Safari Send-Off | 6.2 Uganda SEED

Greetings! Zoe & Dave here!

This morning was one to remember. We woke up bright and early at 5:30 am in anticipation of an everlasting excursion… A SAFARI. We packed the safari vans full with our group and headed off into the largest National Park in Uganda.

            We were greeted with the most beautiful sunrise our group had ever seen, as well as the occasional Giraffe popping his head out to say hi. The goal for this trip was to spot some big “cats” and it took roughly an hour to get to our prime areas. The “boy’s” van was able to spot a leopard hunting on the way there and then eventually spotted two more in a tree down the line. The “girls” van struck gold when their guide took them off-roading. They were able to find a “pride” of Lions and were able to get within close proximity of these beautiful creatures. Other animals that were spotted between the two groups were elephants, hyenas, water buffalos, mongoose, antelope, gazelles, monkeys, and many more. Afterward, we headed back to the resort to munch down one last meal before we hit the road back to Kampala. We enjoyed an amazing meal overlooking the Nile River and shared great laughs.

            After a long two weeks, the ride back was of decent length, but we made the most of the quality time with our team. Some of our members indulged in Uganda’s finest gas station snacks such as, “Crunchy Daddies, Plantain Chips, Bon Bons, and top-of-the-line energy drinks. Also, a large majority of the bus caught up on some sleep after the early start of the day.

            We made it back to our humble abode, “Namirembe Guest House”, where we shared a team dinner and our last debrief ;(. We are so grateful for this opportunity and the amazing people we’ve met along the way. Not to mention, our wonderful team from Hope. It still seems a bit surreal, but we will always be thankful for every memory made along the way.

Tomorrow, we will venture off into the Markets of Kampala before starting our journey back.

Paradise in Paraa | 6.1 Uganda SEED

Macey and Owen here!

We had our last breakfast this morning at Sports Outreach Gulu and sadly said our goodbyes to the wonderful people! We are so thankful to Richard, Jennifer, Millie, Titus, Moses, the kitchen staff, and everyone else for our fantastic time. The warm welcomes, excellent hospitality, and experiences we were afforded were a blessing. (To the people of Gulu, afoyo!!) We then departed to head to the Paraa Safari Lodge.

Within the last 45 minutes of the ride, we saw some giraffes, elephants, antelopes, and possibly lions (if you weren’t looking too hard and got creative)! After a bumpy ride, we made it to the lodge and were greeted by the excellent staff and were offered juice that was so yummy and fresh. We still don’t know what it was, but it tasted great! We then headed straight to lunch, where some of us had Nile River perch, and others chose steak. (We both had the Nile River perch, which was DELICIOUS; anyone who chose stake took the L to be honest). After enjoying our lunch for maybe a little too long, we had to rush to the dock to catch our Nile River boat tour ride! We had an incredible ride down the Nile River and were lucky to see so much wildlife. We saw over 100 hippos (according to Joel’s count), a crocodile, many elephants, water buffaloes, African fish eagles, and a beautiful waterfall. As we approached the waterfall, it started to pour, so we all got a bit wet, but it was such a beautiful scene. It made us appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.

Once the tour concluded, we returned to the lodge and hung out at the swimming pool. We then had dinner, where we had the option of having lamb or chicken, a salad bar, (excellent) green bean soup, and dessert. Some guys tried the unlabeled pepper dressing for the salad and immediately began dying from how spicy it was. Carlee was just fine. Overall, we enjoyed our wonderful meal and the conversations we had with our tables.

After dinner, we had our regular nightly group time. Instead of having deep conversations and sharing our testimonies, we played an icebreaker to switch things up! The game involved every person in the group pretending to be the person to their left in the circle. Shomari was assigned the role of “the therapist” and had to figure out what “condition” the group had based on how we acted and answered his questions. We had lots of belly laughs from Maddie imitating Zoe’s fear of bugs, David laughing at everything just as Macey does, Owen pretending to be Tina (a middle-aged woman with 4 children), and Macey rattling off the colossal collection of Joel quotes from the trip, etc. After a bit of a struggle and a couple of attempts to legitimately diagnose the group, Shomari finally figured out what was going on. This game showed us how close we all have gotten this past week and a half!

Today was quite a bit different than our other days here in Uganda. It showed us how fortunate we are that we’ve gotten to experience a “normal vacation” in contrast with the extreme poverty of the people in Kampala and Gulu, where we went. We have loved our time here in Uganda and can’t believe we only have a couple more nights left!! ): The only thing left tonight is to get some rest for our early morning safari!!

Last Day in Gulu | 5.31 Uganda SEED

What’s up from Uganda, Maddie and Ryan here.

Today we started with breakfast and devotions. We were then allowed to work on the farm at the Gulu Sports Outreach Complex. We were divided into three groups; one fed the cows, another fed and herded the pigs, and a final group delivered water to the animals.

After lunch, our group was divided into men and women. The women visited Christine’s House, which cares for young girls going through hardships and in need of support. They made pastries with the girls at the house, learned a new dance, and played yard games with them. The girls were given the chance to encourage each other by sharing their stories and journeys through faith with each other.

While that was transpiring, the boys embarked on a different mission. They were shown around the complex and undertook mango hunting. They used excessively long sticks to smack mangos down, and the boys tried to catch them before they hit the ground and split open. Afterward, they spent some leisure time playing chess against one another.

As the end of the trip nears, many of us run out of clean laundry. The women of Sports Outreach were kind enough to show us how to wash our clothes in the proper Uganda fashion. We could also go to the vocational school and purchase some items they were making. Many people bought gifts for their parents, so I won’t spoil the surprise with specifics.

In the evening, the group returned to play soccer once more. While the soccer game was going on, many of us decided to start a volleyball game and showed many kids a new game they hadn’t seen before.

Our stay in Gulu has been amazing and eye-opening. We need to rest up as we leave early tomorrow morning for Para.

God’s Grace in GULU | 5.30 Uganda SEED

Gulu Greetings from Griffin and Grace

We started the day at 7 am sharp, as the master chef requested. We had a delicious breakfast with freshly picked mangos from the farm. The day opened with devotions with the residents who board here. A tour of the grounds followed this up; luckily, we did not have to hike across all 47 acres. We were introduced to the teachers and children of the school, aged 3-6, who taught us nursery rhymes about “Big Fat Mangos”. We then continued by visiting the clinic, where they treat students and community members who cannot travel to downtown Gulu. At the next stop, we were introduced to a trade school where young women learn to either tailor clothes or hair dress to develop skills to help support their families. We then toured the rest of the farm, where we saw pigs, cows, chickens, goats, and many crops. This climaxed with the head farmer climbing a mango tree for us, providing us with a delicious snack. The tour finished by visiting two dormitories where the girls from the trade school live and counsel and provide for young women with trauma.

After lunch, the group visited a village where we distributed the remainder of our water filters. We were again welcomed with open arms through a traditional greeting. The moment the people of Uganda see clean water for the first time is indescribable. The sparkle in their eyes makes you truly appreciate something we take for granted daily. The village leader thanked us and prayed that we could help spread the importance of clean water worldwide.

When we returned to the property, we had to rush out to the fields because all the children left school at 5, and we were late for warm-ups. Like last night, we played soccer, volleyball, and other games with over 100 kids from all over Gulu. Some of us played duck, duck, goose and ran races with the younger kids who weren’t old enough to play in the soccer games, and their laughs warmed our hearts like nothing else. Once the sun goes down, Coach Richard calls all the kids in for prayer and testimonies before going home because if he doesn’t, he said they would keep playing until it is so dark, they can no longer see the soccer ball.

After finishing the water filter demonstration Shomari and myself (Griffin) began that night’s adventure. Over the past year, I have been blessed to become a world traveler. This has been the fourth country I have visited, and my necessities for traveling are as follows: trying the traditional food, buying a soccer jersey, and getting a haircut. This country’s hairdo consisted of a buzz cut with a fade into my facial hair. While in the barbershop, the smile across my face was quite comprehensive as my hair has been the shortest since middle school.

After dinner, we had group time, where we continued to bond. The Sports Outreach leaders were flabbergasted to learn that we had only met one week prior. After this time, the power in the property shut off momentarily. The silence and stars soothed our minds after the exhausting day. We still take in every moment and cannot believe we are actually in Uganda. As we enter our final day of ministry, we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers. This trip has taught us many invaluable lessons we are eager to share with you when we return home.

Going to Gulu | 5.29 Uganda SEED

Carlee and Joel here.

We started out our day watching the sunrise over Kampala, followed by breakfast, before loading our bags onto the bus and setting off for Gulu, Uganda! We played many games on the way, stopped for snacks at a gas station, and crossed the Nile River! Before, during, and after crossing the Nile, we encountered some new friends (Baboons: picture below!). This is our first encounter with wildlife on the trip! The water was moving so fast, and there were many rapids; genuinely fantastic.

At the end of our six-and-a-half-hour bus ride, we finally arrived at the Sports Outreach facility in Gulu. We were welcomed with cultural chants and emphatic hugs. We were told these gestures are the most significant way to be welcomed in Gulu. After getting settled in our rooms, we had a snack. Waiting for us was an array of fresh fruits. For many of us, this was our first time trying passion fruit! It was delicious!!!! We then took about an hour’s break before joining the children in a workout and a very competitive soccer match. A few of the young ladies played volleyball with us as well. Although most of us still need to improve at soccer, we tried our best to contribute and had a blast. To end our games, we got the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the group. Shomari then closed with a prayer for both the SEED team and the children of Sports Outreach. To end our night, we gathered again for a traditional Ugandan dinner and debriefed the day as a group.

We are so thankful to be welcomed in Gulu with open arms, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of our trip has in store!!!       

Dancing, Singing, and Praising | 5.28 Uganda SEED


Coming at you live from Kampala, Uganda. This is Katie and Zoe!

Today was our last full day in Kampala before we head out to Gulu for four days. We started the day strong, with a few of us getting up for sunrise. We gathered for our regular breakfast and shipped off to Sports Outreach at 8:30 for church service.

The service here in Uganda was something none of us had ever experienced before in worship, and you could tell that the people here worship from the heart. We danced and sang and worshiped for nearly three hours, but it didn’t feel nearly that long. We led the congregation in two of our own songs and killed it with our dance moves, special shoutout to Zoe for creating a new iconic dance move. Three of our team members shared parts of their testimony before the congregation (David, Griffin, and Zoe), and Shomari preached a sermon for everybody. After the sermon from Shomari and the local pastor, we took part in a very altar call/prayer, and you could see the Lord moving throughout everyone in the room.

After service, we ate our last delicious local meal at sports outreach and returned to the hotel. We had our first bit of free time when we returned to the hotel. Some people participated in card games, some napped, and others had great conversations that made the hours seem like minutes. We ended the night with our last dinner here and a team circle that lasted hours and only continues to bring us closer to one another. We still can’t get over how blessed we are to have this group.

The Beauty of Exploration: Diving Deep into Kampala | 5.27 Uganda SEED

Greetings from Gabby and David!

We started our day with a team breakfast where we ate good food and bonded over team inside jokes. After breakfast, Joseph, a member of Sports Outreach, took us to his neighborhood (one of the slums in Kampala). We arrived at their chapel and met many children from the area. We began our time in the community by visiting the catch-up school. This school is in place for students who need to catch up due to personal/family reasons. The school teaches them topics ranging from math to information on effectively taking care of themselves. The school is entirely run by volunteers in the area who dedicate their lives to service for their community. After learning about how the catch-up school is structured, we got to teach the children a religious song from our early childhood. We journeyed with about 100 kids to the soccer field. We did activities such as soccer, duck-duck-goose, ring around the Rosie, and relay races. The kids in this community were so full of joy and laughter as we spent time with them today.

            We ate lunch as a team following our visit to the neighborhood. After this, we headed to a partner of Sports Outreach, a center where kids can play chess and find community with other kids. This center was located in another slum in Kampala. We met many different families from within this community. With these families, we discussed the importance of ministry, provided water filters, and demonstrated how to use and clean these filters properly. They showed us their aspirations for the facility, and we toured where these students learned to play chess and engage in other activities such as shoe and jewelry making.

            Following today’s events, we had a great dinner and played card games like Euchre (which brought out only the best of our emotions) while debriefing about our day. It was a great way to get to know each other better, and our gratitude for each other grows every day!

Living Water | 5.26 Uganda SEED

Macey and Ryan here!

We started the morning off with a beautiful sunrise over the city of Kampala. After breakfast, we then traveled to the Sports Outreach ministry center again. We started with some praise songs and discussed the impact of the Angels. We finished the devotional session with some testimonies from the members of the ministry center and some of our very own group members!

After devotion, we had lunch with the members of the ministry center. We shared community between our groups while enjoying pork, rice, peas, and much more. We departed around 1 pm to go to the remote village of Degeya in the region of Kibogo.

They warmly welcomed us with open arms. We greeted the children and then demonstrated the assembly of the water filters. Maddie and Griffin led the demonstration with the assistance of Dr. Robert Katende. The rest of the group was hard at work hand-drilling holes for the water filters to attach to the buckets. Overall, we drilled 30 buckets! The water filters were then assembled and distributed to the community members. Afterward, the community gathered to watch a soccer match between the sports outreach members (Zoe, Gabby, and Griffin represented Hope College well by playing on the team!) and the community members of Degeya. Once the match concluded, we divided into small groups to share testimonies. 115 Degeya members accepted Jesus Christ as their savior!

After a long day, we returned to the hotel, shared a late dinner, and debriefed. We can’t wait to head to Nateete tomorrow, distribute more water filters, and spread Christ’s love.

The Testimony of Jesus | 5.25 Uganda SEED

Everyone enjoyed a great night of sleep after our very long travel days. Today, we had our first day of sports ministries with our partner sports outreach. After breakfast at the hotel, we drove the bus to the sports outreach site. This was our first time seeing the city of Kampala come to life in the daylight. We arrived at sports outreach and began the day with devotions and worship with all the staff. We were all moved by the authentic way the people of Uganda worshiped. The speaker for the devotion, Julius, spoke at great lengths about the purpose of angels. He said that the purpose of angels is to bring about the testimony of Jesus. Our purpose as Christ followers is to also bring about this testimony through how we speak.

We were then informed that we would participate in a workout that ended up being a toasty soccer game with the promising new soccer team. We quickly realized that everyone besides Griffin, Gabby, and Zoey was entirely out of our league.

After our game, we were rewarded for our efforts with a delicious authentic homemade meal. We soon realized the importance of community during meals in their culture. We all tried new food alongside the good new soccer players and sports outreach staff. We got to ask each other questions and talk about their ministries. After lunch, we got a tour of the facility and heard about their goals to reach more children in their community. We also learned about all the foods grown on-site and used to make lunch.

Then, we had fun with children from the surrounding communities. We all split up and created different sports stations for them to participate in. All of us were struck by the amount of joy the children displayed. We all had so much fun! That concluded our day at the sports outreach site, and we headed back to our hotel, most of us falling asleep on the way to have dinner and debrief the day. The testimony of Jesus was alive and well today!

*Also, let it be known that Ryan Murphy thought his mosquito net was a bassinet*

And….We’re Off! | 5.24 Uganda SEED

And we’re off!

            We started our morning with a prayer and send-off at Devos. Thank you, Coach V, for the yummy DeBoer donuts! We had a smooth two-and-a-half-hour drive to O’Hare where we got checked in and went through security super easily.

            Our first of 3 flights was an 8-and-a-half-hour flight to Zurich. It was packed but we watched lots of movies and got some pretty good pasta/chicken for dinner. Swiss Air did not disappoint with the Swiss chocolate at the end of both of our flights. Security in Zurich was pretty easy as well and we had a quick 30-minute layover before our flight to Brussels. The flight was pretty empty which we all took advantage of by taking a quick nap because it was only a 1-hour flight.       

            Before our last flight, we were at 18 hours of total travel from Devos and we still had a long way to go.

            We finally arrived in Uganda after a stop in Bujumbura Burundi and then had an hour left of our flight to get to Entebbe. After 31 hours of travel, we finally got through a slow customs line and gathered all our bags before we met with Sam and Lydia who are our in-country coordinators.

%d bloggers like this: