Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Friends!

May you great the miracle of Christmas with childlike wonder and expectation... eyes wide open.

lanecia a. rouse

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Acholi Beads Shipment Arriving December 17

Hello Friends of Sunshine Papier!

Thanks for all of the support you have offered over the past month. I am so thrilled at how Acholi Beads has been embraced by the Nashville community. Thanks for wearing the beads and sharing the story.

We have a new shipment of beads arriving Wednesday, December 17, just in time for last minute gift-giving purchases.

If you are interested in taking a look at the collection, email me to set-up a time:

lanecia a rouse

Mocha Club

This echos in many ways the small glimpse of Uganda I had when the in September. I was able to glimpse the life, beauty, dispair, hope, need, creativity, laughter, music, dance, dreams, and our shared humanity.

We need each other. I need Africa and Africa needs me.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


for a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.
but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid at last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. this perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness.
happiness is the way. so treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.

happiness is a journey, not a destination...


Monday, November 24, 2008

Love-Hungry World

I received this from a friend this morning and it was just the ray of sunshine I needed to great this rainy day.

"You and I are meant to be 'letters' to the world. People who 'read' us receive a message from the Divine Mystery. Now, there's a delightful vocation - to be a sort of 'valentine' from God to a love-hungry world! But if we are able to be living, divine letters, 'words made flesh,' we, of all people, should keep alive and treat with respect the beautiful custom of letter writing. As we take time to do this, let us remember that such activity is always prayer. Let us remember that it is also prayer to receive and read a letter. Perhaps we could pause at the conclusion of having penned a note to a friend and trace the sign of the cross upon the letter to remind ourselves of this fact, Or, we could breathe part of our spirit into the envelope. More than just a puff of breath, we could send along with our message a part of our soul. Since love is invisible, some ritual or sign helps us remember what it is we are really sending when we send a letter to someone we love."
--Edward Hays in Secular Sanctity

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Acholi Beads./Sunshine Papier at Rumours East

WHAT: Fun GIRLS TIME! Sparkling Tasting & Holiday Shopping with Christy, Whitney & Friends
WHERE: Rumours East, 1112 Woodland St., East Nashville 262.5346
WHEN: Saturday, November 22nd from 4:30 to 6:30
WHY? We want a chance to catch up with friends and take care of some holiday shopping while supporting some of our favorite local artists and small biz owners! Come on, ladies! Woo-hoo!
HOW MUCH? Just $12!

A fun "ladies only" sparkling tasting and have recruited some great local artists and small biz owners to help us with our holiday shopping! Moda (on 12th S.), Lori Word (jewelry), Abby White (abbyhugs-knit accessories), Maybird Vintage (vintage clothing & accessories), Kali Yuga Yoga (yoga wear-discounted gift cert), Acholi Beads from Uganda & more!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunshine Papier House Party

Sunshine Papier House Party
Artist & Owner: Lanecia A. Rouse
November 14 and 15, 2008
6-9 pm

Drop-in House Party featuring Acholi Beads ( paper bead jewelry from Kampala, Uganda -, handcrafted greeting cards, inspirational photography, crocheted accessories and other creative offerings that will be for sale.

Sunshine Papier is a small business created to offer beauty, inspire, and provide support for people and projects around the world in need.

Refreshments will be provided.

Bryant's Guest Home (Located in the back, parking from the alley)

RSVP and inquire about location address at:

Feel free to share this invitation with others.
Thank you!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Acholi Beads are now in!!!

Acholi Beads: "Wear their beads. Share their story."

It began over 20 years ago. A vicious rebel group in northern Uganda, unable to prevail against the government it wanted to overthrow, turned on its own community. The insurgents started abducting children, mutilating adults, destroying villages.

The Acholi people, stuck between the volatile rebels and a callous government army, fled their homes in order to protect their families.

Some of these Acholi people made it as far as Uganda's capital city, but could only find refuge in a neglected hillside slum- a slum that has since been dubbed "Acholi Quarters."

The only work available in Acholi Quarters was at a rock quarry, where still today men and women toil in dangerous conditions for $1 per day, trying to support their families.

Beautiful Acholi Beads are made from recycled paper by women living in Acholi Quarters. Instead of making $1 per day in the quarry, our bead makers earn a monthly income that is competitive with teachers in the local high schools. Now they can afford health-care and education, now they can save money and invest in other business opportunities, now they can rebuild their lives.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Alphabet Photography

So I have started a new art project, alphabet photography. I have enjoyed paying attention to all of the natural and manmade structures around me, looking for letters and words. There are letters everywhere.

Who knows where this new adventure will take me. I will keep you posted.


Thursday, October 30, 2008



My name is Lanecia A Rouse.

I am beloved, and I spend most of my days discovering what that means through creating, paying attention to the life around me and living into my call to love.

In my free time I enjoy reading, creating cards, taking photographs, learning from children and singing.

Can you remember a day when you received letters in your mailbox instead of your inbox on gmail, Facebook or Myspace? My hope is to help you rediscover the art of letter-writing and expressing yourself with cards crafted with love, thoughtfulness and joy.

John Mayer sings, "I did not have a camera by my side this time, hoping I could see the world through both my eyes." I have a love and appreciation for the many beautiful creations of God. It gives me great pleasure to sit in the local coffee shop or walk the streets of Nashville, observing from various distances the stories God is writing in the world. God is the Author of all Authors.

In the same breath, I express my love for the camera and the ability to capture moments of beauty. I actually like having the camera by my side so I can see the world through both of my eyes and every now in then, once the film is developed, see a few things I missed.

I hope my photography offerings will help you revel in the many creations of our Loving God, and be moved to live, love, write, and see differently.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How Can I Keep from Singing

If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted... but if I love Jesus personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a door-mat. The secret of a disciple's life is devotion to Jesus Christ.- Oswald Chambers

I am still struggling to find the words to express my journey towards redemption this day, but here are some words from someone who is shedding light upon the steps I take. She gets it!

"The Bible's words about the poor aren't my to-do list, another burden on my shoulders. God wants to transform me into a new person. He wants me to find rest in Christ's love. And when my motivation for all things is Christ's love, loving the poor will become an organic shoot growing out of my heart....

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words always give me the shivers: 'When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.' I know Christ has asked me to give up my very life to serve him. That could mean any number of things. It might mean I die in the cause of speaking out for the oppressed (as Dietich Bonhoeffer died speaking out against the wrongs of Nazi Germany). It could mean I give up some comforts in order to help others. It might mean I have to make some difficult business decisions. It might mean I give my time to a widow in my neighborhood. I don't know what Christ will ask me to do. But it might not be easy.

That's why Christ's promis is so sweet: When I'm weary from serving, he will give me rest. I'm simply his servant, carrying out the good deeds he has for me. He isn't asking me to carry the burden of the whold world or fix the whole world or be in charge of making sure everything turns out just right. He carries that burden. he asks me simply to love him and love others and act accordingly.

Something happens when a creation does just what it was created to do- it sings. It finds joy and purpose and fulfillment. Far from being a burden in life, I suspect fulfilling my purpose in love and serving the poor around me will make me more truly alive. It will nourish me and bring me joy. God is transforming me into his masterpiece- created for the good works he has placed all around me."
- Amer Van Schooneveld

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you... and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.- Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Description of the Education System in Uganda

Information is from

Structure of the Ugandan Education System

The existing structure of the education system in Uganda has been in force since the early 1960s. It consists of seven years of primary education followed by the lower secondary cycle of four years and the upper secondary cycle of two years, after which there are three to five years of university studies.

On successful completion of the primary school cycle, one can either join lower secondary school or take a three-year craft course in a technical school. However, only about 40% of the primary school graduates are absorbed into the secondary cycle, which implies that there are fewer schools than available students, presenting an investment opportunity to private investors.

Successful students completing lower secondary education have four possible outlets:

Upper secondary school (Advanced Level);
Technical institutes for a 2-3 year advanced craft course;
Primary Teacher College (PTC) for a 2 year course; and
Government's Department Training Colleges (DTCs).
Graduates of upper secondary have several options depending on their performance in
advanced level examinations.

Description of the Education System in Uganda
The Educational system in Uganda consists of pri-primary, primary, secondary and post secondary or tertiary education.

Primary Education
The demand for primary education has radically increased with the introduction in 1997 of free primary education for four children in every family. This saw school enrolment increase from 2 million pupils in 1986 to over 6 millions pupils by 1999. There are variations however, between urban and rural areas with the former having more permanent schools and better teaching and instructional materials than the latter.

Secondary Education
This sector has witnessed a growth of over 20 percent in the number of government-aided secondary schools over the last 10 years and a 15% increase in the number of registered private secondary schools the same period. Still the sector is yet to attain the necessary capacity to cope with the large number of primary school leavers.

Post Secondary Education
Between 9,000 and 12,000 students per year qualify to join post-secondary education. However, only about 25 percent of these are absorbed in post-secondary institutions. Makerere University is Uganda's leading institution of higher learning, accounting for 95 percent of the total University enrolments. The remaining 5 percent are shared between six other Universities at Mbarara, Ndejje, Nkumba, Mbale, Martyrs and Bugema (see Appendix 1). The enrolments into tertiary institutions over the last 10 years increased by over 90 percent while the number of tertiary institutions increased by 1.8 percent in the same period. This indicates that there is need for more institutions at tertiary level to absorb the high numbers of students.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Love Embodied... Global Support Mission

"The time is always right, to do what is right." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Global Support Mission is a non-profit organization run by a team of young adults in Nashville, TN, who daily seek to allow their compassion for others move them towards action.

The organization exist, "to see a movement of compassion wipeout hunger, disease and extreme poverty."

They are an organization that is: (you can find all of this on their website that you should DEFINITELY check out TODAY! :)
by the unrelenting love of Christ
to serving with honesty, integrity, and fidelity
to defend the dreamer and the fulfillment of the dream
to operate within our means through resourcefulness and imagination
to cultivating productive and lasting relationships with our partners and network affiliates

I have only had the pleasure of spending time with Travis and David, however I believe that the heart, dedication and vision of the team is consistent with the values listed above.

Drop a note to Travis, David, Brady, Peter, Lauren, and Mindee to offer encouragement, support and love.

You can send an Agape note to the team at GSM to:
Global Support Mission
1262 2nd Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37210

Monday, September 29, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stories from Rwanda

During my pilgrimage I" was gifted with 2 nights in Kigali, Rwanda. I received so many gifts while I was there, one being time spent at the Kigali Memorial Centre (

There are many moments from my walk thought the centre that will remain with me for days to come. I would like to share one with you today, the moment was reading the stories of resistance and sacrifice of ordinary men & women who lived during a particular moment in time with extraordinary courage. Resistance to genocide took various forms. The RPF led the political and armed resistance to genocide. Members of the moderate wings of different political parties, some of the victims organized resistance to killings, and a number of Hutus and others hid targeted victims sometime at the risk of their own lives.

Here are a few of their stories...

Resistance in Bisesero
"Tutsis at Bisesero came from across the region to fight back. Aminadabu Birara and Simeon Karamaga led a large force of men in the forested hills of Bisesero.

When there was an attack we'd make noise screaming, hitting drums and jerry-cans. After attacking us, in the evening they'd go back home and we'd regroup and assess how things were going. They brought heavy ammunition; grenade launchers, rockets, anti-tanks... we used stones and arrows... Their plan was to get us out of the mountains so that they could kill us easily.

We resisted for about a week, until in the end they sent a force of Presidential Guard from Kigali who defeated us. Fighting against armed men is a problem. We were weak." Innocent Ndamyimana Gisanura
When French troops arrived there were still survivors in the hills. It is reported that they reassured the resistors that it was safe to come out of hiding, then left. Thinking it was safe, the weak survivors emerged to be slaughtered by the interahamwe.

Of an estimated 50,000 Tutsis who had taken refuge in the hills, only one thousand survived to tell the story of Bisesero.

Resistance in Yahaya Nsengiyumva
Nsengiyumva Yahaya was a Muslim living in Nyamirambo. During the genocide he is said to have saved the lives of over 30 people, who he protected or hid in his outhouse.

"The interahamwe killer was chasing me down the alley. I was going to die any second. I banged on the door of the yard. It opened almost immediately. He took me by the hand and stood in his doorway and told the killer to leave. He said that the Koran says: 'If you save one life it is like saving the whole world.' He did not know it is a Jewish text as well." Beatha Uwazaninka

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


"He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord's and he has set the world in order." 1 Samuel 2:8 (NLT)

Hope Lives

On September 2, I left Nashville on a pilgrimage to Uganda and Rwanda. I got to know and play with beautiful children. I spent time with women and men who left their home villages, seeking refuge and work in the south as the 22-year civil war continues in the north. I witnessed the Ugandan people serving one another through youth ministries and creative art projects. For the first time in my life I stepped onto the soil of Africa and was present to God's people there.

I left Africa on September 17, with more smiles than tears. This has surprised many people when they ask about my experience. Incredible journeys birth incredible emotions, right? But tears are fluid and unreliable. Laughter, joy and hope, however, have a way of permanently etching themselves into memories. So I bring tons of smiles from Africa, and I'd like to share them with you.

We walked into the Acholi quarters of Kampala, Uganda, and the people—women and children alike—got on their knees and took my hand in theirs and welcomed me, saying, “Apowya! You are welcomed here.” Our arrival was a celebration, filled with song, dance and tons of bottles of cola. With their nicest table cloth on the table, they fed us fine meals that probably cost more than they could afford. And we ate before anyone else. We were their beloved guests. I learned about radical hospitality in their welcoming.

I remember Abramz who taught a breakdancing class (yes, I danced hip-hop there, and I learned the importance of dancing freely—both physically and metaphorically). Abramz, who was orphaned at age 7 is now an adult who looks at each day as another opportunity to live his dreams and uplift life within community. Despite his poor education and rough childhood, he is wildly successful in his hip-hop career and wildly successful at serving the people of Uganda. I learned about living the life you imagine with him.

Stephen and Jacques-John showed me around their neighborhood. They are two young boys, too poor to go to school. Instead, they work in the rock quarries. A dangerous place where many of the uneducated have to work just to make a penance. I listened as the uneducated Acholi women beadmakers had to rely on educated men to translate their jewelry business deals. They have a better life as beadmakers, but what would they do if there was no one educated enough to communicate for them? Why can't they communicate for themselves? I learned the importance of education in eradicating poverty.

As I walked the streets of Kampala and Kigali, praying with my feet and looking for God's active presence in the world, I felt the Holy Spirit re-creating me. My life merged with the story of Uganda and Rwanda in such a way that it is now written in my soul. The landscape, the faces and the spirit of these places are now my story.

I Hope you take time today to glimpse the divine creations all around you, allowing your story to merge with the story of someone else in a way that encourages, inspires and moves you ever closer to the heart of God's call to us--that we may love God with our whole being and our neighbor as we love ourselves.

To learn more about the people, organizations and projects I learned
from check out the following websites:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Broken Open

Rock Quarry at Acholi Quarters

During my time in Kampala, I was able to witness children, women and men mining rocks and learn more about this tiring, dangerous, tedious, and means providing job a number of people in the Acholi Quarters find themselves doing to provide for their basic needs (food, shelter, healthcare, education, etc.).

Before arriving in Uganda, I read a number of articles about the rock quarry and labor conditions. I found a number of things read to be true. Hundreds of children, women and men, mostly refugees who fled a civil war in Northern Uganda, work the mines around the Acholi Quarters area for hours to make 200 Uganda shillings ($.12 U.S. cents), for every 5-gallon yellow bucket they fill with chipped rocks used to make gravel.

Though this provides valuable ends for a number of people I was privileged to meet and see along my pilgrim's journey, I question the means/conditions of the work environment. Walking through the quarry, I witnessed the workers without saftey helmets, goggles or gloves swing metal against stone that flew various directions. I saw children whose arms and legs were marked by the danger of flying stones and sat in the home of a women whose eye was badly injured while working the quarry, which has left her unable to work for 6 months, dependent upon the support of a NGO (Non-Government Organization) to provide food for her family. A couple of days before we arrived, a man was killed at the quarry pictured abover in a landslide. Lanslides of falling rocks are frequent in the quarry.

There were a few times that I replaced faces of people I saw at work with the faces of children I adore at Belmont, the youth I journey with in ministry and beautiful women who I call friend, mentor and family here in the USofA, and paused to swallow the very bitter pill of inequality, economic & social complexities, injustices, happenstance, and privileged that makes situations everyday harsh realities for some and foolish "what if" for others. Lost for words and burdened by many questions, I walked in silence greeting people I passed along the way with a smile and the Acholi greeting. "apwoyo." Acholi is a language primarily spoken by the Acholi people in the districts of Gulu, Kitgum and Pader, a region known as Acholiland in northern Uganda. Acholi is also spoken in the southern part of the Opari District of Sudan.

As one who informed by a society that speaks out against and frowns upon child labor, I continue to struggle with the tragic reality that a number of the children in the quarters find themselves in. Two boys that I got to know and spend some time with, unable to afford to go to school consistently, find themselves working the rocks for sometimes 8 hours a day to help support their mother in providing their 20,000 shillings a month rent and food for their table. They work two different quarries that are about 1 to 2 km away from their one room mud constructed home to crush stone, averaging 2,000 shillings a day between the both of them. Their father was a soldier from the north, killed by rebels during this 22-year civil war between the government and the rebel group by the name of Lord's Resistance Army. Millions have died, millions have fled. Most have found refuge in IDP camps up north, but one article reported that advocacy groups estimate that there are up to 600,000 in the southern cities.

One articled reported that, "A truce has enabled many of the camp-dwellers to go home, with food, tools and building materials provided by the government and aid groups. But the urban refugees don't qualify for help and have remained unregistered and invisible." (USA Today story on the Rock Quarries of Uganda)

Thanks to Mr. Plyler, my friend James and my new friend George, the people who reside in Acholi Quarters do not remain unregistered and invisible to me.

My first afternoon in Kampala, Uganda was spent on a hillside blanketed with mud huts and homemade brick one or two room homes walking red dirt/mud pathways, being warmly and graciously greeted by new friends who grabbed my hand and said, "Apwoyo! You are most welcome." Children, women and men of Acholi Quarters, welcomed me not only into their homes and meal tables, but they welcomed me- a stranger - into their lives. They broken open my heart in ways tit had not been broken before... I tasted a new flavor of freedom, joy, hope, resilence and LIFE. From the moment I got out of the special hire car onto the pot holed dirt road, shook the hands of the little boy standing beside the mural wall, and heard the strange word "Apwoyo" followed by "You are most welcome," I felt the heart cracking once again and gave way to the sweet Spirit of God that filled the people I was blessed to encounter along the way.

I now know their names, their faces are imprinted upon my heart. When I read about the rock quarry and speak of the rock quarry, I think of Jok-John, Stephem, Emos, Anna, Seila, Fiona... the list goes on. I am still trying to make sense of it all, listening for the answer to "so what now?", hungering for kingdom like community of blessings & woes, and desperate for the imagination to live, believe and act as though another way is possible. I long for salvation...redemption.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Continent and Time Zone

I have arrived in Amsterdam via KLM. So hard to believe that I have already kissed Uganda "Good Bye" for now, and am writing from a computer in Amsterdam preparing for a plane journey that is US of A bound. Life is definitely crazy beautiful!

Sitting here next to the same computer I wrote my first Amsterdam blog from, it is blowing my mind that this journey is coming to an end. In so many ways it feels as though I was just here, and in so many other ways it feels as though I was here a month ago. The journey has been AMAZING! Maybe that is why my internal clock is a bit flustered.

My heart is very full though, and my bags. Yesterday I went to Acholi Quarters for a couple hours to tell my friends "bye." Of course George had Monica prepare a wonderful Ugandan meal for us (rice, beef, sweet potatoes, cabbage and soda). You cannot visit George without him welcoming you wholeheartedly into his home and feeding you the best he has. The first day at the quarters, he gave each of us about 5 sodas throughout our time there. Sugar RUSH!

Anyway, George made sure that my stomach was weighed down and the bead makers made sure my bags & heart was full. Esther came and presented me with a basket FULL of paperbead jewelery and a traditional African dress. Oh my goodness! I was speechless. I have traveled a number of places in this world, but I cannot recall leaving people I had know for such a short period of time with so many expressions of love. The ladies came by George's home to say farewell, children came to give me "5" for the last time, and everyone wanted to know when I would make my way back to them. My cup just kept bubbling over. I look forward to sharing with all of you the treasures we received yesterday. The gifted me with gifts and extended greetings to my "family" back in Nashville. They shared crafts made with love & beauty with their hands, gifts that could make them a nice profit, with me to share with others that you may glimpse the love & life of our neighbors in Uganda. I cannot wait to share with you.

After my time there I rushed to the house to shower and prepare for the long journey. Before heading to the airport, Robin & I met James, Kristen and Waverly at the youth center to say our farewells. I was also hoping to see Godfrey one last time (picture coming soon), but I had to depart before he arrived. I left a small treasure with him though and I hope he enjoyed the sweetness of it's taste. He is a jewel. I look forward to hearing about all God does with his life. One day...

The ride to Entebbe was nice. Ephraim and I shared many moments of silence as I tried to take in a few last memories of Uganda. The sun was setting along the way and Ephrain said, "You and the sun are saying bye to Uganda together. We will miss you so." In my heart I thought and I wish I had said it to him, "Yes, but like the sun I will say morning to Uganda again."

Eprhaim is the best special hire around. If you make a trip to Uganda and need a driver, let me know so I can hook you up. He called me at 9:54 pm, just to hear my voice on last time and send greetings to all of you. He said, "I called because I know in 30 minutes I will not be able to hear your voice again. I wanted to hear your voice one more time. Please tell your family and everyone that Ephraim from Uganda, Africa sends greetings. Tell them."

I broke. Lost it like a little one. Honestly though, I left Uganda with more smiles than tears. I left with my heart & soul filled with memories & love that will give way to smiles, moments of joy and hope forever. Uganda is forever apart of me, God has written the people and the land permamently into this story God is writing in my life... I am becoming a new creation.

There is more that has yet to be written. There are people and landscapes of Nashville I have yet to discover. So many stories and glimpses of hope are around us all of the time, we just need to stop, pay attention and remember. Hope you take time today to glimpse the divine creations all around you and allow your story to merge with the story of someone else in a way that encourages, uplifts, inspires and moves you ever closer to the new creation God is daily shaping you to be.

Life is beautiful... crazy beautiful!
love and peace,

Bottle by Bottle

Last week a friend sent me an email encouraging me to embrace life fully during my time here and take it one moment at a time. Very wise advice I must say, it freed me from trying to "figure it all out" and reminded me to be present in each moment. Ciona blessed me with "Pilgrim Pills' before coming, and each evening (between dinner & sleeping) I have unraveled one of the small pieces of paper she placed in an old Target pill bottle. Clever, clever girl. :)

Anyway, I kept my promise and opened only one a day and I believe that added to the blessing. Honestly, I cannot tell you how fitting her prayers, instructions & encouragements were for the day I received them. For instance... the night we stayed on Lake Bunyonyi, the pill said, "Leave a message in a bottle...," How perfect is that? It was the first time I had even been remotely close to water.
The day after I received the pill to "Dance your prayers today...," I went to the break dance class at the local community center for the first time and I actually danced. Ha! It inspired me to get out of my comfort zone, allow myself to be foolish with my new friends, and share in what I believe is one great project. I danced my prayers that day, for sure.
The day after I received the pill to "Sing your prayers today...," I went to the Genocide Memorial in Kigal, Rwanda, and boy did I need to pull on the prayers of Taize as I remembered & discovered more of Rwanda's story. The prayer, "The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit..." kept flowing within my soul and quietly off my lips.

I think you get the point. God has not stopped surprising and revealing such great love to me whenever I opened myself to God's presence. Moment by moment, step by step or in our new Rwandan term & memory "bottle by bottle" the Scripture stories have come alive for me and challenged me in ways I had not expected or imagined. There is definitely a new aliveness within me, a sense of perspective and purpose that excitements me.

During my time here I have kept up the discipline of journeying through the book, Cultivating Faithfulness, with other people from Belmont UMC. We have a Ministry Council Retreat this weekend, and this daily practice is preparing us for this visioning time together. The last two chapters of the book are Risk-Taking Mission and Service and Extravagant Generosity. What irony or how fitting?

On Day 28 the author writes, "Risk-Taking Mission and Service reminds us that congregations are not ends in themselves; they are resources God uses to change live and transform the world. God places congregations in a world troubled by many challenges.... A majority of the people with whom we share the world live with incredible uncertainty because of poverty, hunger, illness, or war.
As followers of Christ, we cannot live as if these things have nothing to do with us. Christ moves us closer to suffering, not further away. We cannot walk around obvious suffering, ignoring it like those who preceded the Samaritan down the road to Jericho. We can't moan about how somebody ought to do something. We cannot merely lift those who suffer in prayer, asking God to do for us what God created us to do for God.
Churches that practice Risk-Taking Mission and Service hear in the human need to their neighbors the distinct call of God. Against all odds, they figure out a response and offer themselves faithfully, even at some cost to themselves. God uses them to transform the world." (Pgs. 75-76)

Along this pilgrimage journey, I have met people who sensed God's calling to be what God had created them to be for the betterment of their community, both local & global. They were willing to offer themselves, even at some great cost to themselves. No one I sat with articulated that their motivation was to transform the world, but rather to love faithfully and offer to others a better life, hope, encourage people to dream, provide a good education and be apart of what God was doing believing that there was a blessing somewhere in it. God moved them to hear in the human need of their neighbors a distinct call and they were foolish enough to follow. Many of them in offering their lives to loving the people they are with well, have received a life greater than anything they could have imagined for themselves. No joke and definitely not romanticizing it at all. As I write more with pictures in days to come, you will see the cost, the blessings, the great needs & struggles, as well as the life that is here.

Wow, this is way too long. Thanks for taking the time to listen to the thoughts God has placed upon my heart. So much more to share. I will write more each day when I return about the journey, sharing pictures and stories along the way. If anything moves you or if you have a story to share, please post a comment.

Time is running out on me again.

I depart from Kampala tonight at 10:20 pm, and will be in Nashville tomorrow around 5 pm. Craziness! I am ready to go home, and I am also ready to come back. :) Today though, I will take it moment by moment, step by step and bottle by bottle.

Love you all. Thanks for your prayers and support during this pilgrimage journey. It has been AMAZING!

Peace of Christ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back Online

Hello Friends!

Wow, so much has happened since I last wrote. So much! I do not have much time on the computer, because I am meeting with Abramz (director of the Break dance Uganda Project) to learn more about the project, his vision, needs and ways, if any, that I can support him. This is the first morning that I scheduled for myself since being in Uganda. I hired the special driver, made the contacts, decided on the places and everything on my own. How funny, as soon as I get comfortable venturing out on my own it is time to leave. C'est la vie.

Anyway, I will try to share brief notes from each day that I received with gratitude since I last wrote. Here goes...

Friday at 1 am, we got on a bus Kigali, Rwanda bound. It was quite an experience. There are a few complications that occurred due to me being the one who bought the tickets (LONG STORY), but everyone ended up having a seat and we made it to our final destination safely.

Crossing the border was an experience. When walking from Uganda into Rwanda my heart was so full. I could not believe that I was stepping onto Rwandan soil. Dream come true.

Rwanda is beautiful. The landscape is amazing and the country is so clean. So many beautiful hills and people. As we traveled on bus, it took about 12 hours to get there, I keep thinking, "If these trees could talk, what would they tell me?"

Kigali was a cool city. Once again, very clean and seemingly on the up & up. Nice stores, restaurants, streets, etc., but they also have atms that have never worked. HA! Lots of work still do when it comes to infrastructure.

I got to meet some really "rad" people and take my first moto ride. Since then I have ridden on the bodas here in Kampala, the one thing I said I would not do. HAHAHA!

The Genocide Memorial in Kigali made the trip worthwhile. So much to say about that, will have to write more later. Meaningful, enriching and heart breaking.

The ride back to Uganda was ROUGH! I was so tempted to say, "Stop, let me off and I will bite the cost of a taxi ride to Lake Bunyonyi." Once again there are some stories to be told, but not enough time today.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda is SPECTACULAR! Ciona, you are going to love it! A piece of PEACE and Bliss in the midst of all of the chaos that has been my life for so long. I prayed Taize songs crossing the Lake both times and am so thankful for that time.

Back in Kampala and happy to be here. I missed it. So much here yet to discover and so little time. Last night I did go to break dancing class and got to see my young friend Godfrey. He remembered me and our handshake. It was great to see his face light up when he saw me and I learned a 10 step move too. I think we must have a break dancing UMY one of these days. Thoughts you guys? :)

Alright, I have to go now. Love you all. Know that I am having a wonderful experience and being blessed more than I could have asked for. So much to take in and so much to share. God is good. All the time!

Peace of Christ,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

MLK, Jr.'s "A Time to Break the Silence" and Shane Claiborne's Irresistable Revolution

"When we live in the wreckage of an old industrial neighborhood that has lost over two hundred thousands jobs and now has seven hundred abandoned factories, we start to ask questions about the corporate global economy, especially when we see the same companies abuse other "neighbors" overseas. Dr. Martin Luther King put it like this:'We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside... but one day we must come to see that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed. True compassion is more than flining a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you life so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved.'"

Over the past 30 years of my life I have been priviledged with many opportunities to travel and experience being in relationship with my global neighbors. Each trip, what begins as privilege is transformed into a rich blessing for me and hopefully for those who welcome me into their lives, their stories.

Kampala has not been any different, only that the transformatoin began long before I stepped onto that NW flight. Many of my steps in this city give birth to the question, "Maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved?" Honestly, there is very little maybe that comes with the question. Life lived with my poor and rich neighbors confirm that atleast most of the road needs to be repaved, if not the whole thing.

The role of the Good Samaritan in Kampala is proving to be more difficult for me than back home where I am familiar with all of the implications of my choices. Here there is a different level of complexities and implications that I cannot even begin to comprehend only being here a week.

Huh... patience has never been my virtue.:) No doubt, this is one of the many ways God is refining me on this pilgrimage journey. Believe me there are a few more, but I do not want to totally expose myself on this blog. :) hahaha! Pray for me though and now that God is constanting re-creating me.

On another note... I went breakdancing last night and I will go to class again on Monday. YAY! I think I stumbled across another story that I hope to tell when I return. If you have a chance check out: or

Hope to sit over coffee with him, Abramz, next week to learn more about the Breakdance Project Uganda and hopefully write an article or something back home. New thing for me. Sure Ciona can help me out with that a bit.

Speaking of Ciona, I miss her dearly today and my other friends in Nashville. There is something to be said about being known within a community and sharing all of life with them or atleast as much as you can. I am so thankful my community in Nashville, NYC, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Cali have chosen to journey with me in prayer. I feel those prayers, cherish them.

Oh well, I must go now. I am off to Acholi Quarters with Robin and Kristen to spend time with the beadmakers and my young friends. YAY!

Love you all.
Peace of Christ.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Praying with my feet and drinking with my eyes

Yesterday we went back to Acholi Quarters. I am a bit more comfortable with the area now and decided to wander out a bit without James, George or one of the beadmakers. I was blessed.

We spent a few hours there. I did not get to talk to the women as much as I would have liked, because they were meeting and I spent time with a few children in the quarters and a family that lives next door to George's (Acholi Beads Manager) home in the quarters. When you see the pictures you will understand why I connected with the children, especially two little girls and two young boys these two little girls my first full day in Kampala. Their names are Seila, Fiona, Stephen, and Jac-George. I have taken pictures of them everytime we have been at the Quarters. Yesterday, Seila and Fiona's mother gave me two paper necklaces she had made me for "being friend" to her little girls.

My heart was so FULL!!! What an honor. I spent time last night trying to figure out what I could offer them as a token of friendship that keeps our relationship pure, beautiful, and sacred. They love when I take pictures of them, so I decided to take the polaroid camera tomorrow and give them pictures of the three of us. How fun is that!?!

The boys took me around the quarters yesterday, back to the rocks. They ran dogs away and everything! :) I prayed with my feet as we walked, and drank the sweet bitter cup of life in the quarters with my eyes. At times it was a very hard cup to swallow.

I saw children laughing, singing, washing, playing in the water, searching the trash collection for food, praying, studying, working the rocks, playing football, sitting with nothing to do and waving with a smile when I came their way. I saw it all within an hour of time. The boys took me to the rocks and immediately started working. I did not want them to work, but it was so natural and they almost seemed to like it.

So since I could not stop them I decided to join them. OH is so hard and dangerous, but also a bit satisfying especially if you can receive what is $1.25 for a days work. That is nothing for us, but so much for them. Breaks me... something does not seem right about that.

Education is SOOOOOO important. The rocks is the only option for a number of children, women and men in Acholi Quarters. If a child is not in school, but is of age there is a great chance that they will spend many days & years working the rocks. I am still trying to understand how it all works, so I will share more later when I have a better grasp of it.

Anyway... I better get going. Time is limited.

Peace of Christ,
Thanks for your prayers.

Monday, September 8, 2008


So, this is a quick note to let you all know I am well. I wish I could say more, but my time on the internet is limited and I have too much to say to even try to begin.

Know that I feel your prayers and desire them. A new week has begun for me in Kampala, and I am thankful. I am looking forward to being with the beadmakers today in Acholi Quarters, I missed them this weekend. The weekend was lovely though and restful in ways. I got to explore a bit with Robin and James, read, write in my journal (I have written about 8 pages each day), worship, listen, cry and be still.


It is a pretty quite day in Kampala. The weather is cool, it is a national holiday so people are resting definitely note the hustle & bustle of the past few days. After a meeting with George in the city, we are heading back to Acholi Quarters. YAY!

Hopefully, this heavy weight will be lifted as soon as I encounter the first Acholi child's smile. I had prepared myself for some aspects of life here, but over the past few days I have learned about the many dimensions of social ills that exist here & within the Global Community. I have also witnesed so many places of hope, joy and redemption. Prayer for me that I will have the wisdom to accept the things that I cannot change, offer what little I can with great love towards the places God calls me to, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Pray for me this day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

3 Days In and Loving Every Minute!!!

Life is AMAZING here! I spent most if the morning dodging the bodas ( on the city streets of Kampala and bracing myself from slipping on the side of the road. I failed at one point, falling on my back on the side of the road. HAHAHAHAHA! I still have the red dirt on my clothes and cut on my hand to prove it. After falling I decided to play in my mind over and over again the words of one of the beadmakers, "Slow down. Slow down." She thought I tried to walk around the Acholi Quarters (one of the many slums in Kampala) too fast.

The fact that I am typing right now on a computer in downtown Kampala is proof that God does have me in the palm of His hand. The past 3 days I have been welcomed with great hospitality, introduced to some beautiful people and seen so much... I know we are all in the palm of God's hand.

The food is FABULOUS!!! I have had a few meals out, but Thursday and Friday we had lunched at Acholi Quarters so it was authentic Ugandan food. The beadmakers are so beautiful and welcomed us so. Hospitality like you have never experienced before. No dog bites :), though a few encounters. Next week I will visit each beadmaker in her home and listen to the story.

Time is up, so I better go. All is well though, all is well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On my way!


It is official... tonight I will step foot onto the continent of Africa. Craziness!

Right now we are awaiting our flight to Uganda in Amsterdam. Really enjoy this city, but will not have time to explore because our lay over is only a couple of hours. Anyway, it is nice to be back in Europe if just for a second. Flying in, over Ireland and England, many precious memories flooded my mind and a few prayers were said.

It was a great flight. The stars outside of the window were spectacular! Looking forward to resting underneath the blanket of stars that cover Kampala. Exciting times ahead.

Oh well, I must run. Love you all. Feel your prayers.

Peace of Christ,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Less than a week away!

James & me at Lake Junaluska this summer.

Dear Family & Friends:

My flight to Uganda is less than a week away. WOW! I am so excited about boarding a plane with James and Robin next week, Uganda bound by way of Amsterdam.

The past few weeks have been nothing short of amazing. The paths I have crossed, the stories I have had the privilege of hearing from people native to Uganda & Rwanda, the opportunity to share why I am going to Uganda, and the gifts I have received have all helped to prepare me for the days to come. I am so thankful for the words of encouragement, prayer offerings and financial support that have been so graciously given to me by family, friends, and church communities who have all helped me grow deeper in the way of discipleship... love.

In light of the generosity of many I have been blessed with over $2,000 to date towards the missional journey. There are financial gifts still being sent to the church & deposited into the "Africa Mission" account to support my journey to Uganda and a deep calling to learn from and participate in the work of redemption that God is doing in the lives of the children in Uganda & throughout the world who find themselves stifled by injustices, unable to imagine life any other way.

I am still creating cards, working on photography projects and crocheting hats. I am looking forward to creative stirrings that will come during my pilgrimage. You may visit my photography and greeting card store: to glimpse of my new pieces that will be posted by Friday, August 29. There you can purchase items that will help fund my expenses in Uganda.

You may also donate directly to the trip by writing checks to Metropolitan Community UMC with “Africa Mission for Lanecia” in the notes. Checks may be sent to MCUMC at 1975 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10035.

Thanks again for your time and support.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Love Embodied... Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne is one of the most beautiful individuals I have had the opportunity to hang out with and call "Bro'". He is one of the founding members of a New Monastic Community called The Simple Way in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Shane is also a writer, faith-led activist for nonviolence and redistribution of resources to the poor, speaker, inspiration, dreamer, and friend.

Claiborne's outlook on ministry to the poor is often compared to Mother Teresa, whom he worked alongside with during a 10-week term in Calcutta. He spent 3 weeks in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team (a project of Voices in the Wilderness and Christian Peacemaker Teams). He was witness to the military bombardment of Baghdad as well as the militarized areas between Baghdad and Amman. As a member of IPT, Claiborne took daily trips to sites where there had been bombings, visited hospitals and families, and attended worship services during the war.

To learn more about Shane and the way he chooses to offer his life daily, go to:

During the month of September Shane will be on Sabbatical, spending time at home in Philly. Drop him a note, offering him encouragement, support and above all things love.

You can send an Agape note to Shane Claiborne to:
The Simple Way
PO Box 14751
Philadelphia, PA 19134

(All photos of Shane are from the simple way website.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Sunshine Papier House Party, August 22

"Reach out and open the door that no one thought could be opened. Life is behind it."- Kelly Ann Rathaus

There is life behind the doors, and last night I embraced it fully. Last spring I stumbled across a hobby that, in no time, became a means of creativity and absolute delight for me: card making. Since then I have been creating cards, working on photography projects, and crocheting hats daily. I love it.

Last night the Cramers and Kristi Dunn hosted a card/art party for me, where I was able to share my creations with friends and continue to raise money to support my trip to Uganda next week. It was a great night. My mother surprised me with a visit, I sold some cards & photography pieces, and I got to delight in other people enjoying beautiful things I spent time creating. It was a great night. I am so incredibly thankful for the support, encouragement, hospitality, and fellowship gifted to me last night.

Who would have thought?

Since watching Invisible Children Rough Cut, March 2007, something within me died making room for something new to be born. I began to see doors that I never knew existed, encounter people who pointed me toward doors that my insecurities blinded me from, and walk through doors I did not think could open.

An artist was born.

Sunshine Papier