Monday, July 30, 2012

God is good..all the time! All the time..God is good!

Where to even begin… I will start off with a motto the kids at the children’s home say, “God is good… all the time! All the time… God is good!!!”. We are told daily by all the people we come into contact with that we are a blessing to them, but oh do they have it wrong. They have been blessing us so much and I have never felt more welcomed in a place than being here in Uganda.
The children at the home are amazing! You can tell such a difference in the demeanor of the kids compared to the kids in Gulu. These kids are so excited and happy all the time while the kids in Gulu were shy and seemed sad. They welcomed us with song and so many smiles. I have become buddies with a little boy and a little girl at the home. They have come running to me as soon as I step off the bus since the first day. They let me wrap my arms around them to just love on them for a few seconds, then it’s time to play!

The little boy’s name is Kato. He is probably about three or four years old. He is shy at first but then he just lets all of his energy out! Russell was playing with him and gave him the nickname “Giggles”, which perfectly describes Kato. He will just laugh and laugh and laugh even if there doesn’t seem to be anything to laugh at! I have known his name since the first day but today was the first day that he said mine back. It made my heart smile when he said my name today.
The little girls name is Peace. I believe she has the smile to bring World Peace! She is so kind and can speak a little bit of English. She is ten years old and worships God like nobodies business. This morning at the church service (where the Holy Spirit was overwhelmingly present) Peace was concerned about my skirt touching the dirt floor. It was so sweet and touching to know that she cares whether or not my skirt gets dirty. She gave me about ten hugs before we left today!

God has placed in my heart a passion for these Ugandan kids. They are so adorable and so lovable. I took for granted many things as a child, but it’s so awesome to know that we are giving them a little bit of what our childhood consisted of. I miss home and all of you I love, but it is going to be one of the hardest things I have ever done saying goodbye for the last time to these children. We all can only trust God and his protection over these kids and pray for them all the time.

Halli Betts

Paradise or Paradigm

What has struck me most is the stark contrast you run into in Uganda.
You have a very beautiful, beautiful country. Watching amazing animals, like the graceful giraffe going along. Everything is so beautiful and looks like a Garden of Eden, until you get into the populated areas, be it the villages or cities. There is so much poverty. Even though there are dirt yards, dirt roads, dirt everywhere, people do their best to keep it clean. Back home, the people living like that would be absolutely miserable, but these people are all friendly. they smile and just wave back.

Everyone we’ve walked up to just wants to embrace you and shake your hand or hug. They are all so friendly, giving love and wanting love in return. It boggles the mind, the fact that you meet with the children and their response, when anyone mentions Jesus, is an “Amen”. I’ve found that the children knew more about who Christ was than I ever expected.
These kids just break my heart. They come up to you to shake your hand and then they want to hug you and hold on and want to be held. They are giving their love and wanting love so badly. And to see them smile when they get something very, very simple, it makes their day. In Gulu, the kids were not so outgoing, smiling, happy-go-lucky, but quickly warmed up to you. We’ve found so many people working an ministering to them about The Word and their needs. To me, I’ve found that there is a little more help being done than I thought, but it is obvious that it isn’t near enough.

We met a grandmother trying to take care of 15-20 children. 15 in her home, and another 5 are over living in the children’s home. She is living off nothing, really. They are really self-sufficient, raising their own foods. I may sound like a broken record, but to see the joy and happiness, and the way they play and like to love on you and receive the love is just unimaginable. I don’t think it would be happening in the US.
When I go home, I’ve got to do more. I had already decided before I came that we would continue where we could to help support. Like keeping our change jars, that’s going to be an ongoing thing. I haven’t talked with the rest of the family about it, but I want to plan to come back. There will definitely be more prayer for these people and I’m going to try to raise some financial assistance for them, but I will definitely be trying to spread the word. These pictures tell a thousand words, but you’ve really go to see it, smell it, live it. You’ve got to tell people, open up their hearts. Help out any way you can. Monetary, goods, come on over and help. For me? I plan on coming back. There is just so much going on in my mind, it is just a blur.

Kevin Gray

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lovin' on Kids

Yesterday, we went to the children’s home. We met all the children and got to play with them a little bit. I met this little girl named Catherine. She is two years old and the youngest child in the orphanage. She absolutely stole my heart! I have held her the last two days and haven’t let her go.

Today when I got there I found her in the crowd of children and went to go get her. She went right to me and we went to worship. While we were listening to Cayleigh speak she fell asleep in my arms. I loved that she felt so loved and safe that she could fall asleep. She always plays with my hair and touches my face. She looks me in the eyes with such a passion and I can definitely see the love of Jesus in her eyes. She also tries to do everything that I do. When I hum to her, she hums. When I bend down and give her a big smile she will bend down and give me an even bigger one. She looks up to me and I love that.
I just have to remember to look up to Jesus so that when little kids look up to me they will look up to Jesus. In all that I do I have to remember to do it how God wants me to because you never know when someone is watching you. I have become very protective of her and I try to keep her safe from everything and everyone she comes in contact with. When I hear her cry I run over to her and wipe her tears away. If I could keep her I would.

I was sitting in the dirt with her playing and she saw that I had dirt on my hand. She grabbed my hand and began wiping all the dirt off. I guess that was a way of her wanting to protect me. Today I felt like crying when I left her. I just want her to go with me so I know she is protected. I know that the moms there take very good care of her but I need her with me. She doesn’t really need me but I need her. I think about how much I love her and know it’s not even close to the love that Jesus has for her. I hope that she feels as much love as I do when she is in my arms.

Thank you Jesus for Catherine and for dying on the cross for her. To the people that know me; y’all just thought I loved kids before, I love them a million times more now!!!

Staci Morgan

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Amazing Faith

Today (Friday, July 27th) was our first day at My People’s Childrens Home, about 50 miles outside of Kampala, Uganda. The first thing that really impressed me was the spirituality and faith of the kids. They’ve been praying for us for months to show up, and when we drove up this little lane they were so excited that God had answered their prayers. And shortly after we got there, a lady came walking up with a young man that obviously was sick.
He had sores on him and part of his ears were missing. She had faith and wanted us to pray for him. And it just reminded me of the passage in the Bible when the lady eased through the crowd and touched Jesus’ garment and He turned and asked “Who touched me? Your faith has made you well.” And we got the opportunity to pray for this man, and after we were through his countenance was just…, his whole face was just different.

The presence of the Holy Spirit was awesome there today, because the pastor, the staff, and the ones who are taking care of the kids there are very spiritual and these kids seem to be happier than any we’ve seen yet, because of their faith.
I feel that spiritually, their prayers have been answered and will have a lot more faith in God because He has delivered something that they’ve prayed special for, so hard on for so long, and God delivered. These kids are literally sleeping on hard ground and concrete. They will now be off the ground and have their own bed, some place that they can call THEIRS. They have nothing, and having something they can call “THEIRS” will help them physically, spiritually and emotionally. They can look back and say that these people from America came over and God used them to answer our prayers, and that can lead them to being ministers themselves or be like Josephine, with Sweet Sleep. Someone who has a passion to help these kids that are orphans or living on the street.
It was really neat today when we planted two trees today to commentate Sweet Sleep and our church. They will have a memory from those trees that they can eat from as they bear fruit. I think they can use the trees as well as their spiritual walk to bear fruit and be a witness themselves. We are bearing fruit by coming over here and doing this. We bear fruit at home. And when the young kids come back some day and look at that tree, they can remember that God was faithful. To me, that was the most important thing, to build their trust in God even more.

Lonnie Wales

Friday, July 27, 2012

An Answer to Someone's Prayers

Driving back into Kampala after a 15 hour drive from Gulu was an experience. It was after dark and one van was without lights due to previous mechanical difficulties. The traffic was bumper to bumper for several hours. As we waited, several small children came to our window of the van begging. One of the children could not even reach the window and appeared no older than 3-4 years old. The following day we drove to My People’s Children’s Home, where many of the children like we saw that night have been taken off the street and provided love and shelter.

As we drove up, we were greeted with singing and dancing. We were shown the two buildings that Samaritan’s Purse built for dormitories for 65 children. The school building can only be described by a Texan as a rustic stable. The church, or common area, is a large tent. Inside each of the two buildings designed as dorms was an area approximately 25′ X 25′ that is the sleeping area for the approximate 65 children. One for the boys and one for girls. Currently, there are two mattresses for the girls and three mattresses for the boys. Everyone pretty much sleeps on the floor. The girls 16 years of age or older live in a separate building.

We were taken to an area under several trees that they called their Prayer Altar. Pastor Grace told us how thankful he was for Sweet Sleep, and how our coming was an answer to their prayers. Pastor Grace shared his vision and be able to provide them a place for love and shelter.

What a wonderful day it was, spending time with these children playing and singing. The children were so happy and excited to have us there. I met Very, who was 9 and spoke very good English. Very introduced me to her friends, Betty, Emma, Billy, Jackie, Rose, Paul, and many others. We played variations of jump rope with corn stalks tied together.

The important thing for me today was not only spending time with these beautiful children but realizing God truly sent our team to answer someone’s prayer. My Children’s Home staff members have been praying for these children and are committed to providing them love. Several times, Pastor Grace stated, “We have been praying for you and you are an answer to our prayers.”

Uganda is a beautiful country with generous loving people. Inspite of what they have been through in the past or currently suffering, they remain full of hope in God and trust him completely. I’ve said from the beginning that God was sending our team to Uganda in answer to someone’s prayers. I found out who many of them were today.

Debbie Key

Despair, But Hope

On this trip, I’ve really noticed how different the societies are between Uganda and the United States. You see on the commercials and you always hear about it. Especially when people found out I was coming to Africa, I was told how different it was here, but it never really sunk in until I saw it; until I saw the poverty, until I saw the despair. But yet even in all the despair, the people are able to enjoy. But in America, we don’t even have as much despair, and we have a better chance to succeed, yet we still don’t find as much joy as the people here do. That has really stuck out. We just don’t find as much joy as they do and they have lots less of a push towards hope.
Another thing that has stuck out to me is just how many children there are, and how many children there are that don’t have love or a source of love in their life. They yearn for affection and crave for our love. Even from strangers, they are open to accepting our love because they desperately want it, and want acceptance, that respect, and that affection.

The whole trip has been memorable, but one of the first ones was on the first day we handed out beds at the second distribution site outside of Gulu. There was a boy that came up to me and I was just loving on him and playing with him and he was sitting in my lap. It was just giggles and fun. Then December, the Health Alert Director, came up to me and said, “Oh look. You have a kid. How great.” And I was thinking, “Oh no, his mom probably loves him too much and is worried about him.” but December told me, “Oh no, he is an orphan.” and it broke my heart.
 I’d like to say that it didn’t get my spirits down, but it did because it was so sad to know that this precious baby, who was maybe 2 or 3 years old didn’t have a parent to go home to, and didn’t have somewhere to go home to at night. He was pretty much on his own. That really stuck out to me and I really felt blessed to give him the opportunity for a bed and love. And at the same time it was so sad because I could only love on him for those moments. I couldn’t fix his not having parents.

Realizing that so many children were orphans, I was so much more eager and on fire the next day just to love. Because if these children don’t have parents to love them, they have to know love somehow, somebody to care for them. That is something that all kids need. So, the next day I was so eager. I couldn’t wait to get out there and find a kid and give that kid my whole heart for those few moments, so that maybe, just maybe they would know love and fill that void they might have from not having a parent.
On this Sweet Sleep journey, I’ve been able to show love and I’d like to say that I witnessed, but only through translation. But I’ve been able to witness and show love to these people and I don’t even speak the same language as them. I can’t walk up and start a conversation with them, so my entire witness has been through my smile, my handshakes, and just playing with the children. So knowing that I can show love and that I can witness to people without using my words, and I’m a person that talks a lot, it gives me a fire and a hope that I can do it at home. Why can’t I witness? There is nobody that I shouldn’t be able to witness to, because if I can do it without talking, then I can for sure do it if I speak the same language. So I think that this trip has just opened my eyes to opportunities to witness that I haven’t looked at before this trip.

One thing I’ve really noticed this week, the one thing that has really hit my heart is how much I take for granted. Sometimes I’ll just look at my life and think that I have it bad. No, I have it GOLDEN, and I’ve never taken the time to appreciate that and this trip has really helped me to appreciate all that I have. Whether it be the love of my friends and family, especially my parents, seeing all the orphans makes me appreciate all the love that I have. It’s just shown me not to take anything for granted because there really are people that would love to have everything that we have, or just anything at all. I’ve learned to stop and take a look at myself and try not to be just another selfish American, and try to be a good witness like Jesus told us to.
Kelzye Isham

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A day fit for a king.

They came from all parts of town. From just blocks away, or an orphanage across town, or the outskirts of the city of Gulu. At the headquarters of Health Alert Uganda, the partner of Sweet Sleep in Northern Uganda reaching out to the HIV positive children, many, many came. Many more than were expected. More than what mattresses were available. They came hoping, expecting to take home a soft place to lay their head, but many left with only a mosquito net this time. They left with a smile, though, knowing that they were on the list for the next distribution there, hopefully with the next team in November, 2012 if enough funds are raised to provide them.
As for the numbers of the day, 147 beds were distributed and another 200 nets were given out to those new ones who came and registered.

It was a day where The King of Kings was lifted high. His name was proclaimed through testimony, story, song, and actions. We participated in being the hands and feet of Jesus, giving love and hope to some who others have stopped giving love and hope to. Drawing, coloring, playing ball, holding, carrying around, laughing, blowing bubbles, having pictures made, placing stickers on, as well as countless other activities with children of The King.

Most of the drawings were of a religious nature. Bruno, with palsy affecting his face, drew a church and Jesus. Scovia drew Jesus being baptized. Linda just drew lines, like any 3 year old would.

We sat down and spoke with December, the director of HAU, who shared some great facts about the great partnership between Sweet Sleep. Over the past three years, mattresses have been provided to over 2,000 positive children in Northern Uganda, but there are over 4,100+ positive children identified, with more being added when they come out of hiding and get registered. Sweet Sleep has played and important role in helping to bring these children out of hiding and getting identified and started with the HIV anti-retroviral medication and support.

After a long day, our last in Gulu, we had time to get cleaned up before returning to the HAU headquarters for dinner. Little did we know that a feast fit for a king was in store for us. We were met at the gate with native drums and singing and dancing, The Welcome Dance. Teenagers were dressed in native attire and performed for us throughout the evening. We were allowed to join in the dancing and drumming. It was an incredible evening that words and pictures will never fully describe. The group usually only performs for visiting dignitaries, such as the President of Uganda, kings or leaders of other countries when they visit Gulu. We were informed that we were being thought of in such high regard and the works we had been doing the past few days was that well respected. The food was delicious, the entertainment incredible, the fellowship with the staff of Health Alert Uganda was uplifting. We came to Uganda to serve, yet we felt as though we were the ones doing so much receiving.
Of all the mission trips I’ve been on, this Sweet Sleep trip is so unique and powerful. We didn’t come just to go somewhere to do a Backyard Bible Club or VBS. We have come with a purpose, one goal. We want to be Jesus’ hands and feet and be able to provide a sweet sleep to the children of Uganda. This trip has been a life-changer. Providing a soft place for a child to lay its head, when all the child (or even their parent) has even known was a hard dirt or concrete floor. THAT is a life-changing event. But OUR lives have been changed forever, also.

Seeing the joy these people have, when sometimes that is all they have. Holding a child that might only have a caregiver or guardian instead of a parent. Seeing how we should never take things for granted, or complain about some of the simple things in our past daily life. And finally, this mission journey has been and will continue to be a life-changer in our church. Having spent the past seven months raising funds, preparing for it, and now following this on the Facebook page or blog post. Waiting daily for word from halfway across the world to hear what God and the team is doing. Exploring new ways to reach out and minister to those close to home.
Today was truly a day fit for a king. We were treated as royalty, but our prayer is that The King of Kings will be lifted up and receive all the honor and glory as we continue on to our week in Kampala and an orphanage close by. Thanks for your continued prayers and support, and begin thinking of ways that we can help raise funds to help provide more beds so hundreds of children who walk long distances can receive not just a mosquito net, but a bed and a Bible so they can experience a Sweet Sleep.

-Spencer Key

Interested in helping to supply beds, mosquito nets, and bibles to the children of Gulu? 
 Go to our website, click donate, and designate in the comment box where you would like your fundings to be sent!
Interested in Going?  Contact our trip coordinator at to find out how you can be the physical hands and feet of Jesus on our upcoming November 2012 Gulu, Uganda trip!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What would you say?

What would you say if given the opportunity to share the Gospel with a group of people? The Sweet Sleep Missions trip gave me the chance to speak to the group of people that assembled to receive beds and netting. I prayed and asked God to show me what was important for this audience to hear.
My heart was to give God glory and to share the love of Jesus.  1 Corinthians 15:3-4 captures the heart of God’s purpose. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scripture, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to scriptures.”

God’s inspired scripture is powerful to convey His purpose and draw people to conviction. God knows the people’s needs and can work in ways beyond our comprehension. The Gospel is beautifully simple. God did it for us through Jesus Christ. We must receive it and apply it.
The people were gracious and smiled and listened. My prayer was that the simple message from scripture was used by God to work His will. God knows how to handle the needs and answer the questions that we all face.

I don’t know if what I said helped the people, but I know that my prayer and seeking God’s wisdom helped me as I prepared. I am blessed as I try to serve and help others. I simply give my best to God. I pray that God would use it as He chooses. My simple prayer, is that I would say what God wants me to say.

Ronald Rogers

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Buzungu, Precious, by Amanda McCutcheon

Monday July 23,2012
Everything here is gorgeous. We’re on our way to Gulu, and I’ve never been so in awe. I’ve spent the last hour waving to people that are walking by our van. They are so pleasant and excited to see us.
I notice all of the children dressed up nicely on their way to school, though most aren’t wearing shoes. People shout and laugh as they see us smile and wave. All of the concentrated or sullen faces break apart with the flash of pearly white teeth and sparkling eyes. All just because I took a second to make eye contact and wave. I love all of them. My heart hurts a little. I think this is my favorite place. Even the smells are comforting. Occasionally the air will be filled with a waft of fresh fruit from a vendor, mahogany, exotic flowers, and of course- burning garbage. The weather is so nice. It’s cool, like being in fog early in the morning.
I read mom’s card for me today. It was encouraging. I honestly think I could live here. I keep daydreaming about what it would be like to wake up each morning in Africa. There is a lump in my throat from just watching a family walk by. They call us ” buzungu” which is Swahili for white, which is associated with “precious” I wish there was a word I could respond with, to let them know I think they are precious too.

Lubanga Mari, by Russell Milmo

Tuesday morning, Jul 25, 2012
Here we go, bright and early. A little warmer today, but it’s nothing new to me. Still hasn’t dawned on me that I’m in Africa. Some blue sky, red dirt. Just different culture. I tell you what, these people grow more corn here than the state of Illinois! These folks however, grow it to eat, not to sell. They are always roasting it over a little fire somewhere and kids are always gnawing on the cob. I noticed today that there peanut hulls on the ground. Turns out that what I call peanuts, they call them “ground nuts”. I reckon I got more in common with these folks than I thought, since I was raised on a corn and peanut farm. I’ve noticed that they don’t try to grow as much as they can, but instead only what they need. I asked Josephine about it and she actually grew up doing field work. She told me that they only grow what they can handle. Reason being is that the soil is so black and rich that anything will grow. This is one of the main reasons they don’t cultivate more because keeping weeds under control can be difficult.

Well, I finally learned what to say to the kids and adults who come to receive beds. Lubanga Mari, which means, “God loves you.” there were about 180 beds distributed today. I handed a lady a mattress, she turned around, sat the mattress down, lifted her hand and gave out this loud vivacious shriek. At first I thought I said “God loves you” wrong, but realized she was praising God instead. I guess that’s enough words on paper today.

Monday, July 23, 2012

First Thoughts

Today on our first day in Gulu, we started out by getting up and ready by 5:00am so we could travel to Gulu, a drive of over 5 hours. We started off in Anaka around 2:00pm, about 6 hours late due to not driving up until this morning, behind schedule. We gave out 150 beds to children that had registered previously, then we handed out 112 more mosquito nets to the new ones that came out of hiding today and registered. Some of these children started walking yesterday morning, up to 30 kilometers, to come meet us and pick up their beds. They had all been waiting patiently for us since 8:00am. We then traveled back towards Gulu to hand out 50 more beds at Koch Goma. Both of these small communities are in the In Nwoya District in Northern Uganda. Spencer Key's Personal Blog

 The following was shared by team member Cayliegh Little. ~ spencer

As we were pulling up in Anaka, the first place we were going to distribute the beds, we drove up and the people started clapping for us. They were just so very excited. The women were doing this distinct sound that I will never forget. A shrill sound. It was like they were screaming, but it was the most amazing sound I’ve ever heard. They were just showing so much joy that they had.

After we pulled in, the mothers would let their little babies come up to us and sit in our laps. We sat there and Doug McCutcheon started in with a little devotional and anytime he mentioned God, Jesus, or the Bible the people would start clapping and yelling and just praising the Lord. You might think that the language might be a barrier but it wasn’t. They were just so excited to be hearing about God.

As we started handing them the beds, it was just amazing. I was able to touch every one of them. I just couldn’t quit smiling. We were told we were supposed to be strong and not cry, but seeing their excitement was overwhelming. It was tough to just be teary-eyed and not bawl.

At the second place where we went to distribute beds, I got to talk to some 16 year old boys. They are just a year younger than me and I got to talk to them about school. They were both very excited about school, and that hit me, because when we go to school in America, we are always trying to keep ourselves awake in class and we don’t get excited at all about school, but these kids travel for hours one way just to get there.
Tonight, we got to hear the stories of our translators, who are in charge of Sweet Sleep over here, Josephine and Jennifer. They both grew up with practically nothing and their situations are like the kids we are giving mats to, without their parents. These kids came today, and we knew they came from bad situations or might be sick, but we were given some insight into these kids lives.

Tomorrow, I’ll just be able to love those kids 100,000 times more than I did today. It amazes me at how willing they are to just come up to you and talk to you, or give you a hug. They all want to see the skin color difference. There was one little girl and she just wanted to keep touching my hand. That in itself was just amazing, because they might not have seen or spent much time around a white person. Coming to them was such a huge deal. They kept telling us that it was such an honor for them to have us come, but it was actually the other way around. It was an honor for me just to be in their presence and share with them, share God’s love with them.

I really don’t have much more to say, but if you ever have an opportunity to come, take it. Seven months ago I started dreaming about this and I knew God was calling me to go, but I didn’t think I would get the opportunity. What are the chances that a 17 year old from Olney, Texas would to get to go to Uganda? It’s just amazing to get to come here and touch the people physically and spiritually. I just can’t get over their smiles. Their pearlie-whites just shine so bright and at first they are apprehensive, but you wave or smile and their faces just light up.

Going back home will definitely different. I will have a new perspective on life and I for sure will not take things for granted, like a toilet.  My day was just amazing and I just give God the glory. He’s blessing me way more than I could ever think about blessing the people.

 Cayleigh Little

Celebrating 3 years in Uganda!

Yesterday marked the 3 year anniversary of Sweet Sleep in Uganda, can you believe it?!  It’s hard to comprehend the immense blessings that have spanned over our time there and how a team just so happens to be there right now sharing the love of Jesus Christ!  

Josephine, our national director of Uganda shared how special her time serving with Sweet Sleep has been, especially with the joy of having another team there on the 3 year birthday!  

It was on the 21st of July 2009 when our first Sweet Sleep team of 22 members came and changed the sleeping condition of 260 children in Uganda.  What a blessing! Since then, so many children have really been blessed and have sweet safe nights. On the same date and month, God has yet blessed us with another incredible Sweet Sleep team of 16 members to continue blessing and changing the sleeping conditions of the so many children.”

Over this time Sweet Sleep has sent 5 teams to Kampala and 5 more teams to Gulu.  During those journeys there have been over 3,500 beds distributed in Uganda, and praise the Lord for that!  Not only were beds distributed, but nearly 10,000 children and villagers have been ministered to along the way.  

The benefits are not only a good night’s sleep, but in the Kampala orphanages where Sweet Sleep has provided beds and nets, malaria has decreased due to the life-saving mosquito nets! One orphanage reports that with the money they save in the treatment of malaria they are able to provide meat and fruit to their children once a week.  In Gulu, the provision of beds has

Currently Sweet Sleep is partnering with Health Alert Uganda, an organization that provides anti-retroviral drugs to HIV+ children.  The beds Sweet Sleep provides to these children protect them from opportunistic diseases such as malaria and pneumonia. But not only that, because of the desire to receive a bed, over 1000 children living in secret with HIV have come out of hiding, to register with HAU.  Those children are now receiving the medial care and drugs they need.  And since early this year Sweet Sleep has provided a mosquito net to every new registrant, so that they will be protected until we can return with their complete bed!
Of course these children also receive their own Bible!  When asked, the children often tell us the Bible is their favorite part of their gift.  "It tells me how to live" one girl once told me.  Our partners in HAU have told us "Before, the only escape these [HIV+] children had from the disease was death.  Now they know they have LIFE in CHRIST."

Josephine had some more sweet words about Sweet Sleep’s birthday in Uganda.  “On this memorable Sweet Sleep UGANDA Birthday, we extend our sincere appreciation and thanks to all our Sweet Sleep teams and supporters who have continued to touch the hearts of our beloved children through the provision of the beds, beddings, life-saving mosquito nets and bibles. You have always made us feel proud and we will always remember you all.” 

As we celebrate today, with 3 years in Uganda, please keep this team that is currently there in your thoughts and prayers.  Pray for safety, opportunities to form new relationships, for the love of Jesus Christ to be what shines through this team, and for those children to feel His love as they climb into their new Sweet Sleep beds.  

Thank you again for making this possible, and be sure to continue keeping up with the team through our facebook (linked) page and through our blog.   The team is now in Gulu and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on what’s next for them!


Friday, July 20, 2012

By The Numbers

8,500 miles – Olney, Texas to Kampala, Uganda
18:45 Hours in the air, 3:45 hours on the ground, 22:30 hours total
3 different planes
4 different countries
3 continents
16 people-7 men, 2 women, 7 teens
14 days
Hundreds of mattresses
Thousands of children
1 orphanage
Dozens of Bunk beds
From a town of 3,000 people, to cities of 150,000 (Gulu) and 1.5 million (Kampala)
Texas – 268,568 sq. miles, Uganda – 91,136 sq. miles
$3,400 per person cost of trip
$8 provides a mosquito net to orphans in Africa or Haiti.
$10 provides a Bible to an orphan in his or her language.
$50 provides a bed and bedding for orphan resettlement kits in northern Uganda.
$125 provides a healthy, comfortable new Sweet Sleep bed for a child in Africa.
Life expectancy – Uganda 54, US 78
Estimated population living with HIV/AIDS – 1.2 million in Uganda (150,000 under the age of 15), 1.2 million in US (10,769 under the age of 15)
Under 17, orphaned due to AIDS – 1.2 million in Uganda, no numbers even reported in US
Under 17, orphaned by all causes 2.7million in Uganda, 2.1 million in US
49% of the country’s population is under the age of 15, and of that, 20% live in orphanages. Uganda has the highest proportion of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS worldwide.
What can we expect to give to the people we come in contact with?  What we can give them is LOVE… being the hands and feet of Jesus. Introduce them to Him. Share our relationship and experiences with Jesus with them, and help them develop a deeper understanding and relationship with Jesus. We can give them hugs, smiles, laughter, games, crafts, Bible stories, testimonies, devotions… We can give them a bed, a Sweet Sleep… a Bible, a mosquito net and a mattress.
We depart Texas today,  July 20th, and we ask y’all to pray for us daily while we are gone. We’ll be posting updates, photos and videos daily. Without your prayers and financial support, this trip would not even be possible. We feel such peace and power in the midst of our preparations. Thank you, and please keep it up. Feel free to respond on our Facebook page ( FBC Olney Sweet Sleep Mission Trip Facebook Page ) with words of encouragement to us.                                                                                ~ By Spencer Key

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Small Town Fundraising

When we began planning our trip in December 2011, we knew that fundraising would need to be a priority. Throughout the last six months, our team has been involved in a variety of activities to help make this journey possible financially. We have truly been blessed continually by the support of our families, friends, church, and community.

The following is a list of ways our team was able to raise the money to send 16 individuals to minister in Uganda and to have the ability to provide over 665 beds to children.

Cake Ball Fundraiser – We sold over 5600 cake balls (which is almost 2 cake balls per person in the city of Olney) for Valentine’s Day.
Bottles for Beds – We provided over 30, 1 gallon, bottles of water to church families for them to drink and then fill with coins over four months.
Crockpot Lunch

Crockpot Lunch
Crockpot Lunch Fundraiser – We asked church members to bring crockpot meals and side dishes for a lunch after church at a cost of $5/person, and we then placed buckets in front of each crockpot so that members could “cast their vote” for their favorite dish by placing money in the buckets.
Scentsy Fundraiser – Team members sold Scentsy items, such as wickless candles, in person and online.
Baked Potato Lunch Fundraiser and Blankets for Beds Silent Auction – We provided a baked potato lunch, including salad, baked potatoes with all the toppings, dessert, and a drink for $5/person. We then held a silent auction for handmade blankets and quilts provided by church members.
Garage Sale – We held a garage sale in our church parking lot of items donated by church members.
Scrap Metal Collection – We picked up scrap metal donations and sold them to a collection center.
Mission Journey Support Letters – We mailed these to family and friends seeking their financial support.
Extra Jobs – We had several church and team members take on an extra job or two to raise money by mowing yards, cooking weekday meals for families, detailing vehicles, selling items such as Pampered Chef, and working for local businesses and organizations in Olney.
Donations – We have been blessed to receive contributions from individuals who have been committed to giving to the mission trip over the past six months.

As we planned and prepared for this journey, we wanted to ensure that everyone who helped provide for us financially through the above and through prayer felt that this was their mission trip. We cannot put into words how much we appreciate all that has been done to help our team financially. It has been amazing to see everyone come together to support us through finances and prayer. Thank you to everyone who has been such a vital part of this journey.
                                                                                    In Christ, Renee Russell

If you have helped raise funding for a trip in a creative way, we want to know all about it!  Email us at w/ your experience or ideas!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Community Support

As we have been preparing for our Sweet Sleep mission journey to Uganda, the team members have been overwhelmed by the support received from our community of just over 3,000 people. From co-workers, friends, and family, the outpouring has been tremendous. Our community has a long and strong history of pitching in to help. When community members experience a major illness, blood or bone marrow drives have been conducted. When fires or accidents devastate a family, arms encircle them in their time of need.
Being in a small town, people and businesses are constantly bombarded with requests to help out financially for community organizations, school groups, athletic groups, youth groups, church camps, etc. It seems that everyone gets the request to give money or buy something many times each year, and they generally will respond in the affirmative. When it came to fundraising for this trip, people graciously chipped in to help make this trip possible.
Our community has also been providing support in many other ways as well: Having friends and co-workers offer up prayers and sharing words of encouragement; Having them ask about the trip preparations, those we will be ministering to, even about the shots required for the trip; Having a boss or supervisor tell you not to worry about a thing while you’re gone. Also, we have truly been blessed with notes of encouragement, wall posts on our FBC Olney Sweet Sleep Mission Trip Facebook Page, and phone calls.
Being from a small town, we have grown accustomed to seeing such examples of community support. Regardless of the need, caring hearts and able hands have stood ready to step up and help out. We try not to take this support for granted.
There will only be 16 of us physically present in Uganda for two weeks, but hundreds more will have been supporting us for the many months leading up to the trip, and during the trip itself. We will be an extension of each of them, being Christ’s hands and feet to the children of Uganda, helping them have sweet sleep.
Thank you, for the ways that you have supported, and will continue to support us. 

-Spencer Key

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our Sweet Sleep Journey

Last summer (2011), our church was attending CentriKid Camp and Jon Merryman was our Camp Pastor. One day during worship, he shared a video and spoke about Sweet Sleep and how we could get involved and even customize a trip of our own. Immediately after the worship time was over, there were 3 young ladies (who had come to camp as team assistants/sponsors) who were overwhelmed with excitement and ready to go and provide beds to children. 

Our prayer/commissioning time for our team from this past Sunday morning's worship service.
So, in August, we began making phone calls to Sweet Sleep, our church began praying, and by December, our trip was being planned. In January, we had our first formal interest meeting, and God began building our team.  Over the past 7 months, we have truly come together and seen God’s hand in every aspect of our planning and preparation. 

When we began, many of us were merely acquaintances, but as we have prepared for this journey, we have seen how God has woven us together, with our varied talents and abilities, to serve Him in Uganda. As a team, we have already become close friends, and by August 2nd when we return, we know that we will have an unbreakable bond as brothers and sisters in Christ that we hope will overflow into our entire church and community.
                                                                                                   By Kelzye Isham and Renee Russell

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sharing Jesus Globally

Our friend Eddie Humphrey at First Baptist Chuch in Belton, Texas serves as the minister of Childhood Education.  Read along as he shares how partnering with Sweet Sleep for their VBS has opened their children's' eyes to serving orphaned abandoned children on the "other side of the globe!"

" I became aware of Sweet Sleep for the very first time in October 2011 at the LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference in Nashville, TN. The volunteers at the informational booth were very helpful and were able to verbalize the Mission of Sweet Sleep quite easily. I knew right then and there that this was going to be the focus of our upcoming VBS 2012 Missions Offering. 

A portion of our church’s mission statement is to, “Share Jesus Globally.” I believe that donating money to help provide beds for orphans in “far away” places was both an important and easy vision to share with children in our community. The mission of Sweet Sleep, specifically Build a Bed, was going to be a perfect fit in challenging our children and their families to consider helping others whom they probably will never meet and who live on the “other side of the globe.”

Our VBS took place this Summer from June 18-22nd. We took a daily Missions Offering in our Opening Assembly. We challenged the boys and girls to bring as many coins as they possibly could. We would then take the buckets of coins and weigh them on our “Scale of Wonder” to determine who gave the most weight in coins each day. The winning team had the opportunity to eat their refreshments first during Snack Time. 

We had two goals for the week. The first goal was to raise enough money to provide (60) beds for orphans in Northern Uganda, or $3,000. If we met this goal, then a portion of my Staff would have a “Hair Raising Experience” LIVE on Stage during our Closing Rally on Friday (spray painted hair, hair cut and a marshmallow shampoo). Our secondary goal was to raise $4,000, enough money to help (80) children. If we achieved this goal, then I would have my head shaved on Stage, in front of everybody! 

I am so happy to share with you that God truly blessed our Offering efforts. The boys, girls and families of our church were quite generous and sacrificial in their giving……..we raised $5,000. (His head was shaved!) Since the cost per bed in Northern Uganda is $50, that means (100) children will receive a bed, a mosquito net and a Bible because boys and girls in Central Texas were gracious enough to give to Sweet Sleep. I look forward to partnering with Sweet Sleep in future VBS Mission Offerings.To God be the Glory!"**

Eddie Humphrey

**stay tuned for pictures of this week of VBS!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eyes to see, Ears to hear.

Sweet Sleep was honored to share our mission with our friends at Living Springs Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee and receive a check for over $500 to help supply life-saving mosquito nets to children suffering in malaria stricken countries!  Jason, their children's minister and VBS director, shares their story...

I have been directing VBS at Living Springs Baptist for 13 years, and in previous years, we gave our offerings to the church.  In the last few years, wanting to know what more we could do to get the kids to be more eager for missions and giving, we started redirecting the offerings to different organizations such as the TN Baptist Children’s Home.  We usually have some sort of a contest between the girls and the boys, with the amount of offering given and the weight of the offerings to get them motivated.

Last Fall, I attended a Lifeway Children's Conference and met a few ladies from Sweet Sleep who had been personally affected by your ministry, “Nickels for Nets”.  After hearing them speak, I felt led that this would be great ministry for us to use as a future missions project. It would be a way for our kids to see their mission giving at work like I did, so we decided we would use our VBS missions offerings this year to give to Sweet Sleep and see how many nets we could provide.  The kids really enjoyed it, and we also included the entire church for a month before VBS, then continued the project on into VBS week.  It worked great, and we actually doubled what we normally collect during VBS!

Sweet Sleep was great in providing us with an actual bed to display along with a large banner.  The kids were really impacted by this, and, hopefully, we made a difference.  The last night of our VBS week, Stephanie came out to our church, spoke to everyone there about Sweet Sleep, and then we presented her with our donation.

Sweet Sleep is really a great ministry, and there are many ways to involve the entire church.  I am so glad that we were able to be a part of such a great mission project.  Thank you Sweet Sleep!   I would love to see some of the 60 or so kids with the new nets we helped to provide for them!

Jason Smith

If you and your church are interested in getting involved with our program "Nickels for Nets" please visit our website to learn more or contact to begin saving lives
 one net at a time!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Children burdened for children.

As VBS is in full swing, we have been keeping up with those churches who have chosen to partner with Sweet Sleep this summer!  Several churches across the country have been giving their offerings and sharing the mission of Sweet Sleep through our programs Build-A-Bed and Nickels for Nets through.  

To kick off our story telling of how the Lord is at work through these sweet children, is Phil Hoyt.  Phil is the preschool pastor at First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, Tennessee and we were able to get a recap of their incredible week of VBS.

"2012 was our 2nd year to feature Sweet Sleep as our designated Mission Emphasis.  We had a great VBS! Our church is large, so we have a special Rally Time each day just for the older preschoolers (3’s through Pre K).

Each of the 12 classes collected their money in their metal bucket and brought it to our Rally Time where they got to dump it into the container with everyone’s money. They loved seeing the “pile” of money grow and grow each day.

The children really related to the concept of helping other children have a comfortable, clean and safe bed to sleep in. We have many comments from parents about what their child had learned through the ministry of Sweet Sleep. The children had a genuine burden to bring their offering each day to help us “Buy A Bed.”  We were please and blessed to be able to send $1,629.76 to Sweet Sleep." --Phil Hoyt

Isn't that just awesome: Children longing to help other children in need. The Lord is so good, and we love seeing children burdened by those who are their same age and realizing the need for beds!

The Sweet Sleep team gives First Baptist Church of Hendersonville a sincere thank you from the bottom of our hearts that they would partner with us a second time for orphaned and abandoned children around the world.  Thanks to you there are now children who will most surely have a sweet sleep from this day forward.

Be on the look out for more stories of how the Lord is at work through VBS's all over this summer!

Looking to get your group involved in helping serve the orphaned and abaonded children of the world by providing them with sweet sleep?  Click here to see how you can be a part of being the change!

Blessed to lack. Joyful to suffer.

 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40.

Recently members of the Sweet Sleep team joined 120 leaders and students in abandoning our food, shelter, and beds in order to sleep “Under the Stars”. 

For one chilly April evening in a Johnson City parking lot, we welcomed thin pieces of cardboard and small blankets as replacements for our usual comforts. As the night progressed we worshiped, studied, prayed, and made small attempts to sleep. We “woke” the next morning with red noses and aching backs, but the most obvious addition to the group’s spirit was thankfulness and praise.That’s right. Thankfulness and Praise. 

It may seem odd that we had joy while clinging to barely-there blankets and cardboard beds, but it wasn’t what we possessed that made the difference– it was what we lacked. For example, while praying we heard only the hum of car motors in the distance, but not LRA soldiers. While sleeping we faced only the mild threat of an ant marching across our bare arm, not malaria-carrying mosquitoes. 

However, the children of northern Uganda do not lack these challenges. What God reminded us at “Under the Stars” is that we serve a Lord who does not overlook displaced individuals. Our Lord does not forget a single orphan or widow living in this world. So, how then as Christ’s body can we believe that we have the option of forgetting them? How can we not see it when the things that we lack are blessings? 

The students of Boone Trail Baptist Church have not missed these truths. These students raised $2804 on the night of the Under the Stars event to add to the $8,000 raised at their March Spring Conference. This impressive total of $10,804 will fund the resettlement of 216 kids in northern Uganda. 
216 lives intricately and perfectly designed by God. 216 names, personalities, and small hands/feet/hearts that the Lord desires to bless. 216 displaced children that we are lucky enough to serve.  How awesome is it that the Lord protects each of these children intentionally through our giving?

Thrillingly, the impact of the Under the Stars event was not limited to 216 children in a country far away from the parking lot where we slept. In fact, the lives of many of the students present were impacted. Some students professed a new passion to spread the mission of Sweet Sleep and even donate from their personal bank accounts. 

Ryan Epps, Pastor to Students at Boone Trail Baptist Church, who was the visionary and event coordinator behind this particular evening was moved by the effect he saw. “God is causing a radical stirring in many students and adult’s hearts. I truly believe a movement began that night and it will be awesome to watch how people jump on board to be on a mission to see the Great Commission carried out”. 

As Christ’s body we are called to recognize need through His guidance and then to act. On this night, there was action followed by obedience and as a result there was supernatural impact. As a body we are to serve the hurting world around us, and the Lord that knows the desires of our hearts does not call us into this without intention to bless us through it all. How wonderful that we have the chance to glean immeasurable joy that comes from walking with Him in service. 

For more information on how you can host an "Under the Stars" event click here and share with your youth the need for every child to sleep sweetly.