Wednesday August 3, 2001
Another great day with the Man Up crew! The morning workout group grew again today and everyone started off in great spirits. Today was a visit to M1 children’s prison. It was the home for 219 12-17 year old kids. All of them have been found guilty of some sort of crime. The problem is, many have not actually committed a crime, or the crime they have committed was out of necessity due to extreme poverty, so it’s pretty hard not to feel for these kids.
The visit started with an absolutely amazing worship. Picture a bunch of kids surrounded by the Man Up team in a dimly lit, run down, hot and fairly dirty room (which was where many of them sleep), singing, dancing, praising, kneeling, drying, loving, and blessing those around us. We talked tonight and we can’t imagine how these kids can praise God the way they do under their circumstances. But, to see a teenage kid stand up and pray, testify, and praise the way some of these young men did, was a sight you have to see to appreciate.
Then it was “game on!” The kids headed out to the yard and we followed with soccer balls, basketballs, volleyballs, Frisbees, and nerf footballs to have some fun. Shortly after the games began, it was lunchtime.
We had purchased spaghetti, chicken and beef for the kids to eat for lunch. They rarely have anything other than rice and beans for meals, so it was a treat for them. They felt it very important that we eat with them. After some discussion and uneasiness, we prayed for God’s protection and sat down with the kids and began eating rice, spaghetti and beef out of bowls with our fingers, just as they do every day. I ate about a third of mine and decided to share it with the boys at my table who were still hungry and very grateful for more food.
Then the fun really began! We made our way to their soccer field. It was a nicely flattened spot of ground which was placed on the side of a small mountain. The view from the field was beautiful. The game was an interesting contest of shirts v. skins and it was a very large field with a lot of players and had 2 balls going at all times (I still don’t fully understand the rules). Needless to say, for the most part these boys playing us barefoot showed us a lot about the game of soccer. It was the most interesting game of soccer I have ever been associated with.
Overall the staff at M1 and 60-feet were great to work with. While it is a prison, the kids have a lot of freedoms to play throughout the day. I have a lot of respect for the people who are here everyday working with these kids, because they wore us out in 1 day.
We loaded the bus for the 2 hour trip back to our hotel. We were on the lookout on the trip for kids playing soccer and we threw them a new soccer ball when we saw a little bit of pick up soccer taking place. It is great to see their face when they pick it up! We weren’t quite ready with a pumped up soccer ball when we spotted about 10-12 young men (approx 17-24 years old) playing soccer in a dirty field. So, when we arrived at the hotel, a group of about 10 of us decided to walk back and give them a new ball (theirs looked like a basketball it was so dirty).
When we got there, we started talking with them and they were very nice. They have a club team which was started to keep kids off the street and they are the best club team in Kompala. Then they invited us to play them in a friendly intercontinental match of 7 v 7. There was a little hesitation among the group until Jason and I piped up and said “game on!”
It was the most fun I have had in a long time. I think they initially took it easy on us until we went up 1-0 (by the way their goals were about 3 ft. by 3 ft.). Then they picked up the intensity. We ended up losing 2-1, but I can’t believe I got the opportunity to play a soccer match in a dirt spot on the side of the road in Uganda.
What a day! Tomorrow is M2 children’s prison. Thankfully their soccer field is much smaller because these “Men” are hurting a little bit today.
Tuesday August 2, 2011
The day started with a great early morning workout with a few team members. From there, it was on to breakfast and time to load up for a visit to Return Ministries.
Return Ministries is a great organization organized by Pastor Samuel and he has his hands full and does a phenomenal job. There are 15 children that live there, plus 50 kids that spend their days there on a regular basis, and many other kids from the community which come in when they want to. All in all, they have 100 or so kids a day that they service with food, entertainment and education.
I have to say that if the next 2 weeks are like today, words cannot explain the power of this trip. Immediately upon our arrival, we jumped in and started scooping kids up. Their love and desire for physical touch was incredible. All day long, I had anywhere from 2-8 kids surrounding me, sitting on me, or hugging a body part. They simply wanted to be loved. We played and played with them.
It became apparent that many of the things that I have learned up to this point, were actually intended for this moment. The hours my dad spent with me over the years teaching me to quickly tie and untie knots to keep ladders on the truck came in handy today as I quickly had to develop a quick way to create cross necklaces with 2 popsicle sticks and some yarn. Every time my kids come home with a balloon dog that they decide to take apart one minute and then want it back together the next, prepared me today to make balloon dogs for 100 kids.
We helped serve lunch to all of the kids (mostly rice with a few beans), and then washed the dishes so the women workers could relax a few minutes. They have no running water, so we filled jugs from a nearby spring and went to work with a bar of soap and a piece of knapsack for a washcloth. The women had never had, nor seen, a bunch of men washing dishes so they could relax for a few. It was enjoyable to serve them as well and demonstrate to them what Men can and should be doing in their lives.
I was struck by the fact that despite no running water, a hole in the ground for a bathroom (which was kept locked so the kids didn’t use the “good” restroom), and very, very little for clothing, everyone was very happy. The kids were full of joy and loved to be hugged and tickled and tossed around. The workers were constantly dancing and tending to the kid’s needs with a smile. Everyone was very polite and respectful.
I’m sure that Randy got some great footage of several of us men (me included) dressed in a hula skirt dancing for the kids. After all of dancing, playing and loving, it was hard to leave, but tomorrow is another day of loving big on orphans.