Maria & Elizabeth

This may be a disturbing post for some of you to read – it’s a disturbing post for me to write. Yet while disturbing, it’s necessary and worthwhile, because people like Maria and Elizabeth are why Loving One by One (LOBO) exists. Maria & Elizabeth are 2-year-old twin girls in Uganda, who LOBO team members found last summer.

Two years old – but when we found them last summer, they weighed 10 & 12 pounds each. A little over the weight of newborn babies. Maria & Elizabeth were found living in a home with a 7-year old brother who frequently took care of them, while the mother worked in the fields, or drank with the neighbors. The dad was and still is nowhere to be found.

Two years old – 10 & 12 pounds. Oh – Maria was blind in one eye and deaf; Elizabeth was blind in both eyes. And their 7-year-old brother took care of them.

Maria & Elizabeth’s situation has improved quite a bit, but they still have a long way to go. LOBO has been able to provide nutrition and medical help. Maria is able to hear now! We are looking into surgery to help Elizabeth have at least some of her eyesight. But there’s still a long way to go – in the U.S., local family services would be called in to intervene. In Uganda, social services are very minimal, and the reality is that no one is likely to intervene in Maria & Elizabeth’s situation. Or in thousands of other situations. But, Maria & Elizabeth are why Loving One by One exists.

Maria & Elizabeth’s story is still in progress. I read updates almost daily. There’s hope – but there’s a long way to go. The mother is thankful for our help, and is more or less cooperative – but, there’s a long way to go. I’m looking forward to meeting Maria & Elizabeth when I’m in Uganda in a few months, and I’m hopeful they’ll be healthier and in a better situation overall. But the reality is – there are way too many Maria’s & Elizabeth’s in Uganda.

That’s why LOBO is in Uganda, and that’s why I keep going back. You can help. You can sponsor medical care for kids like Maria & Elizabeth. You can sponsor a child, or a couple of children, in our school. And, just thought I’d throw it out there – you can provide a tax-deductible donation to help fund my work in Uganda this summer.

For more information on everything in the above paragraph, email me at charley@charleymiller.net! And, if you’re in SoCal on March 5th, ask me about the “Send Charley Back to Uganda” Concert. You’re invited.

And don’t forget about Maria & Elizabeth.

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They Want What We Have

looking-throughTonight I was looking at photos from my first trip to Uganda (2011), and I found this one. These children are looking through a fence, watching us as we’re setting up for our medical clinic at Namuwongo Slums – at the time, the worst slum in Kampala. It may still be.

For some reason on that first trip, I took a lot of photos of kids looking through fences and windows and doorways.

They were fascinated by us -a bunch of white people carrying boxes and running around and moving things. We were turning whatever place we were in into a medical clinic for the day. These kids don’t see a lot of white people, so that accounted for some of the staring. But most of the staring was because they wanted what we had.

We had clean(ish) clothes, and shoes that matched. We had backpacks and water bottles, and lunches, and iPhones and other cameras. We all thought we weren’t bringing a lot of unnecessary personal stuff, but to these kids, we were literally bringing Costco (not that they know what Costco is).

They wanted what we had. But not just the stuff; to be honest, they wouldn’t have a lot of use for most of our necessary stuff. Life is different in Uganda. But they wanted other things we had. Clean bodies. Healthy teeth. No noticeable open sores. Shoes that matched, or just shoes. Guaranteed food for the week. A good chance of living past 45. A hot shower, with clean water. School.

They want what we have. Sure, they might like some of our stuff and they might enjoy Southern California life (that’s where I am) for a few weeks or months, but I really think they’d probably be happier in their own country – as long as they could have a chance to live. These kids in the photos certainly saw our phones and wanted them; but at a deeper level they saw LIFE and wanted that.

That’s why I go to Uganda. In 2011, 2013 and 2015 I was there, and saw thousands of people who want what we have. This summer I’ll see thousands more (and I’ll talk to hundreds) who want what we have. We can’t give everything to everyone – but we can give medical care and hope to thousands.

If you’d like to help make my summer project in Uganda possible this year, please do one of two things…

A) email me at charley@charleymiller.net, and ask how to support the trip. I’ll give you info;

B) Come to the “Send Charley Back to Uganda” Concert on March 5, and you will have an opportunity at that event to help. Email me for details on the concert (again – charley@charleymiller.net).

Thanks!

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March 5 Concert!

ug-concert-001It’s time to do this again! I’m planning my fourth Uganda trip in a few months, and also planning my third Uganda concert. I didn’t do a concert the first time, but since then I’ve figured out how much fun it is to get friends together to hear great music, and inspire them with stories of what’s happening in Uganda.

On Sunday, March 5 there will be a “Send Charley Back to Uganda” Concert in Southern California. So if you’re A) in or near Southern California, and B) interested in sending me to Africa, even if it’s just to get rid of me for a while, you’re invited. At the event, you’ll learn more about the work of Loving One by One in Uganda, and you’ll have an opportunity to help support my trip. “Help support my trip” means I’m going to ask you to help pay for it. 🙂

Three of my talented friends – Alison Freeman, Charles Williams and John Torres – will be there to perform for us. It’ll be in a beautiful location overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There will be cool people there who are fun to hang out with. I hope you will consider coming, if you’re in the area.

If you don’t attend the concert but would like to help support my trip anyway, contact me at charley@charleymiller.net and I’ll give you information about that. Any contributions toward my trip are tax deductible.

Finally, for a little closer look into what I’ve done my first three trips to Uganda and what I’ll do this year, take a look at this video…

Send Charley to Uganda!

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Being Invisible in Uganda

IMG_0251Almost six years ago in the summer of 2011, I went to Uganda for the first time, on a team with Loving One by One Ministries. What I expected to be a one-time visit has now become a major focal point of my life. Now after three trips to Uganda, and after a few years of serving with some amazing people on the board of Loving One by One (LOBO) – it’s time to for me to go back.

There are a lot of good reasons to go to Uganda on a LOBO team, but for me the main reason is pretty straightforward – it’s about getting really simple for a few weeks, not being in charge of anything, not being known by anyone, and immersing myself into the lives of people who are (literally) dying from poverty.  It’s about doing whatever is necessary to change the lives of struggling people – through education, medical care, emergency surgeries, or other ways.

Over a two-week period, LOBO teams provide free medical care to thousands of people. We provide clothing to children whose only new clothing is whatever LOBO brings once a year. We provide life-saving surgeries. We give reading glasses to hundreds of elderly people.  Sometime we get involved with people who are terminally ill, and stay involved with them and their families until the end, and then we pay burial expenses.

A few people in Uganda know who I am; most don’t. To most Ugandans, I’m just another one of the mzungu’s who shows up to help. The people of Uganda are always thankful because they’re nice people – but they don’t know me from Adam (except for that whole fig leaf thing). I’m just another white face in the crowd of many white faces, just trying to help. They might remember my ukulele I guess; but honestly, the people of Uganda have a lot more important things to think about than a crazy mzungu with a ukulele. While I’m here in California agonizing over which of my ukuleles to take to school on a given day, the average mom in Uganda is agonizing over which of her children will eat on a given day. A different problem entirely.

invisible-man-780294So I’m not personally that big of a deal over in Uganda, and I’m pretty much forgotten once I’m gone. I’m invisible, basically.
But our work isn’t invisible, and it impacts people’s lives for years.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing stories of what’s been going on lately with LOBO’s work in Uganda, and sharing some of our new plans. If  you’d like to help support my trip to Uganda this summer, send me an email and I’ll give you more information. You can reach me at charley@charleymiller.net.

Lastly, soon I’ll have information about this year’s “Send Charley Back to Africa” Concert. If you’re in the L.A. area, you’re invited! Actually, you’re invited no matter where you are, but I’m just being realistic.

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Back to Uganda, and Back to the Blog

Happy 2017 everybody!

I haven’t written a blog post since May of last year (that was 2016). But it’s a new year, and since it’s an odd-numbered year, you know what that means…. Back to Uganda!

This summer I’ll be returning to Uganda with Loving One by One Ministries, for my 4th, count ’em, 4th trip. A lot has changed since my first trip in 2011; actually, quite a bit has changed in just the past year. But through those changes, we still have the same basic focus – through our medical teams, our children’s home, our school and other efforts, we attempt to break the cycle of poverty that so many are struggling with in and around Kampala, Uganda.

Blog posts are supposed to be short, so I won’t write a lot in this one. Instead, I’ve posted a handful of fun photos from my first three Uganda trips, to get you pumped up for all that will happen in 2017. And yes – there will be a “Send Charley to Uganda” Concert in a few months, so stay tuned for news on that as well.

That’s it for now. Watch for more in the next several days.

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Running Thoughts In My Head After a Week In the Orchestra Pit

PDVD_063The title says it – I just spent a week directing music for a theater production. It went very well, it’s all done, and now I’m at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos in Torrance, CA, eating a quesadilla and thinking very random thoughts as my brain recovers from the craziness of 7 days in the orchestra pit:

I’m tired… I’m hungry… This is a good quesadilla… It’s so weird that Wahoo’s is always playing surfing videos…. I should learn to surf…. I bet I’m not too old to become a professional surfer…. I’ll stick with music… I’m so lucky to know so many good musicians…. I can’t figure out what kept going wrong with Song #8A…. That old guy is wearing Levi’s – it’s so weird that Levi’s have that label with the size on it…. Why are Levi’s so expensive…. Hey, he wears my size…. Maybe I should get his name and contact info in case I need to ever borrow jeans… It’s a good thing I rarely drink because this Corona is really good…. The Levi’s guy’s wife would probably think I’m weird if I asked about the contact info for the jeans…. Maybe that’s not even his wife… Seven piano lessons and a rehearsal tomorrow…. I wish “Good Wife” was still on…. That last “Good Wife” episode was dumb…. I should probably go

There. My brain needed to get all that out. It was a good week in the pit.

 

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Response to Blogger Re Target Restrooms

I came across a blog called “Ministry in the Mommyhood,” in which the writer, Jaci Lambert, addressed Target’s recent policy to allow anyone to use whichever restroom they’d like, according to the gender they identify with. The blog title was Target Bathrooms and the Straight, Conservative Preacher’s Wife. The writer describes herself this way:

Let’s get all of my personal facts out on the table before I tell you where I stand and why. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ as my very personal Savior. I love Him, and I believe He loves me along with every single person on this planet. Without exception. I am straight. I am married to a man. He is a pastor which makes me a pastor’s wife by default. I’m not always a very good one, but I’m an honest one, so my church at least has that going for it. I am a mother. I have four beautiful daughters, and I would start World War III to keep them safe. I am politically conservative, but I have stopped identifying with the Republican party because I think that the whole of Washington has lost their ever-lovin’ minds…across party lines…it’s the one thing they have in common. I believe in the Bible. I believe that every word in it is true. I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality, but I am NOT a homophobe. Because I also believe what the Bible says about loving people. ALL people. Without exception.

I (Charley) disagree with Target’s new restroom policy, with an understanding of why we ever separated restrooms according to biological sex in the first place – for privacy and security. My safety concern is not about transgenders causing harm to anyone. It’s about a non-transgender, normal man, identifying as a man, using the new policy as license to go into  women’s restroom and threaten or harm women or young girls. If my adult daughter was still a child, I’d be pretty up in arms about it. Not out of hate or phobia against transgender people, but out of what would seem to be a common sense concern over the safety of my daughter.

I’ve tried to stay out of this for a variety of reasons. But something about Mrs. Lambert’s blog post made me want to list a few of her points and address them. She comes across as a bit sarcastic, but I can’t fault her for that, since I speak sarcasm fluently and that would be the pot calling the kettle black. Anyway, here are my responses to some of her points…

However, I will now simply accompany my kids into the main restroom when we’re at Target because IF they ever came across a man in the women’s restroom, they would be confused.

In other words, before you didn’t feel you needed to accompany your children to the restroom, and now you do. With good reason.

Transgendered people have never hurt my children.  But believe it or not, a whole bunch of church people have.

This is a distraction from the main point given for emotional effect. All of us who have spent any time in church can say the same thing. So can all of us who have spent time in elementary school, high school or college; we’ve all been hurt by school people.  Or all of us who have spent time working for any company, or participating in any organization; we’ve all been hurt by co-workers. So what? Pointing the finger at church people hurting your children does nothing more than make you appear to have an axe to grind against church people.

Only a small number of people are concerned about transgender people harming children in a restroom. Those people are misinformed and wrong. The majority of concern comes from sensible, concerned people who are concerned about non-transgender men taking advantage of new free access to women’s restrooms to potentially harm women and children. There are reports of such cases.

What does that mean?  It means that ANYONE is capable of hurting my children.  ANY.ONE.  And it’s my job to keep them safe.  But what if they did see a transgendered person in the restroom?  Would the world really end?  No.

Yes. Your children can be hurt many places. And now Target has decided to make a policy that makes their restrooms more likely to be among those places. The world wouldn’t end if they saw a transgendered person in a restroom. The child’s world may in fact end, or be severely damaged, if she was approached or attacked by a male pedophile in a restroom. Target’s policy increases the likelihood of that happening.

Because I would then have the opportunity to explain to my children, who don’t have any choice but to grow up in this messy world, that there are some people who feel like they are different and like they don’t belong anywhere.  We could talk about what Jesus would do and how He would expect us to love them and how we would feel if we didn’t belong anywhere.

No disagreement there.

The perverts and the pedophiles don’t care about Target’s policy.  Sure it’s one less obstacle in their way, but you really think a store policy is going to keep them from what they desire?  Probably not.

Perverts and pedophiles are a determined bunch, to be sure. Would Target’s former restroom policy have kept them from what they desired? Probably not. Will Target’s new restroom policy make it easier to get what they desire? Yes, of course.
But if they do, if the perverts and pedophiles decide to hang out in the women’s restroom, Target will have Hell to pay for their decision.  That’s on them.

Great. Tell that to the first female victim who is assaulted in a Target restroom by a man allowed in because of Target’s new policy. I didn’t say “transgender female,” but a man, taking advantage of the new restroom access by dishonestly claiming to be transgender. It has happened before. So when a woman or girl is threatened or assaulted by such a man, just tell her, “Hey it’s fine. Target will have Hell to pay for their decision.” I’m sure that will make her feel a lot better.
Women and children need to be paying attention to their surroundings just like when they’re at the park and when they’re at the grocery store after 10pm and when they’re at church (shoot, I can’t even help myself).  Pay attention to your surroundings because perverts and pedophiles like other places besides Target.

Yes, perverts and pedophiles like other places besides Target. And, they now like Target a lot more than they did a week or two ago. Yes, women and children need to be careful in lots of places. And yes, a Target restroom is now one of those places. Congratulations, Target.

THE BIG ONE: This boycott is doing more damage to the Christian cause than it’s helping.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in standing up for our rights and in what we believe in.  But this isn’t a “right.”  This is a privately owned company setting a policy in place.

That may or may not be true. I can understand that viewpoint. But in honesty, if I still had a young daughter at home, I’d be a lot more concerned about her safety than I would about damaging the Christian cause. Maybe my priorities would be mixed up there, but that’s where I’d stand.

To conclude, I don’t have an axe to grind with Ministry in the Mommyhood – I hadn’t seen it before until I found this article today. More importantly, I don’t have an axe to grind with transgender people. Having a few transgenders in fairly close relationship, I have a sense of the struggle. My beef with Target isn’t about transgender people; it’s about Target, in an attempt to be politically correct, creating a dangerous situation for millions more people than they claim to be helping.

Comments will be filtered. Keep them kind and constructive.

 

 

 

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