shared by Andrew Kowald (recent Vision Trip participant and father to Michaela and Nicholas)
Well after many months of anticipation, my son Nicholas (12 years old) and my sister Narelle and I are finally here in Africa – for the very first time. It still feels like a dream a lot of the time – a very, very good dream! It is amazing to finally meet up with Frank, Seggy and Cara after hearing so much about them and with Greg and Patti completing our team we were set for an adventurous and life changing time together here in Uganda.
So far we have spent a lot of time on the bus, travelling to some very remote villages along some very bumpy, muddy and narrow dirt roads. With the mix of Australians, Americans and Ugandans in the one bus there has been a lot of laughter and joking about the different sayings and ways of doing things in our respective countries.
Although we have only been here for 5 days it is amazing to reflect on the experiences we have shared and the people we have met so far. Here is an example of one day the life of an Australian visitor in Uganda.
This morning we all jumped on the bus, including Pastor Experito (who is our main contact here in Gulu and a very lively, passionate man of God.) The destination for today was a piece of land at least an hours drive from Gulu town on which a school classroom has recently been built. At one stage we managed to get bogged in a very muddy section of the road but with some strong pushing from Frank & Greg and some skilful driving from Seggy we finally made it through.
After arriving at the school I was privileged to be able to interview Pastor Experito about his journey to Gulu over 15 years ago when the rebels from the “Lords Resistance Army (LRA)” were terrorizing Northern Uganda by murdering, maiming and abducting many people, especially children. In spite of the constant danger and threat to his life, Experito continued to preach the gospel everywhere, even when many others were leaving the province and thought Experito was crazy to stay. I felt very privileged to be able to spend so much time with Experito and am inspired by his boldness and zeal to partner with God in seeing lives transformed.
We then had the opportunity to visit a couple of families in their homes. So here I was sitting in a little mud hut in the middle of the African bush talking with a mother and her children through an interpreter. The mother shared how she and her son had both been very sick and even after spending time in the hospital there was no improvement. She then visited a church where the pastor prayed for them and they were healed. After this the mother put her trust in Jesus and was born again.
The mother then sang a song of praise to God and we all clapped along. My son Nicholas then explained that he liked this house/hut better than his own home back in Australia which was too big and had lots of unnecessary space. There was lots of laughter followed by an invitation expressing that he was more than welcome to stay with them. Nicholas then prayed for the Ugandan family but decided he’d better not stay as his mum might miss him too much!
It is difficult to express in words how special we felt to be able to engage with these people in this way. Although this is only a tiny snippet of our visit so far I hope it gives you a small taste of what we have been doing and learning. Thanks especially to Cara & Seggy (two absolute legends!!!) for organizing this life changing “vision” trip. Even though I am only half way through my time here I can say without any hesitation that if you ever get the chance to do something like this, grab the opportunity with both hands and run with it. You will never regret it!!