On the 11th February 2017, the Christ Church Lisburn team of 11 travelled to Uganda to visit St Apollo Primary School. Team leader, Reverend Paul Dundas, shares their experience:
“The two weeks had many surprises, including the procession to the school. The warmth of welcome was so evident to us all and we were truly blessed by the experience. This was the third parish team to visit the school and all of our team members had been at the school previously. This really helped in our planning and preparations for our two week programme.
We had a programme shaped by the needs of the school and guided by Fields of Life. The four guys on the team worked hard to make 24 benches and 12 tables for the children in the nursery, as well as two desks, two chairs, two bookcases and two blackboards for the nursery teachers. An amazing achievement by the men that will bring so much blessing to the nursery.The nursery children were over-joyed to receive small teddies from the ladies as well.
The six ladies and I delivered a series of three lessons on the life of Jesus. We looked at the birth of Jesus, his healing of the lame man and the death and resurrection of our Lord. We sang songs (I am walking, Do you know who Jesus is? Our God is a great big God) and learned two memory verses (Psalm 106:1 and John 10:10). We produced drama on the Bible stories, had fun with the quizzes and made crafts shaped as crowns, hearts and crosses. The crowns were worn by the children in the procession on the last Friday we visited the school. We were deeply enriched when the children sang, did their prayer drills and showed appreciation for what they learned or received. We also distributed underwear to the children, as well as football kits, a bible in English and stationary. Lunchtimes were spent playing football, rugby, netball and volleyball in the school grounds in soaring temperatures!
Each Wednesday, the ladies on the team met with the ladies of the community and had the opportunity to share Bible stories on Rahab and Ruth, as well as producing liquid soap to sell on the community day and distributing bras to approximately 100 ladies. Two Singer sewing machines were also presented to this group with Madame Deborah looking after the training for the girls and ladies. At the same time I met with eight men and we shared testimonies of faith and life.
The school building had been re-tiled and re-painted in January which certainly spruced up the buildings. It was wonderful to see the staff accommodation being used by staff, enabling them to be on site as well as starting to produce crops and look after pigs and chickens. One highlight for the team was seeing the completion of the girls latrines and the official opening by Bishop Eridard.
For us as a team, we were supported by Bridget, the Link worker from Fields of Life. Bridget is a women of great faith, godly wisdom, gentle spirit, wise counsel who laughed with us and guided us in our programme and time at the school. We were enriched by her being part of our team. She is a blessing to Fields of Life and to the kingdom of God.
As we journeyed with the children and teachers during the two weeks we were reminded that we are “friends” together in this partnership. We truly enjoyed being with the children as we sang, prayed, played, laughed, danced, read God’s Word, listened to them, met parents or grandparents, witnessed their smiles and hope as they receive an education in a context of Christian love and care. The children loved having glitter and stickers and these were placed on heads and arms with great joy. There are challenges for the school but small steps are in progress in this community. This is a community of hope.
The location of St Apollo school is in the “Killing Fields” area of Uganda, but now it is a place of faith, light and hope. Our journey and partnership continues as a Parish. For parishioners who have been on the three teams, the school community has a place in our hearts and lives. God is Good.
All the team have deep personal stories of their two weeks as we were stretched, challenged in our faith but blessed abundantly as we witnessed a growing community. Some of the team met their sponsored children and friendships developed. We know many prayed for us in our home church and in Uganda as well as friends and family. Thankfully no one was sick on our trip and there were no emergencies. Many answers to prayer.”