Saturday, December 26, 2015

My wish for you this Christmas.

Feeling blessed…My wish for you this Christmas. 

The last few weeks I've been 'consumed'  by doing what matters most to me this holiday and I’ve been blessed by the experiences I’ve had while doing so.

Two weeks ago, we celebrated Amilia’s Light’s first anniversary at our Light the Night Celebration.  Blessings abounded. There was hard work and camaraderie and meaningful moments shared in the preparation and in the celebration.  Simple moments, like sitting down in the front yard with two of the A5 volunteers, girls that would have graduated with Amila, but that I’d only met this year.  We shared the simple joy of sitting in solitude for a few minutes and taking it all in.  The lights, the meaning of the work, the message of spreading the light, and how the money being raised is changing the course of life for young women in Uganda, by creating opportunities for empowerment.

The lights had a similar affect on the party guests, when Amila’s garden was lit up  and the very loved, hand made wooden angel appeared from the dark.  Coincidentally, Light the Night was planned the same night Compassionate Friends organizes a world- wide candle lighting for children who have passed away. As guests walked up into Amilia’s garden and placed tea lights, I was reminded of how blessed I was to celebrate the evening, with new and old friends, many who never knew Amilia but share the dream to change lives, one girl at a time.

This week there have been so many moments to feel blessed; I’m blessed to be on vacation with my children in the Teton’s.  I’ve gotten to ski, snowshoe, sled and snowmobile. I even get some considerable air  -without injury to myself or others!  I’ve seen elk and moose and taken pictures of Bison that were standing  just 20 feet from the car.

I sat in on a graduate class at the Teton Science School and was impressed with the caliber of the instructors, the students and the course work. I felt great hope for our future as I could envision how these students would step up, step out and illuminate our world, by teaching others to care for and steward this precious gift we live in.

Most of all,  I feel blessed that I can set my light out on a dark night for those that need a step up, so they can step out and continue to illuminate our world.

My wish for you this Christmas, is that you may feel as blessed as I do, and that you too, can find a way to light a candle in your world.

Michelle Luhrmann,
Founder and President, Amilia's Light

Monday, December 7, 2015

It's becoming real

A couple of weeks ago, our team was working on a new project, another first for us, and we were trying to figure out the best way to go about it.  We gathered information -- piles of documents covering every surface, 3 computers, white board, and lots of coffee.

I logged into the crowd fund campaign that Jodi created just 6 weeks ago and looked at the number -- $15,025.  I could barely contain myself. I realized it was a milestone, we raised more than half and it hit me -- WE CAN DO THIS!

It was a turning point.  A shift in the energy, you might say.  All of a sudden it became real: the Empowerment Program, the girls, Sandra and Christine and Teddy and Barbara all working hard in their new businesses.  I could see how their lives would change, how they would gain confidence in their talents, and with each passing day, learn more about themselves - their strengths, their weaknesses, their courage, their grit and their power to provide for themselves and their families.

I held that vision with me as I composed our Thanksgiving message.

Thinking about Teddy, and her newborn child, Michelle, it hit me again, another milestone.  While I’ve been so focused on the plights of these girls, wanting to see them safe and secure, I had not realized how the impact of a dozen people in Uganda and Denmark and the United States and the supporters like you who believe in them were truly changing not only the lives of these young women, but changing the course of history for their children.  

And yet again, I am blessed with the opportunity to be a part of this and to know that because of our donors Baby Michelle will grow up in a home where her mom, fully restored and with resources to start a business will be able to love and provide for her.

Update:  Thanks to our supporters, The Empowerment Program has now reached $18,080.  We have sent $12.5k over to Destiny Women, and have hired a liaison in Uganda to act on our behalf.  Destiny Women has begun to look for property and to put a team together to set up and manage the program.


Michelle Luhrmann,  Founder and President

Learn more about how Amilia’s Light got started in "A Spark of Light" 
and Destiny Women-Uganda in "It Takes Courage To Step Out"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Feeling Thank-Full

Feeling Thank FULL that I 'stepped up, stepped out and did something'

During the month of November everywhere we look, there are reminders for us to give thanks.  At Amilia’s Light, we are doing the same thing, reminding everyone, to consider the blessings in their lives and to ‘step up, step out and do something' to make a difference in another’s life.  

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and it’s a perfect New England fall day; sunny, clear skies with a slight chill in the air - just cold enough to start a morning fire and warm the house.

 I’m blessed to have the time and resources to sit and reflect on my own life and what I have to be grateful for… God, my children, my friends, my dog, my work, my health, my home, my garden…  

And while things are not perfect (is it supposed to be?) my life is full. Maybe not as full as I dreamed it would be, I’m learning though, for it to be enough. 

My family is changed, not by choice, but by circumstance.  The word ‘family” has expanded to include dear friends and those who have touched my life.  One such young lady who has had the courage to step up, step out and do something positive with her life, is Teddy.  She is one of the original five young women our family sponsored to attend Destiny Women’s rehabilitation program.

When I visited Uganda last March, I had hoped to see all five of the girls we sponsored.  By the end of week two, I was able to see three of the girls.  One, had moved out of the country, and we had been praying for her safety.  But Teddy was just a no-show.  Her school was not in session, and we just could not locate her.  I was sad and worried about the burdens of what she was facing at home.

The last night we hosted a gathering for the Destiny Girls. I resolved to enjoy the night of celebration.  As I was handing out bibles, Vicki, who had been searching everywhere,  all week, came in with Teddy right behind.  I could not believe my eyes! What joy!  We sat together, talked and made plans.  We talked about the possibility for her to switch to a vocational program and getting her resettled into a safer family hostel.

Later that night,  she was tearful, upset and afraid.  And we were afraid for her.  I begged her to stay the weekend with Miriam,  but she insisted on going home.  Home to what – I wasn’t sure.  To be honest I'm not sure I wanted to know.  I was praying that she had not been forced back to her old life. I gave her some money for the ride, and told her we would be there for her, but that the choice was hers and hers alone.  I couldn’t make her choose what I thought was the “right choice”.   I left the car, headed up to my nice, clean air-conditioned hotel room, took a long hot shower and just sobbed.

I found out more details later.  Teddy’s mom, living and working in a dangerous situation elsewhere, left Teddy in charge of her two younger siblings, with little resources to care for them.   

Months later, more details - Teddy was 7 months pregnant.  Immediately, I thought FAILURE.
How would I tell our followers about this?  What would they think???
That’s NOT the model we are working toward.

And then… I was humbled
As Miriam noted that Teddy was stepping up and taking responsibility for this beautiful child of God.   

And then…I found a bit of grace
Despite little prenatal care, Teddy’s baby girl was born this summer, and we are happy to report that both mom and child are healthy and safe.  Teddy gave me the courage to step up and out of my comfort zone,  to share the story in church, not knowing what kind of reaction I would get. 

And then...I was grateful
When I asked for prayers,  I was astounded, at how many people expressed gratitude that I shared this story of courage of Teddy and her new daughter.

Introducing, Baby Michelle

And now...I am full up

Michelle Luhrmann
Founder, President, Amilia's Light 


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

You have to open a door in order to step up, step out and do something.

You have to open a door in order to Step up Step Out and Do Something 
 Part 2 - Charlie Peck

Michelle’s Story
I was at a  church mission trip planning meeting thinking not only about spending time with my two World Vision sponsored children, Stella and Namie, but how in the world was I going to evaluate the NGO, Destiny Women?

I had been trying to find the right person to evaluate Destiny Women’s proposal for some time.  I was going on UCC Medfield’s vision trip to Uganda with World Vision and was just going to have to stay on in Uganda – to meet with them completely on my own.  God had a different plan…

We were discussing taking a few extra days to decompress before returning to the states and Charlie mentioned that “time was not an issue.”

Charlie Peck Stepped up for Amilia's Light in 2013

Hmmm, I think, Charlie has the time to extend the trip… Hmmm, Charlie’s background is banking – and evaluating businesses…Hmmmm, Charlie’s wife, Steffi, came and helped me when I was on bedrest with Amilia.   Interesting...coincidence you might ask.   

I don’t think so. “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called”, quoting Rick Yancy.  I certainly didn’t have the knowledge or experience to evaluate Destiny Women – but Charlie sure did.

I called Charlie and Steffi and they invited me for coffee the next morning.  I told them about my plans to start Amilia’s Light, and raise money at the 10th anniversary for a charity, but wasn’t sure it should be for Destiny Women.  Charlie agreed to extend the trip and help me:  I’m not signing on to Amilia’s Light, but I’d certainly be happy to stay and help you assess Destiny Women’s business. “

Charlie’s Story

Our minister offered a trip to Africa, both to visit the church’s recipients of the  missions team’s work and to do a brief safari.  At a pre-trip orientation meeting, one of my co-travelers asked whether I could spend a couple of extra days to visit a small charity she was interested in.  I am semi-retired, and therefore had the time.  That April we flew 18 hours to Uganda.  The first five days were spent with World Vision, then two days seeing a wonderful array of animals in their habitat. Following that, we spent two days with Miriam and Fulukas Boroa, visiting the young ladies of Destiny Women.

The reasons I have become interested in Amilia’s Light are:

*I was humbled by the consequences of the Destiny Women girls, and am hoping to make a difference through Amilia’s Light.”

*I was hugely impressed by the can-do attitudes of both Miriam and Fulukas and by their accomplishments given the limited resources available to them. Their dedication is awesome!


By the time we took our seats for the plane ride home, 
Charlie was all in.    

He illuminates our world because he Stepped up, Stepped Out, and Did Something, he joined our board, became our Treasurer and our North Star. 


Michelle Luhrmann
Founder and President, Amilia’s Light

Learn more about how Amilia’s Light got started in "A Spark of Light" 
and Destiny Women-Uganda in "It Takes Courage To Step Out"

Special Thanks to Matthew West, for his inspiring video, "Do Something"
Inspiring Resource:  Bill Hybels, "Power of A Whisper"