Our final full day was spent in Nakabango, the village that Messiah Lutheran has partnered with since 2006. We were greeted by the school kids (over 300 strong) singing outside as we arrived. Such a thrill to see that many smiling, familiar faces!
We received our official greeting from the leaders and then moved on to meet with the 145 sponsored kids. They loved the packets that their sponsoring families sent along! Thanks to those who participated. It is so much fun to watch the kids open the packets and look at the pictures sent by their sponsors.
Future's so bright, they gotta wear shades
We followed that up with some crafts provided by Water’s Edge – Allen and small gifts for the kids. Everyone got new sunglasses!!!
We walked to the site of the temporary structure that Nakabango has built for a secondary school. They started a S1 class on Monday and have 8 students registered. Their goal is to add a class each year and reach a full secondary school by 2018. I love their vision!
We saw the carpentry shop and then visited the women’s sewing center to look at some of the beads they have put together since our last visit.
I am always inspired by these women who work so hard to help provide for their families. I’m anxious for everyone to see some of the new colors!
Andy and I had some meetings next while the rest of the team handed out jump ropes, soccer balls, and
“skip-its”. Toni demonstrated the skip-it with style and grace!
In our meeting with the council we discussed beginning the process of putting the concrete floor in the primary school building as well as some plans for the future. We also talked with Alex and confirmed that we will be able to purchase the land near the church for use by the Disabled Ministry members. That put a smile on his face!
Trying to get position. Is there a yellow card on the way?!?
Next up was the much-anticipated soccer match between the Nakabango boys team and the men of Hearts & Hope. They agreed to 10-minute halves; a blessing for the older team, for sure! There were easily 300 people, mostly kids, gathered for the match and it was great fun. I’m happy to report there were no injuries to either side, but I expect to hear a few moans and groans when the guys come down the stairs in the morning. I appreciate their willingness to get out there and play – the boys loved it.
The opposing teams pose for a photo after the match
One more meeting while the rest of the team got to find some shade and just relax with the kids (one of my favorite times of the day in Nakabango!) When our meeting finished, it was time to leave, so we passed out candy in a semi-orderly fashion and got on the bus.
On the way to the hotel, we stopped at Vicar Simon Peter’s house to pray for his new baby, Christina. She is only 6 weeks old and is having breathing issued. Further tests are supposed to take place next week. She is absolutely precious and it was a privilege to be in their home.
After quick showers, we headed to the Two Friends Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Always a bittersweet evening for me – it’s great fun, but also our last evening together with our Ugandan friends.
Tomorrow we will head into Jinja to the Source Café for lunch and some shopping later. While the team shops for souvenirs, Andy, Curt, and I are going to finalize the order on backpacks and shoes for the sponsored kids tomorrow morning. Thank you to all of our sponsors for making a difference in these kids' lives. Without your support, these children would not be able to attend school and prepare themselves for a better life.
The team will be heading to the airport on Saturday night. I’m staying an extra night in Uganda, but the team will be in good hands with Andy as their leader! I know that everyone on the team is exhausted, but in a happy, fulfilled kind of way. So many stories to tell and I know we're all excited to share with our families & friends.
Thank you again to everyone for the prayers during this trip. It's always encouraging to know that people are praying for a safe and successful trip.
Looking forward to seeing everyone very soon!
Great day today, but that's not a surprise! The Missouri team spent the day in Kainagoga and Butangala. Lots of paper flowers and soccer balls!
We had the opportunity to dedicate the well in Kainagoga - what a blessing! I can't even describe how amazing these kids can sing and dance. What a blessing to see how much they love God.
The Texas team met us in Butangala today and we are now all together at the Sunset Hotel in Jinja for the night, enjoying some dinner together.
Before meeting us at Butangala, the Texas team wrapped up day three at Mbulamuti - doing crafts and handing out balloons which had a picture of the globe printed on them.
When they were handing out the balloons, the children didn't quite understand what they were receiving or what to do with them. However, once the afternoon break came, they all flooded the courtyard, blew up their balloons, and had a blast with them. The smiles of joy on their faces were overwhelming. It is a universal truth that a balloon in the hands of a child is a joy to observe, regardless of where they live.
Kids enjoying the clean water
The greatest highlight for the team was the chance to spend so much time with the children, getting to watch them celebrate the opening of their school, and see them open the packets from their sponsors. There is a joy in watching the children enjoy the many gifts that were shared with them. We often underestimatehow important the communication between the sponsor and the student can be - it's a key aspect of developing the relationship and it's the foundation of the sponsorship program.
The Texas team ended their time in Mbulamuti by giving the newly hired teachers stickers, paper, and a gift to thank them for their service to the children and the families at the school. It is amazing to see a school start with over 300 students on day one. Thanks to the sponsors and donors who helped make this a reality. In addition to preparing future leaders in each of these villages, the schools also provide income for the teachers and support staff, benefiting the larger community.
Hearts & Hope is certainly improving children's lives today throughout Uganda, but it's also changing peoples' futures and eternities. God is doing a mighty work here!
Looking forward to our day in Nakabango tomorrow!
There was no internet at the hotel in Kamuli on Tuesday so we have much to tell you tonight!
Andy Wiggins, Curt Moothart, and Paul Schult open the new school
We spent Tuesday in Mbulamuti. It began with the Water's Edge portion of the team presenting goats to six families. After that, we proceeded to the first home to assist in building a goat pen. It was hot, but satisfying work!
The afternoon was spent dedicating the new school in Mbulamuti. What a celebration it was! Hundreds of people attended, including local and military dignitaries.
The Marching Band!
My personal favorite moment was the marching band that came down the road with a banner in the front and kids following along behind.
Tents were set up for shade from the hot Ugandan sun and the afternoon was spent celebrating the new Hearts & Hope Nursery and Primary School. The people are so excited about the partnership with Water's Edge and the fact that they have over 380 kids registered for the new school year!
The day concluded with lots of dancing and the distribution of over 1,000 glow sticks.
In the evening we continued the celebration with a cake that Charles and friends bought for us. Chocolate is good wherever you go, but it especially good after our wonderful day in Mbulamuti.
On Wednesday morning, we began with a devotion lead by Bryce and then took some team pictures in our new t-shirts.
While we all spent the previous day together in Mbulamuti, Wednesday meant that it was time for us to split into two teams, with the Waters Edge team headed back to Mbulamuti to deepen the relationships that are forming there while the Missouri team heads to Kamuli to deliver sponsorship packets and spend some time with the children & leaders there.
I haven't heard from the Water's Edge team today but I can only assume they had another fantastic day in Mbulamuti. Their plans included lots of crafts and presenting packets to over 100 sponsorship kids.
The Missouri team had a great day in Kamuli. We handed out packets to 110 sponsorship kids and taught them some new songs until the candy arrived. It was so fun to go into the song archives for new ideas to teach the kids!
Soccer balls and beach balls filled the air as the guys headed out to play with the kids while Toni, Violet, Maj, Mariah, and I made paper flowers with the women of the village. It was so much fun! Great pictures to follow soon, I hope.
After a long day in Kamuli, the Missouri team headed back to our hotel in Jinja. Some claim the trip is a 4 hour ride, but it's only takes about 2 hours. :-)
After getting back to the Sunset Hotel along the banks of the Nile, we ordered up some "starters' for the evening - beef samosas, garlic naan, and chef's buttons.
Meanwhile, the Texas team is spending the night in Kamuli and we will all reunite on Thursday.
Family and friends - please know that everyone is happy, healthy, and serving God in amazing ways! Hoping to be able to post pictures soon.
Thanks for all of the prayers!
Winding down a great first day in Uganda. Toni and I are enjoying some “starters” in the form of beef samosas with David at the Sunset Hotel International Hotel while the rest of the team is headed up the Nile on a boat ride. It’s a great ride – but we opted out since we’ve been multiple times. They will have a great time – what a treat!
We exchanged our money and headed to the supermarket after we left the hotel this morning. We bought cases of water as well as some socks, t-shirts, etc. for the guys who don’t have their suitcases yet. We expect to get those from the airport first thing tomorrow morning.
We had an uneventful ride to Jinja and then on to Mafubira. We received a warm greeting there and had a couple of hours to play with the kids.
Most likely will be an early night tonight for some, but so excited to head to Kamuli tomorrow and dedicate the brand new school in Mbulamuti! Hoping to post pictures of the ceremony soon!
We arrived safely in Uganda last night – or early this morning. Six of our bags did NOT make the trip from Amsterdam and should get here this evening. There’s an interesting exchange of clothes going on this morning, so don’t fret if you see pictures of your spouse or friend in someone else’s shirt!
Paul lead us in a devotion this morning to get our day started and to prepare us for the week ahead. He talked about the stories we will hear and share this week. Such a special part of this experience!
We have checked out of the Hotel Africana and will be leaving soon for Jinja which is several hours east of Kampala. We are pumping up soccer balls so we’ll be ready to play with the kids in Mafubira, which is a great village for our first visit.
Love the personalities on this team. God always pulls people together in the most interesting ways.
Thank you for the prayers while we are gone!
Yay - it's here! The day we have planned and waited for since September!
Here's to more adventures like this one last June when the back hatch of our taxi flew open and a suitcase flew out and lodged under the car behind us. No one and no contents were injured during this incident! But it did give us lots of laughs.
Looking forward to what lies ahead. Anxious for us all to be together in Detroit!
And so it's the night before we leave for Uganda. This Hearts and Hope team has been pulled together with many of us never meeting until we get to the airport in Detroit tomorrow. I love that and the inevitability that we will have shared so much by the time 7 days has passed.
I know some people on the team very well; I consider them close friends. There are others that I know and admire but haven't spent much time with and still others that I've never "officially" met. And God put us all together for a reason.
I watched a portion of video from the service at Water's Edge-Frisco last week and loved that part of the focus was on how we NEED each other - and that's how God intended for it to be. We need to need Him, too. Sometimes I think that's one of many reasons we go to Uganda; to bring us to a place where we are so humbled and reminded of how we need Him. And He will always answer that call.
And so, as each of us checks our suitcase one last time and attempts to soak up these last few hours with our families, I am praying for peace for each and every member of the team. It's no coincidence that we are going on this journey together; we need each other.
To our families and friends who are the "senders", we thank you! You are equally important to this mission. Check back here when you can; we will try to update daily but no promises. We love you all!
Five members of the twelve-member team headed to Uganda on Saturday were commissioned at Messiah Lutheran Church in Weldon Spring, Missouri this past Sunday. The team is comprised of people from North Carolina, Texas, and Missouri.
The team members from Texas held a poker tournament fundraiser and a sponsorship drive this past weekend that was wildly successful! Thanks to all who contributed to this effort. Because of you, kids' lives in Uganda are being changed!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.