Monday, December 28, 2009

The Loss of a Friend

It's with much sadness of our hearts that we share the loss of another friend from Bethesda International, in Jinja Uganda. On Christmas Day 2009 Rebecca Kimbugwe, home foster mother of 30 children and young people at Guardian Home, passed away in a Kampala Hospital. It was quite painful to hear the news since we just saw her in early November on our last visit to Jinja and we spoke about seeing her again on our next visit. It has been a tremendous shock and heart ache to everyone since her death happened so suddenly and unexpectedly.

We met Rebecca in 2003 when we first met Ruth Mirembe who founded Bethesda International. Ruth and Rebecca were both foster mothers to the first children of Bethesda when it first began. Rebecca has spent most of the years of her adult life caring for the orphans and vulnerable children of Uganda by working with Bethesda International. She was an amazing woman full of energy and passion for life! The kids and I just visited Bethesda Int'l. in early November and were able to see Rebecca for a short visit where she shared her excitement of their home church where her and her husband were pastoring. She was a woman who was full of faith and wanted to share her love for God with everyone she met! I will so miss our conversations about life and family, and about our dreams and ideas for new projects. I will miss hearing her call my name, "Kate". She was one of my only Ugandan friends who called me Kate, not Katie and it always brought joy to my heart to hear her friendly greeting. We will miss her dearly!!
Please be praying for her husband and her family and especially the many children that have now lost their mother! Although many of her children are sponsored by a German NGO, Bulungi e.V. ( ) there are kids that are in Guardian Home that are not sponsored. If you would like to help this family financially during this hard time please contact me, the above address, or
November, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Uganda-through the lens

Peeking through the church windows. We were warmly greeted by some kids at our friends church one weekend. The Lugbarra word for "foreigner or white person" is Mundu (pronounced moon dew), as opposed to the typical Swahili word Mzungu, which is heard in other parts of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and DRC.
This is the famous "Osuubi" a popular Ugandan greens dish. This of course, is the reason why our son is one of the most greeted little boys around town, we're guessing. Everywhere we walk people call his name and send him a smile, a wave and a friendly handshake! He sure feels loved!! "Osuubi"....."Osobie"... cute!!
Even though Jeff is the culinary whiz in our family, on this night I rocked it! This is our new favorite dish and we've decided to make it our Friday night family meal. Mexican Lasagna with layers of chapati, rice, beans, salsa, corn, guacamole, grn peppers, tomatoes and topped with cheese!! (No, that is not cheddar cheese....but at least we can get Gouda at least). We love having an oven this year. It's opening up all kinds of culinary possibilities. Thank you Billy and Joanna for such a lovely home!!. Crafting at Thanksgiving! Thanks Aunt Lois for the sand art pilgrim people. We had a fun time making them on Thanksgiving!
Me and a grandma's feet. It's moments like this afternoon that I wished I spoke more Lugbarra. There's a love deep in my heart for the elderly. I know this is because my grandmother helped raise my siblings and I while my mom worked full time. I miss my grandma, who will be 98 yrs this coming January!!
This is our wonderful friend Alice! Last year she helped our family live our life in Arua by working at our house. She has taught me how to shop in the market, cook, understand Lugbarra culture, and a million other things. We are so grateful for Alice in our lives! As soon as we arrived in Arua, Alice was eager to have us over to her place for lunch one Sunday afternoon. We had a wonderful meal with her and her family and toured around her community.

O and F playing with Alice's kids and neighbors

The ladies preparing our food at Alice's. This stove of Alice's was built efficiently to minimize the use of charcoal.

Alice's cassava crops. This is the one crop that survived during the drought season for many people including Alice and our friends Sam and Anna. Katie and our friend Anna that we've been working with and praying for as a family and a church. She has had to deal with some hard circumstances in her life but she is strong and continues to trust God with her life and her children's lives.

This is our friend Jocelyn, Sam's wife, and the sweet and adorable baby Katie!! She has grown so much since we left in April of last year. After just one visit she had already warmed up to me and let her Auntie Katie hold her!! Even Uncle Jeff got the chance to play a bit with baby Katie before she fussed for her mama.

Beautiful ceramic pots on the roadside in Kampala

Carrying a load across town in Kampala.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It's the final day of our Five for Five campaign for World AIDS Day -
a chance to give $5 a day for 5 days - each day funding a different project serving orphans living with HIV .
You can make Hope today for orphans living with HIV in Ukraine! Go to to learn more about the project and where to give to make a difference in the lives of children!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

World AIDS Week--- pray, act, give, share hope!

It's day 4 of the Five for Five campaign for World AIDS Day - a chance to give $5 a day for 5 days - each day funding a different project serving orphans living with HIV!
Make Hope today for HIV+ orphans in South Africa! Go to to find out how

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

World AIDS Week- pray & act

It is Day 2 of the Five for Five campaign for World AIDS Day - a chance to give $5 a day for 5 days - each day funding a different project serving orphans living with HIV!
Make Hope today for orphans living with HIV at
"AHOPE for Children" Ethiopia!
Go to to find out how!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WORLD AIDS DAY- a chance to make a difference!

World AIDS Day!
Make Hope for orphans living with HIV in Thailand!
Visit to find out how!
It's the start of the Five for Five campaign - a chance to give $5 a day for 5 days - each day funding a different project serving orphans living with HIV! Tomorrow will be a new project so make sure to check back at for another chance to give and make a difference in a child's life!!

To donate $5 to today's project now, visit or go directly to

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UGANDA...the first of many hopefully!!

At the airport...filling up on hugs and laughs with cousin M!!

Saying our last goodbyes to the L's!!

Osobie used his playground project money to purchase many swing set seats!! Our brief night and am in South Africa...hmm...what a shot eh?? It seems like we never left. We land, see familiar faces at the hotel, sip African tea with delight, and pick up right where we left off. Thank you Jesus for getting us here safely!! The most beautiful sounds that welcome you here are the songs of birds. The first morning we woke from our jet lagged haze we heard the chirps and calls of the birds. I wish I could say I knew the birds that were singing all around us, but there are too many to count. Jeff is the birder in the family although that hobby has been put on hold since we became parents. The kids and I just returned to Entebbe from our visit to Jinja. Jeff also flew back from Arua for some meetings in Entebbe, so we are reunited once again. So, here we are in Entebbe, enjoying a bit of the comforts before we head to Arua.
A friendly peacock strolling at the hotel grounds in Entebbe, UG.
When there's no toys, play cook with grass! Fatu insisted that this was a salad with chocolate shavings on it. Her mama is teaching her well!!

What a gorgeous view! Lake Victoria behind O and Jeff's coworker- Kevin. We enjoyed a pizza at one of the best pizza places in Uganda (other than NYKitchen in Kampala).
We were able to take Osobie in to see a doctor yesterday about a rash that has spread on his face and limbs. The doctor diagnosed it as a viral rash that he picked up at some point in the last 2 weeks. There is no cure or treatment, but luckily it is supposed to clear up spontaneously in about 6 weeks. Osobie seems to be managing it fine but we sure could use prayer that it doesn’t get any worse and that it indeed clears up on its own. Fatu is healthy and happy which we are thankful for, aside from a few spider and mosquito bites The kids are adjusting well to our life in Uganda again and even seem to be more comfortable here. They remember many of the places and people from last year and are doing better at picking up the Ugandan English accent. Jeff and I are constantly in awe over God’s faithfulness in putting our family together. And as you can imagine, we frequently get the chance to share with others how God put our family together. For the most part the stares and inquiring is friendly curiosity, which we welcome. But I would be lying if I didn’t share that there are also many times when comments and questions are harsh and uncomfortable. Like for example on our plane to South Africa, a young man sitting next to Osobie asked him where his parents were. After pointing to Jeff and me and explaining, the man asked him again in an irritated louder voice, “No, where is your mother young boy?” I happened to be looking across the aisle just as he was asking and he just stared at me with a look of disapproval and turned away, not a word more from him the rest of the flight. I guess silence is better than words that are spoken that not only are hurtful to us but confusing for Fatu and Osobie. Each time I feel the burning sensation of stares I pray that God would give me a loving spirit, understanding and the right words to help others get a picture of adoption and God’s heart for us all. I love our family and how God has woven us together, we wouldn’t want it any other way!!
This one's for you Stacie!!!! Muhammad asked where you were? Where are you? It's much more fun drinking iced lattes and munching on banana bread with you!! Oh I love thee...let me count the ways!! Matoake! Oh yes! My other African fav' food! Underneath those banana leaves lies soft mushed plantains which you smother with groundnut sauce and then simply...enjoy!! Thank you Arthur for your hospitality!! We sure love ya!! Our time in Jinja was short but so full! We stayed with our dear friend Arthur from Bethesda International and visited with the staff and kids at Rapha community school. Each time I come to Jinja I remember Jeff and I’s first trip to Uganda in 2003. It is on this trip that the Lord really cracked open wide our already broken hearts for Uganda. We met Ruth Mirembe-Muga on our trip and her friendship fueled our hearts and call to Uganda. So each time when I come to Jinja I feel so fortunate to have such a history with the folks of Bethesda Int’l. One of the nights in Jinja I couldn’t fall asleep, partly due to the fact that I had a double latte at The Source CafĂ© late in the afternoon and because my mind was filled with thoughts about Rapha Community. It was 2003 when Ruth first drove us down the bushy path towards Rapha Community School. Ruth was passionate about the work of Bethesda and the foster home system she had implemented, but I could tell by the way she talked that Rapha held a special place in her heart. Even back then in 2003, Ruth shared her vision for what Rapha now is and continues to become. I remember many times she would look off in the distance describing what she hoped to build and create, and I didn’t quite see how it would all come to be. But, God knew and that’s why He gave her the heart, calling and vision for Rapha Community and that’s why it is becoming all that she had dreamed, even though she is no longer here with us. Rapha kiddo's!!
It started with a piece of land, that’s it. So many people have joined with Bethesda to make Rapha what it is today by volunteering their time, energy, muscle, money, prayers, encouragement and support. Each time I come back to Rapha I’m amazed at what they have accomplished with the help of so many friends, partners, and volunteers. I was thrilled to see a photo pasted on the office wall of a young girl I met last year from our home town. She chose to celebrate her 12th birthday by asking her friends to bring school supplies for Rapha children instead of birthday presents for herself. We packed the school supplies and brought them to Rapha last year bringing such joy to the kids and relief to the teachers knowing their students would have school supplies for the term. Just last year, Children’s Hope Chest (a U.S. NGO) also came alongside Bethesda Int’l. to help with child sponsorship for many of the Rapha foster children and helped to build a updated kitchen. Juliette, the head mistress, also showed me their new plantation of banana, papaya, apple, and mango trees that were given to them from some U.S. marines who purchased the plants and volunteered to plant them. It is stories like these, multiplied over the years that have allowed Rapha to become what it is today, a community where children are cared for and loved by foster families, teachers and elders from the surrounding community, and of course by many of you who have donated to Rapha over the years. The children have clean water to drink and decent food to eat. They are clothed, they sleep under mosquito nets, and they have the opportunity to attend school. They are learning about God’s love and truth and they are being taught the cultural songs and dances of their country. This is more than many children ever receive in Uganda and in other parts of Africa. I believe our friend and founder of Bethesda International, Ruth, would be proud of what Rapha has become, but I’m sure she would also be continuing to dream and plan for what more could be done for the children of Uganda.
Music and bikes. What else does one need??

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Osobie's on the mend!! Thank you for all the prayers from around the globe!! We are thanking Jesus for his healing, strength and faithfulness to Osobie and our family. We spent 5 days at the hospital (PVH-to the Dr's and nurses, guys are amazing, THANK YOU!!!) We think he caught swine flu that turned into a very serious pneumonia that infiltrated his bloodstream. It was a hard and scary week but we were carried by God and by the prayers of our family & friends!! During his time in the hospital he received more letters of support for his playground project in Uganda and it was such an encouragement to his little spirit!! He is more determined than ever to build a playground for the kids of Ombachi village. We and our church family have committed to supporting and working with the people of Ombachi village. Once we return we look forward to researching the development of water projects, starting small businesses for women and men, continuing with discipleship, and of course building a playground near the local church or local primary school in Ombachi.

The boys, vegging out on cable! I can see why people get sucked into TV, we must have sat for hours watching cartoons and of course the Food Network (Jeff's fav').

Osobie has received over $300 for the playground project!! People have asked us how much he needs to build a playground and since we've never done it before we do not have an exact amount. We estimated he would need at least $200. That would include purchasing wood, cement, seats, chains, hardware, renting or buying tools, transportation to the from the village, and paying two or three men salaries to help build it. We have discussed two possible locations for the playground. We will meet with the Ombachi village church elders and ask if they would want the playground built on their land adjacent to the church building. We will also meet with the Ombachi primary school principal and discuss the possibility of building a teeter-tater on the school grounds. Once we've decided on the location we will proceed with purchasing the materials and building the playground!

We've also been having some good conversations with Osobie since his time in the hospital. We have talked about the money he's raised with his playground fund and what else has been on his heart for the kids in Africa. We've been talking about how blessed we are that we have hospitals and doctors to care for us when we're really sick. Osobie knows what life is like in Africa, mainly due to the fact that he was born and raised there for 5 years, but also because we lived there recently and will return to Uganda very soon. He has seen the malnourished kids with big belly's and remembers looking like that when he first came home. Just a few weeks ago Osobie made a random comment about how he would be if he was home in Liberia. He said, "Mama, I'd be sick". So, as we've talked he has shared that he would like to spend any extra money he raises on mosquito nets and food for those in need. He knows that Malaria can kill kids his age and younger and he wants to do something about that with any left over playground money. We told him we thought that was a great idea and that we would keep praying and talking in the weeks to come. We'll be sure to keep you posted once the building commences!!
Even though Osobie was extremely sick, he sure was a great kid while in the hospital.
I'm one happy, grateful and proud mama!!

Home at last!! Osobie and Fatu enjoying a visit from their cousin Mackenna and Auntie Mekay. Here they are trying to keep from getting anyone else sick!
Oh,...and YES, we are leaving for Uganda still! Due to Osobie's health, we've pushed back our date by a week. We are aiming for November 9th but our tickets have not been changed yet. We'll be sure to post before we say "farewell" from this side of the world and then I'll do my best to update once our feet are settled on African soil. Thanks again for the prayers and love!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Our son is dreaming big for Uganda!

So, I've debated putting this up on our blog for various reasons. The biggest is simply because of the fact that people might not agree with allowing a child to ask for money (you know...tugging at peeps heart strings). But, in this instance this is the real deal for our son, a real dream that he is pursuing and I hope and pray that he is able to discover that dreams can become reality if and when you try and you walk with Jesus in them.
This past May was our son's 7th birthday. My sis and I made him a "playground" birthday cake as inspiration for him to continue dreaming big!!Ever since O has been home from Liberia he has talked about wanting to be a pilot and a builder. More and more his dreams of becoming a builder have grown and have evolved into building something very specific. He has told us over and over that he would like to build a playground in Africa. At first I wasn't quite sure if it was a passing phase or something he really wanted to do. It's been almost 2 yrs now and after our last trip to Uganda for 7 months, his interest to bring fun to the kids of Uganda has become a daily conversation.
O and I have talked about what it would take to be able to build a swing set and/or teeter-tater and raising money was the first step. We brain stormed about the different fundraisers he could do and he liked the idea of a lemonade stand for his first attempt! When we moved into our new house this summer, our small church group called Bridestone and family came to lend us their time and muscles. O and his friends set up his stand in our front yard and sold all his lemonade!! He made $23.00. We also visited their Grammie in Michigan this summer and she gave each grand kid $5.00 to spend on some toys for the beach. O couldn't find anything he wanted so he decided to put his money towards the playground, bringing him up to $28.00. My good friend, Laura gave O and his sister, F each $5 to buy something fun and both O and F wanted to put their money in the "playground fund". So the final total as of today, Sept. 19, is $38.00!!

O is on his way to building a playground in Uganda with the help of friends along the way. Our good friends, Kami and Jeremy ( just returned from Liberia after building of a school/home for the kids of Addy's Hope. They also built a playground for the children with the help of some loving friends who donated the money. You can check it out by clicking here

Jeremy has offered to help O pick out the hardware for a swing set and share his knowledge on how to build one in Africa. So O's next step after raising money is to purchase the gear, like seats, chains, eye hooks, etc... We will only take over what we need and what we may not be able to find in Uganda. There have been many learning opportunities with this project including expressing/writing his feelings, practicing handwriting, counting money, planning and organizing, and learning what motivation and perseverance looks like. Below is O's final draft of his "playground project". It's a bit hard to read because it was written in pencil but worth reading!

So, here it is. O is asking for your help to bring joy, laughter, and fun to kids in Uganda. As many of you know, Jeff and I, together with our church community in Fort Collins, are working in a village in North West Uganda called Ombachi. We hope to continue our community development projects once we return and O would like to join us by building the first playground in Ombachi. A few bucks goes a long way, especially when we join with one another. So, if you would like to donate to O's playground project you can email me at and I can send you our address. I know O will be so excited to actually see his dreams become reality!! Thank you!!