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I got up at 0500 (Uganda time) this morning to try and contact my children on FaceTime at 2000 hours (8 PM) their time. Unfortunately, there is no internet right now. So I thought I would work on a blog to post on the Mission to Uganda website. Please excuse the grammar and spelling errors, I feel like proofreading would be a waste of time.

The travel

The travel to Uganda was a full 24-hour trip from the time we left our families in Iowa, to the time we were picked up at the Entebbe, Uganda airport. The team was tired, as we had hardly slept on the plane. Some people have experienced swelling in their legs from the long ride. My only swelling came from my broken leg area, as I managed to slip on the ice in my driveway as we were leaving for the airport. The plane ride did prove to be enlightening as we were seated next to different team members on different flights. I will share more about the team members later.

Day 1

I woke up at 0430 after having went to bed at about 0230. I tried really hard to fall back asleep before our team morning devotion time at 0700. I took this time to pray for our team and for the country of Uganda. I also prayed for more rest, i.e. sleep, however, God brought me to the verse Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest…” I was really looking for sleep, but God desired time in prayer with me instead.

We participated in morning devotion time as a team at 0700. I was excited for this time together, as Bryce had told me about how powerful this time was for his team last July. We gathered at the breakfast table, listened to worship music, and spent time in prayer. We focused on allowing the Holy Spirit to move and lay words on our hearts to share with one another. It was very good, and I anticipate this time getting even better as the week goes along. I am hoping this morning devotion time will become a habit when I return to my home in Iowa.

After morning devotion time we headed out to our first school. We had several things we wanted to accomplish at these schools.

  1. Hand out porridge. Three 100-pound bags of porridge will feed a school for an entire year.
  2. Hand out math sets to children in older grades to be able to take a nationwide math test that they must pass to move on to the next grade. The set has a ruler, protractor, compass, and a few more items. The children are unable to complete the whole test without these items.
  3. Share the gospel and allow kids to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

As we headed to the first school, I don’t think anyone truly knew what to expect. You see, we live in America, a place of prosperity and government assistance, with what seems like an abundance of resources for help. These schools and children have nothing. One of the schools we went to, I looked at several of the team members and told them the school looked like a shed for farm animals. There was a dirt floor with wooden benches inside for children to sit on. The roof was made of tin, but had large gaps at the peak, allowing rain to get students wet. One of the team members commented that our farm animals in America had better living conditions than these students. This was eye opening for us.

The need for porridge at these schools is great. One school started cooking the porridge immediately after receiving it from our team. Once again, this was eye opening. Fifty percent of children in Uganda are malnourished. The schools get very little help from local resources. Many of these schools are in extremely remote areas, and our team van had some sketchy rides getting to them. In fact, Heather and I experienced some pretty good motion sickness due to the bumpiness of the roads.

The children at these schools have next to nothing. Some only have the clothing on their backs. Dawn Van Haaften found a teacher with an 8-month-old child whose daughter had no shirt, just shorts. She had no clothing for her child. Her name and location was taken down by Maggie’s team and will be receiving baby clothes Dawn brought with her to bless someone. I hope to do the same today. My heart ached for these children as we visited them, but each time the ache would quickly be turned into joy.

The title of this blog is a A World Apart. The difference in resources between Uganda and the United States is a world apart. My children have choices—hot lunch, sack lunch, or home lunch for school. These children sometimes don’t get lunch at all and if they do it’s one option—porridge and beans. My children go to school in a building that has heat and A/C, they stay dry and comfortable. The children in Uganda get wet, hot, and many of them walk several miles to and from school each day. My children have the best education our community has to offer. The children in Uganda don’t even have the proper study materials to learn. The differences are astounding.

Even though our children live a world apart, they are united in Christ. The children of Uganda have nothing from a material standpoint, but they do have great joy. As we would pray for the children, I would rest my hand on their backs, they would look up at me in shock, followed by a giant smile. We saw this time and time again with each of the team members. They have an excitement for Jesus. In our country we are taught that happiness is found in the things we own or even within ourselves. Quite the contrary in this country. Christ fills the hearts of men, women, and children, giving them great joy without the need for stuff. I do want to point out that I know American men and women that share this joy as well, without the need for stuff.

Maggie’s team has helped organize and coordinate a soccer tournament between parishes in the Mukono District. This tournament will crown one team as champion at the end of 10 days. Yesterday, we attended our first game. It was a humbling experience. We were taken to the field and put on stage in front of over a thousand people in attendance of the game. We were in the sun and it was a balmy 82–85°. My inability to tan well has left me with some slight burns—even after wearing SPF 50+ sunscreen.

Maggie and her team shared the mission of our team with the crowd, they cheered in approval. Derek was able to ask people who would like to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and a lot of people accepted Christ into their hearts yesterday—of course it helps when Nuper essentially tells everyone you’re an amazing soccer player from their country. They all wanted pictures with Derek, we think they thought he played professionally. Nobody wanted their picture with me, I’m guessing the beard may have something to do with it! I was able to share my testimony, speaking mostly to men, on what it means to be a Christ-following man. I shared how I was off on the wrong path for many years, but came back to Christ and found out what true joy and love is.

To the game. We shook hands with each team on the center of the field before the game and witnessed a well-played game that went to a penalty shootout, the final score: 1-1 (7-6) or something close to that.

After the game, the prize was a cow. A cow! No trophy, just a bull for breeding purposes to help the team produce a sustainable food source. The winning team came on the stage and managed to dance so wildly that the stage broke! Luckily, nobody got hurt.

After the game, we loaded up and came home. We had an amazing meal for supper and everyone—except Nuper—enjoyed a restful night.

I want to take a quick moment to share my observations and experiences of the Americans on our mission team. I will talk about the Ugandans at a later time.

Nuper

What a leader! Nuper, is a spirit filled man that leads through the Holy Spirit. Nuper is doing a great job of getting everyone involved and supporting his team that God assembled for him. Nuper likes to poke fun and isn’t afraid to maybe embellish things

Derek

Derek is a solid man, grounded in Christ. Derek paid for the majority, if not all, of the soccer balls being handed out at each village. It has been fun to watch him hand out the balls.

Anna

Anna is a ball of fire. She is a lot of fun to be around. Anna is spirit-filled and you can see it pour out of her. She always speaks highly of her fiance and is the Mentos supplier for the group.

Dawn

Dawn is a spirit-filled woman with a heck of a testimony. I can’t wait to hear it all someday. She connects with the kids because she looks “different” than the rest of us with her tattoos and dreadlocks in her colored hair. They love her.

Heather

Heather has a huge heart. She is a woman who just pours out her love on the kids we are visiting. She can’t pass up a baby without holding him/her.

Bruce

Old one-liner Bruce. Bruce has been able to connect with the people through his energy and laughter. We love listening to Bruce and we always wonder what he will say next. We have all heard Bruce sleeping well.

This team is amazing, and I will have a special connection with them throughout the rest of my life.

Everyone who has supported this mission, we appreciate it! Please know your donations are being well distributed. Please know your prayers are also important and are felt, keep them coming.

I just want to close by saying, even though we live a world apart, it’s amazing how you can feel a connection through our joint relationship with Jesus Christ. The people over here really feel like my brothers and sisters.

Until next time…
Aaron