Friday, November 27, 2009


This has been quite the exciting week, and I feel like I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday! First, I got to have 2, count that 2 Thanksgiving meals in Uganda! Both complete with a turkey that was bought at a market and killed within the premises. The first one was at the Empower a Child house and I was in charge of the turkey and stuffing. This was my first turkey and especially my first one that had been killed that morning! Oh Africa!! I actually turned out great! Not quite your classic butterball..but good none the less. While it was cooking you could smell the onions and the garlic cooking in the stuffing and the butter melting that was slathered all over the crust! For many of the Ugandans who came it was their first time ever tasting turkey. Can you imagine!! The second meal was at the Morris's house last night. They are the missionary family that my church in Raleigh, Vintage 21 is partnering with. It was a PERFECT night. The menu included Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin soup, pumpkin puree, mac and cheese with onions and bacon (made by the southern girls of course), rolls, matokee (made by the Ugandans of course!), apple cranberry gillet, pumpkin cake with brown butter icing, chocolate chip cookies, and coffee! Basically it was magic! There were 22 people there, some from the states, some from Uganda and about half were children under the age of 10. After dinner we all read bible verses that talked about thankfulness and discussed that every good thing we have or do is only from the Lord. His presence in our lives is enough to be thankful for. While I missed my family (who I got to video skype with!) I knew that there in that house with those people was exactly where I was supposed to be. ThankFULL.

things I am thankful for:
-Catherine's humor in ALL situations!
-Muzungu boys with American humor
-GREAT food this week
-God's grace
-families that always make you smile

This week the Lord blessed us with two unexpected muzungu guys. Daniel and Charlie. Daniel was in Uganda with Empower a Child this summer and he and Charlie are back in Africa with an organization called Mocha Club. If you want a great and easy way to help people in Africa this is for you! The organization asks you to give up 2 mochas a month and donate $7 a month to this organization instead! These guys are traveling to 7 African countries to document the different projects that Mocha Club supports. If you want to follow their journey and watch their amazing videos just click HERE! I also joined Mocha Club and if you want to join my team to support orphans and vulnerable children please go to the site!

Charlie and Daniel have definitely offered some comic relief for the events of this week. The most needed time was on Wednesday when we went Jungle trekking. Yep. Meredith Strickland trekked through an Ugandan jungle. Empower a Child purchased 34 acres of land in the Luwero district to build a training center, school, clinic, etc. It is a big dream with great possibilities. So, we drove to the new land to pray over it. We begin our adventure and there is definitely NO path! I was supposed to be praying but I was more worried about a snake, spider, wild jungle animal or child jumping out at me. We got to some huts about the time the rains started. When the rains subsided a bit we headed to a grove of trees that is thought to be possessed by demons and ruled by witch craft. [this is not a joke] As soon as we arrived at the grove the rains began again. And I mean RAIN. Torrential, African, down pouring rain. While some were casting the demons out of the forest the muzungus stood around a) in shock [i mean, this was my first forest demon casting out event] and b) laughing hysterically again because we were beyond wet. The entire time the guys were just cracking us up with their sarcastic jungle comments. We also had a 2 hour van ride back to the house soaking wet and freezing cold! Oh the adventures in Africa. There really aren't enough words to describe that day.

Next week we will be throwing Christmas parties at many of our outreaches! It will be so wonderful to watch theses children's faces light up as we present them with MUCH deserved gifts!

Highlight of my week. Carrying baby Vicky at Sanyu Babies Home on my back like a true Ugandan!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Safari Pictures!

Hannah and I beside Murchinson Falls

Me and Pumba, just hanging out. No big deal...this is what everyone does!

Giraffe. Looking at you!
Big Elephant!

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas!

Mufasa..on the hunt for some breakfast!
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse at my 300 safari pictures! I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to go! If you want to see more + videos then you will just have to wait till I come home in January! Ok. Goodnight all. Movie night with the girls!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

safari & thoughts

Would someone please PINCH me! I just got back from a SAFARI! What!?!?! Is my life great or what! 4 of us piled into a van on Sunday and headed up country 5 hours to Murchinson Falls National Park. Our first day we hiked to the top of a HUGE waterfall! It was gorgeous and breathtaking and hot and it made you feel like you were the size of an ant! God knew what He was doing when He created waterfalls. After the waterfall we drove to our hotel, Red Chili! Oh and on our drive through the park we saw numerous baboons. They were so funny and the babies were all just hanging out on their mammas backs! The place we stayed was so nice and relaxing. We slept in a banda which is just a little tin roof house with beds and mosquito nets (of course). Red Chilli came complete with an amazing view, great food, fabulous people watching (we were the only other Americans was pretty refreshing), and quite a few Pumbas wandering around.. you know the usual. What safari experience wouldn't be complete without a few Lion King characters right?!?!? That night there was a MAJOR rain storm about midnight. There are no words to describe the power and sound of an African rain...needless to say we didn't get much sleep at all! We were up and in our safari van at 6:30am! We drove for 5 minutes to the river, which is the NILE, and took a ferry across to start our safari! Our guides name was Tiban..kind of like Timon right! We all climbed on top of our van and sat on pillows so that we could get the best view. We drove through tons of trees for awhile and as soon as we hit the clearing...bam! GIRAFFES! Like 10 of them!! We got to see a giraffe gallop. It was the most awkward yet graceful thing I have ever beheld. The entire time we all felt like singing Lion King songs....we did some of the time! The game drive lasted about 4 hours and we saw soooo many amazing animals! The water buffalo's seem like a tough crowd to live with. They mainly travel in large herds but we would randomly see one or two hanging out by themselves. We asked our guide about that and as serious as can be he replied "oh, those are just the loser buffalo's". We were like "What! Loser buffalo's! how do you become a loser buffalo?". Basically if the males get old or lose a fight, they are kicked out of the herd and have to become loners for the rest of their lives. Though crowd huh! But God made sure they weren't completely alone. They always have birds on their backs to eat the ticks off of them! Circle of life for sure! We saw lots of birds, antelopes, bush bucks, elephants, red tailed monkeys, warthogs, and we were lucky enough to see 1 Male lion and 2 Leopards in a tree! We even went off roading to track the lion..he was hunting antelope! After the game drive we headed back to Red Chilli for lunch. I got a BACON CHEESEBURGER! Yum! In the afternoon we went on a 3 hour boat cruise of the Nile to the base of the waterfall! We saw TONS of hippopotamuses, baby hippos, crocodiles, beautiful birds, and we got really close to a HUGE male elephant! The entire time I had to keep reminding myself that I was in AFRICA, on a SAFARI, riding a boat down the NILE! Ahhh! I highly rec commend it!
During the trip I was reading a wonderfully challenging book by Shane Claiborne titled "The Irresistible Revolution". He challenges us a Christians to actually do what Christ called us to do. To live among the poor, to leave your family to seek Him, and to live a radical life of love and forgiveness. We are all hopeless ragamuffins who are searching and seeking for the One to love us and make us feel whole and pure again. The author lives in the ghetto of Philadelphia and his main goal is to love his neighbor and hope that they know how beautiful and worthy they are in the eyes of God. he challenges all of us to fully think through our careers and think of new and imaginative ways that we can use our gifts to further God's kingdom. He tells stories of massage therapist who make frequent trips into the city to seek out the homeless and give free massages, gourmet chefs who cook five star meals for the homeless, and ordinary people taking time to talk to, love and get to know the marginalized in their communities. I will be returning home in 2 months time....and honestly....I am scared because I have absolutely no clue what to do when I return. The possibilities are endless. I will be coming home a different me, and I hope a more complete me. One of my prayers upon coming to Uganda is that I would learn how to love more like Christ and that through my time Christ would heal me from a year of pain and heartache. That prayer is slowly being answered and I can feel Him changing me slowly. However, everyone who knows me at home only knows the old me. How will the new me fit into life in American again? I cannot go back and continue in old patterns and old ways. The Lord makes all things new and I pray that He will give me a clear and fulfilling path for when I return. I just want to do something where I feel like I am helping others and loving on children. Here are some things I have learned about myself upon being here that I never knew before.
- my smile can make a child smile :o)
-i am a visual learner and I have picked up sign language quickly
-I am not as shy as I thought I was
-I am not scared to ride on a motorcycle
-I need Christ on a daily basis
- I enjoy teaching
-I love helping to heal children's wounds
-Reading is good for the soul
I know the Lord will help make my path straight.

One of the stories in Claibourne's book talks about a time when he and a friend helped a prostitute that they found crying on the side of the road. They took her back to their house and gave her something to eat. All of a sudden she said to them "You all are Christians aren't you? [they had never said anything about being Christians to her] "I knew that you were Christians because you shine. I used to be in love with Jesus like that, and when I was, I shined like diamonds in the sky, like the stars. But its a cold dark world and I lost my shine a little while back. I lost my shine on those streets." I know that all of us have lost our shine at one point or another. I have lost my shine before. Some of you reading this may feel the same way. What a true statement she made. It is a cold dark world out there and things happen that cause us to lose our shine or even our faith. But the God I love is a God who restores, and polishes until He sees us shine like diamonds again. I want to love on people who feel like they have lost their shine. I challenge all of us to love people like that. Everyone is deserving of love. Christ died on the cross for all of us. CS Lewis says "if you find within yourself, a longing greater than this world can provide, then we know that we were made for more than this world can provide. We were made for eternity". I have 2 more months here. I want to learn how to love deeper, find the most needy, forgive fully, heal greatly, and return complete. I have a wonderful community waiting for me at home and I know that they will help me transition back into American life.

I am thankful that I serve a God that can use ragamuffins like me and turn us into ordinary radicals.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


All of the children I have met have completely stolen my heart. The school children singing their silly songs and greeting me with "Good morning teacher Meredith!". The deaf children clinging to my hand and trying desperately to communicate with me...although some only know how to sign their names. The ones at Katalemwa Children's Hospital who just grin and grin despite the fact that they have huge pins shoved into their legs. The boys and girls at the juvenile prison who are trying to find their identity and dream big dreams despite their current circumstances.
And then there are the babies...the sweet, Innocent, smiling, crying, laughing, abandoned, lonely, forgotten, babies. They are the ones who have stolen my heart. Myself and most everyone I know was fortunate enough to grow up with both or one of our parents. We were completely taken care of and our needs were provided for. We had a last name. These babies just have a first name. Lately their names have been drifting through my thoughts and echoing in my ears. Elijah, Lina, Maria, Michael, Jacob, Jonathan, Jethro, Emma, Morris, Humphrey, Kate....the list is endless. We go to two different babies homes during the week. They have stark differences. The one we go to on Monday is not funded as well as the other. The children do not have diapers to wear so we spend most of our time changing pants and inevitably chasing naked laughing children around. They do not get their first meal of the day until about 9 or 10. So for the first hour and a half we are there the babies are slightly cranky because they are so hungry. But...we do get to hold them and kiss them and play with them as much as humanly possible. The other babies home has been established in Uganda for a long time. It is cleaner and the babies have diapers and are on a schedule and most of the time receive proper medical attention. I do love that when we get there we are greeted by all the babies laying on the floor waiting for their turn in the bath tub! We wait for a clean baby and then wrap them up in a towel and take them to the changing room. We then dry of their little bodies and rub them down with Vaseline. I always try to take a little longer with my babies so I can talk to them and tickle them a little longer. We then dress them for the day and whenever possible I try to make them look smart! (that is how they say look nice here) We then put them back in their cribs until feeding time and then class time. However, we are not allowed to hold the babies that are able to sit up on their own. This fact just gets to me....they NEED to be HELD! I think I have mentioned this in a previous post...but it is still getting to me. I just ask that you pray for these babies. Pray that the Lord would lay it on people's hearts to come and adopt them and give them a family that will always love and cherish them.

I am currently sick and it is no fun...I had to go to the doctor yesterday and at first I was petrified to go to a Ugandan doctor. For those of you that know me well it is no surprise that I had to go to the doctor! The doctor I saw is an English man who has lived here for 30 years and reminded me a lot of the doctor off the TV show House. He gave me bright pink Ibuprofen and sent me home to rest. Please pray I would get better soon because we are planning on going on a safari on Sunday!!! I am SOOOOO excited about that!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I have been here 7 weeks now....weird. This week is the first week that I have actually felt totally comfortable. That is only due to a lot of prayer and laying down a lot of my American expectations.

This was a week of firsts!
I went grocery shopping by myself, and to the street vendor who sells the cheap veggies, and to the potato man, and bought everything for a fabulous dinner for 8 people for just $10 dollars!! I felt so thrifty!
I went to meet my friend Loring at a mall for a pedicure and a late lunch. I had never been there before--never ridden a taxi by myself before---and never told a boda driver where to go before! And I successfully got there and talked the boda driver down in price!!! [although he still overcharged me! :o(]
Today I bought a cellphone so I can now call my friends here in Uganda!!
It is sometimes so weird that I am now living this life that no one I know is a part of. I can paint you a picture with my words...but it will never be the same. You can't smell the trash burning, or hear the children laughing, or feel a baby hugging you who hasn't been held enough, or hear the gate creak to announce someones arrival at the house, or even hear the horribly obnoxious birds that reside near our house. And for the first time in my life I feel ok being on my own. I do not feel like ANYTHING is lacking. I mean central air, Food Network, Starbucks, and good cheese---but those are trivial things! I feel ok because I know the Lord is holding me. A lot of my friends are married and I struggled a lot with not being where they were in life. And no offense girls....but you are NOT in Africa!!! :o) I know some of you desperately want to be (um....MK!) but the Lord has a reason that you are not.
Every week we have been going through a different fruit of the Spirit. Every week I know the Lord is whispering to me that those are still in me..because He is in me...despite what has happened in my past. I also "happened" to bring a bible study with me on the Fruits of the Spirit...conceidence...I think not! This week has been on love. In Greek there are different words for the different kinds of love. The love that the Lord calls us to is Agape love. Now this is the hardest and most rewarding of all the forms of love. Agape is the love of God expressed through us to others. It is more a response than a feeling. The hardest part about Agape love is that He calls us to have that love even for people that may have hurt us deeply. That means He wants us to pray for good to come to that person, to pray for protection for them, and most importantly to forgive them. Let me tell you....this is an excruciatingly hard thing to do...but a freeing one. It is hard because it goes against everything that our flesh is telling us to do. The good news is that God does not expect us to do this on our own. It is only through Him that a heart change of this magnitude can happen. I an grateful for this experience, and grateful that the Lord would care enough to pursue me until I can see the lines on His face.

"So, my Lord, I bring this offering;
a stubborn heart of stone
And ask You , in its absence,
please exchange it for Your own."