Thursday, December 16, 2010


It took about 17 hours to fly from my home in America to Uganda, and about 3 more to realize that I was actually there. Three hours: the approximate amount of time it took for me to shatter every rule and piece of advice that had been offered to me about visiting Africa. . .

Do not travel with undocumented drivers, do not eat uncooked fruits, vegetables, or any food prepared under unsanitary conditions, do not walk in open toe shoes, do not make contact with anyone who appears ill. . . (to name a few).

Yes, believe it or not, people actually said these things. People who I am guessing have never been to Africa , but after all, I had never been there either and although I seriously doubted that these guidelines would be realistic to follow, I did not completely disregard the advice. . .at least on the plane ride there.

Our first afternoon in Uganda and a walk up the rutted red dirt path in Bukaya to the main road gave me a chance to really breathe the air and absorb my surroundings for the first time. I tried to take in the view from ceiling to floor – the open sky, the mountainous island, the sliver of Lake Victoria hovering between the trees and roof tops, the haphazard gardens tumbling to the edge of the path, a goat here, a goat there, a piece of an old flip flop, a chicken, another chicken, more trash, another chicken, a baby playing in the ditch – wait, a baby playing in the ditch? Melissa smiled and pointed up the road, “It’s OK her mother is probably up there somewhere.” Sure enough, two small brown houses down the path was a woman sitting in the doorway, quietly watching us.

We reached the main road and stopped – “Now what?”. “Well, now we just kinda wait for something to come along,” Joe shrugged . . . and just like that, rule number one cracked wide open. Two young Ugandan men on bodas (small motorcycles) pulled up and scooted forward on their seats. Two passengers plus the driver to a boda, a barter down to about 2000 shillings to take us into Jinja town, and suddenly the first ride of my life on a motorcycle was happening in a cotton skirt and sandals, clinging to a stranger in a strange country, weaving around potholes and cutting between trucks.

Exhale, I thought as I loosened my white knuckled fingers from the edges of my boda driver’s jacket . . . just let go. And I did. Within the next hour, I had devoured a vegetable egg wrap (rolex) made by a boy on the street who handed it to me in a scrap of paper from his flour sack and I had gashed my blood gushing bare toe on a rock on my way down to the Source of the Nile. I was quickly drifting from the familiar territory of “be careful” to enjoy the land of “just be.”

I have heard time and time again that Africa is “a different world,” the terrain, the people, the culture. . .but although that is an easy way to describe the physical differences of a country like Uganda, I never really felt that way at heart. When I was able to let go of what I had been told, and began to trust what I was experiencing in the moment, it was as if I was just wandering my own country, my own home, and had somehow come across a bizarre part of town that I had not visited yet - a part of town that was bright and chaotic, lovely and scarred, but more human and real than any place that I had ever been before. Each day seemed to be an enigma of “predictable unpredictability” and that lack of structure often forced our “to-do list” to become more reliant on the people around us rather than on elusive plans. Sometimes it seems easier to trust and depend on plans rather than on people, but the latter requires that one trusts and depends on God a little more.

In an environment that sometimes appeared to be out of control to me, I learned to allow God to take command of my perspective, I began to identify the line between carelessness and faith, and to realize that as much as I needed to let go and trust that my boda driver would take me safely to Jinja, he was having to trust that this nervous American would pay him fairly when we reached our destination.

One of my last days in Jinja I was walking through the market and a woman who had only seen me once before reached out and handed me her baby to hold for her while she helped bag fruit for a customer. While she worked, she never glanced in my direction to make sure that I was still there with her sleeping child in my arms and I wondered if she didn’t care if something happened to him, or if she simply had faith that her baby was in good hands….either way, I like to think that she trusted me in that moment with her most precious gift.

Fortunately it took more than a couple of hours for me to adjust from the Ugandan lifestyle when I returned home. I walked more slowly for awhile, I worried less, and I thought about other people more than my agenda for the day. . .but I am sad to admit that I feel these wonderful side effects wearing off.

When I miss Uganda, sure I miss the red dirt and the beautiful people whom I was blessed to meet, but more than anything, I long for that raw state of mind that forced me to be fully present in each moment, to depend on the “undependable,” and to concern myself with keeping only one rule in this life: an unwavering faith in the God who did not form “Ugandans” and “Americans,” but who simply breathed life into the dust and created willful, fickle humans to love Him. I will never claim that I understand a place like Uganda anymore than I understand a place like America, but my trip across the Atlantic has taught me so much more about this life… “For we are (all) fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Thank you Melissa and Joe, for an experience we will never forget.

Laura Pritchett

Monday, November 8, 2010

To my very best friend:
On Saturday we leave for Lebanon.
I don't have words to express how I feel and how excited I am for you
but Dr.Seuss offered some help...

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go...

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest...

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV...

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

I love you...and if my love was an ocean I would have to take many MORE than two airplanes to get across. Thank you for letting me a part of this.
onward and upward...
Lebanon here we come!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

standing in the gap

When Abdallah cut his foot open that night at central market we knew what to do after we heard the older street children tell him that they would kill him if he came back to the streets. We took him home and after a week he went to live with a really beautiful family here in uganda. We stood in the gap for Abdallah it wasn't easy but we knew what we had to do.

When Mama Yusuf was dying of AIDS we knew there was nothing we could do for her but stand in the gap and pray with her during her last few days and bring her beef stew. It was hard to say goodbye when she passed away but we knew it had to happen and we rejoiced at the thought of her not being forgotten anymore.

When we first met Becaham my heart stopped. Those big brown eyes and that smile made me melt. We stood in the gap for him for a small period of time caring for him loving him and then returning him back to his family in the village. It was hard but we had to do it and we were excited when he would visit jinja and we could see he started crawling and was a bit chunkier. I closed that gap and praised God for all he did in Becaham's life.

Until yesterday when that gap was ripped wide open.
We went to visit him in the village where he now lives with two moms (neither of which are his own) and his father. Friends, I wish it were as easy as giving his family a job or food or money - I wish it was only a matter of him just needing to go to the clinic. I wish it wasn't this hard family dynamic and lack of love. Our translator said that "he is good but not so good" and that sums it up completely. I wish there was some sort of closure he was either really bad or he was doing great. This time standing in the gap is hard and confusing and I have no idea what stepping out of this will look like.

Joe kept telling me yesterday that this is what being obedient to God looks like.
So here we are praying and waiting and filled with so much love for this little boy.
Please pray with us for his family we know that only God can place love in hearts and change lives drastically through it.

On earth as it is in heaven...

Monday, October 18, 2010

autumn update

hello dear blog readers!
we have a lot of exciting things happening over hear and a few not so exciting things.
I'll start with the not so exciting:
-Bennah has been SICK. malaria. She's just started eating and we are praying for a SPEEDY recovery because we really love her and she's making some stellar new designs.
-Our dear Norwegian friend Eirik left last week. We selfishly wished he could just stay forever or until we leave but we wish him all the luck in the world! Thank you for making us laugh and for introducing us to the Nyenga community, but importantly thank you for your friendship! we miss you!

now for exciting news!:
-We are meeting with a possible NEW TAILOR this Wednesday.
-We are starting the endeavor of teaching money management to our tailors - this doesn't sound that exciting right? well, it was THEIR idea. talk about self-empowerment!
- There are 11 kids right down the road from our house (ok so they're far down the main road branch left onto a very dusty dirt road slope right at the train tracks onto a "path" pass the evangelical world vision church and there they are!) who are part of an ever growing children's home.

(me & paulina)


(ivan - one of the newest additions :)

The children's home also currently teaches kindergarten to children from the community who can't afford school and gives them each a nutritious meal a day. They also will be teaching English during school holidays. They have future hopes of building a clinic and a school. They currently do not have a clean water source...that's where tukula comes in and where YOU come in. The excess profits from the sale of the bags goes towards building them a rainwater harvesting tank (which we will start constructing in December for the home and in the future for the school!) - so keep shopping, friends!

lots of love,
The Terranova's

Thursday, September 30, 2010


happy October, friends : )

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I walk down the road and one of the neighbor kids will ask for money and I just smile at them...because honestly I just want to cry. why can't I give them money? I'm given reasons on a daily basis "they will come to expect it and that's not good... they cant be reliant on white people" "because then you will just give them reason to ask other mzungus for money" "because you're making their parents lazy" and I keep smiling and walking and wave bye when I get to the main road.


One of the tailors, or a shop owner, or someone I'm meeting with doesn't have what I asked for the days prior, is late, or has a long list of excuses about something and I can't get too frustrated because it's "African culture to be late" or "I dont know english" or "we're all out I have to go to kampala for it come back monday"... so I just smile and say "see you next week".


my husband asks me what happens if tukula doesn't work out and I have a panic attack and I smile and say "I've never thought about it before".

I miss a little boy named Becaham so much and I think why can't he just be mine - his family doesn't even care if he's with them or not. But I'm told everyday "he has a family" and I smile even though it doesn't make me feel better.and the toilets don't flush, there's a million ants on our "clean" dishes, I wish I had someone other than my husband to hang out with, some one is always at our gate asking for a job, our best friend is dealing with witch craft spells, It's rainy season and I get caught in the rain several times a week....I just want to pull out my hair...but then...
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

And I smile because I know there is a new day and God has placed me right here right now in the middle of Uganda for such a time as this. And I realize all this messiness that's inside of me isn't mine to carry alone. and if I threw in the towel then I would be saying that my best friend, the one who created me was wrong for bringing me here.
and He's not.
He says..."It's ok if you want to pull your hair out. I do too sometimes because of this mess you've created, but I love you....I love you with my whole life. So, stay here with me."so I stay and the same neighbor child dances in my front yard, and the tailor makes me laugh, the shop owner says "thank you for loving us" , If it doesn't work out I took a really beautiful risk, and Baby Becaham has a heavenly Father who wants him to be right where he is.

And I have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Friday, August 27, 2010

we recently finished this beautiful wholesale catalog.

A catalog with just the items we feel ok about wholesale-ing (meaning: the ones that we can pump out a lot faster than the ones we cannot because for some reason we can make 30 burlap clutches in a week but it's like pulling teeth to complete 10 wallets in a week...but I digress : )...) So we are asking that if you know of any boutiques or markets or anyone really who you think would want to purchase 10 (minimum) or more of our products at a whole sale price please send me an email ( or leave their contact in a comment and I will send them our catalog! I promise you these ladies would be so grateful:

(esther, 31 years old: In the center of Madhavani Market you will most likely find Esther hard at work, making her neighbors laugh, or quite possibly both. She is a single mother of 4 children: Prince, Precious, Posh, and Shami - the most joyful family you will ever meet!)

(Prossy, 33 years old: The best friend and side-kick of Esther, Prossy is the shy one of the two. They became such good friends while Esther was teaching her how to sew. She is a hardworking single mother of 2 with an always sunny disposition [like Mary Poppins!])

(Bennah, 25 years old: This young newlywed was the first tailor to join the tukula team. She came to Jinja after finishing off tailoring school in Uganda's capital city [Kampala]. She always takes pride in her work and often tells us she will "try her level best"!)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jesus asked me if I would be His disciple and I said "yes".
I remember thinking "this means I have to live and love like You"
I tried really hard and then all of a sudden... I gave up.

I'm currently living in a fantasy world where just because I moved to Uganda and spend time with dirt on my feet and extremely poor people I thought that was good enough. Dear friends let me tell you, it is not. So if you thought moving to africa, adopting an orphan, or giving your summer vacation money to a project in a developing country was "living and loving" like Jesus - you haven't even touched the surface.

He wants us to live and love like Him in EVERY situation. Living and loving like Him means we have to be the words we speak and the thoughts we think. I have been affirmed time and time again for the things I am DOING but because no-one (but Christ) can say "your thoughts are on heaven - well done!" - no one can see my thoughts ...I get to think whatever I want and not be judged. This is where I stumble and this where I find myself thirsty. I was able to drop my plow and walk away and not be held accountable for the work I had left to do because everyone saw the work I have already done and in the eyes of the world it's good enough. But something is missing - the harvest is here ...and He wants EVERYTHING because He created us FOR HIM.

Can you imagine how different our actions and what we say would be if we CONTINUOUSLY thought about heaven? But not just that but how GENUINE our actions and words would be. Can you imagine how unimportant where you live, who you are with, even what you were doing would be?

I'm going to try this again - giving everything to follow Him.
I dare you to.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Yesterday our dear friend, Oneka Charles, passed away. The past couple of weeks had been so hard for him. He was in so much pain and fighting so hard. The last time we saw him was on Saturday right before he left for his homeland, Gulu. The moaning and groaning I heard that day haunted me for days I knew that things weren't good but still had hope that God could heal him if He wanted to. But today as sad as I am I also rejoice knowing that Charles is reuniting with His beloved creator and that they are having a huge celebration. : )

We will never forget our time with you and how excited you would get to see Joe. We are celebrating with you today and missing you so much! I feel so blessed to know you!

Amari Matek, dear brother!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On any given day I feel about 10 different emotions. Sometimes those feelings come all at one time - even when I don't think it's possible. But for the past few days sorrow is the only emotion that can really be reached.

Uganda experienced a really hard hit on Sunday night.
I'm still trying to process what happened and every day there's a point when I think I might break.

During this time we are also aching for a dear friend whose baby girl is fighting for her life. We are all praying harder than I think we ever have. I invite you to pray with us.. for everything and everyone. It's heavy around here but God is ever present and faithful.

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall."-Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sorry about the lack of blogs! I'm fired!

Just thought I would let you all know that you can now purchase the summer products on

were excited!
celebrated with some good ol' boy meets world and oreos (yes yes all sent from "the 'merica")
: )
certainly lots to celebrate!

Joe and Melissa

Saturday, June 26, 2010


my next door neighbor is an extremely old woman who I call JaJa Pius - she sits in her ditch and waves to me while she collects water for her family.

my best friend once told me about a time she was house sitting for a family and she had to give their cat BOTTLED WATER everyday.

think about the insanity of that.
then also think about these facts:

3.575 million People die each year from water-related disease.

43% of water-related deaths are due to diarrhea.

84% of water-related deaths are in children ages 0 – 14.

98% of water-related deaths occur in the developing world.

884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.

The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.

At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease.
Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.

About a third of people without access to an improved water source live on less than $1 a day. More than two thirds of people without an improved water source live on less than $2 a day.

Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.

Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water you can expect to live only a few days.

The daily requirement for sanitation, bathing, and cooking needs, as well as for assuring survival, is about 13.2 gallons per person

and house pets are drinking bottled water......

there are seven children who live down the road from the road from meand they lost their father when they were very little and recently lost their little brother who was poisoned. They live in a room (with their mom) that's a little bit bigger than my bathroom.

think about that...8 people living in a room the size of my bathroom where I use more water showering for two minutes than they would all use in an entire day.

THEN think about the 2,000 verses in the bible that talk about the poor and marginalized. The one's that talk about how they are thirsty but no one will give them anything to drink (matthew 25: 41-43). or how about that one verse that talks about how we need to sell everything we own and give to the poor and only then we can go and follow Jesus. (luke 18:22)

THEN think about your lifestyle and if you're anything like me this will scare you. This fear will then cause you to justify every single one of those verses because if we even dare to think about how serious God is about ALL of the people in this world that would mean we have to change something about the way we live and interact with others. This same fear that does all that will then have you looking at every other verse in the bible to find the one thing that you can discuss with strong convictions because it doesn't cause you to look internally...verses about homosexuality and politics...verses that make us feel like we're really following God's word.

all this to say...I have a lot of lifestyle changes and internal examinations that need to happen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life." - Mumford & Sons

Here's TRUTH:

1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.

3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

23By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.

24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

31By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11)

I will follow You with my whole life.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

oh, June, you move way too fast

So much to write but not much time.
This little one has been occupying much of our time:

along with cleaning up several food messes, killing ants and cockroaches, trying to be a better wife, trying to figure out this whole tukula business thing, trying to figure out what this super complicated crying baby (who I love unconditionally) wants, future thoughts, researching the world's water crisis, making meals, washing pooped clothes/sheets (by hand no less!), Joe being sick, me feeling sick, kampala, fabric fabric fabric, crying baby, dealing with our super particular but sweet landlord, date nights, the bat-man, playing with the neighbor kids, crying baby, attempting to return emails, meeting new friends - fostering relationships with old friends, etc etc etc

good and bad - I love it all.
Becaham's up and here goes another day...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

hello blogger friends - I know it's time to update when I get emails asking me what we're up to. So here we go:

Joe and I have a had a bumpy month. Things are going super slow and made even slower by having to re-adjust the whole tailoring team. So we stepped back and tried to see the bigger picture of tukula and although we started this journey with the desire to help small businesses flourish it's turning into something I never thought I would be the slightest bit interested in...sustainability through sanitation and health. As much as we love that we get to help a handful of ladies grow their tailoring businesses we also love the idea of getting to help whole communities grow also.

A couple of weeks ago I watched some very young girls carry large amounts of LAKE water in jerry cans back to their house where their mother (their only parental figure) was in town looking for money to pay for medicine because she was sick. As I helped the oldest carry water back to the house I thought about how if they had access to clean water maybe the mother wouldn't be sick and the children would for sure not be walking to the lake at night to fetch water. And instead of using the money on medicine they could use it on things like a garden so they can grow their own food and even sell it if they have more than enough.

My thoughts became faster and faster and I knew in all reality I was being completely idealistic but I began researching Rain Water Harvesting and Humanure anyway. I learned the benefits of having these systems and how people were thriving by using them.

In September with the excess profits we make this summer (from selling bags made by some lovely ladies in bukaya and jinja town who I will update you on in our next post) we are hoping to do a small scale pilot project to see if in the future we can actually make this happen for larger communities.

Please keep these plans and our current tailoring team in your prayers and please e-mail me if you have any helpful thoughts on any of this! (

grace and peace,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I get asked very often what I do and why I am in Uganda.
My answer to question number one is: I own a business.
My answer to question number two is: I'm following Jesus.

I am not in Uganda because I own a social business that works with young tailors - I am in Uganda because Jesus called me to be a disciple and I said yes...then he called me to leave everything again and I said "I'll go" - reluctantly but I said it. THAT is why I am in Uganda.

BUT because people are usually interested and I get asked to "elaborate" a lot I will fill you in on "what I do"...

I wake up around 6:30 am (or in today's case I wake up at 1 am and can't go fall back to sleep - fingers crossed that as soon as this blog is finished I will!) I wash my face, make tea, check all the many accounts I have on the world wide web (internet works best in the morning). around 7 am I usually get bored of writing emails and stalking my friends and family back home so I wake up my husband. I then make us breakfast (which usually consists of eggs or oatmeal or like yesterday a banana because electric was out and I didn't feel like lighting the charcoal stove) and we usually chat a bit. After that I usually shower (the shower part only actually happens about 3 days a week) and get dressed. Joe and I then coordinate schedules and decide if we want to go to town before lunch or after (we try to be back in bukaya for lunch [which consists of leftovers usually] to save money). When we're in town you can find us carting large amounts of fabrics or bags of materials or groceries or sometimes (only one time really) a broken stove top that needs to be fixed. : ) - Currently all tukula tailors work in town or around town so we visit them a lot and make sure things are going well and no one is running out of any sort of material. You can also find us in central market (main market in jinja) a lot - buying food or random materials like the burlap we just purchased for a very special project we're working on.

When we are home during the day we are usually doing research, screen printing bag pockets, dyeing fabrics, making receipts, schedule planning, chasing chickens, cleaning the house, doing yard work, going to bukaya market, editing videos for amazima and shc, etc. etc.
Usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays if we don't have anything planned in the afternoon we go to Masese to hang out with our friends at Serving His Children.

We really aren't too extremely busy and usually let things wait until tomorrow if we really need to - because first and foremost we are disciples and that means taking time out of our schedules to help a little girl carry water, stop & chat with a complete stranger, or hold a baby who just needs some lovin'. : )

Monday, May 10, 2010

quick update

Meet Carol...

Carol is currently working as a bead roller for SUUBI but is also doing some piece meal work for us while we receive applicants and interview future Tukula employees. She is very humble and does great work and we are happy that we get to work with her for a small period of time.

We currently have one bag design that is pretty popular and we are working on some smaller pieces as well. I'm really excited about everything and hoping to get a package sent to America by the end of June.

We are still enjoying Uganda. many hilarious things happen on a daily I got called Auntie Mombasa by a little girl in Masese.. bless her heart - my name is just too hard. I often get Auntie Musa or Auntie Molesta...My motorbike driver once called me Mwanza and kept insisting it was the most beautiful name ever...haha : ) We sometimes have people walk through our gate and come right up to our door selling bread or avocados or all kinds of different things - It usually ends with us being really confused because we have no idea what they're saying and them leaving bummed because we didn't purchase their goods. We had a chicken die in our yard a couple days ago - not quite sure what killed it but it was our neighbors chicken and I felt awful. It's pretty hilarious though because we are constantly have our neighbors chickens walk around our yard and we insist on locking our gate every night- I'm assuming if a chicken can get in a person can figure out how to get in too. A couple of weeks ago I was need to transport two book shelves to our house from town and so we strapped them on a motorbike and the driver said "OK now you get on.."so there I was smooshed between two bookshelves and my driver - I laughed the entire way down the bumpy old bridge path home. I really enjoy the simplicity of life here and sometimes can't imagine my life anywhere else - but I sure do miss people in America and sometimes can't imagine living away from them for long. If only I could have the best of both worlds. (Oh, Hannah Montana how do you do it?!) : )

Keep us in your prayers as we are making some important decisions this week.
much love,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The other day I met a man who works for Uganda's Parliament and he told me all kinds of interesting things but he said something that I will never forget:
"If you don't have a story no one will listen but if you have a story they will listen. Melissa, you have to have a story to tell - you understand?"

The following aren't only my stories but they have shaped my story - I hope you will listen.

Anna-Ophena was 3 or 4 when I first met her in the mountains of Guatemala. I remember it well, a blur of long black hair and a brightly colored traditional skirt. She smiled and when she moved her hair away from her eye she revealed a cataract covering her left eye. I scooped her up into my arms to get a better look. She looked straight at me face to face - eye to eye and the corners of her mouth began to form a smile and she leaped out of my arms and continued to twirl. She stuck close to me the majority of my time with her and was full of so much joy. After talking to a doctor I realized that Anna-Ophena could probably only half see me...that she could only half see the life around her but she fully lived...she jumped and twirled with every ounce of life in her. She taught me how to see the world with both eyes and a full heart. Sweet Ann-Ophena thank you for your example - I hope to see you again someday - if not here on earth maybe I will see you twirling around in heaven.

I remember like it was yesterday when Joe and I stumbled upon Brian and Lindsey near Lake Victoria. We had borrowed our night guard's bike for the evening and were taking a spin around town and down towards the lake and there they were - Lindsey's with her curly hair and Brian with his welcoming smile. I felt comfortable immediately with them. We exchanged phone numbers and we called them a few days later to bring in the new year together. Over the next few months we became good friends and I found such positivity in our relationship when our little world at Magwa was starting to crumble. I remember the day they left jinja we were about to drive away and brian brought us an envelope with money in it - we knew that they themselves could use that money but they had such faith that God would provide for them so they blessed us immensely - my small mustard seed started to grow after that night. I will always cling to our friendship for the rareness of understanding it brings - to know people who get it and teach us every time we talk to them. Brian and Lindsey, thank you for all you have taught me and continue to teach me- thank you for your giant sized faith and your deep devoted love for Jesus. You are both shining examples of JOY and your music speaks so much TRUTH. we love you guys and little Lucy.

I can't explain what made me long for distant lands at the age of 15 but I did. My first taste of poverty came from a lady on the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand. She couldn't have been any older than 17 - she sat on the ground with her arms outstretched and hands cupped asking all everyone passing by for something...anything. Her baby played naked next to her. I starred as I walked by trying to not let her notice but I couldn't look away - when we were out of her sight I stopped in my tracks and froze overwhelmed with the feeling that I just passed up an opportunity to show love so without hesitation I immediately turned back to give her money. I handed her a few coins - she was pleased and we exchanged smiles and she continued to beg and her baby continued to play beside her. I walked away feeling like I didn't help at all and knowing that she had to feed herself and her baby that night - would she be able to? I knew that if she had a place to live she would have to pay rent - would she be kicked out? I wondered if she had been a victim of child trafficking? How can I help? what can I do? anything? - but I'm just so small...I believe this is when my mind was opened to social issues and women in vulnerable conditions. to the young lady with the cupped hands and small child: thank you for opening my eyes and teaching me to question things. thank you for making me feel uncomfortable. you are BEAUTIFUL and LOVED.

Fatima was a Muslim from Syria and she loved a christian soldier from Lebanon. She was carrying a small baby inside of her and this was a problem. First she fell in love with a christian - her family would be furious and second she had a baby out of wed-lock - her family would stone her. For her baby to have any chance at survival she decided to give him up for adoption. She gave birth at a Catholic Orphanage in Lebanon - her baby was a little boy - bright eyed and ready to take on the world - they named him Jimmy. Fatima left Jimmy with the nuns. I can't imagine what kind of strength she had to let her son go - a little one who was living inside her for nine months. At the age of four months Jimmy was adopted and brought to America. He is doing great things with his life now and helping many others - I believe that his mother's desire for him to have the BEST life is a major reason. Fatima, I don't even have the words to express to you how your great act of love for you son has changed my life in so many ways. You are a great mother and your great act of love has changed so many peoples lives. Thank you for your sacrafice - you INSPIRE me.

These are just a few stories that God has used to shape who I am.
remember, we can learn from everyone.
because everyone has a story if we just listen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It is dark outside and as I write this the sky is putting on an extravagant show - bright stars fill the sky and because bukaya is not near town you can actually see them in full effect. You can't see the lake but if you look closely you can see little lights on the fishermen's boats. It's beautiful - one of the many reasons why I don't mind paying the extra transport fees to get to town because we are farther away.

I don't really have many new things to report about tukula we are still in listening/planning phase. We are going to the capital tomorrow (kampala) to purchase materials for our home decor and accessories line (yep no more clothing line - just wasn't so cost effective or very practical right now). I'm extremely excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. Once we have some details nailed down - I will be so HAPPY to update you all with more of our new business model.

Joe and I are doing extremely well - we are really content with where we are - we really love our house and the people who live here with us. we enjoy our neighbors and the lake view and have been laughing so much and feeling the JOY of the Lord here. but there are often times when I think about how LUCKY I am to have this opportunity. one of our neighbors is this very humble 22 year old boy named Pius and he's the same age as me but wasn't able to finish school because of lack of money and is now looking for work. I keep asking Joe if we could just make up a job for him because I feel this crazy connection with him (we didnt make up a job but he will be cutting [or slashing with a machete] our yard every two or three weeks) - he was born the same year as me - I have this great big opportunity to help a lot of people but this boy cant even help himself...In my prayers I keep asking God "why me? why not pius?" and I definitely walk away from prayer time with more questions than answers. My heart is running wild and I'm enjoying all these thoughts but also feeling a bit guilty, but I know my God is good and He loves Pius! : )

not much else to report.
thanks for all your prayers and love!

ps- happy easter!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hi friends!

A lot has happened since I last updated so I will make a list (it's what we're good at these days):

-Got a three month lease on a house - It's beautiful and the biggest house we looked at but the only one that would give us the price we wanted. It also has a fabulous view of lake victoria - what an Awesome God we serve!

(our house)

(just a hop and a skip from our house)

-I got really sick for 4 full days nothing but starring at the four walls in our bedroom or rolling into the pink/peach tile bathroom. I am feeling much better now - lost tons of weight and l look rather sickly and everyone keeps saying I dont look so good but me oh my I am rejoicing inside!

-we visited a tailoring school. a couple blocks from central market there is this little hole in the wall place with about 4 young girls outside sewing like their lives depend on it - they are so determined and not even the busyness of jinja streets distract them I walked passed there several times and have always been so intrigued - finally Joe nudged me in and we (mostly Joe) asked the teacher (grace) several questions about the school and the students etc. It was very interested and I enjoyed the vibe of the place a lot (but of course not even having what people inside your school should distract you from your work so the girls kept sewing!) Needless to say I have been thinking a lot about our visit there and am thinking about partnering with them to get the summer collection up (which should help with the students schools fees/teachers salaries) and I can continue to take my time in finding the right candidates for the tukula tailor positions - all at the same time hopefully gaining some capital. It's kind of a win/win. - We'll see! : )

-I received some prototypes and they are beautiful I'm super excited to go to kampala and search through the huge fabric arcade and pick out the summer patterns!! I'm pretty pumped about everything. If anyone knows any wholesalers or small boutique owners please send them our way! believe me! it will be worth it!

-Joe bought a motorbike for $750 just today (we thought for sure we would have to pay atleast $1,000 - again we serve an AWESOME God.) We are so excited to finally have dependable and consistent transportation. Where we live in bukaya it is aazing and quiet and full of really sweet people and I just like the atmosphere there but the only down side...It's about 10-15 minute drive to town...this wouldnt be a problem in america at all but here it is ROUGH. To get transport we had to walk to the main road. at night you cant find any transport unless you walk far and if you choose to walk there's no street lights and it's dark and possibly unsafe. If it rains you arent leaving the house basically now we atleast have the option and in case of emergencies its awesome. plus its just more economically sound for tukula - if we partner with the tailoring school we will be going to town a lot. again a win/win...EXCEPT we took out of savings to buy this one because we didn't think we should take from tukula's money right now before we start production....we're praying for some donations or at least some sort of sweet miracle.

Hopefully I will have more pictures soon!
thanks for the constant support and love. We feel it! : )

Sunday, March 14, 2010

“Let’s forgive everyone, everywhere, everything, all the time…” – mewithoutYou

I write this note to you all not to preach to you but to ask that you would hold me accountable to not only what I say but to what Jesus says as well.

I have only been here a few days and in those few days I have heard from others and myself lots of criticizing and putting down of others. The white community here is something I really can’t figure out. We tear down others work because we “know what’s best” for this country. We are constantly talking about “empowering” Ugandans but strip all power away from those who are trying to do the same thing. We roll our eyes because someone is treating someone else with such disrespect. We run around showing friends our enemies planks in their eyes while ours just keep getting bigger.
By saying these things and by thinking these thoughts – I believe we are denying our “enemies” of a gift that we freely received and should be freely given. FORGIVENESS and LOVE.

Last night I cried all over my dear husband because I felt so guilty for the false image I and others were portraying of God. We refused to show love to our enemies but get glorified for loving the least of these. Jesus did not die on the cross JUST to save the least of these. We have become “celebrities” for taking the road less travelled and think that gives us the right to not grow or learn or to treat others with respect.

I no longer want to deny others of LIFE, LOVE, and FORGIVENESS through my words and my thoughts. I kindly ask that everyone will extend large amounts of grace to me as I know it takes the place of all I owe and for that I am EXTREMELY grateful.

"He has told you what is good - and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with you God" Micah 6:8

I wonder if we really believe in what Jesus said sometimes…
here’s to reaping what we sow…

Friday, March 12, 2010

After a LONG layover and a delayed flight and a dead battery in kampala rush hour we are here. I am writing this to you from Bukaya where we are with our good friend and searching for a home.

Every day so far has been pretty surreal and my heart is so full. Things in jinja are changing so rapidly and people are happy and can I tell you that we have not had to argue with ANY piki driver (motorbike taxi) in the past few days (WEIRD). : )

I don't know if it is because we are back with new eyes or if we are just too new but things are so different.

Since most people don't have email or money to call us they didn't know we were coming back - So, in the past two full days this has been our friends (and people we didnt even get to know so well) reactions: screaming, jumping, picking us up, more screaming and lots of hugging and even some crying. It has been too good for my heart. Joe and I left last year kind of out of the blue - I believe most people were confused and some a bit hurt so returning was something they never believed we would do - after all, about 85% of mzungus who enter Uganda say "I will come back" and never return. I had been regretting how we left these past six months - I didnt know why we had to do it so quickly and I knew that I was burning bridges and possibly not fostering relationships that were really good to me. but when we visited with our friends and family my heart felt such peace and I finally was able to let go of that regret. Agnes (the second tailor we hired for epoh) looked at us and said "you have REALLY loved us, with the true love of Jesus! thank you for coming back", Josephine the 4th tailor we hired said in her very broken english "I am feeling joy" Haman kept saying "oh, Jesus, I can't believe it, oh ,Jesus, I cannot believe it!" Innocence cried when she saw did Charles - He hugged Joe for so long...even the little old onion man at market greeted us so warmly and remembered us and hugged Joe.

and Betty ... imagine this: coming home from school and seeing people you havent seen in a long time who are practically your family coming towards you...yep, she thought she was seeing a ghost. LOTS of screaming and jumping and hugging and hugging and mor hugging. Kymbi is so big and he is even talking so much.

Abdallah is big as well...he called us mom and heart sank.

of course, in true ugandan fashion all emotions are extreme and come hand in hand.
This is life - out in the open - sometimes things are really great and sometimes they are sad but in Uganda all emotions are seen..there is no hiding...there is no pushing it aside. Everything is so raw and in your is good.

all this and we haven't even seen the suubi ladies yet.
: )

Today we will be looking at more homes and also getting to be a part of the amazima program as well as seeing the suubi ladies!

Things with tukula are interesting - we selfishly want to jump right into things so that we can start having a "normal" kind of life here but we have been realizing that we will definitely have to do more listening and a whole lot more praying. needless to say we still have a few meetings coming up with possible wholesalers and we are going to continue planning for them and of course just listen listen listen.

Joe and I are in such weird states - constantly being filled up to the brim with so much joy but also still questioning what we are doing and where God is pulling us and completely trying to trust him with everything....not gonna lie - it's so hard. And we feel inadequate or not needed a lot because everyone is expanding their organization or doing new things or talking about things I dont understand at all

again we are just going to continue to listen...and see where we end up...and seriously though it HAS only been two days.

we love and miss most of you people and are having a lot of fun and laughing A LOT. : )

now, time to go and do.
I will be joyful in God my Savior....- Habakkuk 3


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Last night Jesus woke me up and we had a conversation that went like this:
He said "stop it - you can't do this anymore."
"what can't I do anymore? All this burden and hurt can't be me - I thought it was from YOU I thought you wanted me to carry this load for YOU."
"you are mistaken - didn't I tell you that my burden is light and my yoke is easy? you put your hand to the plow but turned around to look for me - when all along I was right in front of you. I already gave everything just to be with you and you did not have to continue to look - just be with me."

Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

He's been pursuing me like crazy and I made it my goal to pursue these things (ideas) for Him. At the end of the day when my husband and family aren't here, when tukula is done, when my hopes for people and my future aren't there - He is. It's just me and Him - "Just to be with you, I've done everything. There's no price I did not pay. Just to be with you, I gave everything - Yes, I gave my life away. Just to be with you."

He wants us - ALL OF US - Not just what we do for him but He wants our every thought, our every relationship, our every deed, our families. He wants to meet us everywhere...even when we run hardcore against the wind - He IS the wind.

"but Lord, what about my happiness? You said Your burden is light but this is going to HURT."
"It IS light - even when you are carrying a heavy cross I am there to carry it with you. I told you that if you search for happiness in the world you are missing the point - you will never be able to be WITH Me if you are still looking behind."

James 4:3-5
And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong. you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don't you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can't be a friend of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful?

All this is still sinking in and I have been crying out a lot and just praying and wondering and we're still leaving our apartment in 4 days and we're still leaving the country in 11 days. Somewhere during all this I think God called me to be a disciple and I said yes...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

on earth as it is in heaven...

Friday, February 19, 2010

"The poor themselves can create a poverty-free world.. all we have to do is to free them from the chains that we have put around them." -Muhammad Yunus

In the past few weeks we have been learning a lot about africa and the west and how they connect.

I read a comment by an african that said "Thanks for your help Bono, but you could help us better in getting us industry and income generation. We don't need the aid. It's killing us and enslaving us instead of helping us. $610 billion in 30 years didn't work. Why do we need more? It's time for plan B."

Now, I definitely don't think Bono should be the only one blamed because seriously who in the public eye is really giving africa a chance instead of pumping money into them? I have thought several times about the old saying if you give a man a fish vs. if you teach them how to fish...and I've thought about the whole hand up instead of hand out and have been very vocal about how I think we can better africa but I am learning more and more that we just need to LISTEN.

I think we so often forget that most african countries are young. Uganda became independent on October 9th, 1962. It is 48 years young - I think we need to let africa discover things on there own...but I think we need to encourage and inspire - giving opportunities and knowledge...just like our parents and leaders give us.

I so often think about hand outs - now I believe the intentions are good - but how does that help the family? how does that not leave them with dependency and thoughts of "the white people will take care of it". I believe we have allowed a lot of people to abandon their responsibility as a parent and as leaders. we are the outsiders coming in and LEAVING them with dependency and broken ideas. I would like to think of us as all equals..but how is that even possible when we have the ability to come and go as we please throwing around ideas and money and getting more out of it all than the people we intend to help. Oh if only we had Christ's eyes. oh if only we were more aware that people aren't puppets and toys...If only I knew that Africa isn't my playground.

Let's remember that our actions are extremely important, our intentions although good are not always right and let's continue to question charity and also lets continue to pour into people through one on one relationships - not just through pity. Let's give love not guilt money. We have spent 30 years failing africa not helping...something's got to change.

These are just my thoughts and opinions though.
I don't know what's best...I'm just going to try and listen better.