Even Travel Days Are Full of Adventure

The following blog post was written by one of our trip leaders, Eric, about a day-in-the-life of a Man Up trip to Uganda. Eric is a Sports Physical Therapist from Iowa and went to Africa in 2012 with Man Up.  Here he recounts a travel day during June 2014 trip, as told on his blog, We Were Made 2B Courageous.

Every day in Uganda is full of adventure for the Man Up teams.  This day was a “travel” day for us.  We left Jinja and headed towards Pallisa with plans to stop and see ministry partner George and his wife Sylvia at Ebenezer orphanage.  I was fortunate to meet George and Sylvia 2 years ago as they were just setting up their orphanage and ministry. They started with very little, in a less than desirable setup.  They serve children affected by HIV/AIDS.  The children either have been infected with HIV, or have lost parents due to HIV/AIDS.  With the help of partners like Man Up and Hope Grafted In, George and Sylvia have made great improvements to their orphanage.  More importantly, they have demonstrated the Father’s love to these special children by providing them with love, shelter, food, clothing, and education.  I love spending time with George and Sylvia, the entire staff at Ebenezer, and especially the children.  Based on information from the Man Up team that returned to the USA just before our team left, we knew Ebenezer was in need of sheets and blankets.  With the amazing help of many donors to our team, we were able to provide many blankets and sheets for these children.  Check out the happiness below!

 

I was so excited to see how Ebenezer has changed.  They have acquired additional land within walking distance from the orphanage and have begun construction on a new school.  What a blessing!  We were blessed to have the children sing for us! What a glorious sound they make. We also were able to eat with the children and spend some time playing. Les even lead them in songs.

As a team we decided to purchase 5 mattresses to complete the bedding for one of the orphanage rooms. We feel blessed to be able to help in this small way. Unfortunately, due to our travel schedule, our time with Ebenezer was all too brief.

After lunch we headed off to Pallisa. Pallisa is a different experience than Jinja. It is primarily a Muslim region. We are very fortunate to be partnered with Pastor Samuel and his wife Mercy. We were able to stay with them at their home. The back half of their lot is home to the former orphanage (it was the orphanage last time I visited), and they have made it available to teams that come to visit. Mercy, God bless her, provided all of our meals. I love her and her cooking. She makes amazing goat and chipati and is a great hostess.

Unfortunately, we had electricity only 2 of our 5 nights in Pallisa. Oh, well, as the saying goes…THIS IS AFRICA. We had water (not always warm), we could shower, and Mercy’s cooking made up for any lack of conveniences. An additional benefit of being a small team and staying with Pastor Samuel and his family was that we were able to sit and converse each night in their living room. It made for great learning conversation and allowed us to form even deeper relationships. He is an incredible man with a passion rarely seen to serve the Lord and spread the Gospel. Pastor Samuel regularly holds public debates with local muslim leaders. The crowds are large (several hundred to more than a thousand) and the debates are intense! His courage is absolutely provided by God.
We ended our day with a great meal and settled in to our new home for the upcoming week.

Sunday would be a day of worship with Pastor Samuel’s church and Pastor Abraham’s church.

Vicki’s Man Up Trip Experience: “Stretched”

The following blog post was written by Vicki, a mother of two and Account Executive at an insurance brokerage in Clearwater, Florida. Vicki came on our May/June trip this year and it was her second time Africa with Man Up.

Well, it has been exactly 58 days since my return from my second mission trip to Africa with the Man Up team.  I say that I have returned but that is not completely true.  It is safe to say that I have left a part of my heart there with the most precious & inspiring people that I have ever met. Our 1st visit was to the children at Return Ministries.  They had been waiting for our arrival for hours and when we finally made it we were welcomed with hundreds of open arms and shrieks of excitement.  There were many faces that I recognized from the year before and a few of the older girls who also recognized me.  One of those girls was Irene.  Irene is a shy, sweet, beautiful, lovely young  tweenage girl who remained by my side our entire visit while at Return Ministries.  Justine was the jokester of the bunch.  She was always smiling, full of life and ready to play.

There were many things going on during our visit.  We set up different craft stations, we played with balloons, balls, sang songs and danced around on the dirt floor of their church.  The children in Africa are amazing.  They find joy in just being and playing together.  They are eager to help not only you but each other.  The way they take care of each other is almost overwhelming to watch.  We were able to help serve lunch during our visit and the children were sharing their food with each other.  The older kids would make sure that the younger children had something to eat.  They would take food off of their own plates to share with those who did not have much because the supply of food had run short.

I also witnessed this while visiting Bethel Junior School in Masese.  This is a part of Jinja that is full of extreme poverty.  Bethel Junior School is located in the village of Masese and is surrounded by a chain linked fence.  During one of our visits they happened to be serving breakfast to over one hundred school children.  There were also many children on the outside of the fence peering in to see what was going on with the Mazungus (white people) who were visiting.  Several of the school children were sharing their food with the children outside the fence.  It was one of the most heartwarming yet heartbreaking things I have ever witnessed.

 

One of the most anticipated days of my trip was our visit to Ebenezer Children’s Home.  After my return from the first Man Up trip in 2013, I prayed that the Lord would show me whom I could help specifically through sponsorship.  I had met hundreds of children, all of whom were special but one little girl kept coming to mind.  Her name is Patricia and she lives at Ebenezer Children’s Home.  So getting to see her again this year was very special.  I sponsor her through the Hope Grafted In ministry.  I was also able to spend time with Sylvia & George the couple who run Ebenezer.  The Lord is doing amazing things through these faithful servants and I am blessed to be a small part of what He is doing and so grateful to call them my friends.

This year’s trip was also special in another way and that was spending time with the husband and wife team’s of these ministry partners.  Pastor Samuel and Mercy from Kerith Children’s Home who so graciously fed us for days breakfast, lunch & dinner.  Mercy prepared each meal and fed all 16 of us in their home.  We ate, had fellowship and listened to the amazing stories of Pastor Samuel.  This man is living out the great commission every day.  Spreading the gospel message to anyone who will listen and even to those who will not.  He is an inspiration and his boldness is truly remarkable.

We also spent time with Pastor Andrew and his wife Juliet.  We joked that while in Africa it is important to be flexible because sometimes things don’t work out as planned.  So one particular morning we were gathered together by our Man Up team leaders and asked to take an extra dose of our flex pill that day because we had been asked to speak to a bunch of high school kids, not in the original plan for that day.  While having lunch we prepared for our afternoon by diving into the Scriptures and praying about what God would have us say to these kids.  I don’t know about my other teammates but it stretched me.  We spoke to about 80 teenage girls about how God views them and how special they are in His sight.  We each gave our testimony, Juliet brought it home with an alter call and 12 girls come forward to accept Christ as their personal savior.

Seeing the progress that has been made since my last trip there is nothing short of miraculous.  God is doing amazing things through these faithful followers and I am so blessed that I have had the opportunity to witness it in person.  I hope to return again next year and I pray that God will continue to use me there.  And lastly to the amazing Man Up teams I have had the honor to serve with, there are no words.