Uganda: Home Away From Home

I’m sitting in the Paris airport traveling home from a 2 week trip to Uganda. It was only 2 weeks, but felt like 2 months. We accomplished more in our jam packed 13 hour days than I feel like I accomplish in a year back in America. The needs are so great in Uganda, yet the hearts are so open and ready and willing. Willing to give, to love, to smile, to be thankful, and to celebrate Jesus at all times!  This is a country that is materially poor, but spiritually rich.  It’s hard to put into words what Uganda means to me. One of our children being from Uganda makes every trip even more meaningful, as his home nation is truly becoming mine. I look forward to the day when my entire family visits Uganda together. This country has forever changed my life.

From the pain and suffering of the street kids in the slums to the joyous smiles of children rescued and being raised in orphanages and homes. Most days you want to just ask “Why?” The poverty. The despair. The filth. The hunger. The pain. Yet, so much joy and happiness. There is so much about this country that “gets its”. They truly get what matters most. And I am continually reminded how much our country of America does not. The things that you see and witness in this country don’t always make sense. But I find rest in knowing that these are God’s children. I can’t save them all. But I can love on the ones put in front of me. Loving on orphans is where my purpose and passion lives. And at the end of the those long days during the past 2 weeks, I always went to bed knowing one thing for sure: Jesus is alive in Uganda. And Uganda is where I feel alive.

When my feet touched down in Uganda, I knew I was home :)

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The first day is always fun when you exchange American dollars into shillings. For every U.S. $1, you receive $2,500 shillings.
And suddenly you are a millionaire :) Time to change the world! IMG_1279 This year we had an awesome team of 17 people. 14 women and 3 men. Here are a few pictures of our awesome team!

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Our youngest team member was this cutie pie Lindsey who is only 15 years old and came on the trip alone. I love seeing the obedience in young girls who follow when God speaks to their hearts. Little Lindsey is a world changer. If Lindsey came come on this trip alone, anyone can!
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This year my mom and sister came on the trip. It was so special having them there with me! IMG_2359
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I also had my best friend Robin. This was our 2nd trip to Uganda together and many more to come. 10386754_10204041934388333_4938050302194518891_nThere are so many different stories to tell about this trip, and it is always so hard to put into words. It will take a few weeks to process, so until then I’ve made a photo albums public on facebook, so that you can follow our journey there!

1. The first album is called “Uganda: Home Away From Home “, where you can view our daily pictures at the different ministries that we worked with, the children that we met, and the amazing things that we are so blessed to take part in. From cooking and feeding the children to face painting and handing out rainbow looms, to conducting VBS and women’s programs. We’ve conducted amazing Bible Studies with teenage girls and loved on the smallest and weakest babies in orphanages. We’ve served in homes and villages and everywhere in between. We cooked meals for hundreds and a time. And delivered rice, beans, flour, sugar, and salt to single homes of widows.

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And everyday another child captured my heart and I continue to be broken and forever changed.

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2. The second album is called “Young Living in Uganda“, where you can view how we used Young Living essential oils in a 3rd world country. Every day we had an opportunity to use Young Living essential oils on the orphans and people of UgandaOIL SISTAS are changing world health and medicine cabinets, one drop at a time  Because of the generosity of Young Living, we have been able to reach the least of these in a 3rd world country! Over 500 children were treated for everything from cuts, scrapes, & burns to ring worm and fungal infections. Yay for Young Living! Yay for OIL SISTAS! Check out the pictures, they are pretty cool!
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3. I’ve also posted an album on my blog facebook page, thanking YOU amazing blog readers for your awesomeness in the rainbow loom challenge. We hoped for 1,000 and ended up with 5,000. Wow!!!! Blown away by you guys!!!!!! Thank-you! You can view the rainbow loom album HERE.
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From the simplicity of the villages to the traffic jams of Kampala to the red dirt roads of Jinja and the beauty of the Nile….
Uganda IS my home away from home!
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Until next time….blessings to you wherever you are!
Jessica (who is now officially African)IMG_2166

Young Living goes to Uganda

I just returned from one week in Salt Lake City at the Young Living convention. Wow!
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As much as I want to share every single thing I learned in those 5 days of packed information, it would be nearly impossible. And honestly, I’m still trying to process it all. Here’s what I know: Young Living is hands down the most amazing company I have ever had the privilege of getting to know and working for. This is a God-honoring company, filled with the highest integrity, and the bottom line of this company is to bring health and healing into every single home. The founders, Gary & Mary Young, have a heart, passion, and desire to allow people to have the freedom to make the health choices that they want. The education on health from this company is amazing. Education on food, diet, nutrition, medicines, vaccines…just to name a few. I have learned so much in this past week. This is a company that GETS IT! In every way possible.

I attended many different workshops on topics that range from women’s health to autism. I learned the entire history of Young Living and how the CEO and founder Gary Young started this journey as a farmer and continues to be a hardworking farmer throughout all of his Young Living Farms. This is a hardworking, humble man filled with a God-given desire to bring health and healing and wholeness into the world. Young Living is the only company that can offer the seed to seal process, guaranteeing that every single batch of oils has never been adulterated. From the farms that Young Living grows, to the harvesting, distilling, testing, and bottling. Young Living does not compromise their quality of oils and is dedicated to producing the highest quality of essential oils in the world. These oils are truly the closest thing to God’s medicine, in the most purest form. And the science and chemistry behind essential oils is fascinating to say the least. Not all oils are created equal. Nothing compares to Young Living.

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Many, many, many new products were released. I had the privilege of touring all of the new products before they were announced. Everything from new oils for pets to new oils for kids. One of my personal favorite new kits is the Kid Scents kit. The new Kid Scents collection is a kit of mild essential oil blends prepared especially for kids. There are 6 blends in the Kid Scents kit. Those are: GeneYus, Owie, Bite Buster, TummyGize, SniffleEase, & SleepyIze. It is a blend of: Lavender, Geranium, Roman Chamomile, Tangerine, Bergamot, Sacred Frankincense, Valerian, & Rue oil. Last night I tried the SleepyIze blend on my 5 children. Let’s just call it the Amazing – Hallelujah Oil!

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The testimonies that were shared over the week were mind blowing and I found myself constantly in tears. Crazy how a life changing, life giving, God honoring company can do that to you. Here are just a few that really impacted me.

PTSD

Watching this panel speak about how Young Living oils have saved them and their patients from PTSD was simply amazing. Standing up is Sargent Major sharing how after 35 years of insomnia, bad dreams, anger, rage, & depression, he is now sleeping through the night and experiencing peace. For the first time ever.

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This panel also consisted of doctors and counselors who are using YL oils in their practices to treat PTSD. We heard amazing testimonies (from children with unthinkable pasts, women ready to end their lives, disabled soldiers coming off 40 medications) that were all healed and made whole again through Young Living. These testimonies make you want to get on your knees thanking God for His medicine.

“And on the banks on the river, there will grow all kinds of trees… Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing” –Ezekiel 47:12

PTSD affects 2 million people. Young Living just released the Freedom Sleep and Freedom Release kits of these amazing oils to help with PTSD and any issues that cause anxiety.

AUTISM

Two of my worlds officially collided at convention. I sat in a room of over 9,000 people watching a film telling the story of a beautiful little girl. Smiling, wide eyed, healthy, and happy. We watch her grow up from birth until 1 year. Then (like the same story thats been told thousands upon thousands of times), the little girl goes in for her one year shots and is never the same again. Gone. No more smiles. No more eye contact. Failure to thrive. Started immediately suffering from seizures and eventually diagnosed with epilepsy & autism, aka mitochondrial disfunction (vaccine injury).

It was heartbreaking to watch. With tears streaming down my face, I could not believe I was sitting in a convention center working for a company that truly GETS IT! Young Living is not afraid to tell the truth about vaccines and autism. Nurses, doctors, & scientists dedicated to helping these children.

While at convention, I attended a meeting where the results from the Young Living/Autism Oil Study was released. I was able to see how the little girl from the film and many other children were helped through biomedical treatments that included Young Living essential oils during this study. I am so honored to be a part of this and cannot wait to share this information with the world! Thank God for a world wide company that gets it!!!!

Here I am with one of the Thinking Mom Revolution authors who is finding amazing success with Young Living oils for her daughter’s autism.

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Young Living just released the new Reconnect Kit and I highly recommend it for any child on the spectrum.

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Events, Parties, & Recognitions Galore

Young Living Convention is fun. From the different events and parties each night. To the black tie events. And the various forms of recognition. I was humbled and honored to receive recognition this year for my rank and for winning the two convention promotions. The best part about recognition is knowing that it’s not really about me. It’s about my entire amazing team of OIL SISTAS and how we all work together to help people find health and healing! I stood on stage thinking of all the hard working, amazing, passionate sistas in my life who helped me get on that stage. And I felt very thankful to be surrounded by an amazing team. My recognition is for all of them!

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This year we brought a team of 23 OIL SISTAS. Next year we hope to bring a team of 223 OIL SISTAS :) Heck, I’d love for my entire team to come. Can you imagine 3,223 OIL SISTAS together? One day! It was impossible to get our entire group for a picture. Here’s the group of us that flew together. When a bunch of OIL SISTAS are on a flight together, it smells real good on the plane. IMG_1807
If you are thinking about attending Young Living convention next year, it will be in Dallas, Texas. Just look at how well they feed you. Healthy food and desserts, made with essential oils. If this can’t get you to come, then I don’t know what will :)

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Loved, loved, loved spending the week with my Mom and 3 sisters. How lucky am I that I get to “work” for a company with my mom and all of my sisters and all my OIL SISTAS! Here we are all dressed up at Young Living Leadership Gala. The theme was “Live Your Dream”. We sure are :)

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My sister Hailey & I put in many, many, many long hours over the last few months working together to build our business. When we arrived at convention, we almost had to pinch ourself that this is now our “job”. God is good! We absolutely love our job! And I love my “business partner”.
983696_10152541409225883_2910222301715971176_n I call these two my “GOLDEN GIRLS”. They have the BIGGEST hearts to help others find health and healing. They are smart, passionate, caring, and super fun! I would NOT be where I am with Young Living without these two.

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And I get to work and spend time with and be hotel roomies with some of my closest, best friends. Is this really real life? We even brought an oil baby with us. She will stay home next time ;)

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Black Tie Gala. Dressing up with my OIL SISTAS was fun!
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So yes, I got dressed up and received awards and recognition. And yes it is nice to be recognized by a company that you love working for. But what I am most excited about is to take off those fancy outfits and black tie gala dresses and get my feet dirty in the red dirt of Uganda, where our team will be leaving for tomorrow to treat the orphans, street & slum children, and families in villages with these amazing, life giving, healing oils. Young Living, through it’s amazing generosity and heart to truly help others, has donated enough oils to treat 500 children.

I honestly can’t thing of anything better to be doing post convention, than actually using Young Living oils on the people that need them most. Serving the least of these with essential oils in a country I love, donated by a company I adore. Thank-you Jesus!
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Young Living goes to Uganda….stay tuned!

Oh yeah….want to become a YL member and join our amazing OIL SISTAS Team? Awesome! I’d love to have you on my team. As soon as you are enrolled, I’ll add you to my OIL SISTAS facebook group, which is an amazing resource and you’ll officially become part of our OIL SISTA family :) Here’s how you sign-up:

Go to YoungLiving.com and choose your country!
1. Click on “Member Sign-up” I’ve linked it (HERE)
2. Click on Young Living Wholesale member
(Becoming a member allows you to place orders and save 24% off retails pricing. You also receive incentives, bonuses, commissions, free product, and people can sign up under you)
4. You will need to enter a SPONSOR ID and an ENROLLER ID. You will enter my MEMBER ID FOR BOTH: #1403853
5. When you sign up as a member, you will then order your 1st STARTER KIT (that is under STEP 1). I highly recommend starting with the Premium Starter Kit. STEP 2 will ask you to order an ESSENTIAL REWARDS KIT, but you can click the button on bottom to order that kit later.

 

Officially Official. Adoption Complete.

So this happened yesterday!

Solo officially became “Solomon Joseph Gianelloni”
Officially ours. Legally adopted. Forever Home.

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A 2 year journey, that started on June 16, 2012 and was officially completed exactly two years to the date, June 16, 2014.

In our state, you have to wait one year post legal guardianship to officially complete an international adoption. What this means is that you pretty much complete the entire adoption process over again. At times it can feel very frustrating, because the month we were in Uganda (standing before a Ugandan judge, receiving our verbal ruling, then the written ruling, the legal guardianship orders, the mountains of paperwork (I share about all that HERE), to finally receive the child’s VISA from the US embassy in Uganda to come home and know you have to wait an entire year to pretty much go through the process again, well there were times when I thought the process was going to be the end of me.

But of course we persevered through the mountains of paperwork. Again. And the fingerprints and background checks. Again. And the attorney visits. Again. And the next chunk of thousands of dollars. Again.

It was all worth it! 

The court date yesterday was a perfect way to complete the adoption process. The courtroom was positive, the judge was awesome, lots of stories and laughter and interaction with the children. Very kind words spoken to us, tons of encouragement and praise given, and just an overall feeling of accomplishment in that room. We finally did it!

We were allowed to take pictures and videos and it was a very special day. To hear the final words from the judges mouth that the adoption was complete, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room! Even the court reporters and law students who were observing shed some tears.

This adoption process was worth it a million times over and I’m ready to do it again :)

“For He who calls you is Faithful, and He will do it” -1 Thessalonians 5:24
Thank-you Jesus!

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Oh and the “twins” now officially have the same middle and last name. And they think that is pretty darn cool!

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A Test of Faith and an Awesome Testimony!

About 4 months ago, Rit & I decided it was finally time to move into a bigger home. We’ve been in the same home since getting married (10 years ago). Our family grew to a family of 7 very quickly, with 5 kids separated in age by only 5 years, the next thing we knew, we had outgrown our home about 3 kids ago. The first time we discussed moving, Rit said “Well with you going to Uganda this summer, I’ll probably be moving while you are in Africa”. We laughed, but never gave it much thought.

The first week of April we put our house on the market. We had multiple showings and received an offer quickly (in under 2 weeks) and before we knew it, our house was officially under contract. 3 days later, we found our “dream home” and put in an offer on the spot. It was accepted and in a fast and furious 2 weeks, we had two homes under contract with closing dates on the same day (5 days after I returned home from Uganda). I’ve sold a house before and it went 4 months before it’s first showing. 2 weeks was crazy fast. We were beyond thankful!

For the past 5 weeks, with both homes under contract, we had completed the inspections and the appraisals and everything was set and ready to close. We had already begun packing our current home and with moving a family of 7 and my large travel lockers full of supplies for my trip to Uganda, our home was packing central. We had boxes everywhere and were living in moving/packing mode.

This past Monday we found out that the clients buying our home lost their financing. Everyone involved was shocked. On Tuesday we signed the paperwork that our contract was over. On Wednesday we put our house BACK on the market. These first few days were a mess of emotions.  We were told that the “dream home” we were buying was giving us 9 days to have our current house back under contract or we were going to lose the contract on “dream home”. The thought of losing the contract on our “dream home” was devastating. The thought of selling our house again in only 9 days seemed impossible. I’m not going to lie. I had NO faith. My husbands faith during that time is what carried me. And the positive outlook by our real-estate agent. Best agent ever, by the way! And an army of praying friends and family. Their faith gave me the faith I needed. I’m pretty sure I had 1/2 of a 1/2 of a 1/2 of a mustard seed worth of faith. “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” -Matthew 17:20

On Wednesday, the day our home went back on the market, so did “dream home”. I was crushed. We knew that “dream home” had multiple showings lined up. It’s such a beautiful home and I knew that home was not going to have any trouble getting a new offer.  I was thankful though that they were going to honor our contract until June 20th. We had 9 days to watch our miracle happen. On Wednesday I chose to believe. I took my mustard seed of faith and decided not to tell God how big our problem was, but I told the problem how big our God is! I played this song on CONSTANT REPEAT. I’m not joking. All 5 of my kids memorized this song in one day. Whenever the doubt of “how in the world are we going to sell our house in 9 days?” popped in my head, I pushed play on this song again. And again. And again. And again.

I also allowed myself to show emotion, so I cried. Like a lot. I was frustrated. I felt overwhelmed by the fact that I leave in one week for a month away from my family. And now, we have to put our house back on the market and sell it within 9 days or we lose the contract on the “dream home”. I had a good friend come visit and I tried to “fake it”, but ended up crying and she held my hand and prayed with me. That meant the world to me.  I realized I just needed to walk through the emotions. And have faith and believe, even through the tears.

sale pendingTaking down our sale pending sign was the hardest thing. 

Rit & I spent Wednesday putting away all of our packing boxes and getting the home “show ready” again. With 5 small kids, just cleaning the house for a showing is a challenge, but to put all the boxes and Uganda supply bins away, and make the house look like a home again, took things to a new level of stress. Doesn’t our master bedroom look so relaxing and inviting for new owners to want to put an offer in on?
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We prayed all day for a showing. That night we found out we had a showing the very next day. On Thursday night we had our first showing since putting the house back on the market. It was at 5:15pm. My babysitter was there that day and helped me with last minute pick-up as we got the house picture perfect ready :). We prayed and left the house. In God’s hands.

On Friday morning Rit & I sat in bed and prayed together. We had an awesome devotional together. The verse for the day was this:

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Later that day, almost 24 hours exactly after that first showing, we received this text from our agent.  Say what?!?

unnamed (1)And can I just say we have the best agent ever! Hardworking, positive, encouraging, and makes things happen. She also happens to be my cousin :) If anyone ever wants a home sold quickly and through an awesome experience, Lesley Troncoso with Realty Executives is your person!

Today, Saturday (only 3 days into the 9 days we had), we received a beautiful offer on our home. An even better offer than before. We accepted it and are back under contract! Set to close 1 week earlier than original close date…and exactly WHILE I’m still in Uganda. Remember what Rit first said back in February? Hehe!

ONE SHOWING and ONLY 3 DAYS later! 

The Lord always amazes me. Always.

There were a few lessons I had to learn this week. I had to learn to trust God. Like trust Him with all of my heart. Even when it doesn’t make sense, I have to always trust God. I also had to release myself from loving our new home so much that I stopped considering it our “dream home”. I can never let the walls of a structure become an idol to me. I had to come to the conclusion that God had a new house picked out for our family and if we lost the contract on the “dream home”, then it wasn’t meant to be. I had to remember that the Lord opens doors and closes them. If “dream home” became a closed door, I had to trust that God had something better. Those aren’t easy lessons. They take faith.

I had to also let go of trying to control everything. The thought of having our house on the market while I’m in Uganda with our poor nannies trying to clean the house perfectly for showings was giving me panic attacks. These past few  days have definitely taught me to let go of trying to control everything. In the whole scheme of things, the work I’ll be doing in Uganda is far more important than making sure our home was perfectly clean for showings. But thank goodness we didn’t have to get to that scenario.

The new home we are buying is still the only home we have looked at through this whole buying/selling experience. I’m not going to call it our “dream home” anymore. I learned that to get attached to something material is not a good thing. Our new home is however a home Rit has driven by for 10 years and wished it was ours. It went on the market the very same week we put our home on the market (we didn’t know that at the time). When we sold our current home in 2 weeks and found the new home 3 days later, it seemed like God had orchestrated it all perfectly. We instantly knew it was our new home. When our new home appraised for $19,000 less (for a reason no-one can understand) and the contract agreed to take $19,000 off the asking price, it seemed almost too good to be true. Why, after 5 weeks and after being under contract with a set to close date, did we learn that we lost the contract on our home we were selling and had 9 days for a miracle to happen or we were going to lose the “dream home”?  Why did our first offer fall through and the Lord take us through the final testing of faith regarding this new home? I’m not exactly sure. But I have my ideas :)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” -James 1: 2-4

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” -Romans 5:3-4

We are amazed and in awe that in only 3 days, we went from wondering HOW to celebrating that of course God can accomplish anything! When everything fell through on Monday and Rit’s faith carried me, he also said we would have two offers by the time I leave (I leave in one week). I said Ha! God showed me who is in control :)

We also had another showing this morning and they are our back-up potential buyers. The Bible verse from yesterday morning. Double honor. Ahhh!!! God’s promises are good.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… To Him be the glory” -Ephesians 3:20-21

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“How do you leave 5 young kids to go to Africa?”

Over the past few months I’ve been asked this question a couple dozen times. “How do you leave 5 young children to go to Africa?” It’s a valid question. So I thought I’d address it.

My short answer: “I don’t know”

In the logical realm of the flesh, it makes absolutely no sense why a mother would leave 5 young children (ages 3 ½, 5, 6, 7, & 8) to go across the world to take care of other young children that are not her own.

In the logical realm of the spirit, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

So here is my long answer:
My current 5 children who call me and my husband “Mommy and Daddy”, well…they have exactly that. A mommy and a daddy. They have a family. A home. They also have a roof over their head. Three nutritious, wholesome meals a day. And 17,000 healthy snacks in between. Clean, safe drinking water. An education. Security. Safety. Proper (safe & effective) healthcare. A bedroom. A bed. A super duper comfy bed with pillows and down comforters and stuffed animals surrounding them. They have way too many toys and a ridiculous amount of clothing (matching actually because I’m obsessed with matching outfits). Constant attention. Like an overabundance of attention, so much so that I know exactly what everyone likes and dislikes and all the finicky pickiness that comes with children who are given too many choices and have too many “wants” and not enough needs.

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And these young children that call me mommy, they have already been given more of the “me-me-me”, self righteous, self entitlement mindset than I had hoped my kids would have learned by now. They are living the “American Dream” and then some. So me leaving my kids for a few weeks once a year, well I pray to God that I am teaching them that their future lives will find more purpose and fulfillment when they learn to serve others before themselves.

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See I am by nature a very, very, very selfish person. And I am also a very fearful person. These two things don’t exactly make for someone who wants to spend each summer in Africa. My entire life I have struggled with fears. When I met Rit, he became my safety net. My husband makes me feel safe and secure and if I could choose where I wanted to spend all of my time, it would be with him never leaving his side. I am scared of being alone. I am scared of leaving my children. I am scared of flying. I am scared of the unknowns. I hate being dirty. I like quiet bubble baths each night. And even though I have 5 young kids, I crave order and structure and routine and schedules. I like for things to make sense. There is absolutely no reason why someone like me would now be going to Africa for the third year in a row to spend her days being covered in pee and poop and vomit and waste to love on orphans and work in the slums and visit remote villages and take cold showers and sleep under mosquito nets. Except…

Except God!

I don’t know why the Lord called me to the orphans in Uganda. I do know that I have never felt more at home or at peace than when I am in that country with His children. It made no sense for our family to adopt a child from Uganda. But we did. And I’ve never experienced more purpose in all of my life. And we now see without a shadow of doubt that God had handpicked Solomon for our family long before he put the thought or desire in our hearts. Why when I was a teenager in high school did the Lord put the desire of adoption in my heart? Because he already knew Solomon was my son.

Why did my 8 year old (6 at the time) pray for me to bring a “brother” home from Uganda two summers ago? And why has this same child now randomly announced at dinner on three different occasions how she thinks our family should bring another child home from Uganda? Why does my child already have these desires in her own heart?

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The other day she said to me: “Mom, I know what the word JOY means”. “Really?”, I said, “tell me”. She said “Jesus comes first, then Others, then You”.

J = Jesus
O = Others
Y = You

So I asked another question: “OK, so how do we experience JOY?” She said: “I would help give orphans moms & dads”

Our family has been called to this exciting, amazing journey. It doesn’t have to look normal to the outside world. And it’s certainly not easy. But I often times don’t understand what the outside world even looks like anymore. Whatever is considered “normal” these days, certainly doesn’t look normal to me.

So I go.

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I go to Africa with excitement and anticipation. And I also go with trepidation and fear and anxiety. But I know that “He who calls me is faithful and He will do it”. Not me. This is the Lord. I am weak in my own flesh. Just ask my husband. My anxiety always sets in when the first day of the calendar month that I am leaving hits. So this time, when June 1 hit, and I saw that it was now the calendar month I leave for Uganda…the anxiety set in full force. Some nights the anxiety is higher and on those nights I say things like: “I can’t go. I’m not going”. My husband recently said: “Seriously, you are panicking again? Aren’t you a pro by now? This isn’t your first rodeo to Uganda…you got this”. But I’m human. I’m selfish. I’m weak. I have fears. And I’m also a mom of 5 young kids. How do I leave 5 young kids to go to Africa?

I don’t know.

I just want to follow God.

When I follow God, His peace follows me. There is no greater gift in the world than to experience the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. His plans for me are greater than my own plans for me. And it certainly bypasses all human understanding.

Before I know it, I’ll be doing these trips with my kids. And it still won’t make sense to others. I think by then people will be asking: “How do you take 5 kids WITH you to Africa?” :)

It’s all God.

And as they say in Africa: “God is good all the time. And all the time God is good”
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Melanie’s Marvelous Measles

Hey did you know there is a major measles outbreak right now? Oh right, how could you not know?  The media loves to promote these outbreaks. Hard to keep up with the outbreaks these days, when there is always a “current measles outbreak” and of course they are always caused by those unruly unvaccinated kids. Why are these “outbreaks” plastered all over the media? Because money talks. The entire vaccine industry is built on fear and scare tactics, and they are a multi-billion dollar industry that pays big money to talk their talk. All you have to do these days is watch night-time talk shows to see how money talks. Last night the vaccine industry’s most well-paid spokesperson (Paul Offit) was on the John Stewart show. Offit owns patents on childhood vaccines that he invented and then he votes his own vaccines onto the childhood vaccine schedule (no conflict of interest there). He is a millionaire because of vaccines. He gets to go on night-time talk shows and promote his vaccines through scare tactics and lies. His big money makes you believe that measles is being caused by the “anti-vaccine movement”. He gets to go on national television and make fun of unvaccinated kids. And for some reason this new level of vaccine propoganda is socially acceptable. It’s not.

I’ve written on measles until I feel like I can’t possibly write another post on measles. I’ve said everything there is to say and then some. I always say “I’M DONE TALKING ABOUT MEASLES”. Ha! But then I received a set of books in the mail from an author in Australia. All of her books are awesome. They are written for children and they teach on various topics such as bullies, visiting naturopaths, and vaccines. One of the books is titled: “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles”. She asked if I would review it.  I said “Of course!” Well wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Her intro alone had me crying. This author is a momma. A real life momma with a real life baby who was taken from her. She is using her story to help others. It is an excellent book for anyone looking for logic and truth.

“Melanie’s Marvelous Measles”, shares in an extremely positive and kid friendly way how measles is NOT to be feared. My 8 year old read it when she got home from school the day the book came in the mail. When she was done, I simply asked: “What did you think of that book?” She said: “I think it’s cool that kids get measles and they actually get stronger from it”. I asked: “Why do you think people are afraid of measles?” She said: “I think they don’t know enough about measles”. Yep. My 8 year old now knows enough to not fear measles.

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MY REVIEW

The book starts off about a girl named Melanie who has the measles. The teacher announces to the class that Melanie is not at school because she has measles. Tina is sad because Melanie is her best friend. Some of the other children in the class become worried that they are going to catch measles. Tina overhears a boy in the class named Jared tell his friend Travis how he won’t get the measles because he has been vaccinated. When Travis tells Jared that he isn’t vaccinated, Jared becomes angry and tells him “Well, you’re going to die if you don’t get vaccinated”. Travis replies: “Well, I know that isn’t true because I haven’t had any vaccinations and I am still alive”. Jared didn’t know what to say to that. After overhearing this conversation, Tina decides that she does not want to announce that she is also not vaccinated. You see, Tina’s brother Sam became very sick after he had his shots, so Tina’s mom & dad decided to research more before vaccinating their other children again. After researching, they decided it was too risky, so Tina didn’t have any shots and was a very healthy child.

Tina goes home from school that day with a lot of questions and concerns. The next few pages in the book share the excellent conversation between Tina & her parents. Her mom teaches her that measles “don’t run and catch you our hurt you”. She explains that measles is a “common childhood disease”. She teaches what measles is: “children get spots on their body and they can feel very hot and have a cough for a few days. For most children it’s a good thing to get measles. Many wise people believe measles make the body stronger and more mature for the future”. mmm Without telling the entire story (I gotta save some of it for you to read), one of the questions Tina asks her parents “Why were the children (from her class) scared?” Her mothers answer: “They are scared because they don’t know much about measles and most people fear things they don’t know anything about. It’s a lot like being scared of the dark”. She goes on to explain to her daughter: “When I was a child, if one child had measles or chicken pox, many parents would take their own children over to play with them. They hoped their children would get the disease and then have natural lifelong immunity”. 

mmm2Tina and her mom decide to go over and visit Melanie and bring her some healthy foods and juice. They bring her carrot juice and melons because research shows that if your body has plenty of Vitamin A, you won’t get measles and if you do have measles, eating fruit and vegetables high in Vitamin A are helpful for healing.

Melanie’s mom thanks Tina’s mom. Melanie’s mom also says: “So much for being vaccinated. The doctor said Melanie has the worst case of measles he has seen in years”. Yep. 
10331539_10152410168340883_206555904_nAnd guess what? Jared (the other vaccinated friend) he ended up contracting the measles too. Tina never did.

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As much as I want to share every word and page of this book, I encourage every family to purchase this book. Give your children the gift of knowledge through these kid friendly books that teach truth. I highly, highly, highly recommend these age appropriate children’s books!

How do we break the cycle of vaccine propaganda through fear and scare tactics? Truth. The next generations of thinking children are our future. Hard to believe it’s been 47 years since the very first measles campaign in 1967.

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This cutesy slogan reads “Stop measles with just one shot”. According to the CDC 47 years ago— “Effective use of this vaccine during the coming winter and spring should ensure the eradication of measles from the United States in 1967”. Looks like it’s time to teach the next generation truth.  A great way to start is through children’s books like Melanie’s Marvelous Measles.

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You can purchase this awesome children’s book HERE

Past posts on Measles:

Thanks Pharma

Why All The Measles Outbreaks

Measles Shmeasles

Do You Fear Measles






S is For Spring & Summer!

Hard to believe spring passed me by so quickly and summer is already here! Life got very busy and I forgot to write a Spring post update. Now it’s summer and that means my seasonal update post about whats going on in the G house. These posts are epic friends. No not really. But if you feel you’ve missed out, you can catch up by reading some of the past few: Winter is Wonderful, Fall is Cool, and the 33 Random things about our previous Summer. Spring this year was beautiful. And always represents new life to me. In our home Spring will always signify the time of year we brought Solomon home (April 2013) and I recently shared a 3 Part series celebrating all of our ONE year milestones of him being home. You can read those HERE.

So this is my combo Spring & Summer update post! For those of you in South Louisiana, wasn’t this Spring beautiful? Amazing weather and such a lovely time of year before the HOT and sweat and HOT and humidity and HOT came our way.

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Here’s some highlights from the last few months and what we have coming up: 

*The final weeks of school went by fast and furious and next thing I knew it was officially summer. Wow! The three oldest: 2nd, 1st, & Kindergarten are now officially 3rd, 2nd, & 1st graders. Why do they grow up so fast?

9 months ago:
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Last week:
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*Solomon finished Kindergarten. Let me repeat: Solomon graduated from Kindergarten. He started the school year as a Kindergartener with English as his second language and completed sentences that went something like this: “A is for Pumpkin” and “B is for Twenty“. I thought he might stay in Kindergarten for years. We ended the school year with Solomon reading, writing, and giving me love notes. WOW! And right before my eyes I realized just how far Solomon had come. What a year for this boy! 

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*This week I registered #4 for Kindergarten. It’s almost unbelievable that I now have 4 in school. All my babies are growing up!
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*And that leaves only one little left at home next year, #5, The Tot. She will be happy to rule the world and be my full time boss next year. It’s exactly what she does best. And then she is off to Kindergarten the next year.

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*Solomon played on a 6 year old baseball team that made it all the way to the championships. Even though we lost the championship game, it was a very fun season of baseball! I am officially a psycho-crazy-competitive-mother of children in sports.

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10309636_10152454751540883_6054576858156894180_n (1) *The Three Big Kids finished a fun season of soccer and I do NOT miss the 8am Saturday games. They had a blast though. All 3 loved it. Score!
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*Jazz Fest: Springtime in our family always means JAZZ FEST is here! The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been a part of our family for 30 years now, as my parents cook up some of the best food at the Fest. If you ever come to New Orleans during Jazz Fest, you can find us here!

Best food at the Fest! 30 years and going strong!
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Me, my momma & daddy, and sisters: 

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Me & my hubby (who married into Jazz Fest without a choice) and now finds himself taking off of his real job to cook for a couple hundred thousand hungry Jazz Festers over a 2 week period each year. 
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*Surviving the large crowds of Jazz Fest with 5 young kids is…well let’s just say, I was accompanied by two nannies this year. That’s how you do Jazz Fest with 5 kids under 8 :) Best Nannies ever!

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10261700_10152405363305883_1003959231_n*These are some of our “We survived 8 hours of Jazz Fest” end the day pictures!

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* Date nights: The boys continued their tradition of special dates with daddy.
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10178034_10152390045550883_7751085833727586976_n*And the girls special dates with mommy.

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*And we switch the dates around: Daddy with girls and Mommy with boys. And sometimes when we are “lucky”, we take all 5 on a date :) 

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*And of course we make time for Mommy/Daddy adult dates. This year we enjoyed the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. And it was quite the experience :)

Jess and Rit wine and food fest
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*The 3 big kids sang in the choir for Palm Sunday church service. That was a very special day watching Solomon on stage singing these lyrics, exactly one year after we adopted him. The best part is knowing that God knew he would be exactly here one year to the date of being adopted.

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*On the complete opposite end of the spectrum of what’s important in life, I became slightly obsessed with Matilda Jane clothing. Especially on my spunky, feisty 3 year old. 
10250668_10152365343340883_712348101_n*This picture was taken on Mother’s Day. The Tot likes to play a game with me where she is the mom and I’m the baby. So on Mother’s Day, she wore my shoes and insisted I wished her a “Happy Mothers Day”. I’ll play her game as long as she let’s her “baby” drink wine. 
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*The boys were 5 year old “twins” for 2 months. Every year they get to be “same age twins” for a few months out of the year. Only God can ordain that!

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*And then Solomon turned 6. His first birthday celebrated in America! 

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*I’m learning everyday how to operate with GRACE.  I love this shirt that says: “She gave herself GRACE because she knew HE was strong in her weakness”. This picture was taken after a long day, with a way-too-late dinner being served on paper plates. Some days, you just have to give yourself GRACE. As a mom of 5 young kids ages: (almost 4), (5), (6) ,(7), & (8), I have to give myself DAILY DOSES of GRACE!
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And a few BIG changes…

*My 10 years of working for our family volleyball business is soon coming to an end as I transition to incorporating Young Living as a full time job. This is a HUGE transition, but definitely where God is leading our family!

Weekends away traveling to run volleyball tournaments all over the country….
968003_10152342229530883_1398262396_nMay soon start looking like weekends away traveling to teach essential oil classes…
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*Another HUGE transition is that we are moving. Moving! We are moving! In the last month, we have sold our home of 10 years and found our new forever dream home. We cannot wait until move-in day! 
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*Simultaneously going on while we move, I will be traveling for 1 month: YL Convention in Salt Lake, Uganda, & St. Marie’s are all trips that have been planned long before we knew we were moving. Let’s just say this is going to be an interesting summer! Between 5 kids, 2 full time jobs, traveling almost every week of the summer, and moving our family of 7 to a new house, this summer is going to be a balancing act. Thank goodness the creator of the universe holds my life in HIS hands. And for an amazing behind-the-scenes husband who truly makes our family dynamics function and our home run smoothly. Rit is our anchor.

*I have three weeks left to be home with my 5 greatest treasures before my summer of travel begins. .If you read my epic post at the beginning of last summer, in which I could only come up with the title: Summer Are Hot, you will see that summer is my least favorite time of year in Louisiana. Perspective is an interesting thing….now that this summer of constant-travel is looking drastically different than the zero-plans we had last summer, I am going to consciously make an effort to enjoy these next 3 weeks with my quintuplets. Already we are off to good start at making the best of these HOT summer days!

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Happy Summer! From our home to yours!
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Rainbow Looms for Orphans

Calling YOUR kids!!! Join this amazing effort to bless the orphans in Uganda with colorful RAINBOW LOOMS! This idea was started by three orphan loving little girls, ages 9, 8, & 7. My friend Robin’s  little girl Hannah (age 9) inspired my girls (ages 8 & 7) and together the three of them have a goal to make 1,000 rainbow loom bracelets. But they need your help!!!
Rainbow Looms for Orphans.001JOIN the “Great Girls and Boys Project”!!! Encourage your kiddos to gather as many friends as possible to create an obscene amount of bracelets for children who have never seen anything so colorful. What a great opportunity to teach our children how to bless others. When we put one of these bracelets on the children in Uganda, it becomes their most treasured piece of jewelry.Would you take this challenge with us? Whether you pledge to make 10 or 100, we would love to hear your pledge amounts! We when return from Uganda, your child will receive a picture of the children in Uganda wearing the Rainbow Looms made for them, so they can always remember how they made a difference in the life of another child.

1. Please mail in looms by June 15, 2014
2. Please mail looms to the PO Box listed on the picture above
3. If you would like, you can mail a picture of your child making the looms and your mailing address, so you can receive a picture of one of the children in Uganda with your child’s picture and the rainbow looms made for them!

Are you ready? Let’s do this!

KIDS, Get your Loom on!!!
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P.S. Can I just say I have the best bloggy friends ever? A HUGE THANK-YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART to all of you who rose the challenge from my post “The Least of These” where I shared about the two projects I’m heading in Uganda this summer. 1. The Painting Project to paint the babies rooms in an orphanage 2. The Healthy Snack Pack Project.  Thank-you for your donations!!! Thank-you for helping to meet our needs!!! It’s still not too late to donate to these projects. Any amount helps. $10 can help feed 10 kids.
Click (HERE) to learn more!!!

Blessings to each of you! Thank-you for helping to be the hands and feet!

 

Mommy’s First-Aid Kit

Last weekend was quite the weekend of accidents for our family. Our first accident occurred on Saturday morning during our 6 year old sons semi-final baseball playoff game. He was in the dug out and the bat girl threw a ball in the air and swung to hit the ball with a bat. Instead of the bat hitting the ball, the bat hit our sons jaw. The impact of the bat into his jaw was so hard that his mouth slammed into the dugout wall and broke teeth. He injury was on both sides of his face. There was a lot of blood and a lot of tears. There was also a lot of panic. I’m pretty sure I officially became the crazy oil lady when someone suggested we take our son to the ER and I said “That’s ok, I have oils”. Yeah, I pretty much had 10 heads. (We did have him looked at by a doctor on site who confirmed it was NOT a head injury) and that the cracked teeth were minor. It was mostly just a painful blow to the jaw and he just needed a few days to rest and recover.

keep-calm-and-apply-essential-oils-2We did what we knew best. We immediately rubbed lavender on the gash on his jaw. The bleeding stopped almost immediately. We rubbed peppermint around his jaw for pain. It helped give a numbing feeling. We applied copaiba for swelling and inflammation. We applied helichyrsum for overall healing. Did you know helichrysum can dissolve blood cots, repair nerves, and stop bleeding?

Oils have an innate intelligence and know which is needed – stop bleeding or dissolve a clot. Only God can make ‘medicine’ like that!

For the next few days we continued to apply these oils to his injury. I always traveled everywhere with Lavender and Peppermint, but Copaiba and Helichrysum are now two oils I will never be without. We also gave him arnica (a homeopathic for injury and pain). By Sunday morning, our sweet boy was good to go. Pain gone. Gash in face closed and healing. And his sweet little broken teeth, he asked to put the pieces under his pillow for the tooth fairy, haha. Last night he played in the finals of the 6 year old baseball championships. You would not have know that 3 days earlier he had experienced such an injury. Keep calm and apply essential oils. 

10367175_10152446914360883_7078223044024358655_nAbout 30 minutes after his injury. Even with a bloodied face & uniform and broken teeth, he still managed a smile! 

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LAST NIGHT’S PLAYOFF GAME! Nothing but smiles and complete healing! 

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Accident #2:

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Sunday morning I was at the top of my kids bunk beds changing the sheets. I forgot about the ceiling fan. OUCH!!!! I had a bump on my skull the size of a golf ball. My husband immediately put drops of cypress, frankincense, & helichrysum. Swelling went down almost immediately. Pain eventually subsided. I learned a lesson: Don’t change your kids sheets. Just kidding. Beware of ceiling fans. Keep calm and use essential oils. 

Accident #3:
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Sunday afternoon we took the kids for a lovely afternoon of riding scooters and bikes at one of our local parks. It was a beautiful day. We even enjoyed Jules organic ice cream sandwiches. Yum! I had no intentions of needing my oils, but grabbed my First Aid Kit just in case. Big Sister ended up taking a big fall on her scooter. Both elbows and her shoulders were skinned and bloody. Lavender oil to the rescue. Upon application the bleeding stopped. We mixed coconut oil and lavender and bandaged her up. She was good to. They call lavender the swiss army knife of essential oils. It really is. Keep calm and carry oils. 

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On Sunday night I was thinking about these three accidents. I thought to myself, “What in the world did we do before essential oils?” I honestly can’t even remember life without them. It made me realize how happy I am to have a first aid kit of oils on me at all times, so that I can treat accidents immediately.

I found this gem of a first aid kit at Target. I filled it with antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, Band-Aids, and my go-to Young Living oils for injury. I love my First Aid kit. I think every mommy needs to have a first aid kit that looks like this :)

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Don’t forget my Month of May for Mother’s Day: 2 FREE BOOK promotion ends in only 10 DAYS. So take advantage of my offer! You can find it (HERE). And then head on over to Target to get your own $5.99 First Aid kit to fill with all the new oils you just ordered. Every mommy deserves her own First Aid Kit filled with Young Living Essential Oils :)

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The Least of These…

As most of you know, the first time I went to Uganda (June 2012) my life was radically changed. In 2013, my husband & I went back to Uganda for one month to adopt our son. And very soon I go back for trip #3. This time I am helping lead a team. Woo-hoo! Our team consists of 13 women and 3 men. We will be serving at many different orphanages and ministries. Our work includes slum feeding programs, medical clinics, working at a pro-life clinic, conducting VBS, visiting remote villages, loving on orphans, and serving the least of these!  God has a lot in store for this trip!!!

Right now I am trying to raise money for two the many projects we will be doing. One our projects will be painting the babies room at a baby orphanage where 50 babies (ages 0-3 years) currently live as orphans. Precious children like this little girl I fell in love with 2 years ago. Not only will be painting this particular orphanage (which is very near and dear to my heart for many reasons), but we will be supplying them with their many needs: formula, diapers, & healthy snacks to name a few.

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My second project is to bring and make 1,000 snack packs of healthy food. The snack packs will include snack items such as trail mix and granola bars. These snack packs are great to bring into the orphanages and slums as a way to give each child their own bag of special treats. During my first trip to Uganda, it saddened my heart to see Americans and other missionary groups show up at orphanages and give malnourished children candy. And I’m not talking like a simple lollipop, these children receive POUNDS of candy. And soda. Sure, the sugary “treats” probably taste real good for about 30 minutes, but after that their bloated bellies are sick. It’s not common to witness the children throw up afterwards. Candy “treats” make the children sick and weaken their immune systems. Sugar, artificial flavors, and artificial coloring are the last thing these children need. They deserve better. The least of these deserve better.

I have a heart to run missions teams that look differently than what the rest of the world does. These children need nutritious food, clean water, and immune building medicines. Too often, well meaning people show up in 3rd world countries with food items that consists of zero nutrition and medicine and vaccines that do nothing but weaken the immune system. They deserve better. The least of these deserve better.

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One very exciting thing happening on this trip to Uganda, is that Young Living has donated ALL of the essential oils we will need to treat the street children and orphans of Uganda. This will include treating parasites and flesh eating bacteria, removing chiggers from feet, wound care, and helping to build immune systems. I am so thankful for the generosity of Young Living and cannot wait to document our use of essential oils on the trip. Thank-you Young Living! God’s original medicine is simply the best!

We still have a long way to go meet all of our goals and needs for this trip. We currently have these awesome big containers that are ready to be filled. And the good news is…. they can be filled with your help :) I am currently raising money for the supplies need for two projects that I am leading.

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How Can You Help?

1. Donate towards our Painting project. This will help us purchase the paint and paint brushes to paint the baby orphanage.
2. Donate towards our Healthy Snack project. This will help us purchase the food items to go in the healthy snack packs.

Every dollar amount helps.
Whether you are able to donate $10 or $100, every dollar amount helps!
THANK-YOU!!

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Thank-you for helping us serve the least of these!

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 “In you the orphan finds mercy” -Hosea 14:3

Related post: International Travel to Third World Countries & Vaccines