To quote Violet, "Oh my GOODNESS!"
We have been unable to update our blog for some time! It has been an incredible trip so far and we can't wait to share our stories - the internet just isn't cooperating! I am going to try again this morning; we are able to update Facebook and Instagram, so you may want to check those as well.
The team arrived safe and sound - a little groggy, but thrilled to be in Uganda. We had quite the time fitting 30 bags in our bus so we were thankful that Pastor Charles had also driven to the airport to meet the team. After a fabulous dinner of fish fingers, grilled chicken and "chips", most were in bed by 2:00am.
The next day, we made the journey from Kampala to Kainagoga - a tw0-hour bus ride that allowed the team to enjoy the true beauty of Uganda. The greeting from the school children in Kainagoga was priceless and set the tone for the rest of the day. As they sang and danced, I didn't see many dry eyes in the room.
Speaking of room - it was our first time to meet in the brand new school building!! It is beautiful - the breeze from the large windows our staff recommended were a major design improvement!
Sponsorship packets were delivered, nails were painted, art was created, soccer was played and Chrsissy and company painted an awesome mural on one of the classroom walls - complete with the words "Jesus Loves the LIttle Children". And so do we!
We made the 20 minute drive back to Jinja and checked into the Sunset Hotel for our first night. There were a lot of whole tilapias consumed that evening and the unanimous opinion was "thumbs up"!
On Saturday morning, we headed north to Kamuli, where there is a Hearts and Hope school whose partner is - Hearts and Hope. There are 110 children sponsored here and over 200 more who also attend the school. As we arrived, there was a ribbon across the drive and the school children lined both sides of the road. We got out, cut the ribbon, and paraded (there really is no other word to describe it) to the school building amidst singing and clapping from the kids. What a start to the day!
We had a lot of entertainment and even managed to squeeze in a report by the headmaster of the school. Afterwards, there was another ribbon cutting in the lower pat of the field for a proposed fish pond, where the community will raise Nile perch. I had the chance to plant a tree to replace the one I planted years ago that died. When I asked what type of tree it was, I was told it was a "Julie tree" - and that's all I got.
Next it was time for packets and pictures. It was all hands on deck and the team rose to the occasion. It is a highlight when we get to help open packets! Every single item is touched and viewed as if it were a treasure. One little boy had a tiny kite in his packet and spent the rest of the afternoon running around the fields trying to keep it airborne. What a great idea!
There was more art by the kids and another mural project lead by Chrissy. Three of the teachers assisted and you could see their confidence grow as Chrissy stepped back and let them work. What a blessing for those women!
In the next room, I walked in to see flower headbands already made and sitting perched on top of some beautiful little heads! They were already deep into making rubber band loom bracelets - a craft I never mastered. Lots of little nails were painted before the girls were done.
Volleyball was the sport of the day and the guys played hard! I anticipate some sore muscles this morning!
Violet and Tonya helped the women make liquid soap. This is a fabulous project that will allow the women to generate income as they can sell the product. Many thanks to Violet for leading this!
Kelly and her wireless speaker were a huge hit! We love when the kids know American music; our sweet friend, Alex, serenaded us with an awesome version of "Locked Away" and he didn't seem to mind the attention it generated!
We said our good-byes after lunch and headed to Namwendwa, a village that has no partner. The poor condition of the children was evident in their clothes and skin. They are beautiful and cared for, to be sure, but resources are lacking. We did a simple craft with the children, handed out some gifts and candy and had to head back to Jinja, but our hearts were changed after this visit. On the way out, we stopped to view the location where the community gets their water. Unbelievable. Party With a Purpose will focus on providing clean; I can think of no better location than Namwendwa.
We got back to the hotel around 8:15; dinner was ordered around 9:00 and we were all eating by 10:30. That is a FULL DAY!
Everyone on this team is rising to every occasion. Families, thank you for sharing them for this time - they are AWESOME! Please continue to pray for our safety and that God would break our hearts with what breaks His.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.