Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Special Session

It's taken us a while to hook up, but last weekend I finally got to meet with the winners of my first photography giveaway for our session. My friend, Kerry, actually won the contest, but in the spirit of giving, she chose to donate the session to a family in her church. I was excited about doing photos for a new family, but I was uber-pumped when Kerry told me this family's story.

Scott and Jamie Laslo operate an American non-profit called Pearl Ministries that exists to help care for orphans in none other than...Uganda!! What, you ask, is our connection with Uganda (when Ethiopia is the country from which we're adopting)? While it's correct that Ethiopia is the country we're adopting from now, that wasn't always the case. For the first portion of our adoption process, we were planning on adopting from Uganda. God made it clear to us that He was closing the door on that country and opening it to Ethiopia, but we certainly have a special concern for children who are sick, hungry, and hurting in Uganda as well.

All that is to say that I was thrilled to learn about the work that the Laslo family does for Ugandan orphans!! In an e-mail not long ago, I asked Jamie to tell me a bit more about the ministry, and rather than recap what she said, I thought it best to let her share directly from her own heart:

"Our official new mission statement is: partnering with American individuals, families and churches to help orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, through gospel-centered, holistic development of family and community in partnership with indigenous ministries and churches.

Our primary partnership is with Ranch on Jesus Ministries, which was founded by my dear friend, Sarah Kamara. Sarah began taking vulnerable children into her home in 2001. Her husband, Theophilus, was unemployed at the time and their daughter, Martha, was a baby. In faith, Sarah began ministering to children in her home and she eventually founded a primary school that offers scholarship programs for needy kids. (School isn't really free in Uganda, so many kids don't go.) I met Sarah in 2004 on a college missions trip and the Lord made it very clear he wanted me to do something very specific to help her. I didn't really have any concept that it would grow this big! Anyway, I was terrified to ask for money so I had a yard sale at my church that raised $7,000. That was a confirmation of God's blessing on our work and the beginning of the partnership. Sarah's husband became a Christian and is currently the director and largest donor to the ministry. Sarah and Theophilus take nothing from Ranch. Theophilus runs his own business and works for a water NGO in addition to running Ranch (he doesn't sleep much). Isn't that amazing? They live very humbly (although they are middle class) so that they can invest into the lives of these children.

Scott and I founded Pearl in 2006 to keep assisting Ranch and hopefully expand our partnerships with a couple of other similar ministries to orphans at local Ugandan churches. Every church in Uganda takes in orphans. You may already know this-but over 70% Uganda's population is under the age of 17. And there are at least 1.5 million children who have been orphaned from AIDS alone. It is such a tremendous crisis and requires such tremendous intervention from God's people!"

You can read more about the incredible work they're doing at Jamie's blog, Ranched on Jesus. It's such an amazing gift to know how God uses the money He has blessed us with to bless others. That's what I love about this post that Jamie shared -- it's a descriptive account of exactly what $20 or $30 can do in a child's life right now in Uganda. We drop that kind of money everyday on scores of goofy stuff that do nothing to better our lives. But take that same amount and obediently move it into the hands of families who have given themselves to live out James 1:27, and suddenly, children's lives are changed. Forever.

But even more importantly, the kids learn about God and the unmatchable love He showed us through Jesus' death. For you -- for me -- for them.

Children's hearts are changed. Forever.

Scott's back in Uganda for a few weeks, so it was just me and the girls for our session (which worked out pretty well since these photos are going to be a surprise for Scott's birthday when he returns home). When they walked up, I was immediately smitten with sweet Vivian. She's the same age as Isabel, and her gorgeous red hair and blue eyes were to die for. I mean, look at that adorable curl!

But don't be fooled into thinking cuteness was all this little pint-sized tot had to offer. She was an absolute ham, and she had us laughing the whole session!!!!!!!!!!!!

This silly shot was one of my favorites from the whole day...

Vivian didn't slow down very much, but when she did, we were able to grab some sweet, sweet shots...

Jamie and Vivian are usually with Scott for their Ugandan stays, but they're going it alone here in the States this time. They make a pretty good team, but I know they're looking forward to when Daddy returns.

1 comment:

Jamie Davidson said...

What a beautiful little girl! You have an amazing gift that I am incredibly thankful you have decided to share with others!