For over a year, I have anxiously waited to get back to the place that I believe God has called my family and me to serve. As many of you know, my experience in Jinja, Uganda with Pastor Andrew and Home Again Ministries absolutely rocked my world! I can't quite put my thumb on exactly what it was. It could have been the widows and single mothers that welcomed me into their village as the first white man that had every visited them. It might have been the hundreds of kids that were starving for the attention of a father figure. It very well could have been the man with with the vision, Andrew. Or, it could have been being exposed to some of the greatest poverty that we saw in our time in Africa.
Whatever the reason, God made it clear that he wanted Shannon and me to help. What has happened since then has been well documented in other posts. While I love all of the ministries and partners we work with in Africa, this was the day I had been waiting for. I couldn't wait to see the school that we have been working so hard to support!
But, before we made it Andrew, we had to follow through on our promise to Pastor Isaac at Canaan's to purchase paint to make Canaan's shine. The team loaded up and headed to the local paint store with Isaac. This proved to be another fun first for me...negotiating in Uganda for paint that is made by a Denmark based company and sold to us by men from India. Somehow we managed to get through the language barriers. Overall it was fun and we left with 2.4 million shillings of paint (about $1000). We would get to use the paint first hand a few days later to paint Canaan's.
Then it was off to see Andrew, the Karamonjong women, and the school. First we started by visiting with a number of the mothers. These people have come to Jinja from the countryside looking for work, only to arrive and discover that they are not welcome and have been shunned to a small community with little to no resources. The ladies are beautiful, God loving women. Unfortunately, their livelihood has become very limited farming, selling beads to the occasional mission team, and prostitution.
The women blessed us with some skits, songs, and laughter to entertain us and make us feel welcome. We shared some testimonials and time together in fellowship. They even took the time to teach Roger and myself to make paper beads. Needless to say, our beads struggled to pass quality control.
Then, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at the church and talked with Andrew about his vision and goals for his ministry and people. My passion for him and his ministry continues to grow. Some people over the last year have suggested that he is a man with unproven ability to lead a project like this, or even worse, that he is corrupt. After visiting with him again and seeing the progress he has made, my resolve to move forward with him is stronger than ever.
Then it was the time I really had been waiting for. We moved around the corner to the new school. Andrew has done an amazing job with the school! It is 90% complete and looks great! The playground equipment is almost complete and the school should be ready for students in just a few weeks. It is so amazing that God has put all of these pieces in place in such a short time!
We were able to talk with many of the families that are so excited to have their own school. They truly feel blessed by the opportunity that their children are getting. I am so blessed to be able to share this bond with them.
I brought with me a gift for the school from our family. It was a wooden cross that I made out of maple and walnut (the walnut was harvested from the land around our house). When the school is complete, Andrew will hang it in a prominent position in the school to remind him and the kids about their family in America. I made a matching cross that hangs over the dinner table at our house to always remind our family of the bond we share with our school in Uganda.
I am really struggling to find the words to describe how great it was to see the school becoming a reality. It was just Easter Sunday that we started the fundraising efforts. It was only June that the school was nothing more than a few poles in the ground. Now it has walls, concrete, paint, and play equipment. I am humbled beyond words.
As the wonderful day came to an end, we packed the team up to visit the King Fisher Lodge and the source of the Nile River. This is always a fun time and gives the team a bit of a rest from days of serving.
Overall, it truly was an amazing day and everything that I hoped it would be. Thank the good Lord for all he is doing with and through us.