The Faces

I guess on some level I tried to prepare myself for what I was going to see once we got to Uganda. I’ve never been overseas before, and truth be told I’ve probably never seen real poverty up close and personal, though I thought I had.

But all I can think about right now is how I have managed to live my whole life without any idea at all about what real poverty looks like.

Earlier today we visited one of Compassion’s partner churches (Compassion does all of its work through local churches), and I was deeply touched by the kindness and the faith of the people there. They told us about their ministry in the community, introduced us to some of the children involved in their programs, and answered every single question we had with absolute grace and candor.

Then we walked outside the building.

And I’m telling you: there is nothing aside from Divine Revelation that could have prepared me for what I saw. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.




These are the rooms behind the church where the kids have what we would call Sunday School. And compared to what we saw next, those Sunday School rooms were the absolute lap of luxury.

We split into groups and walked just across the street to visit with some families who live in the area. We made our way up a short hill, and as we rounded the corner I saw something that I will never, ever forget. I couldn’t even if I wanted to.


You have no idea what this little girl has done to my heart. No idea at all.

She’s an orphan who lives with her aunt. Her aunt is HIV-positive and struggles to provide for the two of them. And they live in a room that is no bigger than the half bath in my house. It has a straw floor, cardboard walls, and a sheet for a door.

I cry just thinking about it.

And yet she was just one of many children all around us – children who live in a level of poverty that is absolutely incomprehensible, even when you’re so close that you can see it and touch it and smell it.

For about twenty minutes I took pictures of the kids and then let them look at the screen on the back of my camera. It was evident that several of them had never seen their own faces before.

And I just keep thinking that we have to see these kids’ faces. We have to see these kids’ faces. They are not statistics, they are not case studies, they are not random images on public service announcements.

They are precious, sweet, loving faces. Just like your children. Just like mine. And we have to – WE HAVE TO – see them.





We have to.

Because if we don’t, who will?

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  1. Wow. That is all I can say.

  2. This is absolutely beautiful… we take so much for granted here.

    You are so right, they need to be seen. Thank you so much for sharing your time and talent to make sure that happens!!!

  3. Sounds a little like something I read in a great Book once…”Go ye into all the world…”? Thank you so much for putting their sweet precious faces out there for us to see. It is hard to ignore their plight when you are staring poverty in the face.

  4. I am so inspired by you…

  5. speechless…

  6. Wow. Just wow. Praying for you today, and looking forward to your next post . . . .

  7. There but for the grace of God go I.


  8. Whew. Tears in my eyes. I am so thankful that Compassion is having this blogging month to open people’s eyes to poverty and how they can help. I am thankful you got to go on this trip and be a part of what they are doing. Thank you for posting these very raw, real photos.

  9. Thank you for what you are doing.

  10. Boo Mama, thank you. What a blessing for you to be able to bring this to us. What can we do now?

  11. I’m brought to tears and speechless. Thank you for doing all that you are.

  12. SO, I have a meeting to go to in 15 minutes. All my make-up is gone, washed off my the tears. I am very humbled, and ashamedly so.

  13. I served as a welfare missionary for my church (I’m Mormon) in El Salvador for over a year when I was barely 21. It changed my life.

    Much older now, and pregnant with my first child, I’m determined that my children will not grow up with the sense of entitlement I see in a lot of homes.

    My husband, an orthodontist, and I, a social worker, plan to travel and expose our children to others that are less fortunate than we are.

    I want my little ones to understand one of life’s most fundamental principles- Where much is given, much is required. The more that we are given in this life, the more we should share of our abundance.

    God bless you in your work.

  14. Thank you! Thank you, dear Sophie. The faces will be etched in my heart, and I pray God will leave me changed as well.

    Praying still . . .

  15. Rebecca Wood says:


  16. Well.
    You started my day off right…with a heart that has been tugged and a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. My dear hubby and I know that once we visit with needy children like that at an orphanage or something similar we’ll never let go of those precious little ones…someone will have to pry our fingers off and drag us away…
    …praying that God shows our family what our part is to be…

  17. So it begins – the Lord using all of you to let all of US see what He sees. Beautiful children – HIS children and OUR children – thank you for your courage to go so far beyond anything called a comfort zone that you might need life support – oh yeah – He gave us that too – eternal life support. Bless you sister in Christ – keep on doing this because it is so important!

  18. Yes, I have many of these same pictures on my computer, of uganda children, you are exactly where my adopted parents are missionaries in Kampala. They are in the remote villiages winning the adults to Christ at this same time. I am planning on going in June and using my photograhy to capture images as a way to raise money for Uganda.
    Under the starkness the people are so beautiful and loving.
    Can’t wait to get there soon.

  19. You are so right. We have to see them because He does.

    Thank you.

  20. Last summer we traveled to Ethiopia to bring home our son. I was completely shell shocked. I came home ashamed to own all this….junk. More than one pair of shoes. More than one Bible. Ashamed to have called myself a Christian and to have done so little.

    Now I sit here 6 months later and feel the same. I worry about whether my babe is eating a balanced diet…their mamas worry about whether they eat.

  21. Boo,
    My kids and I are using your blog in our homeschool. TO learn about Africa and the children and how they live SO different from us. I’m praying they are deeply touched by your blog, as I have been. I cried when seeing the pictures of those beautiful kids. Keep up the good work, we read daily.
    Kelly in Michigan

  22. Beautiful faces, beautiful post, beautiful truth.

  23. Thanks sweetie. I know the feeling. Soak it in… even if it’s uncomfortable.

  24. And that’s why you’re there, so we can sit here at our computer with tears in our eyes, a gamillion miles away and remember that they are there, and why on earth aren’t we still sponsering one of them? Why on earth? Thank you for going and reminding me.

  25. “So it begins – the Lord using all of you to let all of US see what He sees. Beautiful children – HIS children and OUR children – thank you for your courage to go so far beyond anything called a comfort zone that you might need life support – oh yeah – He gave us that too – eternal life support. Bless you sister in Christ – keep on doing this because it is so important!”

    Can’t say it any better.

    Hugs and prayers.

  26. Oh Sophie-

    Just seeing those pictures brings back memories of my one and only missions trip to Haiti when I was in my senior year of nursing school. It’s almost impossible to comprehend the abject poverty and desolation of the lives you see- and yet the children will still smile and laugh and play. You will never be the same for the sights you will see, but God can and will use your writing about this to effect change through yourself and your readers. Praise God that He can use you in that way to impact a change for these dear people! For truly, God loves each any every one.

    One word of advice- don’t waste any time feeling guilty for what you have here- instead focus your energy on finding ways to use it for the most good for the most people. I spent too much time in Haiti feeling bad about being a “rich American”- time and effort I could’ve channeled into concrete works while I was there.

    I’m praying for you and your whole team. Your family here too! Sending you much sister in Christ love…

  27. What next? Any way to directly affect eh lives of these littles you so effectively portrayed?

  28. I am sure this is very hard to see! I will pray for your whole trip and team! You are an amazing sister in Christ!

  29. Thank you sweet friend for sharing what God has given you in this short time. We are blessed to be with you on your journey afar and blessed even more to see what it is you are sending back to us. We, too, will not forget what you are sharing with us. It makes me pray all the more for my compassion child, Norvelie, in Haiti. She writes to us often. I will write to her tonight as I got a letter yesterday!

    Be Blessed, praying for you.

  30. I have tears but no words.

    You’re doing such an amazing thing.

  31. Tears running down my cheeks. I have seen poverty up close and personal but it still never fail to touch my heart to read posts like these….. thank you for the mission you are doing….

    and just look at the smile in the little boy’s face in one of the photos – what pure joy that is!

  32. Wow .. God IS speaking loud and clear!

  33. As you are touched by them, we are being touched with your pictures and words. God Bless those children and the team… praying here in Georgia.

  34. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!!! We are not blessed to be blessed…we are blessed to be able to bless others!!! Just go ahead and pack up a little one for you and one for me and bring em’ on home so we can be there momma’s forever :) I’m praying for you all.

  35. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!!! We are not blessed to be blessed…we are blessed to be able to bless others!!! Just go ahead and pack up a little one for you and one for me and bring em’ on home so we can be their momma’s forever :) I’m praying for you all.

  36. Thank you, Sophie. Just. Thank you. Be safe. Praying.

  37. did you notice I corrected my spelling??? sorry for the double post :-)

  38. This brings tears to my eyes…I cannot imagine actually being there. Thank you for the words and pictures!

  39. Wow. Thank you for posting this and showing us their faces. This brings tears to my eyes – I can’t imagine if I were there in person.

  40. I am much like the rich man in the Bible. Jesus asks me to give up everything and follow Him but I can’t do it.
    I want to. I really want to. Every time a missionary speaks at my church or I see things like this post I want to sell everything and do His work. But I’m too weak to follow through.

    I am curious to see how this trip changes you and what is in store for your heart, your life once you return home.

  41. Thank you for posting the pictures. I just want to cover those children in prayer – they are so beautiful!!

  42. I have now laughed, sighed, giggled and CRIED while reading your blog. Truly heartbreaking to see what they are living in and yet most people never realize the severity of it. Thank you!

  43. By serving the Lord, you are bringing us their faces.

    I praise God for your service in his name.

  44. Sophie-

    Love on those children while you are there and remember that they are going to remember your visit for the rest of their lives!

    Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40- The Message)

  45. Wow, Boomama that blew me away. Speechless.

  46. Michelle Taylor says:

    Thank you for opening the eyes of my heart to see the reality of suffering in the lives of these precious children. Please know I am praying for you!! Specifically to walk in love. 2 John 5 and 6 say….I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we WALK in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you WALK IN LOVE. As you continue to walk through these areas I pray that each step may leave an imprint of Gods love. Bless you…mt

  47. Doodlerah says:

    Sophie, I want to be you when I grow up! Sadly I think we are about the same age. I am so moved by your courage to go on this huge jorney, to feel all things as you are and to record it for the rest of us. Thank you for sharing with us your jorney. God chose well when he picked you for this. You have reached my soul. God Bless- Andi

  48. Everybody needs to see this up close and personal. It WILL change your perspective on life.

  49. I’m so glad you are there. This is SO impacting to me.
    Could you put about 3 or 4 of those kids in your suitcase and bring them home to me?
    We have NO idea how extremely blessed we are. No idea.

  50. I have no words.

    Thank you for leaving your family so you could bring these sweet faces to us.

    Thank you.

  51. i follow yours and ann’s and carlos’ blogs…. y’all are breaking my heart.

    its a holy breaking

  52. Thank you for bringing us their faces. They are beautiful.

  53. Weeping!!!

  54. Sharing your tears, Sophie. And sending you hugs. Can you bring one of them home??

  55. I knew Compassion taking bloggers to the field to see our work would be impactful, but I had no idea how much your posts would move me. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  56. My husband grew up as one of those children, so I’m very aware of the fate of those captured by poverty.

    But your pictures are just beautiful, Sophie. You’re right. We have to SEE them. We do too much looking away because it makes us uncomfortable.

    Lord, open our eyes to see your children. And then open our hands and our hearts.

  57. What precious little faces.

    Praise the Lord for Compassion International – with their help we can do mighty things to change the lives of these precious faces.

    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew. 25:37-40

    Thanks for letting God use you to change the world BooMama.

  58. I know you will love on those children, Sophie–just because that’s what you do. You may not have taken the study, “Love Well,” but I’m thinkin’ that you love well, because that is who God created you to be. You just have a huge and caring heart.

    Give them a hug for me. Tell them Mrs. Holly is praying for them and loves them so!

  59. To whom much is given, much is expected. Thank you for your ‘not so subtle’ witness to this.

    Peace & Blessings on your journey.

  60. Don’t you just want to bring one of those little guys home with you? And what about adoption? When these kids have no families, couldn’t they be adopted by loving families somewhere else?

  61. This is the second time today that tears have came to my eyes. These kids are precious!

    Thank you for going and sharing with us!

  62. Precious kids!!

  63. Mark 16:15
    He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

    Preach on, sister, tell them the good news and glory in His presence there! You are doing a mighty work through the power of His Spirit!

  64. thank you for putting faces to it all.


  65. humbled

  66. Amazing pictures. Where are you in Uganda? I have some family members living in Kampala at this time doing Missionary work. I was just wondering where you were?

  67. Sophie, I have a question…. I know Compassion is a US Charity, and you are looking for 500 sponsors. Do they have to be American? Is there any facility for people around the world to sponsor a Compassion child? Or do we have to go through say British charities to do so? I know there are many who do offer sponsorship, but I wondered about Compassion as we are all so caught up in the reality of what you guys are seeing. And given that a large number of you and Shannon’s visitors are from all over the world, I just wondered if ther is provision for foreigners already.
    Your life is changing. I have seen what you are seeing, and I know what it means to your heart.

  68. The crazy thing is that it isn’t just their surroundings that shriek of poverty.

    They’re probably emotionally and spiritually bankrupt too, at least before Compassion stepped in.

  69. Carole in AL says:

    I’m holding my sweet boy while reading this and I’m so thankful, and I’m so humbled.

    Thanks, Sophie.

  70. This is heartbreaking. You are doing an amazing thing. It really puts my “problems” into perspective.

  71. I’m sure this experience will change you. After my first trip out of the country to see poverty it completely changed the way I viewed almost everything.

    Thank you for being obedient in going. If only more people would…

  72. What beauty in their faces! Thank you for showing us this and bringing to our attention. Continued prayers for you and all these children…

  73. Ignore my question, Sophie. Amy very kindly told me to go to, and I have no idea why I didn’t check first. I am wading through the options as I speak.

  74. They are absolutely beautiful faces. Thank you so much for helping us see them.

  75. those are the most beautiful children ever.

  76. And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.
    Mark 10:16 Jesus so loves these little ones. And, oh, so should we. Thank you for reminding us of this calling through what you are so beautifully doing.

  77. They are so beautiful. I sit here at a loss for words. Mind going fast, thinking what I can do for them and all those like them. Bless you and the whole team for bringing this reality into my world.

  78. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Sophie. You’re absolutely right — we have to see them. It’s so easy to sit in our comfortable homes, complaining about heating bills or busted microwaves… not realizing or remembering what poverty is, what need is.

    Thank you.

  79. I am captivated by your trip. Thank you for sharing. I am putting together two missions trips for our church this year and have also been changed by a similar experience. The people are absolutely beautiful. I will be praying for you.

  80. Four years ago I went to Nicaragua on a mission trip. Nicaragua is one of the two poorest countries in the western hemisphere. (Haiti and Nicaragua go back-and-forth.)

    The afternoon I returned from the trip, I accidentally poured my dog’s food into his full water bowl.

    I couldn’t bear to dump it out and start over. There were people in Nicaragua who would have eaten the dog’s food in order to get some sustinence… not to mention all the starving dogs there who would have loved it.

    Now, if my dog hadn’t eaten his dinner, I would have started over. But that day Toby, like me, learned a little about being thankful for what you have. And he ate the food.

  81. I was checking your website during my lunch at school (I teach second grade) and I almost started crying. My husband and I have been on several medical missions in Nicaragua and what stays with you after you leave are two things. The incredible poverty and the children. I have even tried tobring some kids back with me but cooler and saner heads prevailed. (I wasn’t concerned about visas, passports, etc.)

    Please take it all in, it will be over before you know it. Take tons of pictures.

  82. My heart is broken.

  83. Jesus loves the little children…. Thank you for loving on them for us this week.

  84. Sophie- This is EXACTLY what I prayed God would do for you. You will NEVER be the same. I am PRAISING GOD for what He is doing in your heart. You are right, we CANNOT overlook these kids. They are HIS babies. And as a result, they are OUR babies.

  85. Baby, that’s why you’re there. So we can see.

  86. Those sweet, precious children. *sigh* I’m so glad you are there loving on them and sharing this with us. WE are so blessed to get to follow along.

  87. I am just so choked up reading this and seeing the faces. Little kids, oh my gosh, they are just little kids.
    I wonder why I could ignore all the commercials and “junk” mail that informed me of poverty before. I think its because I feel I KNOW you, WE know you, from your blog. So this, finally, brings it home to me.
    I get it. Where do we sign up?
    Thank you for going. I’ll be praying…and crying…and praying.

  88. Speechless. Just wanted to let you know I am here.

  89. I’m just flooded with emotion Sophie….Why in the world do we get so worried and caught up in half the things we do when there are these beautiful children who have NOTHING?! May we all be forever changed thru your work this week. God is with us all….I can just feel it. I’m forever changed now.

    Peace and love…

  90. Thank you for sharing! I do completely agree that we have to see and love and share these faces. For my part, and I know its small, I sponsor a child from Zambia through World Vision. It seems like an upstanding charity, and I would recommend it.

    Thanks again for sharing,

  91. Those little faces spoke deep into my heart. Those eyes…

    Praying for your safety and that God will use you to love on those little ones.

  92. I am so touched by those precious faces…please know I continue to lift you and all of your group up in prayer. Can’t wait to read more, even though I must say, it breaks my heart!

  93. Why, oh, why is international adoption so expensive? Money is always the bottom line when you live paycheck to paycheck!! I think more people would adopt these beautiful children if it were more do-able! Please slip one of these little ones into your carry on and bring her home to me. My heart is broken for them.

  94. No words her – moved to tears. God bless them.

  95. Should have read No tears here….. not “her”. This is why I read blogs instead of write them! :)

  96. Beautiful, precious children. I love those pictures. Thanks for telling us about your experiences today. I’m praying for you guys! I pray that the people there will see Jesus in you. God bless!!

  97. It makes me want to bring them all home, fill them up with mac & cheese & milk, give them a bath, clean warm clothes, and a safe place to sleep.

  98. Oh my heart! And to think that I have been struggling with God over cable. I think I need to get my priorities straight! Thank you for showing us these precious faces! Keep it coming!

  99. Boo- I was on Compassion Int’ls website the other day as Terry and I had decided to sponsor two children (one for each or our own). There were 2000+ children to “choose from”. It just broke my heart. I wanted to choose them all. But I can’t.

    However, I bet you have enough visitors to your site each day that we could at least help put a dent in that number. I hope your blogging on this will put a call to action in those reading this!

  100. Beautiful! Someday my husband and I plan to adopt overseas and locally. Breaks my heart!