Mission: Love Uganda
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
by Brandon Chase:
Just last month I got the pleasure of spending nearly three weeks in Uganda with my good friend, Eric Peterson. My dad and youngest son were able to join us for the first eight days as well. It was a wonderful trip, just like my previous five trips to Uganda. Every trip is unique and memorable. I can’t say that this was my favorite trip, but I also can’t say that it wasn’t.
Uganda is in my heart and always on my mind. Nearly every day I am chatting with somebody in Uganda about something. Maybe about our pig farm or our maize growing project. Maybe about the new FFU (Future Farmers of Uganda) agriculture club that we started this year. Or maybe just catching up and chatting about what is happening in my life or in their lives.
It is difficult to describe the relationship I have with the people in Uganda. I can truly say I consider my friends there just as close as my friends here in the USA. And many of my relationships with these friends have grown into more of a family bond. My sister Anita lives in Uganda. My brothers Dickens, Didas and Patrick are in Uganda. My most trusted friend Peter lives in Uganda. I don’t think that a day goes by that I don’t chat with at least one of them, more than likely I chat with two or more of them each day.
Through the Child Sponsorship Program with Africa Renewal Ministries, we have added six kids to our family. We started sponsoring Sam and John in 2009. Then in 2010, we added Kayesu. Then we added Mercy and Kevin. Finally in 2014 we added Sylivia. Danelle and I always make it a point to write letters to our kids and enjoy getting their letters back.
But the relationship became so real when we visited them in their homes. I still remember stepping off the bus in 2013 and standing in Kacungwa for the first time. We heard two boys asking other trip participants “Where are Brandon and Danelle?” Then, as we heard their shrieks of delight when Danelle and I were pointed out, they ran to us with the biggest smiles on their faces and embraced us. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. All through primary and secondary school, John struggled to get motivated in school. But with the introduction of some of our agriculture programs in the community, something clicked for John. John is now in his second year of veterinarian school, we are so proud of him.
Sylivia was the last girl we sponsored. Unlike the others, we met her for the first time in person, not on a sponsorship card. Sylivia went to school sometimes, when her parents had the money to pay school fees. She had never owned a pair of shoes. She and her family were truly “the least of these.” The day I met her, I took her into the local trading center and bought for her her first pair of shoes. Sylivia quickly shot to the top of her class. As she entered secondary school the project director in Kacungwa contacted me and said there is something special about her and asked if we could maybe pay a little extra each year to send her to a very good boarding school in Mubende. The cost was an extra 150,000 shillings per year (about $40). Money well spent. This year I got to surprise her by showing up unannounced at her school. I sat in the headmaster’s office while he went and got Sylivia. When she walked into the room and saw me, she lit up and just started laughing and dancing. It was amazing. She surprised me on our last morning in Mubende before coming home. She got special permission to leave her school, and she walked to our hotel and surprised me at breakfast. It was so amazing and brought a tear to my eye. She is so easy to love.
Finally, let me tell you about Kayesu. Kayesu was the third child that we sponsored. She never enjoyed school, never really got good grades and never spoke good English. She comes from an extremely poor family, like Sylivia. Unfortunately, Kayesu really never had the motivation to succeed, probably because of her family background and just the hopeless situation of their family. But Danelle and I really made it a point to love on Kayesu. Unfortunately, when we went in 2016, we found out that Kayesu had gotten pregnant, the boy had no intention of marrying her or supporting her. She dropped out of school and had no desire to go back. At this point we could have easily written her off—that is what her culture does to young girls that get pregnant, and we were determined to stay in relationship with her and continue to love her. We now have a three-year-old granddaughter, Susan. She is beautiful. The first year I met her she was terrified of me. The next year she would tolerate me but still wasn’t too sure of what to think about me. This year she ran to me and called me jaja–Grandpa.
Why am I going into such detail about some of the kids Danelle and I sponsor? Because most of you who sponsor children will probably never be able to go and visit them in person. But I want you to know that every child in Kacungwa, whether they are sponsored or not, are real kids, with hopes and dreams and struggles that kids deal with here in the USA. They want to be loved, they want to learn, and they want to be successful in life. They struggle in school, they excel when they find their passion, they want to be accepted by their peers, they laugh and they cry. Just like kids here. The difference in Uganda is that education isn’t free, there are no social safety net programs from the government. The cost of education makes school out of reach for many families. Or maybe they struggle to put one child through school hoping that one child can come home and teach the other children in the family.
Danelle and I have been blessed to get to know our kids on a personal level. I wish every one of you could have the same relationship with these Ugandan kids as Danelle and I have. But even if you never go to Uganda, know that your sponsored child and their family prays for you every day. If they have your picture, they keep that picture as a treasure and look at it often. They love you more than you realize.
On Sunday, September 22nd we are going to have a “Sponsorship Sunday” at church. Renee told me that we have a goal of getting 30 kids sponsored on that day. That excites me, but I hope we can get 50 or more sponsored. That seems like a high number, but why not? In one month in 2009, we got over 100 kids sponsored. I know we can do it again. Please begin praying now about it. Talk about it with your kids. The relationship will change your life.
For $40 each month, you can change the life and destiny of a child. They will get a good Christian education, a school uniform each year, a daily meal and health care. I can not understate the advantages that sponsored kids have over kids who are not sponsored. These kids’ lives will be changed forever, and God will work through you to help raise up the next generation of Christian leaders in Uganda. If you do not currently sponsor a child in Uganda, I would ask you to step out on faith and begin sponsoring a child. If you currently sponsor a child, I would ask you to consider sponsoring another as well. And for every one of you who sponsors a child already or in the near future, please write to your child and send them a picture of you and your family with your letters. They treasure these things. I can’t overstate how much they love hearing from you.
Finally, I want to share with you one last thing. Next summer I will be leading another trip to Uganda. However, this will be the first time since 2016 that the trip will be for those that have not gone to Uganda before. An introductory trip that will be appropriate for the first timer or repeat visitor. We will spend about ten days in Uganda. We will spend a good deal of our time serving in Kacungwa. What will we do? I don’t know; it depends on the skills and desires of those who choose to go on the trip. At the end of the trip, we will do a safari and see the beauty of God’s creation as we cruise on the Nile River and drive through the game park. We will be having an informational meeting about the trip soon and will make sure to announce it in church and electronically so anybody that wants to learn about the trip will have the opportunity to do so. This trip would be appropriate for anyone high school age and older (maybe middle-school age if with their parents). Just have a heart to serve and an adventurous spirit, and you will fit right in.
Thank you for taking the time to read this whole article. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about child sponsorship or next year’s trip to Uganda.
In His Service, Brandon Chase firstname.lastname@example.org