2 months in Uganda & South Sudan: a summary

I am exhausted.  But in a “I-have-worked-really-hard-and-deserve-this-rest” kind of way.  The last 5 months have been demanding physically & emotionally.  However, the last 2 months was one of the best short-term outreaches I’ve ever been a part of.  I don’t want to romanticize too much: there were moments of frustration, a couple times where I wanted to slap someone (but refrained), and times when I just wanted to go home, BUT, in many ways trip was what I’ve always hoped/imagined short-term outreaches could be like!

My two co-leaders were incredible.  Besides the fact that I genuinely like them, they are capable in many ways that I am not.  They saw some things from a different perspective, but they listened; said what they thought, and we worked together to find solutions.  It was especially amazing to hear Moise say that he now has confidence in his leadership ability.  Unbeknownst to him, Mike and I set this as one of our goals 5 months ago.   I could go on and on, but in short, this was the kind of teamwork I dream about.

Our team was awesome.  They acted with integrity and cultural sensitivity.  They served with heart and creativity.  They cared for people, especially outside of scheduled ministry times.  Something I aspire to is to build up/genuinely serve the ministries we work with and to help them have a better reputation in their community; our team made that easy on this trip.

I’ve had the chance to travel to some pretty amazing places, but I am still somewhat in awe that I was able to go to South Sudan!  The landscape was so beautiful.  In both South Sudan and Uganda, we had some unbelievably amazing ministry opportunities:

  • Hiking up to a remote village and building a rain-water collection tank (=drinking water that doesn’t look like unstrained tea)
  • helping a very elderly widow with her garden so she can eat this year
  • clearing the yard (=digging out stumps) to prepare a building for renovations
  • teaching for 2 weeks in a village school
  • encouraging and sending fabric to a vocational school (The only one of its kind in a very large area.  They were learning to sew with paper because there was no fabric.)
  • visiting patients at a remote village clinic
  • speaking to people with AIDS/HIV – encouraging them that its not shameful; they are valuable
  • preaching in churches
  • building a fence to keep monitor lizards and snakes from eating the fish in the fish pond (so that people can eat them when they are full size. yum.)
  • counselling & praying for families in distress; visiting people at home
  • constructing a “prayer garden” (leveling ground; working with cement and  bricks)
  • painting water towers
  • conducting several youth meetings
  • visiting/helping an elderly disabled man (not sure if he had tetanus or leprosy, but  one leg was entirely dried up and the other one was getting there).  We cleaned house, washed laundry, landscaped, visited, and left some money for medical testing/treatment and some things like a new bed.
  • holding/changing/feeding babies at Amecet.  Amecet is a shelter for children/infants who need a home for up to 6 months because of a crisis (a parent dying, family doesn’t want to feed baby because it has AIDS and they believe it will just die anyway, and many other situations).  This ministry is amazing, they are well integrated into the community and work with the hospital, police, and social services.  It started with the hope of helping children with AIDS who are probably going to die, die with dignity.  Since it began they have helped over 500 children: over 400 of them who probably would not have survived, have because of this ministry.  It was amazing.  This would be an incredible ministry to see replicated in other locations.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and doesn’t take into account all of the small, meaningful moments.  But I think it gives a pretty good picture.

I’ll be posting a little more regularly again!  I am really thankful for some downtime this week, and looking forward to what is coming up next.

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