The Gift We Get

Today we went to a shop in town for the team to buy souvenirs to take to the folks back home. I’ll tell you this: that shopkeeper is one of the happiest women in Soroti right now. 24 team members just bought a fortune in Uganda memorabilia. Every time we come we boost the economy on that street corner with our trips to the tailor shop and this lady’s gift shop.

This is one of the last days for solid work and the last day for work at Hope and the hospital. We’re excited to finish what we started nearly two weeks ago when we arrived.

We stayed in town too long and were an hour late by the time we reached Hope. The women departed almost immediately after we arrived for their Straightway ministry.

Straightway: A new project we are beginning in Uganda. Due to the nature of the project, we will not announce it very publicly. There is a high instance of female school drop-outs once they begin their monthly cycle. This is because the schools will not allow them to attend if they do not have disposable sanitary items. The village girls are too poor to afford these items; they use non-disposable items when they are home in their villages. In a country like Uganda, girls who are uneducated and untrained in an income-generating skill, often end up on the streets involved in very immoral income-generating activities. Sanitary items are very inexpensive. There are three terms in a school year.
I didn’t attend, but had mom ask one of the women to take some notes for me. Bekah Estes did so; these are her words, not mine:

We started the day with introductions to the headmaster and staff as well as the PTA and school council. Throughout this the nearly 900 children enrolled gathered around us, arrayed in purple uniforms.
Brother Todd then gave the Andrew the Gospel Worm and the Airplane illustrations of faith before turning the program back over to the school.
A group of girls from the Straightway project then sang us a welcome song. Teacher Florence(the head woman teacher) then explained a few of the challenges facing the school:

1) No changing rooms/nice bathrooms
2) Lack of proper hygiene supplies

She requested continued support and provision for the girls, saying:

“Please, do not leave us behind!”
She told us that when the young women do not feel well because of their cycles, she must send them all the way home, which strongly negatively impacts their performance.

The Straightway girls then performed for us a poem they had written about the Straightway project- so good.

Many of the older kinds then performed for us a song about about the education of young women in Uganda- very powerful narrative. Following the song we handed out supplies and then we headed back to Hope.

It wasn’t long after the women left that the medical crew: Dr. Robert, Wes, and Bro. Ricky went to the hospital for a last hurrah of work there.

For the ones who remain it’s finishing time. We immediately set to painting the remaining trim and scraping and sanding the paint spills from the floor: this is the most difficult job on the construction side of what we do this year. It is especially difficult to clean these floors, what makes it worse is that we’re the ones who messed them up. Had we known we would have to clean them we would have taken more care not to spill on the floor.

It went faster towards the end of the day when Isaac, one of the members of the CDI staff at Hope Children’s Village told us to pour the mineral spirits on the floor, the scrub the paint off with soapy water and scrapers. From there, we finished the hall inside and almost all of the rooms. We finished the paintings on the walls, and played with and loved on the Hope kids for the rest of the day. When we got back to Akello, there were already children waiting to play with us; they knew we were coming. Our server last night told me that many of the children come long distances to play with us because word got around that we are there and have footballs. It’s so much fun to bless these kids, many of the orphans and street children!

I can’t begin describe the blessing we receive by blessing them. At night CDI treated the team to an outdoor banquet of sorts. Mike Partain sat next to me as we ate out in the field adjacent to Akello. He looked at the children on the wall and leaned over to me, voicing the words I had felt in my heart so many times.

“Its difficult for me to be in here, eating my food and then looking at those children just outside who have nothing”
–Mike Partain

Tomorrow is a big day and we don’t know what all God has in store for us, but we are ready for it! For pictures of the trip visits the Hope Missions International page in Facebook. While you’re there, like the page and search the hashtag #HMIUganda16 for all of the content being posted by the team about the trip!

I’m going to take just a second to plug my personal blog if that’s alright. I have been blogging the entire trip not only on this site, but I have also been posting to my personal blog: theanonymousnovelist.com
On that site you get a slightly different perspective on the trip and today’s post is extra special! I wrote a fantasy allegorical story about the trip and the team members! If you’re interested in reading about the trip in an action/adventure setting, definitely check that out!

–Jared Allen