“For you created my innermost being…”

Kitega Community Centre

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to write about the Kitega Center (http://www.kitegacc.org). It is possibly my favorite place that we visited in Uganda. Those children were so precious to me, and I think it took me a long time to process what I saw there. I am still processing, but I am also remembering which is why I think it is time to finally write and share about it. While preparing for this trip, the Kitega Center was the one that kept coming back to my mind. I was so anxious and excited for this place in particular. The center takes in kids who have been rejected and cast out by their communities. This whole trip was about the orphans rejected by society, the most vulnerable, but these kids were considered even less than the other orphans we met. Most of them weren’t even orphans. They were rejected because they were born with special needs. These kids were not seen as valuable or as having a worthwhile future. Some were turned out from their homes and families. Others were hidden from society because the family didn’t want the rest of the community to know that they had a child with special needs. Others were denied food and clothing so that more could be spared for the other members of the family. The center deals with cases like this and many more. They go out into the community and search for these children. They offer them a place, a refuge, where they are accepted just as they are. The center gives them food, water, clothing, tutors, and most of all, the love that they so desperately crave. The most vulnerable are taken in and shown that they are loved and cherished by the One who created them. The Kitega Center offers hope to the children who had none, joy even in the saddest situation, faith that the community will one day accept them. The work that the Kitega Center is doing does not stop here. They offer support to the families and teach them how to better take care of their children. They reach out to the community to show them that these children are precious and should not be outcasts. They are a light in a very dark place.

Our time at the Kitega Center was very short because it was far away from where we were staying. The short time did not prevent us from attaching to the children and drying our tears when we left. There were about twenty children at the center when we arrived, and they greeted us with laughter, songs, and the biggest smiles we had seen in Uganda. We sang songs with them and then did face painting, balloon animals, coloring, bubbles, fingernail painting, and much more. I played with a little boy named David (yes, we met a lot of David’s) whose smile and joy I still remember. He was about five or six and loved my camera! At first, I would take pictures and then show them to him. Then he wanted to take the pictures. So I put the shoulder strap around both of us, picked him up, and then walked around so he could take pictures. He used hand motions to tell people where to stand and then moved the camera around to get the best angle. It was so cute and he absolutely loved it! I was ready to take him home with me. I know he is going to be a photographer someday. God has given him a purpose and a future because no matter what his community has said, he IS worth it, he IS precious, and he IS loved.

David 🙂

This was a lesson in seeing everyone through God’s eyes, and I am so thankful for the ones who taught me this lesson – a joyful little boy, and all of the workers and volunteers at Kitega Center who work hard every day to bring the best future possible to the children in their community.

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The Rescue Run

The team got back from Uganda almost two months ago, but our journey is still not over. We are still following God’s lead and learning how to become a better advocate on behalf of the fatherless. We have an opportunity to do that in a couple months by participating in the World Orphans Rescue Run! This 5k race is a chance for us to raise money for all of those wonderful children that we met in Uganda and all the other children that World Orphans supports. If you would like to help us reach our team’s fundraising goal then you can donate on our team page on the Rescue Run website. Or you can join our team and run/walk with us on October 13th in Castle Rock!

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Playing Soccer with the Future of Uganda

On our second day at Watoto Village, we played “football” with some of the older kids. This village actually had a good sized soccer field with goal posts. We divided the teams and played mezungu and skins against shirts. We all had so much fun, even though the kids were running circles around us. The whole time that we were playing and the rest of our time in the Village, I just kept thinking, “We are playing soccer with the future leaders of Uganda!” It was quite humbling to think about that, but it is absolutely true. We were told that the school at Watoto is one of the best in Uganda. All of the children we met spoke English fluently, demonstrated their vast knowledge even on subjects like American politics, were so polite and courteous, and showed a strong faith in Jesus.

Watoto Village does not allow international adoptions because they want to encourage their children to live in Uganda and help make their home a better place. All of their students finish secondary school (which is our high school) and then they either become an apprentice of some trade or they are sponsored to go to a university. All of this education is to help them have a better future. They faced impossible situations when they were left as orphans, but can look with hope toward the future because of the opportunities that Watoto Village has made available to them. They can dream dreams that they never thought possible. They can become something that never would have crossed their minds.

The future of Uganda as a country now rests in the hands of these children. They have so much potential to affect their country and the world. They will be able to make changes for the better.

On a hot June day, a bunch of white kids were able to kick a ball around, laugh, and play with the people that will be the future leaders of Uganda. That’s pretty amazing. 🙂

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Worship Service at Dove Church

These posts will be a little out of order, so sorry. This one is about the first church service we went to which was at Dove Church. 🙂

Nobody does church like the Ugandans. The service was filled with so much joy and passion that it was impossible not to see God working and moving among the people. The service lasted over three hours, but we could have stayed there all day singing and worshiping with God’s people. When the team arrived, a member of the congregation had already started a Bible study. She shared from Job and Isaiah, and Pastor Davis translated into English for us. She spoke about standing with God even in times of trouble. Even if one foot is slightly off the path, we will fall. We must stand completely with God because it is only then that we are strong. God holds us up and gives us strength to keep from falling. God allows us to pass through difficult times so that we may be strengthened and will be brought closer to Him. God promises that He will not leave us as orphans, but He will always be with us. So we wait upon the Lord and be patient through our suffering. We must stand in the suffering we are in, knowing that it will not last forever because Jesus is already victorious, and one day He will wipe away all our tears.

The Bible study portion was followed by the youth choir and children’s choir singing songs. Three people gave testimonies about what God had been doing in their lives, then the adult choir led more worship songs for the whole congregation.

the youth choir singing Here I am to Worship

The songs were so lively and passionate. People were on their feet dancing, clapping, shouting, lifting hands, singing, weeping, moving, bending their knees and bowing their heads. So many emotions in one room and so much movement of the Spirit. I cannot imagine a more joyful celebration! If these amazing people had been there to witness the site of Jesus’ empty tomb, this is what the celebration would have sounded like.

But who were these people, the members of Dove Church? They were just common people living in the bush of Uganda. They were people struggling to find and keep jobs in a corrupt system. They were people trusting that God would provide for their families, believing that God would give them each day their daily bread. They were people fighting diseases, sufferings, loss, and poverty that we, wazungu, could never even imagine. Yet they were still raising up their voices to bring glory to their Heavenly Creator. We stood together with them in the same church, praising and worshiping the same God. How blessed we are to be a part of the same body!

it's worship time!

This is the part about Dove Church that I remember the most and hope to never forget. I also wish that more western churches could be like this — unafraid and unashamed to just shout to God for joy or to moan and weep in despair.

The rest of the service included welcoming the wazungu, where we shared some of our own songs, Pastor Davis’ sermon, more singing, and greeting each other at the end. God has already blessed this church and this community, but I pray that He continues to provide for them and build up strong leaders like Pastor Davis so that they can fully accomplish the mission and vision that God has placed on their hearts.

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Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

These are verses that David shared with us at lunch in one of the many homes in Watoto Village. He said that this is his favorite verse because it encourages him. I was also encouraged hearing those words and standing in the midst of such beauty. I can’t even describe how different Watoto was. God has certainly done abundantly more than anyone ever asked or thought.

Watoto village has about 1000 orphans that live in homes of eight children and one mother. They grow up in a family style setting with lots of love and care. There is also a school and small medical center on the property. It sits on top of a hill so the view from every side was breath taking. The visionaries of Watoto have really made a place of peace, safety, and joy for these children.

There are a couple different villages, one other in Kampala that we will visit tomorrow, and one in northern Uganda. The one we visited today is called Suubi which means hope.

We spent the morning in the babies home where we were overwhelmed by smiles and joy. We were thrilled to see babies with diapers on! There was also a much better ratio of caretakers to babies. It was simply amazing. (Sorry parents, I’m afraid some of the team members might not be coming home right away 😉 )

God has truly had a hand in this ministry and we are all so blessed to have been a part of it. We are all excited for tomorrow when we will be in the village with the older children.

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Hey everybody! James here! Thank you all so much for your prayers! We have been so so so blessed by our time here and the very beautiful people we have met! I get this giddy feeling when I think about summarizing what we’ve done already.
We had the priveledge of visiting the Naguru Reception Center. The center provides a necessary temporary home for children who are found on the streets and cannot articulate where they are from. They receive the kids from the police, or sometimes they are left at the gate.
There are 7 caretakers for about 130 kids, so the kids are quick to show affection although that seems to be a trend among all Ugandans. Once again football proves to be the quickest way for us to get to know the kids and gain instant friendships. My heart sings for joy! The kids there do not face favorable situations but they show incredible hope, the likes of which we did not expect.

Thanks again for all your prayers (mom) we could not do any of this without it.

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He will make a way!

David plays the same worship songs each day in the van. The very first one that we hear says, “God will make a way, when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way.” These words have been true for this team from the very beginning, back in September of last year. It is still true for us, but it is also true for the wonderful place and people that we were able to spend the last three days with. Grace Foundation has now started five churches, two children’s centers, and one medical center. Dove children’s home currently houses 12 orphans. They live on the church property with their caretaker, Emily, in a family style setting. We went to the church service today and were so blessed to be a part of such lively, energetic and deeply passionate worship. Pastor Davis and his wife, Grace, are incredible people with huge hearts. It was awesome to hear about their mission and their vision.
There is so much more I could say about Dove Church but will have to stop because of time. We were all very sad to leave there today.

Some prayer requests for Dove Church:

They are hoping to build another clinic
The building for the second children’s home still isn’t finished. The caretakers and some of the children sleep on a dirt floor in a room without doors or windows. It costs about $200 for the floor in one room
Pastor Davis and Grace are hoping to set up a sponsorship program for the kids
Encouragement and strength for all of the teachers and caretakers
That the mission and vision of Grace Foundation will be realized. (God will make a way)
Blessings on Pastor Davis, Grace, and their children, Timothy, Caleb, Esther, Mercy, and Julia

more info about Grace Foundation can be found here.

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shout out

This post is for our incredible driver, David Baba. He has been guiding us, directing us, and answering all of our questions, no matter how ridiculous they may be. He is alwys concerned for us and has our best interest in mind. He has been protecting us even when we didn’t know we needed protection. Everyone can rest easy because we are in good hands.
He is from Arua in northern Uganda, but he came down to Kampala specifically to be our driver for these two weeks. His wife and two children live in Arua. David is a leader in his home church and ministers to orphans, widows, and street children.
We are so blessed to have him as our guide and we pray that God richly blesses him, his family and his ministry.

His wife is Justine. His five year old son is Joshua Prosper. His daughter is Jolly Easter and is one year and two months.
The ministry in Arua is called International Rural Impact Ministries

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Jesus Never Fails

After 42 hours of travel, one lunar eclipse, three sunrises, two sunsets, and five airports, the team finally arrived at Red Chilli Hideaway in Kampala, Uganda. We were all exhausted but felt completely at peace when we got to Uganda. God has been working in this team for the last few months and we pray that He cntinues to work in us and through us. The words posted on our van that go before us anywhere we go are “Jesus Never Fails.” That is our constant reminder while on this trip. Jesus never fails, so His mission for this trip will be accomplished. We are so blessed to be here!

Yesterday and today were spent at Sanyu Babies Home. They take in orphaned and abadoned babies ages 0-4 years old. Right now they are taking care of 47 of the most precious and adorable children. All of them were eager to hold our hands and give us hugs. We all loved playing with the kids, but we were also able to help out the workers by doing laundry, cleaning toys, and helping with feeding and changing. Sanyu is completely based on donations.

Some prayer requests for Sanyu:
the babies will continue to be well cared for
the workers will experiene peace and rest
continued support through donations and volunteers
they need money to build a new wall to keep the babies safe
health and safety for all of the babies as they grow up
that the babies will grow up knowing that they are children of God and they are loved by Him

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We are also collecting donations of suitcases or luggage that we can carry all of our other donations in. Then we can leave the bags there and not have to check anything on the way home. Thanks!

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