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Couple follow God's call to Africa

Standing in Carl and Julie Gaede's front yard, it's hard to imagine how different this family's life will be in a few short weeks.

Carl and Julie, along with their children Emma (8) and Grace (4), posed for a quick picture Friday in front of their nearly-empty home in New Richmond.

The couple is selling all their possessions, except for a few photo albums and keepsakes, and moving to northern Uganda, Africa. They're praying that the house will sell too, but renting the home is also an option.

"It's all happening very fast," Julie admitted in an interview. "It's turned out to be a whirlwind trip."

The Gaede family just recently received word from a church in Gulu, Uganda that they were chosen to start a trauma rehabilitation center in the northern region of that country.

Officials there asked the Gaedes to move to Uganda and be ready to work by Sept. 1. The family will leave Aug. 25 to begin their new life.

"We hope to hit the ground running as soon as we can," Carl said. "Most of the time I feel overwhelmed with all we still have to do. But I really feel honored to serve God in this way. It's such a privilege."

The Gaede family has traveled to Uganda on short-term missions trips in the past. With each trip, their love for the people of Uganda has grown.

After 22 years of bloody civil war, the people of Uganda are beginning the slow process of healing.

Millions of families were displaced by the war, with millions forced to live in refugee camps for years.

During the warfare, more than 50,000 children were abducted and made to train as soldiers. Many were forced to witness the murder of parents and relatives as an indoctrination. They were also forced to commit horrible murders themselves.

As a result, much of Uganda's population is dealing with the after effects of emotional trauma.

One of the communities hardest hit by the conflict and trauma was Gulu.

"Literally every person in Uganda has been affected by this trauma, in ways that we can't even comprehend," Carl said.

"People are so stuck in their grief, they're unable to show any emotion," Julie added.

Watoto Ministry, the largest church in Uganda, recognizes the need for trauma services for people. They plan to significantly expand the number of trained counselors in the country. The native counselors will all work with people.

"As children have been coming back from the bush, they're able to receive healing from the trauma they've experienced," Carl said.

The successful trauma efforts have not been attempted in the northern region of Uganda yet, Carl said. Until the war wound down, the region around Gulu was unsafe. Now the area is opening up and seeking help.

For the past 10 years, Carl and Julie have provided psychotherapy services in the Upper Midwest. Most recently, Carl has had a private practice and worked at St. Croix County Health and Human Services.

Carl and Julie have been trained in a unique trauma therapy technique, which focuses on reconciliation, forgiveness and the healing power of Jesus Christ to turn people's lives around. Similar trauma programs in Uganda have been very successful.

"Our hope is that people will experience the love of Jesus through us," Carl said. "And because of that, we hope that people will experience relief from the trauma."

The Gaede's calling actually may eventually go beyond Uganda.

"We envision being in northern Uganda at least two years," Carl said. "Our desire is to train up local people to do the work of trauma rehabilitation."

Once the program is established and operating well in Uganda, Carl said the family would like to work in other war-torn African countries to establish new trauma programs.

"Through Christ, they can be healed. It's really powerful," Carl said.

The Gaedes have established a non-profit organization to assist them financially as they work in Uganda.

Tutapona Inc. is named after the Swahili phrase for "We will heal." To support the Gaede's efforts, send a check payable to Carl & Julie Gaede, C/O Tutapona, Inc., P.O. Box 214, New Richmond, Wis. 54017.

The family is also planning a garage sale at their home July 18-19 across the street from the Friday Memorial Library in New Richmond. A silent auction is planned for Aug. 3 to get rid of the remaining items.

"For the most part, we don't want material possessions to be our connection here," Carl said. "We want our remaining connections to be people."

The Gaedes are also seeking supporters who will pray for their ministry in Uganda. The family's experiences will be updated on an online blog site,

"We've had a heart for Africa for a number of years," Julie said. "But we never thought we'd be living there."

"We did a lot of praying and told God we wanted to serve him," Carl added. "It became clear that God wanted us there in Africa. He really just opened up doors for us."

Julie admits leaving the New Richmond area is difficult. Many of the Gaede's relatives live in the immediate area.

"Our daughters will be leaving all their grandparents and cousins," Julie said. "It will be a big adjustment."

The Gaede's oldest daughter, Emma, is still pretty excited about the family's new adventure. She's already raised more than $500 through lemonade stands and the sale of special refrigerator magnets. The money will help operate a baby orphanage in Uganda.