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Tag Archives: africa

I go one way but then go another

Update on mission work in Africa:

As my heart has been pulled to see Billah again at that fateful waterfall in Uganda I decided to reach out to the leader of the team for this trip and see what could be done. It seems God was already at work on this one and I was just a pawn again. So fate might bring me back to Uganda for a weekend excursion while serving in Kenya this May. The details aren’t confirmed yet but it seems I will also be visiting a special needs orphan home in Eastern Uganda as well as one in Umoja Kenya. Both were added because of the little adventure across the border of Kenya and Uganda.

The Umoja Woman it seems is an all female matriarch village founded in 1990 (wikipedia). A sanctuary for homeless survivors of violence against women, and young girls running from forced marriages.

I don’t know what this all means exactly but perhaps this trip to Africa will reveal more of the bunny trail I am hopping down…follow the crumbs and let go of control…

What isn’t apparent in many bible stories of those following God’s direction is the irritating ‘waiting’ game. If patience is something to be learned and earned I must be in the worst part of it. In stories you hear of all the ‘Big’ impact moments and ‘Story defining’ parts, they leave out all the days and months of just waiting and twiddling your thumbs in boredom.

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To Help or not to Help?!

When we are all connected by a common goal of sharing the spirit of giving…while also being cautious when sometimes just fixing one thing can cause a dependency. It seems, life even when those with the least are calling out for help, there is a Balancing Act that must be considered. At the same time perhaps helping can show the need the world needs to those that can’t imagine not having Water. Either way you try to look at it and justify to Give or Not To Give I chose to just chuck it all and help pay for the broken Water Pump in a village outside of Kampala.

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Island coincidences or a clear direction for next steps?

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Sitting on my couch (yes I have a couch!) and playing my ukulele…waiting on God…waiting on what’s next…stressing…

The usual sort of morning for me!

Check my email and see a link to short term missions and after looking at job postings for graphic designers and feeling this icky feeling in my stomach about NOT wanting to be a graphic designer anymore. A feeling of hopelessness creeped in and fear of what am I supposed to do NOW that I am in Michigan working on my Non-Profit. So I gave up the job search surfing and flipped to looking at orphanages and trips to Africa…needs out there for tutors and willing hearts to serve. Looked at Southern and Eastern Africa…found one in Kenya. Never really wanted to go to Kenya but it is close to Uganda where little Billah is living by that beautiful waterfall. It read “Tutors Needed in Kenya to Assist Primary and Secondary School–May 19-June 30, 2015”. Ok maybe that’s something I can inquire about…it has Tutor in it and its longer than a couple weeks stay abroad. No sooner do I click ‘more information’ do I get a phone call from California. I almost didn’t pick it up because first of all I don’t like talking on the phone and secondly it was a weird number. But I answered it anyways. It was the guy needing a tutor in Kenya! So that was fricken fast!

Let’s list the coincidences in this phone call for prosperity sake:

  1. He lived on an island before
  2. He wasn’t a ‘missionary’ type person
  3. Same beliefs and values on what it means to follow God.
  4. Understood me when I said it’s about ‘Human Touch’ and ‘Relationships’ in Africa. That the lack of eye contact when young can lead to lack of empathy and also the pure understanding of compassion for life. Children need love pure and simple..they need touch…they need eye contact…and they need to know they are loved by God and some crazy White person (mzungoo) too.
  5. Lastly…the school is pretty close to Uganda where little Billah lives and maybe I could see her again in the mountains.
  6. Oh and…another connection with a Non-Profit in Africa which is what Healing Eyes needs.
  7. Ha one more..I needed to tighten up my business plan for area churches in order to raise money. So perhaps God is filling in the blanks for me.

Pray for direction.. Pray for Peace…and pray that this is the right choice for me and Healing Eyes to go with next. Tutoring in Kenya for 6 weeks with Commit Ministries.

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One child at a time even miles away is possible…

From money raised at the first fundraiser for Healing Eyes I am happy to share we are sponsoring our first child’s education in Uganda. It isn’t much and may seem small but it only takes One to make a difference and start change. So for the next 12 months Healing Eyes will be able to sponsor One child…and who knows maybe the future will bring more needs to our eyes.

Praying for even more abundance and opportunities to open up for Ivan (pictured below) as he starts 5th grade.

Ivan O

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Darkness in the closet

Laying curled up in my closet I realized that families in Africa Live in this size of a shack!!! My closet is more comfortable than some of there homes. That’s just wrong!!! Why should I ever feel sad about my circumstances ?!? I can at least get up and make change.
That’s what healing eyes needs and wants to do ! One small closet at a time…one home..one family at a time.

It’s time we all step out of our comforts and see the pain thru these children’s eyes and there huge smiles when someone SEES them.

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Now what do I do … Island to Deep freeze

There is doubt in decisions made by anyone. It is natural to do One thing and then Doubt it was the correct one. Maybe life is made up of those decisions and doubts but maybe there is always that lingering One true truth. That one thing that as much as we want it to not be the right decision because of the outright impossibility of it actually coming true. So we put up stable walls and security around us to live each day safely but at the same time limit ourselves from living largely. How can we live abundantly but also safely? It’s not possible because no matter what fate can tear those walls down and leave you far from safe and far from a feeling of stability.

What can I do? I am building up some security and stability in order to be in a place that can hopefully raise funds to do what Healing Eyes wants to do in Africa. At the same time it’s going to be a temptation to stay where its clean, safe, convenient, and you can have electricity 24 hours a day with a simple flip of the switch. When the power goes out here you know it will come back on soon but in other areas of the world it can be days.

This blog has been a journey from a personal story to adopt domestically…to cancer…to missionary..and now it’s Healing Eyes. A Non-Profit raising money to bring compassion and empathy back to the children of Africa, to help neglected and impoverished children by not just helping but building relationships and teaching what love is by DOING it. How can I keep sight on that while living in a place completely opposite to the living conditions there? How can I share with others what it’s like there to gain supporters to join? I guess I can’t. But maybe my invisible friend has some sneaky plan to show me how small I really am in this plan.

Rough plan for the next 6 months:

  • Raise money to fund another trip to Africa.
  • Build up the compassion and relationship fund.
  • Meet with the new CPA.
  • Sponsor education for a handful of kids in Africa.
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Moments Add Up

“Sweet kids are dying. Which means the future is dying. And if the future is dying we won’t have a future.”

Words from a small boy at the Boys and Girls Club of America after I talked to him about kids in Africa. The kids yelled out, “yay Miss Sarah is coming with”! As I crowded into the club van with them. That was the first time they did that…perhaps being gone and the coming back impacted them a bit more than I expected.

One of the girls screamed and ran to hug me when I got to the club…what a sweetie…she missed me.

Another boy told me he heard from the Lighthouse Kids that I was back and he decided the next day he was going to run to the Boys and Girls club to find me.

The kids were so inquisitive about the kids in Africa and how they lived. There little faces showed so much concern over the kids in Africa not having shoes or clean clothes. Each kid was shocked that the many of the kids didn’t wear shoes. They asked about what I did there and if I had fun, what the kids ate there. One girl asked me, “Miss Sarah do they have playgrounds in Africa?” That was a first time for that question, I told her no not really, that costs too much money. She was saddened by this and asked more questions about how sick the kids were and how sad it is that they are dying.

The boy that said ‘Sweet kids shouldn’t die’ said the solution could be more Testing for diseases and more medicine. I asked him what about Love…he smiled and said yea that’s important too.

We went to the playground, my first time going with them there, and played on the mary-go-round and slides. I was acting like one of the kids and screaming on the mary-go-round as we took turns spinning it.

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I will miss these kids … perhaps they will never know how much they helped me this past year. Kids can really do big things if we let them. Just making bracelets for kids in Africa allowed them to see what other kids lives were like through the photos I shared with them. My one favorite boy was collecting photos the other kids dropped on the ground and putting them in his bag for safety. He is such a giving and caring boy. We sat together at the end of the day and he shared his valentine candy with me, I asked him if he had a valentine and he blushed and said, “yeah”.

If our lives our made up of moments than each of those little moments sitting on the steps or in the playground with those kids talking about moments in their lives than it was worth losing it all to find them.

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Torn between two worlds of Need

A transition between what has helped me move through grief and find the new person in me that I never knew existed to the person I used to be. The need to gain closure on who I was with Andy and what Andy meant to me while being pulled by new faces in Africa. So many faces that I don’t know what to do with when viewed in its enormity of the cause. If I step back and look at just the ONE child and the need to Go again to find that One smile amongst thousands of faces. When here on St, Croix I have seen those smiles and formed a love for these kids that I have grown attached to. The looming goodbye is wearing at me and I fear it’s the wrong choice. I know I have to go and it’s already laid out for me, just some small things like selling the Jeep and a mini refrigerator before packing again. However, today I saw the girls again and one girl in particular hugged me so tight. I will miss her the most and a week from now I will cry tears on that plane as I leave this life behind. It seems I am crying a lot on planes these days! I never knew I could like kids and even handle more than an hour with them. That I was capable of being loved and now I am saying goodbye to it. Why open my heart to something to say goodbye? Today I shared Africa with the kids and explained the need there. That many kids have no water or food and are starving…that they have nothing and make only $1 a day sometimes. The kids were rather quiet during this and I think they felt my pain of going and the pain I felt for those kids on the other side of the world. It’s a bit frustrating when I see kids understand more clearly what suffering is and show more interest in Africa than adults. Is it that curiosity that as adults we lose? Lost in our own problems and stresses of life that curiosity has no place? On a strange coincidence we had cake at the Lighthouse and my birthday is Sunday. I like to think the ‘Sarah Lee’ cake was for me but it was only a coincidence. Today I told the kids I was leaving and it made me sad. I find it a strange coincidence that a homework assignment about predicates summed up the afternoon. (see number 4 and 5 in the photo) photo 3   I happily handed out the donations from the church back in Michigan to the girls. They really like getting spoiled and I think the boys class is jealous.

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Void where there was pain

Thousands of miles later and I am looking out at the palm trees and pink fluffy clouds again. My return to the island is very strange feeling. It isn’t happy or sad or even elated.

I feel ‘blank’

Used up…

Incomplete…

Maybe its the rush of adrenaline that has left my system or perhaps the exhaustion. All of those reasons would make sense logically based on our limited bodies. Or I could go with the other reason I feel empty.

Something happened in Africa that I can’t quite explain yet. I wasn’t excited while there, I wasn’t elated, I wasn’t even full of ideas of what to do. While there I saw a lot and felt a lot but did I really fall in love with it there? Or perhaps it was the feeling of being Alive in extreme circumstances. Was it the outpouring of love and fragility of life that fills the inevitable void?

With my eyes closed I still see her… little Billah… branded on my heart. Why am I worried about her? She is one girl amongst a thousand and I am one small person amongst a million.

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This room I sit in right now is clean, comfortable, even without running water I can drink from the tap or a kitchen to cook in. This still is LUXURY!

It’s not a void I feel but an ache…a deep sorrow for what I saw and those kids I touched and held in my arms. My heart is bleeding for them and I can’t erase it. I have seen too much to just turn away from that need. To see so much pain and need when our dollar can go so far and turn my face to that. When education is bountiful in the States even for the poor but in Africa its a choice between eating and learning. Working to exhaustion to survive and children and babies starve in the streets, die of diseases, malnutrition, neglect, pain…

No I do not feel a void..but finally I see a purpose…I see what was missing…and yet I am powerless to do anything measurable in today’s version of ‘success’.  It has to be small steps and little victories, showing love, and teaching compassion to those with the least. But do they really have the least? When they live so fully in the simplicity of life when we drown ourselves with gadgets, clothing, fancy toys, and trinkets.

I will start off with one goal and that is to fundraise like crazy to go back…to show compassion…to build relationships and above all invest in LIFE. My first fundraiser was a success as I really thought it would fail. However, God showed me and raised $648 out of just 25 people! That to me is amazing and he gave me a CPA that I have been praying for. Now If I keep doing this than maybe Healing Eyes will become more than a dream, a whim, a crazy idea.

It starts with the Small Step forward into the impossible.

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Fate turned into Chili?

Does prayer work in modern day life? What possibly comes from praying to something unseen?

I think not…I think are brains want to believe in something in order to not feel alone. That can be an interesting perspective right? It’s all make believe and coincidences….

Nah sorry guys but I just can’t think that way anymore. I have seen too much to sway me to the other side … and yes I do doubt and wobble around with these thoughts but after last night I again have to Let Go of my opinions and go with the flow.

I have been hoping for a CPA for several months now to help with my confusion on Math. Can I say how much I dislike math? It’s not just the numbers I don’t get but the forms and then record keeping and the possibility of screwing it all up. In a rather interesting twist of fate a CPA appeared yesterday because of Chili. Yes food again was the catalyst for the answered prayer. I think its the old ‘break bread’ with each other fable that seems to really work!

Last night was Healing Eyes first official Event and fundraiser. Prior to it I was doubting and wanting it to all disappear, my stomach was in knots about talking in front of people, I thought it was all going to blow up in my face, and I would embarrass myself. Big Sigh….but it all worked out. After I put the mic to my mouth and began spewing word after word and I started to feel the evil nerves dissipate I gained some confidence. Of course than I stammered and choked on words and cried but I got some laughs out of the audience and some tears. Perhaps one person walked away feeling what I felt and that this world needs people with that unhardened heart to see beyond the pain of ourselves and step out into the unknown.
By the end of it as the mic was put away and I stepped aside I felt utter relief it was over and my brain truly shut down. Every bit of me was gone and now others around started to help pick up and I stood there in amazement of all these people helping. It’s sooooooo cool to see people come together and even cooler when it’s something worth working for.

So I think Healing Eyes will continue on and as my Prayer for A CPA was answered in a very cool ‘God’ way I will keep letting go and letting this mysterious invisible friend take the lead.

Photos to come soon! 🙂

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