In July 24 IssueBy Kim GrahamRCN Reporter
Russell Springs United Methodist Church's plans for a mission trip to Uganda, a country in East Africa located on the equator, have been met with safety concerns due to recent terrorist bombings.
Earlier this month, 74 people were killed when terrorists bombed large gatherings of World Cup soccer fans watching the final game in Kampala.
The team met last Wednesday to pray and make decisions about continuing on with the trip.
"We do have some families that are concerned," said Pastor Jim Kingry. "But we had a meeting and unless the U.S. government has a travel advisory, we plan to go ahead with the trip."
After the bombings, Uganda Mission Team Leader Roland Moore said he got in touch with his contacts in Uganda and checked with the U.S. State Department for any Ugandan travel advisories and there were none.
"We are taking a 16 person medical team to Uganda August 19th through September 3rd to provide medical care in six different villages," said Moore.
The Christian mission team consists of 8 members from RSUMC and 2 from Coffey's Chapel among others from the area.
Dr. Jerry Lawson with Jamestown Healthcare, Joe Garland a Physician's Assistant in Somerset, and 4 others with medical training with run clinics during the trip.
Pastor Kingry and his daughter Kristen Kingry, a premed student at Transylvania University in Lexington, will also be among the mission workers.
Having travelled to Uganda on previous mission trips in 2007 and 2009, Moore feels confident the remote area where they will work is safe.
"We're staying on the outskirts of town, not in the center," said Moore. "They were targeting large gatherings and our team won't be going to large gatherings in Kampala."
Once in Uganda, the mission team will travel 320 miles northwest from Kampala to the remote Arua District.
Moore said that previous civil war, AIDS, and malaria have nearly wiped out an entire generation of adults in Uganda. As a result, there are 2.1 million orphans and the average age in the country is only 15.
Living conditions in Uganda are very primitive with most citizens living in small mud or brick huts with grass roofs and no electricity. Without medical care and clean water, many of them will not live past 50 years. Less than half the population has access to clean drinking water.
Despite recent economic improvements in the country, the remote areas north of the Nile River consist of people barely able to get by Moore said.
Volunteering their combined knowledge and abilities, the mission team plans to assist Ugandans in being a healthy, self sustaining community amid great trials and poverty.
"Hopefully we're providing long term health care for the area," said Moore. "Rev. Toko, a Ugandan United Methodist minister, related that some folks who had been treated for long term illness by the previous medical mission were cured."
As a first line of defense, mosquito nets to sleep under will be provided to locals for the prevention of Malaria.
At clinics, medical staff will see anywhere from 150 - 200 patients each day. Malaria and water born diseases such as dysentery are common in Uganda.
They are also hiring a Ugandan doctor for 6 days, at a rate of $300 total pay, to help with the clinics. For most Ugandans, $300 is more than a year's salary.
Most church meetings in Uganda take place under tarps supported by poles and getting to church is a challenge as well.
"Out of 18 churches in the Arua District they have only one permanent structure," said Moore. "People walk 8 - 10 miles then stand for 3 hours during church and walk home."
One of the many projects of the mission team is to build a brick church for an established church with 400 members. RSUMC has raised $13,500 toward the goal of $15,000 to build the church.
Bibles, in their local language of Swahili, will also be purchased and delivered by the mission team.
Pastors of the 18 Arua District churches will receive training from the mission team during their stay.
"Hardly any of the pastors in Uganda have been to seminary or college," said Pastor Kingry. "We plan to provide Arua pastors with a total of 30 hours of continuing education."
Among the other work, the team plans to build a school for local orphans and provide a children's ministry similar to Vacation Bible School. They will also bring soccer balls for the children.
Ugandans must be self sufficient. In their society, if they don't grow their own food they don't eat.
In an effort to better equip locals to grow vegetable crops, the team will bring garden tillers.
"My goal is that I want to help teach them to fish instead of giving them a fish," said Moore.
During his mission trip in 2007, Moore met a lady with 60 grandchildren that she was raising alone. She asked him for help but at the time he had no money to assist her.
When Moore returned last November, he brought the grandmother $650.
"I expected her to thank me," said Moore. "Instead, she dropped to her knees and thanked the God who takes care of widow and children. She thanked the one who is really responsible."
Even amid unrest in a country far from home, mission volunteers learn about faith through those that they serve.
"I'm excited for everyone to go over there so they can experience these things, too," said Moore.
"For me, Lord willing and I can walk, I'm going. Our team is committed to go."