Like the beginning of most New Years, we start the month with renewed hope, goals and resolutions.  One of my resolutions for 2019 is to write a monthly blog.  My goal is to keep Pipeline’s supporters updated on projects and progress, but I also found that reading my journal entries from my Africa trips are actually sentimental and heartwarming for me.  It puts a little fuel in my fire and reminds me WHY I have chosen such a daunting yet rewarding passion filled with expectations and responsibilities.

It takes time but is easy to talk about our 2018 projects: 33 cows donated to foster reconciliation and address poverty for Rwandan Genocide survivors and perpetrators, shipped two 40’ shipping containers filled with medical supplies and equipment (valued at $1,000,000) to support 2 hospitals and 7 clinics; the conversion of those containers into a bunkhouse and storage facility; and the donation of a van to Moyo Babies Home (a home that provides love and care to orphaned and vulnerable children in northern Uganda).  This made for such an incredible year along with all the new travelers, board members, volunteers and new collaborative partnerships.  I should also be sending a pile of thank you letters!

Yet when I go back and read my journal entries, I find that my WHY is really the people.  Each of our projects are tied to friends.  Those friends are serving people, each with their own story.  I GET to meet some of them, and am privileged that they choose to share their struggle and pain with me.  This past summer I had one of my many aha moments.  Our team helped purchase mattresses, sheets, bedding, and mosquito nets for the bunkhouse container that was donated to my friend, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe’s organization, Sewing Hope Foundation. After unpacking the van and bringing all the gifts to the “Living Room” at St. Monica’s, I noticed that Sister Rosemary began to cry and was speechless.  This was quite the surprise because I’ve been working with Sister Rosemary for several years now.  Sometimes I still can’t believe that Sister Rosemary is my good friend because she’s a big deal!  She was named by TIME “Top 100 Most Influential People” and is a CNN Hero recipient.  She’s a speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. and has the best interview on the Stephen Colbert Show… I could go on and on.  What I’m trying to say is that she’s really famous and has transformed thousands of lives in northern Uganda.  I didn’t know she cried, and I especially didn’t think she’d ever cry in front of a group of strangers.

I sat down next to Sister Rosemary and gave her a big hug.  I asked her what was wrong.  She responded, “You are so practical and always know what I need.” This really shocked me, and I wasn’t really sure how to respond.  I just replied with, “We are in this together, and it’s good to know you are human.  I was beginning to wonder.”  This brought a big chuckle from her and the rest of the group, but it was true.  I didn’t think that someone who has achieved so much had any of the same fears and stress that I often felt.  I realized that she too can only do so much and needs people, all types of people.  People who take small steps to solve small, practical problems.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all there is to do and how it can all get done.  It can be paralyzing.  Sister Rosemary reminded me that small, simple things make a difference and often lead to big impact.  I’m grateful that Sister Rosemary was vulnerable in front of me and a group of strangers.  I too am human and am afraid at times, lack confidence and resources, and sometimes just plain tired. When I think and read about Sister Rosemary and my other friends across the sea, I feel renewed with strength and courage about taking a step forward because I know I won’t be doing it alone.

Best wishes for taking small steps to making a difference this New Year!