Uganda Fall Update #1

September 9, 2017

Traveling to Africa is always a test of endurance. It’s one of those things in life that I just have to get through in order to go to where I want to go.  It’s never fun, but the results are always amazing. 

Our team of 10 left Mishawaka around 11:30am on Thursday to drive up to O’Hare airport in Chicago. The traffic was light, the check-in process was fairly smooth (even though Candace didn’t actually have a ticket, but the airline worked it out), and we arrived at our gate with plenty of time to spare. We flew 8 hours to Amsterdam, had a wonderful breakfast, and then flew the remaining 9 ½ hours to Entebbe, Uganda. We arrived in Entebbe around 10pm on Friday night (7 hour time difference), but didn’t get through immigration with our bags until around 11:30pm. The good news was that someone from the hotel was there to pick us up and take us to the hotel. (It’s always nice to see your name on one of those signs!) Most of us didn’t get settled into our beds until almost 1am, which made the 5am alarm even that more difficult to wake up to.

We got ready, had a quick breakfast, left the “team suitcases” at the hotel to be transported by bus (since they were so heavy), took our “personal suitcases” and boarded the taxi’s to arrive back to the airport by 7am.  Once at the airport we realized that Karen’s personal suitcase was left behind as one of the “team suitcases” and wouldn’t arrive until Sunday afternoon, she was a real team player and just rolled with the punches with a great attitude!
The flight from Entebbe (Southern Uganda) to Arua (Northern Uganda) was only 1 ½ hours and went extremely smooth.  When we landed we were greeted by Pastor Stanley and loaded up our team and our luggage to drive to the YWAM base. Pastor Stanley told me that the 17 high school boys were going to have to leave for their boarding school the next day (Sunday) and that if we wanted to see them, we should go now. This was a major change of plans since we were all exhausted and the original plan was to settle into the YWAM base, get lunch, unpack, rest, and make plans for the week. Instead, we arrived at YWAM, unloaded our suitcases, grabbed some snacks and water, found the children’s art projects (which thankfully were packed in our “personal suitcases”, and took off for the refugee camp! This was another 1 ½ - 2 hours of bouncing around in our cars to get there. At one point, the mud on the road was so bad that there was a dump truck that was stuck, but we were able to get through anyway.

We finally arrived at the Dreamland and were greeted with cheers, handshakes, and hugs! It is always so good to see after such a long journey, it’s why we come each year! The children welcomed us and showed us around their new dormitories. They are so nice! The last time I was here in December, they had just moved into their new temporary tent homes, and this time they had recently just moved into their new dormitory buildings. They were packed with bunk beds and children, but they are so much better than the tents. The tents are incredibly stuffy and hot, but these were much cooler with their steel roofs and cement floors. What an improvement! Thank you, Vineyard, for your donations to REACH and your generosity at Art for the Heart of Africa. Those funds paid for these new buildings!

It was around 1pm and we wanted to leave around 4pm to get back in time for dinner at YWAM, so we quickly set up tables and benches to prepare for the art project. We rounded up the 17 high school boys and Katie taught them a bible lesson before Christie taught them their art project. The boys did a fantastic job with their art project. You definitely want to come see them this year at Art for the Heart of Africa (Friday, November 3). Christie told me that it was very quiet in there, so she turned on some worship music on her phone and the boys just loved it! They were humming and singing along and saying “Amen!” to the lyrics as the songs played.

While this was going on, the rest of us were playing with the children and looking through the camp. Dickson is one of the boys who is responsible for the “warehouse”, which is full of food and a few tools. In South Sudan, he was responsible for all the Dreamland tools, but they had to leave them behind when they quickly escaped from the war.  We are hoping to “resupply” his tools before we leave this week!
It was also really good to see work being done on a new cafeteria for the children, which might double as a church building when it is finished. Again, The Vineyard Church financially made this new building possible!

The time came to finish the project, but the boys weren’t finished. So we didn’t wrap up until close to 5pm.  We said our goodbye's, loaded up the finished art projects and headed back to Arua. We arrived back at the base a little before 7pm, took showers, had a nice dinner of eggs and rice and settled in for the night.Tomorrow (Sunday) we hope to have a church service with the children and then return to the YWAM base to hopefully receive our team luggage so that we can get organized for the week.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we hope to have a church service with the children and then return to the YWAM base to hopefully receive our team luggage so that we can get organized for the week.

Thank-you for your prayers and your support, these children would be in a much more difficult place if it wasn’t for all of you! God bless!