Every day since we arrived in Uganda we have started each day worshiping. Today was no different. Well, actually it was. Instead of heading to a room with each other and some of our closest Ugandan friends to share in singing praise songs, reading Holy Scripture and praying, we instead piled into Land Cruisers and drove away from our hotel. We were going on a true African safari, which quickly turned into another form of worship for our incredible Heavenly Father. I will spare the details of what we say and how we felt, so please ask the members of the trip to fill you in when you see them next.
After the safari, we boarded the bus again and began the drive back to Kampala, where we did some shopping for African souvenirs. The students seemed to have fun shopping and bargaining over prices as that is the norm here. Following the completion of our last back and forth negotiations with the vendors we made our way back to the hotel for our last night in Uganda.
On Tuesday morning we made our last trip back to the Sports Outreach Resource Center for one last celebration (devotion) and home visit. This was a great time for each of us as we praised and celebrated God’s love and witnessed a Grandfather and Grandmother dedicate each of their lives to Jesus Christ. As we spoke with our hosts, they notified us that this was an incredible occurrence as they were the patriarch and matriarch of a large family with numerous children and grandchildren. The local staff will continue to connect with this family and encourage them to take part in the local church and Sports Outreach discipleship program. God is so good……
As our trip nears the end, Stephanie and I would like to publicly state how much of a pleasure and honor it was for us to lead this incredible group of Hope College students on this trip. The goals of the Hope College SEED Program in general and Sports Outreach and their various ministries in Uganda specifically is to restore hope and transform lives. This goal was met every day…we saw it with our own eyes. It was great to partner with the students and staff of Sport Outreach in upholding this mission statement through loving the people in Uganda in real and tangible ways.
However, the lives of those we met in Uganda are not the only ones that have been changed. Each and every one of us who were able to participate in the trip is a changed person and more committed follower of Jesus Christ. In the process of helping others transform their lives, ours were changed as well. Stephanie and I are so impressed with this group of young men and women who gave of themselves and engaged physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually during this trip. We are so excited to see how they take the experiences and perspectives gained during this trip and put them into action upon our return home. Thanks to Sawyer and many of you for making this trip possible. God is good…all the time.
As we wrap up the trip and post our final blog, I wanted to provide each student a chance to share what this trip has meant to them. Here is what they had to say:
As I prepared for this trip people kept asking me how I felt about traveling to a completely different continent, but I never really knew how answer. Now, as I prepare to leave, I feel the same way. I have so many different emotions they are hard to sort through. On one hand, I am excited to see my family and friends that I miss so much, but I am certainly sad to leave this amazing place and all of the people here! This truly has been the trip of a lifetime! It has been everything I imagined and much more! I have learned a new way to love and worship God, our amazing Father. God is everywhere and if you pay close attention, you will be able to notice all of the blessings he has given us. I learned that even in the worst situations, God is with us and He has a plan! Over the past eleven days, I have seen God work through me, the people I met, and the amazing group of people I got to travel with. Every person I talked to, family I prayed with, Child I played with and breathtaking sight I saw has changed me. Part of my heart will always be in Uganda! Praise God!
The person that stepped on the flight to Uganda and the person stepping on the flight to the US are two different people. My heart has been softened by the presence of the Lord and by all the love within the people of Uganda. Despite the highs and the lows, God was there. God was with us in water filter demonstrations, in morning worship, in home visits, and in every moment in-between. There was more growth in eleven days versus one year in terms of faith. This trip has changed my life around and I am eager to continue to serve and love in the States. God bless!
During my time here in Uganda, the Lord has captured even more of my heart. From meeting the staff of Sports Outreach to the community members, there was a common theme my eyes were opened to. Our God is the ultimate Healer and Provider. He mends the souls of the broken-hearted, gives strength to those who are weary, and is a Father to the fatherless. Even within our own team the Lord continued to meet our needs, even when they were unknown to us. I am blessed to have been able to more fully experience God and witness His fingerprint in all that we did.
This trip exceeded my expectations. I was apprehensive about traveling, how well our team would work, if we would bond with the people we met, etc. I truly had nothing to worry about because everything fell into place. Uganda is a beautiful country filled with the most welcoming, selfless people. I will never forget the humility of the workers at sports outreach. We were so blessed to cross paths with the staff in Kampala and Gulu. They taught us the importance of loving and caring for our community. I can’t wait to go back someday! Afaayo, Uganda! <3
This was the first time I have traveled outside of the United States. I am so thankful for this opportunity of a lifetime. I am most thankful for my team members on this trip. There were a lot of highs and lows throughout our time in Uganda, and my team was there for me every step of the way. Although meeting new people and seeing the beautiful scenery was amazing, I really enjoyed getting closer to my team. I learned a lot from my time here in Africa, and God has shown himself in many ways. I am looking forward to more mission trips throughout my life, but this was definitely a great start.
This trip has been such an eye-opening experience. We have seen a lot of amazing, jaw dropping things, but have also experienced things that we struggled with and questioned. However, through it all, our group has been blessed by meeting amazing people, hearing inspiring stories, and growing individually and as a group. Ugandans live their lives celebrating the Lord and everything He has done, and if there’s one thing I want to take away from this trip, it’s that.
I am so thankful for this opportunity we were given to visit the beautiful country of Uganda. The people here love God and love others so passionately, and I have learned so much from the time I spent with them. My eyes were opened to many worldly struggles, but they were also opened to the fact that God can and will heal our hearts. The relationships I built with not only the people in Uganda, but also my teammates, are ones I will never forget. I am blessed to be leaving this trip with new friendships and a new perspective on life.
I honestly had no idea what I would experience coming to Uganda; I knew it would be big, though. Seeing how these amazing people worship the same God I do all the way in Holland, MI opened my eyes. I have learned how to love without limit and live each day with a new joy that comes from a deep faith in the Lord. Although the amazing people here may be facing different struggles than I am, they never let these obstacles deter them from keeping their eyes on God. I’m so glad I was chosen to go on this trip with the other students from Hope College. I know I’ve made some lifelong friends and memories!
This trip has impacted me in ways that I could not have imagined only a couple weeks ago. I knew that I wanted to give all of my energy in any way I could to impact people that we met, whether that be a laugh with a child or a fun conversation with a new friend. What I did not expect was to be so impacted by the depth of the interactions with the people that we encountered. It has made me recognize areas of shallowness in my own life and look for ways in order to dive deeper into intentional relationships and meaningful actions. I will forever be impacted by the people on this trip and I am thankful to the SEED program and Sports Outreach for providing this opportunity.
This trip exceeded all of my expectations. Prior to our departure my prayer was that God would not only use my gifts to serve the people in Uganda, but that he would also point out tendencies in my own life which need to change. I found the answers to this prayer in many ways throughout our trip. The leaders of the sports outreach ministry taught me so much throughout our time with them. They portrayed such a strength in their own faith that was very admirable. We had the opportunity to join them for morning devotions and each time I learned something new about the many “simple” topics such as obedience and God’s love. They truly depend on God daily and put him first in every aspect of their lives. I am so grateful to the SEED program for the opportunity to go on this trip. The holy spirit was so present in every moment and our team grew immensely together. I am pumped to see the relationships gained on this trip continue to grow in the future ~ Connor