Thursday, June 28, 2018

Uganda, June 2018: Casey's View

A sadness came over many of us this morning, knowing it was the last day we had to spend with the children

here in Uganda…but such a joy too, anticipating a visit to the orphans and community of the school we call Pearl, located in Nanjeho, on the Kenya border.  Pastor Hummer’s son Derrick runs the school with high energy and seems a friend to all.

The day unfolds.  We arrive to crazy cheering, singing, and dancing of small children in their fresh clean uniforms.  They ushered us from our beat-up but loved van and sat us under a large tent.  Small groups of children passed by our tables performing skits, reciting biblical passages, singing, and showing us some fantastically expressive dance moves.

Then down to business.  We broke into the usual eye-glass team and a team designated to play games with the children.  The glasses team tested about 50 teachers and local adults and gave out reading glasses, double-testing our “patients” by having them read from Romans 10:9.  The group hanging with the kids brought out 5 soccer “footballs”...but being the conniving Americans we were, 200 kids also got exposure to one strangely shaped ball we called an “American" football.  

Lunch was eye-opening.  Local foods of all sorts came out from the darkness of mud huts and were placed at our table under the shade of a beautiful Mimosa-like tree.  Onlookers of the meal included what looked like a semi-domesticated wild dog, three or four pigs, a few lucky chickens under the table (and a few unlucky ones on the table top).  The complex of mud huts, thatched roofs, and banana trees was modest but beautiful.

After lunch one group visited a small women’s group (15 or so) with testimonies, prayers, and bible passages.  The women were over-the-top excited and it was great fun to support them, hear their stories and to share ours.
The testosterone-laden group headed back to interact with the kids. to play more ball, and MAKE BRACELETS (so maybe a little estrogen in the mix). It was a Jesus-learning afternoon since we tied the colors of the bracelets to the story of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The memories of this day will stay with me for a long time. We loved on the kids and it was so powerful to feel the love back from them to all the white people they lovingly call “M’zungus.”  I will be praying for the health of the kids, their growth in Christ, and their development academically. I will also be praying that the word “M’zungu” means what I’ve been told it means.


Uganda, June 2018: Debi's View

What an awesome place! 

The people here are so hospitable - they have little or nothing but go out of their way to prepare huge meals for us. They have some of the biggest hearts for the Lord that I’ve seen, children and adults worship with abandon. We came here to minister but I find myself constantly being ministered to. There is so much that we can learn. 

Every place we’ve been we have received a huge welcome. Today a few of us were blessed with a
visit to a cell group that met at the home of one of the members. We were greeted with smiles and hugs and handshakes that rivaled any homecoming I’ve ever received. It was such a blessing to share time with our sisters in Christ. While it thundered and poured rain outside we were huddled in a small mud hut with 25 sweet ladies, safe and dry, worshipping our Lord. 

I haven’t mentioned the children...what can I say, they have stolen my heart. I will never forget their sweet smiles and how they enjoy the simple things in life.

During our time here I have been constantly reminded and convicted about the excesses in my life. I’ve been reminded of the saying, “A change of place and a change of pace brings a change of perspective.” There will be much to process when we return, I know that I will never be the same after what I have experienced. 

Feeling very blessed.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Uganda, June 2018: Dan's View

Wow - what an amazing start to the SCCC Uganda mission trip! After checking into the (somewhat rustic) hotel on Sunday evening, we settled down for dinner and a team meeting where Mark and Pastor Hummer gave us an overview of the schedule and potential changes.  Monday morning began with a hearty breakfast and an uplifting devotional from the Book of Matthew. As a side note, it has been very uplifting and encouraging to see so many people from the US, Europe, and Australia here in Uganda serving in a Christian missionary capacity.  We consider ourselves fortunate and blessed to be part of this effort.

The short ride to the Ray of Hope school (and orphanage) which is sponsored by Progressive Missions and Stafford Crossing was uneventful, but eye-opening.   The main and secondary roads are dotted with small, makeshift shanties that serve as evidence of the level of poverty that is pervasive throughout Uganda. But, our reception at this school and orphanage that serves about 250 children was rich indeed!  Rich in Spirit; rich in worship energy; and rich in God-honoring activities that blessed every one of us. It’s funny, sometimes its the very people who have the least in way of worldly possessions that are the ones most happy and connected to Jesus.

At the school we transformed one of the three small 12 X12 classrooms into a temporary eyeglass clinic, and interacted with about 60 locals.  We were able to dispense glasses to each one of them which will go a long way toward furthering God’s kingdom. Every single person that came through the clinic read the bible with us and discussed their understanding of Jesus. Then after lunch, Mark and Gene shared the gospel and entertaining stories that captivated the children and brought home the message of our visit.  We separated into smaller groups where the eight of us assisted the children in making bracelets that symbolically represented the gospel.  Shortly after that, we spend some very fun, joyful unscripted time with the children.  For example, I taught some of them how to juggle three bouncing balls (that represented God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit); Jackie made small wooden crosses surrounded by a eager mob of happy little shining faces; Deb entertained a large group of children with a bubble-blowing device; while Mark, Gene, Bill, and Casey played “football” (soccer) with the children in the alleyway.  It was difficult to leave, and the children surrounded us with constant love, adoration, and encouragement.  It was truly the mission team that came away from this experienced greatly blessed. God is doing amazing things in Uganda!

Those of you who are praying for us (or have prayed for us) are every bit a part of this effort as well and we heartily thank you!  Your prayers are being heard and we appreciate your support and encouragement.  As I close this blog entry, I am physically tired, yet emotionally charged and eager to see what God has in store tomorrow and the remaining days here in Uganda. Thank you again & God Bless!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Uganda, June 2018: Travel Day

Travel day is always hard. We spent a lot of time on a plane and a lot of time in a van. Everything went smoothly but it is still a tough day.

Enough of the whining, Mark. You left Virginia on Saturday and landed in Uganda on Sunday. You sat and slept and ate and found yourself in Africa. It wasn't that long ago when going on mission in Africa meant months of travel. It meant saying, "Good-bye" to your family, possibly for the last time.
  • The world is smaller than it ever has been.
  • Transportation is safer, faster and more comfortable than it has ever been.
  • Global missions is more accessible than it has ever been.
It seems we are running out of excuses. Let's get to the task.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, 
and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14