A Day in the Life. Ish.

Larry Crabb tells the story of how his wife was abused as a little girl but he didn’t know it until many years after they had been married. When she finally felt safe enough to share the truth with Larry, she cried as she spoke because it was so painful.

smallBut Rachael told Larry another story of when she was a young girl, about an adult in her life who truly loved and cared for her. He treated her with kindness, with respect, with compassion. When she shared this story for the first time, she wept. She sobbed, shoulders heaving, unable to control the overwhelming memory of being seen and loved as she was.

Perhaps love touches our souls more deeply than pain.

I tell people all the time to pay attention to what makes them cry. Not because it unlocks some kind of deep secret meaning of life, but because it simply helps connect us to the deep, secret parts of ourselves. When something moves you enough to bring tears, lean in and listen up.

Yesterday after I met our family’s newly sponsored child, Otwii Paul, our team split up into three groups to visit homes of the children enrolled in the child sponsorship program with Compassion. Shaun and I went to visit the home of eleven year old Colline.


We sat in a half-circle under what I’m pretty sure were banana trees, chairs lined up neatly on the cleanest dirt I’ve ever seen in real life, and listened to this family’s story.

Lira Day One

Colline’s uncle Richard was gracious enough to sit with us yesterday and share their story of escaping the rebels who captured and killed his brothers, including Colline’s father. He was willing to tell us about how they hid in the bush to stay alive, how they would push the children under the grass so they couldn’t be seen, and how the children knew not to make any noise. Besides, they were too hungry to make much noise anyway, so they spent the days sleeping, hiding in the bush.

He told us the story of how he and his wife decided to take Colline into their care even though they already had four children of their own.

It was a hard story and they were gracious to tell it. But I didn’t cry while I listened to it. It was almost too sad to comprehend, too distant to connect with, too hard to imagine this family hiding to save their lives while we sat safely under the banana tree beside the house Richard built with his own hands.

Lira Day One

Today, we went back to their house curious now to simply see what Colline’s daily life looked like and how Compassion helps to make it better.

This, evidently, is hilarious. Because when the translator told Richard what we wanted to do, he broke out laughing.

I guess when you don’t watch reality TV or instagram your pretty lunch plate or know about taking selfies and whatnot, it’s a hard concept to grasp.

He was gracious to share the devastating story. But he didn’t see the point of telling the daily one.


Shaun tried to explain a little more.

“You know,” he says through a translator, “just whatever you all do during the day, do that. And we’ll help or watch or whatever you want. Dishes, laundry, cooking. We just want to see daily life a little bit.”

The small stuff. The little things. The everyday rhythms.

Again, hilarity ensues. Why do these crazy white people want to see us do our laundry? He said with his eyes. (He was too polite to say that with his mouth.)

Finally, someone convinced this family we were genuinely interested in understanding a bit more about their daily life, they began to catch on. Maybe too much, actually.

Because Colline began doing the chores she normally does early in the morning, chores that had already been done by the time we arrived.

Part of me wanted to stop her – no, just do what you do! It’s okay! Don’t wash clean dishes! Don’t pretend to peel potatoes!

But it had gone too far by this point.

So we followed as she walked us through her daily chores.

She washed her siblings faces.


She swept the ground in front of their home with a broom she made herself.


She took us to the place where she gets water.



She washed dishes.

washing dishes

Then she disappeared for a while and when she came back, she had on her school clothes even though it wasn’t a school day. See, this is how I go to school. This is how I dress. These are my school shoes. She walked ten feet down the path and then turned around and came back again.

colline goes to school ishAnd then? She changed back into her everyday clothes and made herself an after school snack. For after her pretend school day. And here she is praying before she eats it.

afterschool snack

I think she was having fun.


She seemed to take pride in showing us her life in this small way. Instead of us just jumping in on a dish-washing or a laundry-hanging, we got a feel for the whole day in a matter of hours.

It was a simple day, a happy day. It was a day spent with this family of seven and about twenty other children from the village who came to basically look at us because obviously. None of these children are part of the child sponsorship program – only Colline.


If you lined them all up and included Colline in the mix of them, I’m pretty sure I could pick her out on the first guess.

with colline

Here’s why:

When Colline first began in the program in 2009, she didn’t interact well with others, had poor health, and nightmares at night.

Because of the support of her sponsor, she gets a pill every six months that keeps her from getting lesions like the ones I saw on some of the other children.

She has a project overseer who prays for her every Monday and Thursday to keep the nightmares away.

She has a mattress to sleep on, a kerosine lamp in her house, a barrel they use for storage in the kitchen.

She is able to go to school (even though the public school tuition is one third of Richard’s salary) because Compassion pays her school fees.

Colline also has a fun, safe place to learn about the Bible every Saturday at the church where the Compassion center is located, adults who know and care for her, and the dignity that grows naturally in a child who has hope for her future.

She is clearly comfortable interacting with others.

And even though Colline is the only child in the family registered, the whole family benefits from her sponsorship.


You want to know the only time I teared up today? It was this, captured in this 1:45 second video (subscribers click here to see):

The only time I teared up today was when Shaun started speaking to Richard, Colline’s uncle – words of encouragement, hope, and support from one father to another. (He wrote a post about our time at Colline’s house today, too.)

Even though I heard Richard’s devastating story yesterday, I didn’t tear up when I heard his pain. I teared up when I saw his hope.

“One changed child eventually changes a family. A changed family will influence change in its church. Enough changed churches will transform a community. Changed communities change regions. Changed regions will in time change an entire nation.”

Wess Stafford, Too Small to Ignore

It starts with a child.

I know there were twenty other children in the yard today who don’t have sponsors and aren’t registered with Compassion. Richards own four children were among them. But having his niece sponsored benefits not only his family, but his whole neighborhood.

Colline is learning to be a leader right where she lives all because of a sponsor who decided to partner with Compassion for $38 a month to change her life for the better.

Would you be willing to join Compassion in rescuing children from poverty in Jesus’ name? Would you pick a child to sponsor today?

More Posts from Uganda

The Meaning of Life in Three Parts by Jeff Goins

How to Have a Happy Home by The Nester

What it Means to Boil Water by Joy the Baker

What Good Dads Do by Shaun Groves

Thank  you for reading these posts. Thank you for sponsoring kids. Thank you for your gracious comments, prayers, and understanding when I get a little crazy over tiny airplanes (which we load our big selves into again tomorrow morning – that’s 3 am EST incase you want to set your alarm to wake up and get on your hands and knees and pray for the safety of our souls in real time. I digress.) You are a kind group of readers and I’m so glad you’re following, tweeting, and Facebooking along.

Now go pick your child and come back and tell me his name! Or her name, of course.


  1. Kendra says

    I’ve naturally woken up at 3am the last two mornings. I kid you not. It’s annoying and I want to go back to sleep, but after ten seconds, I think, “I can pray for Emily and the team!” So it’s beyond cool to know that when I’m eye-wipey and trying to find a comfortable spot again that that’s when little plane-ing happens. And you are indeed getting realtime prayers. Tonight I’m hoping it happens again.

  2. says

    I love this, Emily. I love these stories and the hope that is so evident. I love good dads who love their kids.

    My sponsored children are in the Philippines and Indonesia. Just reading these last two day’s worth of posts has drawn me to my knees with greater fervor for them.

    And while I can’t promise to set my alarm to pray for you in the wee hours, I’ll compromise and pray before I go to sleep. Fair?

    Big hugs to you all! Praying for you every day!

  3. Janeen Daftary says

    Thank you so much for your wonderful posts!!! They bring tears to my eyes. We have sponsored two kids thru Compassion for years but I always felt like I wanted us to sponsor another. Your post yesterday was so moving I sponsored a little boy named Joshua Wafula from Uganda. Thank you for bringing this longing to a place of action
    I will be praying for your flights especially in the tiny planes!!! Don’t know if I could do it so I especially understand your feelings. God will bring you safely home. God bless you and please keep sharing your amazing stories!

      • Janeen Daftary says

        Thanks Emily!! Our other sponsored children are a little boy from Ethiopia and a girl in Bolivia. We are so happy to have Joshua now too. The posts from you who go visit them are such a gift to us. SO neat and inspiring to see firsthand as I don’t know if I will ever be able to go visit myself.
        Will be praying for your flights tonight. God Bless You.

  4. Rachel says

    Two weeks ago I took a leap of faith and offered to open my home to a young woman (someone I didn’t know) who needed a place to live rent free. Once I decided to say yes, I was so excited. I was then disappointed when the situation fell through because I really wanted to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Yesterday when I read your post, I realized that sponsoring a child was the obvious answer to the work God had done in my heart recently. I immediately searched for a child with the same name as that young woman. I found a sweet girl in Bolivia to sponsor and I am beyond excited.

  5. Lisa says

    We just sponsored Omoding Emma Tolbert, a little boy born on the same day as my son. He is our second sponsored child. Thank you for your ministry this week. Your words are transporting us there and they are such a gift.

  6. says

    We just sponsored our first Compassion child on Christmas Day — little Leydi in Mexico. And we got our first letter from her yesterday! How excited my daughters were to see her actual handwriting and the sweet self portrait she drew. I’m finding myself trying hard to imagine what her life must be like and working to make my prayers for her more real and heart-felt. I so appreciate the picture you’ve painted here, how it shows the simple, the real, the everyday. The impact sponsorship holds. Blessings and safe travels.

      • Sandy Montoya says

        Yvonne I just read your blog post about meeting Felix in Mexico. It gave me chills because it is deja vu of a strange dream I had last week. I rarely remember my dreams, but this one was so vivid. And no, I had not read your blog or anything written about a tour in Mexico, but in my dream my husband and I were on a sponsor tour in Mexico visiting a little boy, but he wasn’t one of our 5 sponsored/11 correspondent children. His name was Rodrigo. When I woke up I told my husband about the dream. (And the dream was very much like what you describe in meeting Felix.) The name Rodrigo startled me because several years ago I served on the grand jury of a heartbreaking child abuse case in our community where the mother abused and killed a 4-year-old boy named Rodrigo. The whole dream was unusual, and normally I would quickly forget it and life would go on as usual. But this dream stuck with me. Curious, I got on the Compassion web site & searched for a child named Rodrigo. And there he was – a little boy in Mexico named Rodrigo. ME968. He had been waiting 330 days for a sponsor. I watched him for several days to see if he disappeared, but he didn’t. I prayed about him, and prayed about the ability to sponsor another child – especially after learning the same day one of my correspondent children, an 11-yr-old girl in India, lost her financial sponsor & I am given the chance to sponsor her myself. While I was on the Compassion site I watched the video on the home page and bawled through it. It had been played at the Roadshow 2014 concert that my husband & I helped at the week before and saw 229 kids sponsored! Well, that did it. I sponsored Rodrigo. :)

  7. says

    These glimpses into the lives of the families are treasures. Thank you for sharing the images and your heart. My five Compassion blessings in Uganda, including a Compassion grandbaby, have been on my heart as I have read these posts.

    I love all of our Compassion blessings, but Uganda has made such an impression on my heart, for reasons I cannot really articulate. I cannot wait until the Lord sees fit to bring me there!

  8. says

    What an honor it is for you to be there, witnessing what they do throughout the day. I really enjoyed reading this and I’m in the process of talking my husband into us sponsoring a child. It just feels like it’s what we need to do.

    • says

      It feels like an honor, Angela. It really does.

      And if your husband has any questions he needs the answers to, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      I may not know the answer, but I promise I can find out. We have the former president of Compassion on this trip with us, not to mention our trip leaders so it’s as easy as asking them over coffee in the morning!

      Just let us know and we’re happy to speak to any confusion or hesitation if we are able.

  9. says

    emily? thank you, thank you, thank you. and i’m so thankful for richard and colline, how they shared their lives so genuinely and beautifully with you and us. i hope i can be so artless and joy-filled at revealing my small but important moments with others.

  10. says

    Yes, their hope! Their hope brings me to tears as well. And yet we have so much hope that is hidden in ungratefulness sometimes. Thank you for your words. I read yesterday’s post a few hours ago and wanted to let you know that I decided to also sponsor our now third child. How could we not when we can? Thank you for speaking such convicting and empowering words.

  11. Courtney says

    I am crying my way thru your posts and the others on your trip to Uganda. Our family sponsors Mariam who lives in Uganda so I was eager to follow your trip and learn more about the area and how she lives. Can I ask why the 20 or so children in Colline’s village and her cousins are not going to the school or registered with Compassion? I am new to sponsorship and how this works, I am sure it is probably due to lack of sponsors but are there other reasons? The picture of the other children breaks my heart. How do we help?

    Praying for you trip! Thank you for sharing

  12. says

    I just posted about Joseph’s tears a few minutes ago, then came here and read your beautiful post. No coincidence about writing about tears. What pours out of you is Psalm 50:2. Perfect in Beauty is the God pouring out of you in Uganda. I posted about tears because I’m sitting in a pool of my own. And I came across this quote in “Beyond Words”—Frederick Buechner delved: “You never know what may cause tears…Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the Mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where you should go next.” Emily, you see things so beautiful. Your posts have stirred and shimmered and a Beautiful God has summoned through you! He did me!

  13. says

    Compassion makes me cry. You sum it up so beautifully. “Even though I heard Richard’s devastating story yesterday, I didn’t tear up when I heard his pain. I teared up when I saw his hope.” I recently went to a conference which Compassion partnered with and the rep who was there speaking had gone on several trips. The thing that stood out to me the most was when he was talking about a home visit they did in the middle of a slum. He said a little boy who is sponsored through Compassion climbed up on a pile trash and proclaimed with the purest joy how his sponsor and the church were changing his life. The speaker then quoted something that little boy said that I will never forget.. “Though I still live in poverty, poverty does not reside in me!” My tears brimmed and fell down my cheeks. Compassion is doing such an incredible work through their sponsors. You are so blessed to be able to experience that!

  14. says

    Reading the posts of everyone on your trip has moved me. I graduated from undergrad in May and started my first “big kid” job in July. I’m saving up to be able to afford to move out of my parent’s…hopefully sooner rather than later. I don’t have tons to spare, but I looked though the list of children needing sponsors last night and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I woke up this morning and read everyone’s posts and I knew I had to sponsor a little one. I am now Emmanuel Kyeyune’s sponsor. I have been thinking about him all day and cannot stop smiling. My heart is full. I hope I am able to make a difference in his life.

  15. says

    this is great! i love that and can definitely see her joy in acting out her day :)

    just wondering–is the pill you mention her taking every 6 months a de-wormer? i live in Kenya and work with kids here… just wanted to know if there was something i am missing :)


  16. Paola says

    We decided to sponsor an 11 yr old girl named Anette from Uganda last night in honor of my 10 yr old daughters birthday. We have been thinking about it for a while and she really pushed me to do it last night. She said it was a special day for her and she wanted to make it special for someone else.

  17. says

    Oh Emily, I’m following your journey and overcome by how God is using your gifts. You are flourishing my friend, giving him glory through your voice. I’ve written my own story after spending some time with a Bishop from Malawi last week, linking to Compassion and your stories. May God continue to bless your team as you bless us with your words of hope, kindness, and redemption. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  18. says

    These stories are touching me so deeply Emily. I’m still thinking about your last post and how you reluctantly chose Otwii Paul and discovered the gifts he is sharing with his community. Amazing stuff you are experiencing over there!

  19. Laurie says

    I love what you wrote about tears of pain and then tears of joy often coming from a deeper place… you are a deep girl Emily : ) I love Paul’s big wonderful, and radiant smile…he is the face of newly found hope! Sponsoring a child through compassion is money so well spent. love Colline’s beautiful smile too and the joy she took in showing you her day. Thank you for this beautiful journal. Praying for your journey home.

  20. says

    we all just gathered around the computer as a family, to see and hear and learn about this dear Colline and her family. As we are safe in our mansion of a home compared to hers, we are so blessed to be taken to Uganda through your stories and words. Thank you sweet friend. Praying with and for you and those with you.

  21. says

    So I just commented on your sister’s post that I have been soaking up your words {and hers too} like y’all are soaking up that blazing Ugandan sun. I had to link to your post about Ottiwi in my blog today because that story? Only God. My 10-year-old son and I spent yesterday afternoon looking through the Ugandan kids on the Compassion web-site. Right now we’re deciding between Maxwell and William. : ) I’ll let you know which one we pick.

  22. says

    I love seeing the joy on those faces. I also loved hearing that rooster in the background of the video… it was like being there. Such an honor to see God at work. Beautiful words as usual Emily. <3

  23. says

    Hi Emily,
    God bless you for sharing all of this.
    We are sponsoring a lovely girl, Paulina, she is from Tanzania. I hope to be able sponsor another child soon.

    Take care

  24. Sonia Gee says

    When I read you were going to Uganda with a group called Compassion, I read about them on the Internet. Leaving your own sweet family and doing this amazing thing to help children, gave me a lump in my throat that I could not get rid of. I went ahead and sponsored a child in Guatemala, since my son did a 2-year mission there with our church. He told me they were among the kindest people he had ever met. Without your encouragement and bravery I probably would have not done this. I have 6 children of my own and 16 grandchildren. But “love” holds no bounds . . . there is always room in our hearts for one more! You are an inspiration to many Emily!! With love, a fan Sonia Gee

  25. says

    Emily, My devotion today was John 21:17. At the end of Peter’s profession of love for Jesus, Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”. I sorta pigeon-holed that verse to mean a spiritual responsibility. Given my circle of plenty, “food” had not entered my thoughts. But today, God instantly brought your trip and blog to my mind. Wanted to let you know I became the sponsor of 12 yr old Morrine Naigembe of Uganda served by the Busulumba Child Development Center.
    So thankful for your faithfulness! Praying for your safety as you travel.

  26. says

    Wonderful post! :) My hubby and I sponsored a little Ugandan girl in December last year – she got told she was sponsored at the Christmas party! :-) She goes to UG704 and her name is Talent Gumoshabe, if you go there can you hug her from us? :-) <3

  27. Beth Jones says

    For those of you who are on the fence about sponsoring a Compassion child, DO IT! You will be so blessed. I’ve recently had a child graduate from the program and I cried like a proud Mama. When Sharmane was little I would get beautiful pictures that she would draw, and then precious letters and photos. You’ll be a blessing to the child but what you receive in return is ten fold.

  28. says

    I also already sponsor 3 children, through several different organizations one being Compassion, but I added another today with your link. Your writing touched my heart and I wanted another family to experience the change like Richard’s. God works miracles today and shows up through people daily and you are helping His Light shine brightly! Thanks so much and sweet blessings

  29. Cathy Y says

    Thank you for his post. It makes me happy to know the work being done by compassion. We sponsor a child in Peru so your words were encouraging to see how it makes a difference. I would love to know the names of the children in the photo who were not sponsored so we can sponsor one. If you don’t know the names, maybe their ages so I can search the website by age. Thank you!

  30. Natalie says

    Thank you for this post!

    This quote stuck out to me: “I tell people all the time to pay attention to what makes them cry. Not because it unlocks some kind of deep secret meaning of life, but because it simply helps connect us to the deep, secret parts of ourselves. When something moves you enough to bring tears, lean in and listen up.”

    I have several life transitions occurring right now, and my tears have been flowing in abundance. I’m trying to lean in and listen up to what’s going on in my life and relationships and open up to share with others.

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