Saturday, July 21, 2018

Last Uganda blog

The last blog from Team Uganda. Friday, July 20, 2018

We began our flight home Thursday, July 19 when we said our final greetings to our dear friends at Musana.

We started our last day bright and early at 5:45 so we could enjoy a brisk walk along the red dirt paths to Kigulu (Chi-goo-loo) Hill, aka Pride Rock by us Mzungus. Leah sweetly led Jason, Jacob, Glenn, Michele, Judy, and myself. Laura and Sue stayed behind. After watching the sun rise, as majestically as ever, and taking many pictures, we walked the scenic route back to Musana. One of us, not saying who, caught a few ZZZZs once we returned while others enjoyed our last breakfast together at Musana. Everyone had packing to finish, last minute purchases to make, contact info to exchange, before Glenn led us in worship. And then our time at Musana was over after lunch.

Finally, the dreaded hour came and Kyemba arrived. This year he brought 2 vans and Timothy, his son/nephew. What a comfortable ride to the airport we had. But it took a LONG time!!! Laura, Sue, and I were very cautious about arriving at the airport early so as not to have any issues as in the past! We had just enough time to meet up with Umar and Leah for dinner. (One reason Kyemba brought the extra van was to be able to take Leah with us to Kampala. Kristin, an OT who works at the Musana Health Care Center, had meetings in Kampala and just so happened to be on our flight to Brussels. She was headed home for a two week stay with her family.) After enjoying our delicious dinner at Cafe Java, Leah and Umar sent us on our way with hugs while Kristin loaded the van with us and the next thing we knew we were before boarding the plane for our 11:25 pm flight to Brussels.

Most everyone slept since it was our bedtime! We made it safely to Brussels this morning and are now flying to San Antonio.

This year was another great experience of serving along side of Ministry Partners at Musana. Every year there is such growth within the community and the outreach to the most vulnerable I am sure they've expanded to their full potential. Until I go back and see what else they're putting into place to create sustainability and empowerment! My prayer is for continued favor from The Lord.

Personally, I learned more than I thought possible! I love learning!!! We are all works in progress, trying our best to follow the path set before us by Jesus.

Thanks for all the love and support from our friends and family!!! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July 17th


Today the men and the women split up heading two different directions with very different ministry adventures. The women headed back to Idudi to the New Hope School where they were once again greeted by the cheers of little children. Pastor Andrew Wambi had made arrangements for our team member Laura to speak to the women about post traumatic stress syndrome issues, especially those relating to abusive home situations. Admittedly, Laura shared later in our team meeting that she was terrified. But, the ladies piped in to say she appeared so composed and delivered a great presentation. Laura commented that there were many men who were at the meeting and that made her even more nervous, but as it turns out many of those men were asking some of the best questions. All in all it was a great day and lots of positive encouraging words were expressed for Laura's incredible ministry.

As for the guys, we headed to Iganga prison just outside of downtown Iganga. Jacob commented how scary it was to go into the prison. Once inside, it didn't help that, as Jason and Glenn were meeting with the warden, they didn't realize that the guards had ushered Jacob and another young Ugandan man who was with us to a small room across the way and latched the door. We were soon reunited and given passage out into the yard. As we crossed over to the pavilion there over 150 young men clad in yellow jumpers sitting patiently on the cement slab ready to receive us. We were introduced and each took turns sharing words of encouragement, songs, and Jason gave his incredible testimony. We got a good laugh as, during one of the interactive songs, Jason had walked over to do some of the motions with the 15 or so women in the prison, two of which have their babies with them. As Jason leaned over to beep the "pant-less" toddlers nose (as called for by the song), it literally scared the "pee" out of the little boy.

Afterwards, the guys did a little shopping in town before heading out to see a new church startup led by an old friend Waiswa Stephen and his son, Kikaire Denis. We had agreed with them that there would not be time for a program. But, true to Uganda form, the congregation was gathered and we proceeded to do "church". We were warmly welcomed, made our introductions, then Glenn was given the platform to share a quick message reminding us to be Watchmen on the walls of our church community. We sang a few a songs then made our way down the dusty, bumpy roads back toward Musana.

On our way home we received a frantic call from Julie saying there had been an accident. She informed us that Sue's foot had been run over by one of the boda-boda's in town causing her to fall and twist her ankle. Our Musana friends were quick to respond taking her to the clinic to meet with one of the doctors and a few hours later Sue was hobbling back home with a boot and a crutch (which was more than she wanted to do - she simply asked for a band-aid). But, all's well that ends well, Sue simply has a sprained ankle and an abrasion, so she will be just fine. Our sweet Ugandan friends, Kyemba and Agnes were the ones most traumatized by the incident. They would not be consoled until they saw Sue come in the gates of Musana with a big smile on her face. Thank goodness for Laura's skills in the area of PTSD. They say it's things like this that draw a team closer together, so I suppose we can thank Sue for our greater unity. ;-)

We are all tired and ready to see our families, but we all agree God is doing powerful things around us and through us. Bless God!!

July 16th

Uganda has been exciting and thrilling to me.  This morning we had eggs for breakfast.  After breakfast we went to Kokombo where I met new friends.  On the way to Kokombo we saw a bike attached to a Boda-Boda.  I don't know how it stayed on.  We finally left Kokombo and headed to a village far, far away.  The road to the village was very windy and bumpy.  Along the way we thought we heard parts falling off.  Thankfully, Kyemba is a trained mechanic and knew what to do when we arrived at our destination and his car ran out of gas and died.  Of course, after putting in gas, he still had to re-apply wires that had burned up.  Needless to say, this wasn't the first car repair he's made.  In the far, far away village we met the newly elected local community leaders and the mothers seeking treatment for their sick babies.  I started out helping Julie with the malaria test but we both found other jobs.  We had some great team bonding today!  On the way back to Musana guess what?!  The van broke down but never doubt Kyemba! He came through again and got us home safe and sound.  Before dinner was ready I learned a new card game.  Julie taught me speed.  I actually won the second game.  (She went easy on me.)

We are all pretty tired and are winding down while playing cards.  See ya later, alligator!



After while, crocodile!




July 15th

Sunday, July 15


The day started with a drive to Idudi for church, Pastor Wambi greeted Glenn with, "I am excited to hear a message from you this morning!"  In other words, … he was going to preach.  We had numerous African worship songs and dances, songs and dances by various groups (women, little children, and youth).  Then Glenn came up and had us all participate with an introduction and what we love about Uganda.  He delivered a spirit-filled sermon about who we should be following that drew many amens (or "aminas") and kept the crowd very engaged.  


The whole experience was very moving – the unity between us and this tiny community in the middle of Africa, who are in such a different world from us worshipping the same God and Savior.  The mixture of African and American voices booming out over the community in unison was a sweet offering to the Lord.


After a little respite at the guest house, we went to town to "pick up a few things."  It's certainly not like going to Target and throwing your things in a cart.  The market is spread out over blocks and blocks of unpaved streets and alleys. Kyemba knows the vendors to go to, so around and around we went finding our items.  The last item was a sim card for phones that were donated to us and we were going to give to a couple of our sponsored children.  It took over an hour and we left with the job incomplete, but the student has her phone and can do the rest later.  


The World Cup Final was top of mind for a few of us, so we invited ourselves to Andrea and Haril's house (Musana founders) for a watch party.  They made popcorn, we brought Oreos and we all had a great time cheering on whatever team we wanted to win.  France fans went away happy.  Jason went to visit a young friend he has gotten to know from the high school at his home.  The young man is a believer, but his family members are not and he wanted Jason to meet and talk to them.  


The day was capped off with a campfire and s'mores.  Some of the staff, interns, Andrea, Desi (Andrea's daughter) stopped by and had some. It was a great way to celebrate our relationships we have made here.  


Love to all!



Saturday, July 14, 2018

July 13th

This morning I woke up all ready to head out to Idudi and my roomy Judy said my teeth feel so fuzzy even after I brush them. So I thought today is my turn to blog and what I wanted to do today was pay special attention to the sayings of each team member. I wrote the name of each member and tucked it into my purse and that was the last time I was that piece of paper. As soon as we arrived at New Life Children Ministry in Idudi children came rushing over for hugs, hand shakes and Love. The campus was quickly filled with music and dancing. Glenn led several songs which we all sang to and danced. Frankly it was joyful and exhausting. We then began to divide up to paint the school. Despite Jason's great effort to teach me to paint I was so thankful that my services were requested elsewhere. Pastor Wambi asked me if I would mind meeting with a young mother who was quite depressed and who expressed not wanting to live. Beautiful Agnes and I walked across the dirt road. This young mother placed two stools and spread a shawl on the ground. I asked her if I could join her on the shawl. With Agnes' help I was able to ask her about her story and how I could help. She shared some of her sufferings. We talked about how she could get more support given that there is so much stress in the family. I taught her some ways to calm down. We agreed that Agnes and I would meet with Pastor Wambi and how her community could support her. While we were having this serious conversation, I felt an ant bite me on the bottom. I jumped up and we all started laughing! We hugged and I prayed over her. Please continue to keep this young mother in your prayers as she deals with depression, suicidal thoughts and raising three young children while being a child herself. 
Blessings and love to family and friends and Home, (especially Buz, Malea, Tamara, Heidi, Dane and My Mother and Father) Laura

Blessings,   Michele

Friday, July 13, 2018

July 13 Michele

Happy Friday from Uganda! Today was an extremely busy day. There's another team here from Colorado, which I'm assuming someone else from our team has already shared with you. We worked alongside them and Musana interns at the High School VBS that took place from 10am-10pm today. Yes…you read that correctly! A 12 hour VBS…they have really long days here. They will continue with day two tomorrow. The morning started out with a devotion on suffering then small group discussions. 


After lunch, we had four hours of games and crafts. The Riverside team was responsible for the "crafts", which consisted of bracelet making and a thumbprint project for all the high schoolers. Two of our lucky team members were assigned other tasks…the forever photographer Sue and Jacob, of course, got to run and play games with the kids. Let's just say "crafts" was not the smoothest of the stations today! 500 Ugandan children rotating in five different intervals is not as easy as it sounds, plus we ran out of supplies three times, but God kept blessing us with alternatives. They were just so excited to participate. Plus, more than a few participated more than once, hence the running out of supplies. You just can't keep that many kiddos straight, so you do the best that you can and go with the flow, even when it's a bit bumpy. All in all it was a great day!


Personally, the team is on my case a bit about being what they perceive to be my "picky eating habits". Generally, I may not like certain things, but I do just fine and have found favorites in about every country I visit. Uganda has been a little trickier. I made fast friends with one of the High School staff members today and as we chatted away it was right before lunch. She generously offered to serve me lunch as we sat and shared a meal together. I'm not quite sure what I ate, can't say I liked it in the least, but it's the friendship I'll remember. However, I was quick to point this food advancement out to my team members!


Love and Hugs to everyone! (craigg, hunter and luke especially!) Michele

July 13th

Friday the 13th


Today we spent the entire day with the high school doing VBS. Actually, Julie and I sent the team in that direction and then the two of us headed down to talk with Florence (social work) regarding a few issues. Our talk was very good and she will get back to us Monday regarding all we asked. 


The high school. The day started with singing. Oh, my goodness, what beautiful voices. If I could just channel a quarter of their talent I would be so excited! This all took place in the dining hall, sitting on wooden benches, many of us to a bench. As usual I snuck a front row seat so I could take pictures… Following the singing Taylor (one of the interns) gave a devotional on suffering. She did a great job but it was way too long for the age she was speaking to. Afterwards we broke into small groups to discuss what was said. The basic understanding was that fear drew them to God because no acceptance meant an eternity to hell. There was little talk of God's love and grace. Jason's group (led by one of the teachers) was standing in the hot sun. The teacher TOLD his group that they would stay in the hot sun until they memorized all the questions and gave answers. Thankfully, the principal (Patricia) came by and TOLD him to get those kids out of the sun! After the group meetings, there were actually games for the kids to play. It was so much seeing the kids actually being kids! There is so little time for that but what a joy when they can just act their age! The one game had three lines with cups attached to them. The kids used a water gun to move the cup down the line to the finish line. Some got the cup to move a really long distance; for some it hardly moved. The first one to the finish line was the winner. The next game involved two buckets of water. The objective was to get all the water from the first bucket to the second one by filling a sponge with water and passing it down the line. The last one in line squeezed the sponge dry and passed it back to start again. It is fair to say water was everywhere; but the game was played with enthusiasm! Our group was responsible for making bracelets. Sounds easy enough but in this culture no one was satisfied with just one. We finally put a system in place to make sure that each child only made ONE bracelet. In Jason's words this station was "A missionaries ass whooping". Jacob was in a station that was painting each child's hands to make a mural on a wall. Now that was a mess but awfully fun to watch. The final station had two big parachutes to catch the ball to play volleyball. This was awfully fun to watch and the kids had a blast. As for me, I traveled from station to station taking pictures, until George Bush took my camera and took over! He is one of the cutest and most polite young men I have ever met. He reminds me a lot of Moses and Samuel! 


For part of the afternoon Laura and I came back to the room and organized all the sanitary napkin kits that Kathy Ruiter graciously donated to this team. We counted and sorted and then put all the stuff that is going to Andrews together so we don't have to do it first in the morning. I have all the phones, the Ipads, the letters, etc. to take with us to distribute. Our plan is to help Andrew and his community paint the school inside and out. It sounds like a huge project and I hope he and his community have already started. Glenn comes in tonight and it will be good to add him to the team. I look forward to hearing about his time at Gaba. Hopefully our kids from Hope Africa will be coming to help us paint and then we will take them to dinner at Sol. I am so looking forward to seeing them. What a great group they are.


Tonight after dinner we are going back to the high school for a sermon from Kay (a pastor from a church in Colorado) and then to watch the first part of a movie, The Passion of Christ. Afterwards they will break into small groups for discussion but Laura and I will be heading back. 


Hope all is good in the hood. Steve give Kyle hug for me and tell him congrats. I'm sorry I am not there to witness his wedding. Give Kari and John big hugs as well. I love you.