Friday, November 23, 2012

A Special Thanksgiving

Hello Friends,

This week in Gulu has been an amazing blessing.  As you've been able to read, we have had the opportunity to bless so many children (and their care-givers) with a few items that ultimately played a part in bringing them hope.  With many songs, skits, and exhortation with Scripture this team has been a true blessing to these sweet and needy people. But we were not the only ones handing out blessings on Thursday.

Jennifer and Jospehine had organized an amazing Thanksgiving dinner for us.  They invited the Health Alert Team and a few of the children that have been served by Sweet Sleep in the past.  They poured out blessings to us with gifts, their finest food, amazing words of encouragement and prayers.

I once shared a thanksgiving meal with unexpected families members when I was in the 5th grade.  I was in the hospital for a lengthy period of time and my mom and dad were faithfully enduring (probably with more pain than I was in) that holiday season.  The medical staff and new friends became a brief Thanksgiving family to my family.  This year, my wife and two children were doing their thanksgiving with family back in Texas... without me.  It brings me so much joy to rush back to Texas to my wife and family (and extended family) to tell them the news of my our new family members.  Thanksgiving in Gulu was a serendipitous blessing.

I actually held it all together until Josephine suggest we sing Amazing Grace to close out our night.  I held Chris' hand with my left hand and in my right hand was the hand of a young boy who had recently been given a bed.  Between both of them was an undeserving sinner who was not only saved by amazing grace, but continues to be sustained by it.  I was holding hands with two servants that love Jesus Christ and have chosen to spend their days singing and acting on that love.

Sweet Sleep is truly one of the greatest ministries that I've been a part of.  I do not think I have met two more courageous, compassionate, and hope-filled people than Josephine and Jennifer.  The work in Uganda will be bearing fruit for generations.  To experience this and "taste" just some of this "fruit" has truly been a special thanksgiving for me.

Thank YOU for reading and supporting this work!

Embracing and Exalting the majesty of God in all things for the joy all people,
Jason Goings

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Favorite Things

Rolling and packaging mattresses, wrapping mosquito nets, packing mats and bibles in bags, playing volleyball with young moms and teenage girls, dancing, singing, sharing the gospel, children and adults asking to accept Jesus as their Savior, handing out beds,a nd getting to know two precious girls -- Prossy and Consse...These were my favorite things about today. Oh and seing giant oversized bats.

Today our group did not go to a village. Instead we went to the Health Alert center to distribute beds. Health Alert is one of the many organizations that partners with Sweet Sleep. Health Alert primarily works to serve children and adults who are HIV positive. Sweet Sleep primarily serves any child or adult who is especially vulnerable, so it's a perfect connection.

It was incredible how much joy surrounded us at the center. As usual, though there were people who came today to get a bed who had to leave empty handed (Sweet Sleep and Health Alert has everyone register and interviewed before getting a bed) - at distribution sites we have a specific list of names who beds go to. People who hear about the beds and come without being on the list are able to register and get on a future list for a bed. Two pairs of little hands that left without beds to carry were Prossy and Consse. Consse and her younger sister, Prossy, shared with me after playing catch that they had not received beds. I did my best to explain what they could do to get one and asked them to come back tomorrow. We continued to sit tegether drawing pictures of Jesus and each other as I listened to their life story of losing both parents, not being able to afford school fees or food, and how walking all the way from their vilage to only go home empty handed. As my heart broke for them I couldn't help but be amazed at their perserverence and hope. Consse shared so many trials and ways they had suffered, but she couldn't stop smiling or bringing up Jesus somehow in our conversation. Prossy did nothing but smile, giggle, and draw pictures of Jesus and herself. Both of these little girls reminded me of Lucy, a widow who welcomed us into her home on Monday. She had 2 huts that she built herself and takes care of her son along with other orphans. Lucy had never seen or slept on a mmattress before. Now she had one to share with her son and all the children she takes care of. I remember feeling so sad for all she did not have, but humbled that a woman who seemed to have nothing, found ways to still give to orphans.

Our team came to Uganda to share hope and the love of Jesus with people here in Gulu. But each day, I find myself humbled and stretched as children and adults share much more profound hope and incredibly deep love of Jesus with me.

Katie Kautzmann

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Faith without works is dead

Hello again!

On Wednesday and Thursday our distribution sites are actually a little different than before since we will be meeting at the Health Alert office here in Gulu. Health Alert is one of the wonderful partners Sweet Sleep has and is dedicated to serving the 3 northern districts of Uganda to provide the proper medicines, counseling, education, and other services to the amazing people here. The focus has been on providing beds and malaria nets to children who are HIV positive. Some of which are just coming out of "hiding" for the first time so that they can receive these life-saving supplies.

There is still a stigma here (like many other places around the world) about people living with HIV and Health Alert is trying to breakdown that stigma by reaching the community. That's why I think this partnership Sweet Sleep and them have is so wonderful. Sweet Sleep can provide a bed and malaria net which can be a catalyst for people to sign up with Health Alert and begin receiving the medication they need. This is the powerful thing about Sweet Sleep. On the surface it might be "just a bed and net", but that bed and malaria net will protect the child from diseases, which in turn will save the family money that they may have spent on medication and they can now spend on more food, which if a child is healthy and not thinking about being hungry and got a good night's rest, then they will perform better in school. You can begin to see how something we might think of as "simple" act of providing is really changing lives here.

I can't express how welcoming and wonderful everyone has been here. Regardless of how little they might have or how sick they might be there is a genuine joy there and we have seen it everyday in their songs and their smiles and the words they have spoken to us. It is an amazing thing to be a part of and I feel fortunate that I could spend even a short amount of time with each of these people.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends back home!
Kandice Kirby

James 2:14-17
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Hello family and friends.

Let me begin by saying Thank You for your prayers. Our ministry team here in Gulu, Uganda can certainly testify that God is answering your prayers in great ways.

We had the privilege of visiting another village this morning. Jason taught an interactive lesson on Psalm 139 (Fearfully and Wonderful
ly Made)....the kids both learned and enjoyed his presentation. We sang songs with the children, shared the Gospel, and performed a skit highlighting the importance of proper use of malaria nets....the kids laughed and was a Sweet Sound.

After our "program," but before the distribution of beds our team split up into two groups with one group leading out in games and a second group visiting an actual "hut" or dwelling to see the conditions that so many live and sleep in. I had the honor of serving with this second group. It was both humbling and powerful to speak with a family consisting of 6 children living w their mother. This family was so glad to receive their bed, malaria net and most especially a copy of a children's Bible....the oldest child simply could NOT put it down. He was in the Word!

We have two more days of ministry ahead of us in this wonderful and beautiful country. Please continue to pray for our team. We will continue to update as our Wifi system will allow. 
God Bless You & Happy Thanksgiving

Eddie Humphrey

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 1 in Gulu, Uganda

Hello from Uganda!

We had our first full day out in the field and sitting here a few hours later I'm still trying to process all of the amazing things we saw today. We traveled out to the area of Atiak, near the Southern Sudan border. We had the opportunity to visit with and minister to the community there, as well as pass out almost 50 beds to the children of Atiak. We also spent time singing together and playing games with the kids.

Between playing soccer, the parachute game, and attempting duck, duck, goose it was great being able to interact with all the children and hearing them laugh and enjoy the afternoon playing. Afterwards we handed out quilts made by some wonderful women in Fairmont, Minnesota and then gave each child a new bed, malaria net, and bible.

Before we left we had the privilege of seeing one of the child's homes. It was an incredibly moving experience to see where this family slept at night and know that for the first time in their lives they will be able to go to sleep, not on an old straw mat on a dirt floor without any blankets or pillows, but they can sleep soundly knowing they are comfortable, warm, and safe from diseases. As we were setting up his new bed and net, the little boy just kept staring at it and I didn't understand why until someone told me that it was because he had never seen a bed before. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around that thought because most of us take for granted something so simple as a bed, because it has always been there in our lives.

I will never take for granted things like that again though and my prayer is that this child and all the other children will never have to go another day of their lives without knowing something so vital and so important. Here in Uganda a bed and mosquito net are truly life-saving and I want to thank each one of you who donated so that these children are able to for the first time sleep sweetly.

I wish I could describe more fully how God is working in these people's lives and how generous each of them are, even with so little they give so much of themselves. To be able to see how each one of them cares for not just their families, but everyone in the community especially the children, it is the most humbling and awe-inspiring things I've ever been able to experience. I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to come on this trip. Please continue to keep our team in your prayers as we continue on this journey.

Blessings and Love from Uganda,
Kandice Kirby

If you would like to help either by donating, raising funds, or just finding out more about Sweet Sleep please visit their website:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Sweet Sleep Story

We are so excited to introduce you to our dear friend Eddie Humphrey, Minister of Childhood Education of First Baptist of Belton, TX. Eddie was introduced to Sweet Sleep while attending the LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference last fall in Nashville, TN with his wife Kelly.  We’re so thankful Eddie’s Sweet Sleep Journey has just begun!

 “After my introduction to Sweet Sleep last fall, I really sensed that God was calling me and our church to perhaps focus on Sweet Sleep for our upcoming VBS missions offering.  I began praying about that at the conference and then the months to follow.”
For each VBS, the children, families, and teachers are asked to bring offerings to be used towards a good cause of their choice; this year they decided to use Sweet Sleep’s mission project, Build-a-Bed.
“I felt the mission of Sweet Sleep, kids helping kids, would be something that our children would be able to hear and hopefully relate to. 

They chose to have a boys v. girls and weighed the change brought in each morning of VBS on their “Scale of Wonder.”  

“The families and kids responded so graciously this summer. For our church it was the largest VBS offering we’ve ever been a part of! We set different goals, and if we hit $5000 the kids could shave my head on stage; they were able to do just that! (pictured) We felt led to send our money specifically to Gulu, Uganda.  In Gulu it costs $50 per child to receive a bed, malaria net, and bible. $5,000 was raised meaning over 100 beds for the children of Gulu!”
Eddie continued to pray through the summer how their relationship with Sweet Sleep could be a lasting one.  After receiving encouragement from his supervisors and pastoral staff, they decided a mission journey to Gulu, where they could meet the children and work with local ministers, would be an incredible opportunity for them to continue their partnership with Sweet Sleep.

Just so it happened a church from Minnesota was planning a Sweet Sleep mission journey to Gulu on November 16-25!  Eddie and his colleague were invited to join the team on this bed distribution trip to carry their experiences back to their church while deepening their partnership with Sweet Sleep! 

“I’m just elated and very humbled to be a part of this journey.  I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use our team and the power of his spirit.  I’ve had the chance to speak to the team members from Minnesota on a conference call and that was a joy to hear their heart for the Lord and hear how the He has stirred this need in their life as well.  We’re forever grateful for this great body of people in Minnesota to let us jump on their team. 

I’m looking forward to finally arriving and actually being able to meet, shake hands, and hug the necks of the kids—that’s what I’m most excited for.”

Eddie shared that another priority in going to Gulu is to gather pictures and video footage to bring back and share with the children and members of his church.  For next summer, he plans to partner with Sweet Sleep again and incorporate his personal experiences in Gulu into the mission focus of VBS!

Stay updated with Eddie and the team through the Sweet Sleep Blog and Facebook page  as they show God’s love to the the orphaned and abandoned children in Gulu through the provision of beds, bibles, and life-saving mosquito nets!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You are His Poem.

This morning during our staff meeting, Gary was able to share what had been on his heart this past week. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the doing of work, we lose sight of who’s work we are really doing; why we are doing it.  There’s a woman named Cindi Wood who has made a profession of writing books based off of the title “Frazzled."

This word is something that can so easily describe each and everyone of us, especially living in the society and culture we do in the States—striving to climb a ladder of some sort, filling in a planner with “stuff” to do, and always searching for something more.

Instead of focusing on the doing, the going, the filling of time and space, we have to learn to be joyous in the work we are called to do!  This work was set before us by our Father for our doing.  It is Him through us that is accomplishing and completing the work or task set before each of us.
Philippians 4:4
 Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. “

With the season of Thanksgiving in the air, what are we truly thankful for?  Why do we have a reason to be thankful in any and all circumstances.  It is Christ Jesus that dwells in each of us that gives us a reason to rejoice when He sets things before us! We are privileged to be given the task to do His work, however that may look.

Will you choose to find joy, the joy that was so carefully placed inside of each and every one of us by the Spirit.

This story (our life) that we are living is a carefully nit together poem written by our Lord and Savior and it was planned exactly the way it is before we were ever placed on this earth.  The work He is doing in and through you is an important piece and line written in this poem and it was by choice; His choice.  He is continually writing new lines to our poem (our lives) each and every day—find joy and peace in that!

Encouragement today to rejoice in the life we have been given; today, choose joy and thankfulness to our creator for choosing us to be a part of His work!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Open Mission Journeys

The most important part of what we provide, ministry, happens in large part through the team.  I am so encouraged and hopeful about the teams whom God has already called together and I pray, daily, for teams He has yet to assemble. If you are an individual interested in joining a journey, prayerfully consider one of our upcoming open mission journeys listed!   

Gulu, Uganda
June 7-16, 2013

Kampala, Uganda
June 14-23, 2013  

June 7-23, 2013
(Back to Back Gulu & Kampala, Uganda trip) 

Please feel free to email me at for more information.  As you pray and are led, I will work with you to create your journey and send you as ambassadors of  Sweet Sleep, and most of all, how the Lord is leading you to provide physical and spiritual rest to the orphaned and abandoned children of the world.