Giving Tuesday – Gifts that Give Back

Today is Giving Tuesday (and of course, there’s a hashtag for that: #givingTuesday), and we are all about giving here! For those who are new to us, Ten Eighteen gives 100% – yes ONE HUNDRED PERCENT – of the donations away to our programs in Uganda. No administrative fees. No overhead. All giving.

And we’ve been doing some awesome things lately!

ONE HARBOR CHURCH in Beaufort and Morehead City, NC, did a giving campaign recently, and raised enough money to buy and send 335 Luganda Bibles to Kampala! Those, along with another 115 Bibles gifted by friends of Pastor Sam Namatiiti, are now in a cargo container, on a ship, headed for Mombasa, Kenya. Once they arrive and clear customs, they will travel over-land across Kenya to Kampala, where Pastor Sam will joyfully take possession of them and hand them out to retired pastors in rural villages. This new translation (akin to our English NIV, in modern language) has been VERY well received by Bugandans. Pastor Godfrey Wanamitsa at Arise Africa International joyfully told me, “This is SO easy to read!” (And then asked if Pastor Sam could translate it into Lugisu!)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIFE CHURCH also made a donation for Bibles, and I was able to take a dozen to Uganda with me in October and deliver them to Pastor Sam. (They weigh a LOT, as we wanted them to be big enough, with a big enough font, to be read in poor light, by people with poor eyesight.)


Luganda Bible Uganda

Since my return from my almost-month in Uganda, we have been hard at work on our sister project, the Ndoto Collection. This for-profit online store is stocked with great clothing (like these pajama pants), jewelry and other items (aprons, ornaments, bags), made by impoverished women in Uganda, that make excellent gifts for yourself or someone else. And the BEST PART: Ndoto is giving 30-50% of the profits to Ten Eighteen! So you’re giving gifts that give back, both to our co-ops and partners in the form of a sustainable income, and to our programs here at Ten Eighteen. Talk about a win-win!

rowan ladies sewing Uganda





Short Term Missions Opportunities 2014

 We have several short-term missions trips opportunities this year:



In August 2013, we did a youth camp for about 40 kids in Mastic Point (you can see pics on the website and blog). We had basketball, soccer, outdoor games and VBS. We’re hoping to do TWO youth camps this year, one in late June in Nicholls Town, and one in either late July or early August in Mastic Point. It’s a one-week trip and includes some fun stuff, too. Last year’s cost was about $950 for the week (the airfare is the main fluctuating factor). We will take kids 14 and up, but it’s a great trip for families, too – Last year it was 3 families and me. 🙂  For the Mastic Point trip, the max we can accommodate is 10. I’m still waiting on some info for accommodation in Nicholls Town. (NOTE: You do need a passport to travel to the Bahamas.)



I don’t usually take groups to Uganda (we did a basketball camp in 2011 that was great, though!), but I’ve had several people express interest this year. If we get at least 6, I’ll take a group in September. It would be a minimum of 11 days (it’s 4 days of travel), and we’ll work with women and children in the slums of Kampala, and go to the Arise Africa Babies Home in Bukaleba. We can also spend time with hospice in Jinja and/or Tororo is that’s of interest. And we’ll go on a 1 night (2 game drives) safari at Lake Mburo. The cost will be around $3000 a person – I’ll get more precise if we do end up with enough people. Minimum age is 16 without a parent, 14 with.

(NOTE: You will need typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations to travel to Uganda, and will take malaria meds while there, which isn’t included in the cost quoted above. You’ll also need a visa, which is $50, and a passport if you don’t have one, also not included in the cost above.)



We are trying to start a very short term, monthly program in Andros to work with the elderly. The elderly in Andros is a hugely underserved population and in desperate need. We were hoping to start in january, but the accommodation fell through (twice) and we’re still working on a plan B. Participants would fly to Andros, spend 3 days working with 3 groups of 15 elderly per day, then leave the following day. The cost (depending on airfare) would be around $750-800. We only need 2-4 people per month.

If you’re interested in a trip, use the comments or the Contact section at our website  – and feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who might be.

If you’re interesting in hosting a fundraiser, let me know! We are in fairly desperate need for 2014, after our largest donor was unable to contribute for 2014 due to the economy.

the whole camp balls up

Talking About Hospice

"Dry gangrene" causes body part to dry up and break off. Most of the top of this grandmother's foot is gone. Unlike "wet" gangrene, it doesn't get in the blood, but without amputation it will spread

“Dry gangrene” causes body part to dry up and break off. Most of the top of this grandmother’s foot is gone. Unlike “wet” gangrene, it doesn’t get in the blood, but without amputation it will spread

One of my favorite groups of people in the world are the staff at Hospice Jinja and Hospice Tororo. Hospice anywhere is a tough gig — my mom always says anybody can do it, but I beg to disagree. Dealing with the dying, comforting them, encouraging their families… It’s very challenging. But the people who do it are truly some amazing folks.

Tonight I’m the keynote speaker at the annual fundraiser for Sovereign Wings of Hope in Houston, Texas. I came last year, too, and gave a short presentation on why I go to Uganda. I’m really honored that they asked me back as the keynote this year! (And I am apparently also getting the Pioneer Award!) If there is one thing I can – and love to – talk about, for hours on end, it’s Uganda and her people.

This is an excerpt from my speech tonight, and it’s a point I try to make whenever I talk to people about Ten Eighteen Uganda, and now Andros. It goes along with my motto that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. I hope you’ll let it sink in, and then let the Lord lead you in making a one-time or monthly donation.

start where you are

I want to tell you what your money will do in Uganda, so you realize that you really can help.

  • Right now, a grande latte at Starbucks is about $5.  In shillings at today’s exchange rate, that’s about 12,650 shillings. For 12,650 shillings, you can feed a family for two weeks.
  • Papa John’s has had a special going this week, “your choice” for $11. That’s 27,830 shillings. In Namuwongo, which is the slums of Kampala, you can rent a home for 30,000 shillings a month.
  • The new Hobbit extended edition DVD in BluRay is $29.95. That’s 75,900 shillings. The nurses at Hospice Jinja are paid 60,000 shillings a month. (And, by the way, the staff at Hospice Tororo, which just celebrated its one year anniversary, is still all volunteer.)
  • If you take your family, let’s say four people, to see the new kids movie Free Birds (which suggests you eat pizza instead of turkey for Thanksgiving!), it’ll cost you $30.50 for the tickets. You’ll spend at least $20 on concessions (and you won’t get much for that!). That’s 127,765 shillings, which would pay for about 30 boda trips for the nurses of Hospice Tororo to visit patients.

I am not saying that any of these things are wrong! I chose the expenses I did because they are things my family, even on a fairly tight budget, does on a regular basis. You may think that $5 a week, or $30 a month, or whatever amount you could spare isn’t enough to make any difference. All I’m trying to show you is that, in Uganda, it can be the difference – LITERALLY – between life and death. A bottle of clean water is 32 cents! 32 cents!

James 2:15-16 says:  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 goodis that?

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ story of the Final Judgement in Matthew 25:

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

A friend of mine told me a long time ago that his reading of this passage gave him to believe that what we are going to answer for when we stand before God at the end of our lives is WHAT DID WE DO WITH THE OPPORTUNITIES HE GAVE US?

Sometimes, those are big opportunities, like adopting a child, or saving someone from a fire. Sometimes they’re small ones, like heeding His voice when he asks you to talk to the cashier at the gas station or to pay the difference for the guy in front of you who doesn’t quite have enough for his groceries.

It’s easier to see those opportunities when they come, although it’s not always easy to do what we should.

What I hope you’ll see here tonight is an opportunity. There is an unattributed quote that I use a lot myself: No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

africa hope

Andros – the Research Day

You have probably guessed by now that we didn’t have internet in Andros. Well, technically we did… It didn’t work at all for 4 days, then worked sporadically and slowly after that. I was never able to open my WordPress blogs, though, even when it was working. So now, instead of one hugely long post, I’m going to split it into parts. We’ll have my research day, when I spoke to the doctor at the Nicholls Town clinic and the director of social services. Then I’ll do the team’s arrival, church, and our “tourist” day. I may break the camp up into more than one post – I’ll see how that goes as I write and add pictures. And finally, the last afternoon of decompressing, traveling home, and thoughts. I hope you’ll join me for all the posts (I’ll schedule one a day, so it’s not too overwhelming!). It was a GREAT trip!



I spent the morning in Nassau, waiting to see if the attorney was going to be able to fit me in her schedule. She wasn’t able to, but I did have a good conversation with her assistant, and have a much clearer picture of what we need to get Ten Eighteen registered in the Bahamas. I need to get on that stuff (financial letter of reference, personal letter of reference and criminal background checks for each of the board, plus a summary of Ten Eighteen’s activities to date, and a proposal of what we’ll do in the Bahamas) before I leave for Uganda on September 12 (which is really close!).


I had conch fritters at the hotel, looking out at the beach, then headed to the charter part of the airport. I got there at about 1:15, and finally got on a charter at 4:00! I was the first of the afternoon to want to go to Andros, and I had to wait until 4 other people came with the same destination. Once we were going, of course, it was only a fifteen minute flight. We flew around a rain storm, which was just amazing to see, but I was on the wrong side of the plane to take pictures.

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Pastor Barr picked me up and stopped by his house, where Mother Barr gave me a delicious dinner of pork chop and rice. We went to the market and then Mrs. Beneby’s from there, and she was so happy to see me. (That’s always nice!) I had a quiet evening – I enjoyed my couple of quiet, alone days, knowing the team would be coming and the camp starting and there would be no such thing as quiet!

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Friday was lovely in the am, but rained most of the day. I spoke at length with Dr. Sharma, of the Nicholls Town Clinic, about hospice and the elderly. He sent me to see Gabrielle Romer, the director of Social Services for North Andros. All of us agreed that the elderly are in desperate need of help and socialization, and Gabrielle and I came up with a basic plan for an elderly day care, which I’m hoping to implement at the beginning of 2014 (with help from US volunteers, so more about that at a later date – but if you’re interested in volunteering for a 5 day trip to work with the elderly, let me know!). She’s out of the office through September, and I don’t get back from Uganda til early October, so that worked out great. The rest of the day was spent reading, listening to the rain, and enjoying the last day before all the action started.



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As you drive around, and certainly once you begin talking to people, you realize the huge need in Andros. I have a lot of things on the back burner, but, as always, am trying to do “the next thing,” meaning the thing that God wants done next. For Ten Eighteen, that’s going to be trying to implement the elderly program. The hospice is still out there, but because of the centralized medical system (which is pretty dysfunctional), it’s going to take a long process of dealing with officials and ministries to get that going. I’m really excited about this next phase, and have already had some people express interest. The good news is that this program, as I’ve envisioned it, won’t cost very much to Ten Eighteen, and the cost to the volunteers will be fairly minimal as well (air fare, food, and lodging, and we’re working on a cheaper lodging solution). I’d love your prayers as I work on logistics!

See tomorrow’s post for the events of the weekend, including the saga of the missed flight, and swimming in Uncle Charlie’s blue hole, plus searching for pirate treasure.

Making lots of progress!

Now that the Youth Camp is firmly in the hands of my program director, I turned my sites to the Uganda trip. I began to panic a little bit, because Zeke leaves on August 21, and that is really not that far away! I’ve made an appointment with the travel nurse for both of us to get our typhoid updated (every 2 years…yay) and get our malaria prescriptions. That’s going to cost a pretty penny for Zeke’s long trip, but it can’t be helped. We’ve seen many people with malaria… No, thank you. (And don’t say, “They can treat it right away!” because I don’t even want 1 day of it!)

school christine 2 copy

I’ve made a tentative schedule, pending approval from our Ugandan partners, and arranged the transportation with Emmanuel Gabula, transport specialist extraordinaire. Here’s the tentative:

Zeke will go to Ray of Hope to work with the Haven boys on 3 Saturdays. This is going to be great, as the first Saturday will be the first one they’re out of school for the term, and the other two will be during the break, when they don’t have much to do.

Haven boys getting ready to dance for us

Haven boys getting ready to dance for us

I’m going on a quick day trip to Jinja on the day after I arrive for a friend’s wedding. No work that day (I may not even remember it, thanks to jet lag!).

Rinty and me, February, 2013

Rinty and me, February, 2013

September 16, 17, 19, and 20, I’ll be at Ray of Hope, going into the Namuwongo community, visiting our ladies, seeing the kids, and making the usual rounds. Hopefully it won’t be as hot as it was in February! Or raining. Rain plus slums isn’t a pretty picture.


September 22 we’re going to head to Jinja. We’ll hopefully spend a night in Bukaleba at the Arise Africa babies home, and we’ll visit with hospice. I don’t have the time to go out in the field with them this trip, but we’ll spend half a day at the morning meeting and in the office. I was hoping to get to Tororo, but I don’t think we can this time – the trip is just too short.


Friday, September 27, I’ll be back at Ray of Hope for a planning meeting. We try to look at the budget, evaluate the programs and see if we need to tweak anything, brainstorm some new craft ideas for the ladies (I actually have a great idea this time, so I’m excited to share it!).


Saturday, September 28 is the Project Friendship party, always the highlight of the trip. Nesco will be catering it, of course, and we might use holi powder (what they use in the color run) with the kids. We’re going to do it in Andros next month, so I’ll see how that goes before deciding for sure. But it’ll be a party, at any rate, with friendship bracelets and tee shirts and food and dancing and speeches. I’m just super, super excited about it — it’s so great to see all our ROH friends (all 125 or so of them!) in one place before we leave.

Thank God for the tent!

Thank God for the tent!



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delicious lunch!

delicious lunch!












October 1 we leave! See how fast that is?? So barring any needed changes by Ray of Hope, Arise Africa or Hospice Jinja, that’s the itinerary. I know it’ll be here before I know it — the Andros trip is so soon!! Please pray for us, for safe travels but most especially that we would accomplish everything that God has set for us to do!

OHHHH – and HOPEFULLY (praying, fingers and toes crossed), the Luganda Bibles will be ready before Zeke goes, and he can take a box, and then I can take 2 more!


What does “short term missions” mean to Ten Eighteen?

Basketball camp staff 2011

I guess because summer is upon us and a lot of people are going on short term missions trips, there have been a lot of articles and blogs around the web on what short terms missions are for. I wrote this article about a blog post that I strongly disagree with, and posted this link on the Ten Eighteen Facebook page to one I strong agree with. Ten Eighteen is about to take it’s second group for a short term missions trip, so I thought I’d give an explanation of our mission and vision for those who might not have heard me talk about it.

me with a gang

Ten Eighteen is not an organization that specializes in short term missions trips.  We did one team trip in August of 2011 to do a basketball camp in Nsambya for 44 kids from Ray of Hope. To date, that’s our only team trip.

Why? From our founding, Ten Eighteen has been about relationships. We never intended to have a “one and done” type of a ministry. We have returned to Uganda 6 times since the original visit (or, more accurately 8, since my daughter went twice by herself). On each trip, we stick with our mission, which is to continue to build relationships with the people we have met and work with there. We do not promote an atmosphere of hand-outs, which is very easily done when you are going on a one-time, short term trip. It feels good to give kids stuff, to see them smile… But in most cases, that does more harm than good. It fosters an entitlement/welfare mentality, rather than one where self-reliance is the goal.

Agnes, May 2012

Agnes, May 2012

So why not big teams? I have been able to go 7 times. I have been able to get to know the ladies of Nawezakana, the kids of Ray of Hope and Nesco, the children at the babies home, the staff of hospice. We email, we Facebook, we even Tweet. My daughter has received a dozen or more wonderful, loving, heartfelt messages of congratulations on her upcoming marriage from her Ugandan friends. Taking teams takes time. Group mentalities are what they are – when you are with a group of people you know, you naturally talk to those people. You move as a big blob through the environment, making it difficult for people to break in and talk to you.  That doesn’t help our goal of relationship.


Well then, why do teams at all? First and foremost, because on both occasions, God has been very clear about doing it. The basketball camp was God’s idea, and the camp went great. We had a dozen Ugandan volunteers along with our six, and the kids had a blast. This youth camp is the same. When we were in Andros over Easter, God gave me a very clear vision of this camp. One way to know an idea is from God is if it’s something that isn’t at all in your wheelhouse. These camps aren’t. I’m an introvert that doesn’t love large groups. I find being responsible for groups stressful. I enjoy one-on-one interaction. But I am ridiculously excited about this team and this camp, and that’s how I know it’s a God thing.


Shouldn’t you do one every year, if they go so well? The typical “church” answer would be, “Of course!” We tend to try to institutionalize anything that is successful once. We were asked when we were doing another basketball camp, and my answer was (and remains), “When God tells me to do it.” He hasn’t yet. The same will be true of this youth camp in Andros in August. No matter how well it goes, unless God tells me to, I will not start planning “Youth Camp 2014” as soon as we get home. There are times and seasons for everything. Success doesn’t mean you must duplicate. Obedience is what God’s after. Those are the principles on which we operate.


So what’s in it for me? Well… maybe nothing except a new stamp in your passport. You might get sick. You might be hot and miserable. You might find a bunch of kids annoying. You might hate the food. You might hate being with a group of people for a week. You might not cope well with a lack of power, water, or internet. If you’re going because there’s something in it for you, PLEASE reconsider spending your money (or other people’s donations). If God calls you to a missions trip, it’s for the people you’ll be serving. Your lack of ability to cope, eat, sleep, or be content and happy will be more than made up for by God’s… If you let it. Take one week (or however long your trip is), put yourself aside, and serve others to the best of your ability. Hug, laugh, talk, and show His love. Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you’re grumpy. Give to whoever He called you to what He has given to you – uncompromising, unequivocal, unconditional love.


My family and I go to Uganda, and now Andros, as an ongoing calling. We don’t consider what we do “short term missions” even though we’re there between 2-4 weeks at a time. We are visiting friends. We are showing God’s love in the ways that He opens up for us. Maybe thinking about your short term trip in this same way will help you keep your focus on what’s ultimately important: HIM.

JW at babies home copy

Hospice in the Bahamas

Andros' coral reef

Andros’ coral reef

To those of us in the States and Europe, hospice and palliative care are things we take for granted. If someone has a terminal friend or relative, it is a natural question to ask, “Have they signed up for hospice?” We have come to understand the value of hospice care, of dying at home, of help for caretakers, and the like. In other words, we completely take it for granted.

In Uganda, there are six hospices in the entire country. I work with two of them. Hospice Jinja, with a dozen staff and two vehicles, is supposed to service a population of 8.5 million. Hospice Tororo, newly begun in the Tororo Hospital, is near the Kenyan border. Their supposed reach is probably in the neighborhood of 4-5 million, if I had to guess. Their first vehicle has just arrived (it hasn’t gotten it’s paperwork yet, though), so they’ve been visiting patients by boda or at the hospital.

In one of my first conversations about Andros, before I had visited this Easter (I’d been once, for something totally different, for 1 day 4 years ago), I found out that there is nothing for the elderly on Andros. So naturally, after working with hospice in Uganda for over three years, that was the first thing I thought of. Once we returned, I started doing some research. I thought that, surely, there would be a hospice in Nassau I could talk to. And maybe in Freeport, too. But the internet didn’t find anything except a newspaper article about an in-patient hospice opening in Freeport late last year. However, the Cancer Society of the Bahamas was involved with that, so I decided to call them.

The secretary/treasurer of the Cancer Society called me back, and we had a nice long chat. What I learned right off the bat is that there IS no hospice in the Bahamas. At all. The four room facility in Freeport is technically hospice, but it’s expensive to run and all there is. There is no outreach, no visiting, no training, no care. My contact said that the culture is somewhat resistant, but then, so has been Ugandan culture until they learn what hospice does and how it benefits them.

I have been in touch with Dr. Frank and Dr. Patricia, the retired Irish couple who go to Uganda twice a year for a month at a time to volunteer. They’ve given me a long list of things we’ll need to do to get hospice off the ground in the Bahamas. We will have some challenges… well, a lot of challenges, but some that they don’t have. For one thing, in Uganda, nurses are allowed to prescribe morphine and other drugs, so that a doctor doesn’t always have to accompany the team in the field. This is good because there is no staff doctor, only volunteers that come. They carry a portable pharmacy (otherwise known as a suitcase) and are able to dispense meds right away when they see a patient. This is an obstacle for us, as I’m sure nurses aren’t allowed to do that. We’ll need a doctor, physicians assistant, or nurse practicioner, which is expensive and complicated. (I’m hoping we can get volunteers from Florida on a regular basis, since it’s so cheap and fast to get to Andros from there…)

We’ll have to work with the government, which is always delightful (*cough*), and will no doubt be doubly so on an island where the government seems to be too involved in life.

We’ll need community volunteers and community training about what hospice/palliative care is, how it helps, and why they need it.

Finally, I believe we’ll need a vision that isn’t limited to Andros. There are only 8,000 people on Andros. But there’s also no hospice in Nassau/New Providence, where there are over 250,000 people. None in Freeport with 50,000 people. None in the Abacos or other family islands that make up the rest of the Bahamas. Eleuthra. Exuma. Inagua. 700 islands. No hospice.

It’s a big task. It’s too big to think of as a whole, really. But I firmly believe that it is something that God has called me to, and so He will give us the ability and the funds and the favor to accomplish it. Who am I? Nobody. But the God I serve is big enough!