May 11th of this year I dragged my feet out of the gates of the Arise and Shine babies home in Jinja, Uganda. Tears flooded my eyes and heart ached for the distance I immediately faced upon making a left hand turn down the red dirt African roads. In a short week I had grown to love so many beautiful souls whose ages ranged from newborn to 13 years old. I promised I would be back for Christmas and as the next 6 months passed, one day didn’t go by that I didn’t think and pray for these children.

Six months later, I am reunited with this beautiful family of children. There are many faces I recognize and was greeted by shouting “Auntie Mary!” and a warm embrace around my legs upon arrival. There were many more faces I did not recognize but finally met in person and immediately fell in love with their beautiful smiles. I couldn’t help but be a bit overwhelmed instantly by the vast amount of children (43 as of right now). So many newborns and young children have been welcomed into the Arise and Shine babies home and as wonderful as it is that they have a place to call home and people to take care of them…it’s still tragic reality that these children do not have families as of right now. Each child has such a unique story…a story only God could come up with..it’s amazing think of what He has in store for these children next.

It’s been a wonderful 24 hours getting to catch up with some of the children, get to know most of them, shop and decorate for Christmas, pick flowers for the aunties that take care of the children, play on the swing set and just sit and be with one another. I am yearning for tomorrow when I will see these children again. When I can see Job ride his bicycle in circles around Dina the cow, when I can hold and snuggle sweet Stella who cannot walk on her own but loves to be held, when I can teach Sharon more about photography, when triplets Lisa, Lola and Loise yell “Auntie Mary” over and over again and when I can tickle Fiona until she smiles and giggles the best laugh I have ever heard.

I can’t wait for tomorrow.



  • December 21, 2012 - 1:27 pm

    Dorothy - so precious. love these mary! can’t wait to meet them in person.ReplyCancel

  • December 27, 2012 - 1:05 pm

    Rachel Banek - you capture sweet moments so beautifully. God is doing AMAZING things through you! lots of prayers for you and the children you are working with.:)

    much love, rachel

  • December 28, 2012 - 9:53 am

    Jobin - You blog is such an encouragement, Mary. Thank you for sharing your life through your pictures and words. Every one of them makes me pray harder and long deeper for the same calling in my life. Praying for you,ReplyCancel


“Ones dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling and changing course.” -Conan Obrien


Change is good. Change is good. Change is good.

These are the words I hear ringing through out my ears as I organize my life into piles. There is the giving away pile , the sell pile, the business pile, the take to Africa pile, and then there is the pile of things that I keep. The pile of things I decide to pick up and carry on with me for the years to come. The pile of items that I just can’t let go of because they hold a special place in my heart and have a value only I can understand.

In this keep pile there are pictures upon pictures, photography coffee table books, a small pile of books I have yet to read, small trinkets from friends, greeting cards from loved ones and journals galore. I went into this project of organizing my life with a mindset of literally getting rid of everything I possibly could and as I open my drawers and take things off the shelf…I realized that is a lot harder than it seems. Twenty five years of memories is hard to even look through much less let go of.

The thing is…nothing in my keep pile has much monetary value. If I were to put insurance on this suit case and they asked me the collective value…I would have to say nothing, because I didn’t purchase these things….but I did create them and they do define me, which makes it worth more than anything else I have ever invested in.

How does one throw away their journal from their senior year in high school? Memories upon memories fill those pages and as much as I wish I could go back in time and slap myself when I revisit this journal, I also admire at how much I have grown.

How does one throw away their photography diploma? It’s plaqued and ready to be hung on a wall and while mine has always reserved a place under my bed, it’s also a memory of a experience I will never forget. In those 10 months I met my best friend, I learned how to live on my own, I explored the field of photography, I worked so hard and manifested dreams that at the time I thought were too big and looking back now am grateful for believing in myself in the first place.

How does one throw away their engagement ring and wedding pictures to a marriage that didn’t last very long but was such a monumental experience in their lives and has shaped them into who they are today?

How does one get rid of thank you cards and birthday cards and just thinking of you cards from their loved ones that express how much they are loved and cherished, reminding them of the beautiful people that have grown into their lives?

I don’t think one can…and that is why I am not. These memories make me who I am. They show me that life is full of so many changes and when there is change it means that God is up to something pretty awesome. I know this with full confidence as change isn’t new in my life…it happens quite often and is welcomed with open arms. So this suitcase will be waiting for me when I return home from my 6 month stay in Africa. It will follow me wherever I go…and it will wait for me if I have to leave it again but there is no way I can get rid of it. The best part is…it will grow and change and evolve. There will be items that simply do not belong in any pile but this one and it will gladly be added in.

  • November 15, 2012 - 2:47 pm

    ala cortez - this trip will give you new memories and trinkets to hold on to. you’re going to have such an amazing experience! can’t wait to follow along on your journey!ReplyCancel

  • November 15, 2012 - 7:20 pm

    BreAnne - Kindred Spirit, you ignite my soul <3ReplyCancel

  • November 16, 2012 - 9:27 am

    ari - i love these words.ReplyCancel

  • November 16, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    Deb - Mary you have expressed in words how it feels for you to be doing what you are doing, I admire you so much and am so happy for you to put everything in perspective this way. You have a gift for words and I really feel someday you will have a successful writing career also, at least I would hope so. Thank you for the journey and can’t wait to read more. Luvu, Momma DebReplyCancel

  • November 24, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    Rachel Banek - love this. soo beautiful.