Tomorrow.

So, here I am, one day from being back on Ugandan soil. Kinda doesn’t feel like this is real life. I feel like time has flown by, but also that it’s not going fast enough. I feel so ready to be back, but also not so ready to be back at all.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. In 1 day, I’ll be back in the place where my feet are a little dirtier, my mornings are a little earlier, my laughter is a little louder, my showers are a little colder, the coke tastes a little better, my forehead is a little sweatier, the sunsets are a little brighter, my smiles are a little bigger, my hugs are a little tighter, and my heart is a little (or maybe a lot) happier.

A lot has happened since last January when I left my heart in the place where it feels most at home. I’ve changed in more ways than I can count. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety like never before. I had to learn how to trust God in the midst of so much doubt, confusion, and pain.
But, while this past year has been unbelievably hard, it’s been so unbelievably rewarding. God has revealed Himself to me in a whole new way, as a loving, gracious, merciful, tender, compassionate Father, who will never stop fighting fiercely to win me over.

I am so eager to return to the place that I love so much. I can only hope that every thing I do, every word I say, would do nothing but glorify the sweet name of Jesus. Thank you all for the prayers and support so far, this is possible because of you!


Here is a video showing a little of what Sozo Children is:

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45 Days.

It’s been almost a month since I started my 40 day internship with Sozo Children. Time is FLYING by. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was nervously picking out my outfit for my first day, excited for what was to come. Now, everyone at Sozo has become my new family, and I can’t believe I get to be a part of this organization.

I’m just a month and a half, 6 weeks, 45 days from touching Ugandan soil once again. I’m in awe of how God has orchestrated this all, and blown my expectations in so many ways.

People have been asking what a typical day looks like where I am. It’s hard to say, because every day is different. We start off the day with prayer at 9am. We read one chapter in the bible (we just finished reading through Hebrews and James), then we pray over our list of prayer requests. Then a few of us head downstairs to the store (Sozo Trading Co.) to open up for the day. I work the register and sort/price new items to put out on the floor. It’s been so cool to see how God has exceeded our expectations for the first month of the store being open. He’s brought in so many customers and opened so many doors for ministry as people come in wanting to know more about what Sozo is.

ALSO my flight been booked!!! It is so surreal. I leave August 18th, and come back December 15th. I’m going to be living at one of the children’s homes, assisting the staff in raising the kids- getting them up for school, cooking meals, cleaning, helping with homework, etc. Two of Sozo’s missionaries have started a women’s ministry called Two For One Purpose that meets twice a week in the village, so a few of us will be going with them to help with children’s club for the kids while their moms and grandmothers are in bible study. I will also be going once or twice a week to Kitende Primary School (where most of the Sozo kids go) to help teach. Eeee! I’ll have an off day each week, and we plan on doing as much traveling and exploring as possible, while also trying to squeeze some rest in there as well. Gosh, it’s going to be so busy but so much fun.  Also, on my way home in December, we get a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam so we get to go out and explore Amsterdam, which is a place I’ve wanted to see for SO long. I’M SO EXCITED YALL.

One of the hardest things about my last trip to Uganda was that I went alone. I quickly realized how important and vital it is to have companionship and a support system who can encourage you and vice versa.  I’m so lucky to get to spend the entire 4 months this fall with 7 other incredible missionaries that I’ve already become so close to. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this journey we are about to take!

Prayer Requests:
1. Fundraising- it’s hard to raise money, and sometimes it can get discouraging. So please be praying that God opens hearts and provides the funds I need to be able to go serve in my favorite place this fall.
2. Anxiety- I have been battling with anxiety over the past year or so, and while I now have it under control with medicine, I’m worried it will spike back up when I get to Uganda. So please just be praying for peace and that I will trust God in EVERYTHING.
3. My team- All of us could definitely use prayer as we book flights and make preparations and plans for the fall. We are so excited/nervous, and so glad we get to do this together. Pray that everything goes smoothly and that God will continue to prepare our hearts to serve and love the people of Uganda.

I’m Going Back!

Wow, it’s been a while. Writer’s block is a real thing, y’all. To be honest, I’ve written multiple drafts throughout the past year, but it’s been way harder than I imagined to put all the jumbled thoughts in my head into words & onto the internet.

It’s been a long year, that’s for sure. It was full of slammed doors and tears and questions, but God has been so faithful through it all. He was right in the middle of it holding my hand. I didn’t understand why He had called me to Uganda, then called me back home for two whole years. It’s so incredibly frustrating being in one place when your heart is somewhere else. But I just had to trust Him (even when I didn’t want to).

Around Christmas this past year, I started thinking about possibly going back.  I was hesitant, scared, and honestly didn’t think I could even handle going through the heartbreak of coming home again. But I started praying about it. I told Him I was willing to stay if that’s what He thought was best, but that my heart longs for Uganda, and I asked Him to reveal His heart to me about it. I talked to my mom about possibly going back, but we just didn’t know how we could afford it. Months passed, and I continued praying. He slowly began opening doors and showing me exactly where I need to be.

So, here’s the good part. I’ve been blessed with a HUGE opportunity, and I’m so so excited to share it with you. I get to go back to Uganda from Mid August to Mid December with Sozo Children! AH! I will be interning here in Birmingham for 40 days (starting June 8th) first in order to prepare myself to love and serve the sweet kiddos in Uganda. I will be living in Sozo’s houses, assisting the staff in getting the kids ready for school in the morning, preparing meals, doing laundry, and helping the kids with homework. Sozo has a women’s ministry called “Two For One Purpose” where they meet twice a week in the village with over 100 women for fellowship and self sustainability projects. I, along with the other missionaries, will be going to the village with them to do children’s club while their moms/grandmothers are in Women’s Ministry.  I will also be going to Kitende Primary School (where the majority of the Sozo kids go to school) twice a week to teach with another missionary. I will come home a little before Christmas to spend a few weeks with friends and family. In January, the Sozo Choir will be (Lord willing) coming to the U.S. and touring all over the country for 4 months. I was given the opportunity to go on tour with them, and obviously I said yes! Like, WHAT?! I have no idea how this is real life- no one pinch me.

I will be posting updates, pictures, etc. on this blog, so feel free to follow me. I planned on blogging a lot more last time, and ended up only posting once or twice, so I don’t want to promise anything. BUT, I will have much more reliable internet where I’m staying, so I’m planning on blogging every week/ every few weeks on my off days to keep everyone updated.

I am so excited and nervous about this coming year. Thank you all for the continued love, support and prayers so far. I love that I get to share this journey with all of you. If you have any questions or would like to know more about what all I’ll be doing, you can email me at sarahelrod52@yahoo.com.

For more information on donating and joining me on this journey:
visit Sozochildren.org/sarahelrod.

 

 

 

He is good. Always.

I don’t understand a lot of things. I don’t understand why 21 Christian men were beheaded in Libya this week, or why children get diagnosed with cancer and are taken from us far too soon, or why mothers lose their babies before they even take their first breath, or why girls are sold into prostitution at the age of 12. I don’t understand why a lot of things happen. There’s a lot “behind the scenes” that only God sees, and most of the time, that’s not something that my constantly anxious heart wants to accept. I want answers that I’ll probably never get. But that can also be the beauty of having our Heavenly Father. We don’t have to have to have the answers all the time. All we have to do is trust him and His sovereignty. What we see as the bad, He uses as a canvas to demonstrate His goodness. This isn’t our home. He is good. He is constant. He is faithful. May our broken hearts continue to sing Hallelujah even when it’s really, really hard.

Be all there.

“Wherever you are, be all there.” Something I’ve struggled with for years.

I love to dream. But, who doesn’t? Dreaming about the future is fun and exciting, but I’ve found that sometimes it can become a problem when you start living in the future. Constantly wishing you were in it. I have that problem. I tend to wish I was somewhere else, a lot of the time. I guess you could say I hate being still. I like to be moving all the time. One place to the next. Because of that, I find myself being half  there, wherever I am. Half of me is in the present, half is already in the next place, the future. And I think that causes me to miss out on everything each place has to offer.

So, I’ve been doing some thinking and praying lately. And God’s kind of been opening my eyes to how much better life is when I stop focusing on the future, and focus on the present.

There’s just something exhausting about constantly being focused on where we WISH we were, rather than where we are. Too often we miss out on what God’s trying to show us right where we are, because we’re too busy trying to get somewhere else. Right now, you are right where God wants you, whether or not that’s where you want to be. What would it look like if we stopped constantly looking forward and started focusing on what’s going on right now, right here? God will show us when it’s time to move to the next place, but until then, just be present. Be all there.

Give Me Child-like Faith.

“I love God so much. I praise the Lord and I worship him in Jesus’ name. The bible tells us about love. In the book of John 3:16 it says: For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, so that every one who believes in him may not die but should have eternal life. That is why I love God and other peoples.”

A verse we’ve had memorized since we were in kindergarten and when we see it on paper we skip over it because we already know what it says. A verse that we don’t even really think about because we’ve heard it so many times it’s like reciting the ABC’s. But a verse that my sponsor child, Faida, was so eager to tell me about. She was so excited about a verse I’ve known and looked past my entire life.

It made me stop and think and remind myself that Faida and I, we had completely different childhoods. I was raised in a Christian home, went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and didn’t think much of it. My church held thousands of people, had cool stage lights, nice chairs, a sound system that you can hear a mile away on Sunday mornings. We would get in our nice cars and be there in 15 minutes in time to get coffee and donuts before the service. After a little over an hour into the sermon, people would get up to leave to beat the traffic and get to the restaurants before the after church crowds showed up. Faida’s church probably wasn’t even held in a building. They probably sat on the ground. People came from miles and miles away by foot, and the services lasted several hours. The people are eager to learn more and praise more, after worshiping all day already. You see, people think here in America we are “blessed” to have big churches with nice speakers and fancy seats with a pastor who went to an expensive college for several years. But I think we’ve been fooled tremendously. I think Faida had a better childhood than me, because somehow at the age of 15, she is more wise than some adults I know, she has so much faith in God, and when I was 15, I was ungrateful, always wanting more, more, more. I always had to have the cutest clothes and the coolest cell phone. In America, we are spoiled and don’t even realize it. John 3:16? Everyone knows that verse. But do we really know that verse? Or do we just know what it says because we were given candy when we recited it in Sunday school?

Faida is the perfect example of someone with child like faith. She is barely 15 years old. She lives with her mother (father passed away) and her 5 siblings in a village where the typical houses are constructed of dirt floors, mud walls and thatched roofs.  Common health problems in this area include malaria, HIV/AIDS, chicken pox and diseases caused by unclean water. Most adults are unemployed but some work as farmers and earn the equivalent of $4 per month. Her favorite food is rice, her favorite color is yellow. She loves science and worshiping God. She loves telling stories and playing hide-and-go-seek. Her mother is only employed at times as a farmer. The average life expectancy for Africans is 56, her mother is 53.

Faida has so much joy it is contagious. With the birthday money I sent her, she bought one dress, gifts for her friends, and three chickens, which to anyone here in America seems like NOTHING, yet she was so grateful. She even said I could have one of those chickens if I wanted it. She has so little yet is so grateful and content with what she has. In one of her earlier letters, she said “I come from a family that acknowledges God as the giver of every thing.” She is so wise, and has so much faith. it blows me away.

God, give me faith like Faida. Help me to be thankful for what  I already have, and not take anything for granted. Help me to constantly look to you as the giver of EVERYTHING. Give me the desire to know you more every day. To not get caught up in the pleasures and comforts of this world but be so in love with you that the things of this world wouldn’t even phase me. Help me be nothing but water to the thirsty. I pray that everyone I come in contact with would have a hunger to know more about my God.