It Is Never The Same – Krista

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Refugee Settlement houses and gardens

For the third year in a row, I have co-lead the Uganda Mission team with Amy, and together we are sent out via my church in partnership with local NGO’s and Ugandan people. We have never been the same since we started doing this together.

The mission and projects each year are never the same.
The teams are never the same.
The process to prepare is never the same.
The ways in which God works in each of our lives is never the same.
Uganda is never the same.
Amy and I are never the same.
Our community of supporters are never the same.

It is just never the same year in and year out.

It truly takes us a full year to plan the project, prepare the team, fundraise, go on the trip, and debrief afterwards. Whether we take 6 people or 13 with us, it is intense and we make no apologies because it is worth every bit of it once we are there in country or on the other side.

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The entrance to the reception and processing center for the refugees.

One hilarious moment in Uganda this year, I was lightly chiding two team members for not knowing something that had been communicated several times to them. Without losing a beat, one of them responded with, “To be fair, you send us a lot of information.” – I busted up laughing and proceeded to extend some more grace and patience as I re-explained what they needed to know. The reality is, for months upon months we DO share loads of information. We have meetings, send countless e-mails, they read books and give reports to the team, and hundreds upon hundreds (upon thousands?) of text messages (#willtimeverseethis?).. It IS so much information.

Our information spans from health needs, like shots and malaria medicine, to getting visa’s, what type of physical condition they should be working towards, what proper hydration looks like…
We have endless documents that have been slowly created over the years that tell them what should be packed, tips and trainings on fundraising, how to answer questions, and personal growth challenges like fasting, praying, and leading a team devotional.
Which doesn’t even include the on-the-ground preparation information so they can better understand the project and culture once we are there!

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Our team at the 4th Annual Race for Hope 6k Run/Walk an Cookout in June.

We never lose sight of the fact that our team is made up of the entire spectrum of personalities, gifts, strengths, weaknesses, fears, anxieties, backgrounds, and cultures. Some team members have been every year with us repeating, and others have never in their life considered doing anything like this! – So, we are strategic and intentional about teaching everyone, encouraging people to try new things, and sometimes we just ask them to trust our process without first understanding.

Amy and I say every year, “The Uganda mission is what our team’s mission is, but the people we take with us, they are the OUR mission.” We do everything we can to pick, cultivate, train, prepare, pour into, support, encourage, and lead the people who come with us. It is intense, and we spend a lot of hours talking through and strategizing how to best lead each person and the team as a whole. We spend so much time praying for and over each person, which includes processing through scripture we feel is uniquely for each one of them, and then we give them a journal with a few of our prayers and the scripture we have been praying for them.

Yet, no matter how much we prepare ahead of the trip each year, there is just something about actually going that opens the eyes of everyone we take with us; and that is what gives my intense physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion overwhelming joy. I love getting to lead the team each year. I am always amazed that God let’s me do this with Amy, but I am also deeply honored that the team of people follow me, especially the ones who return year after year. I am not perfect, and I am not exempt from the inevitable in-country meltdown, or the post-trip emotional chaos that is returning home. Yet, I am always amazed and grateful that the team trusts us and chooses vulnerability.

We are never the same.

Amy and I are never the same, our team is never the same, and Uganda is never the same.

To date, through our missions teams across the last four years, and because of the hundreds upon hundreds of people who have financially supported us, we have funded, and in some cases built 15 clean water wells and one Maternity Ward/Urgent Care facility in Uganda. That means that, somewhere in the vicinity of 5,200 people now have clean water, and an un-countable number of people have improved access to healthcare. Ugandans and South Sudanese men, women and children across generations are healthier in tangible ways because of the years of work we put into this trip, and because of the support we get from so many people around the world and in Uganda!

But, no matter how much work we do, how many amazing things we get to build, or the people we partner with; each year I am more convinced that it is Amy, myself and our team that are changed forever. We go to love, support, encourage and help, but we are the ones who are changed, honored, and blessed because of the experience. It is humbling in ways that really are hard to articulate.

No matter how many years I do this, the challenge comes in accurately putting into words what has happened. How do I share well all that God did, the world views that shifted, the sparks of life and new vision, passions that were ignited or discovered for the first time, new relationships that were formed, injustices that were witnessed, and so much self-discovery?… How do I learn and share so that other’s get to also learn?

I don’t know. I still stumble and babble my way through sharing with anyone who asks with no more eloquence than I did years ago. Each year is unique and different, and I am never the same, but my struggle to share it all well stays the same.

Because Amy and I know intimately the struggle with returning home, the difficulty in process and sharing what happened, on one of the last couple of nights we are in Uganda, we do a re-entry training preparing to come home. Over the years we have cultivated this training, added to it, and made it much more comprehensive than when we first started…. But, even still, sharing examples, questions to help process, creating timelines, and giving tips on how to accurately navigate the emotions and relationships we encounter when we get home; it doesn’t remove the struggle. No matter what we do to prepare the team, in some ways, it feels a little traumatic to return home to the busy chaos of our schedules. Uganda removes so many distractions simply by lack of power/wifi/cell service etc.. There’s just less competition for our attention, but also we build into our days so much more time for God, and life back home just doesn’t lend to the same cadence.

Each year, I think it will be better and easier to return home after Uganda.
Without fail, every time, it is not better or easier, but instead it is uniquely challenging, and really emotional and difficult in new ways. I think the only thing I get better at, is giving myself the space to navigate jet lag and self-care so that I am able to begin to process…  But, even my process looks different each year.

One week out, I have only really just begun to process all that God did in and through me this year in Uganda. So, unfortunately if you ask me how Uganda was, it’s really anyone’s guess what will come out of my mouth… You might get a funny story, a ridiculous situation, or intense feelings… My responses are never the same!

So, now what?

Well, we are still in need of some funds to complete the Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for the Imvepi Refugee Settlement! It is SO CLOSE to being fully funded and completed!!…

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Nikita and Elijah giving the medical donations from their companies to the doctor and nurses that run the current tent health centers.
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Our team literally standing on the foundation of our 521 supporters! (as of the day this picture was taken)
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My brother and I sharing in the joy and excitement of our supporters and the progress made on this project!

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But also, we already had to submit our application for 2019! Insane.

We don’t yet have our project nailed down for what we will be doing next year, but we are already starting to get that going and working with our on the ground NGO’s and contacts to figure out what next year’s project will be.

So, stay tuned as we continue to post blogs from different people on our team this year. They will be sharing thoughts, pictures, lessons learned, and who knows what else!

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My prayer brick installed in one of the walls. Psalm 147:3.

Thank you for following along with our journey.
Thank you for supporting us financially, with prayers, and for caring about what we care about!

I am full of so much gratitude and love for you all!

-Krista
Team Co-Leader
#ugandaexcited

Ps. Apologies if there are parts of this that ramble or don’t make sense…Still struggle bus emotions and thoughts so, this is what you get! 😉

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It Is Never The Same – Krista

Let’s Build a Hospital

This year our team has taken on the incredible task of working with local Ugandans to  build a Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!

Background Info:

Previously, our team has gone to Uganda to provide clean water (which is a huge issue throughout Uganda) and Mission4Water continues to do amazing work! They have taken some time to go back and re-visit wells to service them, and in some cases needing to entirely fix them! So, due to the nature and time it takes to plan these trips, we have decided for this year to shift the focus to a new project!

To help us identify needs and navigate logistics far ahead of our mid-summer arrival, we are working with Bob N. an amazing local Ugandan (who is also connected to Mission4Water)! Bob invests all of his time in helping shift the culture of Uganda, focusing on leadership development and community care trainings. He wrote a book you can get here and learn more about what he’s doing here and also watch this video.

What?

Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!

Floor Plans
Maternity Ward Floor Plans

This is the floor plan for the building that we’ve decided to go with. It is much smaller than our original goal, but since it is already pre-approved by the government it means significantly less red-tape to jump through (which is worth it)!

Where?

Imvepi Refugee Settlement 
(On the far West side of the image)

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Image taken from link.

The current plan is to build in zone 2 of the Imvepi Refugee Settlement.

Imvepi is largely comprised of South Sudanese refugees; and this particular zone has a greater chance of being around for quite some time over the original hope of building in a different zone with greater need (but less chance of being around for as long). – So after lots of discussion about where to place the Maternity Ward, the long-term impact of zone 2 just couldn’t be dismissed in part due to the larger native community that would be also impacted, and better served currently as well as once the South Sudanese are able to return home safely.

UNHCR information on the South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda

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Click to watch the Future Site Video!

Watch the video above to see the (likely) location for our building! The two semi-permanent structures (tents) currently serve as the health facility and double as offices for food distribution to another zone.

When?

The current plan is to be in country for 14 days in the middle of summer. – The exact dates are still to be determined, and largely depend on trying to get the least expensive flight prices for our team in order to save travel costs that can then be applied to the project!

However, we will send funds ahead of our arrival so that they can lay the foundation, begin preparing with brick making on site, ship all materials, and of course tackle the very real need for water here as well. – You can’t make bricks without water, nor can you pour concrete!

Why?

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2017, Entebbe Uganda. Celebration dinner after providing 3 clean water wells with Mission4Water.

Team leaders Amy and Krista have a passion for building a community. – Specifically in rallying people together with common goals, and creating a way for people to learn, grow, and be a part of something that can change the world for the better.

Why this project?

After lots of discussions, Amy and Krista felt it was important to both highlight the work, and give a voice to the refugee crisis that is happening in Uganda. There is incredible work that is already happening, but the South Sudanese refugees (along with lots of other people from places like DRC, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Rawanda and others) that are fleeing to Uganda, and largely being overlooked due to other refugee crises around the world.

So, the big question that we asked ourselves was, “What practical way can two people, leading a small team, backed by supporters impact and improve the lives of refugees?”

Lots of back and forth discussions with Bob N. and it was finally settled on the very tangible need for the refugee women to have a place to safely deliver their babies. Currently women are delivering children on the floors of their tents, which is dirty, dusty or muddy depending on the time of year… OR they are walking crazy distances to get medical care.

We decided that at the very least, we could rally people and companies to support us in literally saving the lives of innocent children, and providing medical care for those who have already experienced extreme trauma.

How can you help?

There are four main ways to help and support our team!

  1. Support us financially* or join one of our events!
  2. Follow along with our blog and on social media via the hashtag #ugandaexcited
  3. Learn and Share about the refugee crisis in Uganda
  4. Pray and send our team encouragement to uganda[at]aoneeight.org

Thank you to our family, friends, and the companies for the amazing support and encouragement already!

Thank you!

~Amy, Krista, and the Uganda team!

*Any donations received above our fundraising goal will be donated to the local NGO’s we are working with to ensure proper care and support for the community.

Let’s Build a Hospital

Learning More About Uganda and Missions

If you are interested in learning more about the country and region, or just interesting things we have collected along the way; below is a bunch of books, articles, documentaries, and videos that will help to give you a greater understanding of Uganda, as well as Africa, and missions in general.

Books recommended to us:

  1. The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget – This is an interesting perspective on the Yoweri Museveni, the current president of Uganda who has “won” elections for the last 30 years.
  2. Wizard of the Nile – Perspective on Joseph Kony and his rise to power and some of the political turmoil which drove him to what he did
  3. Kisses From Katie – A feel good story of a pretty incredible girl who started an organization in Jinja, Uganda
  4. Girl Soldier – Story of a child living in Northern Uganda during the LRA’s reign of terror
  5. Having People, Having Heart: Charity, Sustainable Development, and Problems of Dependence in Central Uganda – The title nails it
  6. Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most – Founder of Compassion International one of the most influential child sponsorship programs in the world
  7. Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment, Can Last Forever – Another book by Compassion International founder
  8. When Helping Hurts – Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor.
  9. African Friends and Money Matters– A look into some of the cultural behaviors and practices that we just might not ever understand/accept/rationalize and things to expect regarding money and gifts. Our team is encouraged to read this book.
  10. Aboke Girls – The kidnapping of 139 secondary school female students from a boarding school by rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 1996.
  11. War Brothers – Based on true events about the capture of Ugandan schoolchildren forced to serve as child soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
  12. First Kill Your Family Told by those who suffered. This illuminating expose examines a forgotten region of one of Africa’s most promising nations—Uganda.
  13. Developing Uganda 

We also have recommended these movies:

War Dance – (Was on Netflix at one point)

Queen of Katwe – (Is on Netflix)

Remand Documentary

Articles and videos worth checking out:

Water throughout the world

This is linked to Congolese refugees a friend works with in Uganda.

Who are we partnering with in Uganda?

Mission4Water 

Lead by Sue (and Engineer Sunday)

#Ugandaexcited

Learning More About Uganda and Missions