Uganda JHM Faith Adventure 2018 - Jen and Kaela Whitley

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Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you know, our family has been attending Mariners Church for over twenty years. Brian and I started going to Mariners even before we were married. As newlyweds, we thought it was important to get connected with other couples in our life stage, so we joined a small group there. As a result of this small group, we never felt alone in navigating our way through the early years of marriage or becoming new parents. Over the years, Mariners Church has been the place where Brian, Hannah, Kaela and I have grown in our relationship with God. From baby dedications, to baptisms, to VBS, to serving in different ministries, we have been blessed to be a part of what God is doing through the church.

In August, we found out that the junior high pastor was planning an unprecedented Faith Adventure trip to Uganda. This trip was only open to 8th graders. When I first heard about it, I knew instantly that God was calling me to go. You see, about ten years ago Mariners had a weekend service where they encouraged everyone to consider sponsoring a child in need. There were hundreds of pictures of little faces who needed financial support, but more importantly they needed to know that God loves them. Brian and I both knew we wanted to support a child, but how do you choose??? Hannah was about six years old at the time, and we thought it would be more meaningful to involve her in this commitment. There were children from many different countries. Hannah stood there looking at all the faces and picked a picture of a girl who was just about her age. Her name is Tendo Nansasi and she lives in UGANDA!

On that day, the thought NEVER crossed our minds that we would EVER get to meet Tendo. In fact, years later our family went on a Faith Adventure trip to Mexico and I remember thinking, “I wish we would have chosen a child from Mexico to sponsor, so we could meet them when we go on these trips.” God must have laughed at me, thinking oh ye of little faith. :)

Well, I knew that God was calling ME to go to Uganda, but the trip was for 8th grade students. It turns out that Kaela is in 8th grade this year! So I went to her and asked her what she thought about going. Her response didn’t surprise me. If you know anything about Kaela, you know that two of her beautiful gifts are thoughtfulness and compassion. These are God given gifts and she uses them to make others feel loved. She is the one who remembers to pray for Tendo at dinnertime. And she has been doing it since she was a preschooler, before she even really understood who Tendo was and what it meant to be supporting her. We always thought it was “so cute” back then. But God was doing something greater in her….we thought her little 4 year old prayers were cute, but God was preparing her heart for this moment, this opportunity. Kaela’s response was an absolute YES!

As soon as the application went live on the Mariners website, we both eagerly filled it out. Mariners was only choosing six 8th graders to go, so we waited anxiously to see if we would be selected. I will never forget the phone call I got from Kaela when she learned we had been chosen. I was in the middle of teaching my 3rd graders when my cell phone rang. The excitement in her voice was clear, and I was equally excited.

BUT there was one thing standing in our way….my job! It’s not easy for teachers to take a leave from their students, and because the timing of the trip did not align with our district’s spring break, I needed to formally ask for a Leave of Absence. Thankfully, I already had my principal’s support, but I needed the district’s support to be able to go. I knew that God would let nothing stand against us if it was His will for us to go. Still, waiting for the approval wasn’t easy...

As we prepare for this journey, we hope that you will want to join us. There are a couple ways that you can do this. First, you can partner with us in prayer. Your prayers before, during, and after Uganda are invaluable to us. Pray for Kaela and I to come alongside the people of Uganda to love and serve them in a way just like Jesus would. Second, you can partner with us financially. The total trip is about $9000 for the two of us. This amount also includes funds for our Mexico Faith Adventure trip in November, which serves as part of our training for Uganda. $9000 seems like a huge amount, but God hasn’t let anything stand against us.

If you are able to help support us financially, you can give by check or on-line. If you would like to give by check, please make it out to Mariners Church and write “Uganda-Jen and Kaela” in the memo line. You can mail it to 5001 Newport Coast Drive, Irvine, CA. We will not be able to see the amounts given, but only the names of our supporters.

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Many blessings to you, Jen and Kayla, as you embark on your adventure. Some things are just meant to be! Our family will be praying for you to experience a safe and fulfilling mission, and that your connection with Tendo will be life lasting! Enjoy! Yours in faith, Catherine
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May the Lord bless all who travel on this trip
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We will be praying for you all!
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So proud of you and Kaela for taking this journey. You will be in our prayers and we are excited to hear updates along the way.
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I am so happy to be able to support you and Kaela. I hope to be able to see you and Tracy over the holidays.
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Blessings on the journey
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