Wednesday, December 28, 2011

new season. new blog.

dear friends, followers, and people i have never met,

i hate leaving this blog half-finished, but the simple truth is that i need to spend some time processing the last two years of my life before i can write more about them... sad, but true. in the mean time, check out the blog for this season in my life: it is raw and uniquely honest, almost like reading the pages of my journal for the past few months... almost. i hope that you check it out! and please don't keep your comments to yourself! feel free to let me know what you think--about the posts or about whatever is keeping you up at night. this is a place to be real. no judgment, no shame.

love, amanda

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Week 1. Our plane touches down in Kampala, Uganda.

It has been almost a year since I was last in Uganda, yet from the moment that I stepped off the plane it has felt like I never left... the air is hot and thick with smoke and dust, daring boda boda (motorcycle) drivers weave between the brightly painted taxis that fill the street, lined on either side by small run down buildings, hardworking mamas, and throngs of screaming children.

This is Africa.

It is both me and my co-leaders second time traveling to the incredible country of Uganda, so it has been absolutely hilarious watching our 11 wide-eyed students take in Africa for the first time. For weeks we have been trying to describe this to our students, but there are some things that you just have to experience yourself! Things like African grasshoppers for lunch, bartering in the markets, your first freezing bucket shower, and best of all--the amazing people that have drawn Jamie and I back to this place.

For a brief moment I look out the window of our hostel and stare at the street below me, trying to comprehend that I am here again. But there isn't much time to contemplate as the duties of an outreach leader never end. Garbed in skirts and looking oddly pregnant from the lumpy money belts we are wearing, Jamie and I let our students sleep off their jet lag while we charge into the flurry of preparations that must be done--buying everything from mosquito nets to pineapples to malaria medication, and then back to the hostel to greet our sleepy students that just woke up in Africa for the first time!

(P.S. I am now safely back in Salem, Oregon--these are the stories of my last trip to Africa that I never got to publish because of the lack of internet. In other words, this is a re-inactment for your reading pleasure!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

method to the madness

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable Expectation at the time, "to blog in Africa".
I even knew how I would accomplish it. You know, since I'm a leader now, all I would have to do is just jaunt down to the nearest Internet Cafe whenever I had a free moment and take as long as I needed to make everything perfect!

But even the best laid plans can go wrong somehow. First: there are no free moments when leading a DTS outreach. And second: the Internet Cafes turned out to be nothing like cafes at all. They are actually small, dark rooms filled with computers that probably roamed the earth right alongside the dinosaurs. Hunched over the antique machines, squinting in the dim light, sweat dripping off my body, and a generator drowning out my thoughts, I did my best to peck out an update or two. Two hours later, when the generator quit and I lost everything, I mentally cursed the very idea of blogging and stomped out of the building.

Epic fail.

Fast-forward three months and you will find me back in Oregon, bundled in sweaters, cozied up with my computer in the local cafe. I have no more worries. The internet has perfect signal and I can smell something remarkable just coming out of the oven... so why is my every waking thought consumed with the place I just left?

Truth be told, my heart is split between two worlds. I love America--where freedom of speech and comfort abounds! But I also love those far away villages where life just seems so much simpler, and so much more... real.

So let me take you with me, back to Uganda...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Announce Freedom to All Captives

Here's a challenge.

Do you actually believe the Bible? Do you actually believe that the Bible is not only true, but that it is true for you? The challenge is this--read Isaiah 61(yes the whole thing!) and intentionally apply each line to your life. No, don't just apply--REALLY apply each idea to your life as if written to you...

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.

He sent me to preach good news to the poor,

heal the heartbroken,

Announce freedom to all captives,

pardon all prisoners.

God sent me to announce the year of his grace—

a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies—

and to comfort all who mourn,

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,

give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,

Messages of joy instead of news of doom,

a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"

planted by God to display his glory.

They'll rebuild the old ruins,

raise a new city out of the wreckage.

They'll start over on the ruined cities,

take the rubble left behind and make it new.

You'll hire outsiders to herd your flocks

and foreigners to work your fields,

But you'll have the title "Priests of God,"

honored as ministers of our God.

You'll feast on the bounty of nations,

you'll bask in their glory.

Because you got a double dose of trouble

and more than your share of contempt,

Your inheritance in the land will be doubled

and your joy go on forever.

"Because I, God, love fair dealing

and hate thievery and crime,

I'll pay your wages on time and in full,

and establish my eternal covenant with you.

Your descendants will become well-known all over.

Your children in foreign countries

Will be recognized at once

as the people I have blessed."

I will sing for joy in God,

explode in praise from deep in my soul!

He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,

he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,

As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo

and a bride a jeweled tiara.

For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,

and as a garden cascades with blossoms,

So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom

and puts praise on display before the nations.

Isaiah 61

Honestly, I read this and believed it with my mind, but not with my heart. Over and over I read it and wonder to myself How radically would my life be changed if I could just truly believe this one chapter? And if one chapter would change my life so radically, what about the 1,188 other chapters in the Bible? What would my life look like if I was able to apply all of those?

Is that what a Christian life is supposed to look like?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back to the War Zone

We were so late.

Grabbing the boxes of cookies for our first team meeting, Jamie and I hurried outside. Eleven DTS students had already gathered under the gazeebo in the back lawn. They were talking quietly, huddled in the sun trying to get warm. They looked up when we arrived, their faces expectant, excited...

That was the moment that it hit me.

I wasn't a student anymore. We were the leaders...

Five weeks ago when I was asked to staff this DTS, it was with the intention that I would co-lead one of the student outreach teams to Uganda. I prayed long and hard before I agreed, I prayed until I was sure of God's leading. Outreach isn't a cakewalk, and Africa isn't a place to go on a whim. So my prayer to God was short, clear, and to the point:
"God, if you want me to go, break my heart again for this place..."

The next day my old DTS outreach leader visited YWAM Salem. She had been living in Uganda for the past year, and had just returned stateside. She began to tell me story after story of the people that we both knew--and the stories ripped through my heart! Children that I had played with in the dust of South Sudan were being forced to pick up AK-47s and fight for their lives, haunted with nightmares of the past, the people are enslaved in their own witchcraft... they need the love of Jesus above all else!

As I cried myself to sleep that night, I felt the all too familiar familiar fire ignite in my heart, and I knew that I had may answer. I was going to Uganda!

Fastforward again to the eleven students now eating cookies under the gazeebo. I had gotten over my initial shock of being an outreach team leader as each student began to open up their lives and tell their stories... it blew me away how each and every one of us had come from completely different lives and backgrounds, and God has used radically different meathods to get us all to One Place. One place geographically (Salem, Oregon) and one place spiritually (not just ready but desperate to hear everything that God wants to speak to us).

The Africa team. So many stories, talents, passions, and personalities.
The world might call us ragtag, but I know that we're chosen. For this place, for this time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Have you ever loved someone that you had never met?

How about thirty people?

Thirty people that you had never met, yet you loved them enough to pray for them daily
count down the days until you got to meet them
to make sure everything was perfect when they arrived
to hope and dream about the great things that they would achieve...

This is what it felt like in the weeks that led up to staffing my first DTS.

When I got back from Haiti last August I was sunburnt, exhausted, and clueless as to what I wanted to do next. I stumbled back onto the YWAM base in Salem at 2 in the morning, unsure of myself, unsure of the future, unsure of where I was even supposed to sleep that night. I just found an unoccupied room, left my bags unpacked and covered in Haitian dust, and fell into a real bed with a real mattress for the first time in three months.

With the morning came long awaited reunions and exciting new adventures! The biggest adventure of all: an opportunity to staff the September DTS! Like jumping onto a moving train, or being swept into the winds of a tornado, I joined the Fall DTS staff team and began preparing for the students to arrive.

September 23rd. D-Day. The students began to arrive one by one. They all look lost and confused at first. Timidly they unload their suitcases, pillows, longboards, art canvasses, guitars, and rolled up posters, wave good bye to their parents, and look around at their new home for the next six months. It's very easy to read their thoughts. "Dear God, what am I getting myself into...."

Is that what I looked like just one year ago? I wonder as I help them carry in their suitcases, claim a bunkbed, and give them a quick tour of the base. One year since my own DTS, and look how much has happened! Look how much I've changed!

DTS transformed my life, so it is such an honor to staff these student's DTS!

Fall DTS 2010 ~ Elise, Connor, Aaron, Katie, Zach, Deborah, Grace, Bethany, Simeon, Steffen, Megan, Ale, Gloria, Becky, Holly, Sarah, Eric, Daniel, Crosby, Addy, Luba, Jenny, Cassandra, Sara, Gail, Haley, Ryan, Alisa, J.D., and baby James! I love you guys!

Friday, September 3, 2010


I should have seen it coming.

Of course when you come back from a trip to Africa or Haiti or some equally far-flung country, people are going to ask you how your trip went. But even thought that seems so obvious, I wasn't ready for it. The first morning back in America, a good friend spotted me and ran to give me a hug. First question out of her mouth?

"So how was Haiti!"

Reasonable question, but all I could do was just stare at her... "How was Haiti?!" I thought in that frozen moment staring at her expectant face, "I just came back from living in one of the poorest, most devastated, nations on this side of the planet. Where death, destruction, and poverty are everywhere, where we slept in tents that would get flooded by island storms, where hundreds got saved and healed before our eyes, where I made some of my closest friends, but where every fiber of who I was and what I was capable of was tested in the fire of the Haitian sun. What on earth can I say... how can I make you understand..."

Eventually I just smiled and said "Haiti was good!" And she nodded, and I nodded, and then we talked about what movies had come out in the theaters while I was gone. It was like we had a mutual, unspoken, understanding that what I had seen, I couldn't put into words, I could barely wrap my mind around, much less explain.

A week later and my thoughts were somewhat more organized, and when my neighbor makes the statement "Haiti must have been just life changing!" I could quickly agree, and even coherently add to the conversation "Yes. Haiti challenged me physically and spiritually--but out of the struggle, my character grew enormously." Because as much we all hate to hear it, the truth is that we grow the most when life is the hardest....