Note: A Volunteers in Mission (VIM) team from the Columbia District served in Arua and Kampala, Uganda from August 10 to September 3. The team was made up of persons from five United Methodist Churches, one Baptist Church, and one Christian Church. Roland Moore, Evangelism Chair of the Russell Springs United Methodist Church, served as the Mission Team Leader.
The majority of the team served at the traveling medical clinic, which provided six days of service. The team was at three different church locations in the Arua District of the United Methodist Church for two days apiece. Nearly 1500 patients were seen by the team. In addition, pastors Ted Beam and Jim Kingry provided 20 hours of pastoral training for about 35 pastors and lay leaders of the Arua District. Lindsey Wilson student Ronald Kaluya assisted the pastors. The following is the reflections of team member Vickie Glenn of the Coffey’s Chapel UMC. Vickie served in the pharmacy of the clinic. – Jim Kingry
The best thing I can do is start at the beginning of my calling to go to Uganda on a mission trip. I had been in prayer about going on a mission trip for about a year. I didn’t know where, with whom I would go, or when I would go. I opened the Coffey’s Chapel bulletin on Sunday morning in the fall of 2009. There it was, written before me. It was an invitation to go on a mission trip to Uganda. To say my heart was beating fast would be an understatement, and I immediately started my conversation with God. It went something like this. “God I know you want me to go on a mission’s trip, but I don’t think Uganda is a very good idea!” I continued to inform God that Uganda was too far and that it did not seem like a safe place to me. God spoke to me saying, “You have said that you trusted me and why are you afraid? If you say that you are afraid, you apparently don’t trust me. Don’t you remember that I am God?” Well I had to apologize to Pastor Laura [Harris] for not hearing a word of her message that day because God and I were in a conversation about obeying His commands and it was His command that I go to Uganda. God was not going to make me go but we had to work out some details. Maybe I should say that I had to work out some details. God already had His details worked out. So, this is how my Uganda mission trip started.
We were starting a new journey as a medical mission team, with the pastors on the team doing some pastor training. It was many months of preparation and meeting with the team leader, Roland Moore. In the months to follow I met with the rest of the team: Pastor Jim Kingry, Dr. Jerry Lawson, Physician Assistant Joe Garland, Nurse Chris Gosser, Kristen Kingry, Bobbye Butler, Deborah Lawrence, Ronald Kaluya, Pastor Ted Beam, Donita Lawless, Charles Smith, Anna Lou Smith, Lu Ann Tarter, and Phyllis Belden.
We flew out of Louisville Airport on Thursday, August 19, and arrived at Entebbe Airport on Friday evening, August 20. The majority of us had never been on a mission team, and I know we were very excited and anxious to see what God’s plan for us was going to be. We loaded a bus and headed to the Jokas Hotel in Kampala. The drive from the airport to hotel was mostly quiet. I am sure that entire team was taken in by our surroundings. It was late and we just looked out the window to see the people and places of Uganda. We passed so many homes that were not the best living conditions a family could hope for. It was apparent that we were in poverty stricken country. Our first encounter was at a gas station where our bus was approached by four young boys that were peddling vegetables. Please understand that it was about 10:00 at night and it was obvious that this was their way of life.
Saturday morning we met with some officials from the United Methodist Church about our plan of action. We would split up on Sunday morning and attend church services at different churches in and around the capital city. Then we would fly out on Monday morning to the remote District of Arua, Uganda to start doing medical treatment on Tuesday morning.
Attending church services on Sunday was such a blessing. Lu Ann Tarter, Joe Garland, and I attended The Healing Center Methodist Church in Kawala. Church services were in this blue wooden church with dirt floors and open doors and windows. The children sat on mats on the floor of the church and the service was spirit-filled with music and dancing. Rev. James Mwoho brought the message of hope and moving forward. I was so touched by the testimonies of these people that have found God. They have nothing but know that God is their salvation. Our service lasted about five hours.
We all met back at the hotel after our services and got to share about how church was and how we were touched by the services. It was very emotional, and even though we were at separate churches, we all shared the same experience of how God is moving in the country of Uganda.
On Monday we flew out to Arua and actually landed on a dirt runway, which I found to be amazing! We packed up medications and medical supplies for the rest of the Monday. We started our medical days on Tuesday. We had six medical days, which consisted of two days at the village of Anzu, two days at Kulu, and our last two days were at Mt. Lebanon Church, which had been destroyed by fire in December of 2009.
We ended up seeing 1500-plus people with lots of different medical needs, with the main problems being malaria, typhoid, worms, AIDS, and nutrition problems. The main problem with the nutrition wasn’t so much a lack of food, but not having food that contained enough nutrients. The water source in Uganda is not good. They have to carry their water for miles and almost all water is contaminated. I feel that all people deserve good drinking water. In my own daily life, I had always taken readily available, clean water for granted. I have always just walked to the refrigerator or to the faucet to get all the water I needed.
The medical time was really a blessing. We saw how thankful they were that we were there to give medications to them and to their children. So many of these people have never seen a doctor or had any kind of medical treatment. When our children get sick, we pick up the phone and call the doctor to get them an appointment. It breaks my heart to know that, as mothers, these women don’t have that option. Please, just imagine for one minute that your child is very sick and that you can do nothing about that. The medical team was awesome! After medical was done for the day, I always was very touched by the stories of all the mission team - how someone that they had attended to that day had touched their hearts.
The hardest part of medical was when we had to leave at the end of the day, knowing that everyone could not be seen. It wasn’t that we weren’t willing to stay – we had to leave because, after seeing 250 people, our daily allotment of medications would run out. Plus, our doctors were seeing three times as many patients as they see in a normal day back home. In order for them to have the endurance they needed for the whole trip, we had to draw the line somewhere. And with no electricity, it was a challenge to see in the clinic even when the sun was shining. The first clinic was held in a building made from corn stalks and mud, with a thatch roof. The second building was about the same. The third building was a building that my home church, Coffey’s Chapel UMC, donated the money to build.
After the last clinic day, we did get to leave some medicines with the local doctor to distribute at a later date. We also left some medical supplies, and all of the mission team made personal donations for different things of our choice. I know there were lots of blessings going around, and I believe our team got the biggest blessing from being servants of the most high God.
On our last Sunday we got the privilege of going to the church dedication of Mt Sinai United Methodist. It was a church that Russell Springs United Methodist Church raised money to build. It was a wonderful day, with so many people that really blessed us with music and a dedication service from Bishop. They were presented with 100 Bibles in the local language, 100 mosquito nets, 50 soccer balls, water filtering systems and 6 bicycles, with donations made by many churches in Russell and Clinton Counties. Thanks to God who makes all things possible!
On Thursday September 1, we went to the Episcopal office to meet with Bishop Daniel Wandabula and the church officials. We had lunch and discussed our visit. Bishop Wandabula presented the team with certificates and kind words of love and hope about our partnership with the country of Uganda. He said that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a mighty work to do. We then loaded the bus and headed for the airport to come back to the United States. God has blessed the entire team, to allow us to be his hands and feet. It is my prayer that we continue to reach out to others in need of help, whether it is in your own backyard or halfway around the world.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2)