• Shelly Bandelman

Meet My Heart (Updated)

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Over 50 years ago a little girl and a little boy met in Sunday school. He was about three and she was probably four. As teenagers they became friends, and that friendship became a love story that has spanned over 3 decades, four children, and two continents.


Brian and I don’t remember when we met. We have always known each other, and liked each other, and loved each other. He is a stubborn, gentle, Godly man who loves and protects our family with humor and wisdom. He once jacked our Toyota Land Cruiser up with a crescent wrench (the jack handle had been “borrowed”) while laying under the car, on a gravel road, 30 kilometres outside Bwindi National Forest. We were on that road because I wanted to see if we could make it to the park, and he thought it might be a fun evening drive. That’s the story of our lives: adventure, love, and fun!


We had been married about 10 years when an amazing miracle entered our lives. A cute baby boy was born, and we were never the same. I know it is totally cliché, but Gabe made us better people. He made us parents. He opened our capacity to love, laugh, and enjoy life even more.

Gabe is a gentle giant who enjoys playing the guitar (or bass), gaming with his friends, and is usually up for an adventure (unless it involves volcanoes then it’s a hard NO)! He has a confidence in who he is and what he’s doing that I envy.


A feisty, beautiful, little baby girl entered our lives on a cold, stormy December morning. Brie is one of those people who loves passionately, and never backs down from injustice. She has an artistic flair, and loves to create beauty wherever she goes. Brie’s giggle is infectious, and she uses it a lot! She’s pretty sure anything is possible, and we should try it once. She is one of my best "Partners in Crime."


Zoe, the tiny three-year old girl with huge, haunted, brown eyes, sucked her thumb vigorously while soberly watching our every move. It was days before we caught a hint of the beautiful smile she is now well known for. It only took a few months for us to realize she should join our family forever. Teen-age Zoe is in constant motion, singing and dancing, loves everyone, and protects her family fiercely. She has a determination that makes her a force to be reckoned with tempered by a gentle spirit.


Noah, Zoe’s little brother was an angry, pain filled, crippled, 18 month old with a brilliant mind (board games are a specialty with him), loud cry, and infectious giggle who stole our hearts. Lots of tears, prayers, and physical therapy took care of his leg. Love did the rest. Today he loves soccer, basketball, Super Heroes, and playing with friends and family. God has done a miracle in and through Noah. He is bright and funny with a zest for life.


It was love at first sight for Gabe when he first met a beautiful young lady at Entebbe International Airport. Sarah had come with her daddy to pick up our family when we moved to Uganda. She grew up on the mission field, and has a big world outlook. She is shy, funny, and a great coffee date! Gabe and Sarah currently live in Roseburg, OR, with our "favorite" grandbaby, Adelaide Rose (Addie).


Brie began taking guitar lessons from the worship leader at Kawempe Worship Center, where we attend church in Uganda. Isaac, the worship leader/guitar teacher, has an amazing anointing of worship, and loves God with all of his being. He has a huge, infectious smile that matches his big heart. Music is life to Isaac and he loves to jam with the guys! Guitar lessons led to friendship, which led to love, and fighting through the red tape of immigration. This spring Isaac made it to America, and they were married a few months later!


These people hold my heart. Their stories are interwoven in mine.





They are featured in Go, Love and the In Between. More of their adventures will be in my next book so keep an eye out!





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