simply love.

This blog post is with my good friend, Chloe, from belovedadventurer.blogspot.com
ps – the pic above is of me & chloe from today at a children’s prison in Uganda
I wanted to share a few words and then let her words and my images do the talking. She’s an amazingly talented writer. She says it better than I could EVER say, so I’ll let her tell it. It’s been an amazing week so far, I don’t know how I’ll ever put into words what I’ve seen with my eyes and what has happened in my heart. But I hope these few images will do some talking. We have met some amazing people with huge loving hearts. All these kids want is to be loved. To be touched, and hugged, and held and loved. What an honor it’s been to share the love of Christ with these beautiful children. There is so much to be said. So much to be done. So many stories to be told. I pray this week that God hows me how I can effectively share their stories with you. Until then….Chloe….
In the words of Chloe…..
“Where my words fail, the pictures can fill in the holes. Africa is everything you have heard, read, and imagined, but more vivid, bright, and searing. The smell of red dust, exhaust, and burning refuse fills your lungs. The jungle is lush, green, leaves as big as the span of your arms from fingertip to fingertip. Goats, cows, chickens, and children walk along the side of the dusty roads. Ugandans use no time, but savor every moment, stop when it is necessary to stop and hug your neighbor’s neck. I woke up to the sound of the rooster crow and a woman singing prayers to Allah below my window. The lights of Kampala glittered against the misty hills. We want to catch you up on the past 5 days of travel and ministry.
 
 
There is little to no cell service, very little wireless internet, and often times no electricity, so blogging was not an option. The flight over was pleasant. The airlines were very accommodating; and Wynne and I somehow managed to convince Stephen to sit with Dude Perfect. We snagged the very back row of the Boeing 777, complete with plaid blankets, eye masks, reclining chairs, and square meals. We spent 10 of the 12 hours trying to figure out the best way to sleep, then 2 hours of sleep. Overall, the lengthy travel allowed us to transition easily into the African time lapse.
 
 
Our first night we stayed in a guest home on the outskirts of the city before our first day at Return Ministries. We woke up to a breakfast of toast and pineapple, slipped on our long skirts, and began our journey. It was a brick house, with a concrete slab and portico. The vans pulled up and my eyes were filled with 300 little faces, singing and dancing, and gleaming smiles. I climbed out of the van, immediately greeted with what seemed like dozens of little arms reaching up towards me, begging to be held. There was no hesitation, no boundaries on the affection like we so often try to set in place in the States. We danced, and danced, and danced. 300 kids. 45 in school. 15 being housed. I have never been so filled with joy. Even with so many children, I was able to spend the entire time with the same 10 kids. When one walked away, another would look up to you, then the other would return. Swabulah, Alice, Mercy, Angella, Jeremiah, Sophia, Olivia, Emmy, and Asher. Strong names. Their very cheek bones tell a story, the amber and dark brown of their eyes. Alice was deaf, but communicated better than most with her smile and hands.
Chloe, Shayleigh and some girls at Return Ministries.

They taught us how to shake our hips, to laugh, to not worry about our hungry stomachs, or dry throats, to give into love so quickly that it utterly breaks your heart when you leave hours later. Imagine the sound of the beating drum, laughter, and “I lahv yooo Jezus, Jezus een mah haut.” There was a moment as I was spinning with children on both hips that I was home. I could close my eyes and sit at the foot of the throne singing for eternity with these beautiful souls. All I could promise them was that I would see them in heaven, that we would wear our grass skirts, sing, and kiss each other’s heads again.

Sitting in the van, with my hand out the window grasping my girls’ hands, watching tears roll down their dusty cheeks was burned my heart. The orphan crisis is real. The problem is real. It is big. There really are thousands of fatherless children. Real children with skin, memories of violence, hungry bellies, dreams of becoming lawyers, singers, and italian cooks.

 

 

Driving back through the busy city, all I could do was sit and watch. Someone in our van said, “there is no such thing as second chances here”. How true it is.

 

 

{this is what their faces look like when they want you to pick them up and love them. this is Olivia. We became friends at Return Ministries. }

 

 

We relocated to a beautiful guest home farther outside the city before day 2 of travel. This morning we prayed as we drove 2 hours to a “childrens’ rehabilitation center”, knowing that what the day held would be dark, jolting. After being escorted through a check-in process, we were brought through the facility. A corridor of confinement cells, cement floors and walls, entry rooms where children are put as they arrive for weeks with no clothing and a plastic basin. Running water is a more recent installment to the compound. Barren landscape. 219 kids. 200 boys. 19 girls. I didn’t even know how to begin to process what my eyes were seeing. Wynne made the analogy that they treat these kids as if they were lost pets. When you lose your dog, you call the shelter, who you hope has picked them up on the streets. Most of them will never be reclaimed and are unjustly detained. Kenneth was walking home one day when a group of young boys came up behind him. They were being chased by police for petty theft, so in the shuffle, Kenneth was sent to M1 too. For 2 years. The children had open wounds, untreated sores, and clothes that you would never even let your child wear as pajamas in the States. We throw out clothes with one stain from snack, these children would give up a meal for a bar of soap to scrub their clothes. They will keep them in solitary confinement cells for weeks, months even, to “break them down” for crimes that they either didn’t commit or committed out of desperation.

Passing through cell after cell, we gathered in a concrete room. What happened next was beyond anything I’ve ever tasted or seen. The boys began singing, clapping, and dancing. You could feel the Ugandan beat in your chest. I looked around me and saw boys earnestly raising their hands to the sky, eyes clinched shut, singing “Let the mercy of the Lord come down. Let the favor of the Lord come down. Let the forgiveness of the Lord come down.” We sank to our knees and raised our hands to the Lord of hosts. One of the boys stood in the center leading each song, praying in Lugandan, pleading on behalf of the children gathered around him on their knees. He is only 17.

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. I don’t worship on my knees till they ache, sway to the movement of the Spirit, and weep at the taste of His mercy. I never hunger, shower in privacy, know where my parents are, drink water whenever I thirst, entertain myself mindlessly, make a doctor’s appointment at the first sign of a cold, and know that my dreams could be accomplished. These children have no second chance. Many will be held in this cold compound for years, away from their schooling and family, mistreated, and beaten. When they are released, going back to primary school is unfathomable, trade school costs $250 every 4 months.

 

But then there is Moses Alutia.

 

He visits all 6 centers across Uganda weekly, plays soccer, sees that they receive medical attention, reasons with the system, creates a second chance. 60 feet ministries is carrying the Gospel headlong. These centers may never change, the environment may always keep their wounds from healing, and mistreat children, but Moses is seeing to it that they find their families, and hopes to build homes for them to live in after their release. It is only possible through sponsorship and the forming of these homes that this sick cycle will slow, much less end.

 

Africa is real to Wynne and I. God commands us to care for the fatherless, and now we see why. They have no advocate. Only two days in and I am wondering what the heck I am doing with my life. Pray for God to provide ways into the 2nd center tomorrow, for continued health, and for our hearts to connect with our eyes.

 

 

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to posess.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 30

 

Love, Chloe and Wynne

PS- it’s taken me over 1 hour and I have yet to get 1 picture from my camera. So, you might only get 1 or 2 pictures on the blog and then more instagram pics from my phone on facebook &instagram (@wynne4) so look there for more quick snapshots!

Hey, I'm Wynne!

Hi, friend! First, I truly am so giddy that you are here. I want you to know I 100% believe in you and all the ways you are growing towards living a more intentional life. I can’t wait to get to know you and your story, and I genuinely hope you are encouraged from our time together here. A little about me, I’m a type 7 on the enneagram, a total extrovert + people lover, entrepreneur, connector, storyteller, people gatherer, and passionate wife, mama + friend. I feel most alive when I’m exploring new places and surrounded by people I love. Give me a day in the outdoors disconnected from wifi, and I am a happy girl. I run on oat milk lattes, Jesus, gratitude journaling and kitchen dance parties with my three kids.
Welcome, come on in!

let'e be friends

  1. Jenna says:

    My heart aches to be there with you. You are an amazing woman who God is going to use for his Glory. I am proud to call you friend and I am beyond proud of you and stephen and I am so blessed by your heart and story and willingness to go and serve.

  2. Becca says:

    This made me cry and cry. You know the kind of crying that makes your shoulders go up and down. My hearts breaks for these children especially the ones in prison. I didn’t know such awful places even existed. I am so proud of all of you for allowing God to break your hearts for these precious people. May His Spirit continue to flow freely through you as you pour yourselves out daily to His beloved children. I am praying for you all. Love, Becca

    PS I hope I get to meet Chloe some day – she is a gifted writer.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!!! I want to be there with you sooo bad!! God is doing great things thru you Wynne!!!!

  4. Kari says:

    Thank you so much for simply loving the children you are blessing everyday with the team!! What a blessing for us to feel like we’re there with you. The photos are STUNNING!! Its a gift to see my boys ministering in action!
    Love you and praying for you!!
    xoxo
    Mama Kiki:)

  5. Chloe and Wynne, thank you so much for your beautiful story. I was in Uganda in June with Kari’s VO team, and reading your words has broken my heart all over again for the children at M1. Being at that place changed my heart like nothing else, and now I am yearning to be back there again. I have no words, just tears and tears and more tears. Thank you for keeping the story of M1 alive.

  6. alli zachry says:

    My heart is so captivated by your story already! Press on in serving and loving these precious children!! May the Lord be your strength and your everything in the days to come! Love you!!!!

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