The trip came to a very rapid end. We enjoyed one last dinner all together in Uganda with Collins and our dinner conversation covered everything from Museveni, whose motorcade drove by while we were eating, to how the kids do after completing Sonshine high school as they navigate finding jobs. We had to say good bye to Collins the next morning. What a blessing to get to be in God's great family with the kids and staff here in Uganda. What a gift it was to get to set up the vision clinic and see answered prayer with Taban being able to use the clinic. God's glory shines through the whole earth. To Him be the glory!
Our time was coming to a close and on our next to last day we had some time to visit Jinja and enjoy a boat ride to the source of the Nile. We also did some shopping and then drove back to Entebbe before flying out the next day. On the way to Entebbe we took some memorable, rough and narrow back roads while crammed in tight as we attempted to avoid Kampala traffic. Most of us enjoyed ‘chicken on a stick’ along the way, and we also stopped at the police academy to visit a long time friend of KIDS, Edson, who is now teaching at the academy. He recently became a widower and he is now raising his five kids alone.
The full team was back together again and we were greeted with a song (see videos). We had a nice time sharing stories of the previous days at each end of the country and a nice evening meal. The next day was full with driving to one of the rescue units, Bukadea, and going to Sonshine Christian School, where our kids instantly bonded and became fast friends with the high schoolers that board there. It was an honor to support Charles and Rebecca at their new site in Bukadea as they were forced to move from their old location. We saw their new well that provides clean water to the surrounding village and helped plant 4 new Eucalyptus trees around the site. Jeff got to drive one of the team vehicles, and some of the highlights of the drive include trying to stay up with Collins as he navigated through towns, road blockades, and baboons crossing the road.
After four incredible days in Koboko, it was time to say good bye to all of the staff and our friends in Koboko and board the Eagle Air plane back to Entebbe, drive four hours, and meet up with the rest of our team in Iganga.
The flight from Entebbe to Koboko takes about 1 hr and 15 minutes on a relatively small plane that seats 21 people. The flight actually lands in Arua, on a dirt runway, where we were picked up by David, one of the staff, and he drove the final 45 minutes to Koboko.
The next 4 days were very busy unpacking all of the previously sent equipment and setting up the vision clinic. Although we encountered a few set backs and surprises (one dead mouse and one alive mouse were found inside the box holding the slit lamp), we were able to set up the complete eye examination lane and most of the finishing lab. The staff was more excited than we were to finally get to open these boxes and help out (Christmas in July!). However, as we went to test edge our first set of lenses, we had a blown fuse that took out the edger. Turns out Koboko has an electrical tech (Lokiko) who came to see what he could do and he found out not only was a fuse blown, but also two other items on one of the circuit boards were burned out and one item on the second circuit board was burned out. Amazingly, he was able to repair one of the boards, but not the second. A minor set back for now. One of the other goals of the trip was to have some time to not only do eye exams, but identify a local person who we could train, or who had interest in helping keep the clinic open. Again, The Lord went before us as the staff knew of a new ophthalmologist in training, Taban, who recently started working at the local hospital doing basic refractions and eye checks. He spent almost 2 full days with us in the clinic and we were able to see all the kids the staff had identified who needed to be seen and gave out reading glasses. Additionally, we saw all the Koboko staff and some local pastors and government officials, all of whom were grateful that the vision clinic is now functional. We had a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday when all of the kids were there, and another Sunday afternoon with the board members of KIDS Uganda in Koboko, as well as the local officials. The staff will work with Taban who will be able to come in the clinic weekly and do eye exams, write prescriptions and dispense reading glasses. What a huge answer to prayer that the clinic will not just sit idle in our absence, but be used to help those in need.
In addition to getting to set up the clinic, Karissa and the kids were able to visit several local schools, see the children in their homes, and play with the kids all day on Saturday. Karissa got to share the gospel through a fun visual presentation Saturday (thank you Pastor Doug Higuera) and the kids played all manner of ball games.
We got to see just how far the kids walk to school each day (miles), their homes and meet their caregivers. These kids and caregivers were so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be in KIDS Uganda. Even though their situations are desperate, they had joy and thanksgiving overflowing instead of despair. God is so good!
Camille’s time of devotion with all the staff Friday morning was a highlight (as was her sweet breakfasts she made us each morning in her home). So incredible to get to study God’s word together with our Ugandan body.
Our flight from Dubai to Entebbe was like a step back in time. Dubai is quite luxurious and wealthy and when you step off the plane in Uganda you instantly know this is a poor country. God was definitely leading us into Uganda because as we exited the customs area the official simply asked us a couple questions and then waved us past the x-ray machines. Amazingly, we did not need to declare any of the items were were bringing to help, including the chain saw that one of the rescue unit facilitators asked for. Quite a site to see our group of 14 people simply walk out while it seemed all the other arriving travelers were screened. Some would say we were just lucky...we are going with God's Providence.
Everyone survived the long flight to Dubai! We landed to a cool 100 degrees at 6 PM and then had some dinner before a city tour. Below are some of the photo highlights and more to come. Bed time now for an early departure to Uganda tomorrow. Thank you all for your prayers!
We are putting the finishing touches on our packing for departure tomorrow. Everyone is so excited to see what The Lord has planned out before us and we can't wait to be His hands and feet in Uganda. Karissa and the kids were finishing making 100+ wordless books to present the Gospel story to some of the orphan kids while in Koboko. So the bags are packed nearly to capacity and the trip begins tomorrow. Thank you for all the prayer and support as we go out.