My Call to Worship
Its 5 am and everyone is still asleep. But my mind is spinning with the intricacies of the next few days. In the distance the call to worship is ringing from the local Mosque, beckoning the ever growing Muslim community in the area to come and worship their God. But my mind is firmly fixed on how we will be worshiping ours for the next few days.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-family: 'Charis SIL', charis, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> orphans and widows <sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-family: 'Charis SIL', charis, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”>in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world – James 1:27
It’s been a heck of a journey, but we are finally in Soroti, just 30 minutes from the Ogoloi CarePoint. Our flights were long, cramped, and uncomfortable, but we did defy gravity and travel at almost a thousand km per hour so I suppose its all a matter of perspective. Our all-day drive from Entebbe, through the city of Kampala, up to Jinja, and then North to Soroti was the most difficult we have taken yet. We have always traveled in medium sized vans but with our team at 10 members (and with the ridiculous amount of luggage we brought with us for the kids) we instead hired a small 25 seater bus (which uncomfortably seated 12) and loaded the back 2 rows with bags). Every pot hole was a jolt to the spine, and no core workout in the states will do for your abs what all day in a bus dodging pot holes will.
But we are here. And we are grateful. The best part of this trip is ahead of us.
We will be spending 4 days at the Ogoloi CarePoint and retire to the TCON house (The Children of the Nile) each night for dinner and sleep. The house is used by Hope Chest as a central office for its operations in Uganda and doubles as a guest house for “visitas” – as the locals here call us. There are a couple of rooms with bunk beds, usually one for the ladies and one for the guys, and then another room with two full sized beds. It’s nothing grand, but it certainly is home for our visits. The living room has hosted countess late night discussions about hopes and dreams and plans, as well as pain and despair It’s fun to sit in a room that serves to house discussions for the many people like us who have traveled here to visit CarePoints, who are here to help. Brothers. Sisters.
So we will be in Ogoloi for 4 full days before heading South about 2 hours to stay in Kumi, a small town just 30 minutes from the Bukedea CarePoint where we will spend another 4 days with the children there.
I will be doing my best to post updates daily from the team. In addition to just being here to show kids that have otherwise been abandoned by the world that they are loved, we also have several objectives for this trip that we will be excited to accomplish.
We have reached 100% sponsorship levels for both CarePoints in the last few weeks, which is incredible and frankly far more than I had ever believed we would be able to accomplish when we set out on this endeavor a couple of years ago. We will be working with the staff on the ground here to expand the program to another 20 children from the Ogloi CarePoint and at least another 20 in Bukedea. The kids that are admitted into the program are the hardest hit in the area and the ones that need the most help, but to be perfectly honest the 120 we have in Ogoloi and the 160 or so in Bukedea does not even begin to scratch the surface of orphaned and vulnerable kids in each area. So it is with great joy that we are able to expand and include some more kids who have been standing on the sidelines, hoping for the hope that these kids have been afforded. We will be documenting and getting to know the kids that the staff recommend for inclusion so that we can bring their info back home for their future sponsors.
As usual, we will be conducting a lot of home visits. The team will have opportunity to visit their sponsored kids, and we have plans to visit several homes of some of the kids whom we have provided special assistance to in the recent past. These visits are always difficult, as the conditions that some of these kids live in are tough to take in, but they are also incredibly gratifying. The families are immensely honored by the visits and the kids beam at the idea that we would care to visit their homes.
We have gifts from literally hundreds of sponsors from around the nation to put in the hands of the kids. We had asked for kids books from all of you and have been receiving a steady flow of books with family photos and personal letters for weeks now. It will be exciting to put these in the kid’s hands.
Given the success of our recent fund raising campaigns through Christmas (see the blog Change their Story) we have planned community meetings to meet with the local leaders and the CarePoint committee to discuss future development plans with them.
All of our work at the CarePoints is accomplished in partnership with the local community and with their support and combined efforts. The last thing we want to do is show up as a bunch of “mzungus” and foster a hand out mentality within the community. So these meetings will be fun as we work to not only gather “buy in” from the local leaders for the work ahead, but also to hold them to account for their efforts to help raise these abandoned kids. For more about our approach with the community I would encourage you to read the book “When Helping Hurts” which details some of the ways that short term mission work typically does more harm that good in communities likes these, and how we approach all of our work here in Uganda with a long term goal of empowerment of the kids and community rather then simply providing relief for their immediate needs.
As always, we will work to post as many pictures as we can of the kids on the FACEBOOK PAGE and work to send all of the sponsors as much as we can on their kids.
I wanted to say a big Thank you to everyone who has helped us support these kids. There are so many of you who have donated clothing, supplies etc in the last few years, as well as those of you who have sponsored kids and donated funds to the capital improvement projects. We are truly grateful to all of you for your support and faithfulness.
And with that, I better go start waking our sleepy travelers to prepare for a long (but fun) day ahead. The kids are no doubt excited and already starting their long walks to the CarePoint to welcome us. Makes me smile just thinking about it.