Tuesday, May 26, 2015

[2015] Our Mission

When preparing for and going on short-term mission trips, it is important to have a long-term perspective. It is silly to think that we are going to Africa to bring Jesus or that we will change the world of the people that we meet. Instead, we believe that we are taking part of the work that God is already doing in Uganda. There are already people, churches and movements happening. There are dedicated Christians and full-blown ministries that are reaching out to the poor and needy of Uganda. 

With that said, our team does hope to bring some skills and training that might not be available to our friends there. This year, we are bringing along Moses, who is an Ugandan that now studies agriculture at UC Davis. We met him last year (as he is a friend of our resident Ugandans) on our adventures as he was doing research in some of the areas that we visited. He will be providing some agricultural workshops for the local people. Additionally, Jenny and another new team member Cindie will be facilitating a chicken project that will include education, vaccination and some chicken coop building! Due to their work with chickens, these two have received a 4,000 grant and FREE airfare/travel expenses. Additionally, Uncle Greg, our team leader again this year, will be continuing his positive parenting discussions. Last summer, he started training some of the elders and pastors about the "Family Hui," a creation of his nonprofit that focuses on bringing together families into a larger community. He hopes to continue this training and spread the information to more people this year.

We will be returning to the village of Bukigai again as we witness more of the church construction! After returning home, one of our team members applied for a grant that would help with the building costs. And God provided! We received $9,000 that will completely cover the cost of the roof! There is no doubt that God's hand and blessing is over this project and the church in Bukigai. 

We will spend about half of our time in the village, doing our various workshops, as well as continuing the relationships we started last year! This is also where we will build a chicken coop, with the help of Jenny, Cindie and Moses. The other half of our time we will be stationed out of Mbale, the closest major city. From there, we will take day trips to other local churches that are under the care of Pastor Richard, our Ugandan liaison. Depending on the need, we will do more workshops and trainings, as well as relationship building! Again, we believe that the most important and lasting impact we will have will be in the relationships we form, not the things we produce or the knowledge we share.  

Please continue to pray as we move forward in fundraising, planning and final preparations!

The Team

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mission Team Report: 2014

Here is part of the team report we sent out last year. Its only about 9 months late!

We left Davis the morning of June 17, arriving in Kampala the evening of June 18.  We ate a late dinner at Milly’s Aunt Irene’s guest house, and were ready the next morning to drive the 5 hours to Bukigai.  Unfortunately, a tire on one of our vehicles had other ideas, so we were delayed until noon leaving for Eastern Uganda.  After a couple other stops we found ourselves in Jinga, about half way there, late in the day, so we stopped for the evening.  The next morning we met with a representative of the Amazima Foundation, founded by the young American woman, Katie Davis, whose story is chronicled in the book “Kisses from Katie.”  This was an opportunity to learn more about the Ugandan culture and her approach to addressing the needs of orphaned children.

We continued the trek to Bukigai after our meeting, and gradually made our way allowing for roadside stops for mangoes, bananas, papayas, watermelons, live chickens, and even a couple turkeys.  But once again, a flat tire slowed one of our vehicles.  As the other van continued on, even the spare on the first vehicle went flat.  So after two flat tires another 1 am dinner ensued – but we were in Bukigai at last.

The next day we had time to meet our hosts, including various members of the Revival Mission Church in Bukigai.  Milly’s brother Richard – one of our guides and drivers from Kampala – is actually not only the pastor, but the Bishop overseeing the church in Bukigai along with several other churches in the Mbale region.  We took a tour of the area, got settled into the rhythm of Bukigai and checked-out the construction of the church/community center which was one of the major initiatives of our mission trip.

As it turned out, Alex – who had preceded us by a week – had enlisted the assistance of his brothers and cousins (who are skilled construction workers) and church members in Bukigai, and the walls were already 6 feet tall by the time we arrived.  The hope was to get the walls to the point that a “ring-beam” could be installed to tie all the walls together.  But as a result of your generosity, enough funds were raised to not only get the ring-beam installed, but finish the walls to the height that the roof can now be installed. This exceeded what we thought was possible.

In the meantime, on Sunday we went to the top of “Prayer Mountain” for our worship service.  Our vehicle got us half- way up, but after getting stuck in the muddy roads once (requiring the assistance of local farmers to help dig us out), the roads simply became too steep and muddy to proceed.  This meant hiking the rest of the way.  Two plus hours later, we arrived, finding several church members from Bukigai who had started hiking up the mountain at 6:00 am, and after a 4 hour hike had been waiting 2 hours for our arrival.  This became known to us as operating on “African Standard Time” – humorously accepted by our African hosts, and contrasted with “North American Standard Time.”  We all had our first taste of providing a “preachimony” – sharing about our faith and what had called us to come to Uganda.  This would be repeated on several occasions.

After our descent back to Bukigai, and a good night’s rest, Monday started a couple of our other activities – working with kids at both the primary and secondary schools on art projects, and doing some positive parenting “training of trainers” with a group of leaders from the community.  At the end of the week, both schools had murals on external walls that can be seen from the main road through Bukigai, and about 8-10 people were trained to help pilot three positive parenting family cooperatives.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights were part of evening outdoor crusades sponsored by the local church.  At each meeting our team shared favorite scriptures, testimony, encouragement, greetings from UCC as part of building a long-term relationship with the Bukigai church, and even some singing.  This pushed most of us out of our “comfort zones,” which occurred continuously and actually was one of the great blessings we received during our trip.  And we cannot forget Richard’s leading of “Morning Glory” every day at 5:00 a.m. during the week, a time of prayer, Bible study and getting ready for each day.  What jet lag?

We left on Saturday to go to Alex’s village, which normally would be about a 3-4 hour journey.  But the day before, a heavy downpour had resulted in a large petrol truck being stuck in the middle of the road.  In essence the road going into and out of Bukigai was blocked for about 36 hours.  But here we learned about “Kingdom Standard Time,” as when we arrived – not knowing if or how long it would take to get through – a tractor showed up and pulled out the truck.  We waited only about 30 minutes and then were the second vehicle through and on our way.

The greeting we received in Alex’s village – Muganja – was unbelievable. Muganja is a more remote village and much smaller than the Bukigai area, and had last been visited by Mzungus (us white people) 15 years earlier. Most of us felt like rock stars mobbed just for showing up, not doing anything.   But this reception was real and genuine, and represented their desire to show their appreciation for our coming to visit and provide a message of encouragement from UCC.

After a wonderful dinner with Alex’s brother Geofrey and other family members, we drove back to Mbale where we spent the night.  The next morning we worshiped in Richard’s now “home church.”  We should say something here about worshipping with African Pentecostals.  You have not worshipped until you have experienced the genuineness, joy, enthusiasm and sense of the Spirit found in the African Pentecostal church – at least in the services we attended.  Once again, we were provided an opportunity to share our stories and bring a word of encouragement from UCC.

The next day we returned to Kampala to prepare for our departure on Wednesday, July 2.  We did have the occasion to visit the source of the Nile on our way to Bukigai, and once back in Kampala, finding ourselves with an extra day due to travel conditions, we ventured to the wilds of Murchison Falls National Park north of Kampala to view wildlife and see the Nile squeezed through a ravine 10 feet wide with a 140 foot drop – hence considered the most powerful waterfall in the world.  This was an unexpected adventure which capped our trip.

More information on this summer coming soon!

The Team