Preparing for the arrival of new staff and students began the day after Christmas for Kelly and me. We made a good team as we cleaned, inventoried and stocked homes with setup items for staff who would arrive on January 12th. Having a working fan to keep cool and filtered water upon arrival are a few of the necessities for anyone moving here. I (Danlyn) became a pro at riding in the back of the tricycle and jumping out at every stop to drop-off and pick-up items. We did this for days/weeks until every last place was as good as it could possibly be. On the morning of January 12th, we (along with some of the Leadership Team) welcomed 11 new people from the states to our team (8 adults & 3 children). After basic introductions and small talk, Katie prayed over them, and for the impact they will have at The Amazima School. They then began the process of learning where and how to withdraw money in Uganda. It sounds easy until every ATM runs out of cash or won’t accept your card for some unknown reason, is broken or decides to eat your card that day. Which ones take Visa, Mastercard? Which ones have fees? Oh, the banking here. The upside is you do feel “rich” when you withdraw one million shillings. It just sounds nice. In reality, it’s only about USD 275. Most everything is paid for in cash here so we visit the ATM’s on a regular basis. After everyone got settled into their new homes on campus, there were several weeks of orientation (training for their specific roles, exploring Jinja town, Ugandan culture, etc.) and getting to know other staff members.

It is always great to have new friends and neighbors to fellowship with and such a blessing to have fresh energy on the team. It brings a renewed spirit to all of us. To watch the joy and wonder of all that is happening at Amzaima through new eyes is a treat.

New Amazima Staff from The States


Year Two at The Amazima School has brought us 72 more students which means we have doubled in size and more than doubled the number of classes. Why so many classes? Because our S1 (Senior 1 – like 7th grade) students have 14 subjects compared to our TY (Transition Year – before S1) students only having six subjects. What?? I don’t think I could have done 13 subjects in 7th grade. Double the teachers for all those classes. Double the house parents to mentor the students outside of the classroom hours. Double the food, the clubs, the small groups – you get the idea. We increased the number of sports and can now officially compete with other teams now that we have S1 classes and are in the official leagues. We have boys football (soccer), basketball and volleyball teams along with girls netball, basketball and volleyball teams. All for which the students had to go through “screening” (tryouts). There is no longer the opportunity to just “be on the team” this year.

Getting to know 72 new names is no easy task. What is so very helpful is all of the students have their name monogrammed on their uniforms. Of course, this has been delayed for the new students, so I am still floundering about and excited if I learn and remember a new student’s name. What has been very nice is my small group on Wednesday nights (student ministry night) has not changed. Myself along with Grace (one of the godliest Ugandan women I have met) lead eight S1 girls. Due to some changes, our group has only been together since 3rd term last year but we are finally starting to get a rhythm and connect. Grace still has to translate what I mean sometimes, whether I am speaking too Southern that night or I just say a word/phrase of which they do not know the meaning. If I see the “deer-in-headlights” look, then I look to Grace. Thank goodness for my friend Grace who is so important in leading our girls.


The first school term of 2018 has been busy with official visitors from The States. I (Danlyn) am responsible for arranging their trips, transportation, lodging, and agenda while they are here. With a great team helping, we hosted Amazima Stateside staff members, the Amazima Stateside Board of Directors, potential new hires to join us in Uganda this next year and a wonderful couple who served us tirelessly for a week….all in a span of 18 days. Although I certainly love to host others, it is much harder here than in the States (what isn’t). Even so, we have learned some tips and tricks to make it easier. I have my go-to people for everything, and I love this! I send multiple reminders to everyone involved, double/triple check all reservations, turn in meal orders ahead of time and most of all remain flexible. The agenda I scrutinize and labor over usually gets changed several times once people are here but that is okay. As long as people have a meaningful, fruitful visit that is all that matters.


Having done student ministry for so many years before moving to Uganda, we have always been nervous about what would happen on “breaks” from school. Here, the anxiety is higher for us because of what almost all of our students face when they go back to challenging situations and extremely poor living conditions. As we have been sharing for the last year, our students are being transformed by the grace of God before our very eyes to a degree, and at a pace, we have never before seen. What would happen when they went home for seven weeks? I can honestly say the reality of what we are learning about our students is truly a miracle. We visited with the guardians of every returning student we have, and there was not a single negative report received. Not one!! Rather, every visit yielded another story of service, humility, joy, and/or gratitude. Friends, the primary village from where our kids come is being changed because of who our students are becoming. They are living and serving in such a way that reflects the love of Jesus, and it is quickly working in the lives of those around the village. Not a week goes by without hearing comments from Ugandans like “I have never seen Ugandan students act like this before.” We measure success by what we hear from the families of our students, and at this point, God is very graciously allowing us to experience greater results than any of us expected.


Our students have excitedly continued in the Buddy Program with Ekisa Ministries. This is definitely one of their favorite activities and easily one of the most important programs we have for our students. Some of our students even chose to spend their own time and money and go to Ekisa on the school break to hang out with their buddies. WOW!! It is impossible to adequately describe how big of a deal this is in Uganda. For secondary students to legitimately want to care for and serve mentally and physically challenged students is literally unheard of.

Amazima had the great privilege of hosting Ekisa’s Night To Shine (Tim Tebow’s foundation) in February. Again, WOW!!! What an incredible night this was. The Ekisa children felt like the royalty that God made them be. They were all kings and queens of the prom. Our students were there to cheer on their buddy’s as they made their way down the red carpet. Everyone danced the night way, ate great food, and the girls had their hair, makeup and nails done. There was face painting and of course flowers for all.

To catch a glimpse of this special night, watch below.


The Amazima School has been operating legally for over a year as a Ugandan school. For a school to be “officially” open, however, a government official has to “open” the school and with that comes a big day of celebrating. We had hundreds of community members, students, staff, friends and government officials there to celebrate with us the dream Katie had so many years ago which has now come to reality. To help prepare for the day, I was on the Grand Opening Committee, and my team was in charge of food and decor which is, of course, right up my alley. It was with great joy, I put on my party coordinator hat and planned away. I will say, however, being an event planner here is a little more challenging. Vendors don’t seem to be as detailed oriented as I am (or at all actually). I fought the battles worth fighting and let the others work themselves out. All-in-all the day was an enormous success. Yes, the food was delicious and the decor beautiful (we hired it all, don’t be too impressed) but we know for sure that Amazima is making an impact on the Ugandan community and government. Our S1 students sang the Ugandan and National Anthems so impressively. The students served the food with a joyful and humble attitude. They are growing into such servant leaders.

Kelly and Benard Emceeing The Grand Opening

Kelly and Benard (Scholarship Program Manager) emceed the big day. Kelly got to practice his Luganda in front of lots of locals but utimately decided it was best to stick to English. They did a fabulous job, kept us laughing, informed and most importantly – they kept the day moving along. There were many activities to fit into the day. What a lot of us thought would be boring turned out to be some of the best moments of the day – the various speeches.

Anytime there is a grand opening event, government officials from all levels are invited and as such, expected to give a speech. Most of the time, they show up whenever they want, give their speech and leave – especially the chief guest. Our chief guest was the Minister of High Education who is the senior most official thereof in all of Uganda. He was sent by the First Lady to represent the Presidential family who was unable to attend due to illness. When he arrived, his “people” informed us he would stay for just one hour. That, however, was before he watched our students in action singing the national anthem and heard speeches by the Inspector of Education, Katie, and a student (Rizan) selected to represent all the members of The Amazima School. He was so moved by everything he saw and heard that he told our Country Director, “I have never seen such students in all of Uganda; I will be staying for the entire program.” When it came time for his speech, he approached the podium with his prepared remarks in a stack of papers ready to go. 100% of the time at these events the government speeches are political, nationalistic and self-serving. It’s actually the only reason they come! This time, however, was different. The Honorable Minister stepped to the microphone and told the audience he would not be giving his speech today because “there is nothing left to say.” He went on to talk about how The Amazima School is a treasure for all of Uganda and how amazed he was at the commitment to help these students move the country forward. A few of our more political staff members said it was the first time they had ever heard of a governmental official abandoning their speech!

Katie’s Grand Opening speech brought us all to tears. To hear some of it, watch below.


All of us are beginning to accept that we are part of something huge. God is going to change this country through a generation of changed students, and we get to play a small part with a front row seat. The joy of this place overwhelms our difficulties, and God is graciously directing our actions and decisions toward what is clearly an ordained vision for his children in Uganda.

Thank you for your prayers and support!




Yes, Kelly and I have been in Uganda for over a year but more importantly…THE AMAZIMA SCHOOL HAS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED ITS FIRST ACADEMIC YEAR!!! WOW!!! We are so completely blown away and humbled by all that has happened in the past year. We watched very shy and timid young men and women come through our gates that first day in February. It took a while for them to open up to their house parents, ask questions of their teachers without fear and to truly get God’s grace with the assurance of salvation. They have a great desire to learn, a joy when serving others and an overall humble, contagious spirit that definitely indicates just how well things are working here. Our students are the talk of the surrounding villages for all the right reasons! Before the year started, the predictions from many were that our students would be spoiled, entitled and resent the families from which they came. Not only were those predictions wrong, any person who has observed our kids in the villages with their families would report the exact opposite.




We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful team at Amazima. As such, we try to stop and take time to just be together as a team and to continually celebrate what is happening around us. Whether it is lunches, dinners, cookouts or Thanksgiving dinner we definitely find time to eat and just hang out. We introduced our Ugandan friends on Kelly’s Student Life Team to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. All of the Westerners on the team brought their favorite Thanksgiving dishes (maybe with a few substitute ingredients, but all turned out amazing) and the Ugandans brought some of their favorite dishes so it was quite the feast. It turned into an afternoon lunch due to the heaviest downpour (we were eating outside) and my turkey not cooking at an adequate pace. The downpour was definitely a gift from God since I tried to cook a 13 pound turkey in a very small oven that would not get above 250º F. After what felt like a dissection in a high school science class and many trials and errors, the turkey turned out great but I definitely learned a lot about how to cook a big turkey in a small oven the hard way 🙂 My mother and mother-in-law would be proud that I cooked down the bones for turkey stock/soup and have lots in the freezer. 


Everyone’s schedule on Kelly’s team is similar but at the same time, very different than a normal schedule in that they are off during the day and work mornings and nights when the students are not in school. This makes the time we all have together special and therefore it teaches us to be present. That is what I have learned most this past year…TO BE PRESENT! Whether having tea with a friend, conversations on verandas, watching a movie as a group, being intentional in joining someone’s mess or witnessing whatever fun thing the students are doing at the moment…STOP and TAKE IT ALL IN. My lists, calls and dishes will get done but to truly be present in what is going on around you is irreplaceable.

Take a Look at a Special Night We had at The Amazima School for Thanksgiving:


The Best Welcome!!

I got to put this into practice a lot on our recent visit to the States. In October, Kelly and I went to the States mainly for business but I stayed an extra week to hang out with family and friends. Our trip started with a couple of days in Dawsonville for the important things like hair appointments 🙂 We got to spend time with Kelly’s parents and some of our best friends who are taking care of so much for us including our home. We felt very much at ease and not homesick while staying with them. It was such a blessing. Butzin’s you are truly a gift! Getting to be a part of everyday activities with my best friend and be a part of their lives for a few days was life-giving.

IMG_9170Next, we got to spend time in our favorite “home-away-from-home”…AUBURN. A place that will always have my heart and will always be a gathering place for my family. It was like coming home walking onto the loveliest village on the plains. Kelly was asked to be part of the speaker series with Emerge. Emerge at Auburn University is a dynamic leadership program aimed at helping Auburn students develop the leadership skills to lead on campus, in the community and in their future career field. He spoke on passion and vision and was their highest rated speaker to date. It was surreal watching him speak in the very coliseum in which we both graduated. Thank you to everyone who came out to support him!


We also got to spend some time with my family and the 3 crazy dogs that take over while everyone is there. Kelly had to head to Atlanta for the training of the new couples headed to Uganda in January but I stayed in Auburn to get a little more family time with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew. The latter have grown up way too much but it was wonderful learning what they have been doing and sharing about all things Uganda. Whether it’s playing games, shopping, eating (which we do best) or just hanging out it’s just good for the soul to be with family.

With all The Moores in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum at Auburn University

There was, of course, lots of amazing time spent with family and friends in Georgia and Alabama. We were overwhelmed in stores, ate way too much processed and fast food but also got to enjoy a lot of favorites to which we were looking forward. Some of the best times were surprising friends and seeing their reaction and also just “being” and doing regular things like running a simple errand. Our Care Team planned a drop-by event for our local supporters. They surprised us with a photo booth and letters and there were so much love and support in the room that I wish I could have bottled it all up to bring back with us. It definitely filled our hearts and souls for a long time and was very life-giving to a weariness we did not realize we had until then. God knows just when to fill us up and this trip did just that. I got to hold babies, be with friends about to have babies, see friends’ new houses, sit around dinner tables, walk the grocery store, sit in car-pool lines, see new nurseries, hug couples about to be married and ones who were recently married. The icing on the cake was my sweet Megan (who was not due for a week until after I left) had baby Blayke while I was there!!! I got to be with Megan and hold Blayke and Miller together in my arms. What a precious gift!!!

Some of the Peeps from Our Supporters Drop By Event…We Love You All!!


The Rock is the name of our Chapel and the newest addition to The Amazima School campus. It’s where everything happens…student meals, Sunday worship gathering, staff devotions, student assembly, Thursday night student ministry, Saturday night events (move nights, spelling bees, trivia nights, talent shows, games nights, dance parties), end of term/year parties, awards night and celebrations of all kinds.

“….and on this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” The enemy hates what God is doing at The Amazima School and we are under attack on an almost daily basis. Our rock is Jesus and so the chapel is a constant reminder of the grace, mercy and power of our savior. We have nothing to fear! The Rock (chapel) is the focal point of the entire campus just like Jesus is at the center of everything we do at the school. It wasn’t scheduled to be ready until next year but in what might be a first in the history of Uganda, a construction project was completed 2 months early!

Mark, our Head Master, speaking to the students at The Rock.


At our going away event last July, our good friend Joel Thomas asked God to “bring” us friends in Uganda. While we have certainly settled in well and made lots of friends, there is nothing more encouraging than having friends around from our life back in the States. In this past term, God “brought” us some great visitors. Courtney Flick has been here since August and has been an absolute joy for us! We get to see her most weekends because she likes to attend our worship service on Sunday mornings. Recently, we all got together to watch Andrea and Andrew Cole get married through the wonder of FaceTime ($1 to Bradley Peck with an assist from Ty Anderson). It was a surreal moment for sure. Sitting in Uganda watching two of our favorite people (who in March we witnessed get engaged on the banks of The Nile River) getting married! Near the beginning of the term, Tim Stanley visited for a week all the way from Seattle. Tim was a blessing to us in many ways but most importantly, Tim met with 20 members of our staff to kick-off our mental health program. Tim is a gifted counselor who loves what is happening at Amazima and his efforts will directly impact the culture we are trying to build here.

As I mentioned previously, Kelly flew back to Uganda a week earlier than me but fortunately for him, he had some traveling companions. Drew Sheintal and his son Tate went with him and then spent a week hanging out with Kelly in Jinja. It was awesome for Kelly to have them on the ground with him so soon after being in the States. With Drew and Tate there, he was able to get right back into the swing of things without any culture adjustments. Thanks Drew! Since I wasn’t around there is no picture of them 😦


The students are back with their families until the first week of February and Amazima is shut down for the rest of the year. The next couple of weeks will be of rest and reflection. We thank God each and every day for allowing us to play a small part of what He is doing in Uganda….which is something huge! Term 3 saw an entire student body take measurable steps forward in their character, faith and educational performance. The prefects, along some guidance from their advisors, planned spelling bees, talent shows, trivia nights, and a whole host of successful activities throughout the term. Appropriately, we ended the school year with the inaugural Awards Night at The Amazima School. While it was exciting to see our students honored for their success, the biggest win and most emotional aspect of the entire evening was the attendance of our students’ guardians. 68 of our 72 students were represented by family at the awards ceremony! This NEVER happens in Uganda because families are not encouraged nor do they feel welcome to play a role in the education of their children. We can say with certainty that our families are ALL IN with The Amazima School and of all things we measure, this is most important. As God is transforming our students, we have to build meaningful relationships with their families to make sure the students are received well and encouraged in their growth. The heart of Amazima has always been the family and we are beyond humbled to see God work so mightily through us in this key area.

If you would like to give a year-end gift to support our efforts on the ground in Uganda, please go to Thank you!

Thanks for all the prayers and support throughout the year!!!

Have a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

Awards Night in the Chapel





Since last we posted, there have been a plethora (Kelly says shout out to El Guapo) of exciting things happening at The Amazima School (TAS) and for us personally as we continue to serve in Uganda. We had our very first Science Fair at TAS and it could not have gone any better for the students and the staff who had the pleasure of attending. For the preliminary round, there was a night for all of us to walk around and see the very creative experiments the students selected. They worked in pairs so there were 36 stations for us to check out. For the adults, it was a lot of reliving high school science in one night. Even so, it was incredible to watch the enthusiasm and preparation that went into proving their hypotheses right or wrong. The top three pairs competed on the following Saturday night in front of the student body and staff with the winners being a pair of boys with a “moldy bread” experiment. The top three teams also presented their experiments to the parents and guardians at TAS Visitation Day. They were blown away by the whole idea of the science fair and very proud of their students….especially the ones whose students ended up with medals around their neck!

All of our school sports teams have improved greatly since TAS opening. Our girls’ teams got to do a lot of celebrating this term since it was the first wins for their basketball, net-ball and volleyball teams. The boy’s football (soccer) team had their first non-loss. The game was a draw, but we will take it. Our boys are tough players and working hard to compete against schools with more than 50 times the number of students. This school year is also our students first time to participate in team sports. We could not be more proud of their effort and attitude. Even the ones who do not participate are very supportive and cheering loudly on the sidelines. It’s definitely a team effort with only 24 boys and 48 girls at our school. The 2018 school year will bring 48 more boys and 24 more girls so we will be equally balanced and have more to participate in school wide activities.

The Amazima School is a Ugandan school, not an International school. Being a national school means we have to follow the very strict rules set forth by the Ministry of Education and Sports. In Term 2, schools compete in what is called Music, Dance and Drama or MDD for short. There are 16 events encompassing singing, dancing, poetry, speeches and many more. Our students only had a week to prepare for the events in which we decided they would participate and given that the other schools were 10-20 times our size, our 5th place finish was incredible! More importantly, our kids were (by far) the most humble and gracious of any school there. The judges and officials made an effort to tell our teachers how impressed they were with the students of TAS. Moments like these validate the approach we are taking to education and student life. We are all overwhelmed with the results God is allowing us to experience. 

The Amazima School Farm, which will be maintained by the students, has been prepared for planting! It will be managed using a method Amazima has been teaching the surrounding communities for many years called Farming God’s Way. Each student house (24 students) has a section of the farm they are preparing for planting (beans and maize) which will be done in Term 3. The video below talks about Farming God’s Way at Amazima Ministries.

Term 2 brought lots of excitement, fun and hard work but also some sorrow. Kelly and I have been strengthened, however, by the continued transformation and unity of both the staff and students through trials. Our campus was put to the test when two of our students lost their primary guardians to death during the term. We witnessed Ugandan and Western Family Mentors support them in those hard days here on campus and in their communities. On Sunday mornings this term, we studied the “Joy Letter” of Philippians. We all know that joy is possible in Christ regardless of our circumstances. Through God’s grace, they fully understand this promise and have embraced it in the face of extreme difficulty. The students were excited to go home over the break and share with their families and communities how they can have joy no matter their circumstances. 


The Amazima School Staff participates in the Jinja Corporate League. Once a month (over 6 months) for entire Sunday afternoon, they competed in soccer, running and tug-o-war against other organizations in the district. THE AMAZIMA SCHOOL ARE THE CHAMPIONS of the Jinja Corporate League! It’s worth noting we were undefeated for the season in tug-o-war (23-0). For this we were awarded three goats, a trophy and a plaque. We even made the national news! Way to go TAS!!


A local resort was running a special so we took a couple of days in the middle of Term 2 to get away. Twenty minutes away from the school is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places we have ever been…Wildwaters Lodge. The food was incredible (best we’ve has since being in Uganda) and the views breathtaking. I thought I was used to all the cricket and cicadas noises at night from living on the lake in the states. Well…I was wrong. The first night they were so loud I thought an emergency alarm was going off. After getting used to our new little friends it was a very enjoyable, needed get away. We sometimes don’t realize how tired or run down we are until we get away. In the quiet, we are able to stand back, reflect and appreciate what is happening in the lives of the students and staff.


We are now on break in between terms before heading into Term 3. The campus is very quiet, to say the least. Taking an evening stroll, I hear drums and brass instrument sounds in the distance. It’s a Friday night to be exact. I stop and close my eyes, feel the cool breeze and I imagine the sounds to be a band warming up for “Friday Night Lights.” At least in the states that’s what it would be. I’m not sure what the band is doing in the distance but it brings back many memories of football in the fall (in the south)…some of my favorite memories. I stood there and listened while watching a beautiful Ugandan sunset. God brings these little reminders of goodness all the time.

I had thought I wouldn’t smell fresh-cut grass for a while either. Most grass is cut here using a slasher (done by hand). Our campus (being as it is very large), however, is blessed to have a riding lawnmower so walking around smelling fresh-cut grass has become one of my favorite things. I don’t get home sick when I appreciate the small things God provides in the quiet.

One of the hardest things for us to leave back in the States was the dozens of students with whom we had built relationships over the last 14 years. We are so excited to report that one of them is living in Jinja for the next 9 months! We get to help Courtney (Flick) feel at home in Jinja while she fills our heart with “student love”. We have really enjoyed getting to show her great places to eat, introduce her to everyone we know and just hang out and watch movies.


We had the honor and privilege of attending and being part of two of our dearest staff member’s (Derick & Ruthie) traditional introduction ceremony. Derick is one of the Ugandan Family Mentors on Kelly’s team and Ruthie is the Student Life Administrator (Kelly’s right hand). We got to dress in traditional Ugandan formal attire. I (Danlyn) wore a Mushanana and Kelly wore a Kanzu (see pictures below). It was fun to dress up and “do” my hair, which I hadn’t done in over 8 months. Luckily, how to use a curling wand came back from muscle memory. At the ceremony, the Amazima staff was present with groom’s side. We walked/danced in along with Derick’s family in-front of all of the other guest who had been seated for over an hour waiting for the groom to come and request the bride’s hand in marriage. We then sat in special seating with the groom’s family. There were lots of traditional speeches, presentations and dances. We helped present the “gifts” (dowry) to the bride’s family from the groom. This included many gift baskets with fruits and vegetables, 3 live chickens, tons of matoke (bananas) and a 132 pound bag of rice just to name a few. Kelly was selected to carry the giant bag of rice down a steep, rocky hill and in a dress that was too long. Quiet a site! There was a point of gift exchange where a group of us girls got to dance with a group of guys from Ruthie’s family. Totally spontaneous and so fun! The groom and bride’s family had their meal in a separate location from the rest of the guests to discuss the dowry. We assume all went well because after being there for around 3 hours, Ruthie was finally presented to everyone. And she looked stunning. She had four traditional Ugandan dress changes in the night (Kelly says $2 to Big Daddy Yum Yum). WOW! It was definitely a big party.

The next day Derick and Ruthie got married in the sweetest ceremony. I helped a team of amazing ladies transform the backyard of the Matron of Honor into a southern outdoor wedding. That was the bride’s wish. The day was perfect even though the celebration was shut down a little early with the worst storm I’ve experienced in Uganda to date.


Phase 2A at the school is progressing with a speed we are not used to here. The Chapel, which will be “The Rock” of our campus, is scheduled to be completed early December but we’re hoping for a little sooner so we can enjoy it a little bit before the end of the school year. Included in this phase are eight new general classrooms and three large speciality classrooms… a science lab, fine arts room and a music room. All of these classrooms will be completed for the start of the 2018 school year in February. Phase 2B will involve additional dorms and Family Mentor housing since we will add 72 to our total number of students each year.


Kelly and I have both read Katie’s (our founder) newest book “Daring to Hope – Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and Beautiful” We can honestly say if you loved her first book “Kisses From Katie” you will love this one just as much, if not more. If you have not read the first book you still have time before the new one comes out October 3rd. A bonus for The Amazima School…for every “Daring to Hope” book bought during the 1st week of its release, the publisher, Random House, is going to give the school a book of our choosing from their publishing house for our library. WIN WIN! You get a book! We get a book! Photo credits on the book cover to our very own Mackenzie Dalton 🙂


We start the 3rd and final term of the school year on September 18th. The stories from the villages about our students over this break are extremely positive so there is a lot of anticipation for the home visits scheduled for next week. The feedback from our parents and guardians is the most important measure for how effective is our approach.

Thank you for all the support and prayers!




We tend to get into somewhat of a routine until a happy interruption comes along. This can be a national holiday, visitors or a last-minute dinner invitation. Although the schedule and programs for what ended up being the best week at The Amazima School (so far) had certainly been planned, no one could ever have predicted how it would have been received emotionally by the students and staff. This was Easter week…a time of renewing. For our students and many of our Ugandan staff, it was also a time of learning and understanding that one cannot “lose” their salvation or undo the finished work of the cross. The freedom and excitement in the student’s eyes when they “got” this truth was incredible. They were encouraged in Bible class to discuss and ask questions surrounding this topic all week which led to deeper conversations. On Thursday night (Maundy Thursday) the students, their House Parents and Ugandan partners (our family teams) enjoyed a special family meal together on the veranda of each of their homes. Afterwards, the last supper was explained and then the family teams, along with many of the school staff and administrators, washed each of the students’ feet. To witness the moment when the students collectively comprehended what was happening was both overwhelming and powerful in a way we have never experienced. You could feel the Spirit working. If you ever get to be a part of a feet washing ceremony, do it! Afterwards, all the students (every single one) walked in complete silence (without us telling them) to our Night of Worship. On Good Friday, the students and the staff watched Passion of The Christ. If you’ve seen the movie, you know how hard it is to watch no matter if it’s your first or tenth time. It was a very emotional night.

Kelly explaining the “Last Supper” to the students of The Esther House.


Visitors are a very welcome treat and taste of home! The past couple of months we have been blessed with lots of visitors. We are getting spoiled. First, Kelly brought Emily and Jeffrey Hardy back with him from his trip to the states. He tried to tell me to go to bed and they would see me in the morning since they would get in from the airport around 1:30 am. Ummm…that would never happen. I couldn’t sleep knowing a piece of home is a few hours away. What a joy to greet visitors! When they first arrived we literally had to make ourselves go to bed. It’s so fun playing tour guide and showing everyone our campus home, Jinja town and all the best places to eat of course. 🙂 While the Hardy’s were here, we, along with several other house parents and their personal children had the opportunity to visit the village home of one our dear friends. Kori and I helped to prepare and cook food. We spent most of the time shooing away chickens from the corn on the fire but we did learn how to successfully peel matooke (green banana that tastes like a potato). Mackenzie, Emily and Sidney sang and played games with all of the local children. We all got a tour of the beautiful gardens where so many different fruits and vegetables grow.  We picked lots of fresh avocado to bring home. Kelly, Jeffrey, Zach, Jason and Jackson all helped local men build a chicken coop using large sticks and mud. It was a great day being welcomed by new friends, learning new ways to do things and sharing a meal all together. The next day was an extra special treat. Jeffrey helped lead Sunday morning worship. What a great weekend!


To just be able to sit on the couch and hang out with friends from home…oh what a joy!! Next, we had the pleasure of doing this with Kristie McCollister for two weeks. We were the ultimate tourists. We all went on our first safari including a Rhino Trek, a visit to Murchison Falls (the actual Falls – incredible), and a five-hour game drive through Murchison National Park seeing so many elephants, giraffe, kob, bushbucks, hartebeests, waterbucks, buffalo, antelope and baboons. We saw one python who was a couple of days into digesting a very large kill and also a few lions from a safe distance. We cruised up and down The Nile River to the base of Murchison Falls seeing hippos, warthogs (Pumbas), lots of different birds, giraffe and elephants going for a cool drink. We ended our adventure with a four-seater plane ride back to Jinja.

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Kristie was a big help in us getting ready for Second Term. It was great having a partner to help check off my “to-do” lists. It was definitely a special time having her here. The students were on break for three weeks so it got really quiet around campus. The same day we had to say good-bye to Kristie we welcomed the students back for Second Term. With their arrival, the wonderful sounds of students singing, playing games on porches and simple conversations returned. Routine was on its way back in. But first another break in the routine…

We had another set of sweet visitors who set aside time from their own ministry to come and love on us for a couple of days. Scott and Addie Bowen and their precious children were another great taste of home. We visited and ate well while they were here. It’s just as great getting to catch up with their “growing” kids. That’s the hard part of being so far away from family and friends. Missing out on the everyday lives and the growing up of our nieces, nephew and so many others who are like nieces, nephews and grandkids. And not to mention all of the weddings and babies. Just know I would be at all of the showers (and hosting some) and weddings if I was there 🙂

Overlooking The Nile River with The Bowen’s


Kelly and I celebrated TWENTY YEARS of marriage on May 31st. We went out to a great dinner and will get away for a weekend soon to celebrate. We looked at each other and both said we couldn’t believe it has been 20 YEARS. Seems like yesterday we were with our first group of high school students at InsideOut which was over 13 years ago. Who knew that a simple “yes” was going to lead to doing life together in Uganda. Crazy!

I got my Ugandan Driver’s License and have driven to town. I never thought I would drive here but “never-say-never” I guess. Defensive driving at its best! I will continue to practice with Kelly in the car and soon I will be off on my own. I will regain some of the independence I have missed.

My first drive into town behind the wheel and these cuties were brave enough to join us!

The Amazima School is now officially licensed as a Ugandan Secondary School. This was a long, hard process but definitely worth it! A huge and important victory for the school. From the beginning we were committed, as an organization, to being a National school…not an International School. The only way to challenge the system that is failing with the children of Uganda is to fight from within and show the Government there is a better way. International schools are great and serve a wonderful purpose in giving students an opportunity to receive a top-notch education but because they operate outside of the purvey of the Ministry of Education, their performance has no impact on education (as a whole) on Uganda.


The biggest gauge of how we are doing in accomplishing our mission at The Amazima School came in the form of our end-of-break visits to the families and guardians of our students. It’s in these moments where we find out if our kids are humble or spoiled, growing or pretending, learning facts or applying knowledge, etc. Universally, the guardians of our students were overwhelmed with the change they saw in their children. Most importantly, there was not a single report of a student acting out or being lazy. These reports have validated (to this point) our philosophy and serve as a great encouragement moving forward.

We are already preparing for the 2018 school year. Kelly has recruited and hired four new sets of house parents that will move here in January. The school is doubling in size so our family team staff will need to do so as well. We are busy communicating, training and getting them ready for their transition to Uganda. Please be in prayer with us for these new additions to our team as they are raising support, saying goodbyes, getting vaccines, paperwork and deciding what’s important enough to bring. All of those are long processes with many emotions involved.

The Family Team (minus Simon) having a fun Team Day after completing First Term.

Because of the time change and the utter insanity of our schedule, we don’t do a great job of keeping in touch with people (we will get better!). So, we are very grateful for the phone calls, texts, emails and every other way our friends make an effort to support and encourage us from thousands of miles away. If that’s you, then THANK YOU!

Until next time…

Five Months In…

I (Danlyn) can’t believe we’ve already been in Uganda serving with Amazima for 5 months. Most days I couldn’t tell you what day of the week it is, never the date, and hardly the month. I usually rely on my handy calendar app for such information. I’ve given up trying to keep a schedule like I would in the states, seeing as most days never turn out as planned. After many frustrating days of my “to-do list” only getting a few items crossed off despite how much effort I put forward, I’ve come to appreciate the interruptions.  I’ve learned to breathe (most of the time) during the extra time and effort it takes to accomplish a task. I now relish in the new friends I meet, the stories I hear, and the experiences along the way which would never have occurred without a task taking two or three times as long as I would normally expect. When it’s our evening meal, howver, taking way over an hour to be served, I may not be breathing so greatly 🙂


Welcoming Students on The First Day of School

The first day of school was full of welcoming the students and their parents/ guardians/ families, collecting all of the items they were required to bring, showing them to their dorms and around the campus, introducing them to their teachers, House Parents and Family Mentor Partners (Ugandan who works in equal standing to mentor and disciple). The families stayed for lunch and were oriented to the rules, expectations and general functioning of the school. That evening we had a celebratory meal that included sodas and a dance party. The next day…classes began.

Girls Looking “Smart” in Their Uniforms

The Amazima School is now in full swing. The students are in full uniform Monday through Friday during school hours looking very “smart” (word used for pretty and handsome here). A typical day for a student looks like the following:

  • Wake Up, Shower & Chores
  • Morning Devotions with Their House Parents and/or Family Mentor Partner
  • Breakfast
  • Classes
  • After School Chores/ Free Time/ Clubs/ Sports
  • Dinner
  • Preps (Study Hall)
  • Hang Out Time at Each House & Evening Devotions
  • Students in Rooms & Lights Out

As you can see they stay pretty busy as do the staff keeping all of this going. The House Parents, Family Mentor Partners and Teachers are incredible! They have been so flexible as we change schedules, rules, programs, etc. We call them our “guinea pigs” even though our Ugandan friends do not understand the term. New staff next year are already so grateful for us working out the kinks. On Monday mornings, there are devotions for the entire Amazima staff and then we join the students for their weekly assembly, all of which is led by our Country Director and Headmaster, Mark Guthrie.  On Thursday evenings, we alternate between chapel and KAMP (Kids at Amazima Moving with Passion). KAMP is our Student Ministry. More about that a little later. Every 3rd Saturday we have movie night for all of the students. This is surely a favorite for all. So far we’ve shown Queen of Katwe, The Good Lie, Woodlawn, and The Jungle Book (newer version). Afternoons for students are spent doing chores, homework and they would say most importantly sports and clubs 🙂 Official sports teams right now include boys football (soccer) and girls basketball. We also have a hip-hop dance team lead by own Mac. She is fierce!! Clubs include debate, drama, chapel/worship, singing/entertainment/dance, service, and stewardship. Sunday mornings we have a Worship Gathering for all the students, staff and the community is welcome. Our campus pastors Daniel and Dustin do a great job in leading us as well as do Jason and Grace with worship. It is a wonderful time of worshipping, learning, reflection, and good ‘ole fellowship.

The football team had their very first match last Saturday. Students and staff cheered from the sidelines (it was a home game) as the guys represented us well on the pitch (field) in their “smart” navy and white uniforms with the Amazima School emblazoned across their backs. Neon green boots (cleats) were donated from the states and arrived just in time a few days prior to the match. They played hard, incurred 3 injuries, lost 1-0, but represented The Amazima School so well! The school we played thought we were going to be an easy team to beat and they were going to walk away with at least a 10-0 victory. Saying all of this, we are very proud of our guys first official football match!

The Amazima School’s First Football Match
Where the Students Eat Meals. Thanks to a Generous Donor!

KAMP (Student Ministry)

I knew this was happening but didn’t really think much of it. I’m not sure why. Myself (and some awesome co-leaders) had three amazing small groups of high school girls back in the states. I attended student ministry almost every Sunday afternoon for 12 years, but we’re in Uganda and it’s not InsideOut so I didn’t let my heart go there. One day Kelly said “I assume you want to be a small group leader”. I was like “yea, it’s what I do”. I was intimidated after thinking about it seeing as I haven’t done it in a few years and these girls may not understand the way I communicate in small group. But I was excited when Kelly told me the ladies with whom I would be leading. The first night of actual KAMP was surreal. I just looked around and cried. Thought about my girls back home and wished I could hug them at that moment. They are a big reason why I am here. God placed them in my life to teach me about students, relationships and it all takes a lot of hard work. I love you girls!

We had hosts, games, a message geared towards the students who led us well in worship (dance moves and all). It was student ministry. All of those years in the states and this was happening HERE! And the most important part of the night…SMALL GROUPS. We broke into groups of 12 girls or 12 guys each with at least one Ugandan leader and one Mzungu leader (that’s us). The bonus with being at a boarding school, you always have full attendance 🙂 The first night of small groups (which they’ve really never done before), exceeded everyone’s expectations. We actually talked about their lives and God for close to an hour until Kelly had to ring the bell to have small groups come to an end. We HAVE to HAVE an END TIME. They don’t want it to end. They are truly engaged while asking deep questions and actually answering questions we ask. Can’t wait to witness their life growth!

Our Hosts – Zach (also known as Nigel) and Andrew
Students Competing in a Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament
First Night of KAMP Worship


As soon as I think we’ve had most of our “firsts”, usually the next day something else “new” happens. I guess we will continue to have them. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be learning and experiencing our new home and new culture to the fullest.

First Womens Conference to Attend Here

At the end of February, I got to attend my first women’s conference here, IF Gathering: Uganda. A dear friend of mine put on the conference with an amazing group of ladies. They provided 2 days for the ladies of Jinja to gather, worship, learn, discuss and just be quiet. Most of the women from Amazima attended and look forward to the next time we can do something like this.

First Hair Salon Experience

Recently, I tried to color my hair (with foils I might add). That was a day I was extremely missing Karen, my friend and hairdresser, for sure!! People say I did a good job but man I’m not looking forward to that again anytime soon. It took me most of the day and I gave up on the foils after about 5 of them 🙂 I got my first haircut, in a missionaries back yard. So no wash (my favorite part), only a dry cut but that’s ok. Grateful for what I can get. Got a lot of it chopped off so I don’t have to have one for a while. It’s hard to get an appointment when only there’s only one lady in town that cuts most of the Mzungu’s hair and her schedule is limited to one day a week with only 2 time slots. Kelly goes to an Indian guy who ignores everything he requests and usually does the opposite. HA!

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Ten Foot Cobra (without its head)

This week, Kelly and I were driving home from the village, with a new staff couple for next year. As the school came into view, we saw smoke coming from our house. We thought for sure that it couldn’t be from our house, being as it’s made of brick and concrete, but as we got closer, it WAS coming from our house or rather our back yard (I use that term loosely). When we walked up, we saw about 15 workers, our house-help and the dog gathered around the fire. Kelly asked one of the workers “Why is there a fire?”. He said “Snake”. We were like “WHAT?!?!?” Apparently, the workers had found a snake but in order to capture it, they had to burn it out, thus the controlled fire in our back yard. The snake was a 10 foot Cobra. We are grateful they cut all of the tall grass and burned the area so we can be confident of no other snakes (for now). And what a great way to welcome future staff to our home 🙂

First Walk with Muggle on a Leash

Muggle, the dog, did not come with the concept of how to go on a walk, at least on a leash. She will walk beside you all day long, if not connected to you. But if she is on a lead or leash she will just stand still when we go to move. We weren’t really sure why? Some sweet friends from the states had a little extra room in their bag so we requested a retractable dog leash for Muggle. It just arrived this past week, we immediately out her on it and it was like she has been doing it all her life. I guess it just took her having more control with the retractable part.

Both of us now have all of our Work Visa’s. No more temporary visa’s for us when we travel in and out of Uganda. YAY! Kelly has his local driver’s license and I will soon get mine. Now how often I will actually drive, who knows? But at least I can run an errand, if needed.


Celebrating the Newly Engaged Couple

We had a sweet taste of home with one our dear girls, Andrea, here for two months and then Andrew, her now fiancé, coming for her last week here. What made it even more special was getting to be a part of their engagement night. Andrew pulled off an incredible surprise proposal right beside the Nile River at sunset. One of our house parents, who happens to a professional photographer, captured the whole thing perfectly. It was a special time for us to be a part of the planning and the celebration. We love you two!! Thanks for including us!!

The best thing about our life here is having a front row seat to watch God work in the lives of our students. We are truly overwhelmed and grateful to play a small part in this grand story being written every day all around us.

Sorry for the delay and the lengthy post but honestly, today was the first chance I had some time to sit down and do it!

Til’ next time…