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An African Adventure: Our Time in Uganda

This time last month ChristChurch London sent a team of eleven to Uganda to support the work of ServeDirect at the Wobulenzi Town Academy.

We began the trip with a couple of days in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.

Kampala, just like London, is a global city; as such it is an engine of culture, politics, economics, and learning. It is also a city full of people, traffic, dust, noise and poverty. It’s impossible to miss the children living on the streets, the low quality of food and housing available to those living in the city. Within this context it was wonderful to spend time with our friends in Kampala International Church to see how they are grappling with what it means to be God’s people in their city. To see how they are using their time, money and resources to love their neighbours and their city, with all of its accompanying hardships and joys.

From Kampala we headed north, just over an hour’s drive up the highway, to the town of Wobulenzi. There we would spend the next week and a half running a 10-day programme of activities for the students at the Academy there.

The school does remarkable work. It provides low-cost, quality education for 500 pupils aged between 13-20 (300 boarding places). Many of the students come from northern Uganda, where their lives, education and families have been disrupted by the ongoing effects of the recent war. Many are orphans and vulnerable children from very low or no-income families.

Our activities took place during the final week of term, a time the students would normally be waiting around for their exam results. We filled this time with lessons on science, health, Mandarin, business and politics, testimonies, music, talks on Encounters with Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, games of skipping, splat and kill four, prayer, arts and crafts, self-defence classes, worship nights and film nights, football, netball, volleyball and athletics tournaments.

Amongst of all of this activity there were a couple of things that will really stick with me.

Firstly, being flexible is a good thing. Before we left we were told to expect to be flexible with our plans. This turned out to be fantastic advice! Because while virtually nothing went according to plan, it all worked out remarkably well. To begin with, this flexibility was frustrating, but in the end it encouraged an attitude of responsiveness and expectation among the team. Being caught up in events and watching to see how God would use our days was a real highlight for me.

Secondly, enjoying unity in Jesus with those from another culture, tradition and language is awesome. There were a couple of moments that really captured this. The first was on the Sunday morning when we attended the church meeting the students host at the school. And the second was on our last evening with the students when we held a worship night outside of the school library. (We found we couldn’t host them inside because it got too dusty with all the dancing.) There was a power cut towards the end of the evening. As the lights around us went dark, the night sky above us lit up. I have never seen stars that clearly! And rather than stopping singing and dancing everyone carried on worshipping.  Those few minutes were filled with awestruck wonder at the beauty of creation, the love of our God, and the joy we share in celebrating all that He has done for us.

Let me finish by saying a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored us. During our welcome assembly at the school our hosts read out a list of all the things the money we raised would go towards. Our fundraising will pay for the resurfacing the basketball court, completing the fenced area around the girls dorms by fitting a gate, repairing the fence and posts around the sports court and building two additional washrooms. Each item was greeted with a cheer from the students. It is wonderful to think that the legacy of our trip will not just live on in memories of fantastic experiences but also in concrete!

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These photos were taken by members of the team. For more, check out this gallery.

 

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