My first return to Uganda

A blog of photographs from my second time serving the Watoto ministry in Uganda, Africa! October 2013.

We spent many hours in this giant plane…so worth it! 
Image

From one continent to another! I do really enjoy watching moment by moment updates. 
Image

There isn’t a “good” segue, but here is a collection of about town photos. I encourage you to remove pity from your repertoire; instead, try to view these photos as God might – full of people and places that He cares about. Places where life is happening just as it would around the world. While many of us have known a different lifestyle and culture, this is what many Ugandans are familiar with. Pity serves them no purpose, let us be moved to take action to help them move forward instead.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

ImageImage

Eventually I will get a traffic video posted…but only a full sensory experience can really do it “justice.” 
ImageImage

And now, on to Watoto! If you want to learn more about this organization that has and is continuing to change Uganda for the better, please visit their website: http://www.watoto.com
(Do forgive that these are not in chronological order, but hopefully they will make sense anyway.)

 

Image

The beautiful eucalyptus trees signature to Bbira Children’s Village:

Image

The stunning grassy hills signature to Suubi Children’s Village (second photo shows more of the village):

Image

Image

Pampering stations all set up – we simply gave 3-step hand massages, but the women were incredibly grateful! They held their hands up saying they wouldn’t be using them for the rest of the day – their big kids would handle the cooking and cleaning for that afternoon 🙂

 

Image

I “taught” most of the large group sessions, though I’d say it was more of an encouragement session than that of teaching. These women know the Bible and cherish it – they also live in sacrificial love and kindness as we are called. I am confident that our team learned more from these mums than we “taught” them!

Image

I just adore international worship sessions. Fun and powerful times!

Image

We also spent time in small groups after each large group session – invaluable quality time with these wonderful mums.

Image

Crying with and comforting a mum during a time of sharing:

Image

We spent plenty of time connecting via team-building games! Bringing cultures together this way makes for a very FUN time and learning experience. The Human Knot (as it stayed!):

Image

 

Image

“Cross the River”: Players move to one side of a designated area – the river – and one at a time, each person receives a “stone” (brown felt square) that they can step on to cross the river. They must stay on the stones or the crocodiles may catch them! Unfortunately, we don’t have “enough” stones for each crosser, so they’ll have to work together to find a solution! Here, they are praying!:

Image

The sac races got pretty intense…

Image

And the three-legged races conjured up lots of laughs!

Image

But I’d have to say that Charades wins for most interesting and humorous! Very fascinating to watch varying interpretations with cultural flare! 
Image

ImageImage

Our gift to each mum was a framed photo of herself. Mirrors are few and far between. As are self-portraits – this was a simple gift that brought a different glimmer of confidence! The children and mums all loved looking at the photographs.

ImageImage

In a mum’s home – photo one is personalized decor and photo two is the living space in one of the Watoto homes. They take such good care of their things. And as you may have gathered, they are an incredibly grateful, fun, and loving bunch!

ImageImage

On to our excursion! We went on a boat down the Nile River & Lake Victoria, then drove quad-bikes (4-wheelers) through Jinja. We rode through the mud, the bush, along the River, and even through town. Although we acknowledged the battle between being grateful for this experience and feeling like time on mission should be spent elsewhere, we chose to soak up the experience. The money spent went into the local community — and I just don’t know when I’ll be quad-biking in Africa again! Truly an indescribable and incredibly FUN excursion.

ImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

And now, the ones you’ve been waiting for…Baby Watoto (Kampala)!

Image

 

The group sitting under the trees is where I ended up after the tour. A beautiful group of special needs toddlers with two WONDERFUL mums!

ImageImage

The bathtubs:
Image

And the sign above them! The animal names are in reference to different age groups (rooms). I have no idea why anyone would ever WANT to bathe more than 5 babies at a time, but the sign is there for a reason…

Image

Triplets saved!

Image

I loved spending time with Doreen (L, rear) & Lucy (R, front) learning about their lives as Watoto mums. It was easy to see how much they love these sweet children (and why!) that had been given up, abandoned, abused, neglected, or otherwise less-than-cared for before Watoto. So many heartbreaking stories that have developed into beautiful survivor stories!

ImageImage

I like the bunk-cribs as non-clinical and comfortable space-savers:

Image

Baby Watoto at the Suubi Children’s Village – the only village with a Babies’ Home on site.

ImageImageImageImage

And some more unforgettable faces:

ImageImageImage

The End! Thanks for reading and leaving comments below!

 

Advertisements

My Story

As I carry about my daily tasks, activities, and relationships, my spirit is anticipating something bigger than myself.

Image
True religion that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God is this: to visit, help, and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need… ” James 1:27.

This verse sums up the desire of my heart; my “holy discontent,” if you will. I imagine that whether you subscribe to the Christian faith or not, you probably recognize the significance of caring for widows and orphans. They are vital pieces in the puzzle that makes up our big, hurting world. I have long been sensitive to my calling to love and serve children in orphanages and the foster care system, both professionally and personally. Living out that calling will look a little different than I had anticipated! I cannot predict where my passion will carry me, but for right now, my whole passion is focused on serving the Watoto Childcare Ministry in Gulu, Uganda. As you probably know, this is a short-term mission trip taking place July 10-21, 2013 with 34 other volunteers from Hope Community Church.

The Watoto Childcare Ministry is the embodiment of James 1:27.

Image

Image

The very moment I learned about this organization, I fell in love. They are living, breathing, DOING what my soul longs to! I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to be a part of this ministry. But how? I mean, I had always seemed to think that my calling was in the United States; to not forget that I, too, live in a very broken country with lots of hurting people and abandoned children. I deeply value international work and missions, but wan’t sure I’d be a direct part of it. Not for fear or unwillingness, but simply because what I understood as my calling looked different. It’s okay to be wrong sometimes.

What happened, exactly?

After the  experiencing the Watoto Children’s  Choir for a second time on January 20th, 2013, I made a deeper heart commitment to Watoto and what they are doing. I joked about moving to Africa. But I knew my spirit was stirring for a reason. Moving, there or anywhere else, very well could be in my future. I am not closed to it at all. I talked briefly with July trip leaders, David Williams and Amanda Vogel that day. The moment David said the trip cost was $3,000, I was not afraid. Which really, is incredible and only faith, because it IS a lot of money. To raise? You mean, to trust other people to help? Eh. God will do it. God is BIGGER! You can find 3000 in change in God’s couch, I imagine. A giant, cozy couch. Ha! Afterward, I went on about my day, week, three weeks went by and the trip was still on my heart. So, I started my research. (I.e., I sent David a long email with 176 questions.) I pulled up the application. I started it. I left it open on my computer and worked at it, not sure whether I’d submit for sure, or not. I looked into the cost and process of a passport (that’s no pocket change…) Pulled up that application, filled it, saved it. Worked extra to save the trip deposit. Heard back from David, his selling line, “if you’ve ever backpacked in the jungle, this trip will be a breeze!” Having never even done anything close to backpacking in the jungle, I thought, “WELL, I’M IN!” So, I submitted the application and then the deposit. Text David. Receive call later that afternoon…”So, you’re the first one on the waiting list.” Okay. Not shaken. I’m got so pumped applying, but this is bigger than me and I cannot control it. “Don’t worry. I hope you’ll come to the meeting on Sunday anyway.” Well, YES, because I know I’m a part of this somehow! So, after serving with my awesome Green Guide team, I went upstairs to the meeting and went to greet David. He pulled me aside and whispered, “Guess what. You’re in!” EEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I lit up, squealed, jumped, probably danced…I was, and AM, so very excited!

Our team of 35 from Hope Community Church will be serving the Watoto Ministry by way of building housing – physical labor is a vital logistic in helping and caring for the widows and orphans!If you know me, you probably guessed that I am not a builder (why isn’t my step-dad going with me, again?!), but I will not be moved. I can work hard, especially when all of my being is passionate about the work. You may also know that I’ve never traveled out of the Country. Still, not shaken. I am NO fan of shots, but I will happily do what I have to do to be a part of this trip and ministry!

Image

Really, everything about this trip is outside of my comfort zone. (If you really know me, you know that is another reason I am so drawn to it!) It will be my first time outside of the US, my first time on a labor-intensive trip, my first time raising this amount of support, and first time traveling this far and in these conditions. But you know what? I am THRILLED. I simply cannot convey how excited I am to you in text. God is so much bigger than any of my insecurities and shortcomings. I know that He will use me to do great things, but even more so, will do great things in me through this!

This is a big trip and this trip is a big deal for me! Please consider partnering with me – there are SO many ways you can be involved!

  • Prayers – pray for me, pray with me – stop me anytime to pray with me!
  • Fundraising – Ideas, support, events. Maybe you’d like to be in charge of an event, or you’d like to be in charge of raising any amount for me – it’s easier when you’re asking for someone else, right? :) I’ll take ideas any time! We have a few in the works.
  • Encouragement. High-five me when you see me! Let me talk your ear off about my passion for this ministry, trip, and serving people. Send me verses of encouragement. Tell me about how you’ve seen God work on trips you or others have been on.
  • Financial contributions. Every single penny adds up and every donation is tax deductible. Save change in a jar, give up a “little” daily habit for a month or so and set the money aside (Coffee, soda, etc.), head up a fundraiser. To donate directly:

Two options!

  1. Online Giving (currently debit cards only)
    Super easy! Visit http://gethope.net/global-hope/give

    Give Directly (to someone’s trip):

    • Select “Raleigh” as location and “Mission Trip Support” as the fund. Enter your amount and check “One Time Donation”
    • Check the “In memory/honor of” box
    • In the “First Name” field enter the traveler’s full name (i.e., Siara Mims)
    • In the “Last Name” field enter trip location and travel date (i.e., Uganda, July 2013)
  2. Cash or Check
  • Any cash or check donations must be given directly to me (cannot be dropped off or mailed directly to Hope as it may not get to my fund account).
  • Checks can either be made out to “Siara Mims” or “Hope Community Church” On the memo line, please write, “Siara Mims, Uganda, July Trip
  • Cash should be put in an envelope with “Siara Mims, Uganda, July Trip” written on the front. If you would like your donation to be tax deductible, please write your name, address, and email on the envelope as well.
  • If you would like your check deposited before the 17th (of week of) each month between now and May, please make the check out to me. I will deposit it and save the cash in an envelope with your information for a tax receipt.

I am at $300 out of $700 due March 17th! I need $400 within three weeks; that’s just 3 gifts of 50, 8 gifts of $25, and 5 gifts of $10! What can you do to be a part of this? 

Thank you to all of the friends and family who are loving me on this journey via emotional, spiritual, and financial support. I am SO blessed. Lots of love and ONLY because of Him, 

Siara