Friday, April 24, 2015

Four Reasons You Should Give Mercy this Mother's Day


The following was written by Mercy for Mamas board member, Kim Gunter. Kim has been a huge supporter of our work from the beginning. Her help, insight, and passion is a huge asset to us.  Kim wanted to share with all of you four reasons that she thinks all of you should give mercy in some way this Mother's Day....
Melissa and Kim on a boda boda in Jinja, Uganda
 "Mother’s Day is right around the corner and we are beginning to think about ways we could honor our mothers.  This is also one of the biggest donation times for Mercy for Mamas.  Over the years we have seen individuals, families, and churches give to Mercy for Mamas as a way of honoring the mothers in their lives and congregations.  I’d like to share with you the reasons I personally support Mercy for Mamas, how our church gets involved,  and why I would encourage you to add your support this Mother’s Day, too.
[Insert Peer Pressure Here:  EVERYONE IS DOING IT!] 
REASON #1: Because people matter, no matter where they live.
I have had the opportunity to be involved with Mercy for Mamas from the very beginning and see Melissa’s heart in this work.  Her passion is to see fewer moms and babies suffer due to the simple fact that they don’t have the proper medical supplies. Lives should not be put in danger over the lack of the most basic sanitation supplies, yet this is exactly what happens every day in Uganda.  The bottom line is, all lives matter. Melissa believes (and I do, too) that if we can do something to save lives, we should.  If that reason is enough to motivate you to support M4M, then you have my permission to stop reading now and send in your donation. While that is a big reason for me, here are a few more:
REASON #2: Because the global sorority of maternity is real.
Motherhood is everywhere, and your mother shares that special connection with every mom, everywhere.  I have the opportunity/responsibility/privilege to be a mother.  I did not have the easiest labor and delivery experience (high blood pressure and some other things made the situation less than ideal), but never once did I ever feel like the doctors in the hospital couldn’t handle it. Why?  Because I had the care I needed.  I was giving birth in a hospital with state of the art equipment and skilled professionals overseeing the situation.   Women in Uganda do not deliver surrounded by state of the art equipment, let alone even in a hospital, because they can’t afford the supplies needed to give birth in a hospital.  This simple fact causes many Ugandan women to give birth without decent medical care, which is why there is a needlessly high mortality rate.  Not long after having my son I remember having thought if I was a woman in Uganda with my birth experience, I would probably not have made it and one of two things would have occurred: my son would not have lived or he would not have his mother.  My friends, that is unacceptable in my book.  I can’t imagine as a mother not being able to deliver my child in a medical facility simply because I couldn’t afford the basic supplies they require.  As a mother, I don’t want another mother to have to make that decision.  And if for $7 I can provide those medical supplies so an expecting mother can have access to birth care, then that’s a no-brainer to me.  My life as a mother in America matters as much as the mother in the village of Uganda matters, and I love that Mercy for Mamas is doing something about it.  In short, I care because I’m a mom.  Your mom will care, too.

Kim and some of the beautiful women at a health outreach seminar on prenatal education
REASON #3: You can do this! You church can do this! Your moms will love this!
Giving a Mama Kit is an inexpensive way to change a life.  Most moms this Mother’s Day will get flowers, jewelry, or candy to say thanks for being my mom.  Those things are great to say thank you, but flowers will die eventually, and candy will cause us to have to do more exercises to fit into our clothes.  So could we think about another way to honor our moms, an eternal way?  For the past few years, our family has taken the money we would have spent on our moms and donated that to Mercy for Mamas.  Here’s what I love about this: I’m honoring my mother and mother-in-law, but I’m also honoring another soon-to-be mom and protecting her life and her child’s life. 
REASON #4: Because spiritual life matters as much (and more) than physical life.
Mercy for Mamas is not just bringing physical hope by providing Mama Kits, but also spiritual hope.  This is one of the most important reasons for me, because it shows the deep heart and conviction behind this ministry.  I had the opportunity to travel with M4M a couple of years ago, and the best thing I saw was that everywhere we went and passed out Mama kits the gospel was being shared.  Mercy for Mamas partners with several crisis pregnancy centers, local churches, and missionaries.  They are using these kits as a tool to open the door for these women to know the Hope of Jesus.  I remember visiting one of the crisis pregnancy centers and thinking these girls are so young, and I know nothing about what they are going through. How do I relate?  I remember God just bringing to mind the story of Joseph (See Genesis 37-50) and the verse when Joseph says “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Gen. 50:20). I wanted so badly for those girls to know that God had a plan for their lives.  What might have looked like a hopeless situation still had hope.  They could know the One who is our Hope.  Let’s be honest - while it would be great to say we are meeting a great physical need as Christ-followers, we also need to be addressing a greater spiritual need. I want them to have hope that they will be able to deliver in a hospital because of a Mama kit we provide, but I also want them to have an Eternal Hope. 


This Mother’s Day as you are thinking about what you will give personally or what you are doing at your churches - I’m talking to you, pastors (or probably more accurately, fellow pastor’s wives) - would you consider supporting Mercy for Mamas?  Our church has had a great experience partnering with this ministry over the last few years.  Instead of passing out the traditional Mother’s Day trinkets to all the moms, our church has donated the funds that normally would have purchased those small gifts and given a starting donation in their honor.  Beyond that, our congregation has given generously in a special offering to support Mercy for Mamas in honor of the mom’s in their lives. I believe our congregation loves this about our Mother’s Day celebration because it’s making an impact for eternity.  This is my challenge to you and to your church, could we think outside of ourselves this year?  Could we have a kingdom mindset and say, “Mom, because who you are and what you do matters, we are giving so that women in Uganda would know their lives matter?”  Could we think beyond the bookmarks and flowers this year and give life, give hope, give mercy in honor of our mothers?"

Thanks Kim for sharing your heart. If your church is interested including Mercy for Mamas in your service this year, please send an email to info@mercyformamas.com. We'll be happy to send you a downloadable card you can pass out to your congregation explaining your gift. We can also mail brochures to you if you would like. 

If you would like to make a donation directly please click on the Donate button here and make a note that you'd like to receive a donation card to give your loved one.



And don't forget to check out the wonderful digital prints we are selling this Mother's Day! They would make a great gift. 
Thank you so much for your support.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mother's Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is one of the best times of year for Mercy for Mamas. What better time of year to give to help mothers in Uganda, then this time we set aside to honor our mothers and the special women in our lives.

This year for Mother’s Day, Mercy for Mamas is excited to partner with our friend Mandie Joy at Echoes of Mercy. Mandie makes incredible digital prints for all occasions. She designed these special prints just for Mercy for Mamas.  We have two quotes to choose from. They are just $14 each, which will provide two mama kits to women in need in Uganda.

The first option is a quote from Mother Theresa. She said, “Do small things with great love.”  I think so often as mothers we worry if what we are doing is really having an impact. We fear we are not making moments special enough for our children. Are we really taking the time needed to impart wisdom, love, grace, and mercy to our children? But in reality, the greatest truths that are children learn from us are in the small, every day details. It’s the lunch that is packed every day for school. It’s tucking them in for bed at night. It’s cleaning up after them when they are sick.  It’s in these moments that our children learn about sacrifice and true love. So as we fold laundry, wipe noses, and fill out school forms we are showing our children love. I think a copy of this print would be a great way to tell your mom thank you for all of the small things that she did for you and the lasting impact that she has had on your life. This comes in two color/design options... blue and coral. The watermarks will be removed from each one when your order.
#1 Do small things (blue)
#2 Do small things (Coral)
The second quote comes from Pastor Andy Stanley. He said, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” Again, I think that many women fear they are not living up to expectations. They question if their actions are good enough for God or are really making an impact for the kingdom of God. I think this quote is a great reminder that one of the most important tasks for a believer is to pass on their faith and passion for God to their children. Yes, God wants us to be great missionaries. He wants to reach the lost, and to lead powerful ministries and to serve in the church. But our first mission field most always first be within our home. This print is a great gift for the mother, grandmother, or special someone who helped to raise you to know Christ better.
#3 Your greatest contribution (this watermark has a typo, but the one you get will be corrected!!)
 
These prints are available as a digital download for $14 each.  You can order through Paypal right here....

Mother's Day Print Options

We will email you the digital version along with a card explaining that all proceeds from the print go toward purchasing mama kits.  Then you can print if off, put it in a lovely frame, and your Mother’s Day shopping is done! (*Mandie recommends that you print on 110 lb. cardstock at your local Kinkos or print shop. It is usually less than $2 each.) And remember, these make great gifts for anyone in your life, such as a friend, mentor, teacher, or even for yourself.
Another great Mother’s Day option is to make a donation to Mercy for Mamas as your gift. This can be something you add-on to another gift, or make it your entire gift. You can donate any amount starting at just $7 (the cost of one mama kit) Just make a donation using the Paypal link and make a note that you need a Mother’s Day card. We’ll email you a donation card you can print off and give to your loved one.

For those new to the Mercy for Mamas website, our goal is to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Uganda. We want to help more women survive childbirth so that they can have the opportunity to raise their own children. We do this by providing sterile birthing kits to women called mama kits. We also provide prenatal education and connect women to ministries, clinics, and churches in their areas that can provide long-term help.  We do all of our work while also sharing the love and mercy of Christ with the women we serve.

For just $7 you can provide a mama kit to one woman, which relieves a large financial burden for her, gives her all of the tools she needs to deliver, and also gives her dignity and hope.  Just as Mother Theresa said, sometimes we show great love by doing small things.  A $7 mama kit, may seem like a small thing to you, but to these women it can be life-changing and it shows them great love.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Expanding our Work

I am so excited to get to visit some of our new partners in ministry during my upcoming Uganda trip! (I'll be there for about a month for our adoption). 

One of our new partners is Life Center Ministries Africa, which operates a hospital and nutrition program in a remote area of Eastern Uganda. The missionaries working there told me that they were struggling because most all of the women who came to the hospital did not have their supplies for delivery and had not received much prenatal care. We provided mama kits for them and now they pass out the kits to the women free of charge after they come for at least three prenatal visits. 
"Moms out here don't usually come for antenatal (prenatal care) until they are 6-7 months along so to be able to get 3 or 4 visits in before delivery is awesome! We are thankful to Mercy for Mamas for the kits that have increased our antenatal visits from 5-10 a week to 30-40 a week! Thank you for your heart for healthy mamas and babies!!, " Katrenna, LCMA Missionary.
These precious women just received theirs kits and will deliver their babies very soon!
One of our other new partners is Pastor Fred and Jesus the Way Ministries. Pastor Fred is so excited to get to be a part of our work. I can't wait to see firsthand the work they are doing and meet these women. The women in this area have a very hard time getting proper medical care, so these kits are very important to them and help to keep their births sanitary and free from infection.
This sweet little one was born just 6 hours after her mama received her kit!
This mama got her kit the night before she delivered. Her and baby are doing well.
These women all received their kits at a health outreach at their church.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Creative Ways to Help

Some days I get overwhelmed with the needs of the women in Uganda and my limited resources, time and abilities. I am thankful I serve a limitless God who faithfully funds the work that He favors. It seems there have been many times in the past year when I have been overwhelmed, and then that same day or week God sends little messages to me to tell me He has things under control. One way He has done that is by laying Mercy for Mamas on the hearts of people around the US and giving them creative ways that they can help support this ministry. These are often times people I have never met and they have caught the vision of what we do and have decided to find a way to help. Each time I hear about these beautiful acts of generosity I stand amazed. I thought you might enjoying hearing about them too. Perhaps it will even give you an idea or two.

Kasi in Texas included Mercy for Mamas in her son's birthday party. They were able to purchase 50 mama kits with people's donations!
"We chose MFM to celebrate our son's 2nd birthday. We did this because his bio mom died giving birth to him. We thought this would be a great way to celebrate him and honor her. I often think what might have happened if she would have had one of these kits. We asked people to donate a kit instead of bringing gifts. It was a truly special day..."
C'mon how cute is he? Thanks T for sharing your big day with Mercy for Mamas!
Mandy in Illinois wrote me and share about how her family incorporated Mercy for Mamas into her daughter's first birthday...
"As I was planning my daughter’s 1st birthday party, I had a few relatives asking what to get her for her birthday. Every time I was asked, I would think about how blessed she is to have everything she needs and then some. I started looking online for ideas of what to do instead of gifts. The suggestion of donating to a charity popped up and I thought it was a wonderful idea. Mercy for Mamas was the first charity that came to mind as I had heard about it at a MOPS meeting about a month prior. Mercy’s story really touched my heart and it opened my eyes to the need. My daughter, Hattie, is so blessed to have both her mommy and daddy to hold, care for and love her. The high risk of death in Uganda from pregnancy and birth complications breaks my heart. Every kit donated gives one more mother an increased chance to hold, care for and love her child. On the birthday invitations, we expressed all we really wished for was for their presence to help us celebrate but if they had a desire to give we politely asked them to bring a donation for Mercy for Mamas in honor of Hattie. I also included information about the organization so our guests knew what cause they were donating to. We had a very positive response and our guests loved the idea. I am so thrilled we were able to raise enough money for 50 kits!"
Thanks Hattie!
As Mandy mentioned, she learned about Mercy for Mamas through her MOPS group. Mercy for Mamas has been thrilled to have the support of various MOPS and other similar parenting groups around the country. One group made a donation in honor of each mom in their group this past Christmas. Others have taken up collections, invited me or one of our team members to come speak, or sold jewelry on our behalf.



Several months ago Heidi, the principal of Christian school in Massachusetts emailed to tell me how they are including Mercy for Mamas in their weekly chapel offering...
"This fall our school needed to choose a cause to support with all of the Thursday morning chapel offerings that we collect.  I am happy to say that we have chosen Mercy for Mamas to receive whatever we collect.  We are a small school of 55 students and we usually only collect a few hundred dollars a year, but hopefully it will go a long way towards purchasing Mama Kits.... I purchased a baby bottle for each student in the school and attached a laminated “Mercy for Mamas” tag with information on the back so that students and their families would be more likely to send in all of their loose change on chapel days. " 
I'm anxious to hear how much these sweet children are able to raise this year!
My friend Kristine decided to include Mercy for Mamas at her baby shower. Instead of buying party favors for her guests, she decide to make a donation in honor or her friends and in honor of her new baby. Her friends loved the idea and a few of them have made donations of their own since the shower.  Below is a picture of the Mercy for Mamas display they had at the shower. Isn't it lovely?



Sheli decided to challenge her friends to celebrate her 40th birthday by purchasing mama kits. Her friends donoted enough money to buy nearly 100 mama kits. What an amazing way to honor Sheli's big day! 
Sheli says, "The reason I chose MFM was because I've seen first hand how the lack of medical care can easily devastate a family. Having spent significant time in Uganda and other countries in Africa, I believe the more that we can do to keep families together is a blessing in itself. If a simple $7 can change the future of a child and save the life of a mother, then why wouldn't you support MFM?"
Happy Birthday Sheli!
 A young lady who works as a waitress told me she set up a little display with a few of our brochures in her break room at work and she encouraged the other servers to donate a portion of their tips.  

Some of the sweet senior adults at our church held a garage sale last year and donated all of the proceeds to buy mama kits.

My friend's daughter made loom bracelets and duct tape flowers and then sold them to her friends at school. 

These are simple ideas that make a big impact. Do you have any ideas?



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year of Blessings

On this last day of 2014, it seems only fitting to look back on all of the work God has done. It has certainly been a year filled with many blessings.  Through your contributions, we've been able to supply more than 6,800 mama kits to women in Uganda this year. We expanded our efforts into new parts of the country,ventured into more remote areas, and have developed some great new partnerships.


We've heard story upon story of women who have been blessed through the gifts of a mama kit, prenatal education, and ultimately a gift of hope through Jesus Christ. Our ministry partners have been able to counsel and train up young teenage mothers, help heal the wounds of women pregnant through abuse and rape, provided job training for single moms trying to provide for their children, and offer medical care to women would not get it otherwise. I love that we can partner with them in these efforts. Your donations help them forge new relationships and give them valuable ministry tools.

In the past year, we've been able to host numerous health education seminars giving women valuable information on how to keep themselves and their babies healthy. I've watched as women learned for the first time what exactly is happening in their bodies during pregnancy. I've seen the relief on their faces when they learned new ways to ease pregnancy and labor pains. We've been able to assess possible complications and insure those women get needed medical help. We've taught women the important signs of an emergency during pregnancy and labor. We've sent up prayers for hundreds of women... prayers for hope, forgiveness, provision and salvation.

Your purchases of t-shirts, tumblers, jewelry and crafts have given us the funds to buy mama kits, host outreach events, pay for prenatal education, buy necessary medical supplies and offer support in special situations like the birth of the conjoined twins.

In the grand scheme of things, 6,800 mama kits is merely a drop in the bucket considering the need.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the need and the numbers, but then I start to think of each kit and the woman it represents. Your donations helped Esther, Sarah, and Isabelle. Your donations gave Esseza, Mary, and Fatima a chance for medical care. Sometimes as we sit in our homes in the US, it is easy to forget the impact you are having on the lives of the women on the other side of the world.  But friends, I can tell you I have met them. I have seen their sweet smiles. I have hugged their necks. I have prayed with them, wept with them, and heard their shouts of joy. On behalf of these precious women I say thank you to you for your donations and thank you to God who is our ultimate provider and source of life.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fruit of our Work


I wanted you to see a few of the faces that your donations have helped the last few months. We've been able to pass out about 1,500 more kits since July.  Your donation dollars have been hard at work helping mamas and babies all across Uganda.  

We've been able to start working with some new partners.  It is so exciting to find groups who can truly use and integrate the mama kits and good prenatal care into their existing ministries and work. They get so excited when I tell them that we can provide them this help free of charge.  What a blessing!

These are just a few of the many success stories.
This sweet mama was able to safely deliver her 10 lb. baby at home in her village with the help of her mama kit from Healing Faith Ministries.
These beautiful women received mama kits at a health outreach seminar hosted by Muyenga Baptist Church.  More than  165 women attended and several women received Christ as their Savior at the event as well.  
These ladies at Comforter's Center in Kampala were go grateful to not have the financial burden of buying a mama kit.
These teenage girls at the Youth For Christ Center received their mama kits. 
Uniquely Woven is a ministry reaching out to pregnant women in one slum area of Kampala. They've started a bible study with the women.  At this meeting the ladies received their mama kits and they were thrilled!

These sweet babies were born using mama kits they received this summer.  Their ministry reports, "We are happy to announce that many healthy babies have been born because of these kits!...THANK YOU to all who donated money to buy these life-saving kits!! "
shortly after birth
The babies and mom at two months oldThese conjoined twins have had a special place in my heart the last couple of months. They were born via emergency c-section to a young mother from a village.  They had no way to transport them to Kampala to the main gov't hospital for treatment. Mercy for Mamas and other friends were glad to be able to pay for their transport and care. They've received one life-saving surgery, but they need more.  Please read more here about how you can help these precious little ones.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Trip

I once again must apologize for my lack of keeping up with this website.  If it's any consolation, I often think of what I would write while I'm driving in my car. If I could find a way to voice-text some blog posts to you all I totally would, but I can barely voice-text my hubby to ask him if he can pick up some milk.

Anyway, the 2014 Mercy for Mamas Mission Team had an amazing trip. I hope some of you were able to follow along on Facebook a bit.  (If you haven't done so yet, please like our Facebook page because I update there more often because of convenience).
Our team at the Nile River
We had 13 ladies on our team and it was such a great mix of people.  Every one found their purpose and job and pitched in to make the trip a success.  It was fun to see people from 5 different states and from all different walks of life gel into a unified team for ministry.  I'll admit that I was a bit nervous when I realized how many first-timers and type-A personalities we had on our team, but they were so flexible and such hard workers.  When we would come to a new situation or things were not going as planned I would tell them, "I'm not sure what's happening, but I know whatever it is, it's going to be FABULOUS!"  Thank goodness that was true 9 times out of 10.  Beth wrote a bit about finding her place on the team here.

We held seven different outreach and health education events. These were in a variety of locations from village churches, under the "meeting tree" on an island, to a women's prison.  We visited four different crisis pregnancy centers and enjoyed times of teaching, prayer, and encouragement with the young ladies at those centers.  We did basic prenatal exams on at least 150 women.  We hosted two missionary encouragement dinners for about 130 missionary women serving in Uganda full-time.
The amazing Agnes teaching under a tree.
Keeky (missionary) and Stephanie talking to a woman during her check-up
Missionary dinner in Jinja
During our health education events we taught on basic hygiene, prenatal care, warning signs to look for in pregnancy, delivery techniques, caring for newborns, breastfeeding, HIV, and even menopause.  It is always so interesting to me how each group has a different feel and different topics they want to focus on.  You can tell which women are delivering their own babies at home, which areas have more HIV present, and who needs to know the very basics of pregnancy and how a child forms within the womb.  We were so blessed to have such gifted teachers and nurses with us that could adapt our lessons to each group and their needs

We also had a doula, Staci, on our team. She was such a great asset to our team.  She gave the women some basic positions and moves to help with pain during delivery and to help speed up the process.  She got all of us standing up to practice our lunges and squats.  She taught them pressure points and how to massage a woman's back during labor.  In most situation in Uganda, other women are around while you are in labor, but they are not necessarily helping or supporting you.  One of our goals' is to encourage the women to help one another during labor.  We want them to offer physical and emotional support and also help look out for warning signs in their friends.  You can read a bit more about Staci's experiences here and here.
Staci teaching a belly lift. So fun.
And my, oh my, we saw so many pregnant women. It still amazes me to see so many expecting women gathered in one location.  I just love looking out over the crowds at their growing bellies and their big smiles. We got to pray one-on-one with many of the women, which was such a blessing and a joy to me.  The needs of these women are real.  I heard so many stories of unbelievable pain and suffering.  I saw many women who had lost hope and needed to find peace.  I met women scared for the health of their babies and desperate for prayers for their unborn babies.  My heart is still heavy for these women. I pray that they can find the joy, peace, and hope that can only come through Christ.  I pray they can rest in Him when everything around them seems so overwhelming.


Muyenga Baptist Church Mama Kit Outreach
We got to meet many babies that had been born using a mama kit in the past year.  I got to hold them and see the fruits of our labor.  I got to hear stories from missionaries, church leaders, and nurses who told us just how vital these mama kits have been in their work and the difference that this simple kit can make.

I got to hear how the mama kits can be a blessing even when a woman miscarries or delivers a stillborn.  In these situations the woman still needs supplies, she still needs financial help, and she needs a bit of hope that someone cares for her.

Overall, we passed out just under 2,000 mama kits during the trip.  We finished out the remaining 700 mama kits this week.  I'll be placing an order for more this next week.  God continues to provide both the funds to purchase them and the partners to give them to for delivery.  It amazes me.


I have many more thoughts and stories from the trip. I promise to try to share them in the days ahead.  There really is so much to process and work through from just a two week trip.  I really hope you'll read Michelle's thoughts on the trip and some of what she experienced.  She said it all much more eloquently that I could.

I also really appreciate these sweet words from one of our teammates Patti.
I have believed in Mercy for Mamas since the organization was started, but now I have seen firsthand what a tremendous impact this ministry has on the women of Uganda.  It is not just the one time trip that so many short term mission trips are - although I do see value in those, changing the lives of those who go and those to whom they minister.  But the difference I saw in Mercy for Mamas is that it not only ministers to the women while the team is there in their midst, but it continues to minister to women throughout the year through the various ministries and missionaries with which you partner.  I met women on this trip whose names are now written in my journal, and I will continue to pray for in the coming months.  The health education we provided to the women of Uganda will change many of their lives - allowing them to live healthier and have healthier babies and children.  The mama kits will enable many of them to have successful births that they survive and will be there to raise those babies, that might not have been the case if we had not been there.  The encouragement we gave to women in the villages and the ones from America and around the world who minister there every day will stay with some of them for a long time, encouraging them to continue to move forward.  I'm glad I got to be a part of all that.
Patti visiting with some of the women and children on Lingira Island
 God is good all the time.  All the time God is good.