Courtney and I had an amazing time in Uganda. God was definitely present, and we are continually so thankful for this life-changing opportunity. The organization we were working with in Uganda, Bringing Hope to the Family, is doing great things for the Kyenjojo region in western Uganda, and we were blessed to see the ways that God is working through them to bring Jesus and hope to the community.
Our first few days in Uganda were spent doing lots of painting. Our team painted the older boy’s dormitory at the orphanage, Home Again. It’s crazy what a simple paint job can do to the feel of a room. It went from grimy and sad to fresh, bright, and welcoming with just a few cans of paint. The boys were away when we painted, and they were so excited when they came home to a new dorm.
Our team also spent time painting at Village Art, which is a project of Bringing Hope that consists of a salon and salon school, bridal gown rental store, craft store, and sewing shop. Village Art has taken off in the last few months as they are starting to really make a profit and provide for the families of the women who work there. The salon school is a new addition, so we spent our time painting the classroom, kitchen, and dorm room where the students will stay. Now that the salon school is finished they can start moving the girls in and begin having classes in their new classroom very soon. We also put finishing touches on a large bamboo fence that gives a great feel to the courtyard outside.
Our team also spent time doing community outreach to neighboring villages. We got to take boda bodas (motorcycles) out into the mountains of Uganda and deliver mosquito nets to families who otherwise would continue to suffer from malaria. Malaria is one of the leading causes of death in Uganda, and most families can’t afford mosquito nets that cost a whopping $10 a piece. With such limited resources and inability to travel from the mountains to the hospital, millions die each year throughout Africa.
The families we visited lived in stick and mud huts that were miles away from a clean water well, so they all used dirty water or rain water as their main water supply. Many of families had at least one person who was physically ill, most likely due to the water and general lack of hygiene. For these families, we installed the mosquito nets over every bed in the home and then spent time praying for the specific needs of each family and shared a little bit of Jesus’ love for them. It’s hard to put into words exactly what we saw but it was an experience that we will never forget. We continue to pray that Jesus will protect these families and will be a part of their lives.
We also spent several days installing windows at the Dorcas Vocational School and Kyongera Farm. Dorcas is a school for girls which teaches sewing, crafting, and carpentry. The Kyongera Farm is another project of Bringing Hope, aiming to be the self-sustaining piece that will feed the entire organization on a daily basis with the crops that are grown there. Since glass is very expensive in Uganda, putting windows in is a huge financial burden. While this task was moderately difficult, we were happy to be involved in protecting people from malaria in a completely different way.
During our downtime, we hung out at Hope Academy Primary School and Home Again Children’s Home, two other projects within Bringing Hope to the Family, and played with the kids. We had a lot of fun making sleds out of paint trays, piling on the seesaw, playing tag, dominating at four square, and just loving on them. Though they don’t have much and their living conditions don’t compare to anything in the U.S., they are full of joy and love. These kids didn’t fail to teach us so much about life and what it’s all about.
The last part of our trip was spent completing a clean water well for a community of about 600 people in the village of Kicuucu. We got to the community with all the supplies to complete a well from start to finish, and after carrying tons of granite rocks down the hill to the water source, we found an unfinished well that was constructed in 1997. We completed the unfinished well by cleaning it, capping it, and installing a pump. While working on the well, we were able to take some time to visit with the children from the primary school, who had never seen a white person up close before and certainly never talked to one. It was quite the experience to have them stare at you, come up and feel you, touch your hair and look at you like you were an animal in a zoo. They weren’t exactly sure what to think of us.
It was an awesome experience to be a part of bringing clean water to the community. The water source this community was using was full of fecal diseases and there is no telling how many people have died or been ill because of the lack of clean water. It’s crazy to think how simply having clean water can change the lives of a community for the better.
Overall our time spent in Uganda was like no other time spent anywhere else. To be in a place that just recently got electricity (which doesn’t seem to work when you really need it), a place where the majority of people don’t have access to clean water, a place where running water is virtually unheard of, a place that is leaps and bounds behind the rest of the world and yet is a place full of people who have all they need, and that is Jesus. It is completely mind-boggling and perspective-changing. We will no longer take electricity; clean, hot, running water; bathrooms that are not holes in the ground; sleeping at night without a mosquito net over our bed; and showers that are not cold with water from a bucket for granted.
In addition to all of these great experiences and stories we brought back from Uganda, Courtney also brought a little friend in her foot – a jigger. A jigger is a worm-like parasite that buries itself under the skin and, if in there long enough, will lay eggs and become infected. Luckily, Courtney found it early enough, and I was able to pull it out with tweezers before it got too bad. This is Africa.
Thank you for being a part of this trip, for supporting us, and helping us be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people of Uganda. We know that God was glorified during our time there and that He will continue to move in that nation in a way that will only bring people to him. We are at a point in life where we know God is moving in our lives, and He is putting passions on our hearts that are only from Him. A new Ugandan friend said to us, “Soak up the anointing of Uganda. Take it back, and change your nation.” We’re excited to see how God continues to use Uganda in our lives and the lives of others.