Wednesday, December 30, 2009

hi friends! just thought I would give everyone an update on us and tukula.

We had a very wonderful and white christmas. Played about a million games of yahtzee, had many delicious meals, and went ice skating. After a much needed break Joe and I are back to working really hard to get tukula up and going. the website will hopefully up in a week or so. we are trying to finalize some decisions and answer questions for our selfless grant writer, Gray Ladd, Wouldn't know what to do with out him and his wife such blessings. We are in the process of finalizing our budget asumption for the year 2010. We are trying to get some more concrete monthly donors. We have come up with a way to make it a little easier. It's called the $10 for '10 campaign. If you are interested we are looking for people to donate $10 a month for the year 2010. that's a total of $120 for the entire year. that's not a lot but if everyone I know donated that much it would help joe and I return to uganda and make this vision a reality. so if you're interested please let me know (if you want to give more that's ok too ) : )
I had a man ask me for 75 cents today on my walk to queen felt so weird being the one asked for money as I am the one doing it all the time. I feel like a broken record sometimes. Sorry for that : )

I read this today and thought it was such a simple truth.

"Grace means that in the middle of our struggle the referee blows the whistle and announces the end of the game. We are declared the winners and sent to the showers. It's over for all huffing, puffing piety to earn God's favor, it's finished for all sweat-soaked straining to secure self worth; it's the end of all competitive scrambling to get ahead of others in the game. Grace means that God is on our side and thus we are victors regardless of how well we played the game. We might as well head for the showers and the champagne celebration." - Donald McCullough

It's a nice reminder that we don't have to earn grace or even God's favor - it's just there. we can relax - we can stop taking ourselves so seriously.

That's my hope for the year 2010 - stop taking myself so seriously. It's ok to fail - God won't love me any less. I want to practice forgiveness and I want to love without measuring... I just want to give it intensely and immensely.

2010 is going to be such a fruitful year..I just know it.
now, let's go do.

ps: one of the best things that happened in 2009 was that Joe and and I got married in uganda! woo hoo!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dear friends and family,
Our minds change a lot, our plans change even more and if I had a quarter for every time we came up with an idea and didn't follow through we would be rich. We are young and ever growing. But something that has stuck with us has always been the NEED we have seen through-out the world, particularly in Uganda. I recently read an analysis report that discussed how in Uganda the problem isn't that people are un-trained or un-willing to work it's that there are no good jobs. So this endless circle of poverty doesn't stop. We have met numerous Ugandans who have several children and no way to care for them or even themselves. We have been awakened by knocking on our door by people asking for ANY work at all. I have had Godly women lie to me just to be able to send their children to school (which costs about $300.00 a YEAR <--- less than the average amount of money spent on some american's MONTHLY grocery bill). It's not fair. It's not fair that my husband and I can spend $25.00 on ordering pizza for dinner ONE night and that is the AVERAGE MONTHLY INCOME of a Ugandan. It's not fair that contestants on the Reality TV show Survivor get ONE MILLION DOLLARS for "surviving" a month in circumstances my friends halfway across the world live in everyday of their lives. That's the REAL reality and IT'S NOT FAIR.

But it goes on.
While I sit here and type - It's all still happening.
It doesn't stop while we are sleeping or driving to work.
It doesn't stop for us when we ignore it.
So we're choosing to face it head on.
we have made an important and concrete decision to start an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) called Tukula
(which means "we grow" in lugandan), and here's the vision:

We will be visiting trade schools and inquiring about those studying to be tailors. After we choose students who we deem to live in the most vulnerable conditions we will be hiring them to start work on a clothing line made out of Ugandan fabrics and materials (think shorts, dresses, skirts in some of the funnest bright prints)!
We will then be selling the clothing line in America at affordable costs.
We believe that Economic Empowerment for young adults is an important way to stop the cycle of poverty before they have children who end up in the cycle with them. We believe that the next generation of Ugandans with the right education and resources can become role models and make a lasting difference in their communities. We want to not only meet their immediate needs but also allow them to follow their dreams.

Tukula's hopes are to require each tailor to open a bank account and help every tailor understand the importance of saving for their future or for a specific goal. They will be given a monthly salary, a percentage of which will go straight into their bank account in order to encourage them to save each month.

We will help set financial goals for each tailor (making the goal appropriate for their living situation and future career goals). Once those goals are met they will be set off "on their own" and no longer be in the Tukula program, which then leaves a new opening at Tukula and we will start the process all over with a new member. We will follow up with all former Tukula tailors to ensure the effectiveness of the program in the long run.

We would also like to hire a graduate of business studies from Uganda to help run operations and to help with cultural barriers (language, customs, fair prices, etc.). This will help there to be a smooth work environment and minimal frustrations throughout Tukula.

Other ways we hope to help the tailors is to purchase a kilo of rice and beans each week, and each month send them home with a chicken.

We will be taking care of all the medical needs of our tailors(if any). We have seen the horrors of Ugandan hospitals and find it of great importance to make sure the people we serve get propper medical treatment no matter what the cost.

At Tukula we even have hopes to go beyond the business and see that we make an impact not only on the Tailors' lives but also in the lives of people in the communities surrounding us. We would like to be able to help street children and children living in poor areas of Uganda by making connections with children's homes, street missions, and village outreaches and donating clothes made by our tailors. Every month, we hope to work with a different group to make this project possible.

Of course, all of this is going to require start up costs.

I have currently set up a budget that I believe to be the monthly costs for the first year.
Everything will start at around $3,200 a month. This includes: salaries, product materials, clothing children project, sewing machines (maintanence), nutrtion program, medical needs, compound (workshop) rent.

For this vision to become reality, Tukula needs people to invest their money, resources, and talents:

If you choose to be a member of Tukula financially you will be the first to receive all Tukula products for free. You will receive monthly financial updates and also video updates from the tailors. We are also interested in one time donations and you will receive financial updates and video updates as well. Our goal is to have products available by the end of 2010 so we can eventually sustain ourselves.

Your donation will not be a forever committment but you will get to choose to donate monthly for a year and after a year you can evaluate our financial situation and see if it is still needed. For example: once products are sold and bought the amount of monthly donations needed will decrease.

If you aren't financially able to donate monthly there are other options:
2.) SPREAD THE WORD about tukula.
3.) USE YOUR SKILLS - we are interested in meeting with people who have backgrounds in grant writing, fashion design, Business, retail, public relations, etc.
4.) If you are a musician, photographer, or videographer, and want to help - we want to talk with YOU.

Please let us know of any ideas you have for Tukula or just anything at all. We're open to a lot of things.

If this is something you are interested in please contact me at with "TUKULA" in the subject line.

We are so glad that our lives are finally going into a direction that is what we've always hoped they would go in. God has been gracious towards us and has allowed us to live out our dreams. We can't believe that God would entrust so much into our hands. We are thankful for you and your encouragement and support.
May you be so incredibly blessed for all you do.
With much love, grace and peace,

Joe and Melissa Terranova

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jesus called me out of bed tonight to read this:

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful"

- 2 Timothy 2: 20-24

Sunday, June 28, 2009

come tortoise EMPTY HANDS go hummingbird my plans

I write this note to you all with great peace but also with very little understanding.

Joe and I will be leaving Uganda on August 10th.
that's about 6 weeks from now.
6 months left here turned into 6 weeks.

I really don't want to share the details of why were leaving...because truthfully I don't know all the details myself. Joe and I don't really know where we are going or what we will be doing or how we will feel after leaving this place but we're jumping into it with both feet and with our arms flailing. Attempting to grab any and everything we can.
God is faithful...always always.

This will probably be my last blog as I don't think I can bare to write about all our last moments here.. about all our goodbye and tears.
So here's to you your open arms, your people, to your beauty and dancing.

to Betty -- my love for you will remain warm and caring. I will miss hearing you laugh and scream. thank you for being Joe and I's family -- for calling me sister. I believe in you in your honesty and in your heart. Be a good steward of what God bestows on you. And continue to be a shining light to those you meet. MAY GOD BLESS YOU, friend.

to kymbi, grow in truth and be joyful, little one. If ever you feel as though you have no one in the world to go to remember uncle Joe and I are praying for you and love you so much. Please obey your mother even if you think she is crazy. : )

to the women of SUUBI -- I write this with tears in my are my heart strings. I asked God to show me truth...and He showed me YOUR truth...who you women are just like me. I hope that someday this truth will allow me to love you better. I will never forget YOUR love for me. I will never forget the pounding of your feet on the dusty earth or the sound of you calling my name. take care of each other and be kind.

to the EPOH tailors -- thank you for your joy and hard work. Thank you for allowing Joe and I to be a part of your lives -- we will forever be grateful and blessed because of that. My heart rejoices with your new opportunity and I will pray that the goals you have set for yourselves will be reached. (oh what a beautiful day when Charles gets a car, when Agnes is teaching children how to sew, and when Alice can bless students with a college hostile!) I hope that someday you will understand our leaving early and also our longing to be with you.

we love you all

keep us in your prayers as we will be doing to same.
afoyo afoyo afoyo
-Auntie M.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From the northern district of Pader, Joyce has experienced great suffering and pain.
Joyce was forced to watch many of her family members die at the hand of the LRA.
She is daily reminded of the hurt up north from her husband who has post traumatic stress disorder. My heart aches for the lady but also rejoices with her when she dances. She is always ready with a hug. Joyce's family sells vegetables in Danida and works for SUUBI as a bead maker.

what a beautiful God there must be.
what a beautiful God You must be.

Mother of a baby girl named Rachel, Daisy is constantly in good spirits.
She recently moved to Danida from the north western district of Nebbi.
Daisy cares for a niece who's parents died in the Congo.
Daisy Makes paper beaded necklaces and also sells firewood.
She is young and kind and has a heart of gold.

what a beautiful God there must be.
what a beautiful God You must be.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More affectionately called "Obama"
due to her great speaking and leadership skills.
Mother of 9 who comes from a north western district called Nebbi.
she now lives in a cement hut in a village called Soweto
a few minutes outside of Jinja.

Leonida loves to learn English and
has a passion for making paper-beaded necklaces.
She is ever smiling and willing to help.

what a beautiful God there must be.
what beautiful God You must be.

An extremely talented lady from Danida.
She makes a consistent income by working with SUUBI but
also spends a lot of time making small dresses in Central Market.
Hellen has the most gorgeous ebony skin and
because of her shy and sweet demeanor
she will make you feel like you have to whisper.

what a beautiful God there must be.
what a beautiful God You must be.

.Kwaagala, Margret.
At the ripe age of 71
Margret is the oldest member of SUUBI.
Her kind and welcoming arms make me believe
that the meaning of her last name (Love) was destined for her.
Since she birthed no children and her husband passed away,
Margret lives alone in Walukuba.
She is offered much help from her nephews and nieces
and is grateful for company.

what a beautiful God there must be.
what a beautiful God You must be.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I have had a bad attitude lately. I like to blame it on Africa not being romantic anymore or all the hardships I've been facing. But honestly it's because I haven't been searching for anything. I have been hopelessly floating around talking about love and truth and what I think that looks like. I have been turning up my nose towards people thinking I am better or more "cultured". I have been yelling at and pleading with people to just notice me.
I am Peter drowning in the water.
I have also been in a really great mood. I like to blame that on a little boy named Kymbi who I have spent many hours holding, hugging, and laughing with. But honestly it's because of my husband who I have neglected but have realized makes me the happiest girl in the world. I have spent five minutes out of my day helping a little girl mop her home and giggled with her the entire time. I have had grasshopper parties with Betty, Sharon, and even little Marvin. I have sat in a small stall in Amber Court with Agnes and shy Alice and I have driven through Uganda at night with the cool breeze skimming my face.
I am Peter when he remembered.
All this to say I have been up and down and up and down and up and down.
I think of people who are able to come and go in this place and if they really see anything. I see people who have been here for years but are missing everything. I sometimes think I am somewhere lost in between the two. Africa is a complicated place. There are real deal battles Joe and I face everyday that have been attributed to "It's just their culture" or "they were desperate" or "they don't know any better". I wonder if that's ok? Should we let that excuse there actions? should we give them so much grace that they don't change? do I want them to change? I think about America and how badly we all wanted "change" and that's why Obama was so appealing but since I haven't heard of anything changing and it seems like everyone is fine with that? maybe I am naive but I like to think that you can only change something or something can only change if the thing that's asked to change wants to be changed.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say or get across.

I started writing this (it's taking me about three days to finish it) with thoughts of speaking what I believe to be the truth to change your thoughts on Africa or America or myself or yourself but have talked myself out of it along the way.
I don't want to change your mind.
do something that will change your own.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

hello friends!
yesterday I took the worlds longest walk to the post office with this fella'.

well, maybe it wasn't the worlds longest walk but it seemed like it when they are doing construction on main street and I had to carry him and the stroller for most of the way. : ) I love spending time with this little man...he is very well behaved and just a sweetheart. Most of you old volunteers will be excited to know that he is talking a bit more he can now say "Betty" (yes with a b and not a d), "Doe-Doe" (his version of Uncle Joe and sometimes I get called Doe Doe as well..oh the things you aquire when you get married), "Meow", "cat", "shoes", "yum yum", and more of his versions of words that I can't remember. Him and his mother...although crazy... have been a huge source of joy in the past few weeks during some frustrating situations. Betty said one of the cutest things a couple of days ago after I was telling her about how she will have new people to look at instead of seeing us all the time (yes we have two new volunteers...they are most welcome!) she said "Auntie no, we are just family, they will come and go but we are here. I do not get tired of seeing you." warmed my heart!

Dave Hansow (founder and creative director of LGH) is coming tomorrow. which is great! we are thankful to have some of the Suubi re-vamping burdens lifted off of us and for him to meet the EPOH tailors. Pray for safe travels and follow his blog

I hope you are all gearing up to visit LGH at some summer festivals and I hope you all have been saving your money for the new Flavour of the Month designs that are coming out! They are pretty neat!

Hope all is well in your little corner of the world!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I sat in Luwum, Christine's small Danida home today completely vulnerable. Completely open to everything she was saying. I sit here in our home office completely vulnerable to all of you. Completely at ease with saying that I have made a lot of mistakes.
I see the SUUBI ladies how I want to see them. Ladies who have nothing but are God fearing, ladies who govern themselves and care for each other. To be honest I have had blinders over my eyes for months and months and today while I sat with my elbow on my knee and my chin in my hand they quickly slided away. It was if I were skipping stones off my back...I was no longer carrying their burdens. We are all the same. I saw the SUUBI ladies for who they all really were. Beautiful, selfish, kind, helpless, hopeful, strong-headed, joyful, and greedy. They're just like me.
I wish for everyone to see each other for who they truly are. children of God, sinners, and shining flowers. I ask that today you really look at each other, listen deeply, be honest, strong, and vulnerable. It's hard but it's worth it.

pray for us and know we are praying for you.
Also, if you don't understand any of this -- know that my heart is dancing today
and I will be just fine.

love, melissa

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

what if there were no color?
what if there were no statuses?
I think we would all look and act a lot more alike
than we think we would.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Jinja, I love you, but you're bringing me down.

On Monday, Joe and I will set our compasses to the north and wont stop until we hit Gulu town.
We've decided it was time for a break. As much as we love our family here.
we know that when we leave we will miss them but we need a chance to miss them.
We love our work here but sometimes it consumes us... sometimes we can't think of anything else because it's all around us (which isn't a bad thing!) -- we just a need a vacation... a chance to be husband and wife instead of mostly co-workers!

so onward to the land that I love.. ACHOLI LAND.
pray for safe travels! we will update when we return!
love, melissa

ps: check out the new flavour of the month! (
and save your money for the June flavours also you wont want to miss these gems!
pss: get so excited because the EPOHbags look fabulous! and we're already designing some other things! sign up and get on board! (

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Charles (our head EPOH tailor and friend) returned to Jinja a few weeks ago. And since then EPOHbags in Uganda has been coming to life. It's unreal to hold the bags that I for so long thought about and envisioned. It's beautiful to be able to meet the artisans that I have been wondering about and praying for.
Their stories of great sorrow have turned into rejoicing. And when we talked to Charles about EPOH he sometimes covers his face and just says "afoyo afoyo afoyo" (thank you). Agnes (our second official tailor) likes to scratch my back when I speak in Luo or really when I say anything. I've slowly become quite a bit restless here in Jinja...and feel as though I just go through the motions most days...but these small glimpses of heaven (or what I believe to be some sort of heaven) that I have found in these tailors renew and refresh me.
slowly by slowly I'm feeling a little bit fuller.

Joe and I spent some time in town with Kymbi this morning, buying many meters of liner, spools and spools of thread, zippers, and I hit the jackpot at a small stall in central market where a lady pulled out scraps and scraps of some of the most beautiful fabrics (to all future EPOH costumers, please know that the fabrics on your bag are specially hand picked, original, and recycled)!

Tomorrow we are going to have a small photo shoot with our three wonderful tailors.
super excited about that even though our camera isn't nice -- we just get to be more creative this way! During my senior year of high school I was almost certain that I was going to go to Delaware college of art and design to study photography. after a visit to south east asia a few weeks after graduation day I knew for certain that was not what I was going to do. God had different ideas of how He wanted to use my photography. afoyo to the creator of all good things!

get ready, friends, EPOH is coming!

Monday, April 13, 2009

you are most welcome!

Sorry this is delayed but Happy Easter! We spent our day with friends and our little family here in Jinja. Hope your day was as blessed and full of good fellowship as ours was.

Things are busy and I feel like Joe and I are always running around picking something up dropping something off having meetings what what...but on Thursday I could just be. I got to feel like a "volunteer" again and just be here and experience things.

Around 10:00 am we picked up Natalina and took her to FINCA where we opened an account for her.. our first account. We were going to wait for our first ten who had their LC letters and 11,000 to open but a lot of people have one without the other and are slowly by slowly getting things done... but not Natalina she had her money and letter and pictures all ready for us months ago. So I thought it wasn't fair that she had to wait so long... she was ready and excited and while we filled out her application thursday morning I knew that she was going to benefit highly from this.

After everything was signed and Natalina got her pass-book and deposited her first 15,000 shillings she was beeming. we all hugged and congratulated her. We asked natalina why she wanted FINCA and after she giggled a bit she said "I want a safe place to save money so it doesn't get lost in my house."
wonderful. : )

After we dropped Natalina back off at her home in Walukuba we ran back home to grab some lunch and then Marlena and I footed back to Walukuba more specifically to babu hill to visit Claire.
About a week ago Claire was walking home from work at the orphanage and was hit by a car. I knew that I just had to visit her and see how she was doing. I couldn't remember where exactly she lived but I knew that if I went to Gettu's on the hill I would be able to find Claire... I didn't even need to go to Gettu's because the second we arrived on babu hill we saw Agnes and some man waving at us and their was Claire. Smiling from ear to ear as always and insisting that we come in and sit down. She showed us her x-rays and doctor papers and I looked at them concerned but had no idea what they said. Claire kept saying "oh Auntie Melissa, God really loves me". and I was just amazed this women who was just hit by car who lost most of her family in the war up north who was sitting in her small one room home was saying this. That's what I call faith. We chatted for a bit and prayed for Claire's leg and then we were on our way. We footed to Danida (not really sure who we were going to visit) but decided when we got there that Luwum, Christine would be a refreshing stop. When we arrived I didn't see Christine anywhere just her children Smith, Patricia, and Thomas (who was wearing a dress.. of course). Smith (with all his missing teeth) quickly darted off somewhere and arrived back with his mother who was rolling beads for beatrice who was in the hospital... so we offered to help christine roll beads and chat. Christine told us a story about how she met two mzungus in town who were from colorado they asked christine where she got her necklace and told her that it looked like a SUUBI necklace...Christine laughed and said "I'm a suubi lady" the two girls were so excited to be meeting a suubi lady and christine invited them to her house to visit . I'm so proud of our women and so excited that people love them and don't even know them. While we were laughing and rolling a man came in and told christine that Beatrice had returned so off we went to see how she was doing...sweating, tired, and laying on her couch beatrice excitedly said "you are most welcome!" I love these ladies.. they are absolutely inspiring and humbeling and oh how they make me laugh! After learning some more luo and praying for Beatrice we decided to make the walk back to Magwa before it got too late. while we were walking we ran into Stella (Margaret's daughter and Doreen's sister) and I decided that I could use a good Doreen visit. so we branched right pass the bricks and up the small hill before I could even see doreen I heard her and her sisters and friends laughing. They are beautiful and bring me too much joy. Margret invited us into the sitting room and brought us soda's. we sat and watched the little boys run around and the baby pull the cat's ears. When I was finished drinking I went to the doorway and sat with Doreen and her friends -- they were practicing their singing and dancing. It was just what my heart needed something light and sweet. Lucky asked me when they were done to pray for their "choir" so of course I agreed. I thought it was so cute that she wanted her little group to be prayed over and blessed.
I absolutely love just being here. Sitting in small hot houses, rolling beads, and learning new things. just what I needed. Sometimes the busy-ness of the "business" here can become quite overwhelming but I am truly blessed to be able to just be with our ladies some days.

sorry if this post is a little hard to follow and sounds repetetive ...It's 5:12 in the A.M. and every dog on our street is howling at the moon.. but not our dog.. she's fast asleep in Betty's basin under the sink. ohhhh, Ruthie. I should go back to sleep -- Joe and I are off to K'la tomorrow!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This morning was gray again.
I have to be honest and say that lately it has been hard. Our dearest friends here left on Monday. We only got a four day notice (they only got a four day notice). Betty has been in a depressed mood as she has seen many babies die at the children's hospital while she waited there with Kymbi for unnecessary injections (please pray for her spirit..and for peace). I found out yesterday that my pop-pop had passed away. When I hung up the phone with my mother I just sat in the van on main street waiting for Joe with tears running down my cheeks. As I write this the tightness in my throat is coming and I know in a few minutes if I let myself I will cry again. I didn't even know my pop-pop well but I know my family and I just want to be with them. I want to see Cody's freckle face and hug my mom...even more so hug my dad...and it just keeps raining. But then I think of my 5 children in Danida (who come running when they see me-- and I drop to my knees and say "my babies". The lady who stirs a big pot of some amazing Ugandan cuisine always laughs and says "You had all those babies yourself?" and I say "No, I HAVE all these babies myself.. in my heart.") They are my HEART babies. I think of JaJa Nora with her small eyes and big laugh. I think of Carol and her willingness to serve her children in any way possible. I think of the Source of the Nile where Joe and I got married -- where so much more started. I think of charcoal lady at the speed bump with the ever sarcastic smile. Oh, I even think of how our new Saturday translator (Betty) said as she held my hands "we will cry so many tears when you leave us". I think of that thing that came unhinged inside of me a few years ago.
This is only a season.
I constantly tell myself that when things are tough and I just want to hop on the next plane out of here. Or when I have my "once a month freak outs" (as Joe calls them) and they all end in "I miss my mom".
This is only a season.
but is it?
Clouds (and rain) are often used to describe hard times.
In Walking On Water Madelleine L'Engle says:
"Love, not answers. Love that trusts God so implicitly despite the cloud (and is not the cloud a sign of God?)..."

This is only God...and today... this minute...I'm ok with that.
I'm going to hold on to His hands and say "I will cry so many tears if You should ever leave me".
and He will say "come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest". And here I will be holding His hands and resting at His feet.
Hallelujah to the King of Kings!
once again He is faithful.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm just here/

8 new visitors at the house right now.
7 leave in a week and 1 leaves in three months.
explaining and showing where everything is.
trying to pump out some bags for summer festivals.
working on Flavour of the Month necklace designs and getting proper paper.
wishing Betty wouldn't take kymbi to get so many un-needed injections.
dealing with ridiculous ATM's.
visiting the old men at market who give fair price.
making the 3 hour trek to the airport and back two times this week.
cooking and cleaning and cooking and cleaning.
praying for our head tailor to return as quickly as possible.
praying for all sorts of things!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

for northern uganda/ "come to Me all who are weary and I will give you rest"

seeking truth seeing truth and there you are - I cried for you I danced for you I waited outside in the rain for you and here we are. you were a song of great discovery of a crying out and heard a beating of the ground of dirt and pain of a great big happening - an all too familiar round and round rejoice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

not much to report here.

working on the EPOH bags -- looking for/cutting fabric, thread, zippers, rows and rows of lining, getting measurements, writing guidelines, inquiring about screen printing, waiting and praying for our artisans.

The SUUBI ladies are always. making us laugh until the tears flow. I can't imagine life without them. They are too good for me. Teaching me about life and love..and other mysteries. I am blessed.

There's a lot on our hearts and minds.
But not much to write.

Mom, sometimes January seems to far away.
I miss you the most -- may God bless you in ways you never thought were possible.

Love you all so much,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

this boy/creature/tick/fool/kymbi is real

The past few days have been extremely trying and exhausting. They’ve also been blessed and eye-opening. Our house girl/friend (Betty)’s son Kymbi has been suffering from fibril convulsions – meaning that he convulses when his temperature gets to a certain level, which can come on quite abruptly. The only reliable doctor in town says he has 70% virus throughout his blood stream, which is incredible. This situation would be terrifying enough in America, but here in Uganda, this scenario takes on a whole new form.

Ugandan doctors have been telling Betty that Kymbi has malaria, like they tell everyone - it's like malaria is literally the only disease they know about. It’s so incredibly frustrating, especially when they don’t even test for malaria. They just pump people full of the meds for it. When Kymbi started having this second wave of convulsions (after over a month of none), we took him to Vithi Medical Center, which is Ugandan run. After a horrible experience of the doctors jabbing at Kymbi with needles trying to find a vain just so they could hook him up to a Glucose IV, which was not necessary at all, and after them openly admitting that they didn’t know what they were doing, we decided to take him to Dr. Debbie, an Australian doctor whose office is near the Children’s Hospital here in Jinja. She’s the one who told us about he viral infection and told us what to do about it – namely, we can’t do much but let his immune system take care of it, and pray…a lot.

What makes matters more difficult is that Betty is having such a hard time trusting anyone. Her father is telling her to go to the Ugandan doctors, we’re telling her otherwise, and she just doesn’t know what to do. She is impressionable as it is, and basically listens to whatever some one tells her, even if she disagrees.

For me, I want the best for Kymbi and so forced Dr. Debbie upon Betty. But I can’t help but think about how many Ugandans have unreliable information about their sick child or loved one. It makes me feel incredibly blessed to have access to good medical care back home. But still, what about the people here?

As I sat in line with Betty at the Children’s Hospital (where she took Kymbi even though we told her not to!) waiting for some one to see us, there was a line of about 20 women and their babies. I thought of the wrong-headed information they would probably get, and how much they would suffer because of it.

There is so much more to it than this, and so much more that I feel, but I can’t quite articulate it. But please pray for us, for Kymbi and Betty, and for whatever else you happen to think about. Peace. - jt

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I've been thinking a lot about whether I should write to you all about a certain burden that has been on my heart or if I should just keep it to myself so as not to discourage people from helping or caring for people here in Uganda...especially in northern Uganda. And I do not want to knock the selflessness of all those who give. but truly --my intentions with this note to you all is to ENCOURAGE you to think outside the box to get creative to help someone in a way that will LAST.
Every time I walk down main street here in Jinja town I usually see a white SUV with some sort of NGO logo plastered on the side of it. I remember when I was up north seeing huge tents that had WFP (world food program) on them. Whenever I meet a new mzungu they always ask what organization I am volunteering with because why else would white people be in Uganda? It's everywhere. In northern Uganda people are feeling secure enough to leave the displaced camps they have been living in for the past many years but most are not going to leave because of the security that they find in food/clothes/school fees being handed to them. They fear going back to there lands because they might not have food. The Acholi people are not beggars they are hardworking people but because of the war and being forced out of there villages they have become beggars and I think with all the aid/hand outs/ ngo's they will continue to be beggers -- they will rely on mzungus so much that they will become lazy.

I don't want this for the Acholi people.. I don't want this for the Ugandan people.
I want to bring market to them..I want to offer them skills and new ideas so they can learn to once again sustain themselves. this is where I think SUUBI and the new EPOHbags project comes in.
pray for change, friends.
pray for... something...

Friday, March 6, 2009

hi friends, it's me, Melissa, because Joe doesn't update ever. He likes people to think he's mysterious or something. : )

I really don't have much to say.
Just trying really hard to not miss my mom and family so much. and trying extremely hard to not get drained or burdened by all the sad stories we hear and walls are being built on our end and I hate that. But I don't have any money -- I wish I did. I wish that I could offer the ugandan people more -- whether it would be for their own good or not.

I hear about how the american economy is crashing and how people are losing jobs and how its a big deal there and I'm sad for america I really am but it's been happening here for a long ride around on bikes hoping to give people rides to town or to home or to anywhere just for a few shillings and thats their job. And I honetly think they are just thankfull for a job. maybe america needs to get creative? maybe we should all find new ways of working and being thankfull.

I'm not in america though and I haven't been for six months so I really don't know everything. maybe this is why joe doesn't update...we really dont know what were talking about.

anyways I'm going to go cut fabric for the new EPOH bags and probably scare joe with my louis armstrong impression (that always seems to lighten our hearts).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

hello from cloudy jinja town!
rainy season is here friends!

Today Joe and I decided that we were going to visit some of the new members. We started out looking for Caroline's house. Caroline has been asking us for the past two weeks to visit her so we decided that we HAD to make time to see her. (Visiting is a very important part of the SUUBI group and Joe and I haven't had much time to visit lately so it was nice to spend some quality time with some of the members...especially the new ones.) As we were searching for her house in Walukaba (where all the homes look the same) we stumbled upon baby Melissa's home -- she was sleeping but her mom who is a hoot and a half was there. We talked with her for a bit and then we continued with our search. we wandered in people yards a bit asking whoever we saw if they new Caroline and finally we found Immaculate another new member who was more than excited to show us where Caroline lived. With a baby on her hip Immaculate laughed and giggled the entire way to Caroline's. (It made me realize how important it is to visit these women -- they enjoy spending time with us so much -- I love it!) When we reached Carline's house she was in the backyard and immediatly greeted us and took us inside. She introduced us to her brother in-law (Simon) and her 6 year old son (Innocence). And then of course I asked if I could help her make necklaces (one of my favorite things to do) she brought out two boxes full of beads and Joe and I started making and talking to Simon while Caroline dissapeared to the back. After about 5 minutes Joe looked over at me and said "she just showered for us". We laughed and thought it was so funny that she showered for us. She was clean when we greeted her...these ladies are so sweet! She then came in and asked us what soda we wanted of course we declined and she insisted which is how it goes most times. The brother in-law had left at this point and her son was leaving to go back to school (lunch break was over). I asked Caroline what she did this morning aand she said nothing.. that she usually has nothing to do. She proceeded to tell us that her husband does not allow her to do any work except for house work and that she was thankful for SUUBI because it gave her something to do for herself. That she can sell her necklaces and have her very own money to spend because her husband does not give her any. I was heartbroken to hear about her husbands "rules" but happy for her that we could give her something -- She wants to open a bank account (which is something that Amberle started for us. We are gathering information and pictures and LC letters to open FINCA account for our ladies who want them...It's a beautiful thing) but Caroline's husband will not allow her to have one -- he won't even allow her to go to English class somedays. I just want to shake this man. I never thought I would come to Africa to empower women but SUUBI has inspired Caroline to not sit back. She is going to have a FINCA account, she is coming to english, she has her own money. she's not backing down ... I am so proud of her. God is faithfull and will continue to provide for her -- He will continue to strengthen her because as much as I love this woman.. He loves her so much more HALLELUJAH!
we finished our sodas and necklaces at caroline's and then we continued to Danida to meet with Doreen and her family see if her mother had finished the prototype for the new EPOH bags. (She wasn't finished but me oh my it's looking good!) I absolutely love Doreen's sister (Sidi) she is BEAUTIFUL and so humble...she is about 12 and doesn't go to school because she has responsibilities and home (taking care of Doreen).. and her mother can't afford for all the children to go to school anyways. I am praying and thinking and wondering how I can help this family.. how we can get Doreen AND Sidi back in school without just giving them the money.

please continue to pray with us and for us and for these beautiful Acholi people.
love and peace, Melissa

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hi friends,

Yesterday our dear friend and volunteer extraordinaire, Amberle, left the LGH compound. She was such a great asset to the team here and will be greatly missed!

I cleaned the entire house (minus the boys room!) yesterday and made sure everything was where it belonged and tried to make the house a bit more like a home away from home instead of just a place to crash for volunteers. I had a little encounter with 4 poles and a mosquito net in the bunk-bed room but it's all ready as well. There is also a new SUUBI/volunteer wall in the dining area where I printed out photos of the women and also of the volunteers that have been here and wrote there names and the dates they were here on them. It's super fun and I look forward to putting many more photos up! So, potential volunteers, the house is all ready for you so come come come!

Also, the new flavour of the month (sunshine) is up and ready to buy so please click on over to the suubi website and get yourself one!

We have our buying meeting with our new members today and I look forward to seeing the ladies -- usually Joe does the buying on saturdays so I have some free time to sit and chat and hold babies and roll beads. Always a good time -- especially if this lady is there:

she taught me how to weave floor mats last saturday I can only imagine what I will learn today!

tomorrow is our meeting with the old members and it will also be our first attempt at selling special paper for the flavour necklaces. It could get quite confusing and sticky but I think it will be more than worth it in the end. please pray for us!

we love and miss you all so much!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

If you've ever visited us here in jinja, on magwa cresent, opposite magwa primary.. the one with the blue gate -- you know of a little boy named kymbi and his mother betty. they have become a part of Joe and I's family.

They have become a constant source of joy and comfort. I dont know if LGH could do all it does with out them. That's why thursday afternoon when Betty ran into the house screaming with a stiff white eyed baby my heart fell into my toes.
Betty was hysterical. all I could understand was her yelling "AUNTIE M! AUNTIE M! KYMBI!"I looked at Kymbi -- he wasn't moving. My head and my heart were moving so fast I grabbed betty and we ran to the road screaming and yelling for a motor bike. She finally found one andI could hear betty screaming and crying all the way down the road.I have never been so scared in my life. After running around 3 hospitals looking for betty-- Jacob, Joe, and I found them at Vithi Medical Center where kymbi was laying on a bed hooked up to an IV crying. I was so happy to hear him see that he was breathing. The doctors said he almost died of severe malaria and pneumonia
friday afternoon we took kymbi home from the hospital. I still can't get the sight of him in his mother's arms and betty's screaming out of my head. My heart is still in my feet. Betty and I have talked about it several times a day since it happened. It has been a constant reminder of how good God is. how constant His love is. I needed that assurance this morning when Joe got a call from our friend Andrew saying that his 13 year old sister, Agnes, died. Agnes had been suffering with HIV and TB for quite some time. I don't know her story very well -- I only met her once or twice -- but I know that she was loved by many people here. please keep her family in your prayers -- especially her brother, andrew, who stayed with her at the hospital every day and cared for her so much. It's been a hard weekend, friends. God IS faithful though, He truly is.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

some photos from our honeymoon in zanzibar...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hi friends, This past week has been a bit stretching to say the least. So many messes to clean up, broken down vehicles, flat tires, school fees to be paid, sickness, and miscommunication. But I’ve made it through – I’m not quite all together still – but I made it. I have fabric to cut, designs to sketch, and samples to make. I’m ready to be creative again. I need some kind of outlet : )

You all should keep checking the LIGHT GIVES HEAT// SUUBI websites. New and exciting things to come I’m sure. And keep your eyes open for March’s Flavour of the Month. It’s pretty!

some sad news to report: Bunny died last month – sorry it has taken me so long to announce this. But she got caught in a terrible storm in the middle of the night which made her sick and eventually die. Betty was very optimistic in her last few hours and was sure she would make it through. But alas she is no longer with us. However we do have a new puppy. She doesn’t listen very well but Betty assures us that she will learn.

Last weekend the SUUBI ladies threw us a wedding party. When we arrived to the Walukaba Community Center the Acholi dancers were ready to march us into the building. But as we started the march most of the women started running out dancing and hugging us and yelling. It was overwhelming but so much fun. I wore a Gomez (a traditional Ugandan outfit) my version of one at least. We ate so much food and got some very ridiculous gifts. All in all it was a beautiful night full of laughter and celebration.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Doreen and her family (see previous blogs for her story). I love her sisters and her nephews and her mom is just amazing – I am so impressed by how they stick together and how they can still manage to laugh and sing after everything that happened in the north. Pray for them. Pray for us – as they continue to change our lives.

pray pray pray

Monday, February 9, 2009

sorry we havent posted in awhile.
things are very busy. there's always something that needs to be done. things are slowing down today though.
washed about a million necklaces this morning. (pray for market!)
getting my haircut this afternoon. decided I needed something new.

we will write more later but here some photos from the wedding/zanzibar.
(internet is slow so probably wont be able to post many.)

love and miss you all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We are getting married this Friday!! The ceremony will be (God willing) at the ‘Source of the Nile Gardens’. This is the place that marks the site of where John Speke founded the source of the Nile River (where it begins, leading out of Lake Victoria). We are having the ceremony at around 6pm our time, so that is 10am Eastern Standard Time. Your prayers would be much appreciated leading up to this time and during it as well. Please pray that God would prepare our hearts for service to one another and thus to God. We will be thinking of you back home, as well.

After we get married, there will be a celebration dinner back at the volunteer house and then we leave that evening for Entebbe, Uganda – and the next morning, to Zanzibar in Tanzania, until Thursday evening.

Lots of pictures and stuff coming after we get back!


- love, joseph and melissa

“But Christian love abides and for that very reason is Christian love. For what perishes blossoms and what blossoms perishes, but that which has being cannot be sung about – it must be believed and it must be lived.” – S. Kierkegaard

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yesterday, Melissa, Katie, Betty, and myself went to Bugembe, a small village north-east of Jinja. The drive there was beautiful – a wide open road with a village on a hill in the distance. We had gone to visit a good friend of Betty’s, Mama Baraka. We call her Mama Baraka because she is the mother of two beautiful girls, one of who’s name is Baraka. The other’s name is Rakira, and is particularly afraid of Mzungus (what many Ugandans call us ‘white’ folks here). Mama Baraka has one on the way – she hopes it’s a boy! The father of these children has left his family and has turned his phone off, his family left in a room that is about 9’x9’.
Mama Baraka’s rent is equivalent to about $8/month. Because she cannot work, she cannot afford rent this month and relies on the generosity of neighbors to help her get through these days. When she has her baby in about 2 weeks, she will be expected to pay for hospital services.
When we went to visit them at about 3:30pm, they had not yet eaten. I’m not sure if they ate after we left.
Experiencing these beautiful people, this scene, was difficult and heartbreaking. And as the sun seeped through the window of that tiny room, I realized that in a couple hours’ time I would be at an ATM machine in Jinja withdrawing the equivalent of $800.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NEW FEET (death became a second birth).
Every Sunday evening around six a group of Acholi men and women in a nearby village dance. This past Sunday after the meeting a few of the women, a few of the volunteers, a million children, and me walked to Soweto. Everyone circled around while a few of us stood in a line in the middle of the circle. Barefoot, kicking up dust, and laughing -- we danced until dusk. It was more freeing than I ever thought it could be. It seems that whenever I let go of not just the bad but my wholeness as well I find some sort of newness. I think that I honestly only know a fragment of who I actually am. But when I let go I think I know a little bit more of who God intended me to be. When I laugh I think I can accept His presence a little bit more. Choosing to laugh and to be free is a daily decision.

”The saints (and artists) are those who not only accept, but rejoice in incongruity and so learn that laughter is holy. The infinite disparity between God’s love and man’s deserts is an indubitable fact; the saint embraces it for joy. The greater the incongruity, the more wonderful love and mercy of God…” - unknown

I hope everyone is doing well. I miss you all a great amount. I love you all a great amount also. I pray that you will not forget how to laugh today. -Melissa

I sat in a small room inside of a house in Danida today and listened to a 17 year old girl named Doreen tell the story of how she became paralyzed, unable to do almost anything for herself. I will pass this story on to you:

About six years ago, Doreen and her family were fleeing the rebels in northern Uganda, in a district called Lira. While hiding from the rebels in the bush, Doreen was run over by a military vehicle owned by the Ugandan military. The soldiers took her to hospital hours away. Meanwhile, her family continued to flee the rebel forces, unsure if they would ever see their daughter or sister again. They eventually heard what had happened. Doreen stayed at the hospital for over a year and was operated on a few times over. Most of the surgery was concentrated around the joints on her arms and legs. With little money or possessions, Doreen and her family came to Jinja/Danida.

This story is many things to me. It is overwhelmingly sad and hopeful, desperate and beautiful. Doreen and her family have faith in God. They have faith in themselves and in each other. I wish you could experience the joy as we laugh together. For now, this picture will have to do: Please continue to pray for the people here and for Melissa and I. Love you! - Joseph

ps: We are getting married on January 30th!!!!!!!


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

On Sunday during the usual buying meeting I got word that a 7 pound, curious, little one has been named after me. I quickly made my way to Walukaba, to the small room, where I met a one day old Melissa. After welcoming her to the world I felt that I myself have been re-born. Rejoice, friends, God is faithful!


no pictures of baby Melissa yet...but here are some keepers.

Friday, January 2, 2009

January 1st: Happy New Year, friends.
Last night was spent watching fireworks, dancing with 15 ex-street children, and laughing. A new years eve well spent for sure.

Today we went out on a boat with a few of the older children at Amani Baby Cottage. The lake was beautiful – something I really miss about my time on kisinja road last year. It’s good how seasons change.

Lately things have been hard. A lot of not knowing what to do but being expected to know…expected to do. I’ve been in a constant state of not feeling like I’m enough or even capable of doing the things I do here in Uganda. The truth is I’m not capable though. I’m praying for understanding and…healing. I want to be able to lie on the ground and yell “Hallelujah I can’t do it on my own”! pray for me, friends. I’m forever changing.

January 2nd: Today I was asked to be a part of an executive committee meeting with the founders of SUUBI. Honestly I was dreading it and was prepared to be asked a million and one different things and I wouldn’t be able to answer or give them permission to do something. But God is faithful and showed me that these women don’t need me for something all the time – we basically discussed some issues together and I realized that we’re all on the same page – Molly kept telling me that we need to work together and be unified. After that we drank sodas and planned my wedding party.
I came home and just cried in awe of them and there love for each other and the community and for Joe and I. they are beautiful.

keep praying.

- Melissa


Christmas did not feel like Christmas. It was in the eighties and there were no TV advertisements telling me that if I wanted to get what I really wanted for Christmas, I should shop at their store and buy things I don’t need. I did not miss these advertisements one bit, but I missed my friends and family very much. I am realizing more and more how blessed I am to have such wonderful people in my life back in America.

On Christmas Eve, Melissa and I went to the pool at the Jinja Nile Resort - very attractive, but a strange feeling…swimming on December 24th. On the 25th, Melissa and I visited a few women in Danida and Walukuba, two near-by villages where many of the ‘Suubi’ women live. We were stuffed full of food, soda, and love! These women are so lovely and have such giving, gentle spirits – it is extremely humbling.

On New Year’s Eve, the whole house (all 8 of us, plus 2 friends – a married couple named Brian and Lindsay) went to 2 Friends restaurant for dinner, drinks, and fireworks. It was an awesome time and a good start to 2009.

New Year’s Day was quite eventful. Some friends and I (including Melissa) took 8 kids from Amani Baby Cottage on a boat ride from the edge of Lake Victoria to the source of the Nile River. The kids had a blast and the landscape was beautiful. I am getting quite attached to the kids at Amani.

We also went to a near-by boys’ home where 15 street kids were taken in by this wonderful woman named Sarah, who is ‘sponsored’ by a couple from Chicago. These boys seem so grateful to simply be alive and are incredibly energetic! On Monday I will go there at 10am to help teach English. Sarah said she’d help me learn Luganda and hopefully even French – we’ll see how that goes!

Missing and much love to you --Joe