The big day finally came. We had picked November 4 as the date. Lots of planning went into this. I had never done anything like this, and really had no idea how to go about this. I was blessed with two ladies that took on the task of planning the fundraiser. Judy, my dear wife and Valerie Van Wyk were in charge. Valerie had lots of experience in this area from a previous occupation. Judy had experience from roles at a previous job. I was totally clueless.
The women made plans. They picked the Opera House as the place. They chose Central College as the caterer. They went to businesses, asking for items for the silent auction. They planned the big auction, and of course, we had our special speaker Maggi. Bryce and I soon realized we were in for quite a night and could expect great embarrassment.
My main concern was “would anybody really show up?” As the days went by, I would ask Judy if so-and-so could come. She would say yes, but no more, we are at capacity. The next day I would say “what about this couple?” She would look at me and say no more. I know how to work her, so I managed to get a few more people in.
We bought Maggi a plane ticket and planned her whole itinerary. I have to tell you: women think differently than men. Georganne and Ashley (MU team members) set up appointments for Maggie to get her hair done, her teeth polished, and a massage. I would have never thought to do that! They made Maggi feel special for this big night. For guys it is so much easier. I just ask Judy what to wear and make sure my hair is combed (it always is, because I don’t have any!)
At 4:00 we started setting up for the banquet. All kinds of friends and family were there to help. I was sent on several emergency runs for things that had been forgotten. I think this was to help calm my nerves and keep me out of trouble.
I finally went home to get dressed for the banquet, and when I returned to the Opera House, I couldn’t believe my eyes! We had people! They were lined up outside the doors! Friends, I was overwhelmed by emotion at all the people that came. We packed the place. It was so crowded you could hardly move.
Judy and Val had a specific timeline. They told me I had five minutes for my opening remarks. Shucks, I can’t even say my name in five minutes. I told the girls that as soon as all the guest had their food I would go up and start doing my storytelling. I figured that would buy some time. I dragged the Sabalongo (Bryce Engbers) up there also. Bryce and I have become quite a duo. We seem to be able to make people laugh and sometimes cry. One thing is for certain, we are both passionate about Uganda.
Of course, the main event was for everyone to meet Maggi. For two years I told everyone and anyone who would listen about this amazing woman named Margaret (my African Daughter), the Mother Teresa of Uganda. Maggi was great. She won the hearts of everyone. She just emulates a godly woman and a person of great faith. She is also so sweet, and people just fell in love with her.
Then came the auction part of the event. This really scared me. Would anyone actually bid?!
The most shocking thing of the whole night was the auctioneer. This person had never done this before. It was my wife Judy. Judy made the auction fun and entertaining. She was always getting after me to watch for bidders.
The amount of money we raised surpassed my highest expectations. I am completely amazed at the generosity of this community and the faithfulness of God.
I want to thank all the table hosts; I want to thank the family members that helped in various ways. I want to thank all the businesses and private donors who gave for the auction. And special thanks to all who gave to this mission to help the people in Uganda. We could not do this without you.