October 25, 2012

The Gift of Joy

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hosting some special visitors from the states! Christian and my boyfriend Mike came for a visit and it was such an amazing trip on so many levels! I enjoyed seeing Uganda through their eyes and was refreshed by their energy and enthusiasm to see and do everything possible and to serve and love the beautiful women and children of the Dorcas Widows Ministry. 
Mike wrote down his experience for our ministry newsletter but I wanted to share it with you all as well!

The Gift of Joy
-Mike Barrucco

When I decided to come to Africa and visit the Dorcas Widows ministry, I had no idea what to expect.Being raised in a middle-class home in Southern New Jersey, in a large sense, I was sheltered from the burdens that others face every day. With this being my first journey to a developing nation, I was very nervous on what lay ahead. I was also unprepared for the gift this country would give me, The Gift of Joy.

On our first full day in Uganda, we were taken to visit one of the widows in her home where we were welcomed with joy.  
After opening in prayer, we proceeded to discuss her business of making paper beaded jewelry. Soon a pitcher of juice and food she had prepared were set out for us to snack on as we discussed her living situation. I began to reflect on this act of kindness and realized how much joy and sacrifice it took to provide such a welcomed greeting, despite a very difficult living situation.

We left her house and continued on to visit another widow who lived near by. This woman was the primary caretaker for four of her young grandchildren as their mother was out looking for work. We shared some cookies with these kids and as they ate, I realized they were hungry, and this was a meal, not a snack. Yet even in this situation where the children were going hungry, we were again welcomed with joy. 

As we winded down the red dirt roads of the Ugandan slums, children greeted us with joyful laughter. It was obvious that folks like us did not frequent these parts.

That evening we attended the weekly widows meeting at church. Upon arriving, every single widow rose to her feet and let out shouts of exuberance. They had been excitedly waiting for us to arrive. We opened in prayer and then the ladies put on a huge production they had lovingly planned for us. They gave us the wonderful gift of their native dance and then performed a play that narrated some of the joy and suffering these women had endured. We sang songs to the Lord and it was such a wonderful collection of voices! It sounded as if there were a thousand people singing instead of twenty. As we worshiped, I searched the women’s faces and realized there was not a single lukewarm Christian in this crowd. The Lord was the wellspring of joy in their lives and it was a rare treasure to discover, one that warmed my heart deeply. 

The next day I had the joy of meeting my sponsored child! Dennis is 13 and wants to be a pilot one-day. As an aerospace engineer, it was a real treat to hear about this ambition. Dennis’ mother welcomed me with open arms. She told me her story of becoming a widow, and her many trials since. I could tell she had such a wonderful love for her children. As I interacted with Dennis and his mother, one thought stood out in my mind. I realized that Dennis was wearing the same outfit that day as in a picture I first saw of him a long time ago. I wondered if those were the only clothes he owned? I was so glad that we had already planned to take Dennis shopping to pick out some new clothes for him.

We picked Dennis up the next day and he ran up to me with a huge smile that could light up a room. I was thinking, what child likes clothes shopping this much? The afternoon shopping in Kampala with Dennis was one of the most fulfilling days of my life. We took him to purchase new jeans, a shirt, and some school shoes and he seemed to enjoy every part of the day. It was impossible for me to comprehend that a child could be so respectful, thankful and filled with such incredible joy by a mere shopping trip. It was such a different reaction than a typical child in the states. My world lit up that day!

 I thank God for the gift of joy that Dennis and the Dorcas widows showed me. They helped teach me how wonderful it truly is to be joyful in the Lord in all situations. Through my time in Africa God showed me that faith, above all else, will lead to the deepest type of satisfaction that one can ever see in this world.


August 12, 2012

sorrowful yet always rejoicing

“We are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

2 Corinthians 6:10

 I realized it’s been almost four months since I updated my blog and it hasn’t been for lack of things to write about!

As I’ve been reflecting on life and ministry and all that these past four months have brought, this phrase of being sorrowful, yet always rejoicing popped into my mind.

 I think it encompasses what has been doing on in my life and the lives of those around me.

I went home for a month in May to take a much-needed break from work here in Uganda and to reconnect with some dear family and friends. 
While I was away, I receive the heartbreaking news that one of our beloved boys in our sponsorship program had passed away suddenly. Paul was a healthy, lively ten year old who was playing soccer at school and dropped to the ground and they weren’t able to revive him.

   Unbelievable sorrow.

In the midst of processing that immense heartbreak some beautiful and amazing things have happened as well.  

 Annet and I were able to watch our first sponsored girl graduate from her training course in catering! This young woman has come a long way from her own heartbreak of watching her mother die five years ago leaving her and her three younger siblings total orphans. What a moment of rejoicing!  We are so proud of this  beautiful young woman with a bright future! 

At the end of July, a huge milestone happened in our ministry. Thanks to generous donations, two new houses were built on the Dorcas Widows Ministry land! We were able to have a dedication ceremony and move two of our widows and their families into the homes! This was a dream realized long before I even joined this ministry and I had the privilege of watching it become a reality.  

More rejoicing!

The women holding the pictures of the families that
donated the money to have these homes built!

What an emotional and intense four months it has been and those are just a few of the stories that have been happening.
Life will continually be a series of sorrows and joys and I am realizing more and more the importance of clinging to the Lord for my ultimate hope. He has a plan and purpose for everything even when we don’t understand.  

April 18, 2012


Our ministry got the sad news early Friday morning that one of the women in our widow’s ministry had died suddenly.It was shocking to say the least, as no one knew she was sick and this woman was only 40 years old.

Her name was Costa. I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing her very well, but every interaction I had with her was always filled with a huge smile, a big warm embrace and a kind word. She always made me feel so welcome.

Yesterday at our weekly widows meeting, women had an opportunity to share their memories of Costa. It was sad, sweet, funny and touching but the one word that was repeated off everyone’s lips was Costa’s JOY.

 Costa was indeed a joy-filled woman despite her tough life circumstances. Women mentioned how she encouraged them in a dark time or brought food to them when they were sick. And everyone remarked on her amazing dancing abilities. Costa loved to dance! Wild, life of the party, dancing Costa.

At the end of the tributes to this special woman, one of the leaders of our ministry asked us all a very sobering question. It’s been lingering on my mind as well:

"Costa will be remembered for her JOY. What will you be remembered for?"

What legacy will I leave for my friends and family when I am gone? The truth is we don’t know the day or the hour of our passing and so we must live purposefully, with intention, forgive others, love deeply, live generously and remember that our life on earth is just the “cover and title page” to the rest of our story.

As we mourn with her friends and children and other family members left behind, we cling to this truth:

Costa is free now. Free from the pain and stress and sickness and burdens of this life. And as we were reminded by one of her friends, she is dancing in heaven now with her Savior, truly radiant with JOY!

April 02, 2012

Give more than you can spare.

A friend of mine sent me this quote by C.S Lewis and it’s given me much to think and pray about.

This concept of our generosity actually “pinching and hampering us” was something that struck me as profound and I am challenged by and maybe you will be too.

How often do I give to the point where it truly affects me? Not just what I can spare? 

I’m realizing that generosity is a condition of our hearts, not a condition of our bank account or circumstances.
If I'm not generous with $1, I won’t be generous with $1000.

As the Lord has been bringing this theme of generosity to mind, I had an honest time of self reflection where I felt prompted by the question:

What is it that keeps me from living generously?

Without hardly a hesitation the word FEAR came to mind.  
What am I afraid of?

As I worked through what this meant, I realized I was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough for MY needs.

I had to admit to the Lord that I didn’t trust He would take care of my every need.

It was a hard thing to say because my whole life has been one glorious story of the Lord providing for my every need! It was hard to tell the Lord, "despite your track record in my life, I still have fear and doubt that you can and will take care of me."

 My fists were tightly clenched, not willing to let go of that “security blanket” and truly live generously. With hands closed we are certain to not lose anything, but we won’t be able to receive anything either.

And I have seen bit by bit as I release the tight grip and work through the fear and distrust, there is something so beautiful to be gained: 

JOY! Overflowing!

What is holding you back from living a life of extravagant generosity? Maybe it isn't your money but your time that you hold onto tightly?

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” phil 4:19

March 25, 2012


I've found some unusual forms of encouragement these days. 

Everyday I take a taxi (mini bus crammed with people) to and from various places around Kampala for work.  

The back of the taxis here in Uganda often times have an interesting message written on the back window. A lot of them make no sense or have no deep meaning, but it seems I see one nearly everyday that encourages me or makes me laugh. 

It feels like just what I needed to hear at that moment. God is funny like that. He can use anything, anywhere to speak to our hearts if we are looking and listening for Him. 

How is God speaking to you these days?

March 22, 2012


The first time I met Peace, she was too sick to get out of bed and greet us. 

We had received the sad news at one of our weekly meetings that one of the widows in our program who was HIV positive had fallen ill and was bedridden.

Later that week, Annet and I wandered through one of the slum areas to visit Peace and offer whatever help we could. As we entered her one room house and our eyes adjusted to the darkness, I heard a muffled voice greeting us from behind a hanging bed sheet.

Slowly a hand drew back the curtain and I looked directly into the desperate and worn face of Peace. I reached out and squeezed her outstretched hand and forced a smile on my face. She looked frail and defeated as she propped herself up a bit so she could share with us her story.

Peace has a long and sad history for only being in her 30’s. She married when she was 16 and quickly began having children. Like so many women in our ministry, peace was abused and neglected by her husband who quickly took on other wives. Peace found out she was positive after her husband died of HIV/AIDS leaving her to raise four children with no outside support.

Her struggle is great as Peace isn’t able to provide the basic necessities for her children. When she is healthy, Peace works at a Coffee factory sorting coffee seeds which earns her about $30 a month. It’s not nearly enough to care for all her children’s needs, especially school tuition.  

I had the privilege of meeting her kids the next week and I was so impressed by their kindness, hospitality and compassionate hearts. Even in the midst of their own struggles, these children long to help others.  They are very bright and have above average test scores in school. They sell scraps and work at whatever odds and ends jobs they can to earn money to go to school but it is not enough.

 When you think of sponsoring a child, I know it’s easy to think of only young kids. But the fact is there is a huge need for these older children to get sponsors! A lot of the big sponsorship programs only start with young ones, leaving children, especially like Jannette in a tough situation. 

Jannette(19) and her 3 younger brothers. The boy on the far right is sponsored by another organization.

The added bonus of sponsoring an older child is the time commitment is shorter as they only have a few years left of their education.

These 3 need sponsors! Jannette (19) Witness (16) Trust (7)

If you would like to sponsor one of Peace's children or help in any way please visit our website or email me directly! 

I have the joy of working with these precious families and I know what a HUGE difference a sponsor will make in their lives!