Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You're Invited!

Recital for Uganda

June 2, 2013 – 12:00 p.m.
Iowa City Church of Christ
4643 American Legion Rd SE, Iowa City, Iowa

Please Join
Therese Slatter and Nicole Philbrick
For a spaghetti luncheon
Followed by
A violin recital
Featuring works by Bach, Prokofiev, and Viotti

All donations will go to Carolyn Smellie as she embarks on a 2-year journey to Uganda with Africa Inland Mission.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Excellent Music and Ties That Bind

Today I'm borrowing my friend Sara's words because she said exactly what I want to say, and she said it so beautifully:

On Sunday, "...I had the honor of singing in the retirement concert of a beloved high school choir director. In the 24 years that this teacher taught at my alma mater, he has inspired thousands of students with powerful works of music. In our very own version of Mr. Holland's Opus, we got to spend the weekend practicing some of the most beautiful music he ever assigned and performing it for his greatest fans: students, alumni, teachers, faculty, staff, and community members. During the reception, a colleague read some of his accomplishments in the high school music program. He truly was fantastic. He dreamed big and encouraged his students to perform pieces the likes of which are normally reserved for college choirs. While I was in high school he pushed us to perform (and perform well) such fantastic and challenging pieces as Chichester Psalms, Handel's Messiah- including recitatives and solos, and pieces by Eric Whitacre, to name only a few. The entire event was a remarkable reflection on a passionate career spent moving the hearts, minds, and souls of countless individuals. We should each be lucky to find ourselves in work about which we are half so passionate. "

After six years, it was such a treat to sing with these ladies again!
They continue to bless and inspire me.

My brother, sister, and I all sang in a choir together for the first time.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Little Is A Lot

$1,100 by June 17th.

As of today, that is how much I still need in monthly support.

That's a big number.
It looks scary.
No one can cover that kind of expense.

But let's break it down.

$1,100 per month is the same as...

          11 people giving $100 per month.
          (Just eleven people and I could be 100% supported!)
          22 people giving $50 per month.
          5 people giving $100 per month and 12 people giving $50 per month.

Hey, that sounds more manageable. Could you be one of those 11 people? Are you one of the 22?


Let's break it down even more.

That's 55 people giving just $20 a month.
          The cost of one less fancy coffee per week.
          One less evening out at the movie theater.
          Choosing to pack your lunch once a week rather than eating out.

Well, that's not so scary anymore! That seems doable.

Can you commit to $20 a month?
Or maybe you're able to give $50 a month to help create a ministry for single mothers in Uganda like my friend Rhona.
What about $100 a month to minister to the abandoned babies my friend Laura cares for and work to keep families together in the first place?

$1,100 seems like a lot.
22 days is a short period of time.
But when you break it down and many people are willing to give a little, miracles happen.
Two fish and five loaves can feed thousands.

It's people just like you that make it possible for me to go serve and advocate for women, children, and families in Uganda. Will you consider joining my monthly support team?

A little can go a long way.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Just The Facts

I have posted before about why I am going back to Uganda, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share with some of my newer readers about this vision for ministry and maybe help clarify a few things for others, as well. 

Ministry-Related Questions

Why Uganda?
I've already spent one year serving in Uganda with AIM as a short-term missionary. While there, I learned that child abandonment is a significant issue in our community that is not currently being addressed at the root level. I learned that it is typically single, young mothers who are university students that wind up abandoning their baby shortly after birth. This can be attributed to many cultural factors that cause these women to feel very stigmatized, unloved, and under-supported.

What will you do there?
My desire is to develop a family discipleship program for single mothers to help support, educate, and nurture Christ-centered families in our community. My desire is to see families stay together and encourage these women to finish their formal education.

How will you do this?
Generally speaking, we will do this by partnering with local Ugandan churches/individuals who share the same desire to come alongside unwed mothers. 

More specifically, this ministry will involve working with these individuals to create and develop a family education curriculum and discipleship program that will include things like
  • teaching the mothers about basic child development
  • teaching about health, safety, and nutrition
  • offering child care while mothers attend their classes
  • accountability for spiritual growth, Bible study, and biblical counseling
  • reconciling broken relationships
Discipling and training the Ugandans I work alongside will also be a focus so the ministry can eventually become sustainable and completely church/community-led. We want to empower the Ugandan leaders and these young women to also go and make disciples of Christ.

Logistics-Related Questions

How long will you be there?
Two years. 

Will you go with a team?
I will be traveling to Africa with other AIM missionaries from the States, but I am being sent as an individual missionary. Once in Uganda, I will be a part of an AIM team.

When do you leave?
July 11th is my hopeful departure date, but I must be 100% financially supported by June 17th in order to be cleared to go.

How much money do you need to raise?
Currently, I still need 8% of my one-time support and 55% of my monthly support.

Where does the money go?
Check out this store I've created on my blog to see some of my specific one-time and monthly expenses. There, you can "purchase" something on my behalf!

Additionally, check out this publication created by AIM detailing exactly how missionary finances work and where the money goes.

How can I give?
I'm so glad you asked! Not everyone is called to go overseas, but we all have a role to play in building the kingdom and making disciples of Jesus. 

It's very easy to give a one-time gift or to set up monthly giving on-line at AIM's giving site.
Please contact me if you'd like more information on how to mail a check.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Who Wants to Go Shopping?!

I'll be honest. I enjoy shopping. I love a good sale. 
Yes, I do.

Anybody with me? (I can see you nodding your head...)

Well, the good news is that I have a great opportunity for you to go shopping right here, right now!

Kind of.

I wanted to give y'all another look into where the financial support I need to raise goes. AIM, for the benefit of its missionaries, requires that we be 100% supported before we can leave for the mission field. This allows us to more fully focus on our ministries once we're on the field rather than trying to support-raise from across the ocean, and it allows us to remain on the mission field for our entire term rather than having to come back when the money runs out.

As of this moment, I have 74% of my outgoing (one-time) support and 45% of my monthly support.

In order to help you visualize where some of the needs are, I've itemized monthly and one-time expenses. Here's where you get to go shopping! 

Step 1: Scroll through the pictures, and find something you'd like to "purchase" or consistently give toward on my behalf.
Step 2: Click on the picture. This will take you to AIM's giving site.
Step 3: Enter your one-time gift or monthly pledge amount and follow the site's directions to complete your transaction. 
Step 4: (optional) You may choose to include a note with your gift stating what you purchased ("propane tank," "groceries," etc.). This can be done through AIM's giving site, by leaving a comment on my blog, or my sending me an email.
Step 5: Look for a big thank you coming your way soon!

One-Time Gifts

Monthly Commitments

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

More Than It Seems

What do you see when you look at this photo?

A bunch of dandelions? Wilted weeds?

You wouldn't be wrong.

But do you know what I see?

I see affection. I see happy faces and full hearts. I see hope-filled generosity.
I see sixteen sweet, little faces I've had the pleasure of spending the year with.

This bunch of dandelions was given to me, one-by-one, in the span of about three minutes by my preschoolers this week. These glorious, golden flowers beg to be picked by little hands this time of year. And pick them they did!

But do you know what's amazing about children at this age? They find something so marvelous, so wonderful, and they instantly know they have to share it with someone. They are utterly compelled to run and find the nearest person of their affection and bestow their magnificent treasure on that person. "This is for you!" they proclaim, grinning silly and wide. 
I didn't observe a single child search the playground for a dandelion and proceed to shove it into his pocket to save for himself. Those who wanted to hang on to their precious finds had big plans for them: "I'm giving this to my mom."  

Children don't look at dandelions and merely see weeds. 
They see beautiful potential for blessing. 
They think, "What a lovely treasure! Who can I share this with?"

And when I received this gift, all in a crumpled bunch, I didn't see dandelions either. 
I saw precious hearts.
Generous spirits.
Sweet relationships.
Faith-filled trust, knowing that I would receive the small gift with appropriate glee and genuine thanks.

In a similar way, we shouldn't make light of our small gifts to God. It's all too easy to believe the worldly message that "bigger must be better." (Try telling that to Texas! :) )

But that's not true of our giving to God. We should give what we are able, whether small or great. It's easy to think, "My small gift won't make any difference. It won't matter." But that's not true. It does matter!
God looks at our hearts and at our ability to give. And He desires to be proud of our giving, no matter how great or small the world tells us it is.
We don't give because God "needs" our contribution, be it time, money, talents, or abilities. 
We give in order to honor and love Him. Whether large or small, we give to worship God and thank Him for all that He is, and has done, and is yet to do!

me and brother

When you give to AIM, on my behalf, you're actually giving to the Lord. You're giving to the eternal Kingdom that He is building in Uganda.

Guess who this bouquet was going inside to.

And that's no small gift. 

(For more information on how to give toward my future ministry in Uganda, please click here)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pray Africa

To learn more about unreached people groups in Africa and how you can specifically be praying for them, click the above image.

To learn about how you can be praying for me as I prepare to return to Uganda to minister to women who are often unloved and under-supported, click here or on the "Prayer Requests" tab at the top of my blog.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

In Their Words, Pt. 2

How to Get Along With an Introvert  Donald Miller
"Mostly, introverts live in their minds and they think about why things happen or they daydream or whatever...I don’t want to have conversations that aren’t going somewhere. I want to talk about your passions, your fears, your musings about why you think life is the way it is."

"We work as a team. We play as a team. We laugh as a team."

The Wall: A Map Of Adoption Ethics According to Me | My Fascinating Life
"An ethical adoption is not about how many social outreach programmes an agency has. An ethical adoption is not about how wonderful and kind the agency staff are. An ethical adoption is not about how great the kids are, or how well they fit their new families. An ethical adoption is not (necessarily) about waiting the longest for a referral. An ethical adoption is certainly not the very best possible thing that could happen to child. An ethical adoption is about the people who benefit from adoption staying on their own side of the wall."

8 Reasons You Should Never Become a Missionary | Laura Parker
"There’s nothing like moving to a foreign country to reveal all the crap that’s in your heart.  Seriously. I have cussed more, cried more, been more angry, had less faith, been more cynical and, generally speaking, have become in many ways a worser person during my last two years of serving in Asia."

A humorous response to Dove's campaign that went viral last week.

It's so simple it hurts.