Uganda knows the meaning of hospitality. If there is anything I would like to package to take back with me it will be the welcoming hospitality of the people here. Arua was our first stop on a two month outreach. Upon arrival at the YWAM base there, we were immediately welcomed by the staff who, for the most part, are East Africans. They immediately became friends that we will never forget.
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” -James Michener
We were busy in Arua with ministry opportunities at the local hospital, where we prayed for those in the TB ward and the baby ward. This was our hardest ministry because conditions are far from good. What was hardest was the fact that the patients are never fed at the hospital unless a friend or family member brings them food. We met a man named Moses, who was not a resident of Arua. He collapsed as he was walking through town and was sent to the hospital. He had no family and no friends in town, so for the entire week he had not been fed. It was heartbreaking. We gave him a bag of peanuts that one of us had in our purse, and that was all he had. We prayed for him, but when we returned the next week he was gone. We have no idea whether he lived or died. But we were glad to have given him some comfort and pray that wherever he is, he is in God’s hands. It is an impossible task to fix the world, to answer all the pain and injustice, but we help where we can and trust in God for the rest.
Another ministry we worked with was serving the South Sudanese refugees living locally, as well as those in the refugee camps. We had many days where we sat in their homes and visited, and simply listened to their stories. This seemed to greatly take up a portion of our time, and what we felt we were primarily called to in Arua: the art of simply giving our time, and a listening ear. We were all greatly touched by their stories, and joy in the midst of their circumstances. They dream deeply of returning to their homeland and we stood with them in prayer, believing for these dreams to come to pass.
We also worked with the Go Camp, which is a mini-mini-DTS for high school aged kids. We had kids from South Sudan, The DRC (Congo), Germany, and Uganda. We taught a few of the classes, but mainly facilitated the afternoon team building exercises as well as the game time at the end of the day and worship in the mornings. We built some great relationships with kids, encouraging them in their relationships with Jesus. Some of the students were deaf, so the camp was set up with a deaf interpreter and we were able to learn a little bit of sign language – specifically their sign names. It really made some of us feel determined to add that talent to our skills for future use. Once the Go Camp kids returned to base after their outreach in Moyo, Uganda, we got to celebrate with them during their graduation, and sent them off with hope for their futures.
Around the base we helped with the Explorer program which runs every week. This program reaches out to the nearby village children to provide them with library books and a time of learning. We also provided afternoon game times with the children of the base staff. We really enjoyed that! Parachute games, water balloons and musical chairs. We loved giving these kids a chance to just take a break and be kids for a little while. It was really hard to leave those precious faces!
We have learned so much about these people, and have fallen deeply in love with this country. We are excited for the days to come in our next location, Soroti, and the love of Jesus for all the new faces and places. We have discovered that to go and to love is the greatest adventure, the greatest honor that we could ask for.
Love from Team Uganda!