Friday, June 29, 2012

When God speaks, You listen.

I’m Spencer Key and I want to update you on the upcoming mission trip to Uganda.  Less than one month from today we will be on the ground in Uganda.  16 of us will be heading to Uganda, partnering with Sweet Sleep to build bunk beds, and distribute mattresses and mosquito nets to children.  I don't know exactly what we will be doing there, but I do know that we will be responding to the call from God to go.

When God lays His hand on you and says to trust Him, what else can you do?  For my wife Debbie and I both to be able to go, this has to be a God-thing.  It has been such a blessing to see God accomplish this.  

Uganda has the highest proportion of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS worldwide.  The country has a population of 32 million, and of that 2.5 million are orphans.  Armed conflict that lasted over 10 years displaced almost 2 million people and resulted in the abduction of over 60 thousand children.  We are going because God has called us.

Last year when the kids came back from camp and mentioned a mission trip to Africa, little did I know that God would be calling me to join Him in His work there.  I try to do things, locally, to help out those needs here close to home.  I give money to those far-off endeavors.  But when God speaks, you listen and respond.  The Lord has a schedule, a plan, of where I’m supposed to be, whose lives I am to touch, and how He is going to touch my life.

I just want to be his hands and feet, and I thank you for your support and pray that you will be blessed by our trip as much as we will for going.  Your prayers, beginning now, for us in preparation, as well as your continued prayers for us while we are en route and on location, will engage you in fulfilling God’s will and purpose for the trip.  I plan on taking as many photos and videos as possible.  We want you, our faithful brothers and sisters to be engaged in this mission endeavor with us, and thank you for your prayers, encouragement and support.

I’ll leave you with two words that have become a part of my spiritual life, engage and intentional.  I want to become engaged in God’s work.  I want you to become engaged in this mission trip.  Let it become your mission trip also, through your prayers and support.  I want to be intentional in my thoughts, my talk and my actions.  I want all that I do and say to shine light on the love of Jesus, not on myself.  To let His love flow through me.  I want to encourage you to become engaged and intentional this week and for the weeks to come.  Engage in prayer for this mission trip.  Become engaged with the church.  Become engaged and intentional with those you encounter this week.  Be Christ to those you come in contact with.

Continue following Sweet Sleep’s blog for updates from our Uganda Team, from Olney, Texas. 
 The team will be  posting while on their journey!  Like us on Facebook to stay updated on how the Lord is using Sweet Sleep to help provide a bed for every head.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Telling their Story

Re-entering Nashville each year that I come back from Uganda is tough. I find myself missing the joy the people have...the wonderful dependence on God....and the community between each other. It's hard to understand how our country got so far removed from that. Leaving the children behind is one of the hardest things anyone will ever do...the kids in Uganda are so incredibly sweet. I never want to make a promise to them that I cannot keep...but the promises I can make them are that I will pray for them and I will share their stories. Each child has a story, has hopes, and dreams.

This year in particular I was inspired by Pastor Alex at the Good Samaritan Home. He has such vision for the children in his home. We believes in each one of them. He wants to know their dreams, and he wants to help them achieve it. As the week continued, we were so blessed to develop relationships with the children. We learned that they dreamed of going on to high college...and on into careers. The children want to  be workers...and more. They dream just like each child does here in America. Their hopes are like our hopes...their God is our God. Their future can be just like our future.

I'm encouraged by these thoughts each year. I too have joined in with Pastor Alex in seeing Uganda's future. I am so excited and hope that God opens doors for me to continue to be a part of it. I want to be open and willing to go and do whatever He calls me to do. As I re-enter Nashville life, I want to remember each one of the children's dreams and hopes. I want to commit to praying for them, and that they will have the opportunities to fulfill their dreams. I think one of my favorite things about God is how big He is! I cannot wait to see how Uganda's future unfolds.

My hope for this year is to never forget, to feel passion for the children of the country as if I see them daily. Trying to live in today's world unselfishly is hard; I'm scared as I get back into my "routine" I'm going to just focus on me again. But I have the stories of the kids, I have the pictures, and I have the memories. I'm going to keep sharing...I'm going to try to keep going...and most importantly I'm going to keep praying. I know God can totally do it without me, but I hope to be a part of it in some small way :)

Amanda Calhoun

As the Sweet Sleep team welcomes the Kampala Team home, we prepare to send another team that will be reaching children in Gulu and Kampala, UgandaJoin us in prayer and thanksgiving that the Lord has provided yet another opportunity to provide beds for these sweet children.

Be sure to follow us on facebook for updates, pictures, and stories!
Twitter: @sweetsleep
When you lie down,  you will not be afraid; when you lie down your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Winds of Change

It brings a lot of joy and gratification to witness the lives of children being changed and the Sweet Sleep ministry is committed to continue touching the hearts of the world’s orphaned and abandoned children through the provision of beds and beddings to them.
Josephine (far left) w/ some of the Kampala Team members

On June 11th 2012, one could feel the winds of change blowing around the Good Samaritan Home as our Sweet Sleep incredible team arrived at the home to have their first day of ministering love to the children at the Good Samaritan Home amidst a lot of excitement among the 1,100 children who live there. The Good Samaritan home is located in the central region particularly in Wakiso district and was founded by Pastor Alex Mitala. The home has a secondary school attached to cater for the continued education of the children after completing their primary level from the same home.

The team was overwhelmed by the warm welcome by the children and it was evident in the eyes and voices of the children that their hope of changing their lives from the poor sleeping conditions to a sweet one had been restored. Being a Sunday, the children were so much blessed having a divine moment with our great team who made new friends.

The following morning, it was a beautiful thing to see God’s hand in providing for his children as 110 new Sweet Sleep beds and beddings arrived at the Home. Sweet Sleeps work is really life changing as we all enjoyed working together as a family of different ages but most exciting that the 110 children who were going to be blessed by new beddings were taking big strides towards getting life saving mosquito nets, comfortable beds and above all a Bible of their own which would teach them more about the kingdom of God for it belongs to them. 

In life, people always pray until something happens, but I have always continued to pray that Sweet Sleep reaches out to more and more children who are having heart breaking sleeping conditions and as I witnessed God working through our incredible team, definitely deep inside me I thanked God for answering my prayers. Children continuously kept on hugging the team members with love in appreciation for their new beds and beddings. This excitement was extended to class rooms where our incredible team divided into groups and each group had a chance to share general knowledge, Bible stories, art work by way of paintings and academics with all the children from the Nursery section to Primary Seven through rotation. 

While in classes, the children could sit and listen attentively to the team members as they passed over words of wisdom to them and this made us feel our presence there. According to the physical touches and hugs of the children with us, one could easily begin thinking and imagining that these children were feeling the presence of God’s love to them through our mighty team.

During our interaction with the children after providing them with new beds/beddings, one of the children confessed that that he used to hold feelings of sadness and envy about other children who sleep comfortably on beds of their own but went ahead to testify that such feelings are no more after Sweet Sleep providing him with one.  “Sleeping on a comfortable bed feels so different from sleeping down on the floor, so God loves me,” he said.

In this hurting world, everybody wishes to celebrate his or her birthday but it is heart breaking that some of the children at the Good Samaritan Home don’t know much and have never had a chance to celebrate their birthdays. As one of the last most memorable moments and activities for our incredible team was having a birthday party with the children. The party commenced with the blessing of over 520 children with gifts/presents and later had three big birthday cakes cut amidst a lot of cheers and singing of the Happy Birthday songs. 

This did not only make the children feel so special and proud, but the team ministered love to 40 members of staff at the Good Samaritan Home as they also joined the party and received lovely gifts.      
After sharing the kind of joy, dances, hugs and songs of praises with the children at the Good Samaritan Home, one can take the comfort to realize why our incredible Sweet Sleep team was there. The team was there so that the many less fortunate children at the Good Samaritan and those out there still in poor sleeping conditions can sleep comfortably at night and wake up with a fresh mind that can lead to a big turning point towards their improved academic performance and health hence a positive change in their lives.

We are so thankful to God for the way he guided, used and provided for our incredible team that has just left Uganda after ministering love at the Good Samaritan Home in an amazing way. As Sweet Sleep, we thank you all dear friends for your gift of love and giving. You made the children proud and without you, Sweet Sleep as a ministry would not have reached the so many children.

Praying for God’s hand in reaching out to more children whose sleeping conditions is still heart breaking.

By   Josephine Ssebambulide.

For more information on how you can get involved in some capacity, please visit our website or "like" us on Facebook!

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Father to the Fatherless

Being a father is not always something that I excel at. I certainly have my moments of frustration, and my moments of failure. However, I also have my moments where my role as a father gives me a unique purpose and calling from God. I am proud to be the father of Gideon and Abel, and my wife Abby and I also have another little guy or gal on the way in November. 

Stepping back and forth between the different worlds of Uganda and America volunteering for Sweet Sleep sometimes pose some challenges for me as a father. It is easy for me to project my own frustration with the consumer driven world in which we live on my children. It is easy for me to get more quickly upset with Gideon and Abel upon my return from Uganda when they whine, fuss, or don’t listen based on the desperate needs that I witness in the orphanages. I hope that I am better able to control my frustrations, and inner struggles in the future, so they understand the love that I have for them, and the desire I have for them to know how others in this world live.

My incredible wife has always understood my call to be a father, not just to my boys, but to the fatherless as well. Her support and encouragement are one of the things that allows me to “go,” and to attempt to stand in the gap for these beautiful children of Uganda. My first trip to Uganda took place just one month after Abel was born. Although it was hard to leave my family, I felt God’s calling on my life, and I knew that I was called to go, but without Abby’s understanding spirit it simply never would have happened.

In a country where many fathers are abusive or simply absent, I have found a quick bond with many of the children, and a burden to show them fatherly love and support. As my journey with Uganda continues with Fields of Dreams in the future, I hope and pray that God will continue to entrust me with the task of loving, supporting and speaking truth into the orphaned and vulnerable children of this country that I consider my second home.

On my second trip to Uganda, I forged a special bond with a boy by the name of Dallen at Blessed Hope Champions Academy. I am now unsure about his whereabouts, but I continue to pray for his life, and hope that we will be reunited on this side of heaven. Although I only spent a short week in his presence, it is amazing the bonds that God can forge through the incredible ministry of Sweet Sleep. I want to share with you the letters that I received from Dallen during that week, and the important work that Sweet Sleep does in the lives of these children.

Letter One: (Delivered by Dallen on our 3rd day at the orphanage)

Dear Uncle Mike,
I greet you in Jesus’ name. I love you so much and your friends. I like to be with you every day. I will be not happy when you have to go back to your country, but I will pray for you every day. You will be in my heart all of my life.
From, Dallen

Letter Two: (Delivered by Dallen on our 4th day at the orphanage)

Dear Mike,
I love you so much. I have seen that you love me. I am going to call you Daddy. You are a good daddy. I write this letter to thank you for what you have given me. I have seen that God loves me and you love me. I am very happy. I am now loving God because you have taught me how to love someone. I greet you with your family and your friends. Sweet Sleep is very helpful. I am 10 years old. I promise you – you will be in my heart and my life. I have a sister called Vannitta. May God bless you. Good day.

Letter Three: (Delivered by Dallen as we were loading the bus on our last day)

Dear Daddy Mike,
I love you so much. I promise that you will be in my heart and my life. Please write for me a letter telling me how you feel when you are with me and write for your young boys. Thank you and thank you very much. May God bless you.
From your loving son, Dallen

Letter Four: (Delivered by my friend Amanda after spending 3 more weeks with Blessed Hope)

Dear Daddy Mike,
I love you so much. I greet you in Jesus’ name. I am happy because you are with your family. I wish one day we shall meet in your country. I  pray for you every day and will never forget you in my life. How is Gideon and Abel and your wife. I thank you very much. I will miss you even my heart is caring for you. And I wish I could bring you a present But I have not money to come there. I am very happy because you are with your family and they were missing you. You left your family because of me and God loves you.
From your loving son, Dallen

So yes, I am the proud father of two incredible boys, Gideon and Abel, and another on the way. But I am also a father to hundreds of exceptional kids in the Pearl of Africa. I may not get to tuck them in at night. I may not get to teach them how to ride a bike, or hit a baseball, but they are nonetheless my children. We are called as Christians to care for the orphan and the widow, and for me, it has honestly become the most rewarding aspect of my faith.

Happy father’s day to my incredible father, whom loved me enough, that he traveled with me to Uganda last year to understand my passion for this country and its people. I am the youngest of five children, and my father has been a great example of what it means to care, support and provide for his children. And because of this trip, my father now has another child, she may not join around the table at Christmas, but Sarah, a girl in Uganda, has found a place in my father’s heart.

I pray that one day Gideon and Abel will learn what it means to be a father to the fatherless. I pray that their lives will not be lived for themselves, but for the people in this world that need their love, gifts, and their concern. I pray that Dallen, and William, and Livingstone, and Eddie, and Joseph, and Amos, and all the boys and girls in Uganda would find hope in the fact that there is a Father in heaven that will never hurt nor abandon them. I pray that they will know with certainty that they are loved, and that they play an important role in our family of faith.

Mike Warneke <> June 21, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kampala Scrapbook

If you have been following what's been going on at Sweet Sleep, you may know that we have had a team in Kampala, Uganda over the past ten days!  With the team home safe and sound back in the states, what better way to celebrate the time the Lord used them in Kampala than glimpse into their time spent there?!

A trip begins with anticipation, joy, maybe even a tad bit of fear, but the end as you will see is hope; hope amongst those children that have most graciously received a bed to lay their head on each night from now on; hope that they have a purpose in their life; and hope that someone loves them and knows them by name. Hope dwells in the team members as they return with new eyes, new ears, and a burdened heart by those sweet ones.  The burden is great, but our God is greater, and he is faithful.

Praise Him for a wonderful team of willing spirits to go and serve His people! Enjoy these pictures, and maybe this will spark an interest in you to look into joining us on a Sweet Sleep journey!

  A nice, warm welcome from these sweet ones!

Enjoying some coloring :)


Bible lessons lead by the team members.

 The bed frames waiting for their mattresses and sweet little ones to claim them as their own!

 Waiting in line for their beds!!

Life saving mosquito net-Check
What more do we need?

What a difference a bed can make, even in the smiling and grateful face of a child!

Every Sweet Sleep journey ends in a birthday party to celebrate each child and acknowledge that they were created for a purpose and deserve a celebration of their life!


The kings for the day and their heart shaped pillows :)

 Thankful to celebrate these past 10 days of bed distribution, but most importantly thankful for our Lord and savior that ensures us an eternity spent with Him.  This place is temporary, and we are called to love and serve one another, and in this case make sure that these children can have a bed to call their very own!

If you are interested in getting involved, whether taking a mission journey, starting a program with your youth, how you can be praying, etc. please visit us and bring any questions with you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dreams do come true!

I have had a day that I shall never forget for as long as I live. Today began the journey of 3 years of prayers coming to fruition. As I had mentioned in a previous post, this is my fourth trip to Uganda, and ever since my first trip I had prayed for what the Lord was requiring of me to do next. On the plane ride home following that first journey, God gave me the seedlings for what would become on this very day Fields of Dreams.

My first year serving with Sweet Sleep we worked at two separate orphanages, Caring Heart, and Africa Greater Life. It was obvious at these orphanages that there was a great passion for soccer with the children, and it was also obvious that there was also a great need for safe fields, soccer equipment, and instruction in sportsmanship and basic skills. And so, for the past three years and now four trips with Sweet Sleep back to the Pearl of Africa, God has forged a way for this vision to become a reality. 

While the rest of our team were able to enjoy a morning of bungee jumping, a boat ride to the birth of the Nile, and a chance to feed wild monkeys, I got to experience a new kind of joy. I was able to witness the boys and girls of four schools compete in soccer and netball, and take great pride in their uniforms and team spirit. I was able to witness the birth of a dream that so many people have helped build over the past 3 years. I was able to witness the hard work and dedication of Jonathan Ssebambulide, the husband of Josephine who is the Sweet Sleep National Director here in Uganda. I was able to witness children have the opportunity to simply be children, and become lost in the joy of athletic competition. 

What made this day even more special is that 3 out of the 4 schools that competed were previous recipients of the efforts of Sweet Sleep teams that I was blessed to be a part of. What a joy to see so many children that I have grown to love playing, dancing and laughing on the same campus. The children of Africa Greater Life, Blessed Hope Champions Academy, New Kabaale Busega, and our host campus Vision for Africa played with great skill and pride giving their all during the entirety of the day. The community of Mokuno, where Vision for Africa is located, came out in full force to celebrate and cheer on these talented children. 

It has been such a blessing to represent Sweet Sleep during these past four trips to Uganda, and I shall be forever grateful for helping plant the seeds for Fields of Dreams. Jonathan is now on full-time staff, and working with all of his might to provide hope to the orphaned and vulnerable children of Uganda through the vehicles of soccer and education. Today was a day of new beginnings, and I am excited to witness how God will use Fields of Dreams in the future and continue to use Sweet Sleep as well to bless, empower and uplift the precious children of Uganda. 

Mike Warneke

Monday, June 18, 2012

Laughter and Joy

Today was a day full of laughter and joy at the Good Samaritan Home. We had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the beautiful lives of the children that we have grown to know and love.

Many of the children that we work with do not even know when their own birthday is. Our team took the time today to tell these children that they were created by God who loves them unconditionally that He has a unique plan for each of them. We sang happy birthday to the children and had them line up as we passed out the gifts and allowed them to walk up as we celebrated the beautiful people that they are. These children are so grateful for the time, energy, and love that we have put into their lives.

We know this journey would not be possible without those of you back home. I cannot put into words the amount of joy and gratefulness they have for the gift of a bed, Bible and mosquito net. It is such a comforting thought that tonight the 110 children that received beds will no longer have to sleep on a worn piece of foam but instead a warm bed and a mosquito net to protect them from malaria.

The afternoon was full of tearful goodbyes as this is our last day with the children at Good Samaritan Home. The children there have become our friends. We look forward to sharing their stories with you when we return to America and share more in depth with what has been done in this incredible place. Please pray for the children. Pray that God continues to work in their hearts even when we cannot be there. Also please pray for our team as we process what we have seen. Thankful for what God has done.

Tory Wolf

The simplest things

Today, I spent most of my time with two remarkable little children. We just sat and held hands.  I love how the simplest things make them smile and giggle. This trip has opened my eyes so much. I am so thankful for what I have even more now.

When we handed out blankets, the children kept the trash that the blanket came in. That is so surprising, because I have never seen a child cherish the smallest things.

I am so thankful that I came and experienced it for myself. I have had the best time of my life and I can’t wait to come back next year. It is going to be so tough saying goodbye to the children tomorrow. I am going to pray that all goes well. I will never forget all the smiling faces I have met this week. 

Amber Newman <> Evansville, IN

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bonding with my father.

This is my second trip to Uganda. Last year it was the best experience of my life.  I learned that we really do take things for granted and we should be happy for what we have. This year I got the opportunity to bring my father and friend Amber along with me. They mean so much to me and I am so glad I got to experience this with them.

This was a great bonding time with my father. I never would have thought in a million years that my father would come to Uganda with me. He and I really stepped out of our comfort zones. He danced and sang and even painted nails. He did so many things that really surprised me in a good way.

I also stepped out of my comfort zone a lot. I sang to the kids and danced. I also taught a few different things.  I taught a lot about the story of Jonah and Noah’s Ark. I actually enjoyed teaching and everything. It was great to get out of my comfort area so I could experience more and see what I could really do. I am excited to see what else God has in store for me. I hope that I can bring more people on this trip in the future so they can see the love these children have. I thank God for letting me have this chance to meet all the people in Uganda. I truly love everyone here. 

Amy Covington <> Evansville, IN

Friday, June 15, 2012

God is Sufficient

For the past three years I have been blessed with the opportunity to come to Uganda. I am always excited to get into the country to spend time with the children here. This year was just the same; I could not wait to see the smiling faces of the kids and to have the opportunity to give them beds. Although I know that God is constantly moving and stretching us in our lives, I can never predict where He will take these trips. He provides opportunities for us to meet new people, see Christ in others, learn new things, and be humbled as well. This trip was no different.

My team is full of some of the most incredible people I have ever met. People that are outgoing, reserved, teachers, leaders, creative, spiritual, and more things than I can begin to name. Each of them has unselfishly brought their gifts and talents that God has blessed them with and laid them down to be used according to His purpose. There have been times of joy when we were able to provide for a child’s needs, and there have been times of heartache when we have not. Today was a day when heartache was felt by many of our team members.

We met a child with a need that at the time we could not meet. He was older and well spoken, frustrated and confused by God. He loves the Lord, but he cannot understand why some children’s needs are met when he also has prayed. He shared that he felt God had delayed His answer. My heart broke for him. Josephine spoke such words of wisdom to him; they were truly words from God. She spoke with him about how he is also special to God, and that God had not delayed his support, but that God’s timing is perfect. She encouraged him to never doubt God’s timing, but know that the Lord is looking down on him always.

It’s days like these when I think back to all the times I have questioned God on why not now? Why not soon? My needs that I often question are so trivial. They are not life threatening…they have nothing to do with my health…they are selfish, yet I find myself frustrated or sad when I pray consistently for them. The boy, Francis, made me speechless today. God’s plan for this trip for me was far greater than I could have imagined. I am thankful that God continues to break me and humble me…I am nothing without Him. I should never question His timing just as Josephine assured the boy Francis that God would meet his needs, so should I be confident in God’s plan for my life. I can say with much joy that my team members have joined together to work on meeting Francis’ needs. They will be met soon in the future. I hate that it had to take Francis’ heartache and confusion to make the picture clear for me. God is sufficient. He is all-knowing. He is love.

Speaking with Francis today just continues to make me more aware of the needs here in Uganda. There are always children in need, and my heart somehow wants to help all of them. I know that is not possible, but I know that God is also moving in this country. If any of this moves your heart, please pray about how God can use your for this country. Thank you for all your prayers this week. Our team has had such a sweet time with the children. The children’s blind and never failing faith has caused all of us to grow. I can only pray that this fire God has once again lit in my life will not be extinguished by my life back in Nashville.

Tomorrow we will go to the Good Samaritan Home one last time to shower the children with a birthday party. Oh how they deserve this. Some probably have never celebrated their birthdays before or maybe not even know when theirs is. It will be a time for laughter and joy. Please pray that the gifts will be like the fishes and loaves, and that each child will get something that makes them feel unique. Pray that they will understand though we leave tomorrow, God never leaves them. Pray that somehow we can continue to meet the needs of Uganda and also empower them through this. Thank you.


Update from Facebook:

Amanda's status: "A wonderful day...we were blessed to celebrate the lives of 520 children and many teachers and care givers! We were able to meet Francis' needs and spend time rejoicing :) I hate that this week has flown by."

Called to go

God has shown his grace and love to the “least of these” over and over in His word and He demands that we do the same. We are all called in some way to take care of these precious children of His. Some are called to give, some are called to pray and others are called to go.  I have been blessed with many church members who were called to give. Through these people, the children were able to receive many supplies that I would not have been able to provide on my own. Every team member and every child has been diligently prayed for for months because of those who were called to pray; and this specific team has been called to go.

Yesterday we spent our day with the nursery classes in the morning and the P-3 and P-4 or 3rd and 4th grade classes in the afternoon. We had four different stations and the children rotated until they completed them all. Amanda and I got to teach Bible 101 as our “station.” During this time we got to share the story of Jonah and the whale. The children got to use markers and by the look on their faces, it was for the very first time. They colored a picture of Jonah and the whale and with all the excitement, they were still able to “use their manners” and were the most well behaved group of students I have taught. After the children were finished I collected the coloring sheets and Amanda collected the markers. Every child there is so grateful and all gave a genuine thank you on the way out the door.

One “thank you” in particular caught my attention. This small beautiful boy who could have been no older than 6 years handed me his paper and instead of saying “thank you for the markers,” or, “thank you for the bed,s” or, “thank you for playing with us,” he said,  “thank you for coming.” Of course I gave a huge smile and a “you are more than welcome, thank you for having us” but inside I was in awe.

God used that one, small precious child to reassure me that I have been called to go. 

Cayla Brooks

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Forever changed.

It is a joy to be back in Uganda once again. This is my fourth trip with Sweet Sleep to Kampala, and each one of them blesses me, challenges me, and brings me closer to God in new ways. I have learned to leave my expectations behind, as our plans change moment by moment, and each orphanage is unique in its structure, leadership, and population.

Our talented team of 11 has done such an incredible job meeting the needs of the over 1,100 children that are present at Good Samaritan Home. We spent much of our morning teaching in the nursery classes, and I was a tad bit overwhelmed when I walked in alone to teach 56 three year olds. My son Abel has just turned three, and I adore him more than life itself, but I cannot think back to a time when I thought, it sure would be fun to have 55 more of him around to play with and teach. With the help of God we all put on our teacher hats today, and stepped out of our comfort zones to share songs, crafts and games with the children. I continue to stand in awe of the gratitude of these children, and the respect in which they show us as we try our best to love and serve them.

In the afternoon hours we were able to break into four separate groups to work with the children in Primary 3 and 4.  My good friend Shannon and I had the honor of playing games with the kids during a time of recreation. I cannot express how wonderful it is to hear these children laugh with such joy and abandon. We certainly don’t know the back story of every child, but because of their presence at the home it is safe to say that they have lived through some difficult times. As we played with the parachutes with the children today, the laughter and joy was no doubt a symphony in the heavens.

The one thing that touched me the most today was a simple interaction that I had with Josephine, the National Director of Sweet Sleep in Uganda, on the drive to the orphanage in the morning. I had given her an updated photo of my family, my beautiful wife and two special boys, and she shared with me how much she truly loved them and prayed for them. I am consistently overwhelmed by Josephine’s love of the children in Uganda, and also the volunteers that come to serve, and their families back home. Josephine, and her husband Jonathan, have become dear friends to me during these past three years, and I am so proud of the work that they are accomplishing here in their home country.

It is an honor to serve in the name of God, and an honor to serve in the name of Sweet Sleep. We have the privilege of being an answer to the prayers of these children, and none of us serving on this team are taking that lightly. Thank you to everyone in the States that are bathing us in their prayers, and have encouraged us and helped us along this journey. We are forever blessed and forever changed!!!
Michael Warneke <> Evansville, IN

My First Time to Africa

from the left: Tyrell, Amanda, and Shannon with some sweet ones
Hello my name is Tyrell Harris and I live in Nashville Tennessee. I have never been on a missions trip and also I have never been outside of America. Today I got to work with primary 5, 6, and 7 (ages 10-16). I loved working with them. We just play ALL day long.

I have such a huge heart for the older children in the orphanage that we are working in. They all respond to me so well and I feel like I can communicate to them and talk to them without any awkward moments. Even though I just met most of the men and women that work at the orphanage, I feel as if I have known them my whole life. The kindness and love I feel from these people is completely indescribable with words. I also feel the love from the children deep inside me because I know their love is so pure and real.

An example of great great love that I experienced today was when this girl who was about 15 years old came up and told me that she loved me for helping her brothers and sisters. This girl wasn’t even receiving anything and she still spent a good 2-3 hours decorating, writing, and packaging this note for me. She loved her brothers and sisters so much that when I did something for them it was as if I did it for here, and that really touched my heart today.

Today, as we were talking to the children about mosquito nets, we asked how many of them had had the very preventable disease Malaria.  Every kid there raised their hand and I about started crying because I feel so sad that so many people get very sick and even die most times from a disease that is completely preventable.

Even if I typed all day and night I wouldn’t be able to type everything that I have felt and experienced today but one thing that I definitely can say is I LOVE these people and plan to visit many more times.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bed Day and Finding Purpose

Bed Day finally arrived! After a several months of prepping, fundraising, writing letters, giving presentations, going to meetings, and traveling thousands of miles across the world we were able to fulfill part of God's plan of showing love to His children by providing 120 beds to Good Samaritan Home. 

We began the day by traveling the long, bumpy road to the home, the highlight (for me, anyway) of which is hearing shouts of "Bye Mzungu!" (no matter if we're coming or going) from the community children and replying with smiles and waves. Picking up where we left off on the tour yesterday, we were quickly accosted by a group of the younger children who were eager to grab our hands and hold on for dear life as we ran around the campus and met some of the staff and administrators. They followed us up to the dormitory where the girls sleep, which is about five or six stories tall; three of which are used and three which are not. We climbed up to one of the top floors and took in an amazing view of the city. Eventually we made our way back down to the boys' area where we began the bed set up.

After the old mattresses were cleared out, the children began carrying down the bed frames, which are bunks, and we assembled them. Then they packed down the mattresses. It should be said that the children carrying the beds and mattresses were not necessarily the ones receiving beds. This continues to be a theme I love about the Ugandan people: community. They were genuinely happy that their brothers and sisters were getting new beds; no one was upset or jealous. I am continuously reminded that we have a lot to learn from these precious people.   When it was finally time for the children who were receiving beds to get them, they lined up and calmly walked into the dorm, at first. Once they realized what was going on they began running, shouting, and smiling. You must know that I'm not usually an emotional person, but I looked at Josephine (Sweet Sleep's director in Uganda) and she had her face in her hand and I began to tear up. I had to quickly look away at the wall so I wouldn't break down right there. It's very rare to witness genuine excitement, so it's very overwhelming when it happens. One of the little boys asked me if I could help him make his bed, so I busied myself with that task as best as I could. We then moved up to the girls' dorm and did the same. 

One thing different about Good Samaritan compared with New Kabaale (where we went last year) is that it is large enough to have social workers among the staff. I had the great opportunity to speak with Lawrence, one of my global colleagues.  He is 30, and even though he does not have children of his own, he is so purposeful in taking care of these who in some cases have no one to look after them. After general exchange of  information about which classes we took in school (research, human behavior, psychology, counseling), we began to talk of what we as social workers feel our role is. Lawrence is mainly concerned with making sure the kids are cared for. Sometimes the kids come from families where they are hit, yelled at, and belittled; Lawrence feels his job is to make them feel loved. He understands the importance of empowerment (one of the key social work concepts) and instilling hope in these young lives so they may grow up and be caring, loving adults to their children. One of his projects is writing a book about how to take care of children properly, especially for young mothers. We were both interested to learn that we face some of the same problems as social workers, even though we live worlds apart.

was very inspiring to be able to talk with Lawrence, who is so passionate about his work and has such a heart for these kids. I hope to bring some of that passion back home with me and continue my journey in finding purpose in my life. Thank you all for reading and a special thank you to all who contributed toward this trip. Just know that you have impacted literally hundreds of lives this week. You may not know names or faces, but rest assured that your financial sacrifice is coming back tenfold.


Hope in Uganda

Each year that I am blessed with the opportunity to come back to Uganda, I am overwhelmed with the amount of joy that is found in each of the citizens. Today was the wonderful bed delivery day. As we begin putting the beds into the rooms, the new owner's of the beds lined up excitedly outside the doors. I could hear them singing “We are so happy! We are so happy!” It is such an overwhelming gift to be a part of this day.

This year we were able to distribute 120 beds within the Good Samaritan Home. These beds not only mean a clean place for these children, but they also represent hope…hope in a new future, hope for physical wellness and rest, hope for promises made. These beds not only allow the children to sleep, but the nets given to them to protect them from malaria and the blankets remind them of Jesus’ arms surrounding them.

Thank you to each one of you who donated to this journey. Your gifts can never be measured. The more time I spend learning about the country and visiting the country, I learn more about the resilience of these people. My love for our work here comes from the hope and empowerment we seem to be giving them. The people have felt defeated for so long. Whether it is due to civil wars, struggling governments, or simply not coexisting well, they have been broken for quite some time. The ministry of Sweet Sleep not only provides a physical need, but the gift of empowerment as well. My hope and prayer for this country has always been empowerment and sustainability. I hope to somehow be a small part of bringing the country back together.

My favorite part of the day has to be my time spent with Apostle Alex Mitala. He is the founder of the Good Samaritan Home. His passion for his country is contagious. He shared with us that he also hopes so much for this country to become independent again, to be strong, and to produce leaders. In the Good Samaritan Home, they strive not just to educate but to teach the students how to transform into the leaders they can be.

He teaches five core beliefs to the students: Jesus in me, the Holy Spirit in me, the Word of God in me, education in my head, and money in my pocket. With these five beliefs, he is investing in them as people. Apostle Alex knows that many of his students will go on to be great leaders in Uganda, perhaps even a President. His hope in their country today was such an emotional experience for me. It is truly my hope for them as well.

I ask you today that you will join me in prayer for this country. Pray for transformation of the government and of the people. I pray for Apostle Alex as he not only instills these values in the children at Good Samaritan Home, but also as he travels the country to instill this in other pastors and leaders. Pray that his ministry will catch on fire and that all will value their citizens and empower them. Pray for the 20 students that have graduated from Good Samaritan Home and are now in vocational school. I feel God’s hands on these people, and I believe their future is optimistic.

Thank you for joining me in these prayers. I’ll leave today with a fun memory. I met a little boy named Shadrak. He was precious and is a wonderful example of the simple joy possessed by all.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Day of Education

Hello my name is Shannon Triplett.  I am from Quincy IL.

Today was a terrific day for me.  I was able to be entertained by the nursery school children in the morning.  I went in to the classroom not knowing what to expect.  I didn’t know how the kids would react to us being in the classroom.  I was surprised at the knowledge of these children.  I couldn’t teach them anything as they already knew everything from ABC’s and 123’s to vowel sounds and colors.  

It was amazing how well the teachers are doing.  One thing I have taken away from today is the structure in the classroom from the teachers.  My mother in law has been a teacher of 2nd grade for several years and I have seen her in action with her class and these teachers give the same love and demand the same respect as she does.  I credit these teachers with 5 stars especially teaching children from different cultures and speaking different dialects of a language and bringing the kids together to learn.  

This afternoon I was able to assist in teaching the story of Jonah and the Whale.  We were able to play a game Red Light and Green Light with the Primary Children which was a blast.  We also got to play with parachutes and been bags.  Another thing I take away is the genuine love and caring the children of Good Samaritan Home give to you.  They go totally out of the way to say thank you.  The children cling to you from the time you get there to the time you leave.  I spent time with a little girl today just rubbing her back.  That is probably the most caring attention she has had in a long time or even forever.   From that time on she was pretty much by my side the rest of the day.   

I applaud the administration and staff of the Good Samaritan Home that are spending their lives trying to make these cast away children loving  and caring productive people in the Ugandan society.  You could say I was suppose to assist in giving the children an education, but it is the children and staff of the facility that have educated me!! 

The spirit of the people of Kampala

My name is Bob Covington - husband of a wonderful wife and father to 2 amazing children. I make a living as a computer architect and volunteer as a fireman. I live in the midwest, have 1 dog, 2 cats and a house in the suburbs. A textbook Gen X American Nuclear family.

Last year, my daughter Amy joined Sweet Sleep on a mission to provide beds and most importantly to show love to an orphanage in Uganda. Her experiences on that trip inspired me to join her this year with a team of 11 going to serve in an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda. While I have been involved in many mission trips to poverty stricken areas in the US, nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced in my first day in Uganda.

While this may be queued up as a typical American visiting a 3rd world country and talk about how bad things are, there is so much more to the story. This is not a story of deep poverty but of a richness in spirit I have never seen before. This is not a story of the destruction from decades of war and disease but of hope and resourcefulness of a strong people.

This is not a story of a group of American's saving the day in Uganda but the deep gifts of love and wisdom we gain through the amazing Ugandan people. During our bus ride to the house we are staying at in Kampala, we were able to get a glimpse of the city and it's people.

On the surface, I see people living in extreme poverty conditions - Houses built out of scraps and what we would consider trash. Heavily congested roads that when paved were full of potholes, pollution from cars with apparently little environmental regulation and people either walking or using vehicles well beyond their purpose. The people of Uganda have been through so much.

Decades of wars, millions dead from disease, and an infrastructure that is lacking in so many basic ways. Out of Uganda's 33 million people, an estimated 2-3 million are orphans. Don't just blow past that number, stop to think about what that means.

Imagine a city the size of Chicago as all orphans. Think of the challenges and logistics for taking care of 10% of your population as orphans. These statistics are so staggering that it's impossible to understand, especially if you have never come and seen it with your own eyes. When you look a little deeper, however, I see something much richer.

People who have pride in themselves and show it in how they dress and how they take care of what they have. A beautiful ballet played on the streets as cars, bikes, people, animals dance in a perfect rhythm as they co-exist on the roads without the need of stop lights or even lines in the road.

A people who are resourceful enough to take what we would consider trash and build an amazing city that the people should be very proud of. The greatest attribute of the people of Uganda is their spirit. Even with the hardship they live every day, decades of war and impact of extreme disease, they are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Smiles everywhere.

Amazing gratitude and resourcefulness in how they use what they have. The positive pride of the Ugandan people is truly inspiring. Overall, everyone took pride in how they dress. Other than our team, I didn't see anyone wearing shorts. Most men wore nice dress pants, shirts with collars and quite a few wearing full suits. Most women wore dresses or skirts with blouses.

The houses were built from sticks, clay and scraps of metal and mostly dirt floors yet were clean, well taken care of and made the best use of every resource available to them. Oddly enough, I would feel more comfortable staying in most of the houses I have seen in Uganda than in many houses I have visited in the US.

The people of Uganda take what little they have and turn it into so much. The orphanage where we will be working was truly amazing. Over the last 16 years, the founders have built a 7 acre complex in Kampala that serves over a thousand children. While the orphanage has so many basic needs, I was amazed at how well the children were taken care of with the resources they had.

We will be replacing foam mats that are used for beds in one section of the orphanage with beds and mosquito nets (to help protect from Malaria ), bibles and bed supplies. I have been so blessed and touched by the people of Uganda. While they constantly thank me for coming and helping at the orphanage, I have received so much more than I have given. More love than I have ever felt. Wisdom that is truly inspiring.

Faith in God that is beyond anything I have ever seen. This is not the story of an American coming to save the day in Uganda but the story of a people who are showing an American what it means to truly live and love. That said, the need is so great for these people. I feel a new sense of purpose in finding ways to help Uganda. With a little help, I know the strength, pride and resourcefulness of these people will magnify any small gift we can provide into amazing results. After receiving so much from them, there is no way I can sit by and do nothing as orphans sleep on the floor or worse on the streets. I encourage everyone who reads this to consider finding ways to help these amazing people. The need is so great and the people are so deserving. Our smallest contributions get multiplied in ways we will only know when we return home to our Father. Please, look into your heart and take that step to plant a mustard seed and contribute to this great cause.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thankful to be in Kampala

There is nothing in this world quite like walking into a room and seeing one thousand sweet smiling children worshiping God with all their heart. I can not possibly put into words the amount of joy and thankfulness these beautiful children have because of Sweet Sleep coming across the world to provide beds for them. 

As we praised God together my hands became intertwined with sweet children who were eager to be held, my eyes were looking at beautiful brown eyes that had stories begging for someone to listen to. After the worship service we saw the floors and thin foams that the children slept on that will soon be replaced with new mattresses and beds that will allow them to have a bed to call their own.   

Today I met a man who is a teacher at the school in the northern region of Uganda where Sweet Sleep also provides beds who was once abducted by the LRA and forced to do terrible things after watching his parents die. He escaped and still has things to this day he simply can not talk about because of how much pain it has caused in his life. He told me that a lot of the kids at the orphanage had similar pasts and have difficulty talking about it. 

The beds we will be providing are going to  these kids. Sweet Sleep provides more than just a bed they provide hope and spark inspiration in the children. Sweet Sleep is changing the lives of children in Uganda. Through Sweet Sleep of I have seen thousands of orphans lives drastically impacted and changed for the better. 

The children we will be working with are lucky because they will be receiving their beds tomorrow. However there are still thousands or orphans in Uganda who still need beds. As you spend time with your family and sleep in your bed tonight I ask you to think about the children who will be sleeping on the floor for the last time tonight and those who are still in need.  

On behalf of the children, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping them be able to sleep sweetly. I am so thankful to be back in Uganda for the fifth time with Sweet Sleep. The reason I love Sweet Sleep is because I have seen the impact that Sweet Sleep has had in the children it serves. Sweet Sleep is the only ministry of its kind and without it and your help, thousands of orphans would remain sleeping a cold concrete floor.

Tory Wolf <> June 11, 2012