This day began with us packing up and leaving Gulu after breakfast. This was about a 4 hour drive to Soroti to where we are staying at Starlight Guest House for 2 nights.
Josh and Mandy Shaarda and their 4 kids greeted us right away at the guest house and were excited to see us. After lunch, we headed to St. Francis Primary School for the blind. We toured all the classrooms, and they have a total of 73 kids. We greeted each one of them and introduced ourselves and they did the same. After this, they sang 3 songs to us. They were so good! One kid played an accordion and one played 2 drums. This was fun to watch! Next we played goal ball. This game was 3 vs 3 (us vs them) and is played with a ball with a bell in it. We were blindfolded in order to play fair. You had to catch the ball and stop if from going past your end line, and then you had to throw it back towards them to try and score. This was way harder than it looked but a lot of fun! :) One thing that really struck us was that we got to take our blindfolds off, but those children would never experience that.
Then we drove to Soroti Rock. We climbed to the top and enjoyed a fantastic view of Soroti. It was a hot and tiring hike but easier than Murchinson falls. We saw 2 monkeys in a tree and lots of goats as well.
We wrapped up our day listening to Josh and Mandy's personal stories about their life as missionaries. They are amazing people with an incredible passion for serving God which was inspiring.
After breakfast, we split up guys and girls groups for our morning activity. The guys went to a prison and experienced an incredible moment of listening to Josh preach and watch the prisoners worship. The girls went to Amacst which is a children's home. We got to listen to Els, the director, talk about her passion for kids and why she does what she does. She has a huge heart for hurting children. It was very sad to see how children are rejected for various reasons. We also got to play with the kids for a little while which is always fun! :) And we toured the facilities and saw the different rooms.
Before lunch, we made an hour stop at a place where they help counsel boys who are living on the streets. 2 boys shared their stories and it was moving to hear about their struggles such as poverty, hunger, and death in the family. The work that the directors of this program are doing was inspiring because the need for help for street boys is so great.
Next we drove with the Shaardas to go out to eat at the Ugandan version of "fast food" which took about 15 minutes for a buffet to be ready. After lunch, we went to the Shaarda home and met the kids from their youth group and their families. We split up into 4 groups and went to some of the houses in the village. We got to see how they pump water, cook food, play games, and what their living situation is like. This time was awesome because we got to interact and truly see what their lifestyle is like.
We then met back up as a big group and had a time of worship singing together. We shared some songs with them, and they shared some with us. This was really interesting to see the differences between various cultures worshipping God. We even ended up joining in their cultural dance because it looked so fun! We weren't necessarily very good but we had a great time. Before we left, we played soccer and a game called "ten" with them for a little while. Throughout all of this, everyone was smiling and having a great time together.
We really learned a lot from the kids and made great friends in the process. We got to learn about the real struggles these children experience every day and are grateful for our blessing back in Michigan.
Until next time,
Morgan and Lauren