25th July 2018
Well the moment has finally arrived – 20 people at Heathrow about to embark on the adventure of a life-time!
It is cooler in Uganda than in GX! We are looking forward to all that God will do through and in us and would love your prayers.
Happy Birthday to Camilo who is 17 today!!
We have arrived safely!
Blog:1 – 27th July
Hello all the way from Uganda!
I hope you’re not missing us too much because we have all been having a great time out here in Africa. It’s only been a few days but we have already learnt so much about life in Uganda and have grown closer as a group, especially on all the long minibus trips!
Our adventure began at Heathrow at 8:30 am on Wednesday and despite the slightly delayed flight we remained in good spirits. There were a couple of stops on the way to Entebbe including Turkey then Rwanda. We were so excited to be here after over a year of preparation and fundraising even though it was 4:00 in the morning.
Somehow we all managed to squeeze into one minibus to travel from the airport to our first location, the Adonai guesthouse in Kampala. We were told before the trip that nothing ever runs to plan in Uganda and this became apparent rather swiftly when it became evident that there was a bed shortage. As a result we had to share single beds with the highlight being that three of the boys (Barney, Ali and James) were in one single bed together. However it was only for a couple of hours since we finally got into bed at about 6:00 am!
That morning the Bishop of Uganda wanted us to pay him a visit despite it not being on our itinerary. We felt honoured to meet him and hear his inspirational work.
Then we travelled to RAHAB in another area in Kampala which is an organisation that supports vulnerable young women who have been caught up in prostitution and sex trafficking. They treated us with great hospitality providing us with a delicious lunch of beans and rice which was very generous. After lunch, we went into the garden to meet some of the girls who at first were shy however soon began chatting with us and playing games. We sang songs for each other and they loved joining in with our actions to ‘My Lighthouse’. Before leaving we prayed for the all the women involved in the organisation.
In the evening, we arrived at Mount Myoni Hotel in Jinja and all slept really well after a delicious dinner of moussaka. The hotel is situated on the banks of the Nile which provides a stunning view.
The next morning we woke up bright and early for a day in a rural community near Jinja where we met the pastor of the church. He kindly welcomed us into his home and provided us with lunch. It was incredible to hear about his work in the community despite his small income of £2 a month.
The pastor took us to visit a community where we met lots of people who we sang and danced with. We prayed with them and we heard testimonies about people’s lives once they had accepted Jesus into their lives as well as witnessing four people becoming Christians for the first time. Next, Tim opened the new home of a widow which had been built with donations from the local community. It was amazing to see the change made by proactive leadership as before she had very poor living conditions. We enjoyed engaging with the children by playing ball games with them and giving them sweets.
Our final visit of the day was a trip to the church made by the community. The pastor had a dream to open another church and we will be praying for this and would love if you could pray too. After a couple of parachute games with the children, we headed back to Jinja.
Over dinner, a lady called Ingrid who owned the hotel spoke to us about her experience being a missionary in Uganda and her relationship with God. We found her story very inspiring!
A new experience for us was trying jackfruit after dinner. Then we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Marco, worshipped together and went to bed.
Sending our love from the Love Africa Resonate team.
Blog by: Louisa and Esther
Blog 2: – 29th July
Our adventure continues as we visited Tumaini Children’s Home Uganda in Kakira and we were delighted to discover that another Tumaini branch has opened in Kenya. Saturday morning began with boiled eggs and fresh orange juice, overlooking the River Nile, still at Mto Moyoni in Jinja; followed by a very brief encounter with a couple of crocodiles (from a safe distance mums!) but our noise disturbed them – unfortunately the geckos visiting our rooms were not deterred. ..
Following the typical Ugandan tardiness we arrived at Tumaini a little behind schedule but the children were waiting with songs prepared and with ages ranging from 4-18, we were very excited to get to know them all. Even more exciting for us and for those who have visited Tumaini yourselves, was the news that approximately five of the young people have now gone to university to study various degrees – one is now a civil engineer! Introductions of our team included Pastor Nicholas repeatedly renaming Tim as Kevin who is now known as Pastor Kev!
The next couple hours were spent playing, teaching, chatting and parachuting together. It was amazing to see how quickly both the Resonate team and Tumaini group bonded; Hayley is ever surprised at the broodiness of our team (common exclamations of ‘aww’ have been made!)
After working up an appetite playing, it was a little disheartening to see the children eating separately to us (as this was not according to plan) but thankfully they joined us for a hearty of meal of beans, rice, potatoes, chapatti, mash, chicken, spinach, goat and plantain and over the meal we were surrounded by the youth (of a similar age to us) and were inspired by what they had to say. Prior to this a comical moment arose when Louisa told one child that if she shook her fizzy drink it would explode and moments later she looked round to discover all the children mimicking the action leading to a sticky situation!
It was difficult to leave so soon but we were glad to know that we would be returning the following day. On the bus journey home, as has become the norm, making us feel like celebrities, the Ugandan communities we passed continued to wave and smile at us and naturally we responded enthusiastically. It is so heartwarming to see the consistent hospitality and joy we have been blessed with.
We didn’t think the day could get any better until after a delicious carrot soup and chicken curry, we worshipped around the fire pit, toasting marshmallows and taking it all in. As Hayley so rightly put it, “it’s not everyday that you’re toasting marshmallows on the banks of the Nile around a fire pit, worshipping under the stars.”
A relatively early start for us all with breakfast at 8am – not quite as early as the church group who ,unintentionally, woke Sasha at 3am…(though it is Sunday in Uganda) – celebrating Louisa’s 16th birthday with pancakes! Not so off schedule today we said our goodbyes to Mount Moyoni and arrived in time for the 10am church service at Tumaini, including worship both Ugandan and U.K. youth groups and a short talk given by Ciara, Ella and Camilo. Being in a Ugandan church service is admittedly very different to St James, regarding the duration of three hours and the rather deafening volume of the Pastor (who today avoided using Tim’s name at all!)
After the service we gave the home the St James football shirts amongst other things, followed by Michael leading an intense football match and Serene teaching the girls how to make loom bands. Once again leaving was hard but knowing we’d left gifts and made friendships behind made it easier.
A three hour bus journey brings us to Mbale, further North of Jinja with a magnificent view of Mount Elgon, over the swimming pool we are banned from! We are now looking forward to hearing from Edith who set up UWCM (Uganda Women’s Concern Ministry) and visiting these projects over the next couple of days.
Much love from the Uganda Love Africa Resonate Team.
Blog by: Sasha and Ella
Blog número tres: 31st July
Hello strangers, Michael and Barney here!
Following on from last nights blog, Edith talked to us about her testimony and how UCWM came to be as it is now. We found her fascinating and inspiring, as she has come from the very bottom and has helped thousands of Ugandan women to become independent and empowered.
The next morning we had an early start to visit ACET for most of the day. After a huge breakfast including bacon and eggs, and seeing a massive green mantis, we set off at 9:00am to meet Naomi and her team. We all managed to fit in their offices and we found out about the work that they had been doing from some of the staff there, a notable highlight being the sustainable business models allowing the local communities to grow independently. Serene was also surprised by a traditional African version of happy birthday as she is celebrating her 17th today.
We moved on with the staff from ACET to a local community that St James has been supporting through our donations to ACET. We were greeted by enthusiastic and uplifting signing from the children in the local church’s congregation which we replied to with singing of our own including songs ‘I am not forgotten'(a firm favourite within the group) and ‘My Lighthouse’.
The next couple of hours consisted of playing games with the kids such as football, netball, howlers and parachute games. Buckets of sweat later we set off in small groups to visit the homes of some of the children, learning some interesting stories about some of them and seeing their family photos. The houses ranged in complexity meaning that some of the home visits were more difficult for some than others.
As we all gathered back together we were shown some traditional dancing and singing from some of the children and Hayley and Camilo had a swift dance off where questionable moves were put on display. We then all ate a lunch of potatoes, beef and lots of rice which was too much for some (Esther) including the children which was nice to see.
Post meal we were able to gift the church a keyboard for them to use during worship. They were very grateful and it warmed our hearts to see that our trip will be leaving a legacy.
Next we went outside to see a group of women from the community who were in a VSLA (Village savings loan association) meeting in which they grouped together to save money which they can loan to members of the group so they can improve their living situations. They keep the money in a locked box with 3 padlocks on and 3 different people hold the key to ensure its safety.
Finally we had some time to hand out various items to the children. The best part (for both of us) was handing out Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh arsenal kits which pleased our mates Stephen and Isaac.
We gathered later in the evening to talk about each of our house visits and we found it interesting to see how different our experiences had been. For dinner we ate pizza and pasta, some of us later than others – Harold, Barney and Ali received their meals after we had all finished.
Edith came to visit us again with Lorna, who will be taking over from Edith in the next couple of years as she steps aside from running UWCM. Edith has been at UCWM for 25 years, almost since Hayley was born (a significant amount of time)! Ben from ACET also visited with his wife and baby, as did the Magolo family, whom some of you may also know as many people from church may have stayed with them when visiting Uganda. Their daughter Delight received gifts from Hayley, resulting in a hug not to dissimilar to a rugby tackle.
After a good nights sleep we got up and left at 9:00 to go to a community where ACET were running a 3 year project called ‘Mother Buddies’ and ‘Papa Champs’. We were introduced to them in the local church and we discovered their role in the community – they help the people in the community by educating them on HIV and how stop it, particularly preventing babies receiving it during birth.
We split into 3 groups to see 3 different mothers who, although are HIV positive themselves, have been able to have HIV negative babies with the help and support of ACET. It was uplifting to see how happy the parents were to see their child without the burden of HIV.
Once we got back together we had a brief opportunity to look at the primary school next to the church and we were greeted with the happy faces and high-fives. We drove back into Mbale to have lunch at a coffee shop. Our food was a mix of wraps, sandwiches and burgers. As of right now we are on a minibus on our way north to Soroti.
See you soon, Michael and Barney (professional writers)
Blog 4 – 2nd Aug
We have now arrived in Soroti after a three hour journey full of us all singing as many Christian classics we could remember. The Akello hotel, where we are staying, provided a delicious dinner. We were joined by the PAG team who introduced themselves as we would be travelling with them the next day.
We then shared our highlights and lowlights of the day with a few gaseous moments! Then it was off to bed early for a busy day ahead.
After a breakfast of banana pankcakes, sausages and malaria tablets we headed off in the buses to the busy market in Soroti. Here we haggled, bartered and argued about which chickens we were going to buy. In the end we bought four beautiful chickens which we called Desmond, Daquan, Mabel and Gertrude. However, we preferred the names Tandoori, Masala, Tika and Korma! We put the chickens in a box and carried them on the bus to the rural communities.
Eventually we got to the church in the rural community where we were greeted by them playing several weird and wonderful instruments. Then in return we sang them our rehearsed rendition of ‘I am not forgotten’ and ‘my lighthouse’. Once again we had to introduce ourselves as a group telling them our name and age. We were able to have a little play on their instruments before we hopped in the buses with- absolutely no faffing- to a local primary school.
When we got there nothing was really happening so instead of an awkward stare off, yet again, we introduced ourselves and did some spontaneous singing. We were then left to our own devices to play with the kids which was certainly an interesting experience. Most of the girls plus Camilo got lots of attention because of our long hair and white skin. After much running around, hokey-kokeying, high fiving and kicking a football we gathered on the bus again to go and visit a family home. Unfortunately at this point some of the team felt unable to carry on due to some iffy tummies and awkward bowel movements.
At the home we learned about the families background and how they get their income. In this family there were 23 children all from the same father. He was a farmer and has a successful business of citrus fruits which are sold to big companies in Kampala as well as in Kenya. He has 8 acres of land which enables him to get enough money to pay for all his children to go to school and get an education which is really important to him. Michael and Camilo gave the father Tandoori and Tika (two of the chickens) as a gift and then we prayed for the family.
By then it was 3:00pm so we headed back to the church for some lunch. We were extra careful with what we ate but still enjoyed some chicken, beef, chapati and rice. Following this there were a couple of wild wees before joining in on some cultural dancing with the band. We lost all our inhibitions and got fully involved with the locals, dancing, singing and African ululations (yayayaaaaa)! After the musical session, James felt so moved as to give away his guitar to this band which they were thrilled with. (Sorry Neil!) As well as that, we handed over our two final chickens.
Back on the road we headed to a PAG secondary school which had only been open a year. We were warmly welcomed by the school singing the national anthem, a prayer and two heart warming songs from the school choir albeit an hour late. To quickly interact with the students, a game of football was started and a game of volley ball. Ironically all the girls ended up playing football and the boys volley ball. Playing football was full of laughs, handballs and victory was sweet for Serene, Ella and Isadora’s team against Hayley and Ciara’s. We were reluctant to say our goodbyes but gave multiple high fives and sweaty hugs!
Finally we were on our way back to the hotel for a (another) well deserved dinner of carbs galore. Here we are finishing off this blog, cooped up in our mozzy nets making sure we are not too far away from the toilet. Tomorrow we are expecting a long, tiring but rewarding journey as we head to our final destination in Uganda being Murchison Falls.
Lots of love from Aussie, Freckles and Small.
Aka: Dani, Isadora and Serene <3
Blog 5 – 4th Aug
A final hello from Uganda,
On Thursday we arrived at Murchison falls after a long, joke filled 6 hour journey with a vast amount of wild wee rest breaks. We checked into the Heritage Safari lodge, which was a very, how should we say it, outdoors experience. We were quick to put up our mosquito nets and cover ourselves head to toe in DEET to head off for dinner, which we might add was something other than Beans and rice finally. Hannah even managed to have a very British fish and chips. We then headed to our rooms at 8:45pm, where we had to stay till morning due to the risk of wild animals stampeding through. We dived under our mosquito nets and didn’t dare leave due to the occasional encounter with bats and lizards (this was particularly true for Isadora and Sasha who had a bat stuck in the mosquito net by their bed!)
The next morning we woke up in pitch black for a hearty 7am breakfast of eggs, toast and pineapple. At 7:30 (more like 7:45 due to ‘Ugandan time’) we headed off to the Safari park. Within minutes we came across an elephant and multiple ‘cute’ warthogs often with there babies, it soon became apparent that we would see many more of the big 5 (minus rhinos as they are now extinct in the area). We passed through the gates and were introduced to our armed guide Lillian, who rather pessimistically suggested we were too late to catch a glimpse of any Lions. We carried on through the park for 2 hours passing more elephant, families of warthogs, herds of giraffe and buffalo, as well as plenty of different species of antelope and birds.
We were driving through the typically resident area of the Lions where we all kept quiet and on the look out. It was here that we noticed a bus had stopped off the beaten track and we were intrigued to know what they were looking at. They came back and told us that there was indeed a lion resting in the shade. Much to the guides hesitation we turned off track to see what all the fuss was about, (don’t worry Mums we closed all the windows and remained as silent as possible) low and behold there was indeed a Lion chilling under the tree. We snapped as many photos in the short space of time as possible and continued on with our drive. This was the highlight of the day for many of us.
We then rushed off to catch the boat for our cruise along the Nile with only minutes to spare. We headed straight to the top deck where we had an incredible view straight down the river. Here we passed herds of hippos eating and sleeping as well as spotting an albino one (Dani found him extremely cute). As we continued along we spotted many crocs (from a safe distance) but still managed to get some great pictures due to James’ extra zoom lens and great photography skills. To complete the picturesque ride we also ate our picnic lunch with the hippos. We turned a corner and there it was, Murchison falls in all its beauty, power and glory, which meant our journey on the Nile had come to an end.
We clambered off the boat to begin our hike to the top of the Waterfall. Let’s just say walking in the 37 degrees, up hill never leaves anyone looking awfully good. Many rest breaks and buckets of sweat later we had reach the summit and had never been more grateful to feel the spray from the falls. Here multiple tourist pictures were taken and we all tried to cool off a little. To end the hike our guide gave us a thrilling recount of the time he came face to face with a lion whilst giving a tour to a couple (obvious disclaimer: he made it out alive as did the couple).
This is where the official safari ended although the wildlife kept on coming. We crossed back over the Nile on a car platform ferry, which none of us trusted very much and the absence of the British queuing system meant that one of our minibuses was left behind and caused stress to many of the leaders.
An hour later we arrived at Bwana Tembo safari lodge with our bags still to follow. Due to typically Ugandan faffing our bags didn’t arrive for another 40 minutes (even though the previous hotel was only half a mile down the road) so we remained smelly for far longer than we would have liked to. Now clean we sat down to an Italian themed meal which had been hyped up by the leaders. The meal definitely lived up to expectations with the starters of a mouth wateringly good lasagne, followed by steak and finished off with a crème caramel. Seeing as this was our last night we had a session of telling stories about our funniest memories. We then headed to bed and fell asleep to the sound of high pitched bat noises.
This morning we woke up for our final breakfast in Uganda where we drank mango juice, with eggs, sausages and toast. We had the lodge’s dog come to join us (rabies free) which Tim and Hannah befriended. After a reflection session we packed up the buses and are now on our way back to Kampala, a 6 hour drive!. One hour into the journey and the bus had sprung multiple leaks meaning many are being dripped on, with others trying their best to fix them. On arrival we’ll be sure to visit some craft markets to buy some authentic souvenirs.
Tonight, or should we say 3am tomorrow morning, we will board our flight back to Heathrow, where we should hopefully arrive at about 3pm on Sunday to be re-united with our families.
Signing off for the last time,
Hannah and Lucy