Uganda 2014 - GREAT WORK!

Posted on December 18th, 2014

This was such a great trip! We heard amazing testimonies of how God used our time in Uganda to influence leaders and make a difference in the lives of others. This time we also heard real life testimonies of how the work being done is rescuing people from poverty, instilling dignity, and introducing people to Jesus. This blog has quite a bit of content, and it is still just a peek into what we were a part of.

International Africa Partner's Conference 2014

For the 10th consecutive year Wellspring invited all of their leaders as well as leaders from the local community to gather for a time of refreshing. We were also able to invite leaders from some of our relationships beyond Wellspring to the conference. During the 3 days, over 80 leaders from 7 different nations (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, New Zealand, UK, and US) participated. 

The conference was loaded with sessions of worship, teaching, learning workshops, prayer, fun & games, and shared meals. Just as significant as the sessions is the time in between where leaders meet other leaders, share stories, encourage and support one another. Mike, Andy, and I taught most of the sessions while some of the Wellspring team joined together to lead as well. Leaders were taught from the Bible on topics including not growing weary, leading in humility and love, dealing with disappointment, developing and executing vision, and much more.

We developed workshop material to follow every message, and those at the conference spent just as much time in discussion and application as sitting and listening. They were able to ask questions and get some coaching on specific issues they were facing. Another tremendous blessing is just being able to spend one on one time with the different leaders. It wasn't possible to do that with everyone, but it is amazing to hear stories from different places about how God is at work bringing Good News and transformation to communities. Being able to invest into these leaders who are pouring their lives out in so many contexts is humbling. It is truly an honor to serve them.

In one session, just for fun, I gave everyone candy canes and used the story of the legend of the candy cane as an example of how we can engage children with Gospel. Later I spent a half hour with a children's worker figuring out something she could use in her village that would substitute for a candy cane. I loved her passion for the children she worked with, and talking through indiginous materials she could use was a lot of fun. Something as simple as this had a ripple effect, and that was just from an introduction!

One of the takeaways from this year was that we need to take a conference on the road to an area where many of the leaders are not able to afford the expense of traveling to Kampala. It looks like that is going to happen in June of '15, and I'm excited to spend additional time with some of those who attended this conference.

The influence of IAPC grows every year, and every year it really does get better. IAPC is something that has become a staple for Links USA, and plans are already being made for December '15. 

Community Day

The conference wrapped up on Friday afternoon, and the very next day the Wellspring team hosted a Community Day for the surrounding village. Literally hundreds of people came to the Wellspring grounds for a variety of things. The Community Day featured the following.
  1. Rubbish Pick-up (or trash pick-up for us Americans) - The roads around Wellspring have a lot more foot traffic than road traffic. So, hundreds of people every day just throw their trash on the road. Among some normal paper type trash, we also encountered dirty diapers, condoms, beer bottles, and a myriad of other disgusting things. As we walk up and down the streets, other members of the team drove a van armed with a PA announcing the other events happening later in the day. It's really a beautiful thing to watch as people who live along the roadways end up walking with us and take a little responsibility for where they live. It's also fun to encounter the kids who aren't used to seeing Mzungus (white people) up close. They run out and yell, "Hi, Mzungu!" We respond and they laugh. It's good fun and speaks a lot to the community.
  2. Health Screening & Education - Wellspring Partners with local government officials to bring education about heart health, dental health, STD's, etc. Additionally, people are offered immunizations for their children, blood-pressure screenings, height/weight checks, HIV testing, and much more. We take for granted everything we know about being healthy. Hundreds of people sat under tents for hours waiting for services and listening to health related lectures. This part of the Community Day is literally saving lives
  3. Graduation Day - This year we had the privilege of shaking hands with about 100 people who graduated from one of several different educational programs. There were kids who graduated from primary school. There were adults who graduated from a literacy program. There were ladies (and a man) who graduated from vocational training including dress design, hair dressing, and bag and jewelry design using beads. We were asked to sit at the "dignitary" table which was a big honor. We wept several times listening to stories of real people whose lives had been changed. The work we have done there is making a difference. Micro-enterprise business development has helped people have money for the first time. English teachers from a Links team trained teachers who have now led many to know, read, and write English (which helps them to get a better job). It's amazing to see how this long-term relationship with Wellspring yields fruit that is so significant.
There were many other things happening around Wellspring during the Community Day, but the bottom line is we spent a day bearing witness to the reality that lives are changing and this community is being transformed. Everything we've done with Wellspring over the years has been a good investment, and the future is bright with more opportunities for the influence to spread. 

Links 2015 Strategy Meeting

On my way home, I stopped over in the UK for a few days to spend some time with Norman and Grace and to join the Links UK team for some strategic planning for 2015. It's amazing how small 52 weeks look when you line them up in a row to determine how those weeks should be spent serving partners around the world. There is more to do than there are days in the year, but that being said, it is exciting to see all the invitations we have to take Good News to the ends of the earth. It is also very exciting to know that Links USA will be more involved in going in 2015 than ever before.

These are exciting days for the Links Family, and the opportunities to be a part of changing the world are becoming more and more accessible to those who want to pray, give, or go.

There is more to come in this series from our Uganda Trip. Please let us know if you have any questions or want to know more.

Posted in Missions, Uganda    Tagged with Missions, Uganda, Links International, Wellspring, Community Development, Healthcare


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