Posted on 19 June 2011 by Kari Gibson
Posted on 13 September 2010 by Kari Gibson
I’m so excited to introduce you to my new friend, Rebecca Sorensen. I had no idea there was a real life princess living in Kampala, Uganda in a house full of love. God called her to serve and minister to orphans, so she is working full time making a mighty impact in her tiny village. She has a home for children who are orphaned and a school and church ministry. I think what I fell in love with instantly was her spirit and personality. She is bubbly and warm and inviting. She greeted our group at her home and invited us in for a much needed break with fresh squeezed juice and pineapple chunks. It was the best snack I have ever had in my life. She sat down on the floor and just chatted with us life family about her life. We were all so impressed, but we knew that deep inside this petite beauty was something extraordinary. She would probably cringe if she knew we called her a hero, but that is exactly what she is. A hero to a village and hundreds of children that are being cared, nurtured, taught, and loved by Rebecca. The only negative of our time with her was it was too short. I cant wait to go back in June and spend a few days watching this super hero in action and ministering to her children.
Rebecca knows how to throw a party, too! She greeted our team with something truly magical. The celebration was humbling to us at so many levels. The children made us feel like VIP visitors, but in the end, we knew exactly who the celebrities were… each and every child in the tiny village school. They taught us what worshipping God means with every fiber in their bodies. I felt like I witnessed, literally witnessed a peek into heaven. The children sang like angels and worshipped God like their life depended on it. I know many of the children have gone through horrific atrocities, so their love for God is their only source for healing and eternity.
Rebecca’s Own Words:
I asked Rebecca to share a short testimony about her ministry…
Before Visiting Orphans started visiting us with their teams, we were literally hidden in Christ. We had very few visitors to our ministry before them and were praying for God to send us teams and resources. God in His miraculous beautiful way, led Amanda and Visiting Orphans directly to us! The two teams we have had so far have been such an incredible blessing to us. Though their times with us have been short, they have blessed us in every way possible. They have given of their hearts, time, love, and prayers. Some team members have even helped us to transport our collection of school and medical supplies which is a huge need for us as it is almost impossible to reliably ship things to Uganda. The teams have brought with them incredible waves of joy and excitement to our 200 children who look forward to and anticipate their visits, games, and activities! I believe that these visits impact our children all the way down to an identity level. They are impacted by seeing that someone from America, who they look up to automatically, has come all the way across the world just to see THEM, to love THEM, and to be with THEM. It sends them a deep message that they are special and worthy of love. Another way Visiting Orphans has helped us tremendously is the team members giving of their resources. These teams came during difficult financial times for our ministry and blessed us beyond expectation or imagination. Some team members even invited me to come and share at their home churches or to help host a small fundraiser. For me personally, Visiting Orphans brought me to a new level of HOPE and VISION after a very challenging year of ministry. Their visits have reminded me WHY I’m doing what I’m doing and I have been SO ENCOURAGED, very deeply encouraged through their partnership and visits. We have been blessed in every way by this ministry and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a way to touch God’s children of the nations. (Rebecca)
My Crazy Journal (I wrote this at night with a flashlight)
We loaded up the bus and headed the short distance to My Father’s House. We were giddy… so full of life. Funny- poor Vit Steiger jumped on the truck for a phone moment with me and ripped the front bumper off the truck. It was hilarious, but he felt soooo bad!!!
The next visit has changed my life in such a special way. We pulled into My Father’s House (about a mile down the road) and met the Mother Teresa of Kampala. Rebecca Sorensen is adorable from head to toe. She is strong and alive and passionate about teaching her children the good news of Jesus. She has come to this beautiful place and is making a difference in a major way. Her home has 16 children (orphans) she cares for with a staff of about 6. She has them come home from school to meet us. She wanted us to know the children personally who is her family. They served us fresh juice and fresh cut pineapple and greeted us with such respect. They were simply THRILLED we were there and told us over and over. Maria I spent some one on one time in the girls room and talked to them about their beauty inside and out. I shared that they were princesses and the 5 girls swarmed me with hugs and kisses. Oh what a special moment.
We walked about 1.5 miles to the school. The team was ecstatic getting to walk in the real Uganda… right down the street we paraded waving and taking photos (with permission:) The Ugandans are so beautiful and have such a spirit of love that just pours out of them. The hospitality they show is remarkable.
I was the last one around the corner, but I could hear the children singing loudly as I approached. All of a sudden I turned and walked straight into heaven. The children were in 2 lines and singing with every ounce of spirit they had in their precious bodies!!!! Each team member walked down the row as they sang and danced us into their church building. There are no words to describe the love and respect and honor I felt walking thru the sea of children on side to side. It was magical and miraculous all wrapped up in love. We entered the church and I literally lost my breath. It was decorated for US!!! There was a huge sign in the front- Welcome Visiting Orphans! The children never stopped singing and dancing for at least 30 min. We sat in front in special chairs they set up for us. I was weeping. I was overwelmed. I witnessed something I will NEVER see again for as long as I live. They were praising Jesus in a way I have never had the honor of seeing. The dancing and singing were like a Broadway play. It was just that good and more. A young girl led the singing and dancing and she was on fire with the Holy Spirit. There is no other way to describe the spirits. I could feel Jesus in that tiny church. A precious 2 year old names Vivian came up to me and I picked her up. This was my gift from the Lord. I held her as she slept in my arms for hours.
The singing never stopped. The rain came hard. It was indescribable. Rebecca told me that they have not had rain in months. The precious teacher Ruth, told me that in Uganda if you have a visitor and it rains it means only one thing…. the visit is very blessed by God. The visit is something extra special. The rain came in torrents and that meant to the people and children… our time with them was a blessing. WOWWW
I was literally weeping the entire time. They had our team dance a traditional dance. We found out later from Rebecca a few days ago, 3 of the girls there had been raped. The songs they sung were about pain and trails, but the hope they have in Jesus gives them a reason to live. When they sang Yes, Lord song… my heart was transferred to a place of real love for the people of Uganda. I have been changed being with the people… the real people of Uganda. I’m not feeling like a tourist, but a missionary coming to simply love the gifts of humanity… the hand of God is here. He has not abandoned the people. He gives them hope, and dreams and purpose and meaning and worth. It’s my honor to show them the love of a mother.
At the end, the team was surrounded by over 200 children saying goodbye. How do you describe that kind of scene? I couldn’t give Vivian away, so Rebecca told me I could carry her with me to the bus. Vivian never said one word to me the entire time, never a sound… she never smiled, but she clung to me like a mother and child. When I gave her back to Rebecca she was crying. I told her I loved her and kissed her like Zoie. Rebecca and I both started crying.
We drove away changed. The massive display of honor we felt that day was something I will cherish in my heart forever. You might think we would have gone direcly to a hotel and crashed. We were feeling spiritually, physically, emotionally exhausted, but wonderful too!!! However, we jumped on the bus ready for our next crazy adventure… wait till you hear about Pastor Rebel and his family at Canaan’s Children Home.
Rebecca Sorensen’s blog (please follow her daily journey)
A few people who have newly entered my life have been asking me how in the world did I end up in Africa running a school and a children’s home for the precious children of Uganda. So I’ve decided to write it out for the world to read. I think it’s a pretty good story…of redemption, adoption, hope, and healing. My prayer these days is that God would make my life a SPECTACLE of His LOVE!
I remember standing on his chest as a little girl. My age 3 memories are vague but still have an emotional energy attached to them. I remember feeling so small and my Daddy feeling so big. I remember feeling so loved and safe as his great big arms held me up to stand up tall on his chest…balancing against his arms. Suddenly my world came crashing down and I have a vague memory of my Daddy asking me if I wanted to stand on his chest …one…last…time. I didn’t understand. What was happening? Why did we have to leave? Was it my fault? My mom and I left heading from Texas to Arkansas to go and stay with my grandparents. I wouldn’t see my Father again until I was 14 years old. Even then, it was only for a few days. Even today, my earthly Dad is not active in my life.
During those eleven years without my Dad, he would call me every Sunday night to talk on the phone…for about a year then one Sunday night he would stop calling and wouldn’t call again for another year or so…then the calls would start again and end again, start again and end again. I was repeatedly hit with bullets of rejection and abandonment during these years often crying myself to sleep at night. I had friends tease me that I didn’t have a father. As an only child, with a very busy working single mom, I remember feeling very alone and isolated. God became one of my best friends…but I was wounded…with an orphan heart. It would be years later before I would receive healing, freedom, peace.
One night at college church group I heard this girl singing a spontaneous song to God…she kept singing over and over…Daddy, Daddy, Daddy. I couldn’t connect with it. I thought maybe she was just trying to look spiritual. Could she honestly call GOD…Daddy? Though I didn’t understand…I desperately wanted that. That night I went back to my campus apartment and lied awake for hours in my bed. Around 3am, I had a powerful encounter with God. Father God visited me and revealed Himself to me as my Father. As a loving God who created me, who knit me together, who knew every part of me, who understood every pain I had, who dreamed me to life, who wanted the best for me, who chose me to be a part of His family, who was beginning to transform me …from an orphan heart to the heart of a princess. It was the beginning of a journey of healing and discovery. The wounds and lies of rejection and abandonment were gradually replaced with acceptance, safety, and a deep love and confidence in who I was and whose I was…my Daddy’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I learned that I was not a reject or unworthy of love but in fact, I was a royal princess with a royal Father, the King of Kings and NOTHING was impossible for us together! I longed to give this away….to every child who had ever cried themselves to sleep at night…because they were alone or lonely or longing for those who were supposed to be there…to father and mother them.
I’ve ALWAYS loved other cultures especially the tropical ones! Their bright colors, their wild rhythms, their dancing and singing, their language, their understanding of one another. When I was little I would even have Africa parties with my friends where we would dress up using big pieces of material to create African dresses and go out and take pictures in the forest! I also have always dreamed of using music as a tool to bring change to the world, to bring awareness to the world’s suffering, and to inspire a movement of compassion. During high school, I began to read the writings of Mother Teresa and Ghandi and was drawn to the colors and stories of India. I told my family I was moving there after high school to serve with Mother Teresa’s ministry. They refused and told me I needed to go to college. While studying and singing and writing music, I encountered God in a whole new way and desperately longed to serve the poor even more. I worked twice a week at a homeless shelter where I made many unusual friends and I worked in the projects with a church ministry on saturdays playing and bringing hope and food to some sweet kids. But I wanted more….I wanted to give my whole life to compassion and mercy and change and hope and to the suffering of this world. I would lay in my college apartment and cry out to God to send me somewhere …anywhere. though I really began to long for AFRICA once I heard of this little woman named Mama Heidi from Mozambique who was a little like Mother Teresa meets Peter whose shadow healed the sick. I watched Blood Diamond where I saw child soldiers from Sierra Leone, the Invisible children documentary where I learned of modern day child soldiers in Uganda, and Hotel Rwanda where I saw the evil genocide of Rwanda. I had a justice heart and a mercy heart burning inside me. I wanted to take on the world …with JESUS!
I applied for Heidi’s mission school in Mozambique which was a 3 month program and got accepted. During the process God’s voice whispered to me that there was going to be another opportunity come up. Sure enough, a professor I had at my high school who was from Kenya, invited me to go with him and his wife to visit his family in Africa and serve the people of Kenya. I had little desire to go to Kenya…but I felt a nudge from the Lord in that direction. I told God…”if I could go anywhere in the world, I’d want to go to nothern Uganda”. This was the home of child soldiers and a 22 year long evil civil war. But I listened to the Lord and began walking towards the Kenya trip (after a lot of struggle between me and God). A week before that trip my kenyan friends let me know they were not able to go due to some issues getting their visas! I didn’t know what to do! I had raised all the funds, set out letters, and was desperately finally looking forward to going. Some friends of mine were working in Uganda and had planned to meet me during my time in Kenya. I let them know of the change of plans and they immediately invited me to go ahead and come to Africa…to UGANDA!!! I was very excited and of course jumped on the opportunity. I thought the northern area of UGanda was too dangerous for us to go but we ended up traveling there and I was able to serve the very people of the area I had told God I really wanted to go to. Obedience…always leads us to our heart’s desire…even when we can’t see it at all. God’s eyes are much bigger than ours.
During my time in Uganda, I fell madly in love with Africa…with the children and their sweet voices and faces, with the dirt, the adventure, the sunshine, the rhythms, everything. I felt like I was at HOME. I made some significant friendships with Ugandans there too as I spent a few weeks there completely immersed with no Americans or whites around. I learned a little bit of the language and dived in to the culture. I came back to America with a burden…a big burden for the children I met who had NOTHING and NO ONE. Children who were digging in trash dumps while across the street other children were looking smart in their school uniforms and looking forward to a hopeful future. Children who were dressed in rags and had no clothes. Children who were alone, being abused as child workers, unable to see any sign of love or hope in their lives…and I remembered. I remembered all the times of my childhood when I felt alone…and God gave me HOPE. Why not these kids too? I often asked Him after that trip where are you for these people, for these kids? and He would reply to me, “where are you?..you are my hands, my feet, my heart, my bride. where are you?” I spent the next 6 months collecting supplies and filled up a garage full of school supplies, clothes, and toys. I took a few of my friends back and we distributed these things in slums, refugee camps, hospitals, villages, churches, and schools.
Afterwards, I traveled from Uganda to Mozambique where I served under Heidi Baker and Iris Ministries for 3 months…learning about what it really means to serve the poor and to become a missionary with Jesus as our model…He came as a humble dependent baby who had to learn a trade, a culture, a language. He gave His whole life for those He came to serve. He was a real missionary…a true missionary. I learned what it means to have compassion and during my time there, I had a a vision and encounter with God where He asked me…to “please bring my lost children home” as tears ran down His cheeks… I was called, commissioned, and was burning with fire to see this happen…that every orphaned (physical or spiritual) child could find a home in His heart…in His love…in Daddy God!
Through a series of wild events, some Ugandan friends and I formed a school in an area of town where I had always stayed when I went to Uganda. We started it with just a few hundred dollars and some wooden timbers. We built a small structure and some desks….painted the building, named the school Royal Hope Academy, and started with 3 teachers and about 35 children. Only a few months later, we had 9 teachers and 100 children. Another year later, we had 200 children, 10 teachers, plus 5 staff members. We also decided to really bring some of these desperate kids HOME…and started our first family style children’s home where 10 of our kids were adopted. We hope to have more of these homes in the future for more of these children who are in great need of home and family! All of the kids at our school, with the exception of about 5% who are simply very needy, are orphaned. These children are either full orphans or half orphans but in Africa if you have lost only one parent, you are considered an orphan. We began the school with no blue print, little experience, no fundraising plans, no money, in the middle of a recession in America…and with an awesome great big faithful and rich Father! Every month, I would pray for God to supply the needs to pay the staff and feed the children and He never never failed us.
Since February 2009 when we first started the school, at least 100 children have come out of polygamist islam, witchcraft or Rhasta into the marvelous light and love of Jesus Christ, really knowing what it means to give Him their hearts and lives. They have learned that they are loved by their heavenly Father, the King of Kings, and that they have been adopted as princes and princesses into His Royal family. Many have been delivered of demonic oppression, healed from diseases and conditions, and certainly saved by the marvelous love of our Faithful Father. They have developed a compassion and a generosity for others as well through a weekly offering they give to help someone in the community who is in need.
We have also seen great healing in our children who are within our home. They have also been delivered and received such a beautiful inner healing as Holy Spirit ministers to them through us about forgiveness of those who have abused them, killed their parents, or abandoned them. They are our dearly loved treasures we would give everything for, and certainly the treasures of their Father.
As I have lived and served these children in Africa, I have an overflowing joy and delight to be a part of what my Daddy is doing for His kids. It’s a big part of God’s redemption in my own life and certainly Jesus is on the move in Uganda spreading His love and glory among the villagers of Busega, Kampala, Uganda. My joy and delight has been in being blessed to be a blessing. Our ministry is humbled that God has allowed us to help needy single mothers and caretakers feed their children,begin businesses to break the cycle of poverty, bring hope to their families through education, receive medical care and treatment for many different kinds of conditions, and to be given a gift of mercy for their struggle and be loved on by Father God. We are humbled as God has moved through us dissolving tumors, setting children free from demonic oppression, and healing the hearts of young precious lives. These are the treasures hidden in darkness, the true diamonds of Africa… I am honored and blessed to serve the true royalty of God’s kingdom…and there is SO MUCH MORE to be done!
To all who have prayed given served gone over the past two years, you are the hands and feet and light and love of Jesus to the world. Thank you!
Posted on 07 September 2010 by Kari Gibson
My first hero I want to introduce you to is Pastor Samuel from Return Ministries in Kampala, Uganda. He introduced us to his big crazy family and helped us understand what it really means to be an orphan. His passion is training up people to love and care for orphans, but he is a living testimony of what it means to simply love. We learned that Pastor Samuel could only work part time for his ministry due to high living costs in Kampala for his family. He could not afford to minister full time… that breaks my heart!
My first few nights in Uganda, it took me a long time to go to sleep. I wrote a few things by flashlight in my personal journal to share with you.
We met Pastor Samuel at 10:30 am for breakfast at Sophie Hotel. We ate eggs, fruit and toast. He spoke with us about why we are here and what exactly is an orphan. It was outstanding. I am learning more about what it means to be an orphan spiritually, physically and emotionally. The children are so lost and lonely, but need to feel a part of a family. The children Samuel works with are 15 true orphans that he has living on the compound.. they live there, eat, go to school, and are a part of a family. The other 200 VERY needy children come when they can and eat and interact with Pastor Samuel’s adopted “family.”
The team went to the bank together and exchanged the money we had for donations and shopping. We had about a 30 min. drive to Kampala and Return Ministries. The children had been waiting for a long time for us to arrive (had to wait to eat) They were ecstatic. The looks on over 200 faces of children ranging from ages 1-15 was something I won’t forget. They were cheering and dancing and sooo excited to see our team. *Remember, we do not have any of our donations bags, but we had glitter and fingernail polish and bubbles to play. The children did a short program for us of songs and dancing. It was really precious. They sang several songs and then we got to eat with the children and staff.
There is a very old man (photo by Carrie) and his wife Josephina living at the compound. I think it really hit home for me that Pastor Samuel needs to be here too- full time! There was rice, potatoes, beef stew, peanut mixture (purple?) and bread like a flat tortilla to eat. The kids went first and then we served all 200+ children their food. I noticed we ran out of dishes quickly, so I asked if I could help wash dishes. Oh, what an experience:) They put me in a room with a pile of dirty dishes and I scrubbed in a metal pot with a few of my team mates… with a tiny stringy scrubber and got to work!! It was so much fun working side by side with the staff of girls helping feed the children.
The children played for the next few hours with the team. Every child had glitter on their faces and finger nails and toes painted in bright colors. I went around taking photos of the children, but they had to hold my hand before I clicked for them. It was my way of bonding and taking photos with the children. I got to hold 2 girls about Zoie’s age and they both fell asleep in my arms. I was in heaven. I also got to have my hair braided by a group of about 5 girls and 1 staff member. Oh boy did it hurt. My head is still tender:)) I think my team had more fun seeing my wild crazy hair, but it was worth it.
We left the ministry about 5:30pm and went directly to the airport. The big surprise… all 26 bags showed up!!!! I know from experience that this is a flat out miracle!! We were ecstatic due to all our donations making it and many people had no clothes for 24 hours. We came back to Sophie Hotel for a delicious meal of fried chicken and a array of delicious Ugandan food. We had a brief “debriefing” and talked about how we want to spread our donations out for the remainder of the trip. Randi led the group in breaking up the children we visit today in 4 age groups, so we can really bond. The team met late tonight to come up with some wonderful Bible skits and songs to work with the children.
We love Pastor Samuel. His spirit is so quiet, strong and passionate about what his mission is for his people. He welcomed us back to the orphanage and this time we came with a plan. Randi’s ideas were a wild success. We broke the kids up in 5 age groups and everyone went were they felt led to serve. It was such a blessing for me to watch “my crazy team” loving and playing and ministering to the children. In fact, I was blown away!!!!!! Every single child today was loved. Every child received a hug or nurturing touch from my team. Every child was able to witness the love of Jesus in the kindness and love and playfulness and affection that the team poured out. I was the witness to a miracle of what it truly means to simply love.
The children received 200 color books and crayons… we worked with them as they held a crayon, maybe for the first time. A sweet little girl bent over in her chair clutching her color book and threw her guts up. Awwww I felt so bad for her. Watching the older children/siblings jump in and take over parenting skills with their younger siblings was a reality eye opener. They are so loving and nurturing.
I bonded with baby Dora. She was 2.5 and tiny with the most stunning smile I have ever seen. She had a deep spirit that shined in her sweet eyes. She has seen things in her short life that I most likely will never witness. Her older sister came around several times to check on her in my arms, but Dora would push her away. She wanted full time me:)) I didn’t let her go for hours. When I had to say goodbye, she clung to me and cried. This tiny toddler knew that I loved her and didn’t want me to let her go. Our time together was precious and Dora and I didn’t want to let go. I took a precious photo of the 2 sisters saying goodbye to me at the gate. I was told the girls were being raised by grandmother.
I’m really happy to announce that with love, support and team donations through Visiting Orphans, we have come together and helped Samuel leave his job at IT and work full time in Kampala with Return Ministries. God placed us at this amazing ministry at the perfect time to make a real difference in hundreds of children’s lives.
(I just received this email from Pastor Samuel- please pray)
praise the Lord!
Join me and my brother, Michael Smalley to Uganda June 2-11th 2011 with Visiting Orphans. The trip is filling up fast… sign up HERE.
My Favorite Team Pics:
(photo by Carrie)
Video made by Joe
To learn more about Return Ministries and how you can visit Pastor Samuel in Kampala, Uganda- click on button.
Posted on 31 August 2010 by Kari Gibson
When Visiting Orphans invited me to lead a mission trip to Ethiopia and Uganda, I will be honest… I was saving my love, energy, and time for Addis Ababa. I had no intentions of falling in love with Uganda and was not anticipating the intense train wreck heading straight for my heart. I was really excited to serve and explore a new country, even taking the time to google the two cities we were visiting – Kampala and Jinja. The best part, I had no idea that God was preparing a big crazy surprise and life changing adventure that would rock my heart. Here’s some of the facts I studied:
Uganda is a country of stunning beauty and heartbreaking history of persecution. It is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which is also bordered by Kenya and Tanzania.
Between them, Ugandans speak an impressive forty or more different languages. This is a result of Uganda’s ethnically diverse history, and the adoption of English as the main language during Uganda’s colonial years. Uganda is a fascinating country, with a complicated history far too often involving bloodshed, violence and betrayal. Yet the people are among the most welcoming and determined to be helpful that you could meet anywhere in the world.
However, what soon became transparent to me was that Google failed to mention a single thing in any of the articles I read, about the individual heroes I would meet in Kampala and Jinja. In fact, I wasn’t prepared for the kindness, hospitality, service, joy and love I would witness at every corner we turned. I had no clue reading from my Google notes, that the children who are suffering atrocities on a daily basis, exemplify what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I was completely unprepared meeting Pastors and Directors that literally gave everything they had to their congregation or village ministry.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the 7 days I spent in Uganda was the singing. The children of Uganda love to sing! They sing doing their chores, going to school, playing, worshiping… and even at bedtime. I learned a new way of worship through music. They didn’t have any hymn books or fancy instruments… just their voices and hands and pure joy. My favorite song was simple… “I love you Jesus, deep down in my heart. I love you Jesus, deep down in my heart. So deep deep so down down, so deep down in my heart. So deep deep so down down, so deep down in my heart.” I heard that song a hundred times a day and it always brought tears to my eyes.
The people of Uganda embrace with all their hearts the simplicity of God’s love. The hundreds of children that we had the honor of loving and serving taught us the only reason for living was worshiping God, loving God and longing for His return all day long. I have never witnessed with my eyes, children worshiping with every fiber of their bodies.
In my next four blog posts, I want to share a story about each hero I met in Uganda. My dear friends, Pastor Samuel, Rebecca Sorensen, Pastor Isaac and Katie Davis have made a crazy impact in Uganda. This list does not include the countless children and staff we met along the way, but my four heroes are remarkable and courageous and dream makers and warriors for Jesus Christ. I hope that you fall deep deep in love with Uganda, too.
Join me this week in celebrating the heartbeat of a country that is rich in spirit and love. Bloggy friends, I want to know if you will pray about coming back with me to minister in Uganda with Visiting Orphans. We have a brand new trip scheduled, June 2nd – 11th 2011. You can sign up today!! You can FaceBook Rebecca Sorensen and follow her new blog to learn more about My Father’s House Ministry and Royal Hope School in Kampala.
Bloggy readers, Let me know what you think in the comments about worship styles in different parts of the world that you have witnessed that made an impact on your life and how you worship.
(videos by Joe)
Posted on 26 August 2010 by Kari Gibson
Check it out… Big Nanny goes on Visiting Orphans Mission trip- she’s officially part of the crazies!
BIG CRAZY NEWS- We have 2 more slots open to fill! If you are feeling a passion about this trip, please continue to pray and fill out the application when the time is right!!! Spots are filling up fast!!!! Africa in July Blog.
Here’s what one mom shared- “as an adopting Mom I first thought, I’m already doing my part, I’m adopting an orphan! While talking to my husband, I couldn’t stop crying because I was thinking about our baby. I kept asking, what if an American Mom was able to be in the orphanages everyday? What if we knew there were always volunteers through Visiting Orphans there to hold, feed and love our baby E? I know that my 14 days in Uganda and Ethiopia isn’t going to change the world BUT if Mom’s across our country would go and be present 365 days a year, it would change the lives of all the orphaned children.
July 19th isn’t really a “good time” for me to go on a Mission Trip. Who knows where we will be in the adoption, if we will have the money, or if I can emotionally handle it. However, we pray, someone is there right now, regardless of the “right time” to hold our baby.” (Ashlie, mom to be)
If you are on the fence, trying to make every mommy detail perfect before you make the decision to go, I challenge you to jump down and pray forward. Most of my readers are crazy moms, life will never be perfect for us to go on a mission trip, but I promise you that this trip will change your life. Your family will benefit from you doing something so radical… you’ll be a crazier mom!
I want to know what you’re thinking? Does anyone else have a story to encourage each other to go on a mission trip… please share in comments. Next week, I’ll share some crazy ideas to help you fundraise for a mission trip.
VIDEO TO INSPIRE-
Posted on 25 August 2010 by Kari Gibson
I remember looking at Roger on the way to the airport and saying, “I don’t think I can do this.” What in the world did I get myself into? I was leading a team of 29 to Uganda (never been there) and Ethiopia. I only personally knew 4 of the team members… Randi (my BF) Dee Dee (my childhood BF) Sarah (adoption friend) and Vit (adoptive friend’s brother) The rest were complete strangers and I was really nervous… OK terrified! I had dreamed of working in missions and was thrilled with the opportunity to lead a team, but when it all came down to it, I wasn’t going to be able to rely on my charm and good looks to survive in Africa. (ha)
The months preparing for the trip were busy, fun, and detailed. I’m not a very detailed person, so I was thrilled I had a co-leader (Ashlie) who took the reins on that department. She did a fantastic job conducting the conference calls, creating online charts, and answering the emails from the team. I still don’t have the guts to tell her the one conference call I was in charge of, I missed! She would kill me. I literally passed by the note on my refrigerator- DONT FORGET CC TODAY! and drove off to Starbucks for an afternoon snack. I returned home to multiple calls from the team making sure I was not dead. I was so embarrassed and realized I had a lot to learn about being a fearless leader.
I wonder why God picked me to lead the July 2010 team? At the time, I had no idea that my amazing co-leader was going to have her world interrupted by their adoption miracle and not be able to join us in Uganda. I think if I would have had the slightest inkling, I would have run for the hills. But, God had it planned all along and redirected the team to a little craziness… me. newbie. leader.
I met my team of 29 (Ashlie was already in Ethiopia) at Dulles Airport. I saw the sea of Simply Love shirts and knew I could not run away. I had the same T shirt on and was met with a big hug from Randi at the tram. I tried hard to remember faces and names, but was working really hard to make sure I was breathing. I met my substitute co-leader, Ernie and instantly loved him. He raced around the airport for hours making sure tickets were correct and people made it to the gate. I also sensed something extra special about the team. As we made our way on the plane, we were all giddy and excited. I zipped through security, but was instantly stopped by a very grumpy agent. He literally grabbed my carry-on, tossed it on the scale, and told me I would not be able to board with the overweight bag. I remembered reading in past emails from Visiting Orphans to stand firm if there were problems with the airlines, even if security was involved. I basically grabbed my suitcase and ordered him to let me on the flight with my team!! He grabbed my suitcase back and chewed me out for having such a heavy carry-on. I was the only one left standing and started to panic. I’m going to miss the flight and really mess things up for the team. I looked up and saw Randi and Vit standing in the doorway pleading with security to let them take some of the weight off. We scrambled and repacked my bag. It worked and I was able to roll on with my heart pounding and sweaty hands.
Fun Flight Pics:
(Me & Randi snoozing on 18 hr flight)
We arrived in Entebbe Uganda at 1:30 A.M. with 26 bags missing. I paced like a crazed lioness at the luggage counter, but it did not make the bags magically appear. The group was stellar and my 6 men worked for hours with two sleepy Ethiopian Airlines staff to make separate claims for each missing piece of luggage. Can you spell N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E? I was in a lather and decided it was time to take out my bottle of chill pills and start walking the walk. I told my team for months to be flexible and joyful and relaxed when things got a little crazy. This was the definition of crazy.
We stumbled into our hotel in the wee hours of the morning and crashed until lunch. We met Pastor Samuel and started our adventure to Return Ministries, a special orphanage in the heart of Kampala. I had no idea that my life would change radically in less than a few hours.
I can’t wait to share stories with you of our time in Kampala and Jinja, Uganda with the bravest children in the world. Bloggy Question: I want to know if you would ever consider leading a mission team – why or why not?
Posted on 24 August 2010 by Kari Gibson
I can’t believe I’ve only been home 3 weeks from Africa! It took me a long time to recover physically and emotionally, but now feeling the excitement bubbling inside my heart to share the good, bad and craziness with you. I think the best place for me to start is from the beginning. I would never have had the opportunity to lead a trip to Uganda and Ethiopia without the incredible ministry of Visiting Orphans. I stumbled into the leadership role of an extraordinary team of 30 for reasons I still do not fully understand. I am grateful for all the twists and turns that happened to redirect me, change me and guide me to serve in Africa.
The executive director of Visiting Orphans is my friend, Amanda Lawrence. We have never met in person, but have a shared passion for missions, orphans, adoption and craziness. She opened up her heart wide in faith and allowed me to jump on board due to our relationship with America World Adoption. She has lead countless mission trips all over the world and taught me so much about leadership and serving with her grace and love for orphans.
My personality, as you know is a little on the crazy side, but Amanda poured her patience in abundance as she worked with me during the months preparing for the trip. The best part, announcing to her that I was going for a week to Alaska with my family the week before the trip. She never wavered in kindness, understanding and willingness to help.
I wanted to give my best effort as a newbie leader and allow God to lead through me. God lovingly taught me through my team how important it was to be flexible, patient, joyful, loving, and courageous every step of the way. I was so humbled. I watched my team demonstrate love and generosity and compassion to every single person they ministered to.
(Thank you team- Ashlie, Ernie, Randi, Dee Dee, Vit, Kevin, Judson, Juliana, Kari, Carrie, Joe, Emily, Darrell, Cherie, Ashlie, Amanda, Beza, Carly, Chaye, Cynthia, Cynthia, Eryn, Janette, Jen, Karen, Kinsey, Lindsey, Marge, Rebecca, Sarah for loving radically in Africa!!)
In the next few weeks, I want to celebrate on my blog the incredible people we met in Uganda and Ethiopia. I have so many stories and photos to share with my readers. I want to dig deep down in my heart and tell you how God changed my life. I pray that God will use our craziness in Africa to help spread His message of love and service and ministry to orphans.
I want to invite you to join me on a bloggy adventure to Africa. I hope that you will read the stories, leave your comments and share your own personal stories of mission trips and orphan care. We are all in this together. If you have any questions please email me.
I will be leading two trips in 2011. Please join me serving orphans in Africa!! You can go directly to the website Visiting Orphans to sign up today!! The first 5 men who sign up for the trips will receive a FREE Man Up T shirt!!!
Men Needed- Visiting Orphans has available spots for an Uganda Mission trip Dec. 28 to Jan. 12!! Sign up today!!
Visiting Orphans is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Established in 2005 by America World Adoption Association as a way to further help the orphans of the world. Visiting Orphans works to fulfill the biblical mandate given in James 1:27 of “visiting orphans” in their distress.
Visiting Orphans has conducted many missions trips for churches, schools, and individuals from around the United States to orphanages around the world including China, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Russia and Costa Rica.
Looking ahead, VO’s plan of action is to begin mobilizing and working more directly with churches in the United States. While we will still work with individuals and schools in order to bring people to orphans and expose them to the hardships they face, partnerships with churches will drive our expansion and positive impact on orphaned children around the world.
Mission: Visiting Orphans works with Christian churches to help raise orphan awareness in the hopes of each orphan experiencing the blessing of family through:
2. Transitional Services
If you are part of a church looking to start or expand your orphan ministry we would love to assist you!
Posted on 17 July 2010 by Kari Gibson
My heart is almost as full as my suitcases. I’m feeling excited and nervous and blessed like crazy for my 14 days in Africa. I think the shock has finally worn off that I’m actually going to get on a plane and fly to my beloved Africa to serve orphans in Ethiopia and Uganda. I’m honored that 31 crazy people are joining me from all over the country. My family has supported my adventure wholeheartedly and have made me feel that what I’m going to do is important to them, too. My community has also supported my trip and wrapped their hearts around helping me raise donations for the 14 projects and hundreds of orphans we will visit. I was interviewed on radio and newspaper for orphan awareness and adoption support. I’m packed and ready to go with a well-organized itinerary and plan, but I know that God can write His own itinerary and change every plan made for His glory. In fact, I might be a little disappointed if our plans don’t change just a little due to some craziness and adventurous detour (remember Haiti).
Someone asked me recently why I’m going to Africa to visit orphans? I wanted my answer to sound confident and wise, but all that came out was shaky and emotional. I want to walk the walk. It’s very difficult to express what is deep in my heart and the passion that burns inside to simply love orphans. God gave me 3 beautiful children and now I have the honor of visiting children who do not have a mom or dad or family. They just need someone to hug them tight and love them unconditionally.
Please join me for the next 14 days and pray for me and my team. We are moms and dads and sisters and brothers. We are 31 different souls heading to Africa with different expectations and beliefs, but one special purpose- loving and serving orphans.
My Crazy Adoption blog will be featuring guest bloggers for the next 14+ days. These are crazy readers that took the time out of their busy schedules to write posts that will inspire, encourage, challenge, teach, and make you laugh or cry!! Please take the time to come over and read the guest posts and pleaaasseee leave them your encouragement and cheers in the comments.
Posted on 22 June 2010 by Kari Gibson
My Crazy Readers, it was so much fun for me to show off your fundraising projects when I was in Haiti. It was a joy to give them away to the amazing people I met there that fervently serve orphans. I’m traveling soon to Uganda and Ethiopia on my mission trip with Visiting Orphans and would LOVE to be your billboard. I will show off your fundraising products via photography or video, wearing, giving, or sharing them with others in Africa!! When you see me wearing your products in a future post… leave a detailed comment and description of where readers can purchase your products. I will also add a LINKY TOOL for you to share where to purchase your projects. I get many emails a week from readers who want to support your fundraisers!
If you are interested in me being your billboard in Africa- leave me a comment for my mailing address.
Posted on 12 June 2010 by Kari Gibson
My crazy friends, I need your help to collect donations for my mission trip to Uganda and Ethiopia (July 18-Aug. 1) I’m asking you to help me with donations that will go directly to the orphans I visit- hand delivery of love. We received a long list from the many projects and orphanages … it honestly made me feel overwhelmed!! We are visiting hundreds of orphans in Africa! Their needs are soooo desperate!! The orphans need so many things, but also fun things to play with!! We will also spend the day serving and loving the women at Fistula Hospital (A Walk To Beautiful) I would love to have a beautiful, colorful purse to give to each women. These can be new or hand made (thanks Tiffany)
I need all my donations by July 4th so I can pack the 2- 50 pound duffles!!
Donation ideas I’m going to take with me (with your help:)
I want to ask you to donate to my special project. The 1st week in July, I will purchase the items and show you exactly how your generosity was spent. I can pack 2 duffle bags with 50 pounds of donations. I will purchase the remaining donations in-country!! Every penny you donate will be used for “orphan care” and I will take photos of the children receiving your gifts of love.
Please pray for me and my crazy team as we prepare for 2 weeks of loving and caring and ministering to orphans!
100% of your donations will go directly in the hands of an orphan.
My Africa Mission trip Itinerary:
Posted on 04 March 2010 by Kari Gibson
I’m so excited to have special guest blogger, Sumer who just came back from a 14 day mission trip with Visiting Orphans in Uganda and Ethiopia. We only have 1 more spot open for my crazy team of 25. Please take time today to pray and ask- are you the 1?
Sumer’s Testimony: When looking over the itinerary for my upcoming Visiting Orphans trip to Uganda and Ethiopia, I knew that it was going to be difficult emotionally. Although, I was beyond excited to go and to get to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I had read pretty much the complete catalog of Katie Davis blog posts, and I knew that this work was not glamorous in the earthly sense. But it was pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God – it was glamorous in His eyes.
And of all the places I was to visit on my trip, there was only one that I dreaded…the trash dump. How do you walk away from a child so destitute and deprived that they live and eat in piles of garbage? At least at first, I had envisioned them as just little piles of garbage. I later found out that it is actually mountains of trash as far as the eye can see. And yet, what could I do for them in my one day? Their plight seemed hopeless.
The night before we were to visit these children, I had the privilege of hearing Sammy’s story. Sammy grew up in Korah, a community next to the landfill that began as a leper colony and is now made up of close to 80,000 societal outcasts. The people of Korah are considered untouchable by most, and thousands of them eat from the trash dump daily. Sammy spent his childhood collecting food from the landfill. He acknowledges that it is only by God’s grace that he was able to eventually go to school and get a job. He spends his free time ministering to the orphan children who still live there. Sammy reminded me that our God is hope for the hopeless.
The next day was Christmas Day in Ethiopia and standing in that horrendous place that I had dreaded so much, I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. We served the children a traditional Ethiopian dinner, passed out clothes, and candy, and party hats, and listened to them sing Happy Birthday to Jesus in their beautifully broken English. Later, another team member said she was glad that she went, but she would never go back. I thought to myself I will go back everyday until every child that lays their head down to sleep in that landfill has a home and the hope that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring.
There are over 100 orphans who live in the city landfill of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These children have very little hope of a better life. Amazingly, through my time in Africa, God called my family to spend the summer with these children. For the next few months we will work on getting all of them sponsored to go to boarding school in the fall, and then we will spend the summer teaching them English and getting them ready to go to school for the first time.
I will be excited to meet all the members of the Visiting Orphans teams coming this summer, and I will be praying for you as God prepares you hearts for the amazing blessing that meeting the children Ethiopia and Uganda will bring!
Thank you Sumer!!
More Links to read:
Visiting Orphan Mission Trip- Video
Adoption News: If you are an India Adoption Family or simply love India- check out the new Simply Love India T shirts for purchase- CLICK HERE! All proceeds help the Needham adoption!
Posted on 25 February 2010 by Kari Gibson
You need to raise $3,400 for our Visiting Orphans mission trip. Is this holding you up from joining our crazy team? If it is, we want to share some fundraising ideas that really work! If you have the heart to join us, raising funds will be the easy part! Take a peek at my past 3 posts on our Uganda/Ethiopia Mission trip for more information. Sign up today- only 2 spots left. We need some more men, hubbys & dads to MAN UP… come protect & love the fatherless. Please pass on info to someone you think should be a part of my crazy mission trip!!
My co-leader Ashlie suggests:
1. Donation Letters- Make it personal!!!! Put your heart into it. Stay in touch with people, talk about the trip whenever you can.
2. Start a Blog- Just do it!!!! www.blogspot.com My crazy blog sister, Nikki Cochrane will design your new blog header (the top design art) and column sides and help you get your blog going. She has hundreds of kits available for you to customize your new blog or give it a face lift. SPECIAL OFFER: if you contact her and tell her My Crazy Adoption sent you, she will give you a $5 discount ($25 to customize your blog) EMAIL NIKKI – Blogs For A Cause. Just tell her My Crazy Adoption sent you.
1. Applebees- Dining to Donate 10% of sales for 5 hours!!!! All it took was a phone call to the store Manager and I had 3 different dates! Applebees even provides the flyer. All we have to do is print it and pass it out. We are going to stand at the back of the church and personally hand the flyer to each and everyone of our church members. In addition, you can stand outside of Applebees and ask the customers coming in the door to give a flyer to their waiter. We are hoping to raise $1,000 each night. (Warning= no take-outs and customers have to give their flyer to the waiter)
2. Kohls- A-Team Volunteers- All you need to do is request 5 or more volunteers from Kohls for a 2 hour event, such as an Easter Festival, Parents Night Out, Church Landscaping, etc. The volunetters will come and work AND you will get $500.00 for your organzation!!!!! Check out http://www.kohlscorporation.com/communityrelations/Community04.htm
3. African Mission Spaghetti Dinner- We are pre-selling $10.00 tickets for a Spaghetti Dinner at our church. Dinner includes Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Salad, and Dessert. We are also going to have a silent auction. We are designing themed baskets, such as Family Game Night, Day of Beauty, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dinner and Dancing, etc. We are hoping to get most of the items donated.
4. Parents Night Out- We are offering babysitting on a Saturday Night, from 6-10 at our church. We are request donations from parents. This is simple and requires no upfront cost, just marketing.
Here are more ideas from bloggy friend, Big Nanny who just went on a 14 day mission trip with Visiting Orphans. Here’s what she had to say about fundraising for missions:
Yes, we did lots of fundraising for our trip. We were in a unique position because 3 of us were on staff at our church so we had lots of contacts and were able to do some special fundraisers. Here is what we did & the results:
We go to a very missions supportive church so they let us do a lot of things that most churches do not. And because we are on staff, we got to do a few things that most people wouldn’t have the opportunity to do.
Other people that we know have done some of these:
Again, the 3 of us fundraised as a team from the beginning and had almost $12,000 to raise if you include our vaccinations. We raised all of it. The only money that we spent was our VO $200 application fees. It was truly a God thing. We even had an extra $1000 to give away when we got there. We were called to this trip and it was all God putting everything together to make it happen.
If you have any other questions for Angela/Big Nanny. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m glad to know that I’m not the only crazy one:)
Mr. IPod Touch Ozark Adventure was my big crazy Haiti mission trip fundraiser. If you’re new here, and want to see the two weeks of craziness, check this out- My Mission Trip Fundraiser!!
Here’s how to Copy Cat my IPod Fundraiser:
Britt Nicole JUST returned from a Visiting Orphans mission trip- 14 days to Uganda & Ethiopia. Take a peek at her blog and photos and testimony. Click here- Britt Nicole Music blog
Posted on 11 February 2010 by Kari Gibson
Our July mission trip to Uganda & Ethiopia with Visiting Orphans is filling up fast!! Thank you for your amazing emails & prayers as we are building a team of 25 crazy, passionate, loving, inspiring, adventurous bloggy friends (men & women) to join us – July 19th through August 1st on a trip of a lifetime. Many of your hearts are stirring and praying about joining us and I want to encourage you to move forward in faith and do something radical.
I can’t wait to meet Katie Davis and all her girls- you don’t want to miss this adventure to Uganda! We will have the opportunity to feed over 1000 orphans that Katie has loved and cared for.
Things to do:
1. Fill out the Application to reserve your spot: VISITING ORPHANS WEBSITE.
2. Get a Passport (Check your expiration date please!!) http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
3. Make an appointment at your Health Department for immunizations. Yellow Fever is the only shot that is mandatory, although I went ahead and got all the recommended shots, including Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, and Typhoid http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/vaccinations.aspx
1. Please send out donation request letters ASAP. Make them personal and include a self addressed return envelope!
Posted on 23 January 2010 by Kari Gibson
I am beyond CRAZY EXCITED to announce today a very special mission trip that you can join me, Team Kari – this summer. I am co-leading a trip with Ashlie Fulmer to Uganda and Ethiopia with Visiting Orphans …we are building a team of 25 crazy, passionate, loving, inspiring, adventurous bloggy friends to join us – July 19th through August 1st on a trip of a lifetime. I promise you, your life will change forever serving and loving and caring for orphans in Africa!! Here’s the best part, you & I get to meet Katie Davis, my bloggy hero Kisses From Katie and work side by side with her at Amazima in Uganda. They will pre-warn Katie that a crazy mom and her team will be leaping out and hugging her to death! If you are as crazy as I am about orphans, then you will be a perfect team member for Africa in July- BLOG ( www.africainjuly.blogspot.com)
ETHIOPIA & UGANDA
Details: The Uganda portion of this trip will be spent working at Amazima Ministries (http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com) with their feeding program and with the Karamajong children. Also, we will be working with the orphans at Canaan Children’s Home in Jinja. If you have never heard of Katie Davis and her incredible ministry, please head to her blog and meet a 21 year old woman of God who serves relentlessly the beautiful children and people of Uganda. She has adopted 13 precious girls and writes daily about her adventures of crazy love. You will be inspired!!
The Ethiopian portion of this trip will be spent working with Kid’s Care orphanage, (Zoie’s orphanage) Mother Teresa HIV orphanage, AHope HIV orphanage, children living and working in the dump in Addis Ababa and a ministry for street children.
There will also be a day of ministry at the Ethiopia Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. I spent the day at Fistula Hospital when I was in Ethiopia bringing home Zoie. I was stunned by the beauty of the grounds, staff and facility, but the part that pierced my heart were the women- beautiful women who had walked hundreds of miles to seek help from professional treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention. I was deeply impacted touching the faces, holding hands, hugging and encouraging women who had lost all hope. FH is a place that brings back hope to the hopeless. I will never forget the 10 women I met, all lying in beds recovering from a miscarriage. I was able to share with them, through a translator that I, too had lost a baby boy and that I was so sorry for their loss and prayed for their recovery! They started crying and I started crying… we had an instant connection of the heart.
You can find out all the details of the July 19th- Aug. 1 Uganda/Ethiopia Mission trip at Visiting Orphans Website. All you need to do is request an application, fill it out and turn in your $200.00 deposit to hold your spot!
The official blog site hosted by Ashlie Fulmer- www.africainjuly.blogspot.com.