About two weeks ago, Amanda and I realized we needed to raise $7,220.00 in order to buy the beds and mosquito nets for all 57 children at Hope Care Child Program, not $4,000.00 like we had thought all along. At this point, we were burnt out, sold out of t-shirts, and lacking resources. People told us it was okay to give up and be happy with what we had already raised. But Amanda and I decided to keep on trying... even if we had our own doubts, we didn't give up. And I am SO happy to announce that as of today we have reached our fundraising goal for Love Uganda T-Shirts!!! We have officially raised $8,000.00, surpassing our goal of $7,220.00! Monday was my 20th birthday and I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present. I can't believe that in FIVE DAYS, I will be boarding a plane to Uganda!     

     I named my blog "Something Beautiful" because I want to do something beautiful in this world and experience something beautiful. I think this Love Uganda fundraiser is exactly that. I think it's beautiful that people from all over the United States have joined together to support these children in Africa, regardless of different beliefs, backgrounds, or financial statuses we may hold. Hundreds of people have ordered shirts, most of whom I have never met in my life, and many have donated funds. My friends have also supported me throughout this entire process, whether that was by giving their time to help, or by praying for me. This has truly been the most humbling process in my entire life and I am in awe of people's giving hearts and generosity. I find beauty in this community that has joined together, and I have found beauty in the many twists and turns during this journey to raising the money. As my friend Sara once said, "I find beauty in dependence on God for strength in the unknown." This quote describes much of my experience. I have never had to depend on God so much in my life. I had no idea how all of the funds would come in, but God beautifully orchestrated all of it. I could list off countless stories where God provided in ways I never could have imagined. The verse 1 Thessalonians 5:24 has come to life for me, "The one who has called me is faithful and He will do it."        

     I know the day we set up the beds and mosquito nets for the children at Hope Care Child Program will be the best day in my entire life, and I'm not quite sure I can even prepare myself for it. I want to say thank you to everyone again who has been a part of this journey. I cannot wait to share pictures, videos, and stories with you!
     Another beautiful part of this journey has been seeing passion instilled in others. Soon after Amanda and I started the Love Uganda fundraiser, one of our friends Kelsey decided she wanted to do something too. She had the wonderful idea to sew new pillowcases for all 150 children at Hope Care Child Program. She called this project, "Threads of Hope." I loved this idea because these children never get anything just for themselves. Kelsey, with the help of others, sewed individual pillowcases for each child! They are fun colors with all different designs, whether they are polka dots, stripes, african animals, etc. She also got people to write letters to each child that we will attach to the pillowcases. These pillowcases and letters will help remind these children that they are special and loved, and that people out there are praying for them. I'm so excited to deliver all of the pillowcases and letters this summer!
    We are asking everyone to wear their Love Uganda t-shirt THIS Monday, May 23rd, to celebrate that all of the funds are raised, and to support us as we leave for Uganda that day! Please take a picture of you and/or your friends wearing the shirts and send them to me at: kristinklein2013@pointloma.edu or post it on the Love Uganda Facebook page's wall! We will take all of these pictures with us to Hope Care Child Program to share with the children and Pastor Fred! Thanks again for being a part of this beautiful journey, we truly appreciate it!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

-Margaret Mead


  two  weekswill be boarding plane to Uganda!
have been thinking about my trip and the adventure that lies ahead of me, and I have started to get SO excited! Whenever I imagine delivering the beds to HCCP, or picture being reunited with Sharon, I get so giddy and anxious... I literally just want to run around smiling! Even though I have so many things I'm looking forward to, for the most part, I don't really know what to expect out of this summer. But I do know God already has an amazing plan set out for me. And I can't wait to see what it entails!

Since my last blog post, I have continued to reflect on the verse 1 Thessalonians 5:24, "The one who calls me is faithful and He will do it." This process of fundraising has truly forced me to rely on God and trust in His ways and timing. There have been so many moments this year where I have doubted if we would raise all of the money, but it is during those moments where God has continued to amaze me. Just today, we got a donation for $500.00! Now, we only need to raise $800.00 more to reach our goal of $7,220.00!

I want to thank everyone who has supported us thus far once again. Thank you for helping make a difference in these children's lives. Even though you won't be there with us to deliver the beds, you are still a part of this journey. I think it is so beautiful that hundreds of people from all over the United States have joined together to support these children in Uganda.

As we embark on this journey, I am asking that people will please pray for our safety and health during our time in Africa. Please pray for God's protection. Pray that God may work in and through us during our time there. We will be in Uganda during a time of unrest for the country. We truly believe that God has us going to Uganda for a purpose and we trust that the safest place for us to be is in the center of His will. We truly believe in the power of prayer and we are asking for you to be in constant prayer for the country of Uganda, the people of Uganda, and the ministry we will have there.

                            Bwana Asifiwe, Praise God!
                 Katonda akuwe omukisa, God bless you!

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
-Frederick Buechner

Perfectionist: a disposition to feel that anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

This post is for me. It is a way for me to tell God that I am listening, and that I hear Him.

These past few months while working on the Love Uganda T-Shirts fundraiser, I have felt God trying to tell me something. What that "something" is has been hard for me to figure out. But I am just now seeing what it is that God has wanted me to learn through this whole process: I am loved just the way I am and I can be used by God just the way I am.

As Brennan Manning would say, "My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it."

More than ever, I have noticed this year that I am a perfectionist and a planner. I like to be in control of things. And I like to get everything done in the best and most efficient way possible. When a problem arises, I immediately want to fix it. These can be good things when I am successful at what I am doing, but I am learning that it can also be detrimental.

I know this tendency towards perfection comes from many different things. But I know a lot of this stems from a church I attended after accepting Jesus into my life my freshman year of high school. At this church, I got the impression that the more I read my Bible or the more scripture I memorized, the more Jesus would love me. The more "good works" I did, the more "holy" I would be. I learned to earn love. Instead of turning to God during hard times, I ran in the opposite direction. I never heard the words grace or unconditional love mentioned in church. I was never told that it is okay to mess up. At one point, I had missed a day of training for a mission trip, and I was told I would no longer be able to go on the trip. I remember sitting there crying to the pastor, asking him for his help, and begging him to let me go on the trip still because it was my one thing to look forward to. I was later allowed to go on the trip, but only after I went on stage in front of the congregation to tell them I had missed the meeting because of the difficulties going on in my life. And I had to tell each and every detail. Instead of embracing me with grace and unconditional love during this painful time... the pastor had given me an ultimatum and made me feel like I had to prove my worthiness to go on the trip still. I felt unworthy, embarrassed, and hurt. This experience engrained in my brain that I cannot be used by God unless I have earned it. Memorize the scripture, attend the meetings, and you will get to go on the mission trip.

Four years later, my freshman year in college, I learned to let go of my past and any pain or regrets within it. As the song How He Loves says, "I have no time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us." For the first time in my life, I got a real glimpse of God's unconditional and redeeming love. This was shown to me through close friends, through children in Africa, through professors, and through ministry. I realized for the first time in my life that I could be redeemed from my past and used by God to do amazing things in this world, despite my failures and weaknesses. I realized as it says in Romans 8:38-39, NOTHING could separate me from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Savior. I accepted God's love for me and I LET him use me. I didn't let my feelings of inadequacy halt God's plans for me. God kept placing this verse on my heart over and over again during my time in Africa... Jeremiah 29:11... "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE." I needed to believe that God wanted to do that for me, and I had to LET God do that. And going to Africa was a huge first step towards that. 

This year, I have been so blessed with many different opportunities. I have two jobs that I love, I'm leading a tutoring ministry for inner city kids, I do the blog and some other things for the orphanage in Kenya I went to, I'm taking classes, and on top of all of that, I'm doing the Love Uganda T-Shirts fundraiser.

But, that is a LOT of things to do every week. And I'm realizing that I have put myself up on this pedestal. I expect myself to do all of these things perfectly. I expect myself to get all A's in my classes, even if that means studying for 60 hours over a weekend. I expect myself to get the blog out on time, every time, even if my week is overloaded with other things to do. And I expect myself to solve every little problem we face along the way of trying to raise the $4,000.00 for the beds.

For Lent this year, I was planning to spend time in prayer for Africa every day for an hour. But as I started to do so, I felt God tugging on my heart, telling me to stop. I questioned why God would want me to do that. But I felt God telling me to just rest and be still during this time of Lent. I felt God telling me that I am loved just as I am... that I won't be used even more on my trip this summer if I pray an extra 40 minutes every day. I felt God telling me that I really needed to focus on accepting His love during this time. I needed to try to completely let go of any part of me that was trying to earn His love. God had already decided to use me this summer, I didn't need to convince Him to.

And then it hit me today... even further, God has been trying to tell me that HE IS IN CONTROL. I cannot be perfect. I cannot get every little thing every single day done perfectly. It doesn't work that way. I have to give myself room for mistakes. And I have to give God room to move.

Just a few weeks ago, I hit breaking point. I was on my way to take our math midterm and lost it. I started bawling and couldn't get myself together. I was running on no sleep, had a blog post to do for IAA, needed to work on more things for the Love Uganda T-Shirts, had tutoring later that day, needed to study for more exams, I was sick, my sister was visiting and I had barely been able to spend time with her, and I needed to get an A on this exam.

couldn't get myself together and for the first time ever, I circled random things in on the exam and left. I was certain that I would have to drop the class after that test... it was 25% of my grade. I emailed my professor and explained to him what was going on in my life and asked if there was any way I could make up for this test.

And then... he did something that I am just now recognizing was something that God wanted to teach me through. My professor extended GRACE towards me. He told me I could replace the exam score with the score I get on my final exam.

And today, I am realizing that God wanted me to recognize that I can't do everything perfectly. There has been so many days this semester where I curled up in bed and just cried, wondering how I am going to raise the $4,000.00 for the beds. As of last week, we had only raised $900.00. And we leave in a month. I felt like I had been doing so much, but our goal was still so far away.

But then, this weekend, God did something BIG. He made me realize that I keep asking myself... "How am I going to raise the money?"

That's where my problem is. I expect myself to always do everything. I keep telling myself, God will provide, but I have to do all of the hard work. I have to contact every person I know, work on the spreadsheets, keep track of the money, make orders for more shipments, make more fliers, update the Facebook page... the list goes on and on and on. 

And it hit me tonight at our student ministry meeting. I am a perfectionist and a planner. And it is not okay. I need to let God do what God is meant to do. I need to let God have complete control of this fundraiser. He called me to do it, so He will make it happen. It is not me doing any of this, it is God working in and through me. Yes, I am working hard, but in the end, it is God who is making all of this possible.

No matter how hard I work, even to the point of breakdown, I cannot do this on my own. If i stay up one hour later until 6am to send one more email asking for someone to donate to this cause, it does not mean that God will now decide to provide the funds for the beds.

No. I need to stop.

I need to let go, and let be. I need to let God love me and use me JUST AS I AM. I need to give God room to provide in HIS way.

And God literally SHOUTED this at me this weekend when Amanda called me on Saturday morning to tell me that a newspaper in her hometown wrote an article on our fundraiser, and it made front page. Her email had blown up with messages of people wanting to order shirts. Now, we were sold out of shirts. And a church had told her they had been praying for a cause to donate to, and they believed we were that answer from God. They wrote us a check for $400.00. Amanda was coming home with $1,400.00 from ONE WEEKEND. And on top of that, she had a huge list of more people who wanted to order shirts. My only response to this news was to cry. And cry. 

God has continued to open more doors this week, such as another $400.00 coming in through a school event, two more newspaper articles lined up, more shirt orders, and the list goes on.

I am realizing there is nothing I can do to make God love me more. And I am realizing that I cannot change the world on my own. Instead, I am learning to let God work through me in order to do things that couldn't be done otherwise. I am finally TRULY grasping that I need to let go of my plans and my ways, and to let God be CREATIVE. To let GOD provide and make things happen in a much more beautiful way than I could ever imagine. I am realizing that when God calls me to something, it is for a reason. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says..."May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. THE ONE WHO CALLS YOU IS FAITHFUL, AND HE WILL DO IT." In the Message, it says, "....THE ONE WHO  CALLED YOU IS COMPLETELY DEPENDABLE. IF HE SAID IT, HE'LL DO IT!"

I know that God chooses to use the weak, the broken, and the common. I DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO BE USED BY GOD FOR SOMETHING GOOD. 

And so this my declaration to God: use me Lord, use me. 

I leave for Africa on May 23rd and I believe that God is going to provide the last $1300.00 needed for the beds. I don't know how it's going to happen. And I'm going to stop asking myself what I can do to make that happen. "The one who called me is faithful, and He will do it."
Last week, I read the book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller. I highly recommend this book to everyone - it is about writing a better story for our lives. One quote from the book specifically stuck out to me, because it reminded me of where we're at in our fundraising for our "Love Uganda T-Shirts." The quote says, "What I learned most from the movie being funded was that there are certain stories you simply can't make happen by yourself. The movie had always belonged to me, Steve, and Ben, but we were not powerful enough to bring it to life. In order to make the story happen, we had to give it away, we had to ask for help, and when you ask for help, you are asking other people into the story with you, so it's no longer just yours, it belongs to the community that believed in it with you."

Right now, we are in the midst of the fundraising process for our "Love Uganda T-Shirts" where we are asking our community to join in on our story. We leave May 23rd and still need to raise around $2,200.00. We can't do this alone. I believe God and community are meant to work together to bring God's kingdom to this broken world. So my question is... Will you join in on our story and help us get these children their first beds? Will you purchase a t-shirt, donate to our cause, or support us in prayer?

We want to be obedient to serve God and love the orphaned and poor that are so dear to Him. We are asking you to join us in loving those that God so dearly loves. 

If you are interested in ordering a shirt for $10.00 or want to donate to our cause, please e-mail me at kristinklein2013@pointloma.edu or contact me on Facebook.

Also, be sure to check out this newspaper article that just came out about Love Uganda T-Shirts:

"May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done."

LOVE Uganda. 02/15/2011
This summer, my friend Amanda and I are going to Hope Care Child Program in Bulanga, Uganda for six weeks. This orphanage has around 150 kids that live on site. Unfortunately, they don't have enough beds for all of the kids yet. This means they are sleeping on mats on the floor, and they are in danger of getting malaria since they don't have mosquito nets protecting them.

Before we go this summer, we are trying to raise the $4,000.00 to purchase the needed beds, mattresses, bedding, pillows, and mosquito nets for the children. To do this, we are selling t-shirts for $10.00 and stickers for $2.00. We have three styles of shirts: crew neck, v-neck, and fitted v-neck. Sizes S-XL are available. We can ship shirts for an additional $5.00.

To order: Please email me at Kristinklein2013@pointloma.edu or message me on Facebook. Please include the style and size of shirt you would like. If it needs to be shipped, please include your address.

"Like" our fundraiser on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/LoveUgandaTShirts

At this page, you can stay updated on how the fundraising is going, hear about upcoming events, and when we go this summer, we will post pictures and videos of us building the beds for the kids.

Help us spread the word!! Let's get these kids their first beds!!

Special thanks to Carly Hubbard for designing the t-shirt and Garrett Richardson for taking the pictures!

Who you're helping:

Joy: A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

Last summer, I went to Africa to serve. However, I found my life was transformed by the people I met there. I never could have imagined the lessons they would teach me.

During my visit, I struggled with comprehending the amount of suffering the people face. The pictures I saw and books I read about poverty never could have prepared me for experiencing it myself. When I met the faces behind the issues, it made them so much more real to me. No longer was it the numbing statistics that flooded my mind - these issues were now personal... they were impacting my friends. Seeing a child sleeping on a little mat in the slums or seeing two boys sniffing glue at the market is heartbreaking. Honestly, I can't even put those experiences into words. When I heard the stories and pasts of the children at IAA, I couldn't even begin to fathom them. I thought to myself, how could someone beat this precious child? How could someone abandon this sweet little girl?

Despite all of the hardships these people face, whether it is lack of access to education, clean water, or healthcare... they are filled with JOY. I don't even know how to describe the joy they have. Peace reigns in their hearts. They are so content and their whole beings are made up of LOVE.

As the Mocha Club puts it, "The truth is, in Africa I find hearts full of victory, indomitable spirits. In places where despair should thrive, instead I find adults dancing and singing, and children playing soccer with a ball crafted of tied up trash. Instead of payback, I find grace. Here, weekend getaways are not options to provide relief from the pains of daily life. Relationships and faith provide joy. Love is sovereign."

For me, I experienced their joy when I watched the children dancing and singing while they praised God in church, or when I held hands with the village children as we played games in the field. I found joy when I heard the powerful prayers of the children, or heard the laughter of the staff echoing throughout the site. I experienced joy whenever the children gave me goodnight kisses, or when I saw the staff cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry with a smile on their face.

I came home with the realization that the people in Africa take joy in GOD, not in their circumstances. This has deeply challenged my faith and I am reminded of this lesson every day as memories from my trip flood my mind. The Mocha Club explains it as, "It is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need."

People ask me if I'm afraid to go to Africa - they question if i will get AIDS or Malaria, or they fear I will get raped or murdered. But to me, Africa isn't just a place of chaos and despair. I may have lived a "simple" life while I was there, but my heart has never been as happy as it was. I felt God's presence as I loved His people. I am counting down the days until I return to Africa this summer and I can't wait to see what God teaches me this time on this continent.

I want to be like the people in Africa -- characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being. (Francis Chan) 

My goal: to fall deeply in love with God.

What is your goal? What do you want to take JOY in? 
This summer I am going to return to Into Abba's Arms orphanage in Kenya for five weeks. My experience in Africa was life changing, and I feel God tugging on my heart to return. I have dearly missed the children and staff since I left. I am getting SO excited to finally be reunited with Sharon and all of the children I love. I have had countless dreams of the moment where I pull up to the orphanage and run out of the van to joyfully hug Sharon. I can't wait to sing songs with Sharon, help Joyce in the nursery, and play games with the village children on Sundays. I can't wait to laugh at Martha's silly expressions, eat chapati, and see Hope walking for the first time. I can't wait to see Margaret again and hold her hand during the church service on Sundays. The list could go on forever. I am also so excited to watch as my sister and Amanda experience Africa for the first time. I can't wait for them to meet all of the children and staff. All of my pictures, videos, and stories will finally come to life for them. I am getting so anxious to go. I write letters to Sharon and Richard every few weeks and revisit my pictures on a daily basis. I have many new opportunities at Into Abba's Arms this summer, and am excited to see what God has in store, whether that is leading a weekly Bible study with women from the community, helping with construction around the site, or working on taking new portraits of the children for the website and blog.

God has also answered another prayer of mine. Going to Uganda has been my dream ever since I saw the Invisible Children film in the ninth grade. This summer, I will be serving at Hope Care Child Program in Bulanga, Uganda for six weeks with my friend Amanda. At this orphanage, there are 150 kids and around 370 come for school. Grades 1-7 are taught on site. I will be helping teach in the classrooms, caring for the children, and assisting with the daily needs of the staff. In Uganda, I will also have the opportunity to meet and spend a day with the little girl I sponsor through Compassion International. 

I am so blessed to be a part of the family at Into Abba's Arms and am looking forward to becoming a part of Hope Care Child Program's. I love what God is doing in me and what is he doing at Into Abba's Arms - it was amazing to hear stories of God's hand over the orphanage through the years and to experience myself what is happening there. I can't wait to see the work of God again this summer and to see the new challenges, perspectives, environments, people, and culture that I face.

Please pray for me as I prepare and continue to seek God's direction for my summer and future. And please pray God will provide the funds for this trip. I was so amazed and humbled last year at everyone's generosity and support. 

Everyone needs to go see the new movie, "Waiting for Superman." This is a must see for current and future teachers of America. This movie is a "deeply personal exploration of the current state of public education in the U.S. and how it is affecting our children." I recently saw this movie and found myself bawling throughout it as I related the children I tutor on a weekly basis to the children in the movie. I left the movie and knew I had to do something - I was inspired and motivated. I decided to start some new motivational activities for the kids at tutoring. I created a system where each student will get a sticker next to their name each if week if they come to tutoring, get their work done, and are respectful. They can get an additional sticker if they bring in a progress report/test/report card and have improved their grades. Once the poster board is filled up with stickers, we will have a pizza and ice cream party. I have also planned a field trip to the Birch Aquarium on November 13th, and the kids get to come for free as long as they have been attending tutoring. The kids were VERY excited about these ideas when I announced them at tutoring last week. They loved getting to pick out a sticker and place it next to their name on the poster. This poster is already working -- kids who didn't have homework spent time reading before they went outside to play! We have about 10-15 kids coming to tutoring and it is so awesome :)

Even though tutoring and my job have been blessings in my life, I have really been missing Sharon a lot lately. She has been on my mind more than usual and I have had a lot of dreams about being reunited with her. Last Friday, I got an email from Auntie Donna. It made my day! She had responses from Sharon and Richard to the letters I had sent them. Auntie Donna's email said:

"Last night I gave the letters you left with me for the toddlers to Pocy. I asked her to give them to the children when she got them ready for bed. I also asked her if she could ask them questions and maybe write down some of the things they said about their letters. I never dreamed that it would happen and happen so fast. This morning Pocy gave me a sheet of paper with the toddler comments on it. I am such a cry baby anyway but this is so wonderful... I had to pretend I needed to blow my nose.
Here are the responses:
RICHARD: I learn at school ABC TO Z and 123 to 100. We do writing, words and drawings.
                Today I played ball at school. It is called "Monkey in the Middle."
                My favorite subject is Math.
SHARON- "I am learning ABCD...... Today I was playing with Faith and Martha".

These simple responses to my letters gave me so much joy - I too, wasn't expecting responses from them since they are so young. I knew they wouldn't understand most of what my letters said, but I was content with them knowing that the letters were from me so that they would know I still thought of them and love them. I am going to continue to write to them until I am finally reunited with them this summer. It is Sharon's birthday this month so I am sending her a birthday card with some stickers. Jane also told me this week that she found out Richard is #1 in his class at school now and she told me he is becoming a very smart boy. This was such exciting news and I am so proud of him!

Last Monday, we got an email from Mary Paul with the following prayer from Ephesians. She told us to place someone's name in the blanks that had been placed on our heart to pray for. I have been praying this prayer for Sharon and Karla every night this past week. 

Ephesians 3: 14-21:
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that Sharon/Karla may be strengthened in her inner being with the power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith as Sharon/Karla, is being rooted and grounded in love. I  pray that Sharon/Karla may have power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that Sharon/Karla be filled with all the fullness of God. AMEN"

I have found comfort in this prayer and hope that God is working in their lives and will continue to do so.

I have been working on the IAA blog and recently put up another post so check it out:

Today I'm praising God and thanking him for the blessings in my life. So many exciting things have been taking place the past few weeks. 

I know this post is really long -- but there is so much to thank God for and this is a way for me to do this. I also have been out of touch with many of you -- so this is a good update on what has been going on in my life!

Recently, I went to Tecate, Mexico with one of the student ministries. We helped with various construction projects at a Nazarene seminary - I helped with painting some rooms. I loved getting to know a few of the students there and having conversations with them. One that especially stuck out to me was when we talked about our favorite Bible passages. My friend, Amanda, is very close with one of the family's that lives there and it was such a blessing to meet them. I felt like I was meeting a special part of her that I hadn't met before - I know she considers them family... they have a special place in her heart. When I saw Amanda and one of the little girls reunited, I couldn't help but think of the day I get to be reunited with Sharon. The little girl ran and jumped into Amanda's arms. I can't wait to run to Sharon and hold her in my arms again.

Last week at tutoring, thirteen kids came - the most so far! We didn't have enough tutors, which never happens! It is so amazing to see how quickly this ministry is growing. And it is great to see kids that are consistently coming every week... friendships between the tutors and students are already forming. We had enough kids to play new games so I taught them how to play "fire in the forest," which was a nice change from the usual game of hide and seek tag. One thing that has really stuck out to me this year though is how Karla's mom makes us delicious snacks every week. She brought quesadillas and rice last week. Her giving heart has really made an impact on me. The fact that she takes time out of her daily schedule to cook food for us is more than enough, but because of her financial situation, this gift she offers means so much more. Even though I have offered to reimburse her, she won't let me. She wants to do this for us and it is such a blessing. This allows me to use our budget for other things, such as paying for the field trip or buying new toys and school supplies for the kids.

I have also been attending church where we tutor and am going to be teaching Sunday school for a few weeks with Audrie there at the end of October and I am really looking forward to this. Another opportunity for me to use my passion for working with kids!

Another blessing in my life right now is my new job. I am helping in a kindergarten class on Mondays and a third grade class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at a local elementary school. I cannot even begin to describe how much I LOVE this job. I am continually in gratitude to God for showing me what my calling in life is. Whenever I am working with kids, I am filled with inexpressible joy. I truly hope everyone will get to experience that feeling in their life at some point - knowing they are doing what they are meant to do, feeling that sense of fulfillment and joy. I am learning so much about teaching as I'm working in these classrooms. I love that the teachers trust me enough to help lead lessons (sometimes on my own!), grade papers, and work with the kids. I have been working one on one with students who are struggling and I am learning what they truly need is just someone to encourage them and believe in them. When you expect them to do well, they usually do. Most people just assume they aren't going to do the problem right or will tell them, "Yes, this is hard, but just try anyway." That automatically puts it in the students mind that they are going to fail. Instead, I am telling them that yes, you can do it. I show them how to break the problems down into simpler parts and then encourage them throughout the process. It takes patience, but it is SO worth it. I show them one example and then just encourage them throughout the others, or I ask them questions to help them solve the problem. We need teachers who have high expectations for students - who believe that their students are capable learners. We need to see potential in
every student. Each one may have a different learning style, but that doesn't make them stupid. Seeing these students have a huge smile on their face as they get 100% on the problems on their own, to me, is a priceless moment. I love getting to high five them at the end and say good job. One girl even came up to me at the end of class one day saying thank you for helping me today. One teacher I work with also started to be more encouraging with her students after she saw what I have been doing is working - it was really cool to watch. I also LOVE forming friendships with these students. I get to go to their recess and love hanging out with them and taking the time to get to know them. It is so cute when they come up to me and give me hugs. I already have so many stories from this job!

Jane, the founder of IAA, is in Kenya right now. I sent letters to Sharon and Richard with her and am excited to get responses. I also sent pictures to all of the kids with little notes. Jane sent me updated pictures of Sharon this morning and it made my day. Her fingers are fully healed now which is an answered prayer. She also sent me pictures of the wall that is being built around the compound and it looks great! My family donated money for a section of the wall and asked for the name "Redeemer" for it and I am looking forward to the day I get to see this in person.

My sister is flying out to San Diego tomorrow and I can't wait to see her. We are going to Disneyland for a day and I'm looking forward to getting to spend time with her and just have a fun, relaxing weekend!

I could list so many more things to be thankful for. GOD IS GOOD.

1 Chronicles 16:9
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

Psalm 9:11
Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.

Psalm 72:18
Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.

"We'll sing an anthem of the highest praise
We'll sound an anthem of Your glorious name"

"It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving." -Mother Teresa

Last Thursday I experienced the difference love can make. For the tutoring ministry I am leading this year, I have a goal of making every child feel valued, loved, and special. One way I hope to reach this goal is by celebrating each child's birthday.

 It was Devany's 12th birthday last week. We had a simple celebration, but to me, it was more special than any other birthday party I had been to. Why was it so special? I would say because of the love that was so evident. It didn't matter what we did at the party, it mattered who we were with and why we were there. We gathered together to celebrate Devany because we love her.

"For it is in giving that we receive." -St. Francis of Assisi

We gave her a birthday party, and I received joy. It was one of those experiences where I felt like I was truly living. I am finding I experience inexpressible joy only when I am serving. I also feel closest to God in moments like these - I love God by loving his people.

She chose flan as her treat so we bought flan from the local grocery store (nowhere near Loma had some!). I made her a birthday card with the other tutors - we all wrote personal messages to her. Her tutor bought her a bracelet as a gift too. During tutoring, some of the other kids made her a necklace out of beads and some of the tutors made her a drawing. We gathered around and sang her happy birthday and ate flan together. Afterward, we played games outside and did crafts. We played a game where you blow up little balloons and put a message inside. One person pops the balloon and then has to act out what is on the piece of paper. For instance, it could say "chicken." They would then act it out and everyone else would have to guess what they were. Such a simple game, but so fun.

We asked Devany what she was doing for her birthday and she told us she didn't have any plans. I am so glad we were able to give her a birthday celebration she wouldn't have otherwise had. 

She took home some coloring pages to do and the leftover flan. Most importantly, she left with a huge smile on her face. I know she felt special and loved that day.

Thank You, Lord.

Check out this article in our school newspaper on my ministry:


I feel so BLESSED to be able to be a part of this ministry. Each week I am learning new things and finding even more joy.

This song is becoming a prayer in my life right now:

"Shape me with words of wisdom
Free my torn heart from this world
Renew my mind and form my will

Teach me to wholly offer
More than words that I can sing
So I become the song I bring"

"Can I be an instrument of praise
And here pursue your heart
So my life will tell of who you are

Can I be a channel of your love
A reflection of your light
And live to bring you praise and serve you, Lord"