Ben and I walking on Amazima’s Secondary School Campus. -Mackenzie Leigh Photography

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.” (Matthew 27: 27-31).

How uncomfortable that must have been. To be stripped, mocked, spit on, stabbed, and crucified for all to see. Jesus could have gotten out of this at any point. He chose not to on my behalf and yours. He chose to remain in this uncomfortable place so that the scriptures would be fulfilled, God’s promises kept, and our sins fully forgiven. We say grace and relationship with him are now free, but then we minimize how much it cost him to make that happen.

3 days go by. God raises Jesus from the dead as he promises. Jesus tells his disciples to meet him in Galilee. And this is what He proclaims, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20). I am with you always. To the end of the age. What a strong promise I cling to daily.

Why I am sharing this when it is suppose to be an update on how our first trip to Uganda went? Because this is the “why” behind us going. Your “why” should compel you every day. Whats yours?

Being in Uganda made me uncomfortable. I have lived in Maryland, USA, for over 23 years now. I learned how to drive when I was 15 and have been doing so ever since. If I need food, there has always been a grocery store a few miles away with anything I could ever need. Healthcare has always been available to me– Johns Hopkins is right down the road from where I grew up. Coffee is abundant. So is basically everything here in America. My family is here. My friends are here. My comfort is here.

This trip reminded me of all of that. Everything in Uganda is new to me. Everything is different. I don’t know if I will ever drive on those roads! I’m not going to call up my best friend to meet her for coffee. Goodbye air conditioning. Hello bugs I have never seen before. The list goes on, but mainly: Hello to a deeper dependence on the Lord and deeper knowledge of what he did for me, and what it means to be his disciple.

If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison–your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.‘ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'” (Luke 9:57-62).

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.‘” (Matt 16:24).

These are HARD commands. In my comfort zone, it’s really easy not to deny myself. Walking through Target…”Ok I will deny myself this purse, but getting this hat! I’ll put it on my cross and lets go!” Jk… but sometimes it be like that. I’ve denied myself sex before marriage. Time that could’ve been spent by myself doing my own thing has been spent with teenage girls from my church. My reputation that could’ve been higher with partying or high fashion or language or whatever…you can fill in the blank…denied to follow Jesus’ actions instead. But never to this amount have I denied myself. And I say this as a very personal thing, not to be compared. But, to deny myself the comfort of home, of America, of family and friends, of material things and safety– this has given me a new perspective and gratefulness for all that Jesus has done for me.

He never said following him would be easy. Yet, wow, it is worth it. “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.'” ( 1 Corinthians 2:9). So we press on towards the hope of heaven, the hope of ETERNITY with him.

Now…how was our trip? It was great! Above is me processing how I was feeling with this bittersweet taste of what life will be like the next 2 years. With all of that, Ben and I are so excited.

The Amazima staff and students welcomed us SO WELL. Literally we heard multiple times, “You’re so welcome here!” We stayed with Mac & Zach for the first 5 days and became FAST friends. They are hilarious and so much fun to be with. We would come home from a long day around 10pm, and say we are going to pass out, then stay up until 1am talking and laughing together. They took us to the village of Buzika where we rode our first boda boda, which was fun…and hard to do in a dress. (Boda’s are a main source of transportation in Uganda and they are basically motorcycles.) They also took us into town, showed us main street and all the hot spots, showed us where to go grocery shopping, and where get produce.

Our new friends, Mac & Zach!

Afterwards, we stayed with Danlyn and Kelly Miller, the Dean of Student life. They blessed us big time with a meal and dreaming more about Amazima’s future. We also shared meals with the Bookers’ and the Caseys’, the other current house parents. It was very life-giving to Ben and I. Hanging out with the Amazima Student Life team felt similar to when you take upper level courses in your major, or master program– it’s like everyone is passionate about similar topics and interested in learning more with you each day.

Our favorite part was listening to the students worship God in their native tongue: Luganda. And then also worshipping to contemporary songs like Good Good Father. That one got me in the heart strings hard. Hearing 72 students declare they have a good heavenly Father, knowing that I can count on one hand how many of them have a good and present earthly father. That is the power of the gospel!

Ben and I are even more excited about moving now, and so glad we did this preliminary trip to help us prepare for January. It was a great reminder that this will be very challenging, but also very rewarding. Thank you to everyone at Amazima who came around us and cared for us so well. And thank you to all of our supporters for helping send us financially and covering us in prayer! We love you guys!

Our future home. We will live in the center, and 12 students on each side!

Prayer Requests:

  • Please continue to pray for our 24 boys that we will build relationship with in the next 2 years. Pray for trust to be formed and unity within our house.
  • Pray for our future Ugandan Family Mentor Partner. We will most likely be paired with a male partner since we will be a boy house. Pray for our relationship to be one of mutual honor and respect, and that we would work well together to serve the students and the Lord.
  • Pray for my dad as his health continues to struggle, and my mom as she works full time and cares for him. Pray that they would be filled with God’s love, comfort, peace, and strength. That God would provide people to surround them with encouragement and support during this time.
  • Pray for Ben’s neck to heal! He got burned by a Nairobi fly. They’re the size of a large ant, and they don’t bite or sting, but their guts are more poisonous than a cobra’s venom. If you kill them on your skin, they will burn you. Ben did without even knowing it! He is doing a lot better though, and is in no pain 🙂

Praise Reports:

  • We are under contract on our house! The DAY before leaving for Uganda we went under contract. Closing date is November 21st. PTL.
  • We had an amazing and eye-opening trip to Uganda with smooth flights, and no luggage issues. Although I was nauseous the E N T I R E time traveling … 😀
  • We are 76% funded to move in January! Thank you all so so much!!! If you’d like to be apart of Team Dougli and fill in that last 24% : HERE IS OUR SUPPORT PAGE. You can also support us (win-win) by joining our Young Living Essential Oils community. Each Starter Kit purchased from me is discounted from $320 to $160! And $50 of that goes towards our move to Uganda. Message me for details or questions!
  • God is alive and active, and oh so good.

Okay, that’s all for now. Thanks for keeping up with us.

Lots of LOVE,

Ben & Lo


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