Home at Last

39 hours is a long time to travel. By now were airport experts, we know the drill. Its funny to watch the rookies at the security checkpoints - so naive, so innocent. No you can’t leave your shoes on, no you can’t take those items on a plane, and yes - you do have to take your laptop out of the bag

6 hours to Dubai, 12 hours in layover, 15 hours in the air, 6 hours in layover, 1 hour in the air…

10 days in Uganda, nearly 4 spent in the air - but the trip was worth it. I can honestly say I think each of us have come back changed. We spent everyday together, crammed in a bus with strangers to us. Forced to breathe unfamiliar air, eat unfamiliar food and pushed out of our comfort zones.

We shared highs, and lows together - we banded as a team and as a family. We laughed, we cried, we prayed we preached. We helped change a bit of the world, but our own worlds are completely changed.

Arriving in Uganda I think some of us weren’t sure what we were doing there, and even questioning why others who have gone before us have such a love for the place and the people. It was foreign, it was dirty, there was nothing familiar and it was obvious that we were outsiders. Leaving Uganda, we left family. One person on the City Church team told me, “It’s so hard to say goodbye. You wonder at the end of it all was it worth it becoming friends or would it have been easier to not be so close?” I think that’s a testament to this team. Nothing worth doing is easy, including putting yourself out there for strangers on the other side of the planet, but at the end of the day - it was so worth it.

I am proud of this team.

Kevin - he was the wild card, with a recent surgery and a stiff body he wasn’t sure he could make the trip, and we weren’t sure he should even go. He was a kingpin, an anchor to the team - after all he was Jesus (in the skit) mixed in with a bit of Neo from the matrix also. He did climb some rafters in one skit. Ask him about it, it’ll make a good story.

Brian - reignited something in him. He became our documentor, but beyond that - he was a viking warrior. At least his beard braided at the chin made him look like one. His laugh is contagious and he was always up for a good time. Something happened in Brian it was evident to all of us, and I know that as great of a guy that Brian is, he’s coming home even better.

Maddie - she is a fireball. All in. That’s how she joined the team. She got baptised and felt she had to go to Uganda, and she was all in from there. Full of some fun stories and experiences and tons of life. She’s one heck of a dancer as well. When students would just stare at us, she would go straight at them and get them to loosen up with some fun and a smile.

Leah - Leah emanates love. From the moment we would arrive at a school Leah was beaming. I don’t know if there is a memory I have of her that doesn’t have someone holding her hand or braiding her hair. At every turn Leah was hugging someone in comfort, or dancing with someone in joy. She cried when others did and when she shared her story we were all moved.

Pam - The newest addition to the team. Pam was a lot of fun and she loved those kids. What’s even better is they loved her. A teacher by profession it was obvious right off the bat that she has a heart for the students. Genuine love is so needed today, and when Pam was with the people there was no question she was for real with them. She’s quiet, but don’t mistake that for timid she is strong!

Shari - Shari was late to the airport on arrival day, we thought we were going to have to leave her behind. Only for us to find out she was there before anyone else was waiting for the trip to start. Shari’s smile was electric, her heart so full of love. As a substance counselor she’s seen her share of hardships, but like so many others on the team she loved those students. At one point Africa got the better of Shari but she’s tough as nails and she beat it. When we had a hike that was hard for 20 year olds she championed it. If I was ever in a pinch, I’d want Shari in my corner any time.

Eric - If you know Eric, then you know. Who can sleep on life threatening taxi ride in the middle of african bush? Who can sleep in the middle of a Safari? Only Eric. The man can sleep anywhere on earth, he’s proven it time and again. Beyond his amazing sleeping skills, Eric shows up at 110% I never saw less than that. He was the life of the group and I am glad for him. When we didn’t have any speaker equipment to sing or dance too, Eric showed up with Parkour and got the crowds going. He can dance, he can jump, he can even catch a frisbee while doing a handstand (I speak that in faith Eric.) It’s like he was made for this trip, tailored for this moment in time. He was the life of the team.

Sarah - Watch out world, Sarah Herberholz is coming atcha! What can she not do? Single mom extraordinaire. Roman, I hope someday you know how much of a hero your mother is, and how much she loves you. Sarah never stopped smiling, the whole trip. Ok when she shared her story and it got real maybe for about 30 seconds. For someone who has experienced what she has to have the joy she has is uncanny. I truly believe she’s going to conquer the world. Uganda was blessed by her and I can say the entire team was also.

Noah - Roll call? “NOAH?” Noah was a stellar team mate. Humble and eager to help. Noah got tossed to the ground 11 times. The team didn’t get the difference between acting like you throw someone on the ground and actually throwing someone on the ground, so Noah got tossed. Every time he’d get up covered in dirt, and then go right to it. Dancing smiling and interacting with the students. When approached about preaching and giving an altar call Noah said, “Sure, I’ll do it!” When tossed into a very uncomfortable situation with a girl possed by a demon Noah said, “I’ll go pray for her.” Noah was always ready to do whatever was needed. I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in life.

David - The man of many talents. David is amazing. Really he is, like a prodigy. Who pulls a song out of their hat that they haven’t sung in 3 years and only knew the lyrics vaguely. 3 minutes later is leading a crowd in the song. Who preaches with 5 minutes notice and gets the whole room saved? David lives up to his namesake - a warrior poet. There is little that David won’t accomplish and I am grateful for him on this team.

I am blessed that I got to be a part of such a great team. Love you guys, thanks for making this trip one for the history books! I want to give a huge shout out to all those who supported this team. Whether in prayer or in financial support, we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you so much. Also to some of the businesses in Bend. Beach Hut Deli gave us about 50 frisbees to give away, Trampoline Zone about 20 hats and some stickers, Bonta and SunRiver also some stickers. To kids who have never seen a frisbee or will never afford to buy a baseball cap - these are huge. Even to get a sticker from America was a huge deal to them. Thank you so much!

Luke.

Safari and Nile

We set out early in the morning before the sun rose in the sky to go on a game drive excursion.

I’ll just let the pictures talk on this one. Lets jus say we were amazed by the things we saw! What an adventure it really was.

After the game drive, we checked out of the Hotel and set out for our nile cruise. There were too many pun’s to mention on this cruise but here are a few. Some younger members didn’t get this one, “A three hour tour! A three hour tour!” - Various “Jungle Cruise” references such as, “Don’t worry, hippos are only dangerous if they blow bubbles and wiggle their ears…”

Uganda is such an amazing country. There are so many resources and naturally occuring wonders. It was truly a pleasure to take a day to just enjoy what this beautiful country has to offer.

Adventure

Today and tomorrow are our free days in Uganda and will give us a great opportunity to see a little bit of Africa. We venture off to Murchison Falls and Lake Albert to see some wild Africa.

The day started at 7:00 where Kells, Simon, Doreen and Doreen (because two Doreen’s aren’t confusing at all) picked us up at the Adonai house in two safari vans. These vans look awesome. 4x4 vans, pop top roofs, rock sliders and heavy duty armor plating on the side. I could tell we were headed for an adventure and I was right!

Just not the kind of adventure I was anticipating. Murchison falls is about 6 - 8 hours away from Kampala so it was going to be a long drive. The vans were comfortable and roomy. Honestly I wanted one for myself at home until… it all went downhill.  

We noticed an odd smell in our van (and not the Uganda food type either).  More like burning rubber. Suddenly we noticed our van was slowing down. Slower and slower, our driver didn’t speak much so he didn’t say anything. Then I noticed he turned the van back on!  That’s right, back on - as in it had turned off. The van kept shutting off intermittently and he would just turn it back on. Well he kept doing that until the van started smoking from the engine - in the middle of nowhere.  Let me correct that. In the middle of nowhere in the middle of AFRICA.

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The van had overheated, toast. Normally. Normally a car that overheats so much so that it spews black smoke out would be toast, but this is Africa. So here is what you do in Africa. Take a case of bottled water and pour the water bottle by bottle on the engine to cool it down and fill the radiator up with water and set off on your way.  Sounds like a plan.

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After letting the van cool down using all our drinking water, it started back up. 9 lives! So we headed out again, passed a small town and don’t you know right at the top of the hill the van dies again. I’m noticing a trend here. Van dies, let it coast, turn van on again. Drive up hill till van dies, let it coast again… for a few miles this went on. Up a hill, “I think I can I think I can…” down the hill… until the van gave up. We coasted into a gas station that had a mechanics bay. The mechanic poured more water in and on the engine - no dice, didn’t work.  So they took it in for surgery. Meanwhile the other group headed out from the gas station. To a restaurant down the road - 45. min down the road, while we stayed back with the van patient. The mechanic brought out his tool box which consisted of wire dikes and went to work.

Diagnosis: bad everything. Solution pour water on it and tighten the hose. 2 hours later, an impromptu frisbee game (thanks Beach Hut Deli - those frisbees have been clutch) we set out. This time with a new passenger. Our own ride along mechanic. All was well, the van had been resurrected to life again and was driving great… and then it died. And started smoking again.  By this time we were back, you guessed it - in the middle of nowhere. Broke down on the side of the road.

We waited, and waited. We saw a small village church down the road having service and we could hear them singing. It was pretty cool!  

The other van came, he had dropped the team off and come to get us. We unloaded our van, loaded it into the other van and drove off. But the door flew open so our bags spilled over the highway.  We ran to pick them up before anyone ran them over.

I told you we were going to have an adventure.

We arrived at the restaurant where the other half of the team was. Time for food!  We ate we laughed we waited. We now had a problem. Each van held 8 people. There were 15 of us, so what do we do?  We can’t just hire a van from anywhere this trip was months in the planning!

Doreen and Doreen found a willing taxi driver to take us the rest of the way.  Mind you it’s a few hinder kilometers (maybe a 100 miles). The taxis was nowhere near as nice as the broke down van but at least it ran.

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So off we go! To see the wild and explore the unknown! We drive and drive and drive some more. Then the pavement ends. The road is rough, then it gets more rough. So rough I’m not sure I would even take my truck on it rough. For about 40 minutes we drive on this road rushing to catch the ferry that crosses the Nile to take us to our hotel. After the 40 minutes the other van zooms up past the taxi van and stops. The drivers get out and talk and their voices are getting louder. We don’t have a clue what they are saying but I don’t think they were chatting about lunch. Our taxi driver gets back in the van and calls someone, he’s talking loudly and using his hands as he talks. Doreen and Doreen inform us our taxi driver was taking us to the wrong ferry - in the opposite direction.

By now it’s 4:30pm. The last ferry leaves at 6:00 and we have 70 miles to go, on dirt roads. Remember that part about taking my truck on those roads?  70 miles of that - in less than 2 hours. We did the math a few times… it wasn’t possible. But we were assured it would be fine, and we would make it. We drove those vans the fastest I’ve ever seen on the roughest roads I’ve seen in a LONG time.

I told the team that leading up to the trip our faith would be tested, and it was all so that we would be ready to believe the impossible when we were here. Well, like when Gideon told the sun to stand still, we made it to the ferry at 6:55.  That’s an hour late, BUT there was one more ferry for the day, and it departed at 7:00! Miracles do happen!

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After 3 roadside breaks downs, a gas station frisbee game, a great lunch, an VERY bumpy van ride in the wrong way. A longer and bumpier van ride in the right way 12 hours later we arrived!  We’re Staying the Paraa Safari Lodge and this place looks amazing. It’s right out of the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. I’m pretty sure they modeled the hotel after the ride. Or maybe it was the other way around. Either way we are excited to be here. Tomorrow we go on a game ride and see Murchison falls.

Hopefully we’ll have a good adventure tomorrow also, but maybe more of a sightseeing adventure…

Finale

With 4th of July coming up I think of all the fireworks shows I’ve seen. My favorite part of the fireworks is the grand finale. When they blow off so many fireworks that it just keeps going.

That’s what today felt like. It was our last day of ministry work here in Uganda. Conf-Phest 2019 held at City Church. Many of the schools we had visited were arriving, and it was so cool to see some familiar faces.

We arrived early in the morning and were greeted by some of the team already there. Pastor Alex and some of the City Church team had spent the night praying for the event!  Talk about prayer warriors - we have a lot to learn from them!

After a few hours of mingling, playing frisbee and Rock Paper Scissors (huge hit with students) we kicked off Conf-Phest. Kells had all the students leave the main tent and then re enter by dancing while coming in. It’s the grand entrance, it was grand!

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The praise team rocked it, the kids were hyped and then we had some students share their stories. One teacher came and shared his story. His name is Mumbarak and he was a Musim, his whole family was Muslim. He told how he kept himself clean, prayed 5 times daily and was a good Muslim but never felt moved by God. When he encountered Christianity and saw how moved they were by God he came to, gave his life to Jesus and has never looked back. He encouraged students to follow Jesus and told the Muslim students to not be afraid to follow Jesus.

Pastor Alex came... WOW!  African preaching! C’mon somebody, can I get an amen!?  Pastor challenged the kids to follow Jesus for themselves in a relationship and then called those that wanted to follow Jesus for themselves to the front. One girl came, then another, then another and then they just kept coming. Student after student receiving Jesus. It’s so amazing because they know the gospel - they learn it in school but it’s more of a religious experience, they just don’t know Jesus personally. There was such a great spirit of peace in the place as these students kept coming forward.

After Alex preached, we had some music, dancing, competitions and then lunch. After lunch Journey did the skit one final time - a grand finale.  The team didn’t disappoint it was stellar! After that Luke got up and hyped the kids up with a video greeting to Journey Church - coming soon to a Sunday near you...

Luke preached about who God is to the students, and what he says about them based on what he says about Jesus. There was a great impact on them during the message. Afterwards Luke and the team prayed for healing with students, then they prayed for peace. Many students were anxious about exams and grades. Finally Luke and the team prayed for those who were feeling depressed and even suicidal.

We really saw some break through. There was some very intense experiences happening during these prayers, strongholds and even demon possession broken (ask Noah or Brian about that...) God is Good!  Jesus is greater than any other spiritual force this world or the next can present. It is so amazing to walk in that authority and see it happen!

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We closed off the all day event with some more dancing, giveaways (Thank you to Bonta, Trampoline Zone, Beach Hut Deli, Sun River and Journey Church for supplying prizes!) you could see the students faces light up when they won a prize.

Thanks to Trampoline Zone for giving us Hats to bring with!   The Students LOVED them.

Thanks to Trampoline Zone for giving us Hats to bring with! The Students LOVED them.

Thanks to Beach Hut Deli in Bend for donating a box of Frisbees!   Most of the students didn’t know what to do with them at first, but caught on right away.

Thanks to Beach Hut Deli in Bend for donating a box of Frisbees! Most of the students didn’t know what to do with them at first, but caught on right away.

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Our friend and the one and only Holy Keane finished out the event and then we dismissed the students to go home.

But they wouldn’t!  DJ K2 kept those beats going and for at least another hour if not longer and we all got our jam on. Even I (Luke) danced - and that doesn’t happen.

We got to hang around City Church for a few hours interacting with the students and our team members from Uganda. It’s been so fun to get to know some of the students, and really to partner with City Church to reach the next generation.

It was bitter sweet as our time came to a close. We were tired and had worked hard for 7 days at schools and Conf-Phest but also sad to say goodbye to our new friends. We lingered as long as we could until it was time to head back. Saying goodbye is never easy.

Final day of School Ministry

Today was a later start to the day.  We were supposed to leave by 9:30am today to head to our fist school.  9:30 turned into 11:30… Africa time.  It really is a thing – take whatever time you want to arrive somewhere and just get there when you get there, that’s time in Africa.  In truth there was a pretty heavy rain this morning, and with the dirt roads making such a large part of the infrastructure of the city that does cause a lot of problems with traffic.

After out delayed start, we got to represent a new look by donning our City Church T-shirts.  We all looked pretty good.  Well most of the team looked pretty good.  There were some of us (myself included) who don’t fit the typically smaller Ugandan size frame, so some of us had to wear “schmedium” or our new word, “schlarge” shirts (that’s small-medium or small-large) shirts…

The first school was one of the smaller schools we visited, with only a classroom to utilize.  Smaller doesn’t mean less impacting – we had a great time at the school.  Sarah shared her testimony about past relationships and growing up without a father.  Her story was such an encouragement to the kids to hear, that even when you don’t think you have a dad, God is there for you!  She really knocked it out of the park! 

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After Sarah shared, the team did the skit.  It was one of the smallest spaces we’ve had to work with yet but that was no problem, these guys are professionals now!

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David preached a message about Zacchaeus climbing a tree to see Jesus and how Jesus chose to be with a terrible person because he showed love.  And Jesus loved us so much he came to be with us, and that ended in a very powerful altar call to the students to receive Jesus!

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In the picture you may see some girls with head coverings, they are Muslim girls choosing Jesus in that moment!

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After the first school’s ministry time came to a close we loaded up the van and headed out to the next school which was on the other side of the city.

 

After arriving at the second school in the afternoon we were greeted by the man himself, Pastor Alex!  Alex and Faith and some of the City Church team joined up with us at this school.  We were actually at Faith’s alma-matter, and the head teacher was also her teacher years ago. 

This school we had a great time!  The students were really excited to have us and the team, and we as a team were really running on all cylinders.  Even though some of us (Eric) weren’t feeling great we stepped up and had a great time! 

Brian shared his story to the students, and his testimony got very real.  He opened up with us at the breakfast table about a part of his life he had not talked about, and we had a great and meaningful conversation as a team about that.  He used that part of his story today to lead into the point that Jesus was always with him, even in the dark times of life. 

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Pastor David preached a message at this school about people who pressed through the crowds to find Jesus encouraging the students to press through the crowds of their lives to find Jesus in a real and meaningful way – it followed with a HUGE response for Jesus!

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After spending a few moments on cloud 9 from the stellar experience we were given the bad news.  The final school, and the largest school we had schedule cancelled on us.  Apparently the students had gone home from holiday and the school was not going to be full for us to come.  Even though the door closed on our team, they did invite City Church to come back another time.  That’s a win. 

 

Our bus ride home took 3 hours.  But it was a 3-hour drive well spent.  We have been on the same bus with the same people for 6 days now and this would be our last bus ride with the full team, it was bitter sweet.  Sweet because the 3 hour ride turned into a party.  We did our program on the bus – but the Journey team did the Uganda team’s parts, and the Uganda team did the Journey team’s parts.  We laughed and sang so loud that people on the streets were looking into the bus wondering what was going on.   Bitter because we had such a great time that we really didn’t want the tour to end, and wanted to keep going with the team and the friends we had made.

Tomorrow is Conf-Phest.  It’s a conference, it’s a festival… its both and I’ve heard its going to be off the hook!   It will be the last day our team is together so I know it will also be a hard day.  We really have become like a family with our friends here, and we don’t want to part ways. 

Improvising

Today was an early start.  Those are never easy days because they mean we’ll be very tired at the end of the day.  Today was the first day we visited schools that Journey church has visited before.  David and Noah who have both been to Uganda before recognized the schools and were both amazed at how different the schools were, and the areas around as well.   It goes to show that’s why they call these countries, “developing nations.”  They are undergoing constant change.

After a bit of a rough start going.  Rough as in delayed again, this time not because we ran out of gas but this time because we all got on the bus and left – except Noah.  Noah had returned up to his room to use the restroom before we left and by the time he got out, we had left him.  I have spent the whole week counting heads, several times a day… the ONE time I don’t count – Someone goes missing.

Kells jumped off the bus and took a Bodaboda (motorcycle taxi) back to the Adonai house to get Noah, and he and Noah both returned to the buss and rendezvoused with us to head out to the school.  We were greeted with an amazing sunrise (we were out on the road before the sun came up) and an even more beautiful double rainbow over the city.  It was really a sight – the pictures won’t do it any justice.

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We arrived to our first school thinking that all the sound and music equipment was going before us and the team was already going to be setting up.   Well, that didn’t work at all.  We arrived to the school and we were first there from our team.  We stood around for a bit waiting and hoping the equipment would arrive but it turns out the truck they hired to haul the equipment from school to school decided he didn’t want to work today.  So, we were on our own with 300 or so students.  No amplification, no music and dancing just the kids, us and a parking lot for the school.  David didn’t even have his guitar because that was a part of the equipment.

Barbara from the City Church jumped in and started to sing songs the kids were familiar with in a capella.  She was so good, she carried those songs with the team of singers.  The students clapped to the beat and we made it work.  Eric shared his story of overcoming anger by the grace of God, and then followed his testimony with an acrobatics show (its Parkour, if you don’t know Parkour – you should its pretty amazing).   The students went wild over it, they pressed in tighter and were shocked at some of the tricks Eric could do.  He is REALLY good.

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Just after Eric finished, the equipment arrived.   We promptly set up a speaker and a microphone and some music and we did a little dance off followed by our skit.  As always the skit was a hit!  Each time the team just gets better.  Its so fun to watch the team grow closer in working together and feeding off each other’s energy. We missed Shari in the skits today.  She wasn’t feeling good so she stayed back to rest.

Luke shared his message with the kids and invited them to pray a pray of salvation to Jesus and the response was so good!

 After our first stop, we loaded up the bus with the equipment that had come late and been dropped off by a taxi driver, and we walked to Kampala Community Church – a sister church to the City Church.  They were so hospitable to us!   We had a few hours between the first and second schools and they served us snacks, welcomed us into a lounge area to sit on a couch and wait.  We were very blessed by them.  Before heading out the second school we had a arm wrestling competition – Maddie vs. Africa… she’s unbeatable!

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We walked from Kampala City Church to our second school for the day.  This was probably the most confined space that we’ve been in yet and there was ZERO air movement in the room.  It was hot!  The students crowded into the classroom and it was a mixed group.  We have visited predominantly Christian educational facilities but this was a mixture of Christian, non Christian and Muslim students.

Pam shared her story about overcoming alcohol with Jesus and also a very moving story about a moment where God let her know she would never be alone.  She encouraged the kids to know they aren’t alone.

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After JForce dancers the team came up with the skit, followed by Luke’s message.  After Luke talked about Jesus helping us to get out of our sin he gave an altar call.  What was special with this service is that where a few Muslim students who raised their hands for pray for salvation!  How cool is that?

We returned to the City Church for lunch and some free time.  There we set up some chairs as makeshift targets to show our African friends yet another Frisbee game – Frisbee Golf.  We have a lifetime supply of Frisbees from Beach Hut Deli to give away so they are a smash hit.  We had so much fun playing Frisbee golf with the team.   There were a lot of flying disks around City Church, if one wasn’t careful they could get clocked by one at any moment.  We cannot be held liable for injury sustained while deep into competition! 

 After lunch we headed to our last stop for the day.  We actually arrived at this school on time!  It was the first time since we’ve been to Africa we were on time to a school!  We were so excited to no be rushed!  Then we found out school was still in session and we couldn’t make any noise for an hour.  So we waited around the bus until school got out.  That whole not being rushed thing?  Gone.

Nonetheless the school was amazing.  The students were so receptive and immediately jumped into dancing and participation with the team during the music.  Eric did some more acrobatics, and then Leah shared her story of overcoming abusive pasts.  Leah’s testimony was amazing!  She really rocked it!  By the end the kids were on the edge of their seats (except they weren’t sitting but standing – you get the gist.)  Noah had shared with me (Luke) that he had never given an altar call before and thought it would be cool to preach and do that.  David and I had sat down with him earlier in the day and offered to let him preach and give the altar call at this school.  Let me say this, Noah rocked it.  He did so good!  Kids responded to Jesus and we prayed the prayer of salvation with them.  Afterwards we hung out with the kids around the courtyard of the school, praying and interacting with them.  It was neat to hear their stories and talk to them about what they want to do when the graduate school.  Doctors, architects, engineers… this generation is going to change Uganda!

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We dropped the City Church team off at the church campus, briefly said Hi to Alex and the team and headed back to the Adonai house to eat and rest for tomorrow.

 Tomorrow is Friday already! It seems like this week has gone by so fast.  Our last day of visiting schools, and then the big party on Saturday!  Conf-Phest it’s a conference, it’s a festival its both and we’re planning on having an amazing time!

Day 3

Today was our third day visiting schools in the Kampala area. It was also our first bump as a team. 

It’s inevitable that at some point while traveling to distant lands you won’t feel 100%. Today was that day. Some of the team members had been wondering if they were getting sick or if it was the pollution in the air. Everyone burns their trash here so the air is constantly smoky with toxic smoke from plastic and other hazardous trash. This smoke makes your eyes and throat burn.

A good portion of the team woke up today not feeling good, we wondered what it was… the sugar cane? The coffee from the coffee shop? Something hit us hard, but we pressed on. 

After some hiccups trying to get to City Church (our bus ran out of gas… ah, Africa you are special) we made it to City Church and connected with the staff and our team. 

Pastor Alex took us on a tour of the campus, as well briefed us on the history of City Church and why they do what they do. He said there were nearly 20 churches on the street they were on so they had to ask themselves, “why another church in Luzira?” After giving us the vision and mission behind City Church, Alex drove us around the high end side of Luzira. There are some nice homes here, but literally across the street are the slums. We got out and walked the slums. That was a humbling experience. Don’t ever think you have it bad…

After visiting the slums we visited the Hope House and School that City Church puts on. Amazing the work they are doing!  

We regrouped for lunch, and then headed to our first school. Kevin had stayed back at the Adonai house because he wasn’t feeling good but we heard he was feeling better, and we needed our Jesus for our skit - Kevin plays Jesus. I (Luke) was his understudy but he did a much better job. Kevin caught a short BodaBoda ride (motorcycle taxi) to meet us - don’t worry he had a Kells our City Church guide with him. 

At the first school for the day we arrived a bit late and had a very short time to set up. Not to mention we had to hike a truck load of gear up 3 flights of stairs!  We did the same routine we’ve been doing and the team is definitely in the groove now! We know our rhythms now. 

Maddie shared her story and she blew it out of the water!  So good. She grabbed their attention from the start and the students were locked into her from then on. My (Luke) voice has been going out so David stepped into preach today. Let me tell you. David can preach!  P-R-E-A-C-H! Tons of decisions to follow Jesus!  

We followed the second school almost to the tee with the first and again it was a smash! The room was so crowded that Kevin chose to walk on the rafters of the exposed ceiling to make his entrance as Jesus in the skit. It was sketchy but it got their attention and the students went nuts!  Eric shared his story this time, and David again knocked it out of the park! 

After that we dropped our friends off at City Church, had a debrief and dinner and hit the bed. We’re tired, not all feeling good but we’re going for it. Pray for grace and strength because we’re feeling it as we come in to day 4!  

Tomorrow is an early day, but more good things I’m sure. 


Day 2

Last night we had a major thunderstorm and rain, but this morning we were greeted with an amazing sunrise over the city.

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After breakfast we met our Uganda team at the City Church campus. There we waited for a while for the team to assemble. While we were waiting, we played frisbee with one of the frisbees donated by Bend’s own Beach Hut Deli!

Our Ugandan friends had not seen a frisbee before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. Of course to which we showed them how to play ultimate frisbee. It’s a mix of frisbee, soccer and football all together. (It’s pretty fun if you’ve never played - google it.). The competition was fierce, I myself (Luke) got taken out a few times and even got a cut lip - but we had fun! We were soaked in sweat by playing so hard before we even started the day out. Above the fun of a game, it was so much fun playing with our new friends! What amazing and fun people the team from City Church is!

After an intense and hard game of frisbee (tied 5-5 with a rematch scheduled for tomorrow) we ventured out to our 1st school. After a muddy and adventurous trek across Kampala we arrived at Kampala City school. The roads were too muddy to pass by bus so we had to walk the last bit ourselves.

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We waited for a while outside of the gate of the school waiting for the welcome to come in and set up. After quite some time we waiting we got the news - we couldn’t come. There was a mix up in the administration of the school and scheduling so the school was unprepared and students unavailable to get away for our presentation. We were in good spirits anyways, despite the bad news. Some of us even got to connect with some kids anyways.


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Pam was able to pray with a very cute young girl who was unable to attend school because her family has no money to send her.

After we left we drove back to the city to exchange some money (we hadn’t done that yet) and at the mall Eric did what Eric does, Parkour that is - it was a cool experience for him to have some conversations with locals because of his talents.

After lunch we headed back to the fringe of the city and arrived at Oxford High School. There we set up and prepped to have a good time with the kids.

The place was small but PACKED - and they were so excited to have us! We had a great time with Kells getting them moving with dance and competition.




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After some music and dancing, Sheri and Noah shared their story with the kids. Both of them were stellar in sharing their stories. Sheri hit on that she always knew about Jesus but didn’t know him personally.

Noah shared about addiction and strongholds and both drove home that Jesus was the best thing that happened to them.

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Afterwards the team did their skit and the reaction was electric! The kids went wild. It’s so much fun to watch the team really dig in and own their parts in the skit - it really pays off.

Afterwards Luke shares his message with the kids and there were lots of decisions to follow Jesus in their hearts.





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After our last school we battled Kamala traffic to get back to the Adonai house where we are staying. We got back in time to get a coffee from one of Kampala’s best coffee shops just across the street from our lodging.

Our team every night sits around the dinner table and laughs, prays and even cries together. We spend some time each day talking about the experience we’ve had and debriefing the day. It’s so amazing to see the chemistry of the team building. Today was full of setbacks and success and it’s an emotionally hard experience seeing the absolute poverty in these areas but it was so refreshing to hear our experiences (good and bad) and grow together as a team. Brian shared around the table that he had found a family in this team and couldn’t imagine the team being any better.

We talked about how we can bring this experience back to daily life. We recognized this trip wasn’t the destination, it was the start of the journey in sharing our faith with others.

And this is only our 2nd day of ministry...

Sharing Our Stories

Today we had to get an early start on the day by waking up at 4:00 am so that we could eat and be ready to depart our lodging at 5:00.  Our first School that we visited today was Trinity school.  Well more than 900 students gathered together in the early morning as we sang some songs, shared our stories and talked about God’s love for them through Jesus.

It was really a great start to the day.  Pam Alarcon and Kevin Link both shared their stories in front of the 900 students, and they did so well!  It was really wonderful to hear their stories about how Jesus has changed their lives and how much of an impact their faith has had in their life.

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Luke shared a message about Jesus being the good shepherd and helping us to get stuck from the mud of life, and invited the kids to pray a prayer of salvation.  Lots of responses to pray!  

From Trinity we went to another school about an hour away, this school was a stark contrast from the first.  It was small and it was very impoverished.  There was trash on the dirt floors of the school, broken glass in the courtyard but the kids were so amazing!  The school staff was so welcoming to our team.  We set up in the courtyard while the whole school waited and watched.  David, Noah and some of the City Church team lead an impromptu worship session, and we had some amazing dancers from JForce (Jesus Force Dancers) give the kids a great show.

Leah and Bryan shared their stories and it was amazing.  Both struggled to share their story because they were so real. There is something so powerful about telling your story of faith, its not always easy to do, but when you do there is something that happens with it!  

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After the second school we drove back to Luzira and joined up with the City Church team.  It was so cool to see the worship team practicing for their upcoming tour to America.  Its going to be a great tour! 

We had lunch, regrouped and then headed out to Ggaba to Maranatha Christian school.  This school is put on by the church that sent pastor Alex to plant his church.  It was right on the Lake Victoria and was in a beautiful setting.  

So far this was our biggest challenge, maybe because the kids were so exposed to church and gospel message of Jesus but so far they were the least receptive group.  They stood there in many ways uninterested in our efforts.  We pressed on none the less, and the team work hard to break the ice with these kids.  It paid off, after some hard work and A LOT of dancing, they were coming around, the circle of kids came in a little closer and warmed up to us! 

Sarah shared her testimony and it was POWERFUL!  It was so real and so raw, but I think that it hit home with a few kids.  As I watched some were listening and some weren’t but when she shared that she was a single mom I could tangibly feel some kids tune in and relate to her experience.   David and the City Church team brought some great music, and Eric, Kevin, Bryan Maddie and Noah went out into the crowd to engage the kids!  Eric got into a back flip contest with another student and it was so impressive to watch the acrobatics!  

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Sunday, June 23

Yesterday was a long travel day from Dubai to Kampala 6 hour flight, and 2 hours to get through the airport, with an additional hour to our lodging. Needless to say, we were tired! Once we arrived at the Adonai house and got settled the night was upon us, we ate a quick dinner, rehearsed our skit for the outreaches and went to bed.

Today was our first full day, and it was just that - full. We left our lodging at 7:00 to meet Pastor Alex and the team at City Church in Luzira. It was really neat to be able to see the facility first hand, and experience Church in Africa.

I (Luke) Preached at the two morning services at the City Church, Pastor David preached at another church as well. The team jumped right into action with most of us helping in the Kids ministry. There were so many children at church they were literally bursting at the seams!

Sunday morning at City Church

Sunday morning at City Church

Church in Africa is very different than Church in America. For starters there was about 45 minutes of music and prayer, and the energy was so amazing! We had such a fun time worshiping with our Brothers and Sisters in Uganda. What I found so moving was that we were on the other side of the world, but still singing songs we had heard, praying for each other, and learning scripture together. The Church is truly an amazing thing, no matter where you are, the Church is there - people of Christ following Jesus!

After Church was over David joined our group and we made plans for the week ahead. We plan to visit 3 schools each day and put on an outreach to the students. Its so wonderful to partner with City Church in this!

The program lasts about 2 hours and comprises singing, dramas, preaching, competitions, dancing and performances from the dance crew, and some artists around the area. Holy Kane (who has visited Journey) was with us today. Its really neat to see some of the Uganda alumni reconnect with some old friends, and to see the new team mesh together to create new friends.

The team absolutely nailed the drama today. The kids were on their feet as the drama came to its climactic end, and a lady even came over and play kicked the Devil (Played by Sara Herberholz) while on the ground - we had good laugh about that one!

Our first school visit. One light was all this school had.

Our first school visit. One light was all this school had.

The bus ride to the school was 90 minutes, and then a 90 minute drive back. We didn’t get back to our lodging until after 9:30 pm. 15 hours of non stop action, but it was worth it! We saw some kids at the school really open up, and even some accepted Jesus - the team is really starting to bond and the conversations on the bus ride were great!

Tomorrow we visit 3 more schools starting at 4:30 am wakeup call - and going through the rest of the day. Another long day ahead of us but we’re looking forward to it.

Travel Day 1

It takes two days to get to Uganda. We’re most of the way there now. We had a 14 hour flight that took us over the northern hemisphere and down through Europe and into Dubai. While in Dubai we had a hotel as a part of the travel arrangements on our long layover. Once settled in, a few of us went to the Dubai Mall to see the world’s largest mall and the tallest building the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai is a fascinating city, very modern and very clean, there is so much construction here that it’s hard to imagine that the city is less than 50 years old, and it’s really a testament to human ingenuity to see a city built on sand, with no water and no resource around.

It reminds me of Genesis 11, in the story of the tower of Babel. “And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” Dubai is certainly proof we can do anything we put our hands too.

-Luke

Journey to Uganda 2019

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The Journey2Uganda team is off. We are so grateful for all the support we have received leading up to this trip. We would appreciate continued prayers for this mission trip. Please pray for unity of our team. Please also be praying for health and safety.  Please also pray for boldness as we prepare to share the light and love of Jesus with the people of Uganda.