On Valentine's Day we had double the fun by hitting two villages, each partnered with churches back in the US through Hearts & Hope! Luckily we were able to fit in a lot of activities in each village as they aren’t as far away from our hotel.
We first went to Butangala which had a wonderful transformation thanks to their partnership with Immanuel Lutheran in Wentzville, MO and Hearts & Hope. Thank you to Pastor Jason Auringer, Jen Ritter and the members of Immanuel for their efforts to help the people of Uganda. The people of Butangala cannot wait to see you and the team from Wentzville this June!!!
Many team members on this trip have been to Butangala before and they didn’t even recognize it. The large and beautiful new school building is such eye-candy compared to the open air thatch & stick structure that the kids used to have school in. Passing out packets to so many kids in this large space was much easier compared to squeezing the students in the previous structure.
We were greeted in usual Butangala fashion with a breathtaking music & dance performance. The students here are the most talented in their dancing and skits they perform and have won several awards in local competitions. It is always such a impressive thing to witness!!!
We handed out sponsorship packets - little packets of joy from their sponsors back in the US. Thank you to all of the sponsors for sending these and personalizing them for your student. You have no idea how much this means to these kids.
We then we did what we do best - free time!
The kids taught us how to play one of their local games called “blind." It’s basically the Ugandan version of Marco Polo, only on land. They put a blindfold on us and yell a word for the blinded person to chase after. All of us Mzungus (Ugandan for white person) lost quickly when we realized the twist that the kids would push you into the blinded person if you got too close. Lots of laughs for sure.
We also were blessed to visit the home of one of my favorite families on Earth. Not only does my sponsored child live here, but also her brother Moses - the boy with a large cyst on his neck that we were able to help with the support of the Ehlmanns. There are also a number of other sweet little babies that make up this family. It’s always gut wrenching to see the small brick structure that this whole family lives in. When I think of my girl having to sleep on the floor in there I can’t help but cry. Hopefully with some of the kids being sponsored and going to school they can break that chain and help the rest of the family in the future.
We then headed to Nakabango. Truly a special place as Messiah Lutheran has partnered with this village even before Hearts & Hope was created! Because of the long history, most of the kids here are very comfortable with us and are therefore very outgoing and playful. We ate a wonderful lunch here - the biggest spread we had so far as many villages are suffering from a sustained drought that hopefully will end soon. Please pray for rain!!!
Next we were delighted to hear a song sung by the school choir thanking Hearts & Hope and Messiah Lutheran Church for all the work they’ve done to change their lives. It warmed my heart and I'd like to say thank you to Messiah, Pastor Chuck Schlie, Julie Stroder, and all of the supporters in the US who have been involved in any number of projects and sponsorships in Nakabango. The village truly has seen amazing changes over the last 10+ years thanks to all of your efforts!!!
Next a group of dancers walked in, led by the tiniest dancer I’ve ever seen, who was probably 3 or 4, but she kept up with the rest of them and gave the team a good laugh. We were all impressed by this prodigy!
Packet time went smoothly and we had a small amount of free time to hang out in the cooler evening weather.
I heard many team members say that they had a wonderful day and I felt the same. We did get to see our special friend Patricia in Nakabango and she was feisty as ever - she's always so excited to see her friends from the USA!
We are going to Kainagoga tomorrow and then we are picking up Patricia and taking her to her new school that she will be enrolled in soon. Many team members helped fundraise for this school and are very emotionally invested in this girl so we are all very excited to see her future school.
Thanks for yours prayers at home for a safe & impactful trip!
They are definitely being answered, so please keep them coming!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.