Thursday, December 26, 2013

Goodbye, Papa! Hello Uganda!

This year I really haven't blogged much, but I did want to make a point to blog while my husband was on his journey to Uganda, Africa. I wanted to share my heart beat, his experiences, and our experiences back home while he is gone. I also wanted to share a little bit about how this all came about and Refuge 127 the non profit organization that has developed as a result of having an open heart and willingness to serve!


You can find out more information about the Christian based non profit organization that I have the privilege of working with and serving on there board at the above link! Refuge 127 began in Jan. 2008 as an outreach to children living in our local Juvenile Justice Facility. To make a really long story, a little shorter - basically the Christmas of 2007 me and my sister in law, Mandy Holloway wanted to do a Tour of Homes in our community. We had spent hours upon hours decorated our homes and we wanted to do something fun for women in the area and raise a little money for a local charity or group in need. That first Tour of Homes turned out to be a success and we prayed about finding a place to give the money to - my sister in law Mandy discovered the JJC (Juvenile Justice Facility) in our community. Little did we know that our small town of Thibodaux was home to a facility that housed children and teens who were in state custody due to prior abuse, neglect, or lack of safety. That Christmas was the catalyst of change and we didn't even know it then! No one ever dreamed the work would go beyond our little community of Thibodaux, Louisiana - but God knew other wise! I am excited to say we just finished our 7th annual Tour of Homes and it has grown to be a huge fundraiser now for orphaned children half way across the world! It is humbling how God will move when you are a willing vessel!

In 2012, my brother in law and sister in law, Mandy & Shay Holloway had the opportunity to go to Uganda, Africa. That was the second catalyst of change. She needs to write a blog/book about all that, but all I can tell you is I am pretty certain they didn't imagine things would continue to evolve the way they have! From that first trip, Refuge 127 was put into existence. The work had begun many years before as I stated above - 2012 was just the birth of the non profit! It was through there work with children at the JJC who were abused, abandoned, and orphaned - that there hearts changed. The name is based on James 1:27 which states: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."





Since that first trip in 2012 - many things have happened! A new orphanage is currently being built and is named after Refuge 127 - it is the Hope Refuge School which is located in a small village called Kachomo, Uganda. Refuge 127 is committed to helping in 4 major areas: Buildings, Farming and Food, Medical, and Education.



This year, my husband Seth decided to make the trip to Uganda! There is a team of people he is traveling with (his brother Shay, sister law Mandy and many others from our area) - willing to give up there holidays and travel to the other side of the globe - for truly one purpose and one purpose alone - to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

To be honest, when I first found out that Seth was leaving on Christmas Day - I was so upset (for way too many selfish reasons!!) This is an amazing cause - and I don't want you to think I have lost sight of that - but I am human and these were my first thoughts ("Who is the person who did the scheduling of this trip...they must have no family!!" "Why can't they leave the day after Christmas?" "Our kids won't have there Papa on the most important holiday of the year!") And then God kindly reminded me - we have a healthy happy home with a loving Papa 365 days a year - we could share him for 2 weeks!!

As I type this and listen to my 3 year old daughter cry for her Papa - my heart hurts so badly! My kids are beyond spoiled for there "Papa" as they call him! He is more than your typical dad - he is superdad to the highest degree and any day without him is too much!

Today I was off of work so I took the kids to New Orleans - they are always up for an adventure and I knew it would be good to get out the house! The kids wanted to take Papa's truck today to New Orleans so I agreed - I guess it was there way of having him with us in spirit! Our papa is a very gifted singer - if you have never heard him sing you are missing out - he really is that good! Seth has a day job and doesn't sing for a living, but he leads worship at our church and has grown up singing in church. Because he is always practicing or learning new songs - Jacques and Juliette while riding with him after school and every where else - also practice! They also sing at the top of there lungs while in Papa's truck! So today when I turned on the truck and heard this song....
("Great are you Lord" by All Sons and Daughters)


and heard my kids singing there hearts out - my heart was so full! It brought tears to my eyes...and then they didn't stop! It is because of Papa that my kids are also worshipers! The one thing I would love to see is him singing in Africa - I could cry as I type this - knowing I won't get to see that in person! Some of the words in this song states - "and all the earth will shout your praise" "You bring light to the darkness" - for a moment Seth will get to hear another part of the earth singing God's praises - what a beautiful thing!

Today, was a hard day for me and the first time in a very long time I cried like a big ole baby! If you know me, I am not an emotional person - never really have been, but today you would have thought over wise! I guess it all hit me today - and as I was praying in the car and listening to my kids sing - I was completely over come with sadness and a fear of death. If you know me - another thing is I am not a worrier! I counsel people for a living who battle with anxiety - I practice the cognitive behavioral techniques I use, so most of the time my anxiety is low! So I quickly prayed for God to release me of the fear of death (my husband is traveling into Ethiopia and then Uganda today, so I assumed that was my reasons for thinking about death?!) But, as I prayed God showed me why death was on my mind. There is a death that is taking place - Seth is dying to his old self and a new person will emerge from this experience in Uganda. Same for me - God is preparing me for something (what it is I don't know), but a dying of myself is also taking place. It really isn't about us at all - and the moment you think life is all about you - you have it all wrong!


This is how the children currently sleep in the orphanage. With the building of the new site - beds will be made for each child to sleep on.


So, I am certain by now - God is safely delivering my husband and the team to Uganda, Africa. I will anxiously await what is next in store for them!

Many people have asked if I was worried about Seth going into a country that was unsafe - of course I am - this world is completely unsafe, but I know the God we serve and I know that his hand is on him and I have no doubt that he will arrive and return safely. Remember that fear of death that came on me today - as I was driving to New Orleans today - of course my mind went straight to the fact that my husband was flying into a third world country, but as I drove home I was passed up by probably 10 racing cop cars - right before I got into Thibodaux I passed a house that was flooded with cop cars and ambulance - I knew right away something really bad had happened - I get home turn on the news and learn that 3 people were killed and others injured. So miles from my home people are killed and someone said it was unsafe to travel to a third world country? No place is safe, but when you have God you have just the right armor for protection!

Be Blessed!
Vera

 
 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

AMAZING!! Thank you, Vera, for sharing your heart! Such an awesome inspiration! Tif and I are praying for safe travels for Seth, Mandy and Shay, along with the others, but also for you, your family and the families of those on the trip to Uganda! May God bless and be with you!

Peace,
Michael

Vera Holloway said...

Thanks Michael!! We appreciate the prayers and appreciate you and Tiff! Much Love!

Anonymous said...

SO TOUCHING!!

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