Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kansas City, Missouri

Hello dear friends! 

Here we are in Missouri for several days. The kids are taking a nap, so I'm taking this time to blog and say hi to y'all. The kids sang at the E-Women conference this weekend, which meant we woke up at 5am to be at sound check shortly after 6am. Remember the Christian singing group, Avalon? I used to be a big fan about a decade ago ;) Anyway, the members of Avalon were at the conference and ate dinner at the table right next to us last night. I thought they looked familiar, but I had no idea it was them until later. The neat thing is: one of our boys, Martin (Uganda), gives his testimony at each concert. He quotes a song about "There are no orphans, there are no outcasts with God." It's actually an Avalon song, and he was able to meet them last night. Avalon sang the song just for him later on during their concert (we didn't get to hear it, unfortunately.)

There is so much to update y'all on but so little time! There is very little time to use the internet, though I do hop online via my ipod touch occasionally so I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. 

I am adjusting to the huge change in my life, though I miss my friends and family (obviously). But what a blessing to be part of these kids' lives. Hopefully sometime soon I can write a short synopsis of each kid so you can "get to know them." 

In the past few days, I've been to TN, IL, and now MO. I had my first host family experience in IL. I stayed with a sweet, older couple and got to ride in a red, open-air jeep. whee. Almost every night will be spent in a host family during the tour; however, occasionally we're in hotels (when we sing at conferences.) 

It's been fun learning random Nepali and Lugandan words. I've been teaching them that when I call then "pumpkin," it's a term of affection. One of the Nepali girls, Neha, was apalled when I called her pumpkin. She said, "No! I am not pumpkin!! Pumpkins are round and fat. I am not. I am not circle." haha Some of the Ugandan girls love when I call them pumpkin, and they respond with "we love you, Antie Pumpkin." (The kids call us "Antie Ashley" or "Uncle ____" It's an adjustment, since I was "Miss Ashley" all summer with my daycamp kids. I like it though.) 

Please pray for all of us: for strength and endurance. Road life is not easy; I don't know how Jay and Taylor do it. Their energy is amazing. Also pray that the kids will do their best at every concert, remembering they are changing lives in their home countries every time someone here decides to sponsor a child. And pray that God prepares the hearts of everyone who comes to hear the kids. 

We're in MO for a few days until Wed, when we head to Kansas followed by Oklahoma shortly after that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

1st stop: Tennessee

Yesterday I began this journey by meeting the team in Tennessee.
I'll briefly tell you about the adults on the team, since I will be mentioning them I'm sure!

-Taylor and Jay are the team leaders, and they're married and in their mid twenties.
-Prava (19) and I are the chaperones for the team. She's from Nepal and is such a sweetheart.
-Alan (22) and Kory (22) are the tech guys. They run sound and help set up and tear down the stage.

We had a concert tonight, and we have two at the same church tomorrow morning. After that, we'll drive to Knoxville, Tennessee and do another show in the evening. We're spending the night with all the kids at a hotel tomorrow night, so that should be fun. Most of our kids are from Uganda, but three are from Nepal. They are all precious and have showered me already with hugs and kisses on the cheek.

During the concert tonight, I just kept thinking about how I used to love when Children of the World came to Liberty (while I was a student there.) I never would have imagined I'd have the opportunity to tour with them! I love singing along with them while they sing and dance, since I know the songs (I bought the CD last year :)

I think one of my favorite things ever is seeing kids from other countries praise the Lord with smiles on their faces.

Nkwagala! ["I love you" in Luganda, the language our Ugandan children speak.]

The next chapter of life begins....

One of my fears is uncertainty. It is a constant battle to trust the Lord’s plans and that He will work everything out. This summer, I struggled every day with my future...I had no idea what I was supposed to do next. Last week, it became clear.

I’ll make a long story short: This past Monday, I found out that World Help hired me to travel with the Children of the World tour for the next 9 months!! I’m a chaperone to these precious kids, and I am so excited about this opportunity. I was placed on the “Central Team,” so we’ll cover states such as TN, MO, AL, OK, and TX (most of October will be spent traveling Texas!)

On Friday, four days later, I had to pack up my life and leave Virginia. Until June 2009, my life is spent on the road...sleeping each night in a host family’s home or sometimes in a hotel.

If you’re interested, check out some videos of the Children of the World choir here:

What’s the point of this “Children of Hope Tour?” you may ask. We are raising awareness of World Help, and we encourage people to sponsor a child. We travel to different churches and the kids put on concerts where they use their vibrant personalities to sing and dance. The money raised through this tour goes toward a current project: to build “Villages of Hope” in sub-saharan Africa–to help give shelter to AIDS orphans.

I would very much appreciate your prayers. This adventure will not be easy; I can tell it will be challenging and stretching. I miss some of you so badly that it hurts; it's painful suddenly leaving everyone I love. But I'm excited for this, and I want God to change me. I am so blessed to spend my days with thirteen amazing kids from Uganda and Nepal. Their lives are a reminder that no matter what you go through in life, there is hope found in Christ. Hence, they are Children of Hope.