• sarah@healingeyes.org

Author Archives: Healing Eyes

Stop giving shoes

The hardest part of missionary work and working in a foreign country is finding people to trust even when you know it might be impossible because we will always be foreigners in their country. We sat in a restaurant while waiting for the plane to take us back to ‘home’ aka Michigan and their were these other mazungoos sitting at a big table dining with locals. We over heard their conversation and they had been working in a remote village and were helping build a school. Ha what a cliche really because that seems like what all foreigners are there to do, build a school. Does building a school really help these people? Is it really making a difference? The one woman was talking about how the poor children had no shoes and that they could send over boxes of shoes to the children. The local people nodded and said oh yes that would be great, those poor children need shoes. Ok so if you ever stayed long in Africa you’ll come across this often, giving away free clothing and shoes because it’s an easy thing to do. Send boxes of stuff that will bring a temporary smile to a child but after you leave those shoes fall apart, get stolen, or worse jealous kids might beat up another for them. In boarding schools some kids might destroy what the other child has out of pure jealousy and then that child is left with nothing again. Now the next time a mazungoo comes through they will now beg for a handout because that’s the message we just sent them…the cycle continues.

Giving free shoes also takes away from local people making a living off selling new shoes, shoes that might be better quality if there market wasn’t flooded with used shoes. If you walk through the markets of mbale you will see piles and piles of used shoes being sold on the market and those same shoes will fall apart a month later after the black shoe polish wears off them revealing how poorly made those shoes were. The stores that have nicer shoes are passed by because of all the piles of used shoes offered up as a cheaper solution. If you look closely into those piles of shoes you’ll see brands you’ll know, like Clarks and Adidas, second hand shoes that keep cycling through the market. Shipping boxes of shoes is when helping hurts, but they will take them because who wouldn’t turn down a freebie?

Africa… a continent full of poverty but also strong people that need more than handouts. It needs more than handouts and our second hand throw aways. Education for the children and perhaps more importantly education for the young adults that now outnumber the old. The young adults need something to do instead of hanging out at the trading center drinking booze and playing games, they need encouragement and opportunity to learn, to learn the value of a hard earned shilling the honest way. Half of these kids are just bored and need a push in the right direction. Trade schools can begin to open doors, primary schools can help young children to gain a firm foundation and succeed in their adult lives. Unlocking potential the long and difficult way instead of quick easy fixes of free sandals for kids.

Let’s hope and pray in time the handful of kids we support today will go on to do important things in their communities instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for them. Let’s pray in time we can reach the young adults who get caught up in doing wrong merely because they are bored and have nothing else to do. Let’s pray the children can see honesty as a better option than lying and cheating their neighbors to get ahead.

Healing Eyes

Two extremes in our lives

It’s snowing and freezing here but in Uganda it’s blazing hot. Everyone always gives an overview of what the year was like when the new one starts and honestly 2017 was amazingly productive. When you think of a missionary it’s often the image of a married couple going off to a far away country to witness to others about Jesus, they go for years on end and come back to the states to fundraise every once and awhile. Missionaries give up a lot in life and sacrifice personal comforts to follow ‘the call’.

So when you look at Healing Eyes we don’t quite fit that image of ‘missionary’. Our work primarily relies on local Ugandans doing the day to day activities, running projects, and updating us back in the states of concerns and stumbling blocks for the project. We go to Uganda and check on projects started to see if they are sustainable, then we leave and see what the local people will do with the opportunity given to them. We maintain a base of operations in Tororo Uganda and use the internet to stay in contact and keep business running from abroad. Technology has opened up a new type of ‘missionary’ that doesn’t go for years on end to make a difference. Is that bad? Or is it allowing a shift in how we help the poor… by enabling them to take action to help themselves by planting little seeds of opportunity and seeing what grows and what doesn’t.

Our tailoring program is one of those seeds that was planted in June 2017 and since that time it has blossomed into a big blessing for 5 young woman who have taken advantage of a training program that they can use in the village or town. We hope this kind of ‘helping’ will cause a shift in dependency of a foreign NGO and put more power back in he hands of the people. It’s our hope to expand the project to another village and see what God does with the people’s lives affected by the program. Time will tell if it’s a success or another learning opportunity for us.

Our pig project has been slow lately and in need of a revitalizing approach. We have had successful pig litters but making any money off of the venture isn’t there yet. Prayers for what to do next with it or if it has run it’s course and will become self-sufficient.

Missionaries are always under the eyes of others and the need to be transparent in what we do is important. However, one thing that is not easy is the giving up of personal comforts, security, and freedom. The next time you see a missionary fundraising remember no one finds it comfortable to rely on others for support, it’s never easy asking for that donation, and it always weighs heavy the responsibility that comes with the donations to not let the donor down.

This past year we have endured some physical ailments and went through a couple surgeries for health but God has used those opportunities to allow Ugandans to do the work for God too. Missions isn’t about going off and telling other people what to do or how to act or to be hands on with everything.. it should be more about going and sharing ideas and beliefs and seeing what the people do with it. In our case the people we work with in Uganda are working hard on their own and collaborating on projects to take ownership and show us foreigners how to survive in their country. Along the way God shows himself through our actions and reminds us we are all weak and all need some compassion and love to make it in this life.

Here comes 2018 and we pray it bears more fruit for God and opens more eyes to the healing God wants to do in their lives. Even in our own lives we need some healing eyes:)

Healing Eyes

We’ve come so far

We finished our first term at our modest tailoring school. 5 students showed off their shirts, skirts, and dresses for the final exam. I even got to talk to them on the phone to hear how they were doing while I wait for answers on my medical issues before returning to Uganda. What a journey Healing Eyes has been on since starting back in 2014! Cancer, grieving a loss of my husband, leaving my paid job, moving to an island, moving to Uganda, getting cancer myself, and surgeries. But all along we started this tailoring program 6 months ago, we also have 20 kids in boarding school, bought land to build on, and just keep on persevering when it sometimes feels like all is lost. How is all this possible? Because God did it! He is behind every tear shed and every smile brought by showing compassion to His orphans and widows. We couldn’t have come this far without support from donors in America…. and Did you know that we are funded mainly by individual donors?

Big Thank you from all of us in Uganda and Grand Rapids:)

Healing Eyes

Cooling Down

Early morning conference calls with Uganda are not your typical meetings compared to U.S. standards that is. Big reminder on why Africa is a different world than here is that a key requirement for a meeting at mid day in the village is the host should provide drinking water (ie bottles of water). Now if your in Michigan right now and sitting in a conference room at your meeting imagine the differences just because of that. You might be enjoying a cup of coffee or a soda, maybe some of that good ‘ole FREE tap water.

Water is life…

To be in a meeting in the village when it’s 90+ degrees with no water and the discussion is already a ‘heated’ one it’s pretty impressive how they can keep a cool temper when fights start up. (Sorry for all the temperature puns but I couldn’t help myself:)

Why am I going on and on about water and a meeting.. Well because maybe it got you this far in reading my blog lol!

But truly in Uganda you need water, CLEAN water that is. So luckily I was not hosting this meeting this morning but was expected to answer some questions about Healing Eyes and our purpose in the community. We needed to clear up some confusion and I have to say that God really was present this morning because the meeting could have gone bad real fast but as it turns out we had a good conversation and happy results today. We do need continued prayers over the rest of the year to navigate the legal system and the cultural norms, it truly is a different world over there. From water to people it’s just amazing how diverse the world really is once you start experiencing it.

The conference call ended with some pleasant hello’s from friend’s there and invitations to come back soon to the village to continue the struggle with them. It’s endearing to be wanted…even if you get beaten up along the way by bumps. But the bumps bring out the TRUE flavor of our character and we can see what a person is made of, and what they value in life above everything. We value love and compassion for the orphaned and widows through Jesus Christ, but sadly some value money and pride over the interests of others and right now God is showing us the way and the people who have the TRUE heart for the orphaned.

Healing Eyes

Homesick

Today I miss my widows and children in Uganda. I have been back here for 2 months now after leaving suddenly for my health and I am going crazy. One day I want to never go back to Africa and then on days like today I want to be there so badly because when I’m there I feel I have purpose. I think the ‘Enemy’ uses comforts of false security in our abilities to keep a house and a nice car with a profitable job to make us think it’s what we want. Not that it’s bad to want those things because they serve a purpose. Money allows for missionaries to be in the country God calls them to be. Money keep projects going and food in our bellies. But money also leads to lies and stealing even when you go in with good intentions to help other people. I miss living on the edge of safety and not knowing if your safe today or tomorrow or even how you will eat that day. I miss the extreme temperatures and yes even those stupid bumpy roads that seem to go on for miles and miles.

Today I got a different medical opinion on my pain in my back, it now seems to be my neck has a nerve or a disc that’s upset. Perhaps brought on by years of stress on the cartilage and then it shifted somehow and the pain referred itself to my shoulder blade and ribs. 4 more weeks of Physical Therapy to see if that is the cause of the pain. 4 more weeks of waiting….to get better and strong enough to return to Uganda.

Twice a week my guys in Uganda call me to debrief on the week and share stories about the village and how much progress we are making there. Each phone call tells me a bit of what is going on in my absence, it really is awesome to see the work continue through the citizens there. This week I talked about pigs and profit and expenses, forecasting the future, laying out a budget, and trying to communicate to my friend there about how important record keeping is. By the way I know very little about pigs or even pig rearing…perhaps that project is just a way to build relationships for Christ and encourage a family there to learn new things. But we just had 8 new piggies born and that is a good sign.

Meanwhile back in Michigan I am working on crafts to sell at a Craft Sale December 1st, will it make money? I don’t know…I never know….but it’s something.

We need prayer for another person to join our team in Uganda from the States. I posted earlier about a job opening for a married couple or a man to live over there for 3 months or so to oversee the projects in place and also construction. If anyone out there reads this please pass that on and check out the Job Post section on this website. The person (s) would need to fundraise support to serve.

If you want to support our projects with a one-time or monthly donation check out our Support page. We can’t do this without support from you!

Healing Eyes

What we Do through Christ

Does what we do Stick?

At Healing Eyes it might seem like we keep trying different things and then change our minds and do something else but what we are doing is seeing what WILL work in Africa. Often what we think will work may not because we didn’t grow up there. So What will Stick? That’s the fun of this journey….learning along the way what works and what doesn’t. Our core value is to show Compassion to widows and orphans PERIOD! This photo is time spent with kids at the Church of Children with Pastor Matthew, he always asks me to bring a ‘Sweetie’…it’s what he calls my Guitar.

Our Tailoring Program

Giving young ladies and widows a chance for something better in life by learning a trade skill.

When grownups act badly you find creative ways around the issue to keep progress moving. That’s exactly what we did back in June of this year when we started the Tailoring program for Widows. This year the people we trusted have turned against us which now leaves us waiting on God’s discernment for what to do in Uganda. This has become a blessing in disguise because now we are working with district officials to resolve disputes and to provide safety for our work in the village. There are 5 wonderful ladies that come to the Healing Eyes home in town 3 days a week to learn how to sew, it’s an opportunity that God put in front of us last year and came to light this year through this program. 5 machines were donated by a Woman’s Small Group at Ada Bible and they are being put to work for God’s glory by these strong widows and at risk young ladies.

We have a need for more sewing machines and also help maintaining the machines. If you want to help support this program financially we would be blessed, see below for ways to Give.

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Tailoring Donations

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Personal Info

Donation Total: $150

Healing Eyes

Fear can’t stop us

What happens when you start to make progress and see good things come from it?

Setbacks!

There are many that want us NOT to succeed and while God continues to work to make it possible the enemy is fast on our heels to try and stop us. Lately it’s been discouraging in Africa and fear has crept in on sharing the happy stories. What if a photo causes a negative effect while doing mission work? What if a photo is misunderstood? What if by sharing stories of success we end up creating setbacks in the project. So many what ifs lately but part of mission work is telling stories and sharing the successes for Christ. Other Christians need to see the impact they can make in others lives by ‘Doing’ instead of just ‘Believing’.  Doing something for another person is part of what we are called to do. Doing what God teaches and giving a helping hand to another person who may not even believe in Christ. A person who might have been taught as a child and then had so many difficulties in life that it seems why Believe in Someone that cares so little for my problems. You never know what people are thinking  or what they have lost faith in but I hope and really really pray that the work we are doing in Uganda is showing Christ in real life and how we should show compassion to others. At Healing Eyes its Widows and Orphans and its soo encouraging to see our 5 ladies in Uganda putting the effort into the program we have offered thanks to donations here in Michigan. We all are learning as we go along and everything starts out small.

Continue to pray for this ministry and if you want to step out and help us then check out our Donate page and give a little monthly or a one time gift to support the work.

 

Healing Eyes

We want you!

The Healing Eyes.org mission in Uganda is looking for a new team member(s) who are willing to work abroad for up to 3 months or more serving widows and orphans. We are seeking someone, or a couple, who have some of the following skills: construction, agriculture and livestock, tailoring, business management, leadership, or project management. We are open to a single male or a married couple; due to the housing arrangement, we cannot take on single women. Team member(s) must be able to work in hot temperatures and modest living conditions. We will provide safe and clean housing, water, including a flush toilet/electric/internet and local transportation. Team member(s) will need to fundraise to pay for airfare to and from Uganda Africa (usually between $1,000 and $1,800) as well as meals (usually between $5 and $10 per day) and any extra living expenses.

As we look to expand our Healing Eyes team abroad, we want to find partners that follow our same core values of compassion for others and helping without harming the established culture. The person or couple will be involved in supporting our self-sustainable projects in the village, supervising workers, light construction, and building relationships with villagers.

If God is pulling at your heart to go out of your comfort zone, this can be a great opportunity to live in a foreign country and experience a different view on life. We promise it will open your eyes and heart to a world bigger than the comforts of home.

To learn more contact Sarah Hendriksen at sarah@healingeyes.org I would love to chat about this new opportunity and how you can help the ministry.

Healing Eyes

Grounded

I’m grounded for awhile but the ministry continues on in Uganda even in my absence. Our pilot tailoring program has been progressing for over 3 months now and the ladies are diligent in coming to learn and making some pretty nice things.

Forces are working against us to slow and frustrate the ministry and now with added health burdens we are slowing down in our work but not stopping. God has blessed us with people in Uganda working alongside us and he has blessed us with resources to keep moving on the projects we have started, tailoring and pigs. The 18 kids in boarding schools are showing signs of improvement and are adjusting to a new life of education and seeing God’s love work in their lives.

Often we get stuck on the negatives happening in a project and lose sight of all the good that’s happening. Yea we haven’t broken ground yet on an official 4 classroom building but we have broken ground on relationship building. The children in boarding schools  are slowly seeing how we want to help them and shower them with the love they deserve. These kid’s caretakers and parents get to experience a partnership in their child’s education and see the benefits of working together. It’s never a fast thing to change lives and its definitely not easy to say No to just handing out freebies when doing so is instant gratification and soooo much easier than tough love.  All our kids in boarding school know there parents are working with us to put them through school and we pray over time the results will be what God wanted all along. Love and Compassion for his orphans.

So as we wait and ponder what’s next and go through some personal surgeries for physical healing God has it all under control in His time, even if it seems slooooow on this end.

Prayers as we move along and find our way in Uganda…relationship building…and the right way to impact lives for Christ.

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Healing Eyes

Prep time is the worse

The prep work that goes into staining an old and dirty deck is a lot! At first I thought it would only need a power wash and then I could let it dry and stain it. Wrong. I needed to clean it first, which I thought would be an easy spray on wash off technique. Wrong. It took trial and error to get it right as I did it, one board at a time, very slowly to not splash the cleaner on the other boards. At first I wanted to give up because I saw spots everywhere where the cleaner had bleached the board too early, thinking it ruined the wood. But I didn’t want to give up and was determined to perfect the art of cleaning. So I had to go back one board at a time, slowly rinsing the solution and not touching the others so it would have enough time to clean the board with its super powerful ingredients. Two days later the deck is prepped and ready for the stain, the final touch of perfection to make it shine and protect it from the elements.

It was satisfying work to clean the deck but a lot of unwanted extra effort. Maybe that’s what life is like….I want the end result but putting that extra unwanted effort into it slows me down. It seemed straightforward to just go to Africa and help people. I thought of course they would want help and if I just did something I would be accepted and it would be a happily ever after story. Of course I knew Africa was a hard country to navigate and a lot of corruption but I still thought it could be done if your just honest and hard working.

If only there was an instruction label for missionary work, a warning or caution label.

Then again I didn’t read the warning label carefully on the cleaner I used on my deck which later I saw stripped some of the color out of my clothes.

Africa (Uganda) is still in the prep work phase and needing a lot of cleaning to get the ground ready for development. Right now we are seeing small glimpses of hope with the tailoring program and the widows prospering from that. We are seeing our 18 kids in boarding school studying and growing each year from the opportunity given to them. We are seeing the value of the struggle with parents and caretakers to have them stay involved with their children by them buying school requirements for their kids and participating in their education. We even have some piglets that were sold and the money going back into the project. However, it’s not as we imagined it to be and it’s not without it’s downfalls and disappointments. When people we trusted turned on us and projects are stopped because of thieves its very sad but it’s all part of the prep work. The cleaning, washing, scrubbing, power washing and sanding to have a good start is important and part of the journey.

Don’t give up…even if your beaten and tired….Blessings come out of the struggle.

Healing Eyes