Photo: Red Sea visit to Uganda, 2022
Post by Amy Gilkey
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”-Fred Rogers
If I’m being honest, part of me was really dreading the long trip to Uganda that my son, Cason, along with my dear friend, Jamie, and her family, Josh, Madison, and Natalie, were about to embark on this past June. Our two previously canceled trips, due to Covid restrictions and travel complications, had robbed me of some of the anticipatory joy that this trip should have had. Jamie and I said over and over, “We’ll believe it when our feet are on the ground in Uganda.” Fortunately this trip happened, as it soon became clear to us, right on God’s divinely executed schedule.
The Mr. Rogers quote above makes me think about how each encounter, especially those we put time and effort into, can be the start to a rich relationship. When those relationships grow through openness and vulnerability, I believe that God is given the greatest opportunity to work. That is certainly how I felt within a day of arriving in Uganda this time. On my first trip in 2018, I often felt that I was just trying to take it all in: A new culture, working alongside people I didn’t yet know, and learning about the work Friends For Hope (FFH) was doing with families in Jinja. This time it felt like a reunion with old friends.
Our focus for this trip was to learn more about the lives of each of the men who run FFH- Emma, Andrew, and Pastor Bob. We visited their homes and spent time with each of them to hear more about the challenges they faced in their work and home lives, ways they could use further support to do their jobs well, and where they saw God at work in and around them. Jamie and I spent time with Andrew’s wife, Dina, and Bob’s wife, Stella. We were able to hear about their lives as mothers, social workers, ministry partners, and wives. It was truly a gift to get to know these men and women better.
Another highlight was our family-style meals around the guest house table, where several FFH university students joined us regularly. Moses, Hope, Raj, Raechel, and Sandra brought such fun and life to our meals. Thinking of their humor, kindness, and trash-talking on the volleyball court makes me want to be back with them in an instant. At the core of each of these interactions was a shared faith and a willingness to put themselves, and ourselves, out there. Each conversation showed me that, while we come from different backgrounds and live thousands of miles away from one another, at the most basic level we all want to be known.
I went into this trip more closed off than I would like to admit, and left it feeling like God had blasted my heart open with a desire to return to Uganda and continue deepening my friendships with the people there. I am so grateful that I was able to share that experience with Cason and the Duncan family, and I look forward to when God brings me back to be with my friends in Jinja.
If you are interested in learning more about the work of Friends For Hope or want to become a ministry supporter, please talk with me or visit www.friendsforhopeuganda.com.