On Thursday morning, we left the Hotel Africana around 9:00am in our "Super Custom" - which is basically a small van, but I'm opting to be like my local friends and only refer to in by its proper name! We hit no "jams" coming out of Kampala and made good time to Jinja. We stopped first at the Hearts & Hope office to pick up some supplies they had brought with them from Ibanda for me and then went to the Sunset Hotel to check in.
We headed to Kainagoga, one of the Hearts & Hope partner villages. Over 80 students are sponsored there and we saw all of them but 2! They provided some entertainment and then we gave them time to paint pictures that we plan on sharing with their sponsors digitally! They had some relay games set up that we got to enjoy as well - so cute. One involved someone being blindfolded and attempting to walk to a soccer ball in the middle of a field and kick it. The success rate was not good! Nicholas, the Hearts & Hope Financial Administrator was the only one able to make contact and I'm not so sure he couldn't see through the blindfold!
Passing out "sweeties" was the last activity of the day and always a favorite. We came back to the hotel and had dinner listening to the rain on the metal roof of the hotel. We are excited about going to Nakabango today!
Wow - time DOES fly when you are having fun - and accomplishing a lot! What a great few days it was in Ishongororo with the mission team from Immanuel Lutheran in Brookfield and Alleluia Lutheran in Wrightstown. Thirteen members strong, they have planned well for their time in the southwest region of Uganda, where they have previously built 5 church buildings and now the first block of Ishongororo Lutheran Primary School!
Sunday was the day of dedication at the school. The day began with a marching band procession where we were invited to join the children and musicians in the walk from the main road to the school grounds. And what beautiful grounds they were! Tents and chairs had been set up overnight, with colorful bunting along the edges of the tent. The purple ribbon awaiting the official opening ceremony stretched from one end of the school to the other
Worship was lead by Pastor Benson; the message was delivered by Pastor Dan Schneider. Pastor Aaron Hutton and BIshop-Elect Charles Bameka rounded out the seating on the left of the altar. The sound system, purchased by Immanuel in the past two years, blared both hymns and contemporary Christian music across the valley below the school. The worship service concluded with the commissioning of the teaching staff and the board of the southwest deanery.
We toured the school as a group after the ribbon cutting and then returned to our seats. The rest of the day was intermingled with songs and dances from the school kids, speeches from church, school, and local officials, including the Directory of Education in the southwest region. Lunch was an amazing feast of local favorites.
On Monday, the seventy sponsored students received their first packets from their Hearts & Hope sponsors. It was Christmas morning! Thank you to those who put your packet together and especially those who included a letter from you and a photo. The students truly love to see the faces of their sponsors. A few team members were able to meet their sponsored student - always one of my favorite moments.
After the kids completed some crafts, the rest of the days was spent on various activities, including making paper flowers with some of the women. Two murals were painted on classroom walls, soccer and netball goals were painted, balloons were blown up, and footballs were thrown. The men managed to hold their own in a soccer game with the boys.
What a joy to watch a team engage with this school! Many times an attitude of "whatever it takes" is necessary and this team rose to that occasion. Many thanks to them for their great spirit and cheerful demeanor! :).
The team will travel most of the next week with members of the Lutheran Church of Uganda Board and staff members. I am going to Jinja today, along with Crystal Vaughn to visit the other Hearts & Hope partner schools and meet with the sponsored students and leaders in the communities. Thank you for your continued prayers for all of us!
Hearts & Hope for Uganda
It is Thursday morning, April 20th and 15 excited mission team members will soon come together at the Detroit airport! Teams from Immanuel Lutheran in Brookfield, Wisconsin and Alleluia Lutheran in Wrightstown, Wisconsin have been preparing for this trip for months; today is the day! I am traveling from St. Louis. Crystal Vaughn, a regular Hearts & Hope team member, will be joining us from Kansas City.
This trip is the culmination of much planning, preparation and prayer. For first-time goers, it can be an emotionally overwhelming day! We thank the "senders" - our families, friends, and fellow church members. Without you, these trips aren't possible!
Thank you for your continued prayers for safety and a productive trip! We look forward to collecting ALL of our bags and meeting the Hearts & Hope Uganda staff around 3:00pm tomorrow afternoon!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.