Oli Otya Friends- we are live from Mukono Uganda and want to share all the good things God is doing in this beautiful place! Our internet has been spotty but it’s looking better- here’s the first few days so you can catch up!
Five of us (Cindy, Laurie, Mary, Jason & Laura) and our 21+ bags left Weds afternoon for about 30 hours of travel - planes, trains, shuttles, more planes, then a van ride through the Kampala traffic at 1am! We stayed “in town” that night then headed out to Mukono to investigate our new hotel!
Now listen, we DO NOT go for luxury- we are well aware that the people we serve live very simple, even harsh lives and we would NEVER stay in a fancy place. And seriously, the fancy places are the first ones bombed anyway so we stay in small local hotels. Safety is pretty much our top criteria. HOWEVER.... our “regular” hotel for the past few years has gotten progressively less “restful” and having any water pressure at all was a luxury. I have mastered a shower with a water bottle of cold water, though I’m not happy about that skill! The hotel has a raucous outdoor bar, LOUD soccer fans, and a “sauna” which is just weird, and very busy. Our nights were filled with loud music, beer bottles clanking, traffic noise- and the last straw was theft from our suitcases in our rooms- NOPE!!
A connection at Mukono found THE most beautiful hotel, about 15 minutes away from the city into the rural lush green forests. Best of all, it is a Christian business (no booze, no sauna, no noise!) which uses the hotel and conference property to train Ugandans in the hospitality business! They offer cooking, baking, bookkeeping, housekeeping, management, groundskeeping and more- such a wonderful model, very well executed! We work reallllly hard every day in the heat, surrounded by people, always “on”, meeting, training, helping, usually 7/8am-7 pm each day - getting a bit of peace & quiet and a good night’s sleep is vital to our mission’s success!
Saturday morning our team’s 8 sponsored kids came to the hotel to swim with us! They enjoyed the pool, the lunch, and time with their sponsors - such a sweet afternoon! Except for all the foreigners with sun-burns from swimming at the Equator in the peak sun hours!! Oops!
Later that night we met at Mukono Community Church where we hosted a Leader’s Dinner to thank and appreciate the staff & volunteers for the hard work they do in leading a Gospel-focused church in an impoverished area FULLLLLLL of children!! Super Star Laurie Brown led a training on leadership & it was very practical & relatable! The worship team was outstanding, the pastor gave such encouraging statistics and we were thrilled with the spiritual growth we were seeing. The church is running about 400(!) children and 100 adults each Sunday. Uganda is a very young nation in population- the average age is 15- so targeting children & teens is absolutely on track! The AWANA program (kid’s Bible Club) began last summer, almost entirely run by teens from the church, is averaging 150+ children each week, many if not most from the community, not just the church or sponsorship kids.
Small groups were formed last fall (with great input from Tim Pribe & Josh Boggs, conveniently our small group leads for the East & Whitehall campuses!) and there are 9 active groups meeting each Weds evening! A children’s small group held an activity where they went out into their community 2x2 EVANGELIZING their neighbors. Little kids- wow! God is moving at MCC and while they are so thankful for New Life’s investment, we are THRILLED to partner with them!
Sunday was church day so we headed out about 8:30 and made it right on time for the 9am service! So many familiar faces greeted us- zillllllions (not kidding) of little ones fascinated with the visitors, sponsored kids asking about their sponsors (Austin Solze- your kid