Mission Journeys & Information
Partner with Sweet Sleep to hand deliver hope; let us customize a mission journey for your group. Together, we will work to plan your journey — from deciding where you will serve to setting your goals for how many beds you will provide. With you for every step of the way, we will give your group all the resources you need to prepare for your journey. Our experts will handle all your logistics, leaving you free to focus on sharing God’s love through ministry and the provision of beds.
Feeling called to serve? Let Sweet Sleep help you as you build a team and plan your journey. Teams are made of Sunday school classes, youth groups, university clubs, prayer groups, or multi-generational church congregation members. With the backing of your church or school and a team size of about 10 to 20, you will be given all the resources you need to lead and prepare your group. Our experts will handle all your logistics and will help you through every step of the way. And once you arrive in-country, our well-trained indigenous staff will be with you during the entire trip to guide you culturally and through your Sweet Sleep work.
Beds Fundraising Goals
Sweet Sleep mission journey team members hand deliver hope, ministry, and beds. Considering your team size and where your team is serving, Sweet Sleep will help you determine how many beds you are going to provide and will help you set a beds fundraising goal. We will then equip you with creative and proven fundraising tools and techniques to help you meet your goals. We recommend a minimum fundraising goal of $1000 per team member.
What You Can Expect
The ministry we provide looks different depending on where we’re serving. In Eastern Europe, we’re currently working in Transnistira, a small region within Moldova. The team spends the entire week in one orphanage with the children. There will typically be a few hundred to several hundred children living there. Following the schedule and expectations of the teachers, our team engages in Bible teachings, arts and crafts activities, recreation, and beds building. Old worn beds are removed from the dorms and new wooden beds are assembled with simple tools.
Central Uganda is similar to Eastern Europe in that your team will work with the same group of children all week. In Kampala, children live in privately owned orphanages that are often associated with a church and that have a school. Throughout the week, the team will provide Bible lessons, arts and crafts, and recreational activities. The metal bunk beds are matched and assembled by the team.
Because children don’t typically live in orphanages in Northern Uganda, distributions are done in a central meeting place; usually a large mango tree. The recipients and hundreds of others from the surrounding community walk up to 15 miles to participate in the distribution. You team will go to one or two distribution locations each day and will serve a different group of children at each location. The team will share a Bible lesson with the crowd and limited activities may be possible. Simple recreation and art activities are recommended.
Create A Journey
Have a team that’s interested in going? We can create specialized trips.
Ion Groza has been the National Director since January 2013. Ion grew up as one of six children in a Christian home during the Soviet Regime. Ion can remember frosty winters during his childhood when his father would gather all the children around him while he was husking corn to tell them stories about David and Goliath, Joseph, Daniel in the den of lions, Esther, Ruth, and about the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He says those moments have “brightly remained printed in my mind and heart.
“During Soviet times, Christians were banned from going to college. Because Ion was not a Communist, he was not allowed to go to a university, so he worked alongside a Christian master to learn how to work leather. At 18, Ion was recruited to soviet army service and was sent to Stavropol where he studied at an air force military school for 2 years. Though his peers persecuted him for his beliefs, Ion never wavered in his Christian faith.
After returning home from army service, Ion married. Years later he was baptized and as his relationship with God deepened, he recognized the call on his life to become a pastor.In 1992 Ion was admitted to Trinity Theological Institute where he received his degree as a Teacher of Theology. During this time, God opened a door for Ion to work with teenagers and young people in the local church. He began a ministry with 20 students who taught Bible lessons to children in a nearby orphanage. Every week Ion and his students would visit the children in the orphanage and share the love of Jesus with them. Ion recalls that the children would wait for them with great pleasure, and when they would notice their arrival, the children would cry, “The brothers are coming!”
Ion was sent as a missionary to another local village in 1995 where he worked for years to begin to make the Gospel known there. Five years later, the first Christian church in the village was built and the following year, 2001, Ion was ordained as its Pastor.In 2000, Ion was elected as Local Counselor for his district in southern Moldova. He was also the Committee President for Social Problems in the Cahul district.
In 1999, after serving as a volunteer Bible teacher at a local orphanage, he was invited to work as a Coordinator in the southern area for Mission Without Borders. As Ion’s ministry to orphans and his response to God’s call to care for the fatherless grew, Ion became the Executive Director of Mission Without Borders, Moldova from 2004 to 2012.
He and his wife have 4 children; two daughters and two sons. Three of their children are now married and Ion is also a grandfather. Ion is also the pastor of Speranta (Hope) Baptist Church in the Crihana Veche village of Moldova.
Josephine Ssebambulide has been with the organization since 2009, and has served as its National Director since January 2010. At the age of 7, Josephine became a single orphan. As the oldest child, she was soon exposed to the challenges of life faced by an orphan.
Josephine attributes everything in her life to the grace and glory of God, who has always enabled her to meet people who have cared, loved and encouraged her to strive for a better life. Josephine has a sharp eye and a finely tuned heart that is able to sense where God is at work with the orphan in Uganda. Her gift for administration and keen sense for negotiation make her a dynamic leader and part of the Heart For 1 and Sweet Sleep team.
According to Josephine, her work “is indeed an experience and life changing, for I have witnessed God’s hand touching the hearts and lives of so many people in an amazing way. This ministry has provided me with the opportunities to meet and serve with people of passionate, loving and caring hearts through which hope for so many children has been kept alive.”Josephine has a degree in Business Administration from Nkumba University and certificates for Caring for HIV+ Children and Creative Children’s Ministry from Samaritan’s Purse, International.
Shortly after graduating college in 2004, Josephine married Jonathan Ssebambulide. They live just outside of Kampala with their two biological children, Tremise and Treynon and their two adopted children, Hadija and Olivet. They are members of Victory Christian Church in Kampala.
Jennifer has been the Program Director in northern Uganda since April 2011.Jennifer grew up in northern Uganda during LRA attacks (Lord’s Resistance Army). After losing both her parents to rebel attacks, she understands, first-hand, the suffering and needs of the estimated 750,000 children growing up in child-headed households.
With a deep laugh and a deeper heart of compassion, she has ministered to thousands of hurting children and widows with the message of hope and love that Sweet Sleep and Heart For 1 bring to her region of Uganda. Her gift of wisdom and discernment bring strong partnerships and solutions to the ministry.
Jennifer has a degree in Business and is currently working on her Masters of Social Work.She is married to her best friend, Walter, and together they have a biological daughter named Daniella Precious and an adopted daughter named Patience.
Ron has been the Program Manager in Haiti since June 2010. Just after the January 2010 earthquake, Ron met Sweet Sleep and Heart For 1 Founder, Jen Gash, while he worked as her translator during Jen’s relief work with the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT), a Christian Alliance for Orphans initiative.
Ron’s love and compassion for God’s children of the world are apparent through his work. He and his wife, Vanessa, have one adopted daughter. They like to spend their free time helping the children of Haiti and working on building their new home.
Ronda Harris has been working with Sweep Sleep since early 2011. Ronda has a rich background in Accounting and Ministry. She has a heart for orphans and the ministry of Sweet Sleep. As a graduate of UCO with an Accounting Degree, Ronda questioned how God could use her skill set to further the kingdom. Finding a place like Sweet Sleep to serve has been the answer to that question.
Ronda and her husband Lantz live in Franklin and have six children, four of which are domestic adoptions. They recently graduated their last child from Home School and as new empty nesters are enjoying volunteering again and leading Bible Studies. They are actively involved in their church, Generations, where Lantz serves on the Worship team, and Ronda servers on the Hospitality and Greeting Team.
Jen Gash, Founder of Sweet Sleep and Heart For 1, is an internationally recognized advocate for orphaned and abandoned children.
Jen grew up in Springfield, Illinois. In 1996 she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she later served as Executive Assistant to Mayor Bill Purcell. In July 2003, Jen took her first trip to Moldova, where God opened her heart to the orphan and she founded the organization of Sweet Sleep. Jen served as the President and Founder of Sweet Sleep, an organization improving the quality of life for orphaned and abandoned children around the world through the provision of a bed, for ten years prior to God leading her to begin Heart For 1 with her ministry partner, Madelene Metcalf, in 2013.
She is a Board Director for the Middle Tennessee Orphan Alliance (MTOA). In February 2010, she served as the Logistics Chief for the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT) an emergency response initiative of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), where a team of 11 disaster relief experts and orphan care professionals worked in Haiti to determine long-term sustainable relief options for the church to respond to the orphan crisis, post-quake.
Her pursuit to advocate for the orphan has been recognized all over the world. She has appeared as a resource and expert on various stages around the world and on global TV, radio and news programs, including NBC’s Today Show and Uganda’s “Daily Monitor” as well as numerous magazines and books, including Bob Buford’s “Half-time” leadership series “Success to Significance” and “The Gospel of Yes” by Dr. Mike Glenn.
Jen speaks to a wide range of groups with audiences as small as 20 to as large as 5,000. Speaking engagements have included Belmont University Convocation, Lipscomb University, Samford University and Kairos, Lifeway’s “National Youth Workers Conference and “Kids Ministry Conference”, Brentwood Baptist Church, Fellowship Bible’s “Global Summit”, Christian Alliance for Orphans national “Summit”, and WMU’s National Mission Conference (BLUME) and State Mission Conference (TN). For more information about booking Jen to speak, click here.
Jen divides her time either on the ground ministering to orphans and widows and educating and inspiring others to care for orphans, or at home in Nashville, Tennessee with her lab and her Moldovan daughter, Galina.
Madelene Metcalf, Founder of Heart for 1, has a Christ born burden for the orphan and the broken family. Since receiving her call into the ministry, Madelene has had the opportunity to travel the world advocating for family preservation.
Madelene was born in California, but claims Texas as her home state. The middle of three siblings, she grew up in the East Texas town of Longview, where she developed a love for the flute and for numbers. In 1995 she moved to Nashville for college and graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics. She later graduated Magna Cum Laude from Middle Tennessee State University with a Masters of Science degree in Applied Mathematics.
Before being called to orphan care, Madelene was a Pension Analyst for Bryan, Pendleton, Swats, & McAllister, an actuarial firm of Wells Fargo Bank. She also taught mathematics at Middle Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University.
Madelene had always heard about the ministry of Sweet Sleep through her church, but had never gotten involved. For Christmas 2008, Madelene “gave” Sweet Sleep to each of her family members and, as she watched the ministry’s videos of their work, she was captivated.
In 2009, Madelene took her first mission trip to Uganda where God ignited her heart for the orphan, and since that time her life has never been the same.
Her desire to serve the ministry in its care for the orphan was unstoppable. She served many vital volunteer roles in various capacities of the ministry and in 2011 was named Sweet Sleep’s “Volunteer of the Year”.
In 2012, Madelene joined the staff of Sweet Sleep as its Global Ministry Director where she oversaw all the ministry’s international staff, coordinated mission journeys, managed international and domestic partnerships, and executed the disbursement of funds for all of the ministry’s programs.
Her intense commitment to the ministry as well as international relationship management and frequent travel helped Madelene to see the greater need orphans have; the need for children to be placed into families as she believes God intended them to be. In 2013, Madelene recognized God was calling her to begin Heart For 1 with her ministry partner, Jen Gash.
Madelene lives in Brentwood, TN with her husband and three small children. She is an active member of Brentwood Baptist Church, where she plays in the orchestra each Sunday she isn’t holding a baby in some remote part of the world. For more information about booking Madelene to speak, click here.
Bryan is a partner with Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, specializing in the area of corporate tax.
Bryan and his wife, Madelene, live in Brentwood, TN with their three children. They are active members of Brentwood Baptist Church.
She is a member of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Brentwood, TN, where she leads several student groups and is a frequent chaperone for youth mission trips. In addition to serving as a Board member, she also serves on the Global Partnership and Expansion Committee where her global business knowledge and heart for missions are vital to the efforts of the ministry.
Randy is the Vice President of Finance for NaviHealth, Inc.
He and his wife live in Brentwood, TN with their 3 biological children and two adopted children. They are active members of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, TN.
Donald is a Director with Deloitte and Touche, LLP.
He and his wife live in Old Hickory, TN with their three daughters.
Diane is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Finance for the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County.
She and her husband, Greg, live in Goodlettsville, TN with their biological daughter, Cortnie, and their adopted daughter, Jennifer.
They are active members of Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood, TN.
Maggie Colbert, DMD
Maggie works as a dentist with the practice of Dr. James Santarelli.
She and her husband, John, live in Springfield, IL with their two sons, Jacob and Max. They are active members of Southside Christian Church.