I think about you a lot.
I think about what you might want to see on your breakfast table… maybe something with cinnamon and oats.
I think about your best friend’s birthday, and what kind of cake you might make her.
I think about how you’re nervous to make a pie crust, and I want to show you how to do it so you can make my dad’s Sweet Potato Pie.
I think about you a lot because you come here looking for sweet and delicious, colorful and fun, and I want to make that for you. It’s a honor to do that. We have a deal: I make biscuits and then you make biscuits.
Then Shaun Groves wrote, inviting me on Compassion’s blogger trip to Uganda. I’d visit children, families, and church centers every day and learn about how Compassion really works, then I’d blog about it from Uganda everyday for five days.
The answer was easy: No.
I told myself that I was thinking of you when I declined Shaun’s offer. I told myself that you only wanted to see cupcakes and cocktails and the occasional picture of my cat. I told myself that on this little piece of the Internet you wouldn’t want to hear about my faith, about children in poverty, about how you can totally help because I totally help and it feels really rewarding and it’s really important. I didn’t think this was the place for that, though it is, strangely, the place for run-on sentences.
A year passed. Shaun came knocking again. Again I wanted to say no, but my heart wavered because my heart knew. I knew that I wanted to tell you about how much I love getting letters from one of my sponsor daughters, Stella in Kenya. I knew that I wanted to tell you that I sent Stella a gift of money for her birthday and every bit of the humble $20 I sent her went straight from Compassion to her. She bought a dress and six hens and wrote to thank me. A dress and six hens!! Stella is twelve. When I was twelve I probably wanted a Caboodles Makeup Case filled with glitter.
So I said yes to Shaun and his trip to Uganda. I said yes for both of us because we’re in this together.
I recognize that this week on Joy the Baker might be weird for you. I totally get that. I thought about you might feel alienated, guilty, downright annoyed. Listen… that’s ok. I understand that place.
I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about the good that Compassion does to cultivate the mind, body, and spirit of each of their children here. But knowing what that really looks like, knowing how Stella thrives, and how Gloria‘s family rejoices…. now I won’t stop talking about it.
Today we visited the Katwe Slum in the capital city of Kampala. It’s the toughest places my eyes have ever seen. Despite the circumstance, these lovely people marched us into their slum and up to their church with a full band praising. Imagine the best thing ever. Yes, it was.
Tomorrow I want to tell you about Hajara. Her poise and confidence will change the game.
You can say no at first, too. I understand that. I just need you to know about these special humans and the difference you can make in their lives through Compassion. Just let it rattle around in your heart a bit. Maybe make some biscuits. When you’re ready (and maybe you’re ready right now) little Reagan and Julius are ready for you.
More from Uganda from Chatting at the Sky, The Nester, Jeff Goins, and Shaun Groves.
Compassion provided me a link to share with you. I am in no way compensated for your sponsorship or donation. I love you and I’m glad you’re here with me on this journey.
But they do require that the children participate in the church-based community that includes, according to their own website, “Ongoing Christian training,” which concerns me, considering that I think it asks non-Christian families who may be very committed to their faith to make some very unpleasant choices. “Am I willing to compromise my own and my child’s faith in exchange for desperately needed aid” is not a position I think it’s compassionate to put anyone in.
I’d also like to add my voice to those troubled by Compassion’s stance on homosexuality. I ran across discussion of this a couple places when I was looking into them earlier this week, notably this blog post: https://jonathanrundman.blogspot.com/2008/09/losing-compassion-for-compassion.html. Additionally, in their list of items you may not send to a child, in the sponsorship FAQ, they include things that “Promote lifestyle choices that we view as unhealthy and inconsistent with biblically based lifestyles or otherwise inappropriate for sponsored children.” While I’m aware that this doesn’t state the policy in as many words, please believe that as someone who is not straight and who has many Evangelical family members, I’m well acquainted with the usual subtext of such statements.
I love. this. post. I am a super-joy-the-baker podcast listener, but sort of an inconsistent blog reader (um.sorry). I clicked over from Emily. I will be following along so faithfully this week! Thanks for your honesty & can’t wait to read your trip adventures!
thank you for being here!
I think the majority of your readers are interested in you as a person…not just the fabulous recipes. This is very eye opening. :-)
Sarah Woo (@wcpartyparty)
Between a picture-perfect recipe and a real human being with beliefs, fragility, empathy, and a brain, I gravitate toward the latter. Always. <3
You may think that posting information about your trip to Uganda will only annoy us, and that we only expect posts about how to bake this cake or make that pie, but reading this blog only made me appreciate you more and hold a deeper respect for you. Personally, I’m happy that I get to see the side of your life that is not included in this blog. It makes me feel like I’m getting to know you better. Also, it’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to work for a greater cause in a third-world country, so I’m extremely glad that you seized the chance! It touched my heart to know that you are strong in your faith and integrity. I just want to thank you for doing something like this. On behalf of myself and everyone else who would love to do participate in something like Compassion but don’t get the chance to, please send my love and regard to Uganda! I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!
I think it’s extremely inspiring what you are doing. I love that you writing about something else other then cooking. It gives your readers a different side that they don’t get to see. It’s inspiring to see you talk of faith yet being modest. That’s hard to come by. I’ve always wanted to go on a missions trip but have yet to do so. I always believed oh my faith is not strong enough or I don’t know enough to be able to share. The biggest part is the fear of stepping out of my comfort zone. You’re totally stepping out of yours and sharing it. It’s so wonderful! I look forward to reading more post!
Joy, I’m a faithful reader (you had me at rootbeer chocolate cake)…but I never comment…not even on giveaways.
Thank you for taking me on your journey. God bless us all.
I am so happy that you went on this trip, and are sharing it with your readers. It is refreshing and inspiring!
I love what you’re doing, Joy, and telling people about what you’ve seen is the most important part. We can all spare a few minutes from talking about cake! (even though talking about cake is the best!)
It brings me so much “joy” that you shared this with us. As another woman of faith, I love that you have used this outlet to share what you believe in. Just like you challenege us to step out of our comfort zone and try new recipes, you are challenging us to step out of our comfort zone and love like never before. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. You’re a fantastic storyteller and I admire/respect you all the more :)
Oh, how well I know that first No, and then the YES. The trepidation and the joy that follows. Love does. God’s love moves us to do audacious things. I’m glad you went to Uganda, Africa has a way of getting under your skin.
Thanks for sharing!!! I’m glad people like you that are so succesfull and popular make endeavors for bigger causes. It inspires me. I’m just starting my own business and hardly have extra money, but I’ll make and effort to save some for a worthwhile cause like Compassion. Thanks again!
For some reason this post brought me to tears.
Oh, Joy. We have so much to give to make this world more beautiful, even if it’s just a smile to a stranger or twenty dollars so a girl can buy a new dress and six hens. As I prepare to expand my chicken flock, I will be reminded of this as I collect my eggs – little miracles. Thank you, Joy – what beauty and grace and kindness and humility you share with us. Thank you.
Heck to the yes bring it on. Apparently, you underestimate us, yourself, or both. We aren’t here just for the food and pix – we’re hear for you, Joy (and your crazy cat obsessions and cool office and whathaveyou)! Blog on! :D