There's so much I could share about our family, life in Uganda, adoption...but my heart in this post is to share about good friends we've met along the way who are making a huge impact in people's lives that have been affected by the LRA. Jeff and I are not quick to promote organizations or people unless we know who they are and what they are doing on the ground, truthfully. We are relationship people first...taught this way and raised this way by all our spiritual mentors. So, after two years of living in Uganda, and seeing our friends work here, we want to share about it with all of our friends around the world. Why? Because we believe what they are doing is God's heart for His kids. It's something so needed but not addressed in Uganda. It's probably due to the nature of their work. Carl & Julie are counselors/ therapists who are diving into the broken and traumatized hearts of people and helping them to walk them out of their pain, agony, and suffering into life, love and freedom through Jesus!
I want you to hear from Julie's heart about who they are, what they do & what they want to do (with the help of others). I will post her letter below:) Please take the minute to read it, it's worth it. I want to share about their work, Tutapona, because they are in need of funding to reach those affected by the LRA. Jeff & I have been blessed over the years by so many of you through financial donations for Bethesda International and Osobie's Playground project, and we are still so thankful! I had hoped that this Christmas, if any of you are looking for somewhere to give, that you would consider blessing Tutapona. They are dear friends and servants here in Uganda who have a desire to see people healed and set free from the horrible trauma they have endured due to the LRA in Northern Uganda. I believe in them and their work and and proud to call them friends!
We felt our specific calling to come to Uganda after two short-term trips, in which we saw the desperate need of thousands who had lost fathers, or mothers, or sisters or brothers – or even been abducted themselves into the brutally horrifying “Lord’s Resistance Army.” We saw missing arms, missing lips, and a missing and raw perspective regarding the hope that we were created to know.We were merely trained in clinical social work –we were employed to walk American people through the hardships and difficulties that can be experienced within the walls of a culture that offered and stood for human rights and justice. “What can we offer, Lord?” we pondered, “we know nothing about how to mend the mind of a person forced to eat the flesh of a loved one!... but yes, we will go, because You are able, and willing to use even the limited.”
We arrived in 2008, with our 4 and 8 year old daughters in tow. We spent 3 years with an organization, developing and implementing a Trauma Rehabilitation program in Northern Uganda. We trained up local nationals to implement the program in their own language, and witnessed 19,000 individuals go through the program. We heard incredible testimonies of healing that were overwhelming, and we stood in awe and amazement of the only One Who could bring such a transformation. After year two, we needed to create a follow-up discipleship program, as up to 80% of each group that went through the program made a decision to follow Christ. Indescribable!
Throughout our time in Northern Uganda, we felt a gnawing need to bring this program into an area of Southern Sudan, where, for over a decade, Joseph Kony marched his abducted child soldiers and sex slaves and camped out – devastating the area surrounding it. The organization we worked for didn’t share such dreams, but kindly allowed us to decrease work hours and open our own NGO, called Tutapona, so that we could reach that area. In August of 2011, we hired a team and began the work. Then in May 2012, after a gradual transition of decreasing hours with the other organization, we moved full-time into reaching Southern Sudan and other war-torn areas in need through Tutapona. The organization we were working with no longer was interested in outreach to communities/trauma rehabilitation as they wanted to work solely with their existing programs (orphans and widows). We took a great ‘leap of faith’ (as the current organization had been providing our salary, housing and gasoline) and followed God full-time into Tutapona.Now, 7 months later, we are wrapping up our work with the Acholi Tribe of So. Sudan and have been gearing up to reach the unreached and war-torn area of North-Western Uganda – Amoru Region. However, after a visit last week to a refugee camp in South Western Uganda, we are praying through next steps!! This refugee camp has 72,000 war-impacted refugees from 9 countries, including devastated Congolese, Somali, and South Sudanese. Many are from Muslim origin and we are excited!! What an amazing opportunity to bring emotional healing through Jesus Christ and share the message of salvation – within the confines of a “safe” country and within the structure of a “captive audience.”
We believe God is asking us to move forward with this camp – at our meeting, the camp’s leader stated “It is a tinder-box here, ready to catch fire! There is so much tribal and cultural tension on top of what these individuals have experienced… we can give them shelter and food but unless they are given emotional heeling and hope, what good will it be? There have been no other organizations doing the work you are proposing.” So, we are just sorting through whether or not God desires us to reach North and Southwestern Uganda simultaneously.
We are so thankful for your prayers, Katie! As well, as for your desire to let others know of the work that God is doing!!
p.s. If you are interested in visiting our website & for donations, log on to http://www.tutapona.com/
Additionally, you can check our our blog, which can be accessed from the website as well as ‘like’ our Tutapona facebook page.