This mission trip to Jinja, Uganda was awesome in many ways. Much good was accomplished in spite of the challenges we faced. Several team members suffered illness. One lady became sick on the flight over and as she recovered, another caught it and the bug passed on through the team. I thank God that my health was preserved throughout the entire trip. One night, one of the nurses collapsed and hit her head. She was out of commission for several days. On another night we got the news that the father of one of the team members had experienced two heart attacks back here in the US. With the news of the plane crash in New York, (and another one while we were away), it would have been easy to become discouraged. In fact, Fedex lost our passports before the trip and they were found just in time for us to go. Pastor Rick said that after some 40 trips to Uganda, he has never encountered so much spiritual opposition to a mission trip. One thing that I know for sure is that when the devil tries so hard to come against a mission trip, it is because he knows that it has the potential to accomplish great things for the kingdom of God. It is because of this that I remained in faith that I was in the right place at the right time. We persevered and and thousands of lives were touched because of our work. Many hundreds of people gave their lives to Jesus. Thousands of people received medical treatment. Many people received eyeglasses and shoes as well.
More work was accomplished on the school. The school is a 5 year project, but by comparing the photos from last year with this years pictures, you can really see the progress. I spent some of the time painting, while some others were laying tile. The building was a movie theater built in the 1920's. I found an old ticket stub in a crack in the wall and discovered that the place used to be called "New Town Talkies"! One of the walls is collapsing and the engineers are having that wall torn down so it can be rebuilt. The old stage was on that wall so I was unfortunate enough to be given the assignment of dismantling it. I say unfortunate because the boards were filthy and spiders were crawling all over the place. There were also giant roaches, lizards, and bats flying around in there. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie! I thought I was going to find a skeleton under there at any moment. I did find one of my helpers under there after he accidentally stepped on the trapdoor. My friend and I were taking a break, and one of the locals was walking behind me when I heard a loud bang. I turned around and he was gone. After a moment of confusion I heard someone yelling from under the stage! HELP! He landed on a pile of debris and I count it as a miracle that he was not hurt. Thank God that he didn't land on a nail or something. We removed all the boards and the beams from underneath. Because of the loss of trees in Africa, lumber is very expensive, so we salvaged all the wood, removing the nails and storing it to be reused later.
Aside from doing manual labor, I went with the medical team twice. Mission Link brings medicine, medical equipment, eyeglasses etc to Africa. At night we would fill plastic bags with medicine and pack everything up for the next day. The medical team would head out each morning to a different village and set up a clinic. People would come from miles away to be seen by the doctors.
While the crowds were waiting to see the doctors, pastor Jackie Carver would preach the gospel to them. With the help of microphones and speakers, the good news could be heard from afar, as well as some Ugandan praise and worship music. After a patient saw the doctor, they were led over to us so we could talk to them one on one. We asked them if they were saved and if not we led them in a prayer of salvation then we took down their information so local pastors could follow up with them later. We were able to lead many people to the Lord this way, as well as praying with them for their needs. At another clinic I attended, my translator and I travelled from hut to hut for most of the day sharing Jesus and praying with people. For me, the evangelism was the highlight of the trip and I look forward to meeting those people again in heaven.
On Sunday, I was sent to preach at Basaana baptist church right on lake Victoria. The pastor of Basaana is pastor Timothy, a giant man with a giant vision. Pastor Timothy has personally planted over 60 churches on the islands of the lake and in Kenya. Pastor Timothy's father was killed by Idi Amin, and he was even jailed himself. He used to be a boxer but now he builds boats. I was truly honored to have met him, let alone to preach in his church.
Despite the challenges we faced before and during this trip, I am eternally grateful for the experiences, the memories, and the relationships created. I thank God for all those who sponsored me and made this trip possible. This being my third trip to Uganda, it is plain to see that Uganda is a part of me and I am anxious for my next opportunity to return. I hope to be back there by August 2009. Let me end this story by inviting you to come to Uganda. I believe everyone should go at least once, and I know firsthand that you will fall in love with the Ugandans, and you will be blessed too.