Meet the Team – August 2013

In just a few days we leave with a team of 12 to head back to Uganda to see our kids in Bukedea and Ogoloi. Packages have been showing up on our doorstep for several days now, and it is always so encouraging to see all of the sponsors getting excited to be able to send letters, photos, and “goodies” to their kids.

We will travel for a solid three days through Canada, Ethopia, and then take a gruelling drive from Kampala in southern Uganda up to the Teso tribal region of war torn Uganda to the villages of Ogoloi and Bukedea. This trip is particularly exciting for me, for a couple of reasons. First, after years of working to include our boys in the process of loving and supporting our little brothers and sisters in Uganda, and many months of Caeden planning and saving for his trip, we are finally in the home stretch and getting ready for my eldest son to join us in the adventure that God has our family on.
Caeden is just 7, and has been sponsoring his little friend Paul for almost 2 years from money that he raised from lemonade sales and chores.You can read an old post (here) about Caeden’s ridiculously successful lemonade stands that got the ball rolling.
One of Caedens more popular designs
But even better, Caeden has paid for his entire trip on his own. He has worked tirelessly (ok, he got tired a lot of times – but pressed on) to create his paintings which fetched anywhere from $30 to $50 on the “open market”. After his first few sales and some facebook posts, he was inundated with custom requests from folks all over the place. We are so grateful for those of you who supported him in this way. It was a huge boost to his confidence, and I am always thrilled to see young entrepreneurial spirit rewarded in a society where so many kids have no idea what the value of a dollar is and don’t work for much of anything.
Caeden also manufactured bracelets which were a hit amongst a younger audience.
The second reason that I am particularly excited about this trip is that, returning for the 6th time, it is a lot like going home to old friends and family. I know the kids, the community, and the staff…and more importantly am known by them. And it is so gratifying to return to our friends and “extended family” once again with new visitors and sponsors who get to meet their kids for the first time. I am excited to take things a little easier on this trip (expect fewer blog posts) and just focus my time on being in and among the community as we continue to grow relationships and plan for sustainable growth and development for our friends in Ogoloi and Bukedea.
Our Agenda
We are always asked when we tell people that are headed to Uganda if we are going to be “building something”. I believe that this stems from a western mentality derived from a misconception about what poverty is. When asked, westerners define poverty as a lack of material possessions (food, clothing, shelter, stuff etc). But when the bottom billion of the world’s population (who live on less than a dollar a day) are asked what poverty means, they describe it differently. You will hear them speak rather of a hopelessness, and of a lack of self worth and dignity. They feel trapped, and unable to break out of a cycle that keeps them from being able to progress. For them, poverty is far more about a state of mind…or better yet…a state of spirit.
So whenever we explain what it is that we are doing in Uganda, folks are usually surprised to hear that we don’t engage in building projects, or hand out clothes or candy. These “things” are provided through the sponsorship program, and so the kids’ needs are being met….but our time with them is far more about building their spirits, their hearts, and their hope, than it is about building buildings. The same is true for the surrounding community.
That said, our trip will be focused on some of the following initiatives:
  • We will be spending 4 days in Ogoloi, and 3 days in Bukedea with the kids
  • Our team will gather with the kids in the mornings for songs, fun, and to learn from each other.
  • We will break for some group interaction with the older kids, focusing particularly on the older kids and discussions around self worth – especially for the young girls, many of whom are in danger of finding that worth only in sexual promiscuity and putting them in danger of contracting HIV and very young pregnancy.
  • We will be visiting the homes of various children, especially the homes of the kids whose sponsors are with us. This is a great honor to an orphaned child, and shows the community that we value them…and that they should too.
  • We will also have the opportunity to celebrate (and oh boy will there be a celebration) the brand new Carepoint site and facility that has been constructed (by local Ugandans of course) at the Ogoloi Carepoint. This is a huge deal for the community and for the kids, who can now attend the carepoint just a stone throw from the local school.
  • And, we will further the planning that has begun to help launch micro-financing initiatives for the community members, helping them get a foot up and a jump start in improving their lives and family’s and futures through small repayable loans.
  • And finally, we will be working hard to bring back photos and stories for all of our dedicated sponsors of their kids so that you can see their smiling faces. We hope also to add several new kids at each site to the program as we reach 100% sponsorship once again.
We will also be spending some time visiting a couple of newly launched, and as of yet unsponsored carepoints in the surrounding region. My goal is to work to find a sponsoring community or church in the U.S. when we return, so we will be visiting the sites to learn about the kids, gather some profiles, and bring back info that might help us find a church willing to take on one of these sites.
There is much else to celebrate as well. After our last trip we were able to raise funds to help support two desperately struggling families, both in perilous danger. Your support allowed us to have land purchased for both of them to farm, as well as new homes to secure a future for these families. You can learn more about the child headed home of Peter Pan here, as well as the family that was in perilous danger from the own family here. We will be absolutely thrilled to see the progress in these families lives and bring back news to all of you who have helped make these changes possible.
We also just learned of plans to deepen the well (also dug as a result of your support) in Bukedea which is not recharging sufficiently. We will be eager to bring back news on the changes to the well which will hopefully increase the recharge sufficiently to provide water for not just the carepoint, but also the surrounding community.
But more of all that to come….
Our August Team

Dylan de Bruin
I am very excited to be travelling with such a great group of people this trip, despite the very obvious imbalance of males to females. That said, I will have my big boy Caeden to keep me company and I could not be more excited to have him at my side as we continue this journey as a family. 
Jen de Bruin
Jen is returning for the third time, and is an incredible asset to have on the team. Not only is she incredibly good with the kids and a trooper all day long, but she has an incredibly good knowledge of both who all the kids are and who their sponsors are. Trips that we take with Jen are just more successful. And of course, it awesome to have my partner and best friend with me. 

Caeden de Bruin
At 7 years old, Caeden is the youngest team member to travel with us, or with Hope Chest. He was worked long and hard to be able to cover his trip, and I am incredibly proud of my serious little (not so little) boy. I’m very excited for what God is doing in Caeden’s heart and look forward to this time with him in the work that I love. 

Destiny Welsh
Destiny is a special ed teacher in West Des Moines.  She has been interested in going to Uganda for quite awhile and got connected with us through some friends.  Destiny sponsors a little guy named Abraham in Bukedea. 

 

 

Jessica Duran
Jess is a veteran traveler with us.  She traveled with us to Uganda in Aug of 2012 to visit her sponsored child Lillian. We are thrilled to have her join us again.  Once you fall in love with these kids you can’t not go back and see them again!!  

 

Katlyn Brekke
Katlyn is an ESL teacher in Marshalltown, IA.  This will be her second trip to Africa but first trip to Uganda.  She visited Ghana couple years ago so she is excited to return. Katlyn sponsors a sweet little girl in Ogoloi named Lillian.



Kristin Agrimson
Kristin and her husband and two girls live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Last August her husband Nate traveled with us and this time it is Kristin’s turn.  They sponsor two kids in Ogoloi, Michael and Catherine and two girls in Bukedea, Winnie and Lucy.

 

Megan Davies
Megan is also traveling with us for the second time.  Megan has spent about as much time in Uganda as she has in the US this last year.  She will be working with some medical missionaries in Jinja for the next few months and will be meeting us once we arrive in Uganda.  She sponsors a girl named Irene and has been sponsoring her even before we knew about Hope Chest.

Misty Giffin
Misty is from Colorado Springs and is a late comer to our team. She decided to go and purchased her ticket a month before we travel!  She is a mom of three boys and a blogger for Compassion International. We are really excited for her to write about our trip and her experiences while she is with us.

Morgan deVries 
Morgan lives in Grimes, Iowa and is a part time nurse and mom to two boys. Her and her family sponsor multiple kids in Ogoloi and Bukedea and she has been a great partner with our fundraising projects and helping us get the kids sponsored.  Her husband told her she could go anywhere she wanted for her 30th birthday and she chose to go to Uganda Africa!

Siera Richter
Siera is a college student at Iowa State University from Green Mountain Iowa. She was really interested in going to Africa and loving orphans and one of our mutual friends told her about our work in Uganda.  We got in touch with each other, had dinner, and now are off to Africa together in a couple weeks
 
 Rachel Antione
This is Rachel’s second trip with us as well. Her and her husband and their local church have been involved in Bukedea for quite a few years. Many people from her home church in Moorehead Minnesota sponsor kids and help raise money for projects we are doing in Bukedea.  Last time Rachel traveled with us with her husband and her mom- this will be her first solo trip.
 
 
We will be posting photos and videos at night of the activities each day, and will work very hard to get pictures of all of your kids back to you as we have time to sift through them all. You can follow our activities on this blog, but you will have better luck finding pictures each day at the facebook page.
I want to close out this post by expressing my incredibly sincere thanks and gratitude to all of you who have sponsored kids, made donations, prayed, and encouraged us in our efforts to love these kids. I can’t thank you enough, and simply cannot do justice to an explanation of how much impact your support is having in the lives of these kids.
I look forward to sending you all updates in the next couple of weeks.

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