather than rent a stone room with holes in the roof for herself and eleven others. And as long as there is hope, and a church body willing to stand in the gap and provide the resources needed to give them a leg up, lives will be changed both here on Earth and for all eternity.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are creating a vehicle for an entire family to climb out of the pit of extreme poverty. By providing for the physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs of one child, you have the potential to forever impact that child’s entire family.

As we walked back up the stairs of the open air church building, my eyes widened to see the entire room packed with men, women and children all gathered to say thanks. They are thanking you, the sponsors who have opened wide the doors of hope. And there is more to be done. There are children still waiting to be sponsored, lives clinging to hope. Beauty in action.


If you’re interested in sponsoring a child in Tanzania, click this link and follow the prompts. Or you can click on the photo at the bottom of this post.

(PS- I totally tried to find a way to link the flesh eating fish ridding feet of impurities to this post, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make it work….and somehow I have a feeling you’re kind of grateful for that.)

(PPS- I promise I’ll be more alert tomorrow.)

(PPPS- Last one, I promise. You can follow along with the other amazing bloggers on our team here.)


Photos courtesy of Keely Scott

Tanzania or Bust

Bags are packed.

I kissed these faces goodbye.

The adventure begins in twenty-four hours. Well, actually it starts now. I’m headed to the airport for the longest stretch of travel I have ever been on.

Thank you for taking this journey with me!

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child in Tanzania you can click this link. See you in Africa, everyone. AFRICA! Crazy…


And then it starts to feel real

I leave for Africa in 9 days. Single digits. I’m on a plane in just a little over a week. On a plane for a really, really long time. Really long time. (What does one do on a plane for eighteen hours?!)

And just today it started to feel real. Nine days is not very long and I began to really think about it and wonder and question the logistics.

I probably should have done that awhile ago, but I like to think life is more exciting when you have the added stress of NO TIME.

I got my second Hepatitix A & B booster shot yesterday. Let me tell you something – you haven’t lived until you’ve had a shot with three little faces peering intently at the nurse as she jams a needle into your arm. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fainter, right? I think I’m finally growing up because I didn’t even have to lay down this time AND I declined the sucker she offered because the kids were with me and I wanted to show them that shots are no big deal.

For the record, that was a risky little game I played. Had I hit the floor I could have scarred them for life. Sometimes you have to take chances, right?

“Whoa,” Landon whispered when Nurse Ratchet finally, mercifully, pulled the needle out of my arm and a stream of blood followed. “Dat is a wot of bwood.” Then he held my hand and kissed my cheek. “I wuv you, Mommy,” he whispered, genuine concern oozing from his crystal blue eyes.

You can’t have him, folks. He’s mine.

As we walked out, Sloan thanked Nurse Ratchet. “Thanks for giving my mom a shot so she won’t get sick and die and stuff,” he called. Die and stuff? What’s the “and stuff?” I decided not to ask…

I’m preparing for the trip in a lot of ways, but the one way I really need to prepare is scaring me. Physically I feel like I’m preparing fairly well. I’m taking vitamins and probiotics to hopefully get my immune and digestive systems toughened up. I’m working out semi-regularly so I can be somewhat in shape while we’re there. I’m inoculated against everything under the sun.

Seriously. I think I might glow in the dark at this point…

 I’m trying to get more sleep and spend quality time with the kids and I’ve got at least one date night planned out with my husband before I leave. I’m going to write the kids notes they can open every day and buy little Dollar Store trinkets to help them pass the time until I get home.

Those are the easy preparations.

It’s the inside that has me a bit on edge.

As I’ve spent time praying over this trip, I’ve asked that the Lord change me. Change my heart and change my perspective. But I’ve spent so much time preparing the exteriors that I don’t know if I’ve fully prepared my heart for what I may see and experience.

I don’t want to come home the same and that scares me.

It’s easy to prepare physically for a trip like this. But emotionally and spiritually, it’s a little more frightening. Part of me wants to put up a shield of protection and just go over there and write up an assessment of how Compassion International operates and how you can be a part of it.

Sharp shooter. To the point. Safe.


But I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be changed and challenged and pushed to a deeper knowledge of what it means to serve others. I don’t want to miss the chance to learn and further understand Justice, because I’m pretty sure my Western mind has a very skewed idea of that concept.

In nine days I will board a plane and I want to know I’m not alone in this journey. Join me, please? Would you pray for everyone on the team as we work to honestly and fully bring you stories of how you can (and how many of you probably already are) impact the life of a child in Jesus’ name?

This trip is more than an experience. It’s more than an opportunity. It has to be more than that, because it can’t be about me. How can we all collectively be moved to greater compassion for those in need? It’s a lesson I need to learn and I wondered if you’d walk the road alongside me.

Thank you for the kind words and emails that many of you have already sent. I can’t wait to take this journey together.

Happy Wednesday.