What an amazing trip! We cannot even begin to explain all that the Lord did on this trip, but we will do our best to share with you just a glimpse of the miracles we witnessed, the emotions we felt, and the wonderful experiences we had. Thank you for your prayers and support, we could feel them and the Lord’s protection and mercy was definitely upon us.
Rebecca – My time in Uganda was incredible. I was blessed and challenged at the same time with some of the things we did as a team. One of the many blessings on this trip, aside from being able to see my siblings and my sister’s dad; was being able to help with the very first Senior Pastors and Wives’ Conference in East Africa.
This conference was such a blessing to the pastors and their wives. It gave them the opportunity to go from the daily routines of ministry to the ones being ministered to. We had Pastors come from all over: Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan. Some of these pastors came from really tough areas of ministry. Some came from villages where they are the only bible teaching church.
I was able to help guide the families to their rooms and hold babies, which I absolutely loved. I also got to talk to the women and pray with them. I also got to see Pastor Gitu and his wife Mariam from Kenya. Their church was the first Calvary I attended when I came out of Sudan in 1998. Over all, my experience on this missions trip was such a blessing. I can’t wait to go back next year, Lord willing.
Mackenzie – While in Africa, we had the amazing privilege of being able to put on 2 Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) at Calvary Chapel Soroti and Calvary Chapel Midigo. Growing up in the church, I have pretty much always either been in the annual VBS or served in some part of it. It’s one of my favorite times of the year as I got to love on the kids, laugh with them, and share Jesus with them. I was so looking forward to being able to do that in Africa, but I never could have fully expected the immense joy, blessing, and absolute gift it would really be. Hundreds of kids came with smiles on their faces eager to see what the Muzungus had to share. We prepared songs and dances, bible stories, games, crafts, and snacks, all centered on our one hope, which is Jesus. Many were so eager to learn and fellowship with us while others were more shy, reserved, and unsure. Both were so precious to be able to minister to. Being able to put a smile on their faces and maybe, for just a minute, help them to forget the struggles of their every day lives and give them hope in a Savior was worth everything. They continued to say thank you and that they were so glad to be able to be there, however I felt as if we should be thanking them. Their joy in the midst of struggles past what many of us will ever endure, their outpouring of love despite many never being truly loved by their earthly parents, their desire to be near you even though they’ve been rejected by far too many loved ones before, their openness to the Lord and love for Him regardless of what their lives looked like, taught me more than I can even put into words. I continue to feel so privileged to have had that opportunity. Their smiles will be ever in my mind. Their hugs and desire to be near to you will forever be in my heart. Their hunger for the Savior will forever be in my Spirit. The purpose of our VBS was to minister to the community, and by the provision and grace of God it did that and more. I was so blessed to be a part of the work God did. Vacation Bible School holds a new, special meaning in my heart.
Paul – People have continuously asked me about the highlights of the trip. If I look back at the many experiences of the mission, I would have to say that the day we spent working with the Turkey Loan Ministry is definitely up there. “Turkey Loan Ministry.” Sounds kind of funny, right? I thought so too haha. But the fact is, it ended being one of the most awesome experiences I’ve ever had.
Wesley, India – Uganda is a country that God put in my heart a few years ago while I was in Hungary. Even though I had heard very little about it, there was desire that started in my heart. I started praying that God would make a way. However, after I left Hungary, I knew no one in Uganda. I thought that I was not going to make it, but as always, God has his ways, He made way through Pastor Gary from CCSJC while we were in Nepal a few months ago. I know that God definitely made this possible because of the way He directed each and every step regarding Visa, air tickets, vaccinations, insurance and many other things.
When we went to a place called Soroti in Uganda, Hannah, asked me if I would be willing to draw something on the cross during the craft session at the VBS. I agreed to that but I did not know what to do. As I asked Jesus to use me, He opened my mouth and I said, “Jesus has made our life colorful. Before accepting Jesus in our heart, our life was filled with darkness.” This was not planned. I was put on the spot, but God had appointed me to reveal Him to the children. I was blessed to see how God uses us to minister to ourselves and also to others through us. That evening Rajiv and I were asked if we would be willing share the bible story with the kids the next day. I said yes, but in my mind, I did not know what and how to share, as I had never shared a bible study with the kids before. However I was given instructions and the theme, “Jesus Gives Us Courage” when I read this, before even teaching the kids, I felt the courage. All the other thoughts that were going on in my mind stopped at once. I felt the peace of God. We shared about Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. Also about Jesus and Peter walking on water. The Lord spoke to us and it was a blessing to hear the kids recite the story at the end of the session.
On Sunday, when we went to Kobala to attend the church service, we saw the kids and we felt like we could share the same story with them so Suzette, Rebecca and I shared the same story but this time the word was so much different, we shared from feeding of the five thousand to Jesus walking on water and later connecting to the Evangicube, sharing with the kids that Jesus did not come just to heal and provide food and all the other temporary things but to do something more than that, It is to die on the cross and pay for our sins and make a way for us to have a direct access with God. It was neat to see how God used us in all of this. I was very much blessed to see that God used each and every member of the team for His work.
Hanna – On Sunday morning, some people from the team went to church in Kobala and Yumbe. I had the privilege of going to Calvary Chapel Midigo. As we were walking to the church from the compound, where we are staying, some of the girls from the girls’ school dorm (located behind the compound) met us and greeted us. We walked together, hand in hand, to the church. Once we arrived, worship started. It was a blessing to be able to worship with the church. After worship ended, my dad (Pastor Gary) asked the team to come up and introduce themselves. We went one by one explained who we were and why we came. I shared that we came to share the love of Christ with them and that we were all blessed to be there. My dad, Gary Kusunoki, taught the message on Isaiah 43:1-4. He encouraged the church by giving three reasons to trust God in midst of trials. The first reason is because God’s presence is with us. The second reason is God promises to protect us and the last reason is because we are precious in His sight. After the message, we ended in worship and those who need prayers can come up and someone will pray with them. At the end of church, I met new people and saw old friends. Calvary Chapel Midigo holds a special place in my heart and I am grateful that the Lord allowed me to visit once again.
Tony – There were many highlights on this particular mission trip that I could share about, but the one that blessed me the most was the opportunity to lead the Sunday Morning bible study at Calvary Chapel Yumbe. In the picture is Pastor Chris Agaba and his testimony is an amazing story. To give you just a brief background on Pastor Chris, ha has a muslim father and a Christian mother. He was about to become muslim and denounce his Christian roots, but the night before he was to participate in a conversion ceremony, he received a vision telling him to leave and not proceed. He obeyed the message and chose Christ, and after many years, he returned back to his home in the Yumbe District, which is approximately 98% muslim, and planted a Calvary Chapel Church in the middle of the community! He faithfully serves Jesus and has a passion for the muslim community to know the Gospel even at the cost of his own life. He and the church there are heavily persecuted and there has been an attempt on his life. There are ongoing threats as well.
Lori – It rained off and on all day on Sunday. In the afternoon, the men went to the men’s fellowship and the women to the women’s fellowship at Calvary Midigo. We sat in chairs outside on the grass. God was good and the rain held off until later in the evening. There was a great turnout of almost 50 women, some with their little ones on their laps. After a time of sweet worship, I shared a Word the Lord gave me for them and Carol taught. The message seemed to resonate with the women who are busy from the time they wake up in the morning until they can finally lay down late at night. Joyce, the interpreter, shared a testimony about a day that she was super busy with extra work that day so she didn’t take time for her morning devotions and time with the Lord. She ran around all day like a crazy person and didn’t finish all her chores until 11:00 p.m. that night. The next day she decided she was going to give the Lord the first fruits of her day and took the time to pray and read the Word before she started her day. Guess how her day went! She got everything done and had time left over to take a nap in the afternoon! We then broke up into groups and were able to share prayer requests and pray for one another. What a precious time. It was humbling to hear these women, with such burdens, praying for the others in their group. Many have relatives in South Sudan and don’t know whether they are ok or not. Please continue to keep them in prayer.
Elizabeth – One thing we were able to do was a mobile medical outreach to a Southern Sudanese refugee camp. We had medical staff from the hospital in Midigo that consisted of two PAs, a doctor, a few lab techs, nurses, and midwives. We had the doctors and nurses seeing patients, diagnosing them, and prescribing medications to them. They would then take their paper to the “lab,” a little table in the shade, where the lab technicians would test for malaria and syphilis. Finally they would come to the pharmacy window and would hand us the papers with their prescriptions on them. We would then fill the prescriptions and the midwife and nurse would give out the medication and explain to them how to take the medication. About 95% of the people tested positive for malaria, and almost 85% positive for syphilis. It was sadly not shocking, but nonetheless it saddened my heart. However, I was so grateful we were able to be there to give them the medical attention and medications they needed. Without the malaria medication a very high percentage would die. We treated over 300 patients (more than we’ve ever been able to in the past). It was such a blessing to not have to turn anyone away because of a lack of medication or because of riots caused by desperation for medication. It was an extremely organized outreach and this allowed us to treat so many! I praise the Lord that He allowed us to be a part of this.
Not only were we able to bring physical help, but most importantly at the refugee camp we were able to share the gospel and MANY chose to follow Jesus.
Faith – About a week before our trip to Uganda another one of South Sudan’s many civil wars broke out. In some ways, this war is similar to the others before, but in many ways it is different. The country of Sudan, my home country, has never been at peace. War in my country is continuous and it is almost part of every day life, however, this war in particular has caused many to flee.
Uganda is South Sudan’s neighboring country and has been kind to Sudan throughout the years. Thousands of people were fleeing Sudan with no where to go except hope they could find safety and that safety would be inside a refugee camp in northern Uganda. Our team was able to visit one of the refugee camps that became the temporary home to thousands of Sudanese refugees.
On arriving to the camp we had no idea what exactly we would be doing, but we knew that God had a purpose for us being there. Pulling up to the camp I looked out my window and saw many people—men, women and children who were dirty, hurt and without a home. Since the refugee camp was not big enough to house so many people, the government had to come in and relocate many Sudanese. It was heartbreaking to see so many people thrown into a truck bed. This looked like a truck used to move cattle and livestock and yet it was being used to cart people—not just any people, but people who lost loved ones, homes and left their whole life in a country they may never return to.
Each person on the team had a specific job(s) that they were to tend to, whether it be passing out food, writing labels, sorting medicine or holding children. I had three jobs over the course of the day, but two of them stuck out to me the most. Since we had the medical clinic after someone would see the doctor they would be prescribed medicine that they would wait in line for. Well, some of these mama’s had their children with them and these children might have been sick too. I sat alongside the mama’s and children on a tarp in the shade and just played with the kids and talked (if possible) and smiled with the mamas. Since these kids have already gone through so much I wanted them to be able to laugh so I would tickle them just to hear them laugh, because who knows when the last time laughter came from their mouths. One little child in particular was separated from his mom and began to wail. I turned around, bent down and scooped him into my arms and he instantly stopped crying. I was able to hold him and pray over him for about fifteen minutes.
Later in the day I was responsible for collecting the food and soap labels so that everyone could get food for their families. In doing this I was able to shake the hands of each person coming up for food and while I shook their hand I was able to inwardly pray for them. This was one of my favorite parts, because each person that came through the line I was able to give them the love of Jesus. I am so blessed that God allowed me to be able to work alongside all of my family as we worked in the refugee camp.
Maki – One of the memorable moments in Uganda was when we visited a Southern Sudanese refuge camp. Along with medical clinic, we also have provided food and personal hygiene items. As I finished making food tickets, God led me to introduce myself to women and children who were sitting on the ground under some shade. I felt an urge to ask their names. But the point of it all was not for me to learn their names, but for them to know that God, who knows them by name, sent us, and that Jesus died so they may be saved and live with fullness of joy. Because of the language barrier, I found myself a translator. I shared the gospel to them, and one elderly woman came to Christ. Praise God! She was a mother of 11 children, and all of them have died. She pulled her dress and showed me her thin, frail legs and said she could hardly walk and that there is no one to take care of her any more. God gave me words to share with her. I said that “I didn’t have to tell you life is full of suffering.” “You’ve seen it and lived it. When suffering comes, call upon the name of Jesus; He will be there to comfort you. He will carry you through the day. And, when He does, rejoice! You are one day closer to going home! Jesus went before you to prepare a place for you – your new home!” She wasn’t crying when I finished sharing. She had a biggest smile on her face in the midst of her hardship and suffering. Our God is real. His word is true. I personally gained a sister, this elderly woman, in Christ. What a humbling experience it was that God saved a woman who lost everything and gave her joy of Christ. Only our God can do that.
Suzette – I had the amazing privilege and blessing of travelling with and being apart of Team Uganda 2016. One of the biggest blessings was being able to distribute “Warm Fuzzy” blankets to many of the babies and children of Midigo and Soroti. “Warm Fuzzy Ministries” is a blanket ministry that I began in 2014. After going through the process of fostering to adopt my 2 younger children, God called my family and I to share the Gospel and the love of Christ through the giving of a warm fuzzy blanket. Our ministry goal is to reach the body with the physical warmth and comfort of a blanket and touch the heart with the Gospel of Christ.
“Warm Fuzzy Ministries…touching the body with warmth… reaching the heart with the Gospel”
Many, many blankets have gone on mission trips to Nepal, Kenya, Guatemala and Uganda. Each blanket goes with a message imprinted on it saying “To a very special child: God loves you and cares for you.” Finally after a number of mission trips, God called me to go to Uganda and personally hand out and wrap the babies in the blankets. What an awesome blessing to see the ministry begin in my home with making the blankets and end in Uganda in the hospital in Midigo in the giving of the blankets and the sharing of the love of Christ. Going into the hospital with my team members and especially with my daughter, Mackenzie, and being able to see these precious babies and their mama’s and to be able to hug them and pray with them and love them was the deepest blessing. So many of these women are in such desperate situations and as we as a team talked with them and listened to their stories, they deeply touched our lives.
My life was forever changed as I fell in love with the Ugandan people and Africa. My heart has been drawn and compelled to reach out to as many people as I can and share the message and the hope of Jesus Christ.
Kalea – During our short time in Arua, we visited a women’s home. All the beautiful women there were super excited to see us and to hear words of encouragement. Carol, Mackenzie, and I squished into a sewing room with about 15 women. They were all learning to sew in order to make money to provide for themselves and their family members. Mackenzie and I began with telling our testimonies and Carol spoke about Mary and Martha and the importance of sitting and resting at the feet of Jesus.
After we prayed, most women had to leave to return home, but Mackenzie, Carol, and I were able to hear the testimonies of two women who stayed behind a little longer. They were eager to be listened to and to be prayed for. It was heartbreaking to hear the hardships they faced, but also amazing to see how God met them in their troubles and filled them with His peace and joy.
Ben – The 2016 Mission trip to Uganda was such a blessing. One of the places that ministered to me was the Sanyu Babies Home in Kampala. It is a Christian based orphanage that houses orphans under 5-year olds. These were children abandoned at refuse dump sites, pit latrines, walkways and so forth by their parents or guardians.
While visiting this orphanage, I got the attention of a little girl who was about 4 years old. She was exceptionally fascinated by sunglasses. During this time, I had my sunglasses on and she was wearing hers’. I carried her and she started playing with my sunglasses. We walked around and got her to swing on the seesaw swing. Every once a while, she will ask me to carry her and she will just cling on with a huge hug. It was such a joy to notice how the kids were excited by our visit and at the same time I was saddened by their cries after we had said our good byes. It was so apparent that they longed for these kind of visits however, I was comforted by the fact that God protected them the very day they were abandoned and is continuously doing so.
On another occasion, a fraction of the team including me, visited Calvary Chapel Kobala. The church in Kobala is being persecuted by Catholics within their region. Pastor Gary asked me to share and it was such a blessing and honor. To my surprise, Pastor John [CC Kobala’s Pastor] asked me to do communion and dedicate a baby as well. By God’s grace, I was able to do the communion and baby dedication. And I encouraged the church to stand strong and persevere in times of persecution. After sharing, I felt a strong sense to do an altar call and 2 people – a man and a girl- gave their life to God. I was so humbled, awed, emotional and excited by the trip to Kobala. It just placed a lot of things in perspective. Before leaving to Uganda, I had asked God to give me the boldness and ability to evangelize and He helped me evangelize to 2 women during our hut to hut evangelism. But I never in my wildest dreams anticipated what happened in Kobala. The scary thing is that I almost told Pastor Gary I couldn’t share, but I am just glad God is good, gracious, patient and long suffering. By far, this ranks the highest of all the mission trips I have been privileged to be part of. As Pastor Gary says before each mission trip. “You think you are going out to the mission field to bless the people but you end up getting blessed so much more.” And truly, I was beyond blessed in so many ways.
Sean – I have heard from people, “I want to go on a mission trip, but I do not know what I will do.” I watched these people go on these trips with us and be used by God in many ways. I think one of the biggest ways every one of the team members is used is simply their presence and being there to let the love of Christ shine through them. My primary responsibility was to capture and document the whole trip through my camera by video and photos. This was a blessing to be able to use a talent that God has given me for His glory.
On this trip, I learned some lessons and there were times I did not record or take photos because it was a moment just for the team. There were then times that I captured video and photos. There were also hard times that I did not want to capture on video or in pictures, but I had to keep videoing and taking pictures. The biggest lesson I learned is that I can use my camera as a tool to share JESUS with people. The kids enjoy having their picture taken, but it is not just the kids, the adults like having their picture taken too. The adults were more passive about having a picture of them taken, but they would come up to me a few minutes after watching the kids get their picture taken and point at themselves as well as the camera for me to take a picture of them. When I took their picture I showed them, they smiled and walked away. The kids were not shy about a picture being taken, the kids would come right up to me and in broken English say, “Take my picture.” I would take one picture, then more kids would come over and ask me to take pictures of them, then wanted to see them. I showed them but I had to say, “Stand back, so you can see the screen” they would look at the screen point and laugh, then I would take one more picture of them, then share the gospel with them but only if the Lord showed me that the timing was the right.
On this trip, we moved around a lot, drove a lot, and were able to do a lot of ministry. However, we also got to see some animals and met a lonely elephant who wanted to say “hi” to us. We saw a small part the Nile River, took a boat ride, saw a waterfall called Murchison Falls, and went for a hike. It was nice to hike because we had done a lot of sitting and driving. We went from one end of the country to the other end of the country which was cool because we got to see a lot of Ugandan landscape and culture. Along the way, we met some other teams who were on mission trips. We met one team at a cafe when we stopped for lunch, and this team was there to share Jesus as well. This team was from Pennsylvania doing a soccer sports camp. In closing, this was overall a great trip and we had a great team. I was super blessed by the ministry we had a chance to be a part of and to act as the photographer/videographer. I was blessed to capture the whole team through my camera doing what God had called each person to do on this trip. Thank you for praying for us.