September 9, 2019
Uganda Mission Trip 2019 | Update #1
September 4, 2019 | Lindsey Stevenson
We have just completed our first full day in Uganda. Wow! Jay is the only one from our group who has been to Uganda previously, so Sharon, Phil and I had no idea what to expect. First, I think it’s important to note that we had some of the smoothest travels I’ve experienced. We got through check-in and security at O’Hare quickly, the flights to Amsterdam and then Entebbe
We woke up and ate breakfast with Pastor John, his wife, and their five children this morning. We were taken aback when the children each knelt to the ground to shake our hands but realized throughout the day that this is a customary greeting from the children in this community. What a humbling experience for us! After breakfast, we got a tour of the church and school associated with the Hope for Joy Foundation. They have beautiful grounds with a large field in the middle of their secondary (high) school and very colorful murals in their primary (elementary) school. Generally, there are around 370 children that attend the school, however, they are currently on “holiday”. We were surprised to see that there were still large groups of children who still walk to the school even when they don’t have class, just so they can play games and hopefully (if supply allows) enjoy a meal together. There was even a group of dedicated students who were studying together, as they are preparing to take their national exams in October to determine their academic future. These children are so focused on their education and understand the importance of passing these exams for future success. I was inspired by their dedication to be at school studying on a day off!
After seeing the school grounds, Jumba and Pastor John’s wife drove us to the homes of some of the children who attend the school when in session. We got to meet the families of these kids, many with grandparents or a single mom raising several children on their own. The Hope for Joy Foundation has had such an impact on the lives of these children, which has had a ripple effect on their relatives as well. The families were so quick to express their gratitude for the support that God has sent “from America” and credit that to the reason the children they care for are able to go to school and get a good education. At each stop, we got to hear the children’s dreams and aspirations (many want to be doctors and teachers) and got to pray for each of them. The Hope for Joy foundation provides HOPE to children and empowers them toward their dreams so that they can have JOY and success in the future. It’s a wonderful foundation with a beautiful mission from God.
One particular area that we visited today was a little village called a “landing area”, where there are families that settle along Lake Victoria to fish. It is quite a distance from the church and school, so Hope for Joy has a liaison in this area who reports back to Jumba with the needs in the community. As this representative was sharing with us about their village, we found out that many of the children that live here are orphaned, as their parents have left them to fish in other locations and don’t ever return. We were able to pass out treats to the children and quickly formed an entourage of kids that wanted to follow us as we walked through the village. Phil was the star of the show, as the kids were amazed (and sometimes intimidated) by his height but as soon as he started passing out high-fives (with Jay’s help), they were hooked!
We then had lunch with Jumba at Pastor John’s home and traveled back to the church to watch a program the children put together for us. We were in awe of their beautiful dances, songs, and overall gratitude, just for us visiting. Jumba said that they rarely have visitors from outside Uganda and the kids were so excited to have us there. We definitely felt loved! After the show, we got to spend some time hanging out with the kids. We played “Futbol”, learned some of the dance moves from the girls who performed, and got to watch the kids make jewelry. Though we were exhausted by the end of the day, our hearts were full from all the time we got to spend with the children.
We just finished a wonderful dinner with Pastor John, where he shared Psalm 103 and shared about the importance of giving thanks to God. We all have so much to be thankful for. We are headed to bed now, and in the morning we'll catch a plane for Arua, where we will meet Pastor Stanley and prepare for our time with the Dreamland kids. We are so excited to continue on this journey! Thank you all for your prayers and support–we have felt them!