The Process of Moving Stories

I’m back! Sitting in my very white apartment with ceilings that touch the sky, at the moment I'm amazed that they never end.

I got back and have been so enjoying every minute with my husband. I don’t think I realized just how hard it was being away from him until we’re now back together again. Amazing how crazy you can be about someone —he’s a pretty incredible human.

I knew I wanted to blog right when I returned so it would be fresh. The stories and moments I heard, I didn’t want them to be forgotten. So many of the things happening in Congo go unshared to the world at large, my jaw is still skimming the floor as I think about the horror.

One of my biggest wrestles right now as I sit with the stories from our dear friends who have suffered so greatly from the massacres in Congo is— 

“Where is everybody?”

Why is nothing being done to end this?

Sometimes the stories of war can go to your head. You feel like you’re the only one carrying them and you carry them constantly. Everything you say and do reminds you of one of their faces.

This morning as I pour cold water on my 3 minute soft boiled eggs, I paused at how absolutely blessed I am. Food and water at my finger tips and I thought back to a common story we would ask during our sessions—

“How often do you get to eat?”

The malnourished toddlers playing around our feet as we discussed, still a fresh memory in my mind.

“Maybe 3 or 4 days a week I’ll find food,” 

The most frequent answer we heard.

The other day I sat at the feet of Jesus and brought him the stories of war. A very very regular thing for us and one that I’ve shared about in blogs in the past.

The process of moving the stories from your head to his feet. “Letting go” and not trying to play the role of God by carrying pain alone.

Some of the hardest stories for me has still been the women who lost their husbands. Worse yet, how they heard or saw them being slaughtered. Many had to identify their soulmates bodies who, after being chopped into pieces, were put back together by the mortician in order to be recognized. 

The distant look in the women’s eyes as they shared a little of what that felt like. My heart still aches as I remember them recalling the flashbacks of the images of the bodies that haunt them in their sleep.

In a sea of tears and tissues I lay them before my God one at a time. The anger is not mine to carry. The pain not mine to hold on to. It’s there I see a picture my God holding them. First he comforts the mamas. The widows. From children lost and husbands lost. The hearts that so desperately need mending.

From there I see what I can only imagine as the victims of the massacres. The men that were described to me over and over again. The father’s that won’t see their children anymore, the sons that can no longer take care of their mothers. And I saw them with my papa God. Smiling and celebrating in a place where pain and sorrow are no more. 

The beauty of heaven overtakes them. And my heart finds relief.

Our God who takes care of the orphan and the widow. It’s as if I knew in that moment, not only could those men rejoice because they saw the full goodness of our papa, but also because they knew that that good God was so faithful to watch over their families. 

The more war I see, I feel like my heart gets pulled in to God. Though I do often stay with questions, I feel like rather the more I fall in love with my good good father. 

I believe that often we can learn more about the goodness of God in the midst of sorrow than in the midst of joy. You get to feel first hand how his love can carry you when you can’t get up on your own. You see that when pain feels so great, his hope is even greater. The fact that there’s any hope sometimes is a miracle as I think back to the long pauses between some stories, as if the vivid memory of the machete stays at the forefront of their minds.

My biggest pondering of late is “how can I do more?”  

For the direct victims of the most recent war, we funded those individuals to start small businesses and feed their families. As we shared the news with them on a patch of grass that we called our “office”, they instantly broke out in cheering and one woman threw herself to the grass and kicked her legs in the air, laughing like a giddy school girl.

Hugs were given all around as we took names and went over protocols and procedures. Thank you so much to everyone who gave and made their jobs possible. Their squeals and meals are because of your generosity. 

If you’re interested in being a part of their story, you still can! I know I often read blogs of the raw realities and I get frustrated if there’s no outlet for me to help. 

Please know that by giving on the website you’ll be receipted and become a part of the beautiful process of rebuilding war affected nations.

Strategy for: Changing the world...even on a rainy day

I’m amazed. Some days I wake up, totally inspired and other days… I wish I could stay in bed and watch never ending episodes of Parenthood or something. (Just being honest)

Today was one of those days. I woke up and the cloudy, rainy sky seemed like a perfect recipe for a hot tea and PJ day, but unfortunately I knew that wasn’t an option.

“Find the motivation, Cass. Just go on and find….the…motivation.”

My self-talk gives me nothing.

So I open up the news reports to remember why some days are spent behind a computer. “Child soldiers in Central African Republic more than doubled, says charity”

Excuse me!? DOUBLED?! “Up to 10,000 boys and girls are now fighting….”


 That’s a lot.

But truthfully, when we hear big numbers in the hundreds or thousands, our minds seems to graze, so I try and personalize.

I think of the first child soldier I ever saw.

It was in Congo many years ago, and when I think about, he probably wasn’t the first. But his it’s tender eyes that are still stuck in my brain, so he was obviously the one who made the biggest impact.

I first saw him from behind and even from that, he looked like a little boy. He was small in stature and his frame looked fragile. He had a Kalashnikov hanging between his shoulder blades. I stared at him for a little bit squinting, trying hard to guess his age. He had army pants on but just a tattered shirt and flip flops to complete his “uniform.” He was also wearing a baseball hat that he had pulled down low on his brow.

I called out trying to get his attention “Jambo!” he turned to my Swahili greeting and looked shocked to see the blonde girl walking over to greet him. At first he seemed shy and sweet. Fighting a smile, his eyes were curious and I tried to open up a conversation. No more than a sentence in though and his commander came up and he dodged off like a scared puppy.

I was shocked. After a small and harmless chat with his superior, my team and I walked away back to our house. “He looked SO YOUNG.” I kept repeating. I couldn’t believe it. A baby and really big gun. That sucks.

Since then, I’ve seen a lot of boys with AK’s slung on their backs. Our sons have a similar past and now laugh at the times they fought for food. (Though it’s never really funny)

A lot of our projects begin with moments like this. A broken heart to a global injustice. THIS ISN’T RIGHT. We process it and chew on it, sometimes minutes, sometimes months. “Jesus, what’s your strategy!?” and then 9x out of 10… a random idea feels like it’s whispered through the airwaves into our hearts. And it fits.

I remember walking down the dusty streets of Goma town (where we’re based in Congo) and I was mad. We had just received more reports of increased abductions of children from our village and I was angry. Bouncing ideas back and forth- talking to Jesus, talking to my other leaders, avoiding the pot holes and trash heaps and then back to open dialogue, we all somehow stumbled across a verbal processing of our entire Freedom Boys program. Relocation. Sponsorship. Foster Housing. Mentoring. Education. That’s it! Somehow simple.

It took us at least a year of walking it out and it’s still not like we’ve figured out a “magic formula,” but our boys are happy, healthy, safe and all in all—doing really well.

Sooo why the ramblings today? I guess because it’s not rocket science. Maybe to some people, but I’m not a scientist. And I want to motivate others to start asking questions, start letting your dreams get the better of you and go after the thing that scares you. It doesn’t have to be rescuing child soldier. Our team just believes in who God says he is and believes he can really, really use our “yes”. Is there something that’s frustrating you? An inequality, prejudice or discrimination? There’s a beauty in passion and love, and letting it bubble up into activation that throws us into the seas of injustice. (That was a mouthful. haha)

Nevertheless. What are some projects you’ve been dreaming up and what would you say is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome to accomplish them?

(Feel free to start a dialogue in the comment section below!)

Our White Picket Fence

I normally have a rule that I don’t write until a day or two after our bush trips as I’m usually too raw and unprocessed if I hit the keys to quickly.

But this time I’ll just put up a caution sign as I wrote this as a means TO process the everyday while on the ground and in the dirt…

I can feel a few drops of rain. First on the top of my head, then my face. They start falling faster but I don’t flinch. None of us do. I’m with my Pastor in the bush and we’re speaking to a man who’s son we rescued from the army. The father’s eyes are sad. So sad. And hopeless. I tell him how much we love his boy and a few stories to try and make him smile but nothing works.

“All of our boys in the village are joining the army. Maybe mine was rescued but our village has lost it’s sons.”

The rain continues to fall but the weight of the mans words stops us on the street. Immediately my mind gets thinking… How do we rescue them? All of them. Or at least give them an alternative.

Many of the boys in the village join the army out of “lack of vision” or “restlessness”. In our area many boys, aged 10-18, are not in school. They have long days and sleepless nights due to running from conflict and rebel attacks. Soldiers often come into the village by day and the young boys are forced to be porters for them, carrying water or artillery etc. With nothing better to do, they watch a power struggle of gun=authority.

With no real vision for their own life and a confused version of “life to the top” they often willingly join the army. It’s not long after they often confess their regret but it’s to late, enrolment is hard to break free from.

We have a primary school but we haven’t yet finished our 3rd school block that will move us into secondary schooling and a vision for the idle young men…

We’d just arrived in the village maybe 15 minutes before the stories had started saturating our hearts.

And so the week began and it was on to making dinner in the smoke filled kitchen, when two men interrupted our program to greet us.

The one had been abducted with his wife and children the Saturday before and had escaped. With hands tied behind their backs, they couldn’t risk the unknowing fate of death or rape so the man and his family ran and ran and finally hid all night in the river. The flowing, gushing, powerful river. They now live thankful to have made it through that raid but the man confessed utter hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.

Maybe it’s a tad heavy. But sadly, this isn’t the half of it.

The entire village has story after story and we catch a small window into their lives Monday- Friday.

How can we let them live like this?

I was asked the last time I was in the bush, “Where are all the missionaries? Does your country not send them out anymore?” Uhhhh. Heart drop.

You are not forgotten! You are not alone!

That night I zipped up my sleeping bag and pulled the cover up to my eyes. More often than not the rats crawl on you at night and I don’t mind them getting my feet but my face— bleh, that’s when it becomes a bit much! (Did I mention we’re calling all those missionaries? ;) )

Every night, though believing for peace, we semi plan for a raid. You carefully pack up your stuff and memorize where the importants are: flashlight, skirt, bra, protein bars.

Nights are the biggie here. I’ve fallen asleep many times to the sound of gunfire, but I’ve never been in a night-time raid. I couldn’t imagine anything more inconvenient.

All week, once again, we slept soundly and are always happy to wake up in our beds and not under a tree. Most of the village fled to the bush, but this week like last… our team stayed put. However, this time, so did our Congo family. “We feel safe with you here.”

Keeping a constant ear out for safety reports, they’ve said there were outbreaks of conflict yesterday and this morning just outside the village, everyone’s on deck, as were we. Our version is slightly different though… Conference time! It’s such a humbling and beautiful time calling the village for “War Prevention/ de-traumatization” classes. Haha. Aka: “Bringing heaven- 101” or “Developing Authority to Stop Wars” We’re just as much students as we are teachers.

In these classes though, reality hits. It was a good idea in America but it’s life and death here. They NEED Jesus to come. They’re sick, starving, severely traumatized and in NEED a savior. So glad we have the perfect one. You could feel the hunger in the room.

We got rocked, they got rocked. Everyone got fed. It was great.

By the end of the week I’ve more than come up with a strategy for the boys. Through prayer, conversations, more conversations and interviews, we’ve put together a new prevention program for the young men of the village.

The “Leadership League” we call it.

What better way to give boys a hope and a vision then to empower them with the opportunity to do what they love most. And what do they love most? Futball (AKA: Soccer)

That’s right, we’ve started a soccer league.

Every boy enrolled will get a jersey, shoes and a super water bottle. Along with a guaranteed dream team, they will be required to learn basic reading and writing (as we keep putting together plans for secondary school) and attendance to discipleship courses.

We may not be able to stop them from being abducted but we can give them a reason to hold off being enrolled.

We already found our captain who couldn’t have been more excited. “You want to hire me to play futball?!?! This is the best idea you could think of” –haha. Of course it is.

So now! If you’re interested, we need two things: One, obvious sponsors for jersey’s (We’ll buy the immediate ones in Congo) BUUUUUT, if anyone wants to sponsor a team!! When I’m back in the west I would LOVE to get our boys awesome looking jersey’s and soccer bags!! Including shin guards, socks—the works.

“Without vision, the people perish” Literally.

Help our boys get balls, not guns!

Well, still working on a tag line ; )

This young boy holds his gun and a photo of a chimpanzee he wants me to buy from him. The bizarre moments in life…

This young boy holds his gun and a photo of a chimpanzee he wants me to buy from him. The bizarre moments in life…


(Along with that, though not quite as sorted is a girls Volleyball League we’ve started developing on paper. It will have a similar goal, though rather than gun prevention we aim to decrease rape and abduction/recruitment of girls to be young wives or sex slaves.)

Caution: FB posts aren’t always as they seem...

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. A long while. To be honest—I’m in one of “those” seasons. Yeah… the ones where you want to nod your head, shut your eyes and “I dream of Jeannie” your way out of it. But rather, with my eyes so tightly shut, nervous to peek, papa came in a while back and whispered (not so quietly), “This season is setting you up for every dream in your heart to come to pass.”

Uhhhhhh. Fine. 

And I know you’ve all been there. At the mercy of a good God, who is working his butt off to give you his best, knowing that the only way forward is OVER the mountain.

Sometimes pioneering is hard. Let’s just be honest. And pioneering as a leader? Sometimes extra hard. Paving new paths at one point seemed glamorous as I pictured a hunky young Harrison Ford. But a few dozen twigs in the eyes later… I can sometimes second guess things.



Even just the emotions that come with the dodgy jungle paths!

In Congo hearing stories of our Freedom boys (child soldiers) who have indeed been rapists, to Kenya working with our sweet Bella girls who have been raped. Emotional yo-yo.

But then I exhale. And you know what? There’s an absolute beauty in these learning seasons. Or “growing season”……“Self development” anyone? Whatever language you can relate to most, this season is stretching me.

The beauty though.

First- when you are thirsty, and water is scarce, you will dig deeper and more ferociously for proper hydration than ever before. You will stay up late, wake up early, you will fast when you haven’t fasted in… a long time, and you will posture your heart, doing whatever it takes for just even a smidge more of Heaven. Then, alone in those secret places, he will always, always, always come in crazy extra amounts. And for these extra times with my sweet papa God, I wouldn’t trade a minute of this season for another one. (not that I still wouldn’t want the acceleration button pushed… 


Second- you’ll do things you never would’ve have done before. It’s that desperation thing. I have no clue how to handle some situations that we’re in with our boys and girls. But instead of just casually inquiring about an answer, I’m reading everything I can get my hands on, I’m having non-stop Skype dates with anybody who’s gone before me and I will not stop until I get the answers I’m looking for. This awkward, persistent, focused passion, probably wouldn’t be there had I not been placed in this “position”.


So it’s weird, but I’m thankful. I’m learning again, the absolute beauty of my papa. Rivers flow to low places, and you can’t go wrong with going low and letting him refresh you. And what I keep seeing, is while I’m weak, this whole “I am strong” thing he mentions—TOTALLY TRUE.


While in Congo last week papa opened some… pretty fabulous doors with the army. I can’t go into details on the internet, but it was everything I’ve been dreaming for. The kind of stories I used to lie awake in bed asking God to bring about. Yup, and in my moment of exhaustion (with a cherry on top that I’d been sleeping on a cement floor with no pillow) my beautiful papi showed up in the jungles of the red zone and gave me one of my greatest hearts desires.

Cause he’s just that good.


So, sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. I am still alive and well, enjoying the simple moments of life, just with fewer words than usual.

(PS- Extra massive thanks to all my beloved friends, family and stunning mentors! I am blown away beyond words at how you always stand with me, support me and love me better than I could have EVER dreamed for.

I say this to anyone who wants to impact the world in any way—invest in relationships! Fly, bus, walk through the rain at night uphill both ways, whatever you have to do (!!) to get lasting deep covenant people to do life with. Worth it for every message I received this week alone 

Love in a time of... Warzones.

We learn a lot about perspective when we open our eyes.

Our complaints of not having running water, a toilet in our house or the nagging cravings that pull at our stomachs during mealtimes, are easily silenced by a woman’s rape story. Every woman’s rape story. Our beautiful Pastor explains: “It’s no longer a question of ‘if’ she’s been raped, in the villages it’s ‘how many times’?”

He provides the best kind of perspective.

This November war broke out in the provincial capitol where we’re based, worse than it had in years. In the chaos and confusion of gunfire and explosions in the sky, our Pastor opened up his home to 18 orphan children and half a dozen adults. His 2 roomed house, the living area smaller than most American kitchens, was turned into a displaced persons lodge: “We took all the furniture and put it outside. It was body on top of body, piled on another body.” Our measly bit of war relief sent during this time fed them all for the month they were there.


Perspective. It’s hard to communicate life here sometimes. The horror and the absolute beauty. The fungus that crawls up my arm in little circles, itching more and more everyday and sweet child that I embrace, again, though they were probably the one that gave it to me.


Every Saturday is “Sleepover Saturday” with Justice Rising projects. In the brothels, we have slumber parties with rescued child prostitutes. In the war zones, it’s a party with rescued child soldiers. The biggest difference, I vote, is the smell. Ha. Oh yes, even with the smelly soaps and lotions I give to our boys, somehow our girls always smell MUCH better at the end of the day…

This last weekend during some “art therapy” with our beautiful boys, we asked them to draw our little family in a garden, with an elephant. (Yes, I somehow sneak elephants into all of our art projects.)

A normal plan, so we thought, until perspective shows up. Machetes and guns in blue and red crayon. Perhaps an easy thing to draw? We ask our boys to explain. Their faces are sweet and I can rarely describe them in a sentence without slipping in the words “perfection” and “adore”, but deep in their eyes, still hidden in their memories, it makes sense.

Though our family is full of love, the picture shows a gun pointed at a stick figure with a blonde ponytail. Dang it. Everyone in the picture is either killing or running from conflict. Our heart aches for our sweet muffins and the things they’ve seen. The lives they lived.


Last week while in the bush we met quietly with other young boys we hope to rescue and began the process of helping them get out of the bush and into the city. (Our program is not one of 24-7 care but more foster sponsorship and extensive discipleship. With this we can see more boys restored with less money and still be able to love on the armies and not have them want to “get rid of us”… haha)  While sitting with one of the kids, perspective was made clear when he stated “I have no life outside of the army.” It was either he joins our family, or he stays fighting in his current one.

Little boys with big guns. Everywhere. On the street we ask their names and they get fidgety. You try to gaze into their eyes with all the love you can show while still glancing at their finger to see it stays far from the AK’s trigger.

Perspective is a funny thing. Especially in a war zone. And you have a choice. Sometimes it hurts more to see. Ok let’s be honest, it almost always hurts more to see. That’s why not everyone does it, and war and famine persist. But in the end, opening your eyes and getting some perspective on someone else’s reality is so so worth it.

For in that moment of choosing to do life with them, the vulnerability expressed is what opens yourself up to truly experience love.

Love is nothing like I thought. Or probably even now what I think. Love is ridiculously and incredibly beautifully, while utterly heartwrenchenly painful yet always 100% completely worth it. Love is what  stands with the broken, with the raped victim and the hungry and says “You’re not alone”. Love chooses to look deep into heart of the war lord and say: “I see you. I see you for not what you’ve done, but what God’s done for you” And love is what says to the little boy who’s been given a gun instead of an embrace: “I will stop for you. No matter what it costs me” Because love, in it’s purest form, always costs you something.

I feel like we’re forever learning here, continuously shocked at how little we know! But more now than ever, as I become increasingly obsessed with our sweet little princes, I get inspired to figure it out. Love in a war zone. In a brothel. It’s purity and power able to transform even the toughest area. It’s brilliant. Ridiculously and absolutely brilliant. And suuuuch a blast. We’re so excited as every minute here feels like the greatest honor ever. It’s just sometimes taking the perspective and the courage to really see it. The journey we’re foreeeeever learning. : )

I Should Have Shaved My Legs...

Sometimes it’s the red nail polish on the tips of your fingers and ends of your toes that remind you to smile. An element of girlish beauty that recalls simpler days. But other times, in the middle of it all, it’s the squeeze from a child who without education in our primary school would have a gun in his hand rather than a pencil.


We arrived in our beloved Congo on Monday afternoon and were greeted with the usual: No electricity or running water and pending threats of war. “I should have shaved my legs my last morning in Rwanda!” Is all I could think of. A warm shower and a hot breakfast?? I should have cherished that moment a little extra too as I now grab a handful of nuts from my suitcase!

It’s funny because for some people, those things aren’t a big deal. Well… I don’t think I’m “some people”. When I was younger many told me: “If you don’t like spiders or being dirty, you’re probably not called to be a missionary. It’s only for ‘some people’” Haha. Hm. Like I said, I think I missed the category of those “some people” though somehow it works. I hate being dirty, I adore washing machines, and if I could have a chai latte in my hand at all times, I would be a happy girl. But it’s more than that.

Chatting it up on the playground with one of our Freedom boys (rescued child soldier) I congratulate him on passing his exam and in the moment, could care less that the dark tan on my arms is really just dirt. I love this. I love that we get to stand in the middle of so many uncertainties and have a blast!! I love seeing transformation, even if it means that some nights my feet turn blue during the cold bucket bath. It’s so worth it!

Sometimes the transformation is instant. *Joseph for example. His smile is massive and sticks to his face like a fly to the wall. His scarred hands remind us of his past but his joy overwhelms the situation and I’m absolutely amazed by his hope.

Other transformations take a little longer… Micheal. My boy. Oh how my heart adores him. And he knows it. About 11 years old now, any time we’re in the same room, I don’t care what the rules are, he’s the exception. My shadow, and he has been for years. But still, “Micheal what’s wrong?” I asked the other day as I saw a long look that pulled him down. “When was the last time you ate?” Two days… Three days… “We are in famine.” So often this is the case and we’re constantly working to change the fact. Yet still so many days I hear him echo: “We are in famine.”

Bah. Congo’s the most interesting place to work. Because no matter the difficulties, the pain of sitting with them in their reality, the love pulls you back in. The kindness in the people, the passion in our papa’s eyes as he longs to be united with his favorite warlord or violated mama. Uhhh the mamas. How many times is too many times of hearing of a woman’s destroyed vagina due to rape? That’s where the similarities lie in our work in Kenya and Congo. Someone always seems to be getting raped. A brothel and a war zone. Where purity is a rarity and targets seem to be painted on most young women’s foreheads.

I know. For some people that may have been a lot: “Did she just say vagina!?” But it’s a reality to so so many here. And our response? What if we choose not to be “some people,” dictated by how it’s been done in the past. But what if we write the history we dream so much about changing? How can we create a new normal so someday this is only legend? Rape, war, starvation. Everyone with their own piece, no matter where you are. This is our constant conversation on the ground. Haha. I know… and a repeat topic in many of my blogs ;)


I look down at my painted nails again. Red. And I smile. Sometimes it’s the simplicity of a manicure and sometimes it’s the joy in changing the world. Either way there’s something in the smile. Loving what you do. And though life here may not always be perfect, our team is definitely LOVING LIFE in our beloved DRC. Off to the bush next week! So excited! (If you want to get involved in rescuing child soldiers or building a school as a “justice piece” to prevent war for future generations– be watching for more chances!!! Or give by clicking on the ‘donate’ page)

The "It" Moments That Make It Worth It...

For anyone who’s ever gone out on a limb for love…

More of the “Raw Version” of learning to love in a brothel (and a war zone…)

It’s been a… tougher month. Let’s be honest for a second. (No judgments, k?) I laughed that we labeled it “Rescue Month” cause in the end, I was the one more aware than ever before of my need for a savior.  It was I who was needing to be “rescued,” not just the child soldiers or little girls trapped in the sex industry.

It was a beautiful month of leaning 110% on my papa and knowing I can do absolutely nothing, NOTHING, if he doesn’t show up. And seeing however, that he always, ALWAYS does. I’m not sure if it was the collaboration of difficult stories, the reality of life in a war zone or laying your foundations in a brothel. I’m not sure if it was personal relationship drama or the fact that I was just ready for a cup of tea with all of my best friends… Either way- it was definitely painful at times, and had I had Kleenex, I’m sure the empty boxes would be strewn across my bedroom floor.

But to continue on the theme of honesty, laying my heart out in a blog post- it was perfect. Because in the midst of life’s imperfections, we’re reminded that there’s grace. And love. And joy. And a whole lot of it.

And in those times more than normal, when you are wonderfully aware of your own weakness, you see highlighted minutes when all the pain, all the processing, was completely worth it…

So here are a few moments where time stood still and love, as usual- prevailed.

-       Thursday Club is a time when a few dozen girls get together and grow as a family.  Every Thursday (hence the name…) we meet for a few hours and eat and play games and share life. 99% of these sweet girls have been prostitutes or stuck in child labor situations. Once during a “Truth vs. Lies” day, I was so humbled by the sweet love letters I collected from the girls. Such beautiful words the papa spoke to their hearts!! Each one of them testified how they used to think nothing of themselves but now they knew they were a princess. Loved by God. Worth everything. A Hero. Beautiful. Intelligent. Much of what they wrote we had never told them, it was just their listening and hearing what they mean to him as his daughters! I was so touched!

-Walking down the dirt roads speaking half Swahili / half English I tried to “play it cool” as my girls initiated conversations of their dreams and the “great things they’re believing God for for their lives” –What!?

-Shopping in the market and hearing the sweet call of “Sandrrrrrrrrrra!!!!” And then being tackled by a bunch of Somali refugee kids that cling to my side- smiles ear to ear  It’s good to have friends in the neighborhood.

-Standing in front of the class with a picture she drew of herself and Jesus, our sweet girl “Elizabeth” (about 13/14 years 
old) beaming with joy, testified that she used to be a prostitute, a thief and drank too much alcohol. But now instead she hears the sweet songs that her papa sings to her: “They are songs of love that he sings to me before bed and when I wake up and sometimes during the day. I can’t wait to go to sleep, because that’s when I get to hear him most. I know I am so so loved by him. And I love him too. I am not the same girl that I was before.” (!!!)

the it moments 3.jpg

And then of course, more heart stuff…Weeks later while I was reviewing what I saw in Congo… Locked behind a title the UN calls “Rebel Held territory,” my family. My Friends, staff members and sweet babies that call me “Sandula”.  Abducted, raped, forced to carry guns. …And everything hurt. The status of their lives… No human should ever have to live like that and here it was- my family. MY house being threatened to become nothing more than a leveled ash heap.

And as I buried my puffy eyes in the chest of my papa I caught the sweetest glimpse of his heart. He never, looks, away. Though so much pain I felt sick in my stomach– he never, looks, away. The very make up of courage, vulnerability and hope. He NEVER, looks away.

I have never been so overwhelmed with love for him and this…. Pride. Knowing that I’m his, and that’s all I want to be.  This is why I gush, this is how I find so much joy when my everyday’s can be so full of stories of such violations against humanity. Cause his love is still– perfect.

Still sorting through more memories I revisited the negotiations for my life. “How much are you worth?” the Warlord asked me. And I rest, like a melted puddle in the strong, safe arms of a God who gave everything for both me, and that man. Again- it’s his love. And I feel so rich, so very very rich, for that one moment. For if nothing else, what a sweet glimpse into more of my papa’s tender heart of love, that overrides even the most tangible evil. To know his love, this is what it feels like to be alive.

I know. This might be a lot for some people. BUT, if you want the journey of what it looks like to move between some of the darkest places on earth as a twenty-something year old blonde girl- this is it.

Beautiful and messy and awkward and full of tears and laughter and Haribo gummy candies… 

Take it or leave it but either way it’s my process.  –The ups and downs of life’s beauty amidst life’s imperfections.