From Iowa to Uganda

iowatouganda copy

When I said I expected God to make a way for us to ship supplies to Uganda, I wasn’t expecting him to work immediately…

But I guess I don’t know why I was surprised. Here’s the play-by-play of what happened after I published the last post.

1. I called the USPS and found that we could ship shoebox sized boxes for $60-$80 a piece.

2. I was a little disheartened.

3. Within minutes of my post office phone call I received a fb message from someone wanting to donate money for shipping.  It was God reminding me he’s got this covered.

4. That same day, my mom came across a story in a Grimes Living publication about a group from Des Moines going to Kampala, Uganda this summer.

5. I emailed Florence in Uganda to see if she had any way of traveling to Kampala if we could get a shipment as far as the Watoto church in the capital city.

6. The next morning this was her response:

“It is very possible for me or my husband to travel to Kampala to get the supplies from Watoto Church.  From where I live to Kampala, it is around 76 miles away. I know where the church is and once I fellowship-ed in it while I had gone to visit a friend  in Kampala. Our first born son works near Kampala as well. So I have all the possibilities of picking those supplies from there. If you find it cheaper and possible, this will be  a great opportunity to us.”

7. Mom contacted the church in Des Moines, and though we don’t have all the details worked out, it looks like we should be able to send a piece of luggage with them. So instead of hundreds of dollars, it will probably be more like $100 or maybe less.

8. Wow!

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


The Girl in the Purple Dress

Kulusumu and her family

Kulusumu and her family

Meet Namusubo Kulusumu. Her Muslim family has a history steeped in polygamy and witchcraft. But last year she received one of  the millions of gift-filled shoeboxes from the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child ministry. That one shoebox changed her family’s view of Christians.

They said they realized  “born-agains are different” when the local Christians shared their gifts with the Muslim children.

That small gift opened the door for Kulusumu, who had no previous formal education, to begin attending a school where she is not only learning reading, writing and arithmetic, but also about Jesus.

And because Kulusumu wrote a letter to Carter thanking him for the gift, I became acquainted with a wonderful woman named Florence Were. The wife of the pastor of the church through which the shoebox gifts were distibuted, Florence and I have been corresponding for the past several months. I feel like I am making a new friend. One whom I will likely not meet on this side of heaven, but with whom I share a common love for Jesus and desire to serve where he calls me to serve.

Right now, that call includes Iganga, Uganda.

Now that we’ve got our Haiti shipment on its way, Mom and I are planning a special shipment to Uganda which will include dresses and sewing supplies. We are currently researching the most economical way to get a box across the ocean. The UPS man told me to ship a package the size of one of the boxes we sent to Haiti would cost us $850. Yowzers! So that option was eliminated. The USPS is a possibility, but it is looking a bit pricey also. We’ve got the wheels spinning on a couple of other options, but we do not have a solid plan yet.

I do know that if the God I serve owns the cattle on a thousand hills,  he can probably get a box of stuff from Central Iowa to Iganga, Uganda. 🙂 I’m pretty excited to watch him work. Are you?

Kulusumu's home

Kulusumu’s home




2 More Boxes of Dresses Headed to Haiti


Our dresses and supplies our now in the hands of the Fed Ex man.

In addition to all the sewing supplies we also sent 18 mother-of-the-bride/formal dresses, 7 flower-girl dresses, 50 sundresses and 11 pairs of shorts.

That makes our grand total of sundresses – 819, formal dresses – 62 and shorts – 209.

Thanks for your suppport of this ministry. We’ll be making another shipment to Haiti in the fall, but stay tuned for info on a special shipment to Uganda this spring or summer.

Weddings In Haiti


Almost 20 mother-of-the-bride dresses, a handful of flower-girl dresses and a bunch of sewing supplies are heading to the Dorcas Ministry Shop. (If you are interested in the background of the bridal shop, you can read about it in Haute Couture in Haiti, an article I had the privilege to write for Today’s Christian Woman last summer.)

Many people have asked me questions about weddings in Haiti. With the extreme poverty, how can people even afford to get married? Is a bridal shop a lucrative business? Are Haitian weddings like American weddings?

Honestly, I don’t know a lot, but I’ll share what I do know.

I think the answer to the question, How can people in Haiti afford to get married?, is: It’s hard.

There are a lot of costs involved including some kind of marriage fee to the Haitian government, the actual wedding ceremony and meal and all the various costs that go along with that, and housing. From what I understand, a groom is expected to acquire a respectable furnished place in which to live with his new bride.

Three Possible Scenarios.

Some couples can afford to get married. Haiti is the poorest country in the world, but some people do have money.

Some couples scrimp and save and work very hard for a long time to have the finances to get married.

Some couples want to get married, but because they cannot afford it, they choose to live together without getting married.

I also know that weddings are a big deal in the Haitian culture, so a bridal shop makes sense. There will always be weddings, so there will always be a demand for wedding gowns and other bridal attire. Since Dorcas Ministry Shop rents and sells inventory at a reasonable price, they are helping the bride and groom as well as providing much needed income for their employees.

I’ve tried to do some research ino Haitian weddings online, but I haven’t found a ton out there. I did find this post, A Haiti Wedding, with some info and a number of photos from a Haitian wedding to give you a taste of what a typical Haitian wedding might look like.

I don’t fully understand that ins and outs of planning and paying for a wedding in Haiti.

What I do know is that God has opened up this opportunity for us to serve, and we will continue to do so as long as we can be beneficial to the ministry. I do not think it is a coincidence that my mom, who has been sewing for weddings since before I was born, was connected to this little bridal shop in Port-au-Prince. And when God takes your passion and says – “Here, I’ve got this sweet way for you to serve me”- serving him in that way is exactly what you should do.

500 Dresses Update and Deadline Reminder




“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

– Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

With the help of a wonderful high school girls Bible Study group (photos to come at a later date), I was able to get all the stuff for our next shipment ready to go. They tagged dresses, pulled some elastic through shorts and sewed some buttons.  🙂

Now, I’ve got two big cardboard boxes waiting to head to FedEx. We planned to ship just one box this time around, but you guys really came through with the mother-of-the-bride dresses, and they take up quite a bit of space. So two boxes it is.

We are taking donations until March 22, but any new sundress donations will be held for the Uganda shipment or the next Haiti shipment.

Our first priority is to pack the mother-of-the-bride dresses, flower girl dresses and sewing supplies so if I receive any of those, I’ll squeeze them in.

Here’s the current tally:

Mother of the Bride/Formal Dresses – 17

Flowergirl Dresses – 7

Sundresses – 61 (A few of these will probably be held back for Uganda due to space constraints)

Shorts – 11

(And a bunch of sewing supplies and fabric)


Journey of a Treadle

The three places I’ve seen treadle sewing machines in the US in my lifetime:

1. My house. My mom kept my great-grandma’s treadle in the living room – for display  purposes- not practical purposes.

2. Laura Ingalls house. (Okay this one is kind of cheating since TV/books are not real life.) But I remember how excited Ma Ingalls was when she received her treadle machine.

3. The farmhouse at Living History Farms.  (Living History Farms is awesome by the way. If you haven’t visited you should.)

Lewis attempting to sew at Living History Farms.

Lewis attempting to sew at Living History Farms

But in Haiti and other third-world and developing countries, to have a treadle machine is to have a source of income.

So when a man from my church approached me about donating a working treadle machine, I was excited, but I thought, ‘How in the world will we get that heavy thing delivered without spending a fortune?”

IMG_3538 IMG_3535 IMG_3534

But God is pretty much on top of things 🙂 , and he provided a contact from Iowa who periodically sends a truck of building supplies to Mission to Haiti in Miami and from there they are shipped to Haiti.

So I took a little drive to Waterloo on Friday and dropped off this pretty machine. From Waterloo it will travel to Sheldon, Iowa. From Sheldon to Miami. And from Miami to Haiti. Yay!

I’m praying it will arrive in one-piece and bless a Haitian family or vocational school or business.

A Story Of Obedience and A Boy – a guest post


I had the opportunity to guest post today for Alphonsine Imaniraguha over at A Soothing Voice. The story is one some of you have heard, but it is one of those amazing “only God could do this” kind of things. Something I still can’t think about without tears.

I’ve known Alphonsine for a couple years, and if you have spent any time over at 26 Letters, you are probably familiar with her too. She is allowing God to use her tragic story for his purposes. (If you every have a chance to go hear her speak, do it!)

If you are visiting here from A Soothing Voice, thanks for stopping by. Take a look around to see what 500 Dresses is up to. And if you have a desire to take part in our ministry, we’d love to have you join us!