Uganda Worship Him

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

72. 72 voices lifted up in praise and worship. 72 students learning about the Gospel. 72 students going forth and living out the truth they have learned.

As I listened to the students leading worship on Thursday night, I stood in awe. I soaked in every moment that I could, as these beautiful souls sang at the tops of their lungs to their Creator. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to be immersed as the 72 Ugandan students at The Amazima School worshiped our Lord in a language I have yet to learn. As I did so, all I could think was, “This. This is what Heaven will be like.” Only times, like, a million.

As I get to know these students, I am blown away by how much they have learned and understand about the Gospel in the 8 months that they have been attending The Amazima School. I was floored by some of the deep responses the girls were giving to the questions we were asking in the small group I help lead. They are comprehending beyond just a surface-level understanding of the Good News.

Please pray with me that these students would continue to grow in their knowledge of and love for the Lord and that they would go forth and proclaim the Gospel!

In Love,
Claire

Props to my roommate, Kirstin, for getting this second video!

Falling into Place

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 (ESV)

As I write this, I have completed day 2 of teaching after a three week break. Having jumped right into teaching not long after getting off the plane, it was wonderful having a few weeks to settle into Jinja, explore some areas around Uganda, learn about other ministries in the area, fellowship, and rest.

During the second week of break, I went on a mini-vacation to Sipi Falls with a group of Amazima staff members. Sipi Falls is about a four hour drive from Jinja, and is unbelievably beautiful. We went on several hikes, enjoyed the view from the lodge whilst sipping African tea, held a chameleon, went on a coffee tour that took us through the entire coffee-making process (including drinking the best coffee I have ever tasted), watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen, and played tons of board/card games. It was such an incredible time of rest and relaxation and allowed me to get to know some of my Amazima family a little bit better. I spent most of each day marveling at God’s creation. It still blows my mind that there are so many people who wake up to these views everyday and know no different. How amazing is it that God gave us the ability to appreciate the beauty of His creation? I have literally hundreds of pictures from the trip, so it was hard for me to choose just a few to share, but here they are:

Since Sipi Falls, my roommates and I have made some headway in making our apartment feel more “homey.” We chose paint colors and hired someone to paint the inside of our apartment. The tranquil gray and turquoise we chose for our living room turned out to be more of a lilac-and-turquoise combination when mixed, but I think the color scheme is beginning to grow on us. That or we just don’t want to go through the hassle of repainting.

Kirstin (one of my roommates) and I also experienced a first together when we got our car stuck in the mud on Sunday! Some fresh but unpacked dirt on the road combined with a downpour that had just finished and a truck coming the opposite direction caused us to skid into the banks of the road where we promptly discovered we could not get out on our own. Fortunately, we were close to the school, where we had friends who happily bailed us out.

While I am so grateful that God gives His children the gift of rest, I have to say that I am ecstatic to be back at work. The campus seemed so empty with all of the Ugandan students at home, I missed the routine that I have when I’m working, I missed my students, and I missed teaching!

Join me in praying for Amazima as the students transition into their third term. Amazima is also hiring for several positions! Pray for well-qualified applicants who are eager to serve God in Uganda as well as our leaders who are going through the interest forms, applications, and interview process. Check out the openings here, and share if you know anyone who may be interested!

Love always,

Claire

Sole Hope

“But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Psalm 147:11 (ESV)

God has given me the gift of adaptability. I generally adjust to new environments and new cultures quickly and easily. I miss my family and friends but don’t feel homesick. I am so grateful that He made me this way.

That being said, there are times when I am going about my day-to-day business that it hits me like a freight train: I am in Africa. Sometimes it happens when I am crossing the Nile River on my way to work. Other times it’s when I’m hanging my laundry on the line. Or when I’m killing a spider whose body (not including legs) is the size of a quarter. Yesterday, it was while I was watching precious children get jiggers removed from their feet.

Currently, I am one week into a three-week break at school. My roommates and I are using some of that time to volunteer with other ministries in the area. We had the privilege of going with an organization called Sole Hope to a community about an hour’s drive from Jinja. Sole Hope is an incredible organization whose main purpose is to remove jiggers from the feet of the people they serve and educate the same people on jigger prevention.

Before I get into our experience yesterday, let me share a little bit about jiggers. Jiggers are not the same thing as chiggers. Jiggers are itty bitty tiny fleas that don’t cause any real harm until the females are ready to lay their eggs. When that happens, they look for the nearest warm-blooded animal and burrow into their skin, attach to their blood vessels, and lay their egg sacs. In each egg sac, there are roughly 600 eggs. So while one or two jiggers might not be a huge issue, it can quickly become one. However, prevention is fairly simple. Wearing shoes is a huge deterrent. Also, the fleas are so small that it takes 24 hours for them to burrow into a person’s skin, so if you are scrubbing your feet every day, that helps a lot. Unfortunately, in the places where jiggers are the biggest issue, there is a lack of resources such as shoes and water.

We met at Sole Hope at 9:00 yesterday morning. After waiting for other volunteers to arrive, learning about what we would be doing, and loading into the vans, we left at around 9:45, arriving at our location at about 11:15. While Sole Hope staff members were setting up the stations, we played games with the kids. Generally, Sole Hope goes to schools, but since school is not in session right now, jigger removal was open to the community. However, since Uganda is such a young country (over 50% of the population is under 15 years of age), there was a significantly larger number of children than adults present.

Once the stations were set up, the community members would go through a registration process, where they would fill out a paper with some demographic information. From there, they would get their feet washed by Sole Hope volunteers. After the feet washing, they would go to jigger removal. Jigger removal is completed by trained Sole Hope staff members. They use a razor blade to scrape the skin around the jigger site and then use a safety pin to remove the jiggers. Sitting behind the staff members were more Sole Hope volunteers, mapping the jigger sites on the registration paper, which also has an image of the bottom of a person’s feet. While each person was going through the jigger removal process, they were given a lollipop to enjoy (both children and adults alike!). After they were finished getting any jiggers they had removed, they would go to a station that would fit them for shoes. Lastly, they were educated about what jiggers are (it is common for villagers believe jiggers are a curse) and how they can be prevented.

I was one of the volunteers mapping out jigger sites. Whenever a jigger was removed, I put a dot on the paper in the area of the foot that corresponded to where the jigger had been. I also drew where jiggers had previously been removed and any areas where a person’s foot had rot or gangrene. There were multiple people who came through my station that did not have any jiggers; I celebrated silently whenever that happened! There were others who came in with only one or two jiggers or a wound that needed to be cleaned and bandaged. The last young man who came through my station had over twenty jiggers. He was only a child, but he sat through the painful process of removing jiggers without making a sound. I simply watched as the Sole Hope staff member I was partnered with removed the jiggers and took care of bandaging his wounds. I would occasionally offer a smile or words of encouragement, but they were met with a blank stare.

As I watched the line for Sole Hope get bigger (never smaller), it hit me again. I am in Africa. I am in a place so rich in beauty yet there is such extreme poverty all around. I silently prayed, thanking God that for some reason, I was spared the hardships that these sweet children face every single day.

The name “Sole Hope” is one that I have been pondering over. Ever appreciative of wordplay, I enjoy the cleverness of the organization’s founders. It could be so easy to lose hope when you see so many extreme situations of poverty in one area. But God.

But God has a plan for the people of Uganda. But God loves them so much more than I ever could. But God is full of miracles – who am I to limit Him?

In such desperate circumstances, there is still so much hope. I have seen people here who are some of the poorest people I know in regards to physical resources, who are simultaneously the richest in regards to their relationship with Our Father. While I pray for God’s provision over their physical needs, I also pray that God would create in me a spirit that is as dependent on Him as they are. They have so much hope in the One who loves them. May He be our sole hope as well.

Uganda Connect with Me!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

Hi, friends!

A lot of folks have been wondering how to stay in contact with me, so I thought I would just post on here! I feel so fortunate to have so many people who want to stay in touch – please do!!

If you have my US cell phone number – you can go ahead and delete it. I’m no longer on a US plan!

Option #1 – If you are friends with me on Facebook, Facebook Messenger allows for more than just sending messages (although that’s good too)! You can also make phone calls and video chat using wifi (if you’re connected) or data (if you don’t have access to wifi). This is probably the easiest route as you don’t need my Ugandan phone number.

Option #2 – Not a Facebooker or not connected with me personally? No worries! You can contact me on here (click the “Contact” tab), and I will give you other options!

Option #3 – My roommates and I LOVE getting mail! Okay, I haven’t been here that long, so I haven’t actually received mail yet, but I love the idea! Not sure what to send? We’re currently in need of duct tape, it’s really hard to find candy here (I was never a huge candy eater in the States, but it’s surprising what you miss), and we all love reading books but weren’t able to bring many because of weight limitations. If you’ve read a good book recently and want to send a copy, we’d love it! Include a note telling me whether you’d like me to send it back when we’re done or if it’s ours to keep. Just an FYI – it takes around three weeks for mail to arrive, so keep that in mind if you decide to send something. A simple letter is always greatly appreciated! You can send a letter using three Forever stamps or one International stamp. Mail can be sent to:

Claire Amico
PO Box 775
Jinja, Uganda
East Africa

Thank you so much for your desire to keep in touch! So grateful for the advances in technology that allow for me to stay connected, even from Africa!

God Bless!

But God

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV)

I have been in Uganda five days now. As a math teacher, I tend to think in numbers. In five days, I have experienced:

  • 2 days of teaching,
  • 3 boda rides,
  • 12-15 mosquito bites,
  • 2 new (and wonderful) roommates,
  • 11 new students,
  • 5 amazingly beautiful sunsets,
  • 1 stunning campus,
  • 1 new car,
  • 5 math classes,
  • 1 Biology class,
  • 5 new curriculum (Did you know curriculum was a plural word? I didn’t.),
  • 324 goats (approximately),
  • 45 cows (or so),
  • and 34885 potholes. That’s an exact count.

I drive over the Nile River every day on my way to school. When I walk down to my classroom, the bright green foliage against the red dirt is the most breath-taking vision I could ask for. I legitimately enjoy teaching every single student that I have. I am used to teaching 7th grade and never thought I would want to teach above 8th, but after two days of teaching, I already could not imagine what it would be like if I did not teach my high school students. They blow me away every day with their humor, eagerness to learn new things, and general zest for life.

I feel so incredibly lucky that God chose me.

God chose me to come to Uganda and teach these spectacular individuals. God chose me to be placed in this beautiful country. God chose me to have the privilege of living near some loving Ugandan women who have welcomed my roommates and me into their neighborhood with open arms.

I don’t deserve to be so richly blessed.

But God.

But God doesn’t give us what we deserve. But God loves us and has a plan for those who love Him that is better than anything we could ever imagine. But God loves the people of Uganda and has a plan for this crazy beautiful country that He created.

But. God.

I am so beyond grateful that He brought me to Jinja! I cannot wait to see what He has in store for the next two years.

Love always,

Claire

P.S. – I am still working on raising support! I am getting super close and would love for YOU to help push me over the edge of being fully supported! To do so, go here. Thanks!

The Countdown Begins!

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26

You. All. Let me tell you something. My God is so incredibly good. He is so incredibly faithful. Here’s the thing. Less than a week ago, I had just a little less than half the support I needed for the mission He has called me to in Jinja, Uganda. I had no doubt that He could and would provide the money I need to get there and was praying about how that would come to fruition.

Here’s how He has continued to increase my trust in Him. In the past week, my support has gone from just under 50% to just under 75%!!! SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT, Y’ALL!!! God is sooo good!

In exactly ONE WEEK I will be on a plane to Qatar, where I will transfer to a flight headed for Uganda. I cannot believe how close it is.

So. Here’s how you can help:

1. Please consider and pray about supporting me financially. I am humbled by how many people have already made this commitment. It has been incredible to see God’s provision through the many people He has placed in my life. I am SO CLOSE to full funding and would love it if you would accompany me on this journey and help push me over the edge. Don’t assume that someone else will step up 😉 A common question I get is whether one-time gifts or monthly support is more helpful. Monthly support is the biggest need right now – whatever you are able to give is so extremely helpful. Why monthly? Knowing that I have friends back in the states who support the work I am doing on a regular basis is essential. If you are not able to support monthly, I would love if you would pray about and consider a one-time donation. You can give monthly, quarterly, annually, or one-time at https://rceinternational.webconnex.com/53913

2. Share my need. Whether it’s publicly on Facebook or privately through people you know who might be interested, getting the word out is essential, and you could be a key component to reaching 100% funding!

3. Most importantly, please keep me in your prayers! I have a lot of loose ends to tie up in very little time! I would also appreciate prayers for raising the last of my support and for safe travels to Uganda.

If you have questions, PLEASE email me at camico@amazima.org. I love talking about the work to which God has called me.

I love you all, and I am so excited to share in this adventure with you!

Jinja Know God Provides?

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. I have been trying to raise support while simultaneously beginning to pack for Uganda, clean out my room at my parents’ house, attend several weddings, and prepare for (and go on) vacation with my parents. All good things, but it has been yet another reminder of my utter dependence on God. However, in His loving mercy, God has continued to show me time and time again that going to Jinja, Uganda is His plan for me. Whenever I question, He answers; whenever I doubt, He assures.

Y’all, I am so excited to share with you that I am just about HALFWAY to my fundraising goal! All glory and praise be to God, who has worked in miraculous ways to get me to this point. I have so many stories I can tell of how faithfully and miraculously God has provided, but just to give you a glimpse – my support has more than doubled in the past TWO WEEKS, and that is all because of how God is moving in people’s hearts. I have no doubt that He can work to double what I have now in the next two weeks, which is exactly what I need in order to leave for Uganda on August 2!

If God is moving on your heart to help me reach my goal of $2000/month, you can go to https://rceinternational.webconnex.com/53913 . From there, you can choose to give monthly (my biggest need), quarterly, annually, or one-time. Contact me at camico@amazima.org if you have any questions!

I am beyond grateful for the friends and family who have already come alongside me in supporting the work God has called me to in Jinja, Uganda. It has been incredibly humbling to see a glimpse of how God has used such a diverse group of people to further His kingdom. I will continue to thank God daily for each and every one of my friends who are supporting me in both finances and prayer. Y’all are the best!