What a day! The Hearts & Hope team visited Kainagoga today - always a high energy village which comes as a relief with our short amount of rest the team got the previous night.
It was so great to see the aisle of children and village leaders singing welcoming songs to us as our buses rolled in. It’s always slightly overwhelming being bear hugged by 5 kids as soon as you step off the bus - literally bombarded with love! I personally love watching first timers come around the corner with what seems like 10 children attached to them and barely able to walk.
We were thoroughly entertained by some singing and dancing by everyone in the village and then it was time to hand out packets - little packages of joy that bring a smile to each sponsored student!
The team carried out the process flawlessly and luckily we had enough team members to stay outside and play with some of the other kids while the packet process was happening. This helps ensure that we don’t have so many small faces looking in and feeling left out. With a team this size, we're able to share the joy of interacting with multiple groups throughout our visit!
Our craft activity for the sponsored students involves a lot of paint, but we had enough people to hand out wipes faster than the kids could get messy. Only one team member ended up with paint on their face, and I think it was self applied! :-)
We had plenty of free time which as always included soccer games, bubbles, stickers etc. The children always find a way to add a personal touch to the fun and with Kainagoga it was by finding every team member they could and placing bright pink flowers all over their hair/head/ears. We were quite the beautiful sight.
It was soon time to distribute a few goats to some families from the community. These goats were donated by some of our team members and the recipients will breed them and pay it forward to other families in the village.
While the team departed from Kainagoga, I headed back to Entebbe to the airport to pick up the final members to make our team of 31 complete. It's astonishing how a 2 hour journey turns into a 6 hour car ride due to the time of day it is in Kampala! It was worth every minute when we saw Paul, Beth and their team from Redeemer in Redwood City, CA walking up to us with their luggage.
Everyone is here, safe and sound! Praise God!!!
Tomorrow we all head to Nakabango, which is partnered with Messiah Lutheran Church in Weldon Spring, MO. The team is looking forward to spending time with the children and village leaders there. The partnership between Messiah & Nakabango has been in place for a long time and it's always great to see how this community has been blessed by Messiah and how Messiah has been blessed by its work in Uganda! Thank you for the continued prayers for a safe journey. We're excited to see how God continues to touch the hearts of our team.
Tuesday was spent in eastern Uganda in a village called Nalwire, near the Kenya border. It was a beautiful drive along Iganga road. We arrived in under three hours and spent the bulk of the day with these new friends.
We met in a mud structure that serves as their church. Everyone was surprised at the cool temperature inside! We were entertained by some dancing from the school choir and then proceeded with some activities with the children.
Chrissy met with the younger kids inside one of the classrooms to let them paint. We were so impressed with their skills – and their ability to keep the paper dust-free! The older girls made headbands and painted nails, while the older boys moved across the road to play, what else, soccer! Mary and Kelly spent time outside playing jump rope and reading books to the nursery students.
We had the opportunity to deliver some shirts donated by Lutheran High School in St. Charles, Missouri. There is a lot of Under Armor being represented in Nalwire today! The bright, neon colors look beautiful on the kids and it was a thrill to replace a rotted shirt with something new.
Margaret, the leader of the women’s group, invited us to visit her home. We took a short walk through some tall grass and hedges to the clearing where she lives. She was a most gracious hostess! We were also able to visit another set of homes that have immaculately sculpted bushes in front. It was fun to visit with the women who live in these homes as they shelled beans for their dinner.
Messiah Lutheran Church in Weldon Spring, Missouri also provided funds to purchase six goats to be donated to the women of Nalwire. They will breed these goats and pass along the offspring to other members of the congregation. I believe it may have been the first up close and personal encounter with a goat for some of the team!
As we left, we went knowing that it was our last full day in a village for the team. Always a bit of a sad time. The team is tired – physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are times that you don’t really know if you can “feel” anymore. I do know this team is leaving behind a lot. They have spent their energy wisely and most likely, left a little of their heart. It has been a joy to serve beside them.
Today, we are heading to Nakabango for a brief visit to the school. Then it will be back to Jinja for some lunch and shopping and then on to Kampala. We are thankful for good health for everyone and safe travels.
Saw this guy and some friends along Iganga road!
Our days always begin by picking up cases of water in Jinja. Yesterday was no different, but we also had shopping to do for Betty, a beautiful girl with some challenges, including mild cerebral palsy, who goes to school in Jinja and is sponsored by the Ehlmann family. Tonya, Violet, Maj, Mariah, and Ronald roamed the aisles of the supermarket finding all the requirements. The rest of the team enjoyed an ice cream treat while we waited.
What a great day in Butangala! If being greeted by hundreds of singing children waving eucalyptus branches with drums beating in the background is on your bucket list, you need to visit Butangala! This village is a bit further off the main road than most that we visit so it always seems the anticipation is a bit ramped up by the time we hear those sweet voices. These kids never cease to take our breath away.
We began our visit with a walk around the perimeter of the recently purchased land. Many thanks to Butangala’s partner, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wentzville, Missouri for your generosity that made this happen!
We enjoyed some speeches by the church and school leadership and amazing dancing by the girls. The headmaster in Butangala has a reputation for encouraging music, drama, and dance. It is evident in the short time he has been in this school that he has had a huge impact.
After introductions, we had the chance to present two sewing machines and cabinets to the women’s group. Funding was provided by some friends of Hearts and Hope at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Peoria, Illinois. This gift will be one more way that they women can support their families. Thank you, St. Peter’s!!
We were presented with a goat as a gesture of thanks (it’s been quite a week of livestock for us!) Their generosity was touching, even if the goat’s life was short-lived….
The afternoon was spent with our usual projects. I told the team I could have stayed on the bus – they didn’t need me anymore! Shelby, Charlie, and Susan had a chance to help make soap with the women, culminating with songs from Shelby and Charlie, and a robust dance from the latter. I have been touched by the response from the women; I truly believe this is life-changing for them.
The younger set gathered with the “middle school” girls under the eucalyptus trees for some precious time of sharing. They made headbands, bracelets, and painted nails. Some things are universal!
Sweeties were delivered and it was time to leave. Anyone who visits this village marvels over the beautiful views of the surrounding hillsides. We stand in awe!
Our last stop of the day was Betty’s school. No surprise that she was waiting in the school yard for us when we arrived. The hug that she gave Tonya is not something I will soon forget. Her curled arms wrapped Tonya in a bear hug to beat all bear hugs. It was, indeed, a “moment”.
We toured a bit and then went to the dormitory where Betty stays. Watching her take out each treasure from the slightly-oversized J that Tonya brought her was mesmerizing. We all stood by as she and Violet put each item back in her trunk and lock it up. The entire room was brought to tears when Betty pulled out a special photo given to her on a previous trip. It is the Ehlmann family with Betty photo-shopped into it – the perfect family portrait and obviously something she treasures.
We left with not many dry eyes on the bus and returned to our beloved Sunset Hotel. It was our night to go to the All Friends pizza kitchen restaurant – always a fun evening. We shared dinner with the Uganda Hearts and Hope team and I had a chance to visit with Nicholas’ wife, Jackie. I love the chance to learn more about our staff and their lives here. They are a hard-working, dedicated group.
We are heading east today to the village of Nalwire. They have no partner and it is striking example of what most of the Hearts and Hope partner villages looked like before they had partners. Prayers for safe travel and a productive day are appreciated.
here to edit.
Twelve bags, mostly sponsorship packets, are packed and ready to go! Almost 350 packets are heading to Kamuli, Nakabango, Kainagoga, and Butangala. That's a lot of smiles! Thank you to the many sponsors who brought or mailed in a special message and treat for your sponsored student.
The leadership team of four will leave Wednesday afternoon and arrive in Uganda late Thursday evening (mid-afternoon here in St. Louis.) We are looking forward to visiting all of the Hearts and Hope schools, meeting with village leaders, delivering packets, and spending lots and lots of time with the kids.
Your prayers for safe travel and for our families are appreciated! Watch this blog for updates of what is happening during our time in Uganda!
Betty, on the right, and the Deputy Teacher in charge of special needs. Those smiles say it all!
Abraham managed to talk me out of my sunglasses before saying his good-byes through the bus window.
I think it was January of 2010 when I took my first trip to
Uganda. Four years later, I am astounded by what God is doing here as the Kingdom of God grows!
I can remember sitting in 8 or 9 villages, every one of them with the same situation; sitting under a canopy or broken down awning, joining in worship and baptizing long lines of children, and listening to village leaders share their hopes and dreams of having a church in their village and a better life for their children. Hundreds of
children would crowd around us – virtually none of them could attend school, they were too busy hauling water from the nearest well usually miles down the road.
Personally I was overwhelmed by it all.
So many people with so many needs. Where do you start? How do you decide where to start?
But the Spirit of God began to move in the hearts of God’s people! Everyone was thinking about what they could do!
Messiah had already chosen Nakabango and the work had begun; a well in the village so the children didn’t have to walk four to five miles a day carrying 40 pound water jugs, a sewing center so the widows of the village could make money so support the children, a carpenter shop, a temporary shelter to begin a preschool, and sponsorships….. lots of sponsorships!
Friends began to tell other friends, other churches, other pastors, other co-workers. Other villages were adopted, land was purchased, wells were built, schools were started, churches were planted, and Hearts and Hope was formed to help coordinate the growing operational needs.
This week we joined in a ceremony to break ground on a new High School and another ceremony to break ground on a new seminary. There are now 16 ordained pastors in the LCMU, compared to only one in 2010!
So many moving parts to make it all happen! And God’s Spirit is in the middle of it all.
I am amazed!
I could tell she hadn't seen Jerry yet, so I took her hand and walked around the bus to find him. She saw him before I did and she let go of my hand and ran and jumped into his arms. I’m not sure who had the bigger smile – him or her! I
didn’t see much distance between them the rest of the day.
I say it a lot – but it really is about the relationships.
We gathered inside one of the classrooms and enjoyed the privilege of having a chapel service with the students. Jason had a great message about not being afraid and it was obvious the kids were hanging on every word.
There was singing and dancing after that. The harmonies during one of the songs the P3 class sang brought tears to my eyes. Almost everyone got to enjoy the final dance with the women leaders in the village. We are hoping there is no video proof.
We met with the sponsored kids next, handing out packets and taking pictures with each of them. This is when a team always shines – everybody pitching in to do whatever is needed. Blessed by this hard-working team!
It is always a special time when anyone gets to meet their sponsored child for the first time. Sam sponsors a boy named Jonah.
So much fun to watch them sit together and open his packet – even when there was a Red Sox hat involved. Jonah wasn't hard to pick out of a crowd the rest of the day; he wore that hat with pride!
Lynn, Kim, and I found one of our friend’s sponsored child, Daphine, and took some pictures with her. She is a beautiful little girl who seems to smile all the time. It was a blessing to watch her take each item out of her packet and see the look on her face. She seemed to especially love her turquoise and hot pink bandanas!
We met with the P3 class next and passed out books. Listening to them read was a highpoint of the day! Looking around the room and seeing each team member sitting with a group of kids made my heart ache; I wondered how often these kids get that kind of attention.
My family’s sponsored child, Matia, read through a book about construction vehicles that took me back to listening to my own son when he was learning to read. It has been interesting to think about the content of children’s books through the eyes of a Ugandan child! It made me wonder how well Barney and Baby Bop translate…
Lunch was next and then it was on to bead-making for the women…and Jerry. What he lacked in quality, he made up for in speed and the women were impressed. We had a chance to purchase some of the paper bead necklaces as well. I’m thankful that Edith took the time to show the team how they are made.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent just enjoying time with the kids. David, the Advanced Sponsorship Coordinator for Hearts and Hope, refers to it as “time for interaction”! It’s a bit less formal than that, but one of my favorite ways to spend my time!
All too soon, it was 5:30 and time to make the 5—minute bus ride to our home for the evening in Kamuli. After checking in, we gathered around tables put out on the grass in the courtyard area and enjoyed the evening. It was actually cool enough for jackets! We painted nails and enjoyed chatting with some of the leaders from Kamuli. Violet broke out some Kenny Rogers tunes at one point.
Later in the evening, Charles brought out two decks of cards (Titanic-themed) that he had brought along. Our Ugandan friends taught us to play a game that is basically Uno with real cards and a few rule twists. The twists, surprisingly, seemed to
occur whenever Violet was losing, but I'm sure that is just a coincidence! Clubs are referred to as “flowers” and Jacks are referred to as “J’s”. That took a bit of getting used to but the entire process made us all laugh until our stomachs hurt. Such a fun evening!
Prayers for continued safe travel and healthy team members are appreciated. It has been a wonderful trip!
I wanted to share a bit more about the end of our day in Nakabango on Tuesday. We had spent a physically exhausting day, especially working with the sponsorship children. As usual, there were several kids who weren’t there, and we always put their packets together in a bag so that they can be handed out when the child returns to school. I was sad to see that the packet for Richard, a boy that is sponsored by my parents, was still lying on the table.
I asked Ronald about him and he said that Richard wasn’t there, but we were going to his house as we left to see where he lived and to deliver the bedding kit he was receiving. I was so happy to hear that he was on the list created by Nakabango leadership to be a recipient of these gifts from Messiah Lutheran!
When we left, we turned off the main road and bounced along for almost 10 minutes before we stopped in front of a rectangular mud structure that had holes so large, you could see through to the other side. Ronald explained to us that this is where Richard had lived until a few weeks ago when they had relocated to a house next door that was in somewhat better shape.
We got off the bus and we were met by Richard’s grandmother. She cares for Richard and his 3 siblings and his mother, who is mentally disabled. Ronald explained that the children each had a different father and the mother was incapable of caring for the children and quite possibly, had been taken advantage of by the men. The story of one of the children’s birth is something to be shared later.
As I attempted to explain to him who these people were, I was flooded with emotions I still can’t explain entirely.
I think a huge part of it was the disparity between that family in the picture and
the one standing in front of me at that time. It was a physical hurt that I didn’t
understand and I was broken by the small gifts we were giving him that we hoped
made him feel loved and noticed.
Ronald helped me give Richard his bedding kit as the grandmother continued her “thank you’s”. James, one of the Ugandan pastors, suggested we gather around this family and pray for them. His words were beautiful to me and I know even more beautiful to God’s ears. Surely this family felt the love poured out on them that
I was again blessed by a reminder of why we do what we do – and that being here DOES make a difference.
Grateful for that.
A team of ten is heading to Uganda on February 1st. Plans for the team include visits to at least 8 villages and delivering packets from sponsors to over 300 students! The team is taking books and soccer uniforms as well. Since the new school year in Uganda begins on February 3rd, we have the opportunity to distribute new uniforms, shoes, and backpacks to the sponsored kids! Everyone is excited about working together to make a positive impact on the lives of those we meet. Prayers for safe travel are appreciated!
Many times, we have asked the congregation at Messiah Lutheran Church in Weldon Spring, MO to donate candy for our trips to Uganda - most notably, Dum Dums. They are inexpensive and they travel well. And, they hold up to being thrown out of the window to eager hands as we travel the back roads of rural Uganda.
I have had people ask me "why candy?" It's not healthy and it's such a small thing. Shouldn't we concentrate on more substantial gifts? Understandable questions, but the candy is so much more
It is a treat, a "sweetie" to kids who don't often get something special. It is the doorway to a conversation with a pre-teen boy. It's a gift for a teenage mother and the baby strapped on her back. It's a surprise flying out the window of a bus full of white people as a team bumps along a narrow road to a remote area.
During this trip I was struck by how many times candy plays a role in a story. Just like in the US, sometimes you need a reason to mingle with the crowd. Many times, handing out candy provides that for us in Uganda.
While we were in Butangala, a village plagued with extreme poverty, we had the chance to enjoy an unusual amount of free time. My mind was spinning with ways we could engage as many kids as possible. One idea was wheelbarrow races. The prize? Another piece of candy, of course.
I watched a two-man team dominate the first race. The older boy, probably 11 years old, was muscular and had stayed back as we had worked with the younger kids earlier. He was a typical pre-teen - a little too cool to come forward for candy, but wanting to be included just the same.
After they won the race, I gave him his Dum Dum and watched as he walked away. As the next race unfolded, I kept watching as he unwrapped the candy and bit off the entire end.
He bit it again and it cracked into 3 pieces.
He knelt down and gave 2 of the 3 small pieces to two small children who had followed him. Neither of them was over two years old; I don't know if they were siblings or just more kids in the village. I do know I was struck by the fact that no adult was telling him to share. He could have easily walked away with the entire treat for himself, but he didn't. He opted to share, of his own accord. I've seen it happen so many times and I'm always taken back by these kids' selflessness.
During a bus ride out of a village near Masindi, I shared a seat with an older gentleman. A lot of times, people will hitch a ride to the main road with us. He was most likely in his late 50's or early 60's, but looked more like he was over 70.
He had on a tattered suit jacket and didn't speak much. I offered him a piece of candy. He was an odd sight - very regal, with a blue Dum Dum in his mouth! After a couple of minutes of enjoying the treat, he took it out of his mouth and put it in the inside pocket of his jacket. One of our staff members saw me watching him and explained that he was saving the rest for his granddaughter at home.
I hurriedly opened my backpack and pulled out any kind of snack, candy, and mint I had in there and gave it to the man with a smile. He grinned and told me "thank you very much" in broken English. The bus reached the main road and the man got off with a wave to me.
Yep, candy isn't much. But maybe it is; maybe it's a universal language that says "hi" or "be happy" or "I noticed you" - no knowledge of English or Lugandan necessary. Whatever, keep those Dum Dums coming, Messiah! They are appreciated more than you know!
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!
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!
This boy was sitting in our group of 50 sponsorship candidates in Mbulamuti on Tuesday.
He wouldn't smile for the camera, but his face lit up when I showed him a picture of himself.
Note the bottle of water in his hands. This is an all too common sight.
Wow - no Internet access is a quick reminder of how much I love to use it - even in Uganda! This is Julie, the lone female influence on the trip - and what a trip it has been!
Having been here 9 times before, I knew not to try to predict all of the wonderful things that would touch my heart and trip #10 is no different. The people we have met every day are joyful, loving, Christ-filled reminders of how great our God is.
Nakabango, the village we have partnered with for 6 years through my church, was where we spent all of Sunday. Getting to see 100+ of the kids we sponsor there is always a thrill. They are absolutely precious! The school is thriving and we had some extremely productive meetings late that day.
Monday and Tuesday were spent in Kamuli and Mbulamuti, with a quick visit to Butungala. What a heartbreaking difference in a village that doesn't have a partnering congregation - sicker, dirtier kids - but what a joy to be able strengthen our relationships with those people. Leaving them was hard but we got to give them some good news about new sponsorships for some of their kids and a congregation ready to partner with
Wish I could post some of the pictures I got to take today. Just so many beautiful faces. It was fun to watch Andy, Todd, and Curt interact with the kids; a lot of them don't have many males influences in their lives so receiving attention from those three was priceless.
We continue to hand out bag after bag of candy, bracelets, pencils, t-shirts, and lots and lots of hugs! So blessed to be able to incorporate meetings for Hearts and Hope as we deepen relationships with these wonderful people. Hope to update again tomorrow evening!
We're heading to 2 more remote village today - Mbulamuti and Kamuli.
Saturday and Sunday were amazing when we visited Mafubira and Nakabango - where Messiah Lutheran has been partnering with the village for 6 years. It's amazing to see the transformation that has occurred there and Hearts & Hope was created to replicate that success for other villages.
Mbulamuti is the first new village to have a partnership through Hearts & Hope and Waters Edge in Allen, Texas is excited about the possibilities.
As we travel to stay at this more remote village overnight, we don't expect to be able to connect to the internet, so for updates be sure to check our Facebook and twitter pages. Since these updates are based on text messages, they are short but hopefully they are informative.
Off to another adventure!
Excited to think that two trips to Uganda have been scheduled.
The first trip will be a business trip to plan & coordinate the January launch in Mbulamuti and our "corporate partnership" with the village of Kamuli. Our agenda is packed and one thing that we can expect is the unexpected. Mbulamuti is a sister town to the group in Kamuli, so there are a lot of relationships between the two villages that will be helpful
The second trip is in February which will be when a team from Allen, TX will be able to travel over to Mbulamuti to meet the village leaders in person.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.