Thursday, December 6, 2012

Saying goodbye....for now

My three months in Uganda are done and I find myself asking where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was boarding the plane with a heavy heart and so many questions to be answered. I found that through my time in Uganda my questions weren't answered as much as new questions arised. Uganda isn't a problem that you can solve simply. New questions and concerns and problems will constantly arise, but that shouldn't bring discouragement, it should bring desire to do what you can do to fix it.
My last week in Uganda was so difficult. I just kept finding myself in total amazement of everything surrounding me. I knew my last night was fast approaching and I was going to have to face the hardest task yet....saying goodbye. I didn't give myself much time to actually think about leaving until I was forced to. Every encounter with the kids was getting harder and more emotional because I knew they would be some of the last times, for right now. I am so relieved and excited to say that I will be returning to Fort Portal, Uganda this summer for six weeks. Whenever I tell the kids at the orphanage that I am coming back in July they tell me I am lying. They say so many volunteers promise to come back and they never do, it's so heartbreaking to hear things like that. I can't wait to prove the kids wrong and see their faces when I come back! After my trip this summer I don't know what my relations with Uganda will be, there's a lot of things I don't know. But I do know God isn't finished with me there yet. I know I am happiest there. I know that even being home surrounded by family and friends, I still feel like my heart is half way around the world. I know I won't be able to stay away for long. I have been doing a lot of soul searching and praying lately in hope of figuring out what I'm supposed to do. All I know is there's a whole orphanage of beautiful children In Fort Portal that I've fallen head over heels for, and so many more orphans in Uganda that I've yet to meet. When I think about this the answer is simple: I need to help. In any way, at any time, in any place that I can.
When I reflect back on these last three months it doesn't take long to realize they have been the most powerful, life changing, challenging three months of my life. I look around at the relationships I've formed and the things the volunteers and I have accomplished and my heart smiles. We managaed to construct a new dorm for the orphanage through donations. This dorm will allow 40 orphans on the waiting list a place to live. One of the new orphans moved in a few days before I left. He's a three month old baby and was dropped off at the orphanage by a police man. The baby has a huge gash above it's right eye and has barely stopped crying since he got dropped off. The police man explained that the babies mother had a "problem" and had gotten very mad and beaten the baby, hence the gash on his face. Everytime I look at this baby my heart hurts. It will grow up not knowing who his mother or father is, or anything about his life before the orphanage, like so many other children there. They all experience something on a daily basis that my mind can't even grasp. The overwhelming thing about this baby is how all the girls from 11-14 years old act like its mother. The way they care for it is so humbling. Another child who will be occupying one of the beds in the new dorm is an 8 year old boy names Jonas. Jonas was left out in the rain during my last week and ran to the volunteer house for safety. His mother decided she didn't want him anymore and just threw him out of the house. His feet were full of jiggers and his eyes were full of fear. One of the volunteers at our house who is a nurse removed the jiggers and Jonas is on his way to being a healthy boy. He fits in perfectly at the orphanage and all the kid have welcomed him with open arms.
By doing a less expensive Christmas, my family managed to donate money to construct a playground at the school I taught at. The last month was filled with stressful and tiring days of planning and constructing this playground, but we did it and it looks AMAZING! Special thanks to Brett Kennedy for building it! I have never been so proud. The playground is fully equipped with a slide, monkey bars, fireman's pole, swing set, AND basketball court! I'm so excited that the kids will now have a playground to play on during break time and after school, and even on the weekends. Playgrounds like the one we built are pretty much unheard of around Fort Portal so it was a huge deal to the Bishop, headmaster, students, and even the local people. It was a very satisfying and heart warming project, and I can't wait to see how much the kids have enjoyed it when I go back in July.
For a going away party, we bought a goat and a cake for the orphanage to eat. The kids never get to have meat or cake so this was a very special occasion. Their constant thanks assured me that they liked it. After the party we sang, then the kids each gave a farewell speech. Needless to say, 5 minutes into these speeches I was a wreck. I tried to keep it together for the sake of the kids but the tears kept falling. I have never actually felt my heart break like that. I just kept looking around the room, at every face, and realizing how in love with all of them I am. After their speeches we prayed. I prayed for the future of these children. I prayed that they know there's people in this world that love them and want them to succeed in life, myself included. I pray that they know no matter how hard their life gets, that God will always, always be there for them and that they never fail to reach out to Him. After prayers, it was time to say not only goodnight, but goodbye. I can't think of many things harder than saying bye to an orphan laying in their bed with tears falling onto their pillow. I don't know how I managed, but I got through it.
When I was on the flight home I was thinking "Well, back to reality," but then I got to thinking, and realized I wasn't going back to reality, Uganda is reality. You can't get more realistic than the things my eyes have seen and heart has felt the past three months.
My first week home was nice because I was excited to see my family, take a hot shower, eat some good food, and just relax. Now that another week has passed and I've gotten used to America, I find myself wanting nothing more than to be back in Africa. I miss the kids so much. I miss tucking them in at night and saying goodnight. I miss seeing their faces first thing in the morning. I miss everything. I fear becoming comfortable with my life in America again. I hope that my memory and love for Uganda will carry me through until July when I can go and feel at home again.
Thank you all for keeping up with me during this journey. It has meant so much to me to read all of your messages. I hope my blog has given you some inspiration, and educated you about the tremendous need for help in Africa. Thanks again for your support and God bless all of you!


The playground! 

I got class pictures printed out for my class and gave it to them as a going away present. They never get to have pictures of themselves so they were really excited!

Dan and Godfrey showing off their new watches
Coloring before bedtime!

Goodbye hugs...

*If you would like to donate to the orphanage/ministry, sponsor an orphan, or pay a childs school fees, visit If you have any questions don't hesitate to facebook message me or e-mail me at

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Thursday afternoon
            As I’m writing this I am laying in my bed beside an orphan suffering from typhoid. I am broken. It started yesterday when I noticed a sudden change in character of a little boy named Dan. He is one of my students that I have become incredibly close to. I noticed that he kept his head down on his desk most of the day yesterday and when I asked him what was wrong, he lifted his head up and with tears in his eyes he said he was having stomach pains. I picked him up out of his desk and with the head masters permission, took him across the street to the orphanage so he could get some rest. Last night during prayer time at the orphanage, I noticed Dan wasn’t there so I went into his room and found him lying in his bed. I held him and rubbed his back until he fell asleep. It was so hard to leave him there for the night knowing he wasn’t getting the care and attention he needs. It’s not anything against the caretakers at the orphanage, but when you have 60+ children to look out for, it’s almost impossible to give them all the care and attention they need. Today when I got to school I figured Dan wouldn’t be there because he would be in bed resting, but sure enough he had been sent to school and he was sitting at his desk with his head down. This time, I knew just taking him back to the orphanage to sleep wasn’t enough. I picked him up and caught a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) and took him to the hospital. When we arrived at the hospital the doctor asked him a series of questions and gave him a quick check up and then proceeded to take his blood. To take blood, the doctor tied a rubber glove around Dan’s elbow and when he found a vein he stuck the needle in it. After the needle was in Dan’s arm, the doctor asked me to hold it while the blood came out through a tube. If you know me, you know I have a weak stomach so this was an uncomfortable and heartbreaking task for me, but I did it and Dan only cried a little. He was such a trooper. We had to wait 45 minutes for the blood results to come back. As I was sitting there waiting, with Dan asleep on my lap, my mind was racing. Here is this little boy, whose mother died in a boda-boda accident and father died from HIV/AIDS. This little boy who deserves all the love and attention in the world, who should get cared for when he is sick, and even when he is not. This little, precious child is right here and he needs me. What a powerful feeling. When the blood results were in, the doctor called me into his office and informed me that Dan has typhoid. He contracted it by drinking tap water, something we in America don’t even have to think about. Typhoid could be so easily prevented with a simple vaccination, but things like that are unheard of here, because for things like that you need money. After getting all the medication he needs, I brought him back, and by back I mean to my room at the volunteer house. He will be staying with me and I will be caring for him for the next few days while he is on the medication. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him at the orphanage during his treatment and him not getting the proper care he needs. His eyes are swollen, his nose keeps running, he doesn’t even look like the boy I know. He has been sleeping since we got back from the hospital, which has now been 5 hours. I will have to wake him up soon so he can take his second dose of medicine. As I care for this child, I let the tears fall, tears that hurt just as if he is a member of my own family. I’m sure these next couple of days will be emotionally and physically tiring, but this isn’t about me. This is about loving your neighbor as yourself. If I was suffering from typhoid I bet I’d be cuddled up at home or at the hospital with my family, and surrounded by “Get Well Soon” cards and balloons and all the love and attention I could need. But this little boy just has me, and I hope that will be enough.
            I pray that I never grow too comfortable or too busy to remember the people who suffer from illnesses like this. I pray I never stop desiring to do something about it. When I came to Uganda and my eyes were open to the pain and suffering here, it became my responsibility to do what I can to fix it, I can no longer deny the need of the people who call this place their home. Coming to Africa, I was a young, free girl…but the more I am here the more I feel a weight of responsibility on my back. But that’s how it should be. I pray the weight never lessens, I pray I always am aware of it.

It has now been three days since I took Dan to the hospital. Since Thursday, a nurse has been coming to my room at the volunteer house and treating Dan. On Friday, we discovered that Dan also has malaria so he is being treated for that also. He’s been on an IV and LOTS of medicine since Thursday evening and he is doing much better! I never knew playing mom could be so exhausting, but so incredibly worth it. I have been getting no sleep because I wake up every hour to check his drip on the IV and to make sure he is sleeping ok. He has only vomited twice, once Thursday night and once Friday afternoon. When he threw up Thursday night I barely got him off the bed and grabbed a trash bag in time before it started. Of course, with my luck, the trash bag I grabbed had a hole in the bottom, so the throw up got all over the floor and I ended up having to catch most of it with my hands. After we got him and the floor cleaned up and I got him back to bed I walked outside of the room and fell apart. I felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job of caring for him considering I caused his own throw up to get all over him because of the trash bag I grabbed. While crying, the other volunteers quickly reminded me that I am doing a good job and doing more than he would have if I weren’t here. Although I know that, at times I still feel like he deserves even more. But I guess I am doing ok, or else God wouldn’t have put me in this position in the first place. Caring for Dan is just another reason why I was supposed to come to Uganda. Yesterday morning was emotionally draining. Dan’s IV fell out so he had to get pricked again in a different vein. He had been very strong and tough when getting shots and his IV up until yesterday morning. He was a complete wreck and was hysterically crying in pain. After pricking him three times and being unsuccessful, Dan finally calmed down enough for the nurse to get it in his vein. I ended up having to walk out of the room during it because I was so upset. Seeing him in so much pain made me feel so helpless and distressed. It’s amazing how much better Dan is than just three days ago. The weak, tired, little boy with swollen eyes and a runny nose is now a happy, playful child again. Tomorrow is his last day of being on the IV so he will return to the orphanage and he has a few more days of medication then he should be able to return to school. I will try to keep you all updated on his progress!

First off, Dan is back to being a happy, healthy boy! He has returned to school and the orphanage. Sadly, the malaria/typhoid drama didn’t end with Dan. On Monday morning I ended up taking seven more children from the orphanage to the hospital. It turns out that out of the seven kids, four have malaria and one has typhoid. I got all of the medicine they will need and they are already showing a little improvement today. I have been waking up early and walking down to the orphanage to give them their meds, again at lunch, and again in the evening. We have moved all the sick children in a room by themselves so they can rest and not be distracted by the other kids. It has been a very frustrating experience because the employees of the orphanage and I don’t always see eye to eye. When I got to the orphanage yesterday morning around 7am to give the kids their medicine, I walked in their room and saw that out of the five kids that have typhoid/malaria, three of them had been sent to school. I was not happy to say the least. I made sure all of them stayed home today and when I just went to give them meds at lunch they all were resting and said they were feeling a little better. There’s never an easy day here, but that’s a reason why I can’t wait to wake up every morning. There is always something I can do to make life easier for someone every day. Yes, it can sometimes be discouraging when you take seven kids to the hospital and come back and realize more are sick and need your help. Sometimes it feels as if I’m running and getting no where…but then a powerless, sick eleven year old boy looks at me while I am giving him his malaria medication and says “Teacher Carson you should be a nurse when you grow up because you’re so good to me,” and it makes all the stress and discouragement fade away. If you told me a year ago that I would be treating five children for typhoid and malaria I would have looked at you like you were crazy. It’s amazing where we can go and what we can do if we let God lead the way. I’m no one special and I haven’t done anything extraordinary, I’ve just listened. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, all I know is right now I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to do. 
I will try to update again soon! Internet connection is pretty scarce and my schedule doesn't allow for much free time. Thank you all for being patient with my posts and for being so supportive of me during this journey! Hope everyone has a happy Halloween! Friday night we are having a Halloween party for the orphanage and the kids are going to trick or treat for their first time from room to room at the volunteer house. I will make sure to take pictures to share with you all. Hope everyone has a great week!

Dan after being on the IV for two days, he was feeling much better by this point!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wisdom to know the difference

Sorry for the long wait! It has taken me a while to get a blog together. I have found that the longer I am here, the harder it is to put all my experiences into words. Every time I sit down to write I get frustrated because I feel like I’m not explaining my experience the way it deserves to be explained, if that makes sense. I have found that it’s easier for me to just write about how I’m feeling, so that’s what I’ll do.

It’s the middle of my sixth week in Uganda and this experience is more than I could have ever dreamed for. I feel that I am being emotionally and spiritually filled everyday. Although accompanied with frustration and hardships, I genuinely love life here. I love cradling babies in my arms, wiping tears from their eyes, and snot from their faces. I love playing soccer for hours and hours....and hours....with little boys who can't get enough of it. I love pouring water down thirsty little throats and giving food to hungry street children. I love being taught by those I teach. I love forming relationships with SO many good-hearted locals. I love hearing the words "I love you" come from a mouth with no front teeth. I love sponge-bathing sixty orphans. I love the gorgeous mountains and starry nights. I love going on afternoon runs and taking in all the breathtaking views that this beautiful land provides. I love ending each day filthy and too tired to move. I love being challenged endlessly. I could go on forever! I love love love. I even LOVE teaching, not something I expected. My students are amazing and so bright. They enjoy all the crafts and lessons. The classroom walls, which were bare when I arrived, are now covered with colorful crafts and pictures!

Tonny, a student in my class who lives in a nearby village was absent for two days in a row last week. He had never been absent before and it started to worry me, so I asked the headmaster if he knew if Tonny was sick. He told me he had to send Tonny home and he wasn’t allowed to come back because he hadn’t paid his school fees. My heart sunk. He continued to tell me that Tonny’s father was deceased and his mother, who is a farmer, is raising her kids on her own. He said the family is very poor and always struggles to pay his school fees. The school fee per term (three terms in a year) is 60,000 shillings, which is equivalent to about $24USD. I knew I had to get Tonny back to school. I told the headmaster and he contacted the mother and told her that Tonny’s fees had been taken care of and he could come back to school. She started crying and asked if I would go to their home so she could thank me. The next day after school, me, Tonny, and the headmaster walked five miles into the village until we came upon a little house made of mud, clay, and straw. His mother was waiting outside and was so gracious and thankful that I had helped her family out. She was so honored that I was at her house. I soon found out that Tonny also has two older brothers (one is ten and one is twelve) that attend a free public school. The boys had to walk ten miles to school each morning and the school doesn’t provide lunch so they went from 6am to 4pm everyday with no food. I looked at the boys and my heart broke for them. I asked the headmaster if there was room for them to come to our school also. He said yes and translated the news to Tonny’s mother (in the villages they rarely speak English), and she literally fell on the ground crying. She said all her prayers had been answered and she couldn’t believe all her kids would be able to go to school and she wouldn’t have to worry about it. She said that God had entered her home when I walked through the door and that I was part of her family now. Needless to say, it was the most rewarding experience I have had. Now all three brothers attend the same school, closer to home, and have lunch everyday. I know it’s not much, but it completely changed this mother’s life.

These past six weeks have definitely been the most meaningful time of my life. I cry when I even think about leaving. I’m tearing up now just because I’m writing about it. It’s true that home is where the heart is. My heart is in Uganda, and it will be left here when I leave. Uganda is home. I have sixty orphaned children who each hold a place in my heart, and countless more from the surrounding villages. I feel so lucky just to know them. Although I can’t do everything for these children, the most important thing is just showing them that they’re worthy of my love and most importantly, God’s love. I can affect them just by showing them that although their parents are dead or not around, that they are still worthy of love that never ceases. I want to show them the love that doesn’t lessen if they fail or increase if they succeed, the love that always stays the same. The love that never ceases.

I think when I look back on my life, I’ll find that the moments I’ve really lived aren’t when I’ve done crazy or adventurous things. I think the moments in which I’m living are when I give a kid a pair of shoes who’s feet are covered with blisters, or when I just spend time jumping rope or blowing bubbles with the children, or when I tuck an orphan into bed at night and sing him lullabies because his parents are unable to do so because they’ve died from HIV/Aids. These are the moments which I am living. These are the moments that I’m doing what I was created to do. By completely losing myself in all that I do and experience here, I have actually found myself more than I ever have. 

I have learned that many peoples view on my time here in Uganda is that it’s dangerous. I’ve had people ask if I’m afraid of living in a country like Uganda. The truth is, I am much more afraid of remaining comfortable in the little bubble I was living in back home. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I do miss America and want to live a “normal” life again. But I’ve realized I want other things more. I want to make a change. Sometimes this leads to frustration. I find sometimes that I think I have the courage to change all things. It's a blurry line between what you can change and what you can't, and it can be a very frustrating feeling trying to figure it out. "God grant me the serinity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference." The wisdom to know the difference. Its an easier concept to say than to actually grasp and I am quickly finding that out. Some days I'm overwhelmed with the feeling of wanting to fix everything. I want to send every child in Uganda to school. I want to sponsor every child to ensure that they have clothes and food. I want to know that these children will have more than their parents did. But what I want to do and what I can do are very different. I know I am only one person, but at the same time, I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. I can make a difference, even in a small way. And if everyone does something, imagine what could be done. I pray you read this and your heart tells you to do something. You might not be able to change the world, however, you can change the world for one person.
I am overwhelmed by the incredible number of children who need help, and it makes me angry when I think of the unfairness of the situation. Why did these kids parents have to die or not have enough money to support them? Why do I have everything I could ever need in life, and more? Why me? Why them? These questions will go unanswered and they continue to tug at my heart everyday. I know it's not right for me to feel guilty for what I have, but how could I not? I see kids pick up an old banana peel off the floor and eat it like a kid in America would eat dessert. I see street kids who have no shoes and who's feet have been battered to the point where they have no toenails. I see ten year olds walk miles and miles for a jug of water. I see old women with bad backs walking miles and carrying pounds on their heads. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I can feel entirely too blessed. Blessed to have a family and parents who would do absolutely anything for me, and to have so many opportunities in life.

I love witnessing God’s plan unfold for my life. It’s a mystery that’s being solved more and more everyday with each new experience. His plan is unfolding in heartbreaking ways, and in courageous ways every single day.I sometimes wonder why out of all places, I felt the need to come to Uganda, now I know. I was meant to come here because God knew I would fall in love with it. He knew it was the place for me. He knew I would come and discover the need here and do what I can to fix it, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. It’s crazy to think that God knows all of this before it even happens and that He truly does have a plan for each of us. Sure, He might not have a plan for you to travel to a foreign land, it might be in your backyard. Human suffering and need are everywhere. I believe each of us was created to change the world for someone, somewhere. I challenge you to go find your Uganda, I promise you will not be disappointed.

I promise to not take so long to update next time! Hope everyone has a great week!!


tonny's mom, tonny, and his 2 brothers

some of my students with their butterflies!

Jordan with a card he made my moms kindergarten class

one afternoon we took some girls from the orphanage into town for lunch and shopping, they had so much fun!

pygmy village

Sunday, September 9, 2012

First week in Uganda

It has now been a week since I arrived in Uganda. I have had the most amazing, heart wrenching, seven days. I never knew my heart could be stolen and broken at the same time. It is a powerful, sometimes overwhelming feeling.
After arriving on Sunday, I spent the night in a hotel in Kampala (the capitol of Uganda). When I got to the hotel I met the other volunteers. It was a first time experience for me to be the only American in a group of people. The volunteers are from Australia, Norway, England, Canada, and Japan. I have met the most amazing people and have thoroughly enjoyed living under the same roof with so many different kinds of personalities. I already feel that I have learned so much from each one of them. On the five hour bus ride from Kampala to Fort Portal (where the volunteer house is) I fell in love with this land. Every single aspect of it. The mountains, mango trees, red clay, all the people going through their daily routines, the school children walking down the road in their uniforms. Everything. I wonder why I waited twenty years to come here!
On Tuesday I walked down to the school and met all the children and the next day I started teaching! The school consists of three little wooden buildings with three classrooms in each building. The floors are dirt, the walls are pieces of wood with cracks between each one, there’s no playground or gym….but the kids are SO eager to learn and appreciate every lesson. My classroom is the P1 level which is equivalent to about first grade in America. I have the privilege of getting to teach, play with, and love on fourteen of the most precious children I've ever met. About half of my students live across the street at the orphanage, the other half are from the village. After we have our English lesson each day we have snack time. The workers from the orphanage bring over a big pot of porridge (rice powder and hot water) and give each student a cup. Snack time is hard for me because the kids who come from the village literally lick their cup (and other students cups) until there is not one drop left. I know the kids who live at the orphanage are provided three meals a day, but I'm afraid most kids from the village don't eat much besides their porridge and lunch during school. The amazing things is if a child happens to have their own snack that day (usually a piece of bread) they will break off a piece for every student. They share everything. After snack is break time which consists of playing tag or hacky sack with a balled up trash bag with rubber bands around it. My heart hurts every time I notice anything like the trash bag hacky sack ball, but I have to act like things like that are normal because the kids here don't know any different. I think about the variety of toys I had to play with at their age and it makes me nauseous.
You are free to come and go from the orphanage as you please so I get to spend a lot of time with my students and the other orphans there. We play lots of soccer there in the afternoon, they absolutely LOVE it!  I also go the orphanage in the evening for prayer time. Prayer time lasts for about an hour and consists of singing, dancing, and prayer. Imagine witnessing sixty orphans thanking and praising God....I know I'm a lucky girl. When the children pray they don't just recite the same prayer all together, they kneel on the ground, bow their heads, close their eyes and each talk to God like they're talking to one of their friends. They all say their own prayer at the same time. The room is so full of love, it's impossible for it not to touch your heart. It is honestly one of the most moving things I've witnessed. After experiencing this and seeing how all the orphans are like a big family, it got me to thinking. Coming from a first world country to a third world country, you usually feel that if you could bring the kids home with you that they'd have a much better life. Until I came to Uganda I thought that too, but spending time at the school and orphanage has altered my viewpoint. These kids love each other, share with each other, and truly care about each other. They are so full of love, life, and Jesus. They talk to Him every day, multiple times a day. They are grateful for what He has given them. Kids who are raised in orphanages like this are the ones who are actually rich. The people in first world countries who would rather spend all their time and money on things just to benefit themselves are the ones who are living in poverty. Sure, in America we could give these kids a college education and lots of material things, but isn't faith, hope, and love worth SO much more? That's just a thought that's been heavy on my mind lately.
Africa is no longer just a picture in a magazine to me. Africa is Kaijuka, Jordan, OPuuli, Aaron...and so many more. Africa has faces now, and I will never be able to forget them. Not that I'd ever want to anyways.

My home for the next three months!

My classroom

Precious little faces

Our first craft! They loved being able to use markers!

Some of the volunteers and myself during our hike to the crater lakes

Crater lake....a picture doesn't do it justice

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Next stop...AFRICA!

Hey everyone! I'm trying to kill time during my layover in London so I figured it would be a good time to update you all. I flew straight from Raleigh/Durham to London, my next flight which is straight from here to Uganda boards at 9pm (4pm for you guys). It is finally starting to hit me that I'm going to Africa but I honestly don't think it will sink in until I get off the plane and actually see Uganda with my own eyes. I have never been this excited, nervous, anxious, happy, scared, etc. about anything in my whole life! So many thoughts. So much change. It's such a myriad of emotions, but overall I am just grateful. Grateful to have this opportunity. Grateful to be supported when I do have this opportunity. And grateful for all the little Ugandan faces I have yet to meet. It's crazy to think that next time I'm in the London airport it will be the end of November and I will possess so many memories and experiences in my heart to carry home with me. The best way to spread love is to first show love. By taking a trip like this, it's impossible for your experiences and love to not overflow even when you return home. I hope when I get back to the States, the new love in my heart will cause a ripple effect and help to open others eyes about not only the change they could make in Africa, but anywhere in the world. I have to admit, it was difficult to say my goodbyes in Raleigh yesterday but I know there are so many hello's to come when I get to Uganda that will bring so much joy to my life. I never thought I would be ready to leave home, the people there, the ones I love the most. But I feel like God has done some incredible things in my heart to prepare me for this. As soon as I boarded the flight to London I just had this ease, I know everything is going to be alright, it's out of my hands. Like my dad e-mailed me just a few hours ago "The Lord will take care of you for me" and he's so right. I know I will be fine. I think I have finally reached the point where I have given up on my life as I knew it. I know things are going to change, and I'm so ready to embrace every aspect of it. I know this is exactly why I was created in the first place. I can't wait to see the world from the eyes who have absolutely nothing, yet have a smile on their face from ear to ear.
Well I should probably get off my laptop and go find my gate to board my LAST FLIGHT!! I just wanted to give you all an update on where I'm at, physically and emotionally! Crazy to think next time I blog I will actually be in Africa! I hope you all have a great week!!

xoxo, Carson

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Welcome aboard!

Hey guys! I decided it would be a good idea to start a blog so I can keep you all updated on my trip. I’ve never blogged before so here goes nothing…
I’ll start by saying that with the help of funding from my wonderful family, friends, and an amazing offering from my church, today I paid the final payment to IVHQ to ensure my spot in the teaching program for three months in Uganda! How exciting!! Now, all I have to do is wait……I JUST WANNA GO NOW. The good news is I don’t have too much longer left! 54 days from now, I will be in the airport probably crying my eyes out as I say goodbye to my mom and dad (keep in mind I’m their youngest of six children) and the rest of my family and friends. Then I’ll hop on a plane and this girl will be on her way to Africa! What a crazy thought. Sometimes I still catch myself wondering if I’m really about to do this. It’s always been a farfetched dream that I couldn’t really grasp. I definitely think dreams come a few sizes too big so we can have time to grow into them. I finally think I’m ready and equipped with the knowledge, faith, and strength to face the daily trials in Uganda, and to truly appreciate the rewarding feeling of helping to mold innocent children’s lives. Of course I have fears, but my yearning to make my mark in the world far outweighs any fear imaginable. I absolutely cannot wait to be in the presence of amazing little faces every single day.
As some of you may know, I recently got back from a mission trip to Haiti. This trip eliminated any doubts I could’ve ever had about making the choice to spend three months in Africa. The feeling of pure happiness and joy that I felt while in Haiti is like an addiction that I can’t get enough of. It was like I found my meaning in life, and I knew I was supposed to be there. I’m counting the days until I get to Uganda and the same feeling consumes me. I cannot wait to get my feet in that red clay and my arms around those sweet children. As much as I’m ready to go, I know some days I will miss the “normality” of America, but I’m so ready to get away from all the distractions here and see the world from a new perspective. I wonder who I will be when I get home; I wonder what my eyes will have seen and what my heart will have felt.
It’s bizarre thinking about how things really do happen for a reason, and how God uses trials and tribulations to create something remarkable. I was dealt a pretty tough hand this past year, but that only provided me with the strength and ability to make this life-changing decision. I’ve learned that sometimes the most dreadful of things we experience are still blessings in disguise. I never thought taking a semester off from college would be in my plans, but then again that was MY plan, and God’s plan is completely different. I’m just grateful He lets me be a part of His plans. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me and how He is going to use me in Uganda, but I must admit this is a bittersweet feeling. All my best friends will be starting their junior year of college, and it makes me think how different I had my life planned out just last year. I would have never believed you if you told me I would no longer be attending ECU, or that I would have no desire to major in apparel merchandising anymore. It’s so crazy! God has something even bigger and better in store for me, I know it. So that's why I am here, typing a blog on my MacBook about traveling to Uganda. Not because everyone thinks it's the best route to take, because believe me, I've heard my fair share of opinions along the way, and not because it's what's expected of me, and definitely not because it's going to be easy.
             Before I call it a night I would like to personally thank anyone who is taking the time to follow along with this journey, and to everyone who helped make this possible. You will never know how precious each of you are to me. And to my sweet parents, I don’t think you guys will ever truly know how much I appreciate your support and for always believing in my dreams. I know most mom and dads would have a hard time when their daughter drops the “I’d like to take a break from school and move to Africa” bomb. You two handled it with grace and have never made me feel like I can’t accomplish anything I set my mind to. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from my trip to Haiti so you can all see what I've been up to this summer! LOVE to you all!