S: Sweet Sleep 2011
BC: I leave a little more of myself in Uganda after every trip, I hope I will be reunited soon.!
FC: Sweet Sleep trip 2011 Kampala, Uganda <> July 22 to August 7
1: Kampala, Uganda Sweet Sleep trip and Fields of Dreams work with Jonathan July 22 to August 7, 2011
2: Friday - July 22 Well the journey has begun, bet have yet to go very far. I write this journal entry from a Comfort Inn and Suites in Washington D.C. near Dulles Airport. With over a 4 hour delay in Louisville it was obvious from the start that we would not make our connecting flight to Brussels. After standing in line for over 3 1/2 hours we were able to get us all on the same flight to Entebbe. We now have an unexpected day of tourism in D.C. tomorrow. Rebecca has never been, so she seems extrememly excited the change of events. With a full day tomorrow in the city, I am hoping my pops can see a doctor and find out what may be making him feel light headed and dizzy. The biggest bummer for all of us, is the fact that this delay will | not allow to experience our worship time with the kids at the orphanage. It is our hope to switch our shopping day to our time in Jinja, to steal a little extra time with the kids later in the week. Flexibility is the name of the game, so we will have to see how things work out. My biggest disappointment would have to be how hands off Sweet Sleep has been. They seemed more concerned about organizing shuttles from Entebbe than they did about the 6 people who raised over four thousand dollars a piece, and the fact that they would now be missing a full day in Uganda. I know that it is out of their control, but I an, "I am so sorry this is happening," from Emily at the Sweet Sleep office would have gone a long way. It was hard leaving Abby and the boys this morning. I just don't have a great feeling about things, and I hope and pray that I make it back to them safely. I am such a blessed man to have a wife that supports my passions with such grace and kindness. Her tears this morning as I left were hard for me to swallow. "We" are in such a good place right now, and I am really going to miss her. On the brighter side of things I am so blessed to have my new smart phone. I have had to text, send emails, and use the web on numerous occasions to navigate our team through all of the changes we faced today. I am excited to see D.C. tomorrow as it has been a dozen or so years since I have been to the sites. It is supposed to reach triple digits tomorrow so our plan is to start with the monuments early and hit up a museum or two around lunch time. We need to get back around 4 p.m. to check in for our 7 p.m. flight to London. I read an awesome book on the flight today called Permission to Speak Freely, and I am excited to share a message on confession sometime this fall at Central. "The gift of going second," will be about the freedom found in vulnerability.
3: Our "Indiana Team" is finally ready to head to Uganda after all of our planning and fundraising. Our team consisted of Melissa Counts, Caitlin Taylor, Amy Covington, John Warneke, Mike Warneke and Rebecca Redd.
4: Saturday - July 23 Where to start! Yet another day with travel frustrations, and I find myself writing this pinned to the airplane window with plenty of room for my legs, but not near enough room for my shoulders. I did not sleep well last night in anticipation of the alarm clock, and I am afraid my exhaustion headache is going to make this flight from London to Nairobi a long evening. On a brighter side, I will try and break away from my melancholy and write about today's happenings. I was saddened to awake to my dad still not feeling well at all. As we heading into the city this morning, he was going to make arrangements to see a doctor. The rest of our team loaded into a taxi around 8:30 to head into downtown D.C. We arrive at the Lincoln Memorial just past 9:00 and took in the sites. | Similar to the Holy Land (I would think) it is neat to walk around D.C. and imagine the footprints that have landed in the same spot. To stand where MLK Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was a powerful moment, as I reflected on how far we have come as a nation, and yet how far we still have to go. I have struggled a lot with the idea of war today. Due in large part to the war memorials and the Holocaust Museum experience I was taken aback and sobered to the evil capabilities of men. Part of me was sickened by the violence, and evil acts of men, but I was just as saddened by the inaction of the world as well. I think the sad truth is that I am to blame as well. I think about Sudan and Uganda and in reality I am doing very little to enact change. The Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda are simply to close in the history of the world to give my heart peace. I look at the conflicts plaguing the world, and the tragedy that took place in Norway yesterday, and I can't help but think that we have learned nothing as humans. How quickly we forget, I continue to think this is one of our greatest sins as human beings. There was a quote by Elie Wiesel at the Holocaust Museum that reads, "for the dead and the living we must bear witness." We are to be witnesses not just of the "good news" of Christ, but witnesses of the evil as well, so history does not repeat itself. When will we wake up to history and see as Barbara Brown Taylor writes, "We all wear skin." Why is that not enough to unite us? The temps got up to 102 degrees today so we quickly made our way from the Holocaust Museum to the Museum of Natural History. It was shoulder to shoulder people, and all I wanted to do was hide in a cool corner. I meandered through the exhibits and took some pictures of the animals that I thought Gideon and Abel would like to look at
5: upon my return; dinosaurs, animals and the sort. We took a rather interesting cab ride back to the hotel and freshened up before our 4:30 shuttle to the airport. We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare for our 7 p.m. flight to London and low and behold we would need every minute as we had difficulties checking-in. It took over an hour getting our boarding passes, ensuring our luggage would be transferred to our flight and a change so I could be added to the same flight as the rest of our team. This has been some rough travel with United and I have yet to receive even a semblance of an apology. We got to our gate just before boarding and it is hard to believe that we still have another full day of travel tomorrow. I know that it will be worth it as we build beds for the kids on Monday morning, but right now I simply wish I was crawling in bed next to Abby for a good night's sleep. I am worried our entire Indiana team is getting a bit jaded by the difficulties of our travels. I have been impressed at the lack of complaining be everyone, and I have been graced with more patience than I thought possible in these first couple of days, who knows, maybe I am growing up after all.
6: A special day spent in Washington D.C. at numerous monuments and the Holocaust Museum.
7: Sunday - July 24 Well, the journey from the evil one continues. I write this journal entry from the Nairobi Airport where we will be staying this evening. We once again had trouble checking-in for our team flight. Caitlin and Melissa did not have seats booked on the flight to Entebbe, and none of us had boarding passes, so the flight left while we were trying to sort things out with Dorah at the ticket desk. Due to some "fabulous" British youth who decided to treat our flight out of London as if it were a movie theater, I had to change seats about 4 times to accommodate a young family, and ended up with the video player that didn't even turn on. My neighbor offered to change seats, but I decided to fully live out whatever lesson God is trying to teach me through these hardships. I was able to sleep a couple of hours on the flight and enjoyed taking in the Mediterranean Sea and Northern Africa from 40,000 feet. I got a great view of the Swiss Alps, quite a bit of Italy's coastline, and the vastness of the Saharan Desert in Egypt. I finished a great book by Barbara Brown Taylor about spiritual disciplines on the flight. Some very good, fresh new ideas about bringing more of God into the everyday, and some other good ideas for youth group activities and retreats. We made up some time in the air but were not able to make the flight due to our lack of boarding passes. We were all certainly a bit dejected, but we are getting used to it by now. Dorah who assisted us with the tickets commented on what a mess they were. She was very gracious and was the first along this journey who apologized for our delays as she was able to secure us all on a 7:55 a.m. flight to Entebbe on Monday morning. I am not sure what tomorrow will bring, | but I am very grateful at how flexible and positive everyone has stayed. My dad and I can often feed off each other's negativity, but Melissa and the others have stayed so positive. I am exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually from being in charge of this little group. I just feel so responsible for everything even though I know it is out of my control. One of my fears, as I have prayed that this trip would give me clear insight on the future of Fields of Dreams, is that right now I have no desire to ever make this journey again. I know being with the kids tomorrow will hopefully change my attitude, as long as I am not a complete zombie. It is now 1 a.m. and we can begin boarding in about 6 hours. Perhaps I can get a little shut-eye in this glorified Greyhound station or simply enjoy talking with our team. Let's hope tomorrow is a much better day.
8: Enjoying the evening spent with one another in the Nairobi Airport. We had the opportunity to get about 5 hours of sleep at a hotel in the city, but I thought it best for our team to stay in the safety of the airport. And who new you could get bedbugs from an airport bench? The blessings just won't stop coming.
9: Monday, July 25 Well we finally made the arduous journey to Uganda. After a very long evening spent in the Nairobi Airport we boarded our first flight our first flight without a hitch at 7:55 a.m. I dozed a bit on the flight out of pure exhaustion, but was soon awakened to the knowledge and peace that I was on Ugandan soil. We cleared customs with ease and even had all 12 checked bags greet us in the baggage area. Both Josephine and Patrick, our driver from last year, were waiting for us at the exit. We shared introductions and it was so good to see Josephine once again. We loaded up the bus and headed toward our lodging to unpack and freshen up before heading to meet the kids at the school. We are staying at Adonai Three, a new place for me, and my pops and I have a very nice little room with a private bath for us to share. It is a very nice house, as they always are, and we seem to have the place to ourselves for the week. We got settled, organized our luggage and cleaned ourselves up before heading to the orphanage. We arrive to cheering children just before lunch was going to be served, and the kids quickly surrounded us with hugs and much gratitude for our arrival. This special moment in these trips will never get old. What beautiful little children. | Sister Rose, the head teacher, gave us a quick tour of the classroom space and invited us over to the tent for a delicious homegrown lunch. It was so nice to finally see the Indiana team drenched in the purpose of this trip. The smiles and joy on their faces was serene. It is amazing how quickly three days of dread can be dismissed by the laughter of a precious child. Following lunch we helped the kids create some art based on their favorite Bible verse. I had a wonderful time walking through the kids and see their imagination at work. We all wear flesh, and I was taken aback at how similar these kids are to Gideon and Abel, and they have the same needs as well, that so often go overlooked due to their circumstances. The kids loved seeing their pictures on our cameras as usual, and they were equally intrigued by my photos from D.C. and of my family. The boys and girls next played a football match for us, with the boys tying their arms behind their backs to make things fair. The pitch was atrocious as always, with it being more like a gravel parking lot than a grass field. There is not room for a full pitch but the grounds could be most improved. The passion and skill is evident, just as are the lack of resources. During the match I had fun talking with numerous kids and teachers. One of the boys I connected with was Kevin, a young boy from Tanzania who spoke very little English, but | spoke Swahili instead. He had a very sweet demeanor, and he reminded me of Dallen as he lingered near my window during the goodbye process. Hopefully with a little help from Josephine I can learn a bit of his back story. The city of Kampala still moves me, but sadly it is like driving to the Rockies on your third trip, still moving, but in different ways. For some reason the poverty, brokenness, and hurt is not impacting me in the same way it has in the past. We had some goulash for dinner and a nice team building time during our meeting. I really enjoy being here with Peggy and Amanda again, and everyone else has been a blessing as well. I am struggling to keep my heavy eyelids open while writing this, so it is time to say good night. Here is to a wonderful "Bed Day" tomorrow.
11: Images from our first afternoon with the kids at Molly and Paul's New Kabaale Busega Primary School
12: Tuesday, June 26 What a whirlwind of a day. Today was a day filled with grace, laughter, singing, playing, and a whole lot of hard work. It was "bed day" and with all "bed days" it had its challenges, but we were able to overcome them all in the end. Taking a bit of a step back, I was able to get the first good night's rest last night in quite some time. I slept like a log from 10:30 to 3 and then off and on until it was time to get up for breakfast. I was happy to see Jake and Natalie at breakfast who got in from their delayed flights late the previous evening. I gave a brief team devotion following breakfast and then we loaded into the bus to head off to the orphanage. The school is only about a half hour drive from our lodging and much more within the city limits than any of the partner orphanages in the past have been. It was such a great day with the kids. The beds were late in arriving, which is the | expected norm, so we spent the early morning playing "African" games with the kids. We played duck - duck - goose, a tunnel partner game, a fun line-up and slap hands game, and "how many cigarettes does your father smoke," style of elimination game. Following a fun morning, the staff had some fruit and soft drinks waiting for us under the tent. While we were under the tent many of the nursery classes came over to perform little songs for us. The kids were adorable as always, and you could tell that they took great pride in performing for a crowd of Mzungus. While we were watching the kids the first truckload of bed frames arrived. The older kids helped unload them, and then Amanda and I went to look over the rooms and try and formulate a game plan for the rest of the day. When we toured the campus the day prior I was a little worried about the narrow door frames, but thought surely Sweet Sleep had measured the frames to ensure they would fit, sadly I was wrong. After much pushing and angling we learned that before every top bunk could fit into the room we would have to bend the mosquito net arms inward to make it through the door frames. By the grace of God not a single bed broke during this process, and hopefully the welds will hold for years to come. As with every "bed day" it took a few tries to arrange the rooms accordingly, and we ended up having to shuffle a few of younger kids to the boys and girls dorm to make everyone fit properly. The frames came in 4 different loads we were able to work on the dorms in shifts, making the bottom bunks up completely while we waited for the top bunks to arrive. Sadly, the nets were not pre-washed, so until the chemicals can be washed and dried thoroughly the kids will be without nets for the first couple of nights. I love the work that Sweet Sleep does but their logistical planning could use a little fine tuning. I would love for them to do measurements of the rooms prior to our arrival and work with the partner orphanages to understand how man beds can safely fit in each room, rather than what they want to fit.
13: Amanda handled everything beautifully, as she has taken on a ton of extra responsibility without staff members present from Nashville. I played football and got out the parachute with the kids off and on today. It was fun and exhausting all at the same time. The children can be so aggressive, and at times it can turn the fun we are having sour very quickly. Paul and Molly, the founders of the school, joined us for lunch today. Paul and Molly have been caring for orphaned children in their homeland for over 30 years. Paul, an orphan himself, had a woman from Boston help pay for his education, and he has since felt the need to give back that which has been so graciously given to him. They also had with them their adopted son, John. They shared with us that his parents were killed when John was and infant a group of monkeys took him into the jungle to raise as their own. He was raised by monkeys, in some was as a monkey, until his adoption by Molly and Paul at the age of 4. He is now 34 and he is a living testament to God's provision. Molly and Paul could not stop thanking us for the work we were doing, and it was a blessing to be a part of their answered prayers. We continued to work on beds and visit with the children long into the afternoon. It was very touching to me when Rose gathered the children that don't live at the school, and shared with them that they are special and loved by God as well. It is something we need to be more mindful of going forward. I want to make sure that we do some special things just for them as well, as the boarders are getting so much already. On a fun side note; I got a football stuck high up in a tree today, and one of the older boys, Baker, climbed the tree barefoot about 60 feet up to retrieve it without any difficulty. Following our day with the kids we had a great meal at a pizza cafe and celebrated Caitlin's birthday with a cake that Josephine was able to arrange. Caitlin was extremely surprised and certainly had a 20th birthday that she will soon not forget. We stopped by to get some gelato before heading back to the | Adonai House. We got back pretty late and had a quick team meeting. Our Indiana team has been pretty quiet, but I believe that they are enjoying themselves. It meant a lot to me today when Melissa passed me at the orphanage and said, "Thanks for bringing us here Mike," with tears in her eyes. I got to talk with Peggy tonight about Fields of Dreams, and she gave me some good pointers and a lot of encouragement to move forward. I got to talk with Gideon and Sheila today through Skype. It was good to hear Gid's voice and what a brave boy he was at the dentist today. I am going to call Abby in a bit, and I can't wait for the day when we can be here together.
18: Wednesday, June 27 The days seem to be getting longer and longer; and not at all in a bad way, it is just more difficult to gather my thoughts about all that has happened at the end of the day. We got off to the orphanage on time today and had what seemed like a very quick trip to the New Kabaala Busega school. Today was one of my favorite days as we got to hand out Bibles to all of the children. We met the kids in the chapel in shifts to pass out their Bibles and teach them how to use them throughout their lives. I got to tell the kids about their new Bibles, with Josephine acting as my interpreter. We told the kids what a gift God's word is, and we prayed over all of the children and their Bibles. I felt extremely honored to be a part of this touching moment in these kids' lives. During this time we split into groups and held a little Bible 101 class with the kids so they would know how to navigate their Bibles and use all of the extras in the front and back sections. During this time we also helped the kids make bookmarks, nametags for the boarders, and coffee filter butterflies. We also got mobbed for stickers on several occasions and it saddened my heart to see the greed that lives in Africa as well. It was however pretty neat to see how amazed the kids were by the scratch and sniff stickers. | When we finished with the Bibles, I joined Baker and some of the other boys for a fun time kicking around a football. We played keep away and it is amazing how much I can sweat in a matter of 30 minutes. It is also amazing how much these boys love the sport of football, and my heart for Fields of Dreams was cemented once again. The kids were so appreciative of my time playing with them that one of the teachers came to the bus as we were leaving to express thanks for the kids, and ask me to play again with them later in the week. We had yet another wonderful lunch served to us by the staff and children at the school. Rose and the staff have been so very gracious to us, and it has been very touching as the children have taken turns washing out hands before lunch and clearing away our place settings. The honor in which they show their elders and guests is quite remarkable. As with most days my mind is filled with too many moments to try and recollect. During our first Bible group after Peggy and I taught them how to navigate their Bibles I shared a special time with a young boy named James. He was so excited about the chance to read from the book of James. We read a large portion of the first chapter together, and he was so content to be reading from his own Bible. I gave him a picture of Abby and the boys with an inscription on
19: the back urging him to treasure his Bible. Following lunch we said our goodbyes to the children and headed up Mitanya Road to spend the afternoon with the children of Blessed Hope Champions Academy. Peggy, Amanda, and I were very excited at the prospect of being reunited with so many of the kids we fell in love with during our trip last year. Gilbert spotted me before we could even get off the bus and started shouting, "Uncle Mike, Uncle Mike." I then quickly spotted Dibya William, Ishmael, Chan, Andrew, and I later saw Livingstone and Joseph in the prayer garden. I was extremely saddened to learn that Dallen was no longer at Blessed Hope. William shared with me that he had some stomach troubles and did not return last term. I am learning that if I ever have the chance to see these precious kids again in the future, it is pure grace. Pastor Joel gathered all of the kids in the prayer garden. After our team introductions he thanked us for coming back to visit them again, and made a special point of honoring Amanda, Peggy and myself who had all been there last summer. The kids performed a number of songs for us and Ben Chan did the interpreting Pastor Joel. I was able to address the kids on behalf of our team and shard with them once again from Philippians 4. Following our worship time together, we headed back to the main campus. | I spent some time using the rocket balloons with the kids, and they absolutely loved chasing them down. I then sat with Gilbert, Livingstone and sweet Annette just to catch up and talk. I showed them some pictures on my phone of my family and D.C. and then played some music for them as well. William, Chan and others joined us and I recorded a video message for Tyler. Joseph came up to me around this time with a letter for Gideon. It stated how he had been praying for him daily since last summer and I certainly believe him. What an unexpected blessing, and a type of community I never thought possible. During this time Tory brought over a rolling, laughing monkey stuffed animal to show the kids. It was so wonderful to hear them laughing. To hear Chan laugh with such abandon made my heart so full, knowing that he has witnessed such pain in his past. It is incredible that I silly monkey toy can bring such joy and healing. I then played some basketball with this group of older boys and I taught them how to dribble, pass and shoot the ball. I so love the pace and overall nature of this orphanage. It was so neat to find every team member surrounded by a group of kids spending such intentional quality time with them. My dad was really touched today by a girl by the name of Sarah. They exchanged pictures of their families, and she showed
20: him around the campus and the bed she was so thankful to have. She even asked to pray over my dad before we left, which really impacted him in a positive way. The only downside to this entire day was the absence of Dallen. I made up for Dallen's absence by spending quality time with Gilbert, who has such a fun little playful personality, William and Livingstone. I am sorry that I cannot come back this Friday to watch them play a soccer match, but I will return next week, and hopefully get to see them all again. We were escorted into a classroom as the sun set to have dinner with the staff and hear some testimonials from some of the kids on how the new beds have impacted their lives. Pastor Joel once again thanked us for our work for "his" children and the other kids throughout Uganda. We boarded the bus in the dark and I got many well wishes from the children, and I can't wait to come back next week to see these kids again. I had a great time talking with Rebecca on the drive home, and really felt like I got to know her a lot better. I also had a bit more of a social evening talking with Amanda, Melissa, and Peggy. Amanda and I discussed our similar concerns about where Sweet Sleep is right now. We are worried about the poor organization and scattered leadership. There are so many comparisons that I can make between Sweet Sleep and Group that it is | a bit scary. I love the work that they do; I just don't always like how it gets done. But you couldn't ask me to trade this time for anything. I got to talk with Abby, Maryanne, Molly, Mitchell, and my mom tonight which has been a special blessing on this year's trip. Abby sounded a little overwhelmed with Lincoln's upcoming surgery, and the stress of starting a new job, and dealing with sick children. I love and miss my family dearly, and I am beyond grateful that they support this work that I feel so called to do. Looking forward to a nice morning in Jinja tomorrow and some to relax a bit and catch up on some rest.
21: If only we could learn to cherish God's word in the same manner as these precious little children.
24: Thursday June 28 Going to bed at 2 a.m. last night made this morning a bit of a foggy start. It was nice to wake up to pancakes this morning and we were able to head out on schedule at 9:15 for Jinja. Pops, Rebecca, Amy, Melissa, Caitlin, Peggy, Tory, Josephine and I all went together to take in the Nile River and feed some hungry little monkeys. We had to exchange some money first, which delayed our exit out of Kampala but we got a great rate of 2595 shillings to the dollar. I really tried to take in my surroundings today on the way to Jinja, both the beautiful sites and the heartbreaking. The garbage and young toddlers playing just off the edge of the busy roads just breaks my heart. I saw two little boys playing not 5 yards off the main road to Jinja in which we were easily traveling 50 to 60 kilometers an hour. There was not an adult in sight, and these little guys could not have been more than 2 years old. Perhaps this is all a bit relative to the culture around me; like the tree-people in the Amazon, but it saddens me none the less. Uganda is such a beautiful place, both in its people and in its land. I couldn't help but picture how the Fields of Dreams complex would look in the surrounding landscape. At the petrol station a truck pulled up next to us with information about renting earth | moving equipment, a little providence from God perhaps. We didn't arrive at the source of the Nile until around 12:30. Brian was our tour guide for our trip. He did a much better job than our guide last year explaining the wildlife and gave us a nice hour long tour of the birth of the Nile and the Jinja port on Lake Victoria. We spent a good amount of time on the small island where the Nile begins, as it was free of gnats this year. We got to feed the monkeys again which is always a fun time. It was great to see how excited Caitlin, Melissa and Amy were to interact with these cute little guys. I always think about how much fun Gideon and Abel would have seeing these monkeys so up close and personal. WE next headed to The Source for lunch. Melissa and I shared some guacamole and some fresh Lake Victoria tilapia. We left quickly after our late lunch in hopes of arriving back to the city in time to stop by the orphanage for a quick visit before returning to our lodging. Sadly, due to some light rain fall, the darkening night, and the fact that there is no electricity at the orphanage we made the tough decision to head straight to the Adonai House. We quickly got to work organizing the birthday bag materials and took a break to enjoy dinner. We had some good laughs tonight over the horrible smell of the
25: spilled vase water and worked diligently to get everything organized before the rest of our team returned from rafting. The power went out again tonight and they ran the generator until around 11:30 and I am now writing this by the light of my flashlight application on my phone. I had a brief talk with Abby and Gideon today. He was excited to share about a big John Deere tractor that he saw, but we didn't talk for long as we had a poor connection. I hope that Gideon and Abel never resent my love affair with Uganda, and I pray someday that they will share my passion for these people and this land. A random thought for the day that occupied my mind for quite a bit of our driving today; "Do birds recognize poverty?" They obviously migrate and see different parts of the world, I am simply curious if we are the only species that recognizes poverty, filth and garbage, or perhaps the term "bird-brained" is aptly applied. No power tonight means no facebook updates and no fan to cool me off. I pray that I can sleep okay as we have a wonderful day ahead of us tomorrow as we celebrate the children's birthdays and say some very difficult goodbyes. I am so blessed to be sharing this experience with my dad, and I am in awe of his willingness to travel around the world to take part in my passion for Africa.
28: Friday, July 29 Well today was a bit of a roller coaster, and because it was such a long day I am actually writing this a day late, so I hope I can remember things accordingly. This was our last day with the kids at New Kabaale Busega and I have mixed feelings about our time here. I certainly do not feel like I have bonded with any specific children, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have only had two full days and two half days with these awesome little kids. This week has been great, but because of travel delays, our excursion to Blessed Hope, and our rec day, we simply haven't had time to invest in any kind of in depth relationships. Bed day was spent sweating and working, so I shouldn't be surprised that I only learned about 20 or so kids by face and name. It also makes it extremely difficult when so many of the kids do not live here full time. | On a happier note, we got to do some crafts with the kids, and celebrate their birthdays, and I felt like we handled the groups of kids much better as the day went on. It was a lot of fun today watching my father interact with the children. Little Henry seemed to migrate to him throughout the entirety of the day. I was able to spend some special time today with James, Tom and Kevin from Tanzania as well. Josephine made the extra effort to have cakes made for the kids, and it was precious to see them brought in after a long boda boda ride. Our first group of birthday children were the ones that left the school at midday. This group was pure chaos, and we were all a bit taken aback. The kids seemed a bit more grabby, and there were even reports of some older kids trying to take gifts from the younger kids as they left the chapel. A lot of this was our fault as we were not very well organized, but doing the party in shifts has allowed us to split up the items for each class as we have so many more kids than expected. | We next had a little rec time with the kids before we regrouped for lunch. I had fun shooting off the rocket balloons for the kids. It was a lot of fun to watch a flock of kids chasing after each balloon on the rec field. There was one sweet older girl that helped me with each balloon. We were blessed with yet another nice lunch by the staff, that we ate inside the chapel. It is hard to be given so much food day in and day out, knowing that the kids simply get beans and posho every single day. We regrouped following lunch and reorganized our efforts to try and make the rest of the parties much more meaningful for all involved. With Josephine's help interpreting I had the blessing of the addressing the groups one last time and speaking God's truth and love over their lives. The boarders were very respectful and appreciative as they wrote thank you notes. Josephine got a little choked up as all of the kids stood up and quoted Proverbs 3:24 together as a group.
29: The next three shifts of birthday parties went much smoother just like our session with the boarders. The teachers were also extremely appreciative of all the gifts we had brought for them as well. All of the men immediately put on their new hats and the women sang with joy. Ivan specifically thanked me for the world maps for his classroom and how it would make him a better teacher. We had to be really creative with all of our supplies as we were told we would be working with 246 kids and instead saw more than 400 on each day we were present. We simply lined up our luggage filled to the brim with the trinkets and opened certain bags for each group that came through. There was very minor complaints about the boarders not getting the sunglasses by Rose, but not much considering how creative we were forced to become. We next attempted to organize a group photo, and Jake and Natalie presented the school with a new generator so they could have power. We then began to say goodbyes but to our surprise were challenged to a volleyball match by the male staff members. We won the match and it was a fun time as many of the kids cheered our team on to victory. We next started the long process of saying our goodbyes to the children and staff. Many teachers asked for our email addresses and I continue to stand in awe of what a great job these teachers do with such limited resources. Joel was especially grateful and I realized the special friendship we had formed over the course of the week. I am | really impressed with the quality of people working at this school. I received hundreds of hugs and squeezes on the long walk back to the bus, and I felt extremely honored to be a part of this week. Little Kevin actually followed me onto the bus without me realizing it at first. It wasn't until I put my Reds cap on his head that he backed off the bus and stood by my window just staring with a smile on his face. I am reminded that we make more of an impact than we often realize, and hopefully some of these kids have received more hope and love than we will ever know. Another touching moment happened when one of the male teachers pulled me aside before I got on the bus to tell me how much the older boys had enjoyed playing soccer with me days earlier, and he hoped that I would be back to play with them in the future. Perhaps this was a little nod from God that Fields of Dreams is needed. We left the school and made a long drive to Café Roma for our final team dinner together. We enjoyed the wonderful food, fellowship and the added blessing of having Jonathan join us as well. Jonathan shared a very heartfelt thank you to our team for all that we were doing for his country, and Josephine sang for us as well. With Tremise and Hadijah at boarding school, and our late departure from the orphanage, none of their kids were able to join us, as it would have been far too late for Treynon. We got back to Adonai House around 9 p.m. and we enjoyed a
30: wonderful time of affirmation together as a team. I will be forever grateful for the folks at Wilderness Ranch for introducing me to this power gift of encouragement. It was a very touching and moving time, as it always is, but this was magnified as I had the blessing of sharing this time with my dad. It feels so good to be immersed in Christian community on these trips. What a blessing to be a part of this team and a part of this week. Amanda and Peggy have truly become cemented as friends, and I hope to stay in touch with other team members as well. Ashley and Nicole have been extremely encouraging with my vision for Fields of Dreams, along with others. We spent a lot of time just laughing together as a team in the dining area. As Danny Walker and I have talked about, it is tough when we simply dabble in community instead of living in it fully. I am worried that I will struggle with community upon my return, as it seems to happen so naturally on these trips. I had to blog and uploaded a few pictures to facebook, and I don't think I got to bed until around 2 a.m. Thank you God for the wonderful week, and a blessed life to be a part of such wonderful experiences. My pops and the others leave tomorrow so the house will feel pretty empty from this point on unless we get some new guests.
32: More images from Friday
35: We came to serve the least of these, only to find the greatest of these in their place.
36: a part of this incredible culture. It was such a pleasure to meet and connect with Hanifah, and to see the shop where she sews many of the items we sell for Ekisa. I feel much better about what we are doing with Ekisa Designs when I have the joy of meeting the incredible women behind the products. We left a little late for the other market and we had to balance the bag of goods on the handlebars of the boda boda I was riding on for our return trip. We finished up shopping in the markets, and Rose came by with a beautiful selection of the bead work from Acholi Village. We had lunch at Café Java and the "American Food" was comforting, and the fish and chips were excellent. We got back to Adonai House in time for everyone to freshen up and finish packing up their bags. Thankfully my dad and a few others from the Indiana team were able to fit in the supplies I had gathered that day in their checked bags. Amanda and I lead one last team meeting asking folks to highlight what they have gained from this experience. A few of the things that I mentioned were the joy found in going back to Blessed Hope and knowing that we are making a lasting change; and the incredible blessing of Christian community that is so easily formed on these trips. It is amazing how the sharing and openness of friendships on these trips can make so many of my friendships back home seem quite shallow. I love the way the Ugandan people care for one another and how they share their lives in community rather than isolation. I want to work hard at creating true community back at Central upon my return. Serving God is supposed to be joy filled, and I am reminded once again of what that true joy feels like. Laughter has been a large theme of this trip, and I am afraid I am in for some lonely and quiet nights over the coming week. This trip has brought me once again back to what I was made to do, serve through focused community. We loaded up the team bus one last time with everyone and headed for Entebbe. On the | Saturday, July 30 We started of today with a later breakfast and with the hopes of leaving for the market by 10 a.m. As with everything here, we did not leave until closer to 11 so Amanda and Josephine could settle the bill with the staff at the Adonai House. We drove to the Grand Imperial Hotel to exchange our monies and then headed for the market. As the rest of the team shopped at the market, I finally had the thrill of taking my first boda boda ride through downtown Kampala. I was a bit nervous at first, because I got separated from the boda boda Josephine was riding on, and I was a bit afraid of the prospect of ending up somewhere else in the city with no way of contacting anyone in the city. I felt much closer to the city and the people traveling in this way. It felt as if I was able to shed a layer of my mzungu skin and feel a bit more
37: ride Amanda and I talked a lot about our fears for Sweet Sleep, its current lack of organization and lack-luster manner in caring for their volunteers. Poor Amanda did so much for this trip and was forced to do a bulk of it on her own. We talked a bit more about Fields of Dreams, and I invited her to be as involved as she would like in the future. We hauled all of the bags up the steps to Entebbe Airport. Things are a bit different since the terrorist bombings last summer, and you can no longer drive directly up to the departure drop off any longer. We said our goodbyes after folks rushed to the restroom. I had mixed feelings saying goodbye to everyone. On one hand I am extremely excited about the week ahead, but it also feels like an unfinished task to not see the team make it home. I do hope to keep in contact with Peggy, Amanda, Ashley and Jake along with our Indiana team. I really enjoyed talking with Jake on the ride back to the Adonai House. We talked a lot about the persecuted church, I shared my vision for Fields of Dreams, and he openly shared about his life's testimony. Both he and Natalie have such an incredible devotion to God and the things that He loves, and they carry with them a beautiful testimony to God's grace and patience. It seems strange going to sleep tonight without pops as my roommate, although I will not miss his bathroom etiquette. As this grace-filled week comes to an end I am eager to start the next leg of this journey. I am still a bit nervous as Jonathan and I have not really discussed the details of the coming week. I am excited to finally have the opportunity to worship in Uganda tomorrow.
38: Caitlin at the Birthday party | Rebecca blessing the kids | Amy at work with the kids | Uncle John with the children | Melissa teaching Bible 101 | Tory doing what she does best
39: Nicole with Arch Angel | Ashley with Pastor Paul | Jake and his admirers | Peggy and I at the Nile River | Natalie sharing the love | Amanda in her element
40: Sunday, July 31 Another day of blessings in Uganda. I awoke a bit late, but still in plenty of time to have breakfast with the Embry's, and wait for Josephine and Jonathan to arrive. I have really enjoyed have this little bit of extra time to get to know Jake and Natalie and I hope I will have the chance to get together with them in the future in Nashville. Josephine, Treynon and I were dropped off at The House of Prayer just a bit before 10 a.m. Josephine introduced me to the pastor and his wife and everyone made me feel very welcome. Josephine was gracious enough to interpret almost the entire service for me from the beautiful Lugandan language. If I am going to continue to work in Uganda I need to really take the time to learn more of the language in the future. The service started with about 40 minutes of praise time, and I mean jump out of your skin praise time. It was followed by some worship music that was meant to be a bit more centering and then people were invited forward to share their testimonies. Rose, the head teacher from New Kabaale Busega sang on the praise team, and it was affirming to hear her share all that the Sweet Sleep team had done for her school. She shared how she thought that their school and its children had been forgotten by God, but our arrival gave them renewed hope. She also mentioned how some of the more sullen children at the orphanage were now filled with such joy, and she has seen some of them smile for the very first time since the visit by our team. Following the testimony time, the pastor came in and invited Josephine and I forward. She shared about Sweet Sleep and the wonderful work that they do throughout Uganda. I had the opportunity to address the congregation, and I expressed deep gratitude for the great faith of the people and for the sense of Godly community that is ever present in this great nation. I was a bit uncomfortable addressing the nearly 1,000 people, as their seemed to be quite a bit of laughter at my expense, but God is good. The pastor then led quite a bit of worship time and we finished up with about an hour and a half message spoken mainly in Lugandan with a few moments of English. From what Josephine was able to glean for me with her interpreting, the
41: message seemed tailored just for me as he discussed the life of Phillip and how we need to be people with great vision and belief. He asked us all to be patient for our visions, and to surround ourselves with people who will help us achieve the vision that God has given to us. I shared lunch with Josephine, Jonathan and Treynon at Café Java just up the road from where we worshiped. I was able to learn that Josephine lost her father to the war, right in front of her actually, and Jonathan had a brother that never returned from fighting. Jonathan has also lost 2 siblings to AIDS with another HIV+ brother who is living in the city. Josephine's mother lives back in her home village and is "lame," but is still a part of her life. Jonathan's parents are both still living and live near the big stadium. A few things that I want to remember for the service are as follows: 1 - Everyone in the church has a vision book, as the pastor refuses to lead a people without Godly vision. 2 - The joy and honor with which these people praise God make Central look like a morgue, and I would honestly be embarrassed for them to worship with our members. 3 - A women giving her testimony shared about her evil family. They had taken her youngest daughter at birth, tying her up and burning her; however she was able to survive this torture and the woman was there to praise God that her daughter was still living. As evidenced by the sticker on our bus this week, "Say No to Child Sacrifice," the evils in this country are alive and well to a large degree. Following lunch we returned to Adonai House so Jonathan could discuss our itinerary for the rest of the week. Jonathan and Josephine are so confident that this will become a reality and work out for God's glory. In regards to the complex, it seems that sustainability will be much easier than first expected. A complex of the nature we are planning would be the only one of its kind in the city, according to Jonathan and rental fees will be easy to come by. I stand amazed at how hard Jonathan has worked to put all of the meeting in place for this coming week. He has taken my desired itinerary and added to it in some great ways. Tomorrow morning we will meet with the director of Proline Soccer Academy to see how they | operate and get a feel for football in Uganda. We will then meet some folks at Makerere University and some soccer vendors as well. I am a mixture of excitement and ineptness all at the same time, as all of this seems so beyond my capabilities. I am trusting that God will see this vision through unto completion. I moved into Jake and Natalie's room to make space available for a group from Nebraska that will be flying out tomorrow morning. Dinner for one was quite lonely and now that I am eating alone the staff is making up my plates for me, so I hope that I don't offend them in the future if they plate something I don't wish to eat. I was not able to talk with Abby tonight due to a poor connection, but we were able to send a few emails back and forth which was a blessing instead. A few thoughts from today; if I dare call myself a Christian, I must be a person of JOY. I also want to be intentional about creating community at Central through a whole more hugs and African handshakes. Church was meant to be a true community of believers, who had vision for the future, and perhaps it is up to me to create this back home.
42: Monday, August 1 It was nice to wake up and be able to have some company from the Omaha, Nebraska team for breakfast.Meal times are pretty lonely on my own; especially with such a large dining table. Jonathan and Josephine arrived just a bit after 9 a.m. and we headed straight downtown to meet with Mujib Kasule, the manager of Proline Soccer Academy and the connected professional club. I felt honored that he took the time to talk with us and hear the vision that we had for Fields of Dreams. He played college ball at Alabama A & M and knows of the numerous hurdles Uganda has with their lack of training grounds and poor government support. Kasule was a very approachable man and seemed genuinely supportive of our efforts. Proline is one of only two soccer academies in Uganda, but seems to only cater to those that can afford the steep fees for their children. Regardless, both he and his colleagues have great connections, and Rueben, one of his connections, was able to set up a meeting for us at the National Council of Sports. This was pure providence | and Jasper Aligawesa graciously spent time with us blessing our initiate and agreeing to work with us in the future. He gave us some very good leads as well with other schools in Kampala. He suggested we get in touch with the people at the International School of Uganda (a top tier campus for both international and local youth near the airport with a sprawling campus), a man by the name of Richard Stanley from New York who created a Little League baseball complex in Uganda, and he also mentioned a Secondary School by the name of Kitante we may try and visit later this week. Hopefully I can track Richard Stanley down upon my return to the states. We also visited Roofings headquarters and we got some pricing on building materials at Viva General Merchandise as well. Jonathan has gone above and beyond in making appointments with the right people. WE are surely going to have a full and productive week ahead. More than anything it was just nice to get to know Jonathan, Josephine and Uganda better today. I am in awe at how comfortable and desensitized I have become in the city. I did see a boy sleeping in the median of the a very busy street today and it just about stopped my heart. The hurt and brokenness is so rampant, I think you simply become blind to it in order to function. Trying to get quotes on building materials and soccer equipment is as difficult as I had hoped it would not be. Jonathan has a full day booked for us for tomorrow. I think I will read a bit more and then head to bed. The nights are long, quiet and lonely and make me miss Abby and the boys greatly. Josephine, once seeing the beautiful campus of the international School of Uganda, thought that we should move our family here, so she could help care for Gideon and Abel. What precious people God has allowed me the privilege of knowing and becoming such great friends with.
44: began our drive to Watoto Village. All I can say is WOW. Everything at Watoto is first class; the buildings, the grounds, and even the children. We got a much longer tour than expected from a nice young man named Dennis. We toured the shop where they make all of their own furniture, along with the trusses and frames for all of their Watoto properties in all of Uganda. This shop was surprisingly run by a man names Jerry, and his wife, both came from Zanesville, OH about 5 years earlier with a few suitcases of tools and they have never left. We got to see the classrooms, library, computer lab, playing fields, and event walk through the homes that the children and house mothers occupy. There was even a cluster of homes that sat empty, just because groups were willing to help finance and build them before there was need. Watoto has marketed their work beautifully and although needs are | Tuesday, August 2 Another day is in the books here in Kampala, 12 down and only 5 more to go until I get to be reunited with my precious family. Today was another huge step forward for Fields of Dreams, as I got a chance to look at some beautiful land in Buloba, meet with an architect, and take impressive tours of Watoto's Suubi Village and Richard Stanley's Little League Baseball complex. The land we looked at was gorgeous and there was a breathtaking view of the surroundings. We prayed together on the plot of land and declared it the Lord's before our departure. I hope this comes to fruition more than I care to admit. I am sorry that Tyler cannot be here for these types of milestones, but at the same time I wish he would email me back and share in the excitement. Jonathan picked up the tab for lunch today, where we had some local fair at a joint not too far from the main downtown center, just up the road from the main post office. A young architect by the name of David Sebuufu joined us after we had eaten to share a portfolio of his many accomplished projects around Kampala. He is a talented young man and might be a nice balance between Jonathan's desire for simplicity and his own obsession with modern lines and expensive things. We dropped in at Oscar Industries to get some price quotes on exam books for the students. It is amazing how little you can accomplish here in Uganda with so much effort. None of the vendors has a pricing list, and there are often entire offices sharing one pricing catalog. Nothing can be accomplished over the phone, and certainly not online, so we are stuck sitting in traffic driving back and forth across town to hunt down figures on scholastic materials and soccer gear. We left Oscar Industries and
45: much greater at other schools and orphanages throughout Kampala, money and support keeps pouring in because their outcomes speak for themselves. People want to give money or gifts to something that works and is well maintained and cared for over the long run. Fields of Dreams needs to be well done on every level, every aspect of what we do will determine the generosity of others toward our mission. Following our visit of the incredible Watoto complex we decided to drive down the hill and visit the Little League property that Richard Stanley started. The Little League Complex was nice and is used a couple months out of the year. There were large dormitories, two very nice fields, a large outdoor kitchen and dining area and some other office buildings and lodging. Some of it did not seem to be maintained to the highest of degrees, but I don't believe the efforts of this organization is to bring in income but to help teach all of East Africa about baseball. We were able to glean some ideas for our future complex and I truly hope that I can get connected with Mr. Stanley upon my return to learn from his efforts and possibly seek out some donors as well. We did not get back to the Adonai House until around 7 p.m. I got to talk with Abby and my folks tonight which was very nice. Another full day tomorrow, so I shall read a bit and then get some rest.
46: Images from Watoto's Suubi Village in Kampala, Uganda
48: Wednesday, August 3 I have certainly missed my family throughout this journey, but today was my first notion of homesickness. I woke up to another solitary breakfast and quiet morning and then walked just down the street to Super FM 88.5 to meet with Rueben the soccer analyst. Jonathan and I had to wait a bit for his arrival and we had a honor of talking with another woman that worked at the station about our vision for Fields of Dreams. We spent about 30 or 40 minutes talking with Rueben, and while I appreciate his insights, he seems to care much more about dollar signs than he does orphans. He is well connected and a very kind man to meet with us, but I am uncertain if he truly grasps what we are trying to accomplish. WE then sat in traffic for what seemed like forever to get some scholastic material quotes from PicFair. I am still amazed at the inefficiency and lack of resources at these large corporations. Jonathan had misplaced his wallet, so we unfortunately had to back track through the city to see if he had left it at the radio station, but to no avail. We next headed to Makerere University to talk with someone in the Sports and Recreation Department. This is the University that Jonathan attended and one that is considered a leading school in | Uganda. Hopefully the women we met with by the name of Namsole, will email me upon my return with all of the pricing specifics that we discussed. She was a very nice women, but similar to the National Council of Sports offices, I am in awe of the disrepair of the offices as what is supposed to be a top University in the country. Jonathan and I ate at the local eatery once again downtown near the Post Office. The local food is good, but I am getting excited for some American fair, in all actuality what I am craving most right now is a glass of cold milk. Oh the strange things that you miss. Jonathan and I next made our way tot he Edgar Youth Programme headquarters to meet with a very nice gentlemen who shared what there program was currently doing, how they are funded, and learn from some of the current struggles that they are facing. The academy was started by Edgar Watson, a former professional footballer who played for the Ugandan National Team back in his prime. This organization is somewhat more closely related to what we hope to do, at least in respect to Proline, but we are most definitely attempting to meet different needs in the community. We are going to head to one of their practices on Saturday, so I can see the nuts and bolts of what they are accomplishing with the children they are working with.
49: We then cruised (ever so slowly) back over to the National Council of Sports to pick up Jasper and a few of his colleagues to visit the Kitante High School. This meeting was with the head teacher, Rose Izizinga a secondary school of about 1,500 students in the heart of the city in the Kololo district. Rose was very eager to hear my ideas and she seemed genuinely excited at the possibility of a partnership with Fields of Dreams. Partnering with a government school makes me very nervous, but it beat raising 250,000 dollars to purchase a plot of land. A partnership with Kitante would most likely be a last resort for our headquarters, but I do think it would be very smart of us to partner with them as a build site in the early stages of our work in Uganda to curry some favor with the government. Following this meeting, we picked up Josephine downtown and headed back to the Adonai House. We sat on the front porch and chatted for about an hour about the progress that we have made thus far, and God's sovereignty to see this dream through to its completion. This extra laid back time with Josephine and Jonathan, just sitting and dreaming together, was by far the highlight of my day. They are beyond encouraging and believe so greatly in what we are trying to do through Fields of Dreams. | I had another broken conversation with Abby tonight. It is frustrating to have the poor quality of calls, however what a blessing to just hear her voice this year. Poor Abel is not dong so hot health wise, and I feel and I feel bad that I am not there to help out. I spent the evening alone reading, journaling and sending out emails. The generator is on once again, so it means another hot sticky night once they kick it off for the evening. I am looking forward to visits to AGL and Blessed Hope tomorrow to see the kids, and to hear Joshua and Joel's response to all that we are planning. Only 3 more days and I will begin my journey home.
50: Thursday August 4 I have officially been away from my family for two weeks; along with El Charro, air conditioning, television, church meetings, Dr. Pepper, stress, and did I mention church meetings. Judging by how comfortable I feel in Kampala, and the fact that I am finally beginning to identify numerous landmarks in the city, I would officially say that I am officially becoming part Ugandan. I do truly love it here, primarily because of the people and the true time they take to get to know one another, and the love in which they care for one another. I will certainly be ready to head home in a couple of days, but I am really going to deeply miss Jonathan and Josephine, the purpose I find here, the encouragement surrounding my dreams, and the care free way of life. We have been drastically late for every single meeting, save one, and it has not seemed to matter one bit. I feel more calm here, more at peace in this culture, but a lot of that could do with the fact that I am free of duty and responsibility and the many things that I am forced to say yes to at Central. Today was a mixed bag of emotions. It is always a joy to be reunited with these precious kids, and also sad when one of them is absent. I am discovering as I mentioned earlier that any time I get to see one of these precious children for a second time I need to consider it pure | grace. Not to get to far ahead of myself I want to start at the beginning of my day. I enjoyed a quiet breakfast, and I have really enjoyed easing into my day with some time spent reading. Jonathan and Josephine arrived around 9:30 a.m. and we proceeded downtown to Asiatic Sports and back to Katumwa Sports for some pricing quotations. I am still uncertain on whether bringing in sports equipment verses buying over priced knockoffs isn't a better method when it comes to the soccer equipment. It will be a tough call down the line, one in which Tyler and I will have to weigh all of the options. We then started the long journey to AGL with the unfortunate knowledge that one of the soccer balls that I had purchased as a gift for the kids would not take air. IT means we would have to come back into the heart of the city before making our way out to Blessed Hope later in the day. It was nice being back at Africa Greater Life. Joseph immediately found me, he has grown much bigger, but he looked dirtier than normal, as did all of the children. Little Mike is no longer at AGL and I unfortunately did not learn much about his health or whereabouts. We next found Joshua and entered a room to discuss Fields of Dreams, any prospects of local land, and a future partnership as one of the early model partner schools. Joshua was so encouraging and committed on the spot to be one of our model partner schools in 2013. He gave some good advice of starting small
51: in Uganda next summer to build some noise and earn the trust of the people, and I am convinced that we need to host a small tournament next year to get some good publicity and build momentum. We talked with Joshua for around an hour as it poured down rain outside. I am so excited for Fields of Dreams right now, it is one thing for Tyler and I to believe in this, and even other Americans to be excited, but to see the genuine excitement by those that will benefit most from this organization is pure grace and an affirmation for everything that we are working towards. One of the toughest moments of this trip took place following our time with Joshua. I gave the kids the soccer ball and net ball that I had brought for them and got to talk with Amos and Joseph for a little bit. I took some pictures for some of my Nashville friends of kids they wanted to check on, and I was then made aware by Josephine that there was a sick widow on campus. Joseph's grandmother, Pascazia, had been sick for months and was sent away from the hospital a few weeks earlier to die. She was covered in bed sores and could not weigh much more than 65 pounds. Other than Jean I have never seen someone so emaciated. She was laying on a foam mat with sheets pulled over her while dozens of flies hovered over her body. I prayed over her life and spirit and then had the blessing of talking with her a little bit. I told her that I was here to once again look in on her grandson Joseph, and instead of bitterness or anger she shared with me words of gratitude for caring for her family. I have never felt more unworthy of gratitude my entire life. No one should have to die like that, and yet Pascazia is one of missions that have met a similar ending here in Africa. We then said our goodbyes to the kids and Pastor Joshua and had a muddy, sobering drive back into the city. We skipped lunch today do to time constraints, grabbed a new soccer ball and headed right for Blessed Hope. We passed by the land in Buloba off of Mitanya Road and I could just picture the Fields of Dreams | I learned that Pascazia joined our Heavenly Father two weeks after I arrived home in Evansville.
52: Complex set-up there, but not for 36 million shillings an acre. Upon our arrival at Blessed Hope we met with Pastor Joel, his son Richard, Dennis the school administrator, and also one of the head teachers. Do to our late arrival I gave them the quick version of our plans, and we were once again greeted with much encouragement and excitement. Pastor Joel, like Joshua, pledged his support immediately and his desire to be a model partner in 2013. He also told us that he would assist us, as did Joshua, with finding us some cheaper land options as well. Following our meeting I got to play baseball with the kids for a bit, but sadly did not take many pictures because I was so engrossed in the moment and having such a good time with the children. I received numerous letters from William, Livingstone, Joseph and sweet little Gilbert. The kids at Blessed Hope shall always hold a special place in my heart. Upon my return to the States I would like to find a way to pay for Livingstone's secondary school tuition if at all possible. We drove home and I was happy to have a team from So. California staying at the house for the night. I was able to chat at length with a couple of young journalism students who have lived up north for the past 3 months. It is nice to have some noise and life around me in the evenings once again. Hopefully I can talk with Abby on her drive back to Evansville tonight.
53: Friday August 5 My time in Uganda has almost come to an end, and this was a great day in many respects as things wrap up. My day started with a shared breakfast with the folks from Orange County. It was nice to have some fellowship over a meal once again, in some ways it just makes the food taste better. Jonathan and Josephine did not arrive until after 10 a.m. due to some traffic issues so I had some extra time to spend in "God's Economy" which is a very thought provoking read. I hopped in the car, and with Charles behind the wheel we headed straight to a bank to exchange some money and then on to the "Widow's Market." This is the market where Hanifah rents a permanent stall, and on Friday's the entire courtyard is filled with vendors trying to make a livings selling baskets, jewelry and other crafts. The colors, crafts, and eager sellers made the environment pretty electric. I simply could not stop buying items from the grateful vendors and at times it was a blessing to simply hand out some shilling notes to those that I could not buy from, as I new my luggage would be at the maximum weight limit. Jonathan, Josephine and even Charles were a great help in the market, transporting items back to the vehicle and getting me a good deal on things. Everyone was so gracious and appreciative and I can't wait until we can better organize Ekisa Designs and find a market-place for their goods. Next, I took our little team of four out for a lunch that Charles got to choose. It was definitely | local food at its finest. Everything was wonderful, although I am pretty sure that I could not have handled Josephine's dish, beef covered in a peanut sauce. Charles ate like a true local using no silverware and eating every ounce of his food with gusto. FOllowing lunch we headed east toward Jinja to visit Vision for Africa. On our way I got a surprise as we stopped by to visit the home where Jonathan grew up, and I had the honor of meeting his mother, bed ridden father, and one of his sisters as well. I don't know if Jonathan will ever know what an honor it was for me to meet his family and for him to show me such an intimate and personal side of his life. We arrived at Vision for Africa after 4 p.m. and had the privilege of sitting with its founder, Maria Priam. Mama Maria shared the humble beginnings of this incredible organization, talked about her 3 beautiful Ugandan children she has adopted, and shared at length all of the incredible things God is doing through this ministry. They now support over 5,000 students throughout Uganda with their school fees, and they have a campus that rivals the YMCA of the Rockies. It is amazing what God can do through our dreams when we lay them down at His feet, and Vision for Africa is living proof. It was an honor to meet this feisty 73 year old women from Austria and I hope and pray that we will be able to partner our visions together in some way in the future. With both Watoto and Vision for Africa I have seen things done to perfection in
54: Christ and it is a beautiful site. We did not leave the incredible complex until after 6 p.m. It almost felt like we went to the white house and got a tour by the president. Maria was so gracious with her time, and was proud to show us all of the wonderful things they were doing. From the immaculate hotel grounds and swimming pool, to the new pastry school that was being constructed it is obvious that Maria has true vision. We still had yet to meet up with Rose, so we headed to Acholi Village as the darkness descended upon Kampala. Dark had fallen as we arrived and it was extremely surreal to walk the back alleys of this make-shift community and be welcomed into Rose's house. I walked through the narrow alleys and did not once feel unsafe as only the glow of candles and lanterns illuminated the windows and games of dice the men were playing in the streets. One site that will forever remain with me was of a couple holding hands and going on what seemed like a date as we first arrived in this community. It was as if they were taking an evening stroll on their favorite beach totally engrossed in one another, and it was confirmation that even God lives in this place. This is Uganda, these are her people. This extra week has allowed me to shed layer after layer of Mzungu skin and in some ways experience true Uganda. I am forever blessed. Due to running out of gas, and crazy traffic we did not arrive back at the Adonai House until after 9 p.m., and bless Jonathan and Josephine as they still had to return to their home as well. I quickly ate dinner, packed all of the goods from the market and made some phone calls. I chatted with my mom for a bit and finally had a great conversation with Abby. I can tell she is a bit overwhelmed with the youth job and I am excited to offer my support upon my return. Youth ministry is going to help me transition back into "church-land," as it will give me the opportunity to dream. Talking with Abby tonight, it felt good to tell her that Uganda is our future without a doubt, and that this week as affirmed my convictions and my dreams with clarity that I did not think possible. On a side note, a few funny things from today: Rose's youngest son is named Billy Graham, and I saw a car-full of me eating corn on the cob as they were driving tonight, and I just know John Bungard would love that without a doubt. I hope and pray that I have numerous opportunities to share Uganda with my family and friends in the future.
55: The beautiful grounds of Vision for Africa.
56: A few sights from the market, my meals, and Acholi Village.
57: Saturday, August 6 I am writing this journal entry from the Brussels Airport as I await my flight back to the States in about another 4 1/2 hours. I have officially left Uganda, and a large portion of my heart remains with Jonathan and Josephine. It was a good final day in Uganda, bittersweet in many ways. Jonathan and I took boda bodas into the city to observe training for both Proline Soccer Academy and the Edgar Watson Youth Programme. I am still shocked by Proline's lack of professionalism, it seems as if they love the game of soccer, but don't have the tools to train and encourage the youth properly. The training ground is so poor, and I am shocked that professional clubs train in such ways. There was little instruction from the coaches, many of the wealthier kids seemed to arrive whenever they wanted, and there was no water or refreshments for any of the kids or adults when their training ended. We hopped on a couple more boda bodas and went to the training ground at the Makerere Business College to check on how Edgar Watson ran his program. What a difference, these kids were well coached and | you could tell there was a genuine care for these kids that was absent at Proline. In some ways it could have been a bunch of American kids at practice on a Saturday morning. The biggest issue with both of these organizations is that these programs only exist for the kids that can afford the steep fees and the transportation to get to the training grounds. As Jonathan has said a million times over, what Fields of Dreams is attempting to offer is unique and so needed here in Uganda. Following the practices we walked a bit and then hopped in a local taxi to head to Pic Fair to pick up the quotes on all of the scholastic materials that I was supposed to have received through email. With the strength of the dollar and many things at the market being much cheaper than expected I transfered quite a bit of money back into US dollars to ensure we have enough money to pay the Foundation Group upon my return to the states. After this we arrived at the taxi park to hop a ride out to Josephine and Jonathan's new home. The main downtown taxi park is organized chaos at its best, and I would be beyond lost if I had to navigate this on my own without Jonathan's help. After a bit of a wait and a long drive we
58: stepped out near Bunk Hill College at the foot of a large hill where Josephine and Jonathan have recently moved. I felt extremely honored to be welcomed into their home. I was immediately given a huge welcome hug by Treynon, and shown the wedding albums, which brought much pride to Josephine and Jonathan. Josephine cooked an incredible meal for us to share, but oddly Irene (Josephine's youngest sister) and Annette (Jonathan's niece) who both live with them at on the floor of the living room with Treynon. I was given an Orange Novida and a bottled water with my dinner; the art of hospitality is extremely rich here. Following our wonderful meal we listened to some more worship music on my phone so I could write down some titles for Jonathan to try to find to support Josephine's deep love of music. I gave them a small gift: a journal my mom had sent with me, a photo of Gideon and Abel and some funds to continue to help with Fields of Dreams upon my departure. When Jonathan read the inscription in the front of the notebook he had to leave the room to compose himself. I have truly come to love Josephine and Jonathan as family, and it brings me peace to know that they will remain a large part of my future. | Josephine and I made the journey back to the Adonai House by way of taxi's and boda bodas. I had to say goodbye to little Treynon, and it was so cute how he wanted to travel with me back to America. I hope and pray that Gideon, Abel and Treynon can create real friendships in the future. I quickly showered and finished up my last bit of packing. Jonathan and Josephine along with a very aggressive drive picked me up just before 5:30 p.m. and we headed toward Entebbe with a plan to eat along the way. We stopped at Nicky's Pizza about 8 km from the airport and enjoyed a great dinner in the waining sunlight. We enjoyed the fellowship of one final meal together filled with laughter and further hopes of what God has planned for this wonderful friendship that has developed over the past 3 years. It was hard saying goodbye to Josephine and Jonathan at the airport, but I know that I shall see them again this coming summer if not before. I had some issues in Entebbe with my tickets and my luggage was a bit overweight, but after shifting some items and receiving a hand written ticket the journey home officially began. Oh if I could just snap my fingers and be home with my precious family it couldn't be soon enough.
60: Sunday, August 7 I am officially home and in the presence of my incredible family. It was so wonderful to see Abby and the boys waiting for me at the Louisville airport. Abel was so sweet, it just kept saying Daddy on the entire ride home, and gave me lots of hugs and kisses. Although I was completely exhausted I was able to muster up enough energy to unpack my bags and look through all of the treasures I brought back with me. What a joy to give Gideon, Abel and Abby their letters from the kids at Blessed Hope, show them numerous videos and photos on my phone, and deliver the thoughtful gifts from Josephine and Jonathan. Gideon was especially impressed with the Cheetah paw print that I brought back for him. I am beyond blessed and once again forever changed by yet another journey to the Heart of Africa and back. There is much to be done as I continue the path that God is leading me down, that keeps leading me back to Uganda. Abby and the boys are so supportive of where I feel called to help, and I am one lucky man. I dream of the day that the four of us can pack our bags together so they can fall in love with the people and the land that is Uganda as well.