Greetings from Uganda!

Greetings from Uganda! We have had power for a bit today, so I’m hoping that it will last until I’m done filling you all in on some of the craziness out here. First off, GOD IS GOOD. No one has gotten sick and despite being tired and a bit overwhelmed by everything that we have been doing and seeing, we are all doing really well. I didn’t realize how incredibly blessed I was to be in this beautiful country with these 9 other people. In the course of a couple of days, I have grown to love them and trust them with my life. I am really sad to even think about the fact that I will not be with them for much longer.. so I’m just not going to think about that. I wish I could upload some photos, our wonderful roommate who was already here is allowing me to borrow her laptop, so I obviously don’t have any photos on here for you. Shannon and I are sharing a room with this girl, her name is Christine.

There is so much joy in this house. We have conquered some pretty intense things together and legitimately seen the power of God at work. It’s funny. I was very curious about why I felt so strongly about coming to Africa, since I never really thought that I had a heart for this place, but I’m beginning to think that I see why I’m here. I have fallen in love with this country and its people. There is one girl in particular who captured my heart from the beginning. She has the most beautiful braids with green beads at the ends. Her name is Peace. The first time I saw her, she walked right up to me and took my hand. She’s a very quiet little girl, but she just looked up at me and smiled. We continued to have a mutual agreement that we liked each other and sometimes we would just stand holding hands and she would look up at me and I would look down at her and we would just smile and sometimes even giggle at each other. I was captivated by her smile and her joy, but I also began to notice that she favours her right hand and has a limp. One day Jimmy, our contact, came up and showed me her burns. They cover her upper thighs and stomach and back. He told me that she had been playing with another kid who had matches. He accidentally lit her clothes on fire and since they don’t have fire education out here, she didn’t know “stop, drop and roll”. Instead, she walked all the way home to get help. By the time she arrived at home, her clothes had melted into her skin. She spent 4 months in the hospital and has only recently been released. Her story blew me away because no one would be able to tell that this girl still lives in excruciating pain. She doesn’t complain. She has the best attitude and tries to be involved in everything with the other children. I was blown away by the truth in her name. She is full of Peace. She is so incredibly beautiful and I love her to the brim. (probably overflowing, to be honest)

We were able to deliver lights today.  It’s so incredible to see what a difference these lights make for families.  Today one of the families was living in a cement building with no windows. The women are sick with diabetes and cancer and are unable to gather together the money to buy kerosene, despite its terrible affect on their health.  We turned on the light that we gave them and the entire room just lit up and they were so excited.  The main mother in the home actually gave a couple fist pumps.  I feels to blessed to see how these lights are changing people’s lives.  Like how unworthy am I to be here and get to see this first hand? I am so thankful.  So extremely grateful.  Thank you to everyone who helped me get here both by supporting me financially and by praying for us.  We have NEEDED those prayers more than I can say.

I don’t know what else to share. There is just so much to say. There are so many things to ponder and reflect upon, and there are so many feelings I have yet to express or even to be realized. I am so glad that I am here. I want you all to know that we are safe and thriving over here. Things are amazing, and we are all incredibly blown away by the hospitality, love and blessings that we experience daily out here.

I felt like I should try memorizing Ephesians while on this trip, so I thought it very fitting to end this with a verse that I memorized today.

“For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared us in advance to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Love you all!

Affoyo 🙂

ps. they gave us African names and I thought I should share mine with you. They named me Lakeesha which means “full of mercy and kindness”….. I know what you’re all thinking. It’s pretty awesome, eh?

Wow.. it’s here

So… I’m taking a “quick” break from packing and making sure everything is ready to go to make sure that y’all have a nice update about the trip. Seems like a good time to do it since we’re leaving tomorrow!!

For those of you who haven’t heard, this has been one of the coolest experiences of my life so far.  God has been so good to us in providing everything we’ve needed and MORE through friends and family all over the place.  Here are just a FEW examples about how God has been bringing this entire trip into reality, and filling my life with His abundant blessings at the same time.

We held a concert in June, and it was such an awesome blessing to sing with my family one more time before we all head all over the place.  I can’t believe we won’t be in the same province.. or COUNTRY next year.

Through all the fundraising, we were able to raise enough funds to purchase 80 lights! How amazing is that? Each light costs $50, so you do the math.  In addition to that, all of the money came together for all of us to be able to go. I know it was a little stressful in the end there for some of us, but it was really cool to see how God will provide when you have faith and believe that you are supposed to do something.

In addition to the lights, we asked our contacts in Uganda if there were any other needs that they had.  They replied that a couple of backpacks, some reading glasses, and a computer would be nice.  Well after it’s all said and done, we have 105 brand new backpacks (along with some used ones), over 350 glasses, and we even have a heavy duty laptop to bring along!! Is that a couple? I hope so…How cool is that? I love how everything just came together.  Man.. SO cool.

ALSO, it was our desire to give the kids some swimming lessons while we were there.  There’s a local pool in Gulu, but we knew that we would have to pay for each individual kid to enter, and were unsure about where the money would come from.  Lo and behold, the church family of one of our teammates donated a TON of money allocated to pay for the children to have these swimming lessons.

Through my job at the restaurant, I made some contacts who ended up inviting us to share about our story on the local news.  It was really cool to see how even people outside of the church want to hear about what we are doing and want to support us.  I’ll post the video at the bottom so that you can watch it if you’d like.  Kind of crazy though, eh?

Time and time again, this trip has been such a testimony about who God is and how He provides and cares for us.

I just KNOW that there are going to be so many more stories to share about what He does in Uganda.  I won’t have internet access, so I’ll try to journal while I’m there and update you once I’m home.

To those of you who are praying for us, THANK YOU SO MUCH. We need it, appreciate it and love you for supporting us.  To those of you who donated time, money or any of your resources, THANK YOU for being a part of our trip in that way.

I can’t wait to share picture and stories.  For now, pray that I won’t go insane tonight trying to pull everything together, and that I don’t forget something uber important like my passport, which I JUST remembered while typing this.  PTL that I decided to blog.

Love you all,
Ehjae
ps. Check out the video below!!!

Challenges..

Sometimes it feels like my life is a big obstacle course.  I’m constantly running, trying to get to the finish line, but the entire course is booby trapped and I’m barely surviving, let alone finishing the race.

This has been the most eventful year of my entire life so far.  Our family put together a concert for Sunday, June 17th and we were so blessed by the people who came out to support us.  With help from friends and family, we gathered together $1800 more to help those on our team who had financial need, as well as to put money towards buying more lanterns! It’s so exciting!

Yet, I have to be honest, I’m not excited yet.  I have a lot of things on the go.  I want to feel like there’s something to be joyful about, because I know that there are SO many things to be joyful about.  I’m lying facedown in the mud hating the obstacle course.  I know it’s going to be rewarding when I cross the finish line, but I can’t see it yet.

The thing is that this is training, and we’ve already hit the battlegrounds. We can’t even see what we’re fighting against.  The battle we’re training for seems treacherous and terrifying, because the enemy knows us too well, and he knows our soft spots.

If you’re wondering how you can support our team, be a prayer warrior for us.

We are already having extreme nightmares, anxiety attacks, stress and so many things that are happening to us that can’t be coincidences.  We need your prayer. I can’t even emphasize it.  And to be honest, I’m so anxious right now about everything that I can barely even type the words to ask for your prayer. Yet, despite everything that has been hitting me full force, I know that there is a God who loves me and cares for me, and I know that you guys out there love me and care for me, so I’m begging for you to cover me in prayer.

The closer Uganda gets, the harder this is going to get. Yet, I know that God has something in store for all of us. Something that terrifies Satan and makes him really want to distract us and pull us down.  Help us stand against his schemes and find strength in God, because I know I can’t do it alone.

Taken at Needle-Point

Yesterday we had our immunization consult.  Devan and Kaylee were in the same consult as I was so that we can share the cost of the consult fee. I didn’t realize that it would take such a long time and I also didn’t realize that I would need so many needles.  According to our nurse, Uganda is one of the countries in which the most immunizations are recommended.  I ended up needing 5 vaccines.  After the third one in my right arm, I started feeling lightheaded and they got me to lie down and drink some juice.  I wasn’t really expecting to react because I’ve never had any problems with needles.  However, I reacted! I ended up pretty ill and am still not feeling exactly 100%.  Devan the Nurse told me to drink lots of fluids, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m not sure if it was the needles that made me sick or if it was the $585 I paid to become invincible.

We had our first official meeting as a team this week.  It was great for us to gather together, and I’m looking forward to our meetings! We are really excited for this trip and to bring the lanterns over.
In addition to the lanterns, there are some other items that are needed badly in Uganda that we can bring over.

ITEMS THAT YOU CAN DONATE:

SOCCER BALLS (un-inflated)

**OLD BACKPACKS in good condition that you are no longer using
          The kids don’t have backpacks so all of their school books get soaked by rain on their way to school.  

GENTLY USED CLOTHING

OLD LAPTOPS

MUSICAL KEYBOARD

PROJECTOR
 
SILENT AUCTION ITEMS:
We need items for our silent auction in our upcoming concert fundraiser.  If you know of any businesses that would be interested in supporting us by donating auction items, we would be so blessed by your help. 

SOLAR POWERED LANTERNS:
We are still hoping to purchase some more lanterns to bring over.  We have been told that the $50 (the D light 250) version of the solar powered lanterns are the ones that are useful in Uganda.  Here is the website where you can check out what they look like!
*If you want to donate money to purchase lanterns, donate in the same way as indicated before, but write “For Light the Night” in the memo field on cheques.

I am really in desperate need for financial support.
Our remaining balance for airfare ($2100) is due by the end of May and our remaining balance for ground fees ($800) is due on June 1st. If you aren’t sure about how to donate, check out the “How to Donate” Page.

Couple of upcoming and ongoing fundraisers:

EHJAE’S RINGS AND THINGS:
If you haven’t stopped by to see the beautiful handmade jewelry that I’ve been selling, check out Ehjae’s Rings and Things  All Proceeds all summer go to my Uganda Fund

BAKE SALE:
I will be having a bake sale outside my house on May 19th to try to raise some more funds.  If you like baking, I hope to see you there!!

CHAN FAMILY CONCERT:
On June 17th (Father’s Day), we are throwing a concert to raise funds for this trip and to raise awareness for what we are doing.  There will be a silent auction with many different items including art by members of the team!

FAMILY PHOTO DAY: Date TBA
Schedule an appointment for a 45min photo shoot.  For $60, you will receive a disk with high resolution, fully edited photos. (1 family portrait, 1 couple portrait, 1kids portrait,  and individual kids’ portraits) Up to 8 photos on each disk. Like Ehjae’s Photography on Facebook to keep informed about the date for this fundraiser!

Thanks for all your love and support 🙂

Uganda Update

On Sunday, the Watoto African Children’s choir  from Uganda performed, and our family went to it. Something happened inside of my heart that night and I will try my best to describe it to you.
From the moment I sat down to the minute the lights came on, my heart was so softened and sensitive to these kids that I actually began to cry with every song. (They weren’t sad songs!) I had my two little cousins sitting next to me, and I was afraid that I would scare them, so I tried my best to conceal it.  It wasn’t because I was sad, it was because it was such a beautiful sight.  It was because each one of them is from Uganda.  They ARE Uganda.  My heart was bursting with love for each of them.  It was so affirming for me.. I know that I am supposed to be going to Uganda. My heart has been filled with such a love and an eagerness to be there in Uganda and to be a part of what is happening there. 

That being said, I thought I would fill everyone in on how the finances and logistics of everything is coming along!

Currently, we are trying to make arrangements for our immunizations. We found out that if we go together, we can split the costs of the consultation. That was a happy little surprise.  Some of our plans for the timing of the trip are still up in the air.  Looks like we might be coming home a little later than anticipated. (I’m not complaining)

I have been so blessed by the amount of support that has been coming in through people buying my jewelry, thank you so much to everyone who has bought one of my handmade treasures and to those of you who have been so encouraging to me in this process.

Our deadline to pay the remaining airfare has been pushed back, but I still need another $2000 by next week.  Please be praying for me and possibly consider joining me in this journey by supporting this trip financially.  Also, we will be bringing solar powered lights to Uganda with us, and would love to bring more!! Our college group has already raised a lot of money to purchase lanterns and we are excited to bring as many as we can.  Check out the video below to learn more about the lanterns and the heart behind wanting to bring them. 

If you want to donate, the best way is to send a cheque to Ebenezer Baptist Church. (You can get a receipt for it!!) You can indicate on the memo if you would like the money to be allocated to my funds specifically, or if you want to support our entire team, just make sure that you indicate that it is for the Uganda Trip.  (if you want to give money for the lanterns, indicate that!) If you want to know more about how to do give financially, check out the How To Donate page.

Thanks again to everyone who is reading this, you are all a part of the journey.  Whether it is through encouraging us, supporting us financially or in prayer, or if you are simply staying informed by reading these updates and actually caring about what’s happening.. that in itself is support in more ways than I can express. 

I will end saying that we are currently trying to put together a fundraiser, so watch for more info on that to come!! 🙂

Simply Be.

Simplicity.  What does it mean to live simply, to simply live? It’s funny that in itself the concept of living a simple life is so complex. I own so many things.  It’s ridiculous how many little nicknacks I have accumulated throughout my life.  I struggle to keep things clean and organized, because there isn’t enough room for all of my things. When I stop and think about it, it’s simple.  I need to get rid of things, I don’t NEED everything in my house.  Half of what I own, I don’t even know what it is because it is covered by the other thousand items I own.  Why is it not really that simple? Why can’t I just go through my things and label them either necessary or unnecessary for day-to-day life? It’s simple: I don’t really know what the word NEED means.   I provide for myself. I provide my own food. I provide my own shelter… you get the point. It’s ridiculous how much this affects my understanding of God.  If I don’t know what NEED means in the most menial, mundane and meaningless of contexts, how in the world could I understand my NEED for my Saviour? It’s funny how I struggle to live simply, and also struggle to simply live. I was reminded this week that God is faithful.  I am obsessed with marks and achievement; to the point of stressing out so much, I make myself ill.  Why is that? Part of it is pride. I want to be the best. Another part is my dysfunctional desire to please God by working hard at what he has called me to.  The dysfunctional part isn’t the desire to please God, but it’s my mistaken understanding that he will only be pleased by success.  In reality, success comes FROM God.  He knows my heart. I NEED to trust Him, trust that if this is where He has called me, that HE WILL PROVIDE financially, and academically. I need to simply live in the reality of God’s faithfulness and trust that He is guiding my every step.

I was listening to a man named Paul Washer speak and something that he said spurred on the culmination of this post.

“We live in a culture that always demands its rights, while we are called to give them up. All of them.”
It’s not because we are submissive to be overruled, but it’s because the One who is sovereign over our lives is sovereign over the world.  I want to be submissive to the One to whom the whole universe bows down because He is good and He promises to provide for His children.
It’s that simple.
Give up my rights.
Let Him provide.

the silence

I’ve begun to rejoice in the silence. When I feel like nothing is happening and no one is there, because it is in those moments that I really, truly experience what it means for God alone to be my satisfaction.
So, bring on the silence and the loneliness.
Bring on the joy.
I trust in you Lord.
“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:23-26

Aloha!!
You can view and even download and print my October Newsletter from the link below:

http://www.scribd.com/full/43402804?access_key=key-24d278lk9mg0okigd0ns

How exciting is technology? I feel so connected with y’all? (I’m catching my fellow teammate, Ben’s New Mexico accent)

This week was awesome, we had a pretty cool teacher from Canada come down.  Dave Overholt from Church on the Rock in Hamilton, Ontario.  He is a youth pastor, so we obviously shared some great stories and great moments because of our similar passions for young people.  Despite one of his obvious downfalls, cheering for the Tigercats, we managed to get along.

I was very excited to hear about the Roughriders successful triumph into the semi-finals against the Stampeders. Since there are several Riders fans out, we have been frantically trying to figure out how to watch the game.  (there’s even a guy here from Calgary who cheers for the Riders.. and why not? lol… I would pick the Riders if I could too..)

Time is just flying by. I can’t believe we only have 2 weeks left.  We will be leaving for Thailand in exactly 2 weeks now.  We are eagerly looking forward to it, but also sadly anticipating the time when we all separate.
Yesterday, we had an offering for people who were in desperate need for outreach money.  It was really cool to see how God was tapping people on the shoulders an having them provide for others who had trusted in him to provide. I have loved every minute here, and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when we are not ALL together, but I am also very excited to get out there and put all that we have been learning into action.

Check out my newsletter, and if you have any questions, or you would like to be included in the prayer/support letter email list, just let me know and leave your email address too!!

Love you all!
Ehjae

Step out in faith

FAITH




To be honest, I have been struggling so much with this.  


Often we think of this word as meaning “belief in someone or something..”  The top definition in the dictionary is in fact “confidence or trust in someone or something


My ‘faith’ in the sense of believing in God, believing that he exists and that Jesus came and died… that has not waivered.


My ‘faith’ in the second sense of trusting him- that is where the epic fail is. 


“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6


This verse is well known, and yet when God brought this one to me the other day, it still made me cry. When was the last time I trusted God with all of my heart, with all of the things that are embedded within my heart? 


When was the last time I NEEDED God? Truly allowed myself to need him?  I am so independent. I am strong. I can do it. I don’t need anyone.  
NEED= vulnerability. Who in their right mind chooses to be vulnerable? Living in a country where my needs are limited. I am limited to living a life with everything I could possibly ever NEED, yet a dry life with dry spirit NEEDING God’s fullness of life.


How do I choose to need God? What a weird question.  “Ehjae, obviously everyone needs God, you can’t choose to need him. You already do.”


Isn’t it easy to NOT need God? Isn’t it easy to make choices that bring us all we could ever need? And if we go to church and fill our quota of spiritual deeds, we can get by, living on autopilot; especially if the church we go to isn’t focused on the conviction of sins- but on preaching comfortable messages that make us feel good. 


Take a good look at your life.  RUN! Run away from things that make you comfortable. RUN away from things that bring you relief and keep you from NEEDING GOD.  RUN to God’s embrace. RUN for his glory. 


I am not saying that you should go home today, grab all your clothes and food, throw it on the streets and sell your house and belongings so that you can live in poverty.  I am saying that we should look inwardly, evaluate; what is it that we possess today that is keeping us from realizing our NEED for God?
I am saying that for those of you who are currently living in NEED.. God will provide. Allow him to. Do not live in stubborn independence. 


I am not saying that you should quit your job.  But evaluate; where is God in your job? Are you actively pursuing Him through what you do? Maybe you should make some choices to bring Him into that part of your life. Maybe you should spend less time in the corporate world and more time seeking Him with your family. 
  


As for trusting Him, I struggle with this. I am currently struggling with this. It’s so easy to say that we NEED him, but how can we drop all these things if we don’t trust that he will provide for us? How can I go on if I don’t know that the path I am on is one that he marked out?


He gave me these words from His scripture:
“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3


My challenge has become this:
1. What are my needs? Lay them before the LORD. I desire to give everything to Him.. I am trying to force myself to trust him.  In my heart, I know that He is faithful and that there is no better place to go.. Where else could I bring my problems? 


2. Expect a blessing.  When I was in high school, heading to an extremely uncomfortable situation, my mom prayed with me, marked me with the sign of a cross, kissed my forehead and said, “Expect a blessing” I went, expecting God to perform some great miracle.  It was still an incredibly uncomfortable experience.  No miracle. One wrought with pain, tears and frustration.. but God was faithful, and I have never forgotten that weekend because of his fulfillment on my expectations, simply through his comforting presence and small reminders of his love.


“Wait in Expectation” vs 3… expect that God will hear your prayers and act.  He will provide. 



This reminds me of the scene in Indiana Jones The Last Crusade, when Indiana is standing over a canyon, wondering how to get across, and he finally steps out in faith, not knowing what to expect.  He holds out his leg and steps down… onto an invisible bridge which takes him across. 


Sometimes I feel like I am at the edge looking down into a pit of hopelessness, the unknown, and a world of hurt.  Why would God bring me so far, just to have me stuck at the edge here?
I’m terrified. But God has something here for me.  I just have to step out and trust that it’s here, even if I can’t see it.


We have to take the step.  God has provided the way, even if we can’t see it, but it won’t help us unless we trust that it’s there.  




Writing this down has spoken to me more than it probably has for anyone else.  Funny how God works. 





photographs. people. purpose.