Sunday, May 15, 2016

When President Pistole brings you to meet the US Ambassador to Uganda

Hello! It's been an eventful last couple of days. I only have time to write one story of many that have occurred because it's currently 1 AM and we are leaving to travel to The Village tomorrow which will consist of us pitching our own tents and encountering many different bugs and animals 😆

Although I've had my fair share of bugs! I noticed a lot of bright red bumps on my arms that weren't swelling like mosquito bites so I had my host check out my bed just to be sure they weren't bed bug bites. Turns out that he didn't think there were bugs in the mattress, but instead they were infested in the wooden frame of my bed and then making their way into the bed. He fixed the problem right away with an entire new bed. However, along with the hungry mosquitos here and bed bugs, my arms and legs are quite bitten up. 👍🏼
With that being said...I'll start where I left off in the last blog. On Friday morning my team and I had a very rare opportunity to meet the US Ambassador to Uganda at the US Embassy in the city where we are staying in of Kampala. 

We were given this opportunity because of our team member, AU's President John Pistole's (PJP) extensive work with the government. He asked to have a brief meet and greet with the US Ambassador when he was in Uganda and also invited us to join him. 

Prior to the scheduling of this meeting, the Ugandan president was inaugurated just the day before we met with the US Ambassador, so it was a very busy time for the embassy. (There was a lot of drama that happened during this inauguration, you can look it up if you're interested in reading) Anyways, the embassy was gorgeous and the security was almost as intense as airport security...we couldn't even bring our phones in! 

However, Ambassador Malac talked and discussed with our team for about an hour and a half! We had great discussions with her about her previous work serving as the US Ambassador to Libya just a year ago during the Ebola crisis. We really enjoyed listening to her speak about the behind the scenes work that she did during the massive outbreak and what she did to protect the US citizens in the country at that time. 

PJP said that the meeting was NOT what he expected in a GREAT way. He expected that the Ambassador would come in to meet and greet the team for only 15 minutes because of other work they must do. PJP said that he was very impressed with the hospitality and genuine interest that she had in our team and the discussion. So that was a successful visit! 

In summary over the last two days, our team has been spending most of our time at Kasubi Church where the Church of God Headquarters are! It's been a great week & I can't wait to see what this next one will bring! 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

This one's for Africa

Hello friends and family!!

I've lost sight of America's shores once again this year, and this time I am writing from AFRICA! I still have to pinch myself sometimes because I can't believe that I'm actually here! 

Earlier this year when I was talking to my mom about how I wanted to travel one last time through the Tri-S program at my school before I graduated, she encouraged me to take advantage of these amazing trips. I prayed about either going on a cultural trip to London or going out of my comfort zone and head to Uganda, Africa. I felt that going to Africa was a trip that I wouldn't easily be able to go on later in life. So I signed up for it with no expectations, just a heart ready to serve and love ☺️

So here I am! In Kampala, Uganda with my team of 9 others including our AU president and his wife which makes this trip extra special! We are being hosted by Church of God missionaries, Tim and Colleen Stevenson. They are wonderful people with hearts invested in this country and following God's call. 

Their home is BEAUTIFUL and is right by Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world after Lake Superior. 

We sure we're glad to be warmly welcomed after a treacherous two days of traveling. We went from Indianpolis-Detroit-Amsterdam-Entebbe. That journey involved two almost 9 hour flights and two four hour layovers in between. The jet lag wasn't too bad, but I still am getting confused on what day it is! 

The past two days have been filled with getting to know the city of Uganda and visiting schools that the Church of God has established through the Stevensons. The people and the community are so welcoming, it's so amazing. At every school we visit, all the staff members just have the biggest smiles on their faces and will pull you into a bear hug, saying "You are welcome" which they offer as a greeting meaning "Welcome to our school". 

We visited Heritage International School which the CHoG has established for international students and missionary families for students pre-k through high school. And the two other schools provide primary and secondary schooling. The children just love playing bubbles with us and holding our hands ❤️

Also at the schools are T.A.P.P (Tumaini AIDS Prevention Program) sites which is an organization that helps people who are infected or affected by AIDS in Uganda by providing an income through bead making, book making and other hand made pieces. 

Today the most impactful experience I had was visiting a home of one of the T.A.P.P. ladies. We walked through a series of muddy and dirty roads with goats, cows and chickens roaming around to get to get home. The woman's home was a mud and brick one room space, probably as big as your laundry room, with no electricity and a broken wooden door with a single slide lock. 

I've seen poverty in other countries like this but it never gets easier to see the horrible conditions some people live in because they have no other choice. 

When the woman was diagnosed with AIDS her husband left her and their five year old daughter and their one year old son, both who were infected as well. She washes laundry for people to earn an income but does not bring in enough to pay rent or support her family adequately. Her story just broke my heart. She is going to start working with T.A.P.P so we prayed for her and her family's protection and gave her a bundle of clothing, hygiene items and food. 

It's only day two and I've already been impacted so much and hopefully I am making an impact to others as well. Thank you for your continued prayers, God is with us all the time! 

PS: I tried multiple times to upload pictures along with this but it just wouldn't let me 😆