Our Last Day in Uganda for This Trip

This was our last full day in Africa and an amazing day it was. We walked to Loving Hearts Babies Home, which is very close to the house we are staying in. It was fun to watch the team interact with these little ones. The babies in this home are orphans, some were abandoned on the side of the road and picked up by the Ugandan police and placed in the home. The children were very happy and loved playing with Kate and the boys. The babies were watching Veggie Tales while we played which was funny (the little ones love Veggie Tales as much as our children in America!). Most of all, they loved the physical contact with the team. They would crawl up in your lap and sit contently…except for the little one who kept stealing Caleb’s hat and sunglasses.

In the afternoon we went to Buloba to say goodbye to the children. It had rained just before we got there so the rain catches we had put on earlier in the week went to good use and hopefully the families that received them felt that blessing as much as we felt it. It was good to know that we had helped two families with the rain catches and the Lord had allowed the rain to come. When we drove up to the church the children were outside, yelling and waiving in delight. As soon as the van door opened they were greeting us and grabbing our hands. The staff was serving the children a hot meal of porridge and beans. We stayed for about half an hour and it was hard for all of us to say goodbye to the children. Isma, our sponsor child, was there and we were able to give him a hug goodbye. His teacher said he was about to cry and we were as well. The joy that you see in the eyes of these children is amazing. I realized how much the child sponsorships really sustain these children. What a blessing it has been to see how Cornerstone UMC has impacted this community half way around the world.

It is with mixed emotions that we saw our last day come to a close. We are looking forward to coming home to our families and church family to share our experience, but at the same time, it is hard to think of leaving. We have truly been blessed the last 10 days. We appreciate all of the prayer and financial help that got us here. This team will never be the same.

Much love from Africa,

Becky and team

Rain Catches in Buloba, Uganda Day 8

What a great day!

We headed back to Buloba to interact with the kids and do some work. When we arrived they split us into two groups and we headed off to put some rain catches on homes in the community. Our local helpers were Henry, James and Peter. It was awesome to work alongside these very skilled men. They were kind and patient. The process involved measuring, cutting boards, re-measuring, trimming, attach gutter brackets, paint boards, attach boards, attach gutter, place the barrel at one one end of the gutter to catch the rain, test and done. It was good to know that we were helping provide clean water for them right there at their home. We prayed for the people in the home before we left asking God to bless them. At one place the owners gave us a gift of pineapple an mangos.

We were humbled. While we put on the rain catches Rusty met with Pastor Eva and the leadership team of Buloba church to vision for future projects and discuss what God is doing among the people.

After lunch we got to hang with the children for an hour. Some of us played a crazy game of soccer (Kate, Codarious and Camp), the rest played cat and the rat. It was hilarious! We all had a blast being with them. Looking forward to going back to Bethany Village tomorrow for a serious game of soccer with the kids there.

From Africa,
The Team

Church in Gaba and Buloba, Uganda Day 7

Today is Sunday, which means church in the morning. First, we went to church in Gaba, where we experienced a very westernized worship. Just the way they went about things seemed very similar to what I’ve experienced in Cornerstone Church back in Auburn. It was Children Sunday, and though we didn’t stay long, we got to see the youth put on the show. From the youth singing to Patrick’s son coming up and presenting a short sermon, it was all wonderful to see. We left early because we didn’t want to be late for church in Buloba.

Church in Buloba was quite different. A lot of what was said was different from what I thought we are used to, but considering the cultural differences, it’s probably the best things that could be said. Apart from the sermon, the singing was great to hear. That, along with dancing, and meeting with everyone, was quite an experience.

Afterwards, our group went to our sponsor kids’ homes. I didn’t particularly have one myself, but I joined Michael and Kate, along with that group. We had the opportunity to be in the homes of those kids, and it was so amazing how humble they were towards you when you entered their homes. They are always praising God and thanking you for being there with them. It’s been touching my heart just how great these kids have been to us. I can see it in the friendship Kate and her sponsor child, Rebecca. It was great to see how her, Michael and the kids interacted with each other. It’s also great to just think of how God has brought us here to bond and grow. It’s His will being done in their lives, and ours. Amen.

From Africa,
Codarious and Team

Buloba Uganda and Our Sponsor Children, Day 6

Well, today we had a chance to go to Buloba and meet our sponsor children, as well as all the other children. I had the opportunity to meet the 2 children (Emmanuel and Meridah) that my parents sponsor, as well as the little boy that I sponsor, Arafat. That was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my entire life. The joy on my face and on theirs was just tough to explain. I introduced myself to them and we talked for a while about things such as their hobbies, their chores, and their faith. Emmanuel and Meridah took me to meet their mothers in the church building after we got warmed up to each other.

One particular conversation got to me. Emmanuel’s mother introduced herself and told me “Thank God for you, Will.” Stunned, I asked why she thanked God for me. She replied: “The Bible says ’Give thanks to the Lord, His love endures forever’. (Psalms 107:1, which happens to be my favorite verse.) If it were not for you, Will, my son would be hungry and uneducated and we would have no future. I thank God for your family everyday. You are a blessing to us.” I had no reply except for thank you.

I mean, what do you say to that? If anyone wants to let me know, please do so I can tell her. That struck me. This woman who lives off a dirt road, in a dirt hut, has to walk 2 miles to get dirty water everyday to survive, thanks God for me everyday. Honestly, some days I do not even think about it. It just blew me away that this woman and her family have such strong faith, even in an extremely difficult situation. When we left the church to go play, Emmanuel leaned in close to me and asked me, “Will you come to the woods and pray with me?” Caught off guard once again, I replied with a “Yes I would love to.” He led me so deep into the woods that I thought we were lost. We sat down in a beautiful spot and prayed together. It was a great moment for me personally.

We may be blessed with material possessions, but these people are blessed in faith, community, and love. That is something I have taken from my experiences so far and I will never forget any of this.

From Africa,
Wilbur Lott and team

Lake Victoria to Bethany Village, Uganda Day 5

Today we went to Bethany village. The trip to get there was very interesting: we had to ride a boat across Lake Victoria and once we got across we rode boda bodas (basically dirt bikes) to the village. One thing that I loved was that on the ride in and out, the children were all waving at us screaming “Bye Mzungu!!” Mzungu means white person, and the children love mzungus. Once we got there we met a man named Eddie and he gave us a tour of the village. Francis Chan’s old church was the one that set this up, and just let me say they have the set up. They have houses with 11 mothers to help take care of 188 orphans in the village. They also have 30 acres that they use primarily for agriculture, and by having that they teach the kids how to live off the land. Their primary goal is to teach children life skills while raising them in a Christian environment.

After we got back from that we went to the market to go shopping. They had some really neat stuff there, and some of it was really cheap. Other stuff had extremely jacked up prices. But anyways, after that we came back to the house and had a lot of down time just to chill, hang out, and goof off, as all teenagers should.

I love that the people at Bethany village have this vision of giving children practical ways to learn life skills while living in a positive environment. Their goal is to give the next generation skills to help the nation of Uganda in a positive way when they grow up and get a job. It is great to see people investing in the next generation like this.

For those of you who know me, one of my biggest hobbies is gardening. It is just what I love to do. Since I garden in America, I use all kinds of fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. I walked through the gardens that they had here and I was somewhat jealous of the set up they have. These people don’t use any of the stuff that I do, but yet their crops look better than mine do. I just think that is amazing. At one point in the tour Eddie took us to a greenhouse with tomatoes planted in it and it had a drip irrigation system. I thought that was so awesome. The really cool thing is that they have all of this stuff, but they got it all locally, so they are teaching kids life skills that they will use forever and doing it while supporting the local economy. It is just great to see that people in a third world country, with limited resources, can do that.

All of us are doing great and we are looking forward to the remainder of the trip.

From Africa,
Camp Hand

Another Beautiful Day, Uganda Day 4

We began another beautiful morning in a small village in the Gulu countryside. Some of the group spent the morning in the rock quarry and the rest walked around and visited. It was amazing how, after just one day with them, the people treated us as though we were a part of the family. I will never forget the amazing sense of community and friendship that I saw in this village. It was truly a blessing to have gotten to experience some of their culture and to see their undying passion for the Lord.

After working in Gulu until noon, we left to come back to Kampala. We were stuck in some serious traffic. It was tough watching young girls walk up to the van with babies in their arms begging for anything we had to give. Eventually we made it back to the house where we met Amos and his girlfriend Dana. They explained what the process of dating and marriage was like in Uganda. Very interesting. Much commitment required.

Then we talked ourself to sleep.
Today is a boat ride across Lake Victoria to Bethany Village.
That is all.

From Africa,

Among the Villagers in Uganda, Day 3 by Kate Duke

Today we worked with Matt and Jaime East and their interns in the outer part of Gulu. This is a rural area where they live in mud and thatch huts and basically eat beans only. The countryside is amazingly gorgeous.

We started out the morning by breaking into groups. Some of the boys went to the rock quarry to work with the villagers. Let’s just say this was a finesse job and the boys were probably not the best rock smashers out there, but they did get to talk to some fascinating people.

Another group ended up shoveling rocks with a construction crew. Will, Coco, several interns, and I started out by talking with the workers, and then the workers told Will and Codarious to try it out. One of the guys said they get paid 2800 shillings a day (less than $2) despite the fact that he was highly educated. He found Will’s accent very interesting.

I left the construction site with some of the interns, and we walked around the village until Ms. Conce asked us to help her patch up her hut. Basically we smeared mud onto the outside of her house for 2 hours. It was pretty dang awesome to build her home. She said it looked “very smart”. One of the men in the village asked me my age, and he didn’t believe I am 18. He said I have a baby face and then proceeded to call me that for the rest of the day haha.

We had lunch at the hotel. Chicken fried rice, Mountain Dew, and Novita.

On the way back to Matt and Jaime’s compound we stopped by Uchimi, Uganda’s Kroger. They had a very impressive stock of Zesta and Cadbury Drinking Chocolate. The store has security guards, and Camp almost lost his knife to them on the way in.

This afternoon we hung out around the village some more. Michael and Caleb carried water on their heads after a few unsuccessful attempts. We went to the school and walked the kids back home. They were so cute and sang and wanted to shake EVERYONE’s hands. I met a kid named Brian. He went to his house, changed out of his uniform, and then sprinted back to us so he could walk with us some more. He is 13 and he “likes futbol very much”. Meeting him and talking with him was definitely the highlight of my day!

Now we are just chilling in the hotel. Oh, and we have power now so cross your fingers I’ll have a warm shower tonight =)

It was such a blessing to meet the villagers today. The country is beautiful, and I’m looking forward to the next 8 days.

In His love- Kate Duke

[this post was a guest post written by team member Kate Duke]

From Kampala to Gulu, Uganda Day 2

Yesterday (Tuesday) we traveled from Kampala to Gulu. It took about 4 hours. We crossed the Nile River. We saw baboons on the side of the road! Needless to say it was a very interesting trip across Uganda.

After arriving at our “hotel” we had dinner (chicken and chips or chicken fried rice). They have a drink here I think is really good called Navita. It’s a carbonated pineapple juice drink in a bottle. Several of us had that with dinner. After eating we headed out to do some much needed walking through the town of Gulu. It’s a fairly large city that I would describe as a step down from Kampala. The war that ravaged northern Uganda for years has left city’s like this behind in terms of much progress. But it’s a nice place. It was good for all of us to get out and take in the sights, sounds and smells.

After a night of little sleep (loud music, heavy rain and dogs barking!) we are up and ready for day 3. This morning after breakfast we will meet Jamie who works with Four Corners Ministry. She has several interns from Auburn University who are here for the summer. We will be partnered with them to go out into the community and help the locals. Should be interesting.

Praying today for God to fill our hearts full of his love as we interact the people here.
Thank you for your prayers!

From Uganda,
Rusty and team

Uganda Team on the Ground, Day 1

Well, after 22 hours of sitting on a plane, we made it to Uganda!

Our journey began with a wonderful send off from the church at the end of the 9am service (minus Brian’s comment about me being a “senior” due to my recent birthday!). We sat on a plane in Atlanta for an hour waiting for the weather to clear so we could take off. That put us a little behind when it came to making our connection in Amsterdam. When we entered Schiphold airport in Amsterdam we made a bee line to the gate from which our next flight would leave. I had us almost running through the ariport (our team was very grateful I had on my bright orange Auburn t-shirt as I was bobbing and weaving through the crowd!). But we made the gate with no problem. We then took off for the 10 hour flight to Entebbe (with a 1 hour stop in Kigali, Rwanda). Then after a 45 minute van ride from Entebbe to Kampala, we arrived at our guest house. Side note – it had been hilarious watching our students react to everything we’ve experienced so far! They’ve been real troopers.

We really appreciate everybody’s interest in this special trip with six of our High School seniors. They are very excited about this opportunity to travel to a place like Africa. They also equally ready to “get this party started” (as Will Lott so eloquently put it last night when we arrived). In other words, they are ready to begin doing what we came here to do which is serve the Lord by serving the people of Uganda.

As I sit here in the guest house, jetlagged, early on Tuesday morning with the windows open I can hear strange bird sounds, car horns blaring in the distance and a Muslim chanting out a morning prayer over a loud speaker. That loud Muslim prayer is a reminder not only of where we are in the world, but of why we are here. The need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be shared in both word and deed. Jesus commanded us to go in to all the world and make disciples. He modeled for us the “how” of making disciples as he healed people (both physically and spiritually) who were sick, fed people who were hungry, taught people about God’s incredible grace and loved people with God’s everlasting love. He not only gave us a pattern to follow but a place to go to. It’s called “the world”. There is a groaning in every nation for the good news of grace and hope. That groaning comes in many forms such as a prayer over a loud speaker from a mis-guided religion or the cry of a malnourished baby. We are privileged to share in the redeeming work of turning that groan into praise.

Please continue to pray for us. Today will be a long day as we load up into a van and travel 5.5 hours north to Gulu.
That’s it for now.

Blessings from Uganda,
Rusty and team

[on a side note: our team is experiencing some difficulties with getting the laptop connected to the internet, so as we work through the issues, updates may be a little slower in arriving, but they will be posted here as soon as possible. You can always email question to Jonathan or Scott at the church.]

Our Team is on the Way to Kampala Uganda

Uganda Team June 2012

This morning, just after this photo was taken, our team climbed in the van and headed for Atlanta to catch our flight to Amsterdam, then on to Uganda. Right now we are in the Atlanta airport waiting to board our flight, then a quick 10 hours to Amsterdam and another 10 hours or so to Uganda. We are really excited about this senior trip, and are looking forward to what God has planned for our team.

Right now, the plan is to post updates to my blog, right here, throughout the trip. I will be writing an initial post once we have put our feet on the ground and everything is settled from our first full day (think 48-56 hours from now), and then our team members will be sharing some photos and thoughts throughout the trip. So stay tuned, and hopefully in a quick 10,000 miles and a few days I will post our first update. Your continued prayers for our team will be greatly appreciated over the next few weeks, thank you very much!

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