Tuesday, October 8, 2013

seasons of life

 A word of encouragement. 

As the seasons are changing, so different seasons take place in our life. If you find yourself full of life and wonder, keep seeking the Lord and marvel at his beauty. If you are weary from pain, brokenness or weighed down by past mistakes...hold on. 

 Israel made some big mistakes and they suffered. 

Just as the Lord spoke to Israel through the prophet Isaiah...

 He speaks to us...

"Forget the former things; 
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
~ Isaiah 43:18-19 ~

Be encouraged that the Lord is doing something in you, despite the pain.
He calls out the beauty from deep within. That becomes a testimony in an of itself. 

Like a flower that begins as a seed, grows into its beauty & retreats for the winter...

Jesus brings new life once again.


Seasons of a Flower 

author: janessa cypher

So bright, so full of life
Where have you gone?
You thrived when you were growing in summer
But now summer has come and gone.

The fall was the start of a new turning point
When change was in the air
As the leaves began to whither and fall
This was more then you could bear

You slowly began to withdrawl
From standing tall and free
And instead you tried to enclose yourself
And make yourself believe

That winter wasn’t coming
And winter wouldn’t be here
But alas the winter came
But you were already too cold to feel

Down, down below the ground
Where your roots went down deep
You knew you were still alive
but in a deep sleep

those days were long and so very cold
the pain caused you misery
time would come and time would go
but you only longed to be free

In those times of uncertainty
When you thought you’d never survive
It was the hope hidden within your heart
That began to call you to new life

The rhythm could be heard above the ground
By those who walked on by
Yet they couldn’t tell what was happening
Or how you were growing deep inside

It may appear that a flower has died
But indeed that is not why
It has hidden itself under the ground
It is just waiting for the right time

For when winter has gone and spring has come
The whole world is beckoned to awake
Including the ones who have hidden themselves
For something is about to shake

A time of rest is needed
But when the day to awake comes
This flower will stand stronger and grow taller
as it flourishes beneath the sun

And in that time, joy will meet the hope
That sustained you no matter where you’ve been
a testimony that its not the outside that matters
but the work God has been doing within


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spreading the Love!

Our event this month is taking place right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba! If you are single and/or looking to doing something worthwhile this upcoming Valentines Day...then join us! A few of us ladies have decided to make and take some our of {purl} project necklaces to various shelters and organizations in Winnipeg who focus on helping women. If you are interested in getting involved in one way or another....email us at:


Don't forget to check out our group on Facebook!

The {purl} project

We also have both new {purl} project necklaces and our t-shirts for sale!
More info to come!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

breaking forth

The past few months have been wonderful as we have been continuing to spread the message of the love of the Father to the girls and women we meet.

The past month of August was very busy as a team from Canada came out to Uganda for two weeks. With them they brought more pearl necklaces that were made by various groups of young girls in Winnipeg and the surrounding area. The ladies who have been leading the {purl} project from Canada were all on the team. It was such a blessing to have them come and share in the growth that has come over the past few months.

Marketplace Pearls

The team was able to join our Marketplace Pearls bible study for two days. The ladies were overjoyed to meet part of my family and friends. They were also deeply touched and encouraged by those who spoke to them. They continue to ask me about the our Canadian team and talk about how they need to be filled full of God, like the beach ball was filled full of air...

While I was away in Kampala with the team...the month of August flew by. Upon returning to Gulu, the ladies informed me that they had finished thier study on Ruth. It was so encouraging to hear them sharing the parts of the study that really touched their hearts. As I walked around to the neighboring shops to invite the ladies to join us, I heard singing coming from our shop. I've always been on the inside when we've begun worship. To be walking in the marketplace and hearing their beautiful voices in harmony light up the place...I began thanking God. These women are incredible women and growing in their faith and devotion to God. We will be starting a new study called "Waking the Dead" - John Eldgredge...a call to awaken our hearts to God's call, purpose and love for us.

Congolese Pearls

Congolese Pearls, who I’ve been teaching English. To say they were excited would be an understatement. The five of us were soon engulfed in hugs and “hellos.” Before I left for Kampala at the beginning of August, I had given each of the ladies a necklace and shared our message of healing and hope. Many of them have been left by their husbands, are single mothers, have come out of prostitution, and are living in a country not their own. However, their hearts are hungry for God. To see their faces light up as they heard the message, brought so much joy to me. They are truly some of the hardest working, most welcoming, desire of learning and joyfully embracing women I have ever had the opportunity to get to know. To introduce a few of the Canadian team members to the Congolese ladies and have them (sort of) understanding each other was such an incredible blessing to see. Although we still have a lot of English to learn, the ladies continue to amaze me with their passion to learn and desire to know God more.

Friday, July 2, 2010

the {purl} project: in full bloom

The weeks seem to have flown by since our last update. Our {purl} groups are both growing physically and spiritually....the latter being so exciting to see and to take part in. To describe these women and young girls in one word would be impossible, as each of them are so unique and their beauty is both an inward and outward thing.

Marketplace Pearls

For those who have met our bible study group in the marketplace, you know how blessed you are to be in the presence of women who are seeking the heart of God. I was reflecting the other day on how this whole thing began. We had stumbled upon this particular shop in order to get some of our clothing tailored...and the birth of a beautiful friendship began. For the past four months, I am so amazed at how much we’ve been growing both physically and spiritually. The shop was already squished with seven women plus ourselves (Christine, Consolat, Grace, Sarah, Dorcas, Cecila, Christine)...since then we have been joined regularly by Jennifer, Charity, Consey, Lucy who are from the shop across the way.

We began with an in depth look into the life of Tamar (Genesis 38). At the end of our study, and connecting it to what would be our next one through the genealogy of Jesus. To both our amazement and a moment of discouragement we saw at the end of 3 months these ladies connect the story of a woman named Tamar to Tamar and Judah in Genesis 38. However, it has launched us into a deeper study of the word of God.

Currently, we are studying the book of Joshua, and particularly reflecting on the life of Rahab. Last week we had a three more women and even a few men listen in as we discussed how fear tries to consume us and how to stand “strong and courageous” as stated many times in Joshua 1. Again, we are discovering how God uses women just as much as he uses men and his love for us is so great. The five women we have been studying and will continue to study are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. Each took a step of faith causing them to risk everything...even their lives and for a God they did not know, yet felt compelled to make a stand for. They challenged those who should have been walking with God, and their faithfulness resulted in them preserving a family line that would lead up to the Savior of this world.

School Pearls

We are well into the second term of school, and yet our girls group has just recently been meeting again due to holidays and other interferences causing us to shift our meeting to Mondays. We are still studying the book of Esther...from orphan to queen. This past Monday we changed the direction of our girls group, having 6 girls beading, while the rest of the 14 girls listen to the Bible study and do the activities planned. Next week, 6 new girls will have the opportunity to make necklaces while listening to the study.

One of the mothers of our P7 girls approached me after our meeting this past Monday, and thanked us for providing activities for the older girls through our bible study and through teaching them how to make necklaces. She was so thankful her daughter had the opportunity to learn a skill...one that is not taught in school. I didn’t think of it before, but making jewelery is one of the ways women provide for their family. I pray these girls can take what the have learned and use that knowledge to help provide for themselves.

House Pearls

Last Friday marked the beginnings of our fourth {purl} group, which takes place at our house. We have only three girls who are members of our d12.3 team (drama & dance through discipleship) and invited them over for a girl’s night. We had tea, bread and a whole lot of fun. These girls are such and inspiration and I have been so blessed to be a part of their lives. Over the past few months I have be privileged enough to hear their testimonies, and the deepest parts of their hearts. Each has a past that has been transformed by the grace and love of God. These are lives of three young women who have known the pain of an abortion, becoming a young mother and having her child taken away, thrown out of home because of a decision to accept Christ and the pressures of being young lady in a society that often degrades women.

After a few hours of talking, singing and making necklaces, we ended our evening in prayer. Each of the girls took one of the necklaces they made with them to give away and share the message of love with someone. At our d12.3 practice the other day, the girls approached me asking when we could get together again to make more necklaces and spend time with each other...we will be meeting again this coming Friday.

Congolese Pearls

Our English
lessons have been expanding...and at times we are overflowing out of the garage we meet in. The women we have come to know and love have been talking up a storm, which is so incredible to listen to. I assigned them homework for the very first time last Thursday. As soon as I sat down I was bombarded with notebooks to mark. Their task was to write a proper sentence using the words we have been learning. All the women did so well.
This past Thursday was a a special day, as we celebrated Canada Day by singing our national anthem in both English and French. Since French is one of the languages these women do speak, we tried our best to join in. I have always known and will admit, that I make a much better English teacher than a French one.
I am eagerly waiting for the women to have a better grasp on the English language so I can present them with our pearl necklaces. I want them to be able to make the connection themselves, without a translator. I feel the day is coming soon.

Thank you for your support and prayers as we continue to build friendships with all those God has blessed our lives with.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

School Pearls

With the new school term having just begun, our School Pearls - girls group has also started up again. It is made up of 22 of our P7 and P6 girls who have been separated into 3 smaller groups known as Aloyo (meaning victorious), Lakica (meaning mercy) and Aber (meaning beauty).

Last week all the girls made one of the pearl necklaces for themselves and we discussed the message of the "pearl" and our value in Jesus Christ. We also spend time getting to know each other a little bit better. Amanda and I are trying our best to remember names...thankfully the girls are very gracious. We are looking forward to really connecting with these older girls and mentoring them through our Bible study we began this week. I had mentioned in a previous post that we will be doing a study on the story of Esther. Many of the girls have made some interesting connections already and I am looking forward to what this term holds. Our headmaster at the school is so excited about this girls group and what we are going to be doing, he has plans to expand to the other schools in Northern Uganda....I am just trying to focus on the 22 girls we have. Apparently, girls groups in a school setting are uncommon. He says we have begun a movement! We will see where God takes it!

One of the reasons for this groups is to encourage an attitude of "serving" the community of women that live here in Gulu. Our first project is to make enough necklaces to bring to the women's prison and to be able to share the message of Jesus' love with them. It is encouraging to see the girls so excited to take the message and want to spread it across town.

In addition to the girls being able to have fun with friends, do an activity, participating in outreach and studying the Bible, these girls worship like no other. Yesterday, while some girls were still finishing up their necklace, others began drumming and the small room suddenly erupted into a beautiful choir of voices.

I am so blessed to be a part of something so small, yet brings so much life. We are hoping the girls in this group will blossom into strong leaders and be so encouraged by the story of Esther...

Next term we are hoping to add to our numbers by inviting the P5's to join us on Wednesday afternoons...however, Amanda and I will not be leading at all....one of our goals is to mentor the older girls so that they will be the leaders of smaller groups and be able to lead the study....maybe we will focus on Ruth or Mary. Our hope is that this group will continue long after we are gone...through mentorship and raising up young leaders.

Just as a pearl is hidden in an oyster, we are hoping for these girls to open up to us...and truly understand that their value is hidden in who they are becoming in Christ.

"....man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" - 1 Samuel 16:7

Thank you for your love and support.

(Gulu, Uganda)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Expanding Territory

TEGOT - Uganda

Last month we were invited to visit a women’s bible study in the village of Tegot. Friends of ours (Christine & Ashley) and missionaries serving with Every Child Ministries, have asked us to bring the {purl} project out to the village sometime in the next few months. These two missionaries were given a necklace a while back and want to make more for the women they are connected with. I am hoping that they will be the ones to take the message. I think it would be received with so much joy if they were the ones to speak it.

After a bumpy ride and mud so deep, we were welcomed with many open arms. It was so neat to see what God is doing in the lives of not only our friends, but the beautiful women living in Tegot. After eating a wonderful meal and the sharing of the Word, the ladies began to praise God

Tegot, formerly an overcrowded IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp, was created as a result of the past 20 + years of conflict Northern Uganda has experienced. Today homes are being rebuilt and lives are being renewed by the message of Christ.

ABER - Uganda

I recently visited one of World Vision’s project sites, where I found myself sitting with a group of women trying to my best to share the message of the pearl with them. We found success between my broken Acholi, their broken English but mostly due to a woman named Babra who graciously translated for both of us. The women received a message of hope with open arms.

It is such an incredible opportunity to speak life over these women. The feeling I get when their faces light up with a smile as they make the connection between Uganda being called the “pearl of Africa” and themselves being pearls too … cannot be shown simply in a photograph. And every time I explain how a pearl is created out of suffering and becomes a life that is “aloyo” (victorious), I know I am here in Northern Uganda for a purpose.

It brings me so much joy to see these women simply smile and to know that God treasures them…and holds them in his hand. Near the end of the evening we made a stop at World Vision’s Child of War Rehabilitation Center in Gulu. At the present moment they are housing fourteen formerly abducted child soldiers. I was introduced to one of the directors who has contact with the young women that have been released or escaped the LRA (Lord’s Resistant Army) and have begun to make a life for themselves. Most have come home with one or more children and with deep emotional and physical scars. There was a moment that I was overwhelmed at the thought of these girls first arriving in the very compound I was visiting. It reminded me of how the {purl} project was birthed in the first place. I have been so incredibly blessed to watch God use it with women across Uganda, and look forward to bringing it to the young women that God broke my heart for on my last trip to Uganda in 2008.

GULU - Uganda

Our Marketplace Bible study has been going well. We recently bought a small drum to help us during our praise and worship time. We have had more women join us from the neighboring shops, most of which continue to go to the House of Prayer for noon hour fellowship each day.

An unexpected speaking engagement caught me off guard, but as always God had a message prepared for me to speak. Ironically enough I was asked to speak at a singles conference called “Foundations for Marriage and Ministry.” Although the conference had about 150 + in attendance both men and women, I found my message directed to the ladies. God continues to amaze me with the opportunities we are being presented with and the connections we are making with those living in and around Gulu.

I have also begun working with some of the Congolese women that have moved to Gulu in order to escape the LRA in Congo. As a result of poverty, these women were found prostituting themselves in order to provide for their children. While some are beginning to find other jobs and get themselves off the street, I have been teaching English. Up until this week I had 7 women I was teaching, but upon arriving to class on Tuesday, I found about 30 women waiting for me in one very small garage. These women are the ones who braided my hair a few weeks back, which at that time could not communicate with me at all. I can’t believe how fast they are picking English…when I connect it to some of the Swahili words I have managed to pick up…they respond so enthusiastically. I am waiting until the women have a better understanding of the language so I can share the message of the pearl with them. I am eagerly waiting for that day! I have been asked to share the message with the whole community of 80+ Congolese women. Needless to say, I am so thankful for those of you who have spent time making them. I am looking forward to the Heartstrings team coming out here in August!

Canada, USA, Guatemala & Beyond…

As much as God has been opening doors for the {purl} project here in Uganda, he has been on the move in other parts of the world. I recently received an email from one of the missionaries that was living with me until her return to Kansas last month. She is connected with a team going to Guatemala and is preparing to take the {purl} project there.
I have also received emails and asked for information about the project so they can bring it to summer camps both in Manitoba, Canada and California. It is so exciting to be here and hear about what God is doing across the world.

Thank you for being a part of what God is doing in the lives of women and girls here in the Pearl of Africa…and wherever else you find yourself sharing God’s love.



I don’t think any of them as well as any of us leaders expected the necklace to make such an impact on our lives as well as the girls in Jamaica. I gave my necklace to Julieanne at St. Monica’s Children’s Home. Julieanne hadn’t been feeling good and had actually been sleeping for most of the time and had missed the little devotional and explanation to the Purl necklaces that Becki, one of the youth, made. When she woke up most of the other teenage girls at St. Monica’s had already “attached” themselves to the girl that had given them the necklace. Julienanne was just sitting on a chair near the kitchen when I spotted her. I quickly went and asked Tara for the necklace I had made and went and sat beside her. We had put ‘The Father’s Love Letter’ in each of the packages as well. So after explaining that letter to her as well as the meaning behind the necklace I gave the necklace to her. In that moment when she caught on to the messages behind each of those things her eyes lit up, and she began to open up. My hope and prayer for Julieanne is that she’ll believe the message behind the necklace, and that she’ll learn to understand the unexplainable love that God has for her.

After seeing the incredible results of giving our necklaces out at St. Monica’s many of the girls decided to make more so that we would have enough necklaces for all the girls at Anderson Home.

When we headed out to Anderson, Sandy attached herself to me…literally. I don’t think I’ve ever received such a long hug and I don’t think I ever will again. Her hands grasped my backpack incredibly tightly and there was no way to get out of her embrace. I spent those 7 minutes praying over her, and praying that she would feel Christ’s love for her coming from me and just covering her. Her eyes looked so sad and empty and I desired so much to fill them with laughter and joy. A few hours later it was time to give out the necklaces and I got the privilege of giving mine to Sandy. I repeated over and over “God loves you Sandy, you’re his beautiful pearl”. I so incredibly wanted her to look at me and for me to see that she understood the message. I’ve never seen such a transformation before. She was so incredibly filled with joy, happiness, and God’s love. I fully believe that she ‘got the message’ and now I just pray that she never starts to doubt it!

The necklaces in Jamaica served as a connection tool as well as a lesson about God’s love and the beauty of the pearl. The girls we gave our necklaces too very obviously attached themselves to the girl whom they received it from. I saw such beautiful friendships being made and loved seeing a big group of Jamaica’s and Canadian teenage girls all laughing and loving each other.

Much love and blessings, Jalysia (Arbourg Youth Group)

Picture 1: Julianne and I at St. Monica’s Picture 2: Sandy’s embrace