Austin Gelsheimer just made his first trip to Uganda with Hearts and Hope. He gets as excited as the kids about a "sweetie"! Thank you for sharing some of your post-trip thoughts, Austin!
Going over to Uganda was a life changing experience. When someone asks what Uganda is like, most people will immediately remember a distinct smell and the extreme financial poverty facing the small nation. But when asking why I would want to go over there again, I immediately mention with a smile, “I haven’t told you about the people yet.”
The only thing I can compare to arriving at the sponsored villages would be how David Freese must have felt in Game 6 of the World Series in 2011 (please take a moment to relive the glory here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZVCrKcOl78). Specifically, when Mr. Freese rounds third base after the 11th inning homerun and everyone is packing around home to congratulate him. That’s how it is arriving off the bus at Kamuli, Nakabango, Kainagoga, Mbulamuti, and Butangala: There’s a certain feeling of being at home surrounded by family and friends who’ve been waiting for you to celebrate the greatest achievement known to mankind with them. The smile that they have on their face with open arms and the joyful non-stop singing and dancing just makes you fall in love and realize that this is how God intended us to interact.
It’s that “reconnection” of simplicity that I’ll remember the most. In a life full of entertainment, luxuries, and technology it’s easy to get temporary happiness. But a genuine person isn’t a profile pic. A genuine conversation isn’t a text message while waiting for an ellipsis to answer back. It’s getting to know a person and their story face to face that makes them tangible and creates an everlasting bond that makes you care for someone with the deepest part of your heart. Together, with the Ugandan people, we were able to do just that - Enjoy each other’s presence and learn about the differences in cultures, share some laughs, and make lasting happy memories.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.