• sarah@healingeyes.org

Africa

The battle is over!

After a year long battle, God worked a miracle this past June and the contested land title we thought was lost was safely recovered, with the help of the local government and police station. As some of you may remember we ran into some troubles after purchasing 4 acres of land for the organization and someone we had trusted had turned on us. God used that difficulty to show us how to rally the community and local government to help us reclaim the land title. If we hadn’t had this battle we never would have met the governor, mayor, and so many community members that stood up for us this past year. We learned many lessons and understand how to navigate the political arena a bit more, as well as how to stay safe in the future.

Thank you for all the prayers and support during this difficult year of struggle. Now that we have survived the battle what do we do next? First thing is to breathe and let the dust settle to allow for a peaceful way forward.

The mud house on the land got a makeover and has 2 rooms now and a beautiful new roof and brick walls. We hope this will allow the community to see us as continuing on but also allow for a slow transition into a bigger facility we someday want to move towards. We planted several mango trees for shade in the future and to bring life to a barren land. We are very thankful to be where we are and following God’s timing amidst it all.

Lastly and most important, our 24 kids are studying in nearby boarding schools that we have partnered with in mbale and tororo. These kids have grown over the past 2 years and their smiling faces remind us why we do what we do. Each time I visit I am surprised by the all the hugs and smiles that greet me.

Healing Eyes

It takes a village

PRAISES All around today as Healing Eyes made progress in the community. Children are studying and widows are learning new skills. It’s just a blessing to see and warms the heart for what’s to come. At times it is too difficult to continue (well most of the time) but when we start to see the parents and community leaders joining us in our efforts here it does bring hope. I don’t know what the future holds or how I’ll manage to go on in this country but God has a plan…  It just will take  A LOT of patience to follow it and to have faith in God’s direction.

It’s lonely in Africa and I miss my husband and my home with less bugs and food that isn’t just potatoes… But tomorrow is another day and I never know what to expect:)

Healing Eyes

Isaiah 54

On my refrigerator are magnets of each of the 23 kids we have sponsored through Healing Eyes and families in Michigan. When I look back at how we started and that this website was actually used be an Adoption Story blog and later a Cancer blog that it seems fitting that today it’s full of children’s smiles. It’s not what my heart wanted or desired but God wanted these children to have a chance in life and to bless our lives in the process. I wanted a traditional family with 1 or 2 kids, drop them off at school and picking them up, going to concerts and sport events cheering on my child. But sometimes in life we don’t get what we want but we get what God wants. I have to smile when I see these kids of mine on my refrigerator every day, knowing that they are a part of my life and there joys and sadness are a part of my life now.

It’s a holiday break right now in Uganda and our kids are back in the villages and perhaps some of them are changed after being away for 3 months. I hope they have learned something in school and can now see life in the village with more opportunities than before. That our little orphan ‘Mary’ will now smile more, and have more confidence because she can go to school now.

“Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:10)

“Sing, barren woman,
    you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
    you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
    than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord.
 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.
 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities.

Healing Eyes

Proud of our Widows

There is nothing more reassuring than seeing these smiling faces succeed on their own. We planted an idea, a skill, into the minds of a few ladies and then stood back to watch if it would take hold. So far both the tailoring and now even the knitting has grown momentum. This is one of our ladies showing off the knitted caps she finished with no other help than the initial training she received back in February. We left her with the tools and the rest was up to her.

Next we have some crops that needed weeding and our very own students are helping with the work. These widows and young ladies are strong and dedicated.

The tailoring alongside the hair dressing classes are moving along at a great pace, all thanks to the team on the ground in Uganda working hard to continue our efforts. Who is this team? It’s local people from the country that understand the culture and knows how to get things done. God is great and has blessed us with a small group of men and woman we can partner with to impact lives for Christ. It’s more than handing out bibles and walking away, or even trips back and forth, it’s about these long term partnerships that will truly make a difference in the lives of orphans and widows. Time moves slower in Uganda but sometimes I think we move too fast in America and stress over every plan before just ‘doing’ something. If we can do this thousands of miles away than there is hope that through patience, endurance, and sticking to it God will continue to move mountains for us in the villages and in the hearts of people.

Healing Eyes

Faith

With success of our tailoring project we are trying to build up a community of widows and young girls in Uganda. With just 7 sewing machines we have been able to begin teaching several woman how to sew shirts, skirts, pants, and uniforms. Using just brown cement papers at first and later as they advance we are using local fabrics. How did we ever end up in the business of tailoring though when we first had our sights set on a children’s school?

Our hopes have always been to help widows and the tailoring classes have allowed us a way forward in doing that. In the mean time we do hope to someday build a school for kids but that’s on hold because it’s just not God’s time yet. As we keep waiting to move forward at least we have so many good things happening. Over 20 kids in boarding schools are getting an education, around 10 ladies are studying tailoring, and we have 10 new baby piglets born.

I think we tend to see big ideas and want to make those happen immediately but often we have to slow down and wait out the storms before making those big ideas happen. The school is a big idea and an overwhelming task that needs a whole lot of prayers and key people to come together to make it happen. Often it seems like this journey is a lot of drama and unreal events that take place, from good to bad.

We have seen strangers step up to help us in unlikely ways, such as, planting a new fence and plowing our fields. Woman coming every day to learn and children studying hard at boarding schools. We’ll get there some day with faith and perseverance.

Healing Eyes

Healing the Earth

The rains are here and we are busy planting crops and bushes in the village. This is the time of year when the land is green and the red dust has blown away revealing a ripe soil ready for growth. Thank you for helping us grow over the years. It’s amazing that it’s been 4.5 years since the journey began!

Healing Eyes

I’ll never understand

Maybe someone can explain why it’s so difficult to have parents pickup their kids from boarding school? This is one area about Uganda I’ll just never completely understand because it’s such a small request. In Uganda it all comes down to transport…the cost of public transportation. In my mind it’s such a small cost to pay for a child to study at boarding school and when it comes to holiday breaks it’s our hope parents will pick their kids up. Some of them will but the ones you expect to do it because they seem so close to their children and loving, just won’t pay the taxi fee to pick their kids up. Why?

Of the culture clashes with America this one isn’t talked about much. Usually we think of languages, food, weather, education, and so on. But the cost of public taxi, also called transport, has got to be the most frustrating difference between cultures when it comes to the children. Even when it comes to working with the government because everyone wants their transport expense paid for otherwise no business will happen.

It’s Easter break tomorrow and children are free to go home for 4 days to visit with their family and friends. Now here in America parents will pick their kids up daily from school or we are blessed to have public buses drop kids off too. In Uganda kids in boarding school are gone 3 months at a time and live at school, the school becomes their second home. So when you get a chance for a 4 day holiday break in my mind I would want to get my kids bright and early and spend time with them. Some parents do this but the majority never seem to go, giving the excuse of transport.

On the flip side the taxis over these holidays will charge more and take advantage of the increase in travelers. We do the same here in America over the 4th of July when gas prices go up.

Definitely one of the more frustrating obstacles in Africa when working with the parents and children who are sponsored.

Healing Eyes

Marching forward

As we move through the month of March we are seeing some great steps forward in our newest location started for sewing thanks to the donation of 2 more sewing machines.  It’s great to see our newest teacher is also proving to be a great find, we have a 3 teachers but or newest teacher seems to be the best. Part of our work is to help people grow in the skills they are great at and so we hope all 3 teachers will come together and share ideas to help each other. Prayers are needed for more teamwork and collaboration between the two sewing classes. It isn’t in the nature of people to want others to succeed because of the tendencies to become jealous when others are successful which makes programs like this so important. We are encouraging team work and sharing of ideas to give these widows and young girls the opportunities they want. Christ says you must teach others to ‘fish to eat’ and in time we hope and pray this tailoring project will accomplish just that, empowering the next generation in Uganda.

It’s the season of plowing and planting with the rains finally coming back to Eastern Uganda. We hired some oxen and workers to plow the land and prepare it for planting. Please keep this new project in your prayers.

All of this work can’t happen without support from you. We truly are dependent on your help to keep pushing forward for Christ in a foreign land. Thank you to everyone for praying and financially giving to Healing Eyes in 2017. This year don’t forget us as you think of a charity to support. Our organization is small but our footprint is growing, we are registered as a Community Based Organization in Manafwa district of Eastern Uganda. We have 22 children in boarding schools and none of this would have been possible back in 2015 when God founded us under the mission to Make A Difference in the Flavor of the world by Going and showing compassion to widows and orphans.

Donate today

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

A day in Africa

A day in Africa is a day like no other. It’s mixed with many highs and lows. There’s an odd satisfaction one experiences here when accomplishing a task that in America would be so simple to do. For example…

  • Going to the grocery store is twice as difficult in Uganda than it is in Michigan.
  • Going to children’s homes is an ordeal. It involves parking the car and then walking far distances on dirt paths thru a blazing hot desert.  All so I can just share a report card and remind parents to buy school supplies. In Michigan this task would only entail a simple phone call.

Sigh…I’m tired and missing home. The simple conveniences of

  • Driving my car in a familiar city.
  • Fitting in and being unnoticed by people.
  • Sitting on the couch with my husband.

In Uganda, I’m being pulled in all directions. I’m visiting politicians , signing papers, designing a future school building, leading widows in a start-up tailoring program, and caring for kids that aren’t my own.
It’s all moving faster than usual in Uganda and I can’t help but think it’s God pushing me to hold up my end of the bargain. He’s calling me to actually build a school in a foreign country! Imagine that….too impossible and frightening for me to swallow whole..so I’m taking it in bites, one piece at a time.

nikki