Three for our Third Time in Uganda

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Three clean water wells for our third time in Uganda!

We are kicking off preparations for our third trip to Uganda!

As preparations begin, we are meeting with people to give more information, sending lots of e-mails answering questions, and plans are flying! After all, social media posts, sponsorship letters, and fundraising for our 2017 Uganda Mission team is already underway!

Why Uganda?

Clean water, that’s why.

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The average Ugandan walks 6k a day for water that isn’t even clean.

The bulk of the responsibility goes to young children or girls, and the watering holes are typically unsafe and/or unclean. Contaminated water can cause a wide variety of illnesses, many of which are easily treatable. But, some of which if they go untreated can cause death. However, because many in Uganda cannot afford the medication, let alone the hospital bill, the contaminated water can pose a real threat. Learn more about water illnesses here.

  • Each clean water well that Mission4Water digs serves on average 350 people.
  • Each well costs around $4,000.
  • Each well costs about $12 PER PERSON it serves to provide clean, safe drinking water for the rest of their life!

However, since this year we will be in the Entebbe region (just outside of Kampala), there’s a good chance the wells will service a larger population. – Making the per person cost much lower, but the overall cost about the same.

What Are the Trip Details?

For our third year (in a row), we are sending a group of 15 people to Uganda for two weeks in July to partner with Mission4Water.org to dig THREE clean water wells!

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In previous years we have dug two at a time and left additional money for them to dig wells after we are gone! But, this year, we have been able to work out the logistics to add a third clean water well while we are there!

Our goal is to raise enough funds to dig three wells, and provide them the money for an additional two after we leave!

Why are we stoked? Because after the completion of this year’s trip, this particular mission will have helped Mission4 Water dig 15 clean water wells!.. EACH serving around 350 people, meaning over 5,200 people will have clean water in Uganda after the 2017 trip! A drop in the bucket begins to add up!

As the leaders, we are SO excited to be returning to Sue, Sunday, and “the Boys” (the six full-time drillers) that we can hardly stand it! As a team, we have six people returning from last year’s trip, and are stoked to add an additional nine people to the team! Making this trip a fun generational experience since each year has had people from the previous trips.

This year we will be splitting into three groups during the workday hours to hand auger (drill), dig, prepare PVC piping and filters, lay cement, and pump in order to get three working clean water wells!

The entire process takes anywhere from 7-10 days depending on how deep the holes need to be dug, which depends on the time of year (rainy or dry season), and of course the type of ground we are digging through. – Last year one of the teams could not get past a couple feet of sandstone, ultimately having to abandon the hole and start over!

After the wells are finished and commissioned, the team will head up to Murchison Falls for two days of rest, a safari, and debriefing before returning to the US.

The 411 on Money

You can donate directly here.

Each person that goes on the trip will need to raise funds to cover their expenses during the two week trip which will be $2,950.

As a team, the additional $4,000 per well is not included in the per-person cost of the trip. – So, ultimately we dig as many wells as we have funds to cover.

Last year, with the help and support of local organizations, companies, restaurants, individuals (friends, family, and strangers), a ton of legwork on the part of our team, and the Fairfax JDC doing a learning project and fundraising event, we raised $43,125, significantly over our goal! With this money we were able to send 10 individuals, dig two wells, and send money for additional wells! Miraculously we were able to raise literally THOUSANDS of dollars to change the lives of people on the other side of the world for the rest of their lives.

We are stoked to see how 2017 turns out! We believe that this year will be reflective of the excitement building within the people joining the team, and we have no doubts that this year we will continue to increase the support that we received last year!

  1. We will have our third annual Race for H2Ope 6k Run/Walk in May. – Previously raising $10-15k each year!
  2. We will have another silent auction and house party! – Providing community, laughter, goodies, and of course an amazing support base for our team!
  3. We are a creative bunch, so numerous additional fun events will be planned and coming!

Be sure to keep a lookout for ways to join our community of supporters, meet new people, learn more about Uganda, and of course support an amazing organization with Mission4Water!

Join us on this journey!

Come to our events, follow this blog and our updates on social media, pray for the team, and please consider supporting us financially! Together, we can each be a drop (or two) in the bucket to make a tangible difference in the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of people in 2017!

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Three for our Third Time in Uganda

Seven Months to Tomorrow

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Seven months ago ten people committed to go on a mission trip to build two wells in Uganda. We all chose the trip because we had a desire to leave a tangible thing behind when we left the country. But, at the time the goal was an abstract. Today that abstract goal became a reality.

Over the past week we have worked alongside the drillers of Mission4Water digging down over 20ft with a hand auger into the Ugandan soil, baling dirty water and silt, mixing African concrete (no easy task), cutting PVC pipe with hacksaws, assembling a pump with pipe wrenches, and then lastly pumping and pumping and pumping until water finally ran clear.

Each member of our team took turns pumping water as the metal pipe handles of the well grew cold with the water coming up from beneath the surface of the earth. And with each downward motion water spilled onto the concrete we poured and ran off into the pyrite laden, sweet potato filled, Ugandan soil. The sense of accomplishment in achieving the purpose of our trip filled us each with joy.

Our team is diverse.

We come from different backgrounds, we cover a gamut of ages, and we each have a different story of how God has brought us to this point in our lives. However, we each share the common emotion of experiencing God working through us. God shaped the hands we each have used to construct the two wells that will bring life giving water to the villagers of Rukungiri District, Uganda. God also shaped the hearts that answered the calling to come to a foreign land and express the love of God to a foreign people.

Tomorrow, we will pray God’s blessings over the wells and over the villagers that will use the wells.IMG_7153

Tomorrow, we will witness on the faces of those villagers, the confirmation and fulfillment of God’s purpose and calling that brought each of us here to Uganda.

– Rachel

Seven Months to Tomorrow

Rest

July 31, 2016

It’s fascinating that God built rest into the Ten Commandments. These were the rules the Israelites were going to need to leave slavery behind and live well for generations to come and it included a day off. When Jesus walked the Earth many, many years later He promised rest to anyone in need. After a week of drilling and bailing and climbing hills and navigating down tricky slopes, with all of our aches and pains rest is exactly what the whole team needed. Because it was Sunday, we took the day off from work to go to church and participate in a culture dance.

Upon arriving at church, the church’s women’s group invited us to chai tea, g-nuts, bananas and biscuits prior to service at a small home adjacent to the church building. In total there was probably 17 of us sitting around the cozy living room. We occupied all available space. In Uganda it is common for a living room to have a many couches, because of the hospitable nature of the Ugandan culture. As we sat and ate, enjoying the richness of the chai and the coolness of the morning it began to rain. Church it seemed would have to wait. Many people in Uganda do not go outside if it is raining. So instead of starting the service with full knowledge that many would not attend, the service instead would be delayed for the rain; kinda like in baseball. The raindrops hit the tin roof one by one. We sat and listened. At first I think I laughed at the concept of delaying the service, but it made perfect sense. Our guide this week Sue said of Sunday, that it was “God’s day” anyhow, so whatever time He wanted the service to start it would. Nonetheless the rain created a wonderful chorus as a backdrop to the tea and company. There is nowhere to go and nothing else to do but enjoy our time and wait. It was in this moment it struck the team what rest really is.

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At home in the US a “day of rest” usually means a day to do all the things you did not have time to do during the week. For me it often looks like meal prepping, or laundry and a trip to home depot. But it is never this kind of rest. I cannot remember the last time my day of rest included a nice cup of warm tea with a friend or even a full day quietly reflecting in God’s presence. According to Strong’s Bible dictionary, one Greek word used for rest is “anapauo.” Which means, “to give intermission from labor, to give rest, to refresh.” Which for me means, “ quit working (and worrying), relax and rejuvenate. That definition was so appropriate for us on the mission, but also appropriate for life. At my old church in NY, I could only imagine what kind of chaos would unleash if church were delayed an hour for any reason, let alone for rain. Here in Uganda, we were aching and a little sore but anxious to get back to drilling. We knew we only had a few days of work remaining. I bet if we were asked to work through Sunday, we would have without hesitation. We were ready to keep going. What we missed and often miss is that it is the rest that allows us to keep going. God built it into His fabric of ideal living because He knew we need it for idea living.

Sunday morning, we listened to the rain, admired the mountainside, chatted with new friends and experienced the peace that happens when you allow yourself to truly rest. The rain lasted over an hour. At that evening reflections, many described being restored in those moments in the cozy living room.

It is difficult, if not impossible to find rest running around with a to-do list. Oftentimes our lists and schedules leave us thirsty instead of revived. There is never enough time in the day to get it all done. I may be speaking for myself here, but there is hardly a moment when I feel that every single demand has been met perfectly. What I am learning here in Rukingiri is a local phrase which is “it is fine.” Sometimes you just have to let the rain fall and wait, it is fine. Sometimes life does not go according to plan, it is fine. Take time to enjoy life. God may be speaking to you in an unexpected delay of a rain shower. Learn to say, it is fine.

~ Althea

Rest

Reflections

Uganda, Day 9 

Notes from the field: Morale is high. Food stores are holding out well (the harvest on Sunday was exceptionally abundant). Power and water are intermittent… Progress continues on the wells. Completion is in sight…

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The food we bought at the Church auction!

Onto reflections:

In all seriousness our time in Uganda has been enjoyable. While many people may not see digging wells half way across the globe as a vacation, or as something that would be refreshing, I think that many of us are finding this to be true while we are here. – I think that this is due to 4 distinct factors, all of which are working together to make our time here like no other.

  1. The pace of life here is so different from what we experience in DC. Pretty much the entire time here, we haven’t really felt rushed. While there have been times that it was time to get back so that lunch wouldn’t grow cold, it just doesn’t feel like the end of the world if we get there when we get there. Things here just seem to happen when they happen. For example, there have been nights when dinner wasn’t ready until after 8pm, while other times it was ready at 7pm on the dot. In the States, if we had dinner reservations for a particular time, we would be pretty upset if we had to wait another hour for our food (been there, done that, got the t-shirt), but here in Uganda, it really was not a big deal that it took a bit longer for dinner to be ready. While we have a start to the morning each day (7:30 for group prayer), it is late enough in the morning that we can all get up pretty much when we want to. For myself, it has been an amazing to experience to watch the sunrise on the rooftop each morning. There is something particularly powerful about seeing a sunrise from a high place. It is like seeing God speak in a fresh way for the first time that day.
    Regardless of how we spend each morning, the point is that our mornings generally are not hurried. While I’m certain that this is not the case for some Ugandans, I think that for many, the pace of life is a bit slower. I guess that because even basic things can take longer to do here (household chores, purchasing goods, etc.), it is just a part of life that things go more slowly here.
  2. Along the same lines, life here in Uganda is more flexible. Schedules are subject to change, and they do regularly in ways that normally make Westerners like us uncomfortable. For example, our daily schedule has been pretty dramatically altered on the fly each day for the past 3 days. Church yesterday took significantly longer than anticipated (wrapping up the food auction took a long time!). We ran over so late that we had to reschedule our visit to see a group of Ugandan dancers, and even then, we arrived after they had started. While this may have stressed out our leadership, it hasn’t bothered me in the least. It just seems natural here to go with the flow. I’ve noticed that most Ugandans that we have met are much more comfortable with ambiguity than we are in the West. We often hear phrases like, “On my way, coming” when someone asks them on the phone where they are at. This phrase can mean 3 completely different things, and there are no context clues that give an indication as to which one it is: It can mean that the person has not yet left their home, or it can mean that they are actually on their way to their destination, or it can mean they are somewhere else completely different. The answer is ambiguous, but many of the Ugandans are comfortable with that. Our Engineer, Sunday, often says goodbye by saying “See you when you see me.” Rather than a more explicit good-bye like “See you later”, this phrase exemplifies a comfort with not knowing what the future holds. All these examples point to a flexibility in time, purpose, and planning that is refreshingly alien to my western mindset.
  3. This trip would not be the same if it were not for the amazing group of people that compose this team, composed of Americans and Ugandans. A trip to dig wells in Uganda could honestly be miserable with the wrong mix of people, personalities, or attitudes. But that is definitely not the case here. The people on this team exhibit a multitude of diversities (ethnic, education, family background, Christian walks, outlooks, and spirits) that all somehow compliment one another. I chalk that coincidence up to a) God’s provenance, and b) our unity of spirit. Still, I’m amazed that for each weakness that one member has, another has strength in that same place. Where there is a gap in knowledge for one, another has wisdom and insight into the matter. And where someone needs guidance or an answer to a prayer, someone else has a word that provides the encouragement that they needed. We really are blessed with an amazing team that, 99% of the time, is truly operating as a unit. Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” I can say with all sincerity that we have been living that out during out time here.
    We talked about it early in the week, but our time on this short term mission trip really is the closest thing we can get to living like the early church did in Acts. (Specifically Acts 2: 42-47). Our modern lives don’t often give us these kinds of opportunities, because how we live day to day is so different now. But in the mission field, we have that chance to live fully in community, living close to one another, gathering together daily to share meals, to share with one another as is needed, to give back to the community, and to bring glory to God. All these would not be possible if we were not on the same page. So just to reiterate, our team here is amazing, and that makes all the difference.
  1. Finally, all of these other factors lead to a greater ability to spend time with God each day. While we all make an effort to do so at home, even the best of us can be hit or miss with our personal time with Jesus. Out here, because the pace of life is different, because life is a bit more flexible, and because we are spurring one another on, we are all likely getting more time with God than we normally would. And it is amazing! I think one thing that is surprising is how much God has to say when you are on a short-term mission trip. But in reality, God is trying to get our attention all the time. Jesus said specifically that He would send the Holy Spirit, and be with us until the end of the age. So we know that He never left us. What is different out here is that we are doing a better job of listening. Through our daily devotionals, through our own personal quiet times, and through the sharing of testimonies with one another, we have all heard God speak to us in ways that are uplifting, life affirming, and encouraging. Getting time with God each day hasn’t meant that each day was perfect. But it has meant that we learned more, were more open to new experiences, and grew more than we otherwise would have. Being in God’s presence each day not only opens your eyes to the problems that others experience here each day, but also (and perhaps more importantly) to the joy that they have despite their circumstances!

For these reasons, I think we can all say that our time in Uganda so far has been refreshing. It doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been challenging, or at times hard work. Rather, what it means is that it has been fulfilling, it has been affirming, and that it has been worth it. Even when one of us is having a sub-par day, I don’t believe anyone regrets their decision to spend their vacation days coming to Uganda to dig a well. Our time here has been an enjoyable adventure, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

– Thomas

Reflections

Are You Patient Enough to Wait?

Before I get into my thoughts, just as a bit of an update:

We have and have not hit water!

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Left side #TeamAmy. Right side #TeamKrista.

#TeamAmy hit water on the first day, literally only a few feet into digging!…(what?!) Which inevitably made #TeamKrista full of joy and jealousy! 😉 Haha #TeamKrista spent ALL of day two digging through sandstone and have yet to hit water… but we are prepared and preparing our Mission4Water men for the dance party that WILL happen once we do! #TeamAmy spent all of day two slinging mud and slipping in it!.. We aren’t sure who’s winning the soreness and difficulty factor at the moment.

Ok, now onto some of my thoughts…

When we arrived to Rukungiri on Monday, there was no power, which means the lights were running on a generator, and the water was ushered in via Jerry Cans. – What an interesting welcoming to see and experience first hand how water dictates your life.

Also, as a side learning moment, when the generators are running the power, it is hit or miss if you will have a working outlet… Which then caused us to huddle on Amy’s bed to send updates because between all ten rooms, there was exactly one outlet that worked. Just one.

So, for the first day or so, we had limited power and no running water; which means learning to bucket bathe and shave… Then saving that water to use to flush our toilets… And, because I love sharing all things that keep it real, mostly if it leads to a funny story (Africa style): After two days of traveling, your body is ready for some good toilet time!

When you begin a mission such as this, your goal is centered around water. You prepare for months to understand and provide water; but, let’s be honest here, in America it is actually entirely unfathomable to accurately comprehend how much water dictates everything. EVERYTHING. It is simply something that cannot be understood because water is a subconscious element of life, just like air; we just don’t have to think about it… at all. So, to start out our mission with water problems, and then realizing we are the beneficiaries of someone else filling 20+lb Jerry cans full of water, then heating up the water, and putting ONE for each of us outside our room (ten rooms)… You cannot help but instantly see the missional need play out before you.

After a full day, we had power AND water!

Glorious water running through our pipes!

It was time for a real shower (after you flip the switch and wait 20 minutes to allow the water to heat up somewhat). However, when you shower, you still stand in a plastic basin to catch as much of the water as you can, in order to use it to flush the toilet later should the power go out again. (which it has)

However, they do not have shower curtains, which means there’s a very real danger of slipping and hurting yourself, because of all the water splatter in the bathroom (or in Krista speak: killing yourself for others to find you in your full glory!!!!).

Yet, we seem to be experiencing feast or famine in regards to water (both in life and at our drilling sites!)… Once the power came back on, and we got water, my toilet still would not work.

The hotel staff came to work on it, for hours, literally hours. At one point, I stopped into my room to grab something, and water was everywhere in the bathroom and they were BAILING IT OUT INTO BUCKETS! I couldn’t help but start laughing, which I’m not sure the hotel staff understood although I assured them it was ok… But I mean really, ALL the water everywhere.

They finished up well after dark and just before bed. Yet, when I returned to my room I realized they did not fix it, they had simply turned the water off, to wait to return later. With one liiiittttllleee problem, they had turned off toilet water, which proceeded to leak, one drop at a time… everywhere.

(Thankfully there’s a slope from my room into the bathroom, which prevents it from actually flooding into my room.)

Our team has spent quite a bit of time joking about me canoeing down the hallway in my suitcase wishing them all a good morning!

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The night before attempt to keep the water contained… It was still just a small puddle at this point.

When I woke up this morning, the towel I had rolled up and closed in the doorway was sopping wet, and there was almost an inch of water collected in the bathroom over night.

One drop at a time.

It is now the following day, and they have been working since basically yesterday trying to fix the problem. My toilet has been disassembled, reassembled, parts replaced, etc… But, guess what? – The power is out again.

Guess what you cannot do while the power is out?: Check to see if the toilet is working properly. Haha So, unexpected water adventures… in my bathroom.

However, in Amy’s room, her shower drips… Each drip is collected into a basin in order to flush the toilet later if the power remains out.

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Amy’s washing basin collecting drops from the shower.

A drop in the bucket actually matters.

But, it only matters if you are patient enough to wait.

Can you wait for the water to collect to be useful? – Or are you too impatient to wait for the full bucket?

What if you are one drop in the bucket, but you are too impatient to wait?… There’s very likely someone else collecting your drop, and patiently waiting for the rest of the drops to be collected.

People say, “what good are you doing? It is just a drop in the bucket.”

Let me assure you, now, unlike any other time in my life, I understand how much a drop in the bucket actually matters.

A drop in the bucket can provide life.

A drop of life giving water changes the course of everything… if you are patient enough.

Are you patient enough to wait for drops in the bucket?

Are You Patient Enough to Wait?

Prayers for Uganda

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Our team sans Rachel at our Commissioning!

We leave TOMORROW!

We have all of our shots, our money is in, our bags are (somewhat) packed, our excitement is mounting!!

What are we doing again?

We are partnering with Mission4Water and HAND AUGERING two clean water wells in the Rukungiri area of Uganda, Africa!

How can you pray for us?

  1. Health – But really!… We have 10 people going to do really hard work, with lots of opportunities for things to happen.
  2. Water – We need to hit water TWICE!
  3. Safety -We have 10 people going to do hard work, with lots of opportunities for things to happen. (haha.. This is also a big deal)
  4. Awareness – For many this is their first Mission, please pray that we are aware of God’s presence, and know when to speak, and when to listen.
  5. Fun – Pray that in the midst of it all we have fun!

Teammate Rachel asks:

“That God will ordain a divine appointment, and I will recognize it when He presents it and have the courage to step into it.”

Teammate Jessie asks:

  1. A new season with God. Praying that we each experience God in a new way and God reveals more of himself to each one of us. Praying for God to open our eyes to things we have not seen before. Praying for vulnerability with the team and that we would be able to have an unbreakable bond with one another.
  2. Focus and presence. I pray we would each allow ourselves to rest in him and be present in Uganda and all that he has to show me and the team. That I would not be worried about what will happen when I return or finding a job.
  3. Prayers for how we carry ourselves and interact with the people of Uganda. Praying we lead with love and that we are sensitive to their culture and learn more about their lives. That we would not come with our agenda but Gods agenda and that we would know God has been and will continue to be present in this wonderful country.

Below is a prayer written by our teammate Tia:

Dear God,

Its tomorrow! We’re leaving tomorrow! It has been months of researching, preparing, praying and asking (really begging) for money and now its tomorrow. I am beyond #Ugandaexcited. I am in Uganda disbelief. When I met Krista and Amy months ago in a coffee shop, I could not have pictured this place I am in now or the feelings and emotions stirring within me. Isaiah 6:8 reads: ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”‘  Here we are Lord, send us! God be with us. Walk where we walk. Use us, work through us. Let us be vessels of Your holy presence. Change the atmosphere in Uganda and Lord change us. May we never be the same. Do what only You can do Lord. Let hope flow through us, as fresh water flows through pumps. Thank You for calling us and allowing us to be on Your team Lord, in this mission and in life. It is in the might and matchless name of Jesus I pray.

Amen.

We are #UgandaExcited and #OnMissionEveryDay

Team Uganda,
Amy, Krista, Thomas, Joe, Debbie, Nicholle, Sally, Rachel, Jessie, Tia

If you would still like to donate, you can here!

Prayers for Uganda

37 days, and I am absolutely Overwhelmed.

37 days until we leave for Uganda again.
37 days until I step foot back into the country that has such a big place in my heart.

As I sit back and think through all that is about to happen, about this trip, about all that has already happened, my heart and my spirit are completely overwhelmed, but in the absolute best way possible.

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I am overwhelmed by the generosity of those who have donated to this cause; to the wells that we are digging and to everyone’s trip costs. We have the some of the most amazing friends, and family (and strangers). Through our 2nd annual Race for H20pe alone, we were able to raise enough money for both of the wells that we will be digging while we are in Uganda! And, we were even able to forge a relationship with HumanKind Water, who came and hung out with us on race day, donated water, and walked away as new friends!

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I am overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness. Over and over, He continues to show up and show off. He continues to remind me that He has called me to this, and He will bless this trip and my efforts; and through the stories of my nine teammates, I get to see and hear that He is doing the same thing for them. That we are each uniquely called to this trip, and He is showing up and providing for them. I am already seeing and hearing the ways that God is stretching them, and strengthening their faith via this trip, and we haven’t even left yet!!

I am overwhelmed with excitement. I’ve told people over and over again,

“If you have never seen the look on someone’s face, the first time they see clean water…your life will never be the same after.”

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We dug two wells last year, so I got to experience that twice, and I still get tears in my eyes, and chills just thinking about those moments, about the absolute shouts and screams of excitement and gratitude as the well is commissioned and handed over to them… AND, I get to go back and do it all over again! I get to do this! Plus, as an added bonus, I get to witness my teammates experiencing this too. I can’t wait for them to have those moments. – I am so excited for them!

I am overwhelmed with anticipation. The more I think about and pray about this trip, and this team… the more I am counting down the days. I cannot wait! Knowing all the ways that God has already shown His faithfulness to us, all the ways He has already shown up, and showed off… I am filled with Holy anticipation at what all is to come on this trip.

We will dig two wells; we will provide around 700 Ugandans with clean, safe water for the first time in their lives! That’s what we are going there to do, and I can’t wait for that. But, I’m also so excited about all of the ways that God is going to use us while we are there in the lives of the people we get to work with, and the ways He is going to use us in the lives of one another on this team.

Thinking ahead to this trip, my eyes fill with tears, happy tears. I can’t wait for the relationships that will be formed, and the ones that will be solidified. I know that everyone of my teammates chose this trip, because they wanted to make a tangible difference, and they will. But, I am so excited to see and hear about all the ways that they are blessed through this trip and through this experience. God is good and faithful!

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I am so grateful, that God has called me to this!

I. Get. To. Do. This!!!

~Amy

#UgandaExcited #OnMissionEveryDay

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37 days, and I am absolutely Overwhelmed.