We boarded a wooden boat...basically an oversized, motorized canoe for the 45 minute ride across Lake Victoria.
We arrived on the shore of Bussi, a remote, undeveloped island. We were so warmly greeted by the people. White people are a rarity on the island and for many, this was the first time they had ever seen white children.
We boarded our truck, a cargo truck converted to carry people. It was a bumpy, adventurous ride to the school.
I had been praying and anxiously awaiting this day for so long...I could barely contain my mix of emotions. Excited, giddy, emotional, nervous.
We reached the school and saw all the children. They had created a welcoming line, complete with costumes, banners, music and dancing.
Who are we to deserve such a welcome? I was so overwhelmed I thought my heart might leap out of my chest.
After we had greeted the children, we made our way into one of the school buildings where the teachers introduced themselves and the school choir sang several welcoming songs.
Then we went out to the school yard where we did some VBS-style teaching, skits and worship.
We gave gifts.
we spent some time playing with the children.
There were dragonflies everywhere.
The school day was over and we made our way through the village. We met Norah, the grandmother and caretaker of 6 children. She used to live here.
Which is now the kitchen because, thanks to the people at Redeemed of the Lord Evangelistic Church, she lives in her new brick home.
She is also the proud owner of this pig.
She will care for and breed the pig in order to support her family. I was so impressed and challenged by the way Redeemed ministers to those in need.
We made our way through the rest of the village. I so enjoyed talking with the women from the church. These are powerful, strong women. I was strengthened by being with them.
We came to the football (soccer to us) field. Our team & teachers from the school challenged the villagers to a game.
We were thankful we had some help...these people don't mess when it comes to football!
A few of us had the foresight to know we had no business on the field! We played with some of the children instead.
We had an outdoor service that evening, on the shores of Bussi Island.
We were able to pray for many people that night. I had the privilege of praying for Norah.
After dinner that night, we sat around the campfire, in the dark, and sang our thanks to the Lord. At one point I stopped singing, I was so overcome by the beautiful sound of our team's voices combined with these wonderful Ugandan people.
We took time to pray for each other before settling in for the night. We slept in the teachers' house...that they had given up to accommodate our team.
Caleb actually slept in a separate house that night, with some of his new Ugandan friends from the church. That kid never ceases to amaze me!
Many of us were challenged by the knowledge that these people would go to sleep much later than us and they were awake before us...one host pacing and praying outside of our home, the others preparing our breakfast. They were amazing hosts.
We took a tour of the school that morning.
This is the school library.
We then boarded our boat for the ride back to Kampala. I cried as we left...my heart breaking for the people of Bussi Island and at the same time so overwhelmed and thankful for the new friends we made. One of the hardest things about these trips is the wondering when, or if, I'll ever see these people again. As these feelings were flowing over, I was also struggling with the intense feeling that we hadn't done enough. How could we be done already? I wasn't ready to leave Bussi Island. Brad lovingly took my hand and said "We'll see these people again".
I pray that's true.
photos credited to a few of our wonderful team members: Angela White, Jonathan Moos, Krista Bobo & Katherine Hughson