~ ~ where some see a hopeless end, others see an endless hope ~ ~

Friday, December 16, 2011

YOU COULD HAVE series, #2 CAMOY @ Vista Print

It’s honestly as simple as smiling while you’re talking.  I’m serious.  When you’re on the phone, try it.  Smile while you’re talking to the other person.  I promise they’ll feel the positive energy through the phone.


That’s where the 2nd edition for my YOU COULD HAVE series was inspired.

I dread talking on the phone.  I’m just throwing it out there.  But what I dread the most is having to talk to customer service reps.  I know, I know.  See?  I already have a preconceived judgement as to how my experience will be.  And usually, 9 times out of 10… I’m right.

HOWEVER,  I had to call in for technical help on a print order through Vista Print.  I held my breath as Ms Camoy took over the conversation…. … and I’m so glad she did.

“I tell ya what ma’am, I’m just gonna stay on the phone with you while I help you with this order and walk you through it, is that okay?”

As we continued uploading and editing the pictures needed for this order, she began asking me questions about each picture.  “OH!  He’s so precious, where’s he from????”  “So… Visiting Orphans, that’s your company you work with, what all do you do?”  “OH!!  So, are these some of the children you visit?”

Each question she asked squealed with excitement, and it was like she couldn’t get enough information fast enough.

“So, which country is this little angel from?”
“So, do all these children not have parents?”
“So, when you visit, do you BUILD them the Orphanage, or how does it work?”
“Where do you visit”
“Do you have children?”…..

“No ma’am, I don’t have a child.  I have 163 million of them…”

“Ooooh, honey.  That’s beautiful.  That’s beautiful, I love that.”  Camoy’s interest in Visiting Orphans just played on my passion and we sat and talked about everything we do.  She went as far as going to our website, finding out who I was on our Staff bio’s, read it, asked me some other life questions….  All the while, yes, our pictures were still being uploaded and would throw in an edit question here and there.

Camoy proceeded to tell me she was from Jamaica and that they would LOVE to see a program start up in her country. She knows there are plenty of orphans that could benefit from our organization and it would be so amazing to have us visit her home country.

I smiled when I was able to say, “Well, Camoy… we just might be.”

Our order was processing and we were to the checkout page, when from out of nowhere, she offered to waive all the uploading charges, give us a discount, and faster shipping at the lowest rate.

You see…. Camoy COULD HAVE just went about her job description, helped me get my pictures up and edited, sold the order, and hung up the phone.

Camoy COULD HAVE just been annoyed with the illiterateness of my technical capabilities and been abrasive with her customer service attitude.


Camoy was SUCH a delight to talk to. Very helpful, very happy, and so passionate about what we do.  Which made me RE-passionate about what we do.

Camoy, YOU COULD HAVE completely fell into my stereotype of the ‘typical’ customer service rep, ruined my experience with Vista Print, and led me astray from having any faith in your business and/or character.


Thanks for that.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

don’t rush.

I could NOT pass sharing this to all of you.  Some of you, hopefully Most of you, know me well enough to know that I strongly believe the Arts are an integral part of life, and how I press on and on about the importance of “slowing down, stopping and smelling the roses…”  This story, written and based, in D.C. is absolutely what I’m talking about.

Read on.

And then ask yourself -- Would you stop?

"In Washington DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about four minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At ten minutes, a three-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After one hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?"

Video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myq8upzJDJc
By: Sean The-Rules Goveas

* * *

This is so powerful for me.  Yes, I’m that person that does like to stop and smell the roses.  I like to think I notice the little purple flowers growing randomly out of a concrete sidewalk’s crack.  I like it when my co-workers take my advice, drive a different route to work, just so they too can enjoy the wonder God created with the beautiful autumn colors on the trees.  When the clouds catch the sun just right.  When we see shooting stars.  When we remember a certain memory because of a certain smell.  I like to think those are little pieces of Heaven on Earth.  Gentle reminders of our awesome Creator above.

So when I read this story today, I may have gotten choked up.  I may have gotten frustrated with the people that didn’t pay attention.  I may have thought… "Well, I like to think that I would have stopped." … But in reality--in the fast-paced world we live in...would I?  Would you??

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

You Could Have. #1

drumroll please…..

…. Okay, take it back.  Honestly, I didn’t want to use my first blog of the “You Could Have” series as one that blew your socks off, right off the bat.  ‘Cuz then I’d have to live up to those standards every time I did an entry. …   ;)


This one will blow your socks off.

I can’t limit this first entry to one specific person.  So, this first entry is going to go and be different right out the door.  In my first ever, initial, inaugural post about how people have such an impact on your life, “You Could Have” launches as follows:

THEY Could Havetotally impressed me with their dedicated abilities

It started off as an idea.  Give 2 Go.  It started off as a simple idea to raise awareness for orphans around the world, benefitting Visiting Orphans as a whole.  The concept grew, the design began to liven, and the event elements began to shape.

What started off as one casual, Friday morning brainstorming conversation, ended up as one amazingly, beautiful night of music and testimonies.

But it’s the people that put it together that get this Nod in the ‘ole bloggeroo.  It’s the people that worked day and night to make sure it was a flawless event, from ground up.

It was the Visiting Orphans staff.

When I say that these brothers and sisters pulled together to make things happen, I don’t mean just laying a table linen down and clicking on a lamp.

  • I’m talking, sawing 16 feet 2x4’s and building--literally DRILLING together structures and frames to make an amazing display structure
  • I’m talking, cleaning out your entire house at home to bring in and create the most creative and visually appealing merchandise display known to man
  • I’m talking, using every hidden and nonhidden talent you have to put into designing and creating flyers and marketing materials so our guests could have something to take home at night.
  • I’m talking, originating the most organized, clean, and easy-to-follow ‘systems’ to handle our crazy mission trip giveaway---not only in preparation of the night, but DURING the night, and then for days after
  • I’m talking, when no one’s even around, using your last bit of strength to breakdown, haul and unload the mess that no one else wanted to deal with
  • I’m talking, using every bit of your energy to help post, tape, string, light, lay, build, set up, and RUN an ENTIRE evening’s festivities so our guests could enjoy their time
  • And I’m talking, using your every last bit of patience to work with and deal with a crazy brain like me…

Autumn Kerr, Alicia Jordan, Frank Pass, Casi Mattox, Merrill Durham, James Jonas, Kathleen Carney, Rachel Cook:  You could have stayed within your comfort zones, only helped out to your content, and rightfully told me I was crazy.

But you didn’t.

You all were and ARE so amazing to not only me day in and day out, but to each other--to VISITING ORPHANS.  Every day we get to come to work is such a blessing.  You all bless me every day just because you’re you.  God has given you each such creative talents, each such amazing administrative, and yet not boring, characteristics.  You continue to surprise me with the tasks you’re able to accomplish and the goals you’re able to set and reach.

You are all my inspiration.

THANK YOU VO’ers for SUCH an amazing job well done at our concert on Friday night.  It was such a cool experience to see everyone in their element.  And if you weren’t in your element, you were able to  branch outside for the Cause.

It’s an honor to be a part of such an amazing group.

"YOU COULD HAVE … totally impressed me with your dedicated abilities".


a SNEAK little PEAK at the fabulous work by the VO Staff, pics done by the amazing Rachel Jay

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ima People Lover. What.

I just gotta say.  I love people.

I love all walks of people.  I love the people that laugh at your jokes.  I love the people that cry your tears with you.  I love people that hold your doors for you.  I love the people that take their time going through a green light because they're on their phone, not paying attention but have the biggest smile on their face during their conversation.  I love the people that grumble the second they wake up and don't stop grumbling until they fall asleep again at night. I love people that let their kids put their groceries on the counter in the checkout lane.  I love the people that drive across town to get the cheaper gas prices.  I love the people that will stand up for their friends, in any situation, no matter how it makes them look in the long run.  I love people that belt out a good 'ole church hymn but can't sing a note.  I love a happy person.  I love a sad person.  I love waitresses.  I love cowboys.  I love librarians, park rangers, politicians, and brain surgeons.

Yes, I love people.

Now, I may not be the person that will meet a stranger and strike up a conversation that lasts 4 hours.  I may not be that person.  (Although, there definitely have been times that I was).  But I definitely am the person that can grab my coffee, sit on a park bench, and watch people--all day long and be completely entertained.  And completely satisfied.

I love that our God is a creative guy.  I love that he made painters and musicians and film directors, athletes, fashionistas, computer-techs, and dancers.

But what I love most about people is how MUCH of an impact EACH PERSON on this Earth really, truly has.

I love it because I understand it.

I fully, wholeheartedly believe, that if every person on this earth knew that he or she had an impact--positive OR negative--in any given situation, that the world would be much different.  I think that if people took the time to care, took the time to really evaluate how much of an impact he or she has, that person would truly feel a significance he can create.  And on the same note, if every person took the time to relay to another person that he or she impacted him, the ripple would continue.

I'm going somewhere here with this, I promise.

I come across and meet a lot of people in my day to day.  Whether it be the grocery store clerk or the mail man, the movie teller or the mechanic, I'm affected by how they act during our 'interaction'.  One small move, one little word can completely reroute my attitude for the next couple minutes.  I could be on cloud nine.  Or I could get totally bummed out.

And whether or not any of us want to admit it, the way other people act around us, truly has an impact on our heart.  It may not affect our entire being or character.  It may not change our outlook on life..... but it may.

I have made it my personal mission to address these scenarios when they happen.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, who am I to tell someone they messed up my day just by the way they acted in the bank over lunch hour?  But who am I NOT to tell someone they MADE my day...

I am taking a challenge in this next year to cover these people in my blog, in entries entitled, "You Could Have".  I want to point out that during one small small second of time, one small gesture that 'you could have' totally blessed me.  or could have totally hurt my feelings.  or totally threw me off the concentration course today.  or totally motivated a new goal.... You Could Have...

These will be your every day people that you meet in your every day life.  They could be in your life for a minute, or in it for a lifetime.  But fact of the matter is, these people have affected me.  And i want them to know, good or bad, that they've made a difference....

So now that I've explained my initiative, stay tuned for the first entry, You Could Have.    Let's see where God wants to take this one.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dust off the Blog Machine… I’m back.


Yes, I know… I know.  It’s been awhile.  There is no excuse, just merely the fact that I let this thing called LIFE get in the way.  And that’s exactly the problem… Or is it?

There’s something special about posting now though, and looking back on how I’ve just let “life” get in the way these past few years…

October 21st, 2010, I pulled into Nashville, Tennessee--officially calling the South “Home.”  And although any true Southerner would say I still have a long way to go, I’m happy where I am with my “ya’lls”, Sweet Tea cravings, and yes--hollerin’ Roll Tide every now and again! … *GASP*

What a year it’s been.

And there definitely was a moment when I wasn’t all so positive, giddy and saw the world through a glittery purple window.  No, I didn’t sing Disney songs every day and smiles were hard to come by.  And while, I know... That's hard to believe, Most of you know my story.  Most have heard me grumble and giggle at the same time about how I’ve come to where I’ve come.  And most of you know how these past couple years have been a true testament to how I’ve just Let Go and Let God…and how I have let Life get in the way.


Or at least I've tried.

Okay, I really struggled with my "letting GO" part of life, but that's what I'm working on.  And I think it's important to admit it.  But what I can attest to is that once I DID finally just LET GOD, it all--everything--started happening so fast.

I remember vividly sitting on my couch one afternoon in November, just aggravated.  Aggravated with how much time I 'wasted', aggravated with the choices I made and mistakes I had to endure.  Aggravated I wasn't further along in my 'journey of success'.  I remember that day so vividly because it was that day I made a choice.  A choice to Jump.

I jumped.  I jumped far into unchartered waters, undiscovered territory.  I jumped to a place I had never been before that day -- I jumped to a place of the unknown.  And that was complete, and utter Faith.

It was so clear to me that I was not going to make it out alive if a part of me didn't die inside.

So I Let Go.  And Let God.

I remember putting pen to paper and 'doing away' with that year.  I said, "I'm done with you, bring on another"  I wrote everything down I saw myself doing and goals I could see reaching in the year to come.  And I began to pray.

I remember praying to God how hesitant I was of giving up the fight and letting Him take over---as if he was going to 'mess it all up for me' or something.  I remember praying, reminding Him that my desires were perfectly drafted out, in ink, for him to read--should he ever need to brush up on what "I" wanted in life, or in case he forgot.  I remember asking Him to be gentle in how he chose to use me because I was still new, and very much raw, to that whole world of, ....Trust...... and I prayed for my stresses to ease, my anxiety to leave, and my life to begin.

And begin it did.

And now here I sit, a little more than a year ago today I wrote that 'letter' to God.  And although looking back it may seem a little silly, God didn't think so.

To this day, God granted every one of those things on that list.  I didn't even KNOW about Africa, but I weirdly added #3. Go to Africa on the list..... And not only did I GO to Africa... I work for an organization where I can go to Africa all the time!  (*sidenote: sorta)  I wanted a dog.  And although the two I'm temporarily living with aren't MY dogs per-say, I have two dogs.  I mean, some of the stuff was pretty petty, but some of it was pretty intense.  All I know is GOD HEARD ME.

But I can confidently say, that without a doubt--if I still carried that control around with me, I would probably not have gotten through the first thing on that list.  I would not be where I am today.  I would not have the people in my life that I have.  I would not have the amazing amazing, life-altering challenges and obstacles that come my way, shaping and molding me into a stronger and better person.  I would not have experienced the pure JOY that I've experienced.  I would not be me today.

But I had to Let Go.  And I had to Let God do His job....  and I had to stop doing what I thought was mine.

Most people will say that letting life ‘get in the way’ is a bad thing.  It reflects a loss of control.  It sets you up for failure.  It shows a ‘wishy washy’ side to you………

I disagree.

If we didn’t let go every day, letting life take its course, we’d miss out on SO MUCH.  We’d miss those breathtaking early morning sunrises.  We’d miss the vibrant shades of red on the trees in the fall.  We’d miss on opportunities to travel to see places and people we don’t normally see.  A friend’s broken heart being mended.  Peacefulness after an intense storm.  A sweet child’s laugh at the Walmart.  Rainbows after a heavy rain.  The deepest, bellowing laugh from your friends over a glass of wine.  Waterfalls.  Massive trees.  Mountaintops.  Music.  We’d miss being completely and radically changed after being broken down.  We’d miss on the opportunity to then rise above…..

We’d miss out on SO MUCH.

So basically, I guess what it all comes down to is that we NEED to let Life GET IN THE WAY.  Like jumping out of an airplane, (which Yes--I conquered), we have to let our Faith take over that we’ll land just fine.  We have to believe life’s gonna grant us miracles.  God loves coming in and being the Host in our lives.  He loves being able to entertain our desires and fill our needs.  But We need to just throw our hands up and know Who’s in control.  We need to LET HIM COME IN.

The words my most precious and dearest Grandma Betty said to me when I was a child still play on repeat in my head.  We need to just, “Let Go and Let God.”

Looking Back, “A Year in Review”



Thursday, October 06, 2011


AUTHOR’s NOTE:  “I will not be leaving my day job with Visiting Orphans to pursue any sort of Poetry or Songwriting profession.  And there are a lot of words in the English language that don’t have rhyming partners--Sad.”   So anyway, here ya go:


From Uganda to Ethiopia, two countries divided.
But our mission the same, to Man Up, united.

One thing I learned in my travels to Addis
One piece of advice, I’ll share and that is:
If you're not strong in line,
you won't catch your plane on time.

What Hotel sends their staff and help to greet?
Piling luggage in the rain, 5 vans deep.

Never had hotel staff so nice,
they even did our laundry--TWICE!

Your leader may trick you about EGH,
but really, your accommodations, you’ve got it made.

Yet Korah. Never could you prepare,
for all that you would see there.

The poverty, the hunger, affliction, and pain
You’re broken and your life won't be the same.

Yet, their faith is unmatched,
their love is unending.
The smiles in their eyes,
it's our spirit that needs mending.

Great Hope, such a small, tin roof church
Kids of the Kingdom--yet you're on the Perch
Dirt on the floor and tarp for the walls,
but worship like no other, to their knees they fall.

My eyes couldn't handle 6 preparations of sheep,
but my heart was content as 300 would eat.

Holy Spirit led worship in a small mud room,
Lives were changed, not a moment too soon.

Spackle, and plaster, paint and floors too
Extreme Home Makeover--in Korah, who knew?

A lepers hand was touched,
A lepers mouth was fed.
Yet my soul was the one,
That was replenished instead.

The brothers took us bowling to raise our team spirit
Hit a Pin?  Hah. No. My ball wouldn’t go near it.

Without our late-comer,
Our trip wasn't the same
He sang, he joked,
Silly was his name.

So thankful for Jeff on the Man Up team
Impromptu worship, yeah---his dream.

Visiting Alert brought fear right to the heart,
Yet seeing lepers weave yarn, new lives they could start.

You can have your Starbucks or Dunkin, even homemade brew,
No thanks, I'll take my 'Joe the way Ethiopians do.
A two hour ceremony from beans to pour
Popcorn and coffee, is there anything more?

Korah, a city of love, with a deep dark secret,
But now we must choose to decide if we keep it.

We experienced the dump with our own two eyes
Felt what they lived, hidden beneath the lies

No animal, enemy, least of these should live
the way these children, these Angels, did.

Scrounging for food, swimming in soil.
Sloshing through garbage, living even Hell's worst turmoil

Yet with one small reminder from Heaven above,
God showed up in a rainbow, proving His love.

Reassurances from strangers, and hugs from a friend,
Prayers went up, Lord heal our hearts yet again.

Awareness was spread by Cory and Coby Cotton,
Korah.  The land of the lost, but never forgotten.

Who would have thought that outside city gates,
a 5 hour road trip is all it would take.

Our hope was restored and our faith refreshed,
At the village of Chuko, WE were blessed.

They waited for hours and Well’Comed us loud
The jacket, the Hat --Rob stood so proud.

The Pirates digging a well for clean water to drink
Much we take for granted when we walk to the sink.

What an eye opening experience and straight to the heart
A celebration of the village, we got to take part.

We piled in our Cruisers, but our driver didn’t learn,
Quarter tank of gas, pitch black, and a wrong turn.
An unplanned tour through the jungle at night,
what a RELIEF to us all when we saw their tail light.

An amazing meal at Resort King Fisher,
Even the monkeys would stop and pose for their picture.

Baby orphanages were hard to see them all there,
My heart broke so much, just not enough care.
We held them and fed them and loved them some more,
The need is so great, impossible to ignore.

So back to Addis with our Guides so fun,
Ranger Claw to that, and Get ‘er Done!

The bug ravaged through from altitude, food, or thirst
But a Man Upper doesn’t quit, even at his worst.

We finished our trip with a traditional meal,
Injera, live music, fake weddings--for real!

Mama Shan busted moves no one had seen
Put their dancers to shame, livin’ the dream.

Americans style seems so late,
Ethiopian trendsetters, more than great.

Ethiopian culture, never a bore,
Kaldis, the style, and the marketplace store.

But what we take with us is more than all that,
What we witnessed and saw, just what we take back.

Yet, how could we leave with such heavy hearts
I know we must go now, and do our part.

So Africa is with me, my heart is left there
Bringing love to the orphans, not forgotten--We Care.

Everyone must Go. Must Be. and Love,
Being the hands and feet of Christ Above.

When one window closes, God opens a Door.
James One Twenty Seven.  Need I say more?

*  *  *

a little pictorial to reference...
 Kids of the Kingdom
 Precious women of Mission Ethiopia
 Our Coffee Ceremony at Mulu and Mercy's newly redone house!
 Learnin all about life, havin lunch with the lepers
 Korah:  The Trash Dump

 Our Jungle Safari
 Captain Rob being honored by the Village of Chuko
 the Pirates Dig a Well team
 where the village HAD been getting their water
 Get Er Done.  Gig'em Aggies?  ranger Claw?
 Our EGH Guides!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Crushed Grapes… and I don’t mean the SodaPop

Too many times, we go through life saying, “Pick Me, Pick Me, I’m ready!!”…. but only when and how it’s convenient for us.  We need to be broken first.  We need to be crushed.  We object to the way God wants to use us.  We object to the people He puts in front of us.  We object, we object, we object…. But if we’re truly to serve as He intends, we need to be open to HOW as well.

My words that got me today, I hope they inspire you...


"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake." Colossians 1:24
We make calls out of our own spiritual consecration, but when we get right with God He brushes all these aside, and rivets us with a pain that is terrific to one thing we never dreamed of, and for one radiant flashing moment we see what He is after, and we say - "Here am I, send me."

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what kind of finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine would have been remarkably bitter. To be a sacramental personality means that the elements of the natural life are presenced by God as they are broken providentially in His service. We have to be adjusted into God before we can be broken bread in His hands. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 40 Hits, Uganda Edition

A month.  4 weeks.  31 days.  7 hours,  44,630 minutes.  A month.
Yes, even MORE than a month has gone by since I landed back in the states from my trip to Uganda and Ethiopia.  And I gotta be honest, I thought I'd be muuuuch better at this whole blogging thing.  Wow, I really haven't been.  And looking back, I realized, I hadn't really 'went there' with my whole trip.  So, with a deep sigh and an extremely heavy heart, I’d like to take a minute to actually ‘introduce’ my trip to you….. Let’s see where this goes.
As God Sees It....

What’s it like to go on a Short Term mission trip when you’ve never been on one before?  Well?  For starters, you have nothing to compare it to, so you shouldn’t have any expectations.  Ha.  And if you do, be prepared to have your world rocked, and your expectations blown right out the window.  And know that the second you get home, your life will never, Ever, be the same.  And know that you’ll be okay with that.
You have every right to feel nervous, anxious, scared, excited, insecure, inadequate, unprepared, ---any emotion you might have felt entering the doors your first day of Junior High and you had a giant pimple on your head---you probably feel the same way.
I was really nervous how my extreme motion claustrophobia (yes, self-diagnosed---don’t try and go get a prescription) would handle the 13 hour flight over.  But MUCH to my surprise and HUGE relief, it actually went really fast.  I think the excitement outweighed the extreme claustrophobia and exhaustion, thankfully.  We finally landed in Entebbe and boarded our caravan to Kampala, Uganda.  A huge 30 psgr bus, an 8 psgr van, and a huge truck full of 37 x 4 bags of luggage!  It’s not your typical airport pickup.  And It’s one thing to jump on board a bus, with a local driver, for 3 hours with total strangers in a completely foreign country……. And it’s completely a different thing to have all that AND the Man Up Experience, Cheetah Bus Style:
(Why our Men GO):

Okay, okay, there’s no way I’ll get through this 14 days of absolutely amazingness without losing you.  Or better yet, I might keep you, but my computer will be so outdated by the time i finish rambling that I won't be able to post this anyway.  So, here's what we're gonna do.  We’re breaking this trip down, the edited, commercial version, Cheetah Bus Bullet Point style…..
Top 40 Hits of Uganda
1. Hundreds of footballs and soccer balls don’t travel well--but suck it up.  It's ALL worth it in the end
2. Carrying thousands of dollars cash into a foreign country is as scary as it seems.
3. No matter how organized and prepared you think you are with thousands of donations, you never will be
4. Don’t expect hot water.  That way when it comes, it’s really hot.  And I mean REALLY hot.
.And screams can be heard for miles in Africa.
5. Wedge cut looking fries, are in fact, not wedge cut fries.
6. Electricity’s nice….but working flashlights are priceless
7. Collapsing mosquito nets don’t always wake you up innocently
8. 4am. There are other cultures in the world, yes.  And not necessarily quiet ones.
9. Bu•tter •nug:  (buh’tƏr’nũg) n  1. sweet, small child of African descent—typically Ugandan.  2. Delightful, lovable, and charming.  3. Full of adoration, and usually possessing big, round and hopeful eyes.  4. Seeking and worthy of attention and love.  Well known for their sweet hugs and captivating smiles.  (Man Upper International Dictionary, 3rd edition)**
10.Ugandan girls and boys know how to Hula.  American white men ….well, try.
11. Face Paint + Brushes + Pure Chaos = Entertainment for hours… and not a clean cell of skin anywhere
12. Uganda is not where the Lion King was filmed…. But it might be referenced in the Garden of Eden.
13. CHARGE those kids.  And then Charge them some more.
14. Simple service, like a food line, will bless someone for days
15. Get familiar with the name Mama Kiki—she’s a legend in Africa
16. 37 adults CAN entertain themselves, as long as Pterodactyls are involved
17. Child prisoners?  Don’t exist.  God’s angels do.  And they will teach YOU how to worship
18. 26 men can actually hold their own, for 4 hours, on a mountainside, 5,000 feet up, playing soccer with the best of them.  And one girl can do the same.
19. Don’t leave your quarters without gum and stickers
20. When all else fails---DANCE
21. A screaming  and singing welcome from 200 children bombarding your caravan will NEVER be replaced
And the three that pick you, well NEVER be forgotten…and you will NEVER be the same
22. A true Man Upper* celebrates his birthday sourcin’ the Nile
23. Always take your meds with food.  ALWAYS.
24. Squeaking in the ceiling—cheese and peanut butter won’t always fix. 
25. Jungle juice will prove itself worthy time and time again.  And much to your team’s dismay, you will be bite free
26. Despite what they may tell you in America, hearing a Man Up team ‘working out’ outside your window at 6am IS actually comical
27. Mini sunglasses are always a hit.  Always
28. Watching a child perform his heart out will leave a heavy footprint on your heart—and you will have never felt so proud
29. Popcorn in the morning—‘nuff said.
30. Dude Perfect is really good at basketball.  Well, shooting baskets anyway—really far away.  atop water towers.
31. Seatbelts are for wimps.  Carpeted window guards are for Geniuses.
32. Children care who you are, where you’re from, how old you are, what your favorite food is, what your favorite sport is, and if you’re married or not—and will sit for hours to prove they care
And they can, AND WILL, call out your age just by taking off your hat
33. Just because a motorcycle is in the river doesn’t mean it’s stuck
34. You would be mayor if you carried soccer balls and threw them out your bus window every day
35. Go Longhorns!  …. Or don’t.
36. A child’s simple prayer request will leave you humbled forever
37. Do NOT tell a Man Upper* he can’t do something.
38. Apes, or chimpanzees, can run fast.  ….but not necessarily in Africa.
39. When all else fails---DANCE AGAIN.
40. A tearful goodbye will stain your heart and break you.  No matter who you are.
*Man Upper: a father, son, brother…who leaves the comfort of the norm, addresses the need to GO, then VISITS, and advocates for the fatherless.  Huggin on, loving, on, and reassuring the ‘fatherless’ that they are not, in fact, Fatherless.

A litte Pictorial to Reference the above ....
 The ever amazing team from Return Ministries packing up all our 150 bags of luggage!
 They picked me....and I was never, ever again the same!  "Amandaaa, Amandaaaa...."

 Dude Perfect making their awesome shot at Canaan Children's Home!

 Don't tell them you're on a schedule!

 Yes, we visit the Nile on a Mission Trip!  HEY!  Moses did....

 All our amazing Men, the official Inductors of MAN UP!

 BUTTERNUGS.  Need I say more?


 Captain Rog throwing out some soccer balls to the local kids!

 Mama Kiki!

 I wouldn't say I DIDN'T feel safe....  :/

 When your coach says CHARGE, you CHARGE.  And you leave your heart on the field....

 Each grade, boys and girls, performed a program for us visitors!  What talented children!!!

 There seriously was not one more place I could paint on these kids!  They started painting their clothes....  Oops.

 Leave all your hesistations and reservations at home... there is no such thing as fear

 Showin us how it's done!

 There is no I in team..... .

 The Sprinkler.  Duh...

only a Man Up thing!

So, there ya have it.  I tried.  Thank you for your light hearts.  As I still seem to struggle with putting the trip into words, I think it might be best to just visit you all personally so I can talk about each ministry individually, specifically. My written words just don't do them justice.
 So, I guess in the meantime…stayed tuned until Ethiopia gets broken down—Coffeehouse Style.