Sad to see this trip coming to a close.
What a spectacular week with some truly inspiring people. This team has been a blessing to me for my first mission trip as a leader. I was nervous that I couldn’t take on the task, but I quickly found out God has a way of grabbing hearts here in Uganda that has nothing to do with me. The Ugandan staff has also been immensely helpful; I couldn’t do this without each and every one of them.
Three of the team members who were not able to go on the safari left Kampala on Saturday. Before they left, we all headed to Nakabango for a couple of hours of more fun with the kids in that morning. It was great having that last little time with those wonderful souls.
We then went to Jinja to shop and eat lunch and then it was time to say our goodbyes. After hugs and tears shed we bid adieu to Jerry, Mark, and Jackie as they boarded the bus for the few hour journey to the airport.
The remaining members of the team headed to our next activity - visiting Betty!!!
With their passing, Betty lived in a small mud & thatch hut that her aunt had built for her. Betty was unable to speak, had difficulty walking and using her arms, and made meager income to feed herself by digging in people's gardens.
After Grant & his wife Tonya learned of Betty's situation, they sponsored her and she's been attending a special school that has improved her speech (she now sings!!!) and her mobility. She now attends a vocational school and is learning to sew and tailor clothing.
It’s always a pleasure to see how she is doing and it gives everyone such joy to see her big smile. Betty was thrilled with the packet from her sponsor and the other treats we had bought for her.
Afterward we went with David, our Advanced Sponsorship Coordinator, to a secondary school where five students in our program attend. It was interesting to see how different the school is at the next, higher level. The girls were all very welcoming and looked so happy. We continue to pray for our secondary students to thrive and for the program to continue to expand and grow in number.
After a long and eventful Saturday, we ate a quick dinner and headed to bed as we had to wake up early to travel to Western Uganda for our Safari. The next morning we were met at the Sunset by Twaha, our lovely safari guide, and Sandra, his coworker in training.
We had a long ride ahead of us, but were all very excited for a relaxing, fun weekend.
We first stopped at a rhino sanctuary which was a first for all of us and we had the chance to trek some rhinos. We saw a total of 5 rhinos and it was like being in Jurassic park - those things might as well be dinosaurs!!
We then continued to our lodge in Murchison, called Pakuba. We decided to switch things up this trip as we usually stay at another nearby lodge. It was totally worth the switch! The staff is very friendly and we were all pleasantly surprised at how large the rooms were and (drum roll please) each room had A/C!
Usually I have to mentally prepare for sweating myself to sleep on safari, but this was not the case! We went on our evening drive and it was great to see the first timers faces each time they saw the animals!
The next morning we woke up at 5:30 to see the sunrise on our morning game drive. Always such a peaceful time witnessing God’s creation.
We saw many lions and then helped a couple of Americans who were trekking the park alone find some lions. On the way out of the lion’s den, we got stuck on a pile of dirt while off-roading and were then saved by those very same Americans with their tow rope!!!
Great example of how being kind always comes back to you!
We finished the day with a boat ride to the bottom of the falls and then hiked our way 45 minutes uphill to the top. It was beautiful as we saw many new views of the falls from different perspectives. Also a great workout! We were also blessed with a wonderful dinner and early bed time.
Everyone woke up feeling very refreshed and ready to drive back to Entebbe after one last mini-gamedrive back to the park exit. (Our lodge was in the middle of the park, so driving anywhere would mean wildlife sightings around each corner.) In one instance, we came extremely close to an elephant, but our fearless tour guide knew how to handle the situation. However, the sight was breathtaking!
A cherry on top of a very wonderful week.
I can’t thank this team enough for their positivity and joy. How lucky am I to have been your leader this trip!
A few long flights lie ahead of the group and we pray for their safe return home.
Thank you all at home for your prayers and overall support.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.