I am so grateful to have served on the 2016 Embrace Uganda team – my first mission trip ever! There was so much that the team accomplished while we were there. I shared in a separate blog many of the wonderful things that we did during the first week while we were in Koreng and Kumi. And the second week was very eventful as well. On our way to Bukerere, we stopped at a park at the source of the Nile River. The boat ride was an experience beyond my dreams! I never imagined that I would have that chance. So I can’t even call it a dream come true. That brief stop was one of the most memorable parts of my journey. And what a wonderful group of people to share the experience with.
We arrived at Agape Children’s Village (ACV), an orphanage positioned very high in Bukerere (a parish in Kampala), on Saturday night to the sound of cheers and drums. We were greeted by many of the children at ACV who gave us hugs and introduced themselves (names that it would take me the rest of the week to remember – and still won’t remember them all). ACV is where I met the woman the children call Momma Grace, who had cooked a delicious meal for us. The only unwelcomed guests that night were the cockroaches that shared the latrine (outhouse) with us where we had to relieve ourselves before dinner.
On Sunday morning, I got to see what a beautiful view we would see each day that we stayed at ACV. I was pleased to know that despite the pain that brought the children there, they daily have the opportunity to see the beauty that God has created and has allowed them to grow up in and to begin to heal from their suffering. From this mountain, we were able to see so many miles in the distance that it feels as if you are seeing all of Uganda. ACV is one of the most picturesque places that I have ever visited.
Our week included Sunday morning worship service in the church at ACV, morning devotions in the Garden Sanctuary, evening devotions led by the children at ACV, and Bible study with a women’s group on Wednesday. Momma Grace made sure that we had breakfast lunch and dinner every day and that our sleeping quarters had whatever we needed. Our projects included sharing stories, songs and games with the children at the school, feeding the pre-school children porridge for lunch, providing supplies for the children and teachers, sharing messages during the devotions with the children, painting one of the classrooms at the school, two movie nights and just spending time with the children after school and on their one holiday off from school that week. Coloring doodle art in our cottage kept many of them busy everyday.
Sunday also included a visit from ACV young adults that have gone off “to university.” They came back to say “thank you” the Embrace Uganda (EU) for what EU has done to give them the opportunity to continue their education. It was great learning that some of them have chosen to major or work in Accounting. This gave me an opportunity to share some of my wisdom about the Accounting profession and about my work in the field.
The nightly devotions with the children is another experience that I will take home with me as a favorite part of my trip. The songs they sang and the joy and conviction with which they sang them, while accompanied by African drums and an occasional guitar are forever impressed upon my memory. The testimonies given by the children were an unexpected witness of the grace that God has given them and testifies of the greatness that He has placed in our youth, but rarely get to see. I am just grateful that I had the opportunity to witness it.
One of the most precious gifts that I received on my journey were the numerous children that I have inherited – youths and young adults. I will forever cherish the experience of being referred to as Auntie or Mama Cece. There are so many young people that I met while in Uganda that I am reluctant to start listing names. But each of them have left an impression on my heart that I pray the Lord will use to continue to mold me into the best me that I can possibly be.
Thank you Dorothy and EU for one of the greatest experiences of my life! I pray blessings of love, grace and peace forever upon your missions, your work and the team that I have grown to love as family and the teams past and future.