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.