Tuesday proved to be another day of surprises, connections, and memory-making moments. After having breakfast at the Sunset Hotel, it was time for Pastor Paul, Beth, Pastor Scott and Lori to head to the City Hotel to begin the Pastor’s Leadership Institute International (PLII) conference. It was easy to see they were excited about meeting the eighteen pastors and their wives; there were also lots of questions to be answered – would there be a language barrier for some? Would the cultural differences make things more difficult? Would Pastor Paul be able to cover his topic with only 45 minutes on the agenda? :)
At the end of their day, when we met again in the evening, it was easy to see that all apprehension was gone. They had a fantastic day and were obviously filled with joy about what they had experienced. They formed some very tight bonds in a short period of time and listening to them talk excitedly about what the next day would hold was fun for the rest of us! Not surprising, one of Beth’s highlights was listening to them all sing a hymn together. When these Ugandan pastors get going with the music, it is a beautiful thing! We thank God for the encouragement He provided yesterday – to us and to our new Ugandan friends!
My plans were to make a visit to a more remote location, since we had a little extra time on our hands. Mariah, Maj, Ronald, Henry and I made plans to spent the afternoon in Nawampiti. I had been to this village once before – it was just long enough ago that I had managed to forget the spine-jarring ride that it requires to get there!
We were bumping along at a decent space, about 40 minutes off Kamuli Road, when we came upon a sugar-cane truck being loaded by 3 workers. This happens frequently on the road to Butangala, but we are usually able to share a bag of candy with the drive and they agree to pull the truck over to the side. Such was not the case yesterday! This driver, perhaps more cautious than others or maybe one who has no sweet tooth, wasn’t moving. You see, we have also witnessed sugar cane trucks lying on their sides by the road due to tipping over after being loaded to the absolute maximum and having one tire go off the edge of the road. We all felt like there was sufficient room for him to move over just slightly, but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen.
Julius, our driver, calmly put the bus in reverse and began a one-mile drive back over the crater-filled road we had just come in on. Over the next hour, we made several turns, each one taken after consulting with whatever adult or child happened to be standing near the intersection as we passed. In the end, we arrived safely in Nawampiti.
This village has a Lutheran congregation of around 80 people and a school of 250 kids. We estimated that over half of the children were there to greet us, which was surprising since school has not yet begun for the year.
We gathered under a tree and tarp and enjoyed entertainment by the children. Hearing their voices and watching them dance absolutely never gets old!
Because this village is more remote, there were not many who spoke English – proof once again that a smile (and candy) are universal signs of happiness!
We made cross necklaces with a group of about 30 women (and 2 men) and passed out scratch art cards for the kids to draw on. Next was candy for everyone and then a “light lunch”. I’ve never found anything “light” about matooke, but the cooks were fabulous and it was an honor to be served by them.
We began the journey home about 4:30 and got back to the hotel after a quick stop in Jinja for me to buy a Ugandan blow dryer. There was a bit of a language barrier at the market as well as the shop owner was convinced I was trying to purchase “hair dye”, not a “hair dryer”. We got the message across after Violet gave her best imitation of the sound of a blow dryer and the purchase was made, although not until the young woman at the check-out plugged in to prove to Violet that it worked.
We had dinner with Paul, Beth, Scott, and Lori and it was an early evening (10:30) again for all of us. Two brief power outages between 10:30 and 11:00 capped off the adventure-laden day and we all arrived at breakfast this morning, rested and ready for whatever this day brings.
I am excited to head back to Kampala and then Entebbe this evening to meet the mission team who will arrive around 10:30! Praying for their safety today. Thank you for all of your prayers for the PLII conference and for the work of this mission team!
Pastor Paul and Beth Schult and I arrived safely in Kampala around midnight on Sunday evening. It is Beth’s first visit to this beautiful country so it was fun to watch her try to take everything in during the drive from the airport!
We enjoyed a quick meal of fish, chicken and chips and followed it up with about 4 hours of sleep. Our bus was almost on time (!) and we headed to Jinja. Mariah, the newest full-time Hearts and Hope employee, and Henry, the HH4U Project Coordinator joined us.
We stopped at the Sunset Hotel to pick up Pastor Scott and Lori Rische, who, along with Paul and Beth, are running the PLII conference for 18 pastors and their wives this week.
We made the 20-minute journey to Kainagoga and were simply blown away by the two new school structures! We have received pictures over the past 4 months of the progress, but nothing could prepare us for the sight of these two buildings looming over the narrow strip of land purchased a few years back. The future for the students there is bright and we cannot say “thank you” enough to Pastor Cliff Hellmers and his friends, as well as the Party With a Purpose attendees who funded this impressive project.
School has not started yet in Uganda. Normally the Monday in February is go-day, but because of the national elections, it has been put off until February 22nd. We weren’t sure what to expect in regards to attendance, but were pleased to see lots of smiling students when we arrived. They entertained us with several songs that hammered home the “you are most welcome, dear visitors” theme and loved every minute of it!
We handed out packets to the 40 sponsored kids and enjoyed some time just being with them. After a light lunch, it was time to head back to our beloved Sunset Hotel International. A few of us managed to squeeze in a quick nap before dinner. The Schults and Risches spent time preparing for their first day of PLII, while Mariah, Violet and I caught up on each other’s lives. Paul enjoyed the first “whole tilapia” of the week. It was a lovely, EARLY evening and the consensus this morning is that we were all asleep much earlier than normal.
Praying for a wonderful first day of PLII, as the Hearts and Hope staff and I head to a village where Butangala has planted a new congregation. On the way home, we are hoping a quick stop at the market will glean us a blow dryer and toothpaste! We thank our families and friends for helping to make this trip possible. Thanks to everyone for your prayers!
It's time for the winter trip to Uganda for a Hearts and Hope mission team! Three members will be leaving on Saturday; the remainder will leave next Tuesday, January 26th.
Pastor Paul and Beth Schult will be helping the lead the first Pastoral Leadership Institute International classes in Uganda where 18 pastors and their wives will spend 4 days together for training and growth. Julie will spend the first few days visiting villages and preparing for the team's arrival.
When the remainder of the team (Marla, Anne, Jerry, Mark, Sara, Austin, and Crystal) arrives, we will spend a lot of time delivering packets to over 500 sponsorship students. It's always a great way to bring smiles to a lot of faces. Thank you to everyone who turned in a packet and especially to those who have sponsored a student in the past few weeks!
We will be doing some crafts with the kids and the women and we hope to visit at least two new villages. We will be attending the dedication celebration for the new school in Kainagoga on Saturday, January 30th!
Thank you for your prayers for a safe and productive trip. Please watch for updates on the blog and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.