What We Need When We Are Uncertain

My sister Myquillyn and I shared a room until I was in fourth grade. We nailed stuffed animals to the wall next to the bed we shared and giggled when we were supposed to be sleeping until Mom would fuss at as from the living room to quiet down.

sisters on a planeWe grew up with cats having kittens in the shed, a tire swing in the backyard, and grandparents living right around the corner. Mom brought out the white tablecloth for birthdays and our friends  lived right next door. We basically played outside all summer until Mom called us in for dinner.

But then, at the end of fourth grade, our family moved from that little white house on Gladstone Avenue in Indiana to a little yellow house on Greenway Drive in Iowa – six hours away.

Leaving the place we had always known for a place we knew nothing about was scary in the fourth grade. But one thing made it less scary – knowing my sister would be there, too.

Not a lot has changed in twenty-five years.

kampala, uganda

When Shaun asked if we would be willing to travel again with Compassion, he sent one email, addressed to the pair of us because he is a smart man and knows two sisters are better than one. It took us a few weeks to decide for sure, not because we doubt Compassion, but because we doubt air travel and things of that nature.

In the end (or the beginning depending on how you want to look at it) saying yes was a lot easier knowing she would be there with me.

When you are uncertain, it helps to have someone remind you what is true – someone who knows you well, who sees you, and keeps track of you – not just your body but your soul.

My sister does this for me in life and she does it for me on this trip. And today I realized it’s the same thing Compassion does for children.

Today Wess told us that Compassion commits that every child will be three things: known, loved, and protected. 

Sounds a lot like having a sister.

Compassion Bloggers Uganda 2014 - Day FourI was feeling weary this morning when we arrived in Katwe, a slum neighborhood here in Kampala. Myquillyn, Wess, and I were heading back to the home we visited yesterday, the one where the joyful mother gave us chickens.

As we made our way up the hill where Joseph and his mother Rose lived, I remembered the words from the t-shirt I had on, a phrase from a song called BloomYou bring beauty to the darkest places.

I wanted it to be true today.

Yesterday when we first met her, Rose was embarrassed that she wasn’t dressed more for the occasion of our visit. She kept putting her hands on her head, smoothing out her skirt, motioning behind her to the one room she shares with her son Joseph as if she wanted to change her clothes. We weren’t able to stay long then, assuring her she need not change and we would be back tomorrow.

Today, she was ready and she dared not utter any such apology for her appearance. Because this:

Compassion Bloggers Uganda 2014 - Day Four

Compassion Bloggers Uganda 2014 - Day Four

roseAnd there it was, the beauty in today’s dark place.

We sat down with Rose and heard her story through a translator, learning she has a life-threatening illness and has worked hard to secure Joseph’s future. Rose knows, loves, and wants to protect her son. I can’t think of a better partner for her than Compassion, an organization who makes it their goal to ensure every child is known, loved, and protected.

But here’s the twist: though she is sick, Rose is not despondent. She is determined, faithful, and prepared. She trusts God, has a heart of deep gratitude, and a dignity that I don’t understand but fully experienced in her presence.

Her hope was timid, but it was there. Because Joseph has a sponsor through Compassion, Rose doesn’t have to face her uncertainty alone.

When you are uncertain, it helps to have someone remind you what is true – someone who knows you well, who sees you, and keeps track of you – not just your body but your soul.

My sister does this for me. Compassion does this for Joseph and Rose. And you can do this for a child today.

Beauty already exists in the darkness. Do you want to be part of it? Here’s some beauties to choose from.

Since Myquillyn and I visited the same home today, she’s sharing Rose and Joseph in her own Nester way. Visit Nesting Place to read and see more about sisters, family, and what makes a home.

More From Uganda

A Message From 13 Year Old Pastor Amon for You by Shaun Groves

The One Thing I’d Tell My Mom by Joy the Baker

Letting Go of the Right Dream by Brianne McKoy

The Worst Mistake You Don’t Know You’re Making by Jeff Goins

And you can read all the posts from Uganda on the Compassion Blogger page.


  1. Jolie says

    As I scrolled down reading this entry I wasn’t expecting…I wasn’t prepared for that beauty to fill my screen. That lady, in that special dress, in that little home with a sandy floor, wearing for guests in t-shirts something precious…wearing with dignity and pride…
    There are too many images manipulated on the screens to move our hearts and hands to generous living. I come to these blogs a daily reader of the world’s deep needs. But your trip with this crew of people has held my attention. Its real. Thanks for sharing, thanks for going.


  2. says

    So beautiful. All of these words you’ve been sharing have been driving deep in my heart. I can’t put words to it right now but I needed these beautiful stories and I’m praying about what I will do with the honor of hearing them. Thank you, friend!

  3. Kim says

    Frank now has a sponsor . You are doing amazing things…sharing these incredible stories, so glad I can be apart of it.

  4. says

    {Just posted this identical comment at your sister’s. Too lazy to be original.} : )

    We picked William. I knew when I read yours and your sister’s first posts that this was going to happen. I made my husband read the posts as I stood in the doorway all teary-eyed. He didn’t even pause. He just said, “Okay. Let’s do it.” So my 10-year-old son chose 9-year-old William after looking through page after page of kids. He said he just “felt a connection” with him. We’re excited.

    Thanks for braving the Barbie planes to give these kids a hope and a future. And to give us William.

    • says

      i read your comment over at Myquillyn’s too & i would say it’s beautiful, not lazy! it has been such an amazing week to read these stories & to know that the choice you’ve made to become a sponsor will be an incredible blessing to William and your family.

  5. says

    I read your sister’s post first and followed over here to hear your version.
    The beauty shines. Oh, the timid hope!
    I don’t know what I’d do without my sisters, so I totally here your voice here. Praying for these children; for this 6’2″ Ugandan mother; for the Gospel to go forth!

  6. says

    She won’t be caught unprepared while waiting for her Bridegroom, will she?
    I, too, have a sister, and we are very close. All through our mother’s illnesses, we each had a sister to share our soul struggles. Hugs to you and yours… Thanks for bringing us along.

  7. says

    Girl, oh my. Praise God for sisters and and Wes and Compassion and YOU. I just can’t get over all the ways God uses you and your words to show His beauty and light in the dark.

    Thank you for helping us to see. Love you always.

  8. Belinda says

    I learned this truth when a friend was passing from this life to the next. I found assuring that what we believe from scripture is true – that she was going straight to be with Jesus – that I would see her again – even, to please say hello to my daughter I never got to meet, brought her peace. She needed me. At the same time – it bolstered my faith and reassured me.
    Love hearing the stories from these people.

  9. says

    Thank you for sharing your trip. I’m so moved. So touched. So tearful. I’ve been reading all the posts from those on your trip the last several days. It’s all I can think about. I’m so humbled by these children and their families and their precious stories. I just signed up to sponsor a precious little 12yo girl named Katusabe Hellen. She has 8 siblings. It was so hard to pick just one child as I want to pick dozens. I hope to sponsor more in the near future.

  10. Tara says

    I have loved the posts from y’all’s Uganda trip. My sister and I went on our first mission trip to Trinidad together. I am 2 years older and should be the strong one but secretly I was so thankful she was coming along because she is the one who helps me. Still to this day she is that for me. So thankful for sisters :) I loved this story and I love what Compassion is doing! We have three sweet sponsor kids and love them so very much. Thanking God for all that Compassion does! And thankful for the reminder through y’all’s blog posts to live fully for Jesus and love wins!

  11. Natalie says

    This quote resonated with me so very much: “When you are uncertain, it helps to have someone remind you what is true – someone who knows you well, who sees you, and keeps track of you – not just your body but your soul.”

    The night before I read this, I was feeling very uncertain/insecure about something, and someone who knows me well reminded me of what is true. I e-mailed her this blog post to encourage her and thank her for being in my life. :)

    Thank you for writing and sharing your stories, heart, and perspective!

  12. Judy Johannesen says

    Emily – my comment may be just a little weird, but the mere mention of ‘Katwe’ in your blog is an answer to prayer!
    Although we have supported Compassion children for around twenty five years, fourteen years ago, when my son , Peter, was six, we attended a special children’s choir evening for another organization which sponsors children. Peter spotted a photograph of a Ugandan boy born the same month he was, and asked if we could be his sponsors. We agreed to do it, and though we later had some misgivings about the organization, we continued to pray and support him through the years, until a few months ago when he graduated from the program. Always and ongoing, even since his graduation, our prayer has been that there would be Christians in his community – the opportunity to hear of Jesus love for him right there where he lives – and yes, you guessed it, he is in Katwe, Kampala.
    I am so moved to have been given this hope. He is, of course, a young man now, not within the scope of Compassion’s work there, but just to know that God has his people there is cause for joy.
    Thank you for all your Uganda blogs – for overcoming your fear of those little planes to go in love….

  13. Kari Hanstad says

    Yesterday would have been my only sister’s birthday. She took her life when I was 16. Today I put a copy of “a million little ways” into the mail for my future daughter-in-law. Later this evening my oldest son and his wife will be landing in Entebbe for a two week medical mission for New Hope Uganda. They will get to meet the young lady whom we have sponsored for 16 years. I admit I have not been on your website for a long time…The fact I stumbled onto it today….I heart felt every moment of your posts. God is so good and just for today – I’m claiming you and your sister as my sister :)

  14. says

    I just discovered your blog after reading Joy the Baker’s Uganda posts and am so glad to have found you! Looking forward to exploring more, but just wanted to say thank you for serving those sweet children and for sharing your experiences here. I also have a sister who means the world to me, no one will ever understand you like a sister does! How lucky you are to get to share these adventures with her!

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