Final Thoughts from Our Trip to Uganda

Jesus Said: “Whoever receives one such child in my name, receives Me.”  (Matthew 18:5)

Final Thoughts by Chuck & Nancie
Our trip to Uganda this year was amazing!  Every year, Uganda feels a little more like home.  Every year, we grow closer to our children, the Pastors and members of the local churches.  We just returned home less than a week ago and we are already dreaming about next year.

While King’s Kids Africa partnered with the First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma to plant a new church, we were also able to expand the reach of our ministry by promoting 2 new sustainability initiatives (sewing and farming).  As King’s Kids Africa, it was a special joy to have Nancie’s sister, JoAnn Knutson, and our niece, Hailey Droge, with us.  Together we were able to:

  • Teach the men’s and women’s Sunday school classes;
  • Present our testimonies during nightly crusades;
  • Conduct an all-day sewing class for 19 women (including the mommas from our 4 Kid’s Kids homes and the local churches).  Praise the Lord!  Since our Day 9 posting, “My Dream & Vision Came Alive Today,” five families have generously pledged 5 new sewing machines for King’s Kids sewing ministry in Uganda;
  • Present 40 hygiene kits to the women of the local churches and villages;
  • Meet with the Management Committees for the Presbytery of East Africa and each of the 4 homes.
  • Visit/observe 4 of the 6 schools that children from the King’s Kids homes are attending;
  • Observe a trial “smart farming” program for the King’s Kids homes;
  • Host a dedication ceremony for our latest King’s Kids home in Lutonyi, that was attended by 120 government officials, local villagers, church members and children;
  • Our New King’s Kids Home in Lutonyi

  • Present each of the 4 King’s Kids homes with clothing, sandals, books, play equipment/toys, art supplies and “prayer bears”; and
  • Present letters to each of the children from all of our sponsors

But, the best of all was our chance to:

  • Participate in the hut-to-hut and school ministries, where we bore witness to 29 students and local villagers accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior;
  • Spend time with the children from our 4 King’s Kids homes and observe the changes in their lives – from abandonment, abuse and despair, to joy and a budding love for our Heavenly Father and His Word; and
  • Announce that sufficient funds have been received to start construction of our 5th King’s Kids home in September.

That’s what it’s all about!  Yes, we want our children to have the love of the house mommas and the local church; know the security of a loving home with regular meals; obtain proper healthcare; and have the opportunity to go to school, but most of all, we want them to know Jesus!

One last thing, we did splurge on a 1-day safari in Murchison Falls National Park where we got up before daylight and hopped into an open-air jeep to see a mother lion and her 2 cubs (at just 20’) and numerous “parades” of elephants, “towers” of giraffes, “schools” of hippos, “sounders” of wart hogs and thousands of antelopes (of various varieties).  Then, later in the day (before starting our 41-hour trip home), we took a river tour down the Nile where we saw more “schools” of hippos, “basks” of crocodiles and numerous animals of all types watering along the river banks.

It was a wonderful ending to a spectacular trip!  To God be the glory!

Thank you to our donors, sponsors and everyone else for following our trip and faithfully praying for us as we conducted the work of King’s Kids Africa.  To each of our sponsors, we will be organizing our pictures/videos over the next 2 weeks and will be sending them out to each of you.

To everyone, please start thinking about joining us in 2019 (probably in June).  We aren’t asking you to become full-time missionaries to Africa, but we are asking you to consider putting your heart on the line and helping us serve these beautiful people.  If you come, your lives and the continent of Africa will never be the same to you again.

Also, if you have any “spare capacity” and the work of King’s Kids Africa tugs at your heart, we would love for you to come alongside us and give us a helping hand or be a part of our team.

Final Thoughts by Hailey (our Niece, 17)
If I had to describe my trip to Uganda in just a two words, it would be this: “eye opening.”  The first thing I noticed in Uganda was how incredibly kind the people are. The second thing I noticed was how little the people had. My initial reaction was to feel bad for them, bad that they didn’t have all the luxuries that we have here in developed countries.  But, then I realized I also feel bad for people here in the United States. All the people of Uganda need to live a full life is God, a little food, and some modest shelter. I was inspired. Here, myself included, people always want more. We’re never satisfied.

I was also inspired by their trust in God. They trust Him for every need they have. I tend to try and control everything in my life.  My time in Uganda really reminded me that I just need to step back and realize that things are not in my control. The whole trip tested my ability to trust God in the activities I find very uncomfortable, such as public speaking.

Another blessing this trip brought to me was a validation of my future plans. I still don’t know exactly what my career path will be, but I do know that I want it to involve children. I will leave the rest of those plans up to God. Overall, this trip made me much stronger in my faith and I’m forever grateful for this experience.

Final Thoughts by JoAnn Knutson (Nancie’s Sister)
When Nancie and Chuck asked my 17-year old granddaughter, Hailey, and me if we’d like to accompany them on their trip to Uganda, we were overjoyed. How exciting, I thought, to be able to be with my sister, brother-in-law and granddaughter to visit Uganda and the King’s Kids homes and be part of their ministry.

After much encouragement and prayer, we readily accepted and started preparations for this amazing adventure. This was going to be a life changing experience, I thought, and I was looking forward to it. Nancie sent me a packet of information and the 4th paragraph on the very first page caught my eye immediately. DANGER – There are rebel forces 150 miles away. We drive through the heart of Kampala’s traffic jams and there have been some terrorist attacks. Conditions in the field are primitive, the hotel is simple but comfortable with security. It is dangerous to be outside the hotel compound after dark. To say that I was scared to death is an understatement. I called Nancie right away and told her I was having second thoughts and that maybe I really shouldn’t be doing this. She assured that little tidbit of information was OLD and that I shouldn’t pay any attention to that paragraph. OK, really?

I prayed for God to give me calmness and assurance that all would be well and that I would survive. After months of preparation we were ready to fly to Uganda. We left on July 5th. It was a LONG and grueling trip – Nashville to Chicago, Chicago to Istanbul, Istanbul to Rwanda and Rwanda to Entebbe and then a 7-hour van ride to our final destination.

We went to the very first King’s Kids house on Sunday morning and arrived during the church service. The children came running to the van and were overcome with joy and excitement – we got hugs and greetings from everyone. Their joy was palpable and they hung on our every word and movement. It was AMAZING!! My eyes filled with tears. I have never experienced anything like this. Their love for God is so strong and they worship Him with all their heart and soul.

We spent the week going hut-to-hut, spreading God’s word and getting to meet and talk with the people. They live on parcels of land where they grow their own food and the conditions are unimaginable. Their houses are small mud huts with dirt floors, no toilet facilities and no electricity – there is filth and trash everywhere. The children are running around playing and caring for their younger siblings. Their clothes are mismatched, filthy, oversized and are torn to shreds. They wear shoes that don’t fit and are falling apart. There are no toys, yet they seem so happy.

I sponsor two little girls, Esther and Peace, and was able to meet them and spend quality time with them. They are adorable and I wanted to bring both of them home with me. Watching Nancie and Chuck in action and being there to see what they do and all that it takes to keep their dream alive was something to behold. They have done an amazing job and I’m so impressed and so proud of them. They have dreams of building more homes and more churches and bringing more children to a safe place. The children are thriving and learning – they have a home, food in their tummies, good health care and people who love them and care for them. They are so eager to learn and absorb things so quickly. They are learning about God and can already recite all the books in the Bible. They are beautiful children with faces that can’t be forgotten.

This trip has opened my eyes and made me realize that we take life for granted. I am so thankful for all that I have – my family, a roof over my head, food on my table, my health and the comfort of knowing that I live in the greatest country in the world. I will never forget the kind, gentle, incredible people of Uganda and the fact that I never felt any fear. The people are so friendly and they welcomed us with open arms and took care of us. I felt safer there than any place I’ve ever been and can’t thank Nancie and Chuck enough for taking me with them. It was a trip I will never forget!

29 New Brothers & Sisters

Spending time with the children.

Construction Complete

February 2017
King’s Kid’s homes are duplexes built next to the pastor’s home on the church property. One side of the duplex is for 4 girls and the other side for 4 boys. A special “mamma” has been chosen to live with them and care for them as her own. A latrine/bath house, and a separate kitchen house are built also. There is a well on the property, but no running water or electricity.

February of 2017, two King’s Kids Homes were completed, all the beds, tables and chairs were delivered and the most vulnerable, needy children began to experience a safe, family environment for the first time in their lives. Most children were hungry, and dressed in rags, and many required medical attention before moving into King’s Kid’s Home. We met these children through the pictures and bios that our case worker, Glenn, sent us, and we were blessed to find family and friends to sponsor them.
All the children had their medical check-ups, were taken shopping in the nearby town to buy clothes, and then they enjoyed their first-ever ice cream.

We were so excited to meet them all in person, and began packing trunks full of clothes and toys, books and toothbrushes, and counting the days until we were able to love on them.

The Great Manager

Our Board of Directors includes some of our dear forever friends – wise, praying, believers who seek God’s direction in their lives. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives, and on our King’s Kids Africa Board of Directors.

As we moved forward with our plans to build homes for orphans, we knew we needed to create a management committee in Uganda to oversee the building process. Because we are working under the Presbytery of East Africa, and with Pastor Morris and Aida, they began the search for a strong team to lead this committee. The process began by considering pastors and elders from 120 different churches and choosing six devoted leaders among them to lead the King’s Kids Management Committee.

One name on the list made us stop and wonder if it could possibly be Chuck’s interpreter, Ernest. Was Ernest a common name in Uganda like Bob is in the US? We didn’t know. It had been 4 years since we had seen Ernest and even a current picture of him compared next to an earlier picture of him left us unsure. What was the chance that this was Chuck’s Ernest?

After much investigative work and many communications back and forth, the truth became known. It was Chuck’s Ernest! The same one who walked the dirt roads with Chuck and prayed over so many villagers, and interpreted as Chuck shared the gospel message to crowds of eager listeners. Ernest had become Chuck’s friend, and now he was serving on the King’s Kids Management Committee.

God brings people into our lives each year to bless us and He gives us the joy of blessing them. We don’t always know God’s plans and motives, but we do believe what His word says in Jeremiah 29:11 :

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We never could have imagined in 2010 and 2011 when we were in Uganda with Ernest, that God was laying out His plans even then. What a beautiful story He writes.

 

My Interpreter – My Friend

 

An exciting time for each of us was the morning when we met our interpreter for the first time. Young men, who were students at the local Seminary, would gather in Mbale to greet us and offer their time and linguistic talents for the week to come. I remember meeting my assigned interpreter, Peter, for the first time. This tall, young, soon-to-be pastor with a wide smile and a friendly laugh would be my companion, and soon my friend. One day, as we walked along the dirt trails from one remote village to the next, we came across a very vocal pet goat that was all tangled up in its rope. Peter, quite use to this scene, thought nothing of it, and proceeded to just walk by. But I stopped and pleaded with him to please rescue the poor thing. That day Peter received a famous nickname from me – and is now known throughout the region as “Peter- the saver of goats.”

Chuck’s interpreter, Ernest, was a local teacher who had come to serve our team. As they walked through the cornfields heading toward a mud hut, they came across a farmer who happened to be aiding a goat in the birthing process. Chuck’s role was to soothe the goat as she gave birth, and now, my city-slicker husband  has a kid named after him in Uganda.

Peter and Ernest were our interpreters for two years in a row and together we shared the message of Jesus Christ with many remote villagers on the outskirts of Mbale.

God Redeems the Time

While going through the process of applying for Recognition of Exemption for King’s Kids Africa, Chuck had asked how long it might take. The attorney’s response was longer than Chuck had hoped for, (8-9 months), so the question was rephrased and instead he wanted to know what was the fastest time that any non-profit organization had received their 501 (c )(3) status. This answer, 3 months, was easier to deal with, however; Chuck felt assured that we would receive it even faster than that. He was right! In 2 ½ months and tons of paper work later, we received our 501 (c ) (3) non-profit status for King’s Kids Africa. Hallelujah!!!

Please Don’t Send Me to Africa

Many years ago I had the honor of directing many beautiful children in a stage play entitled, “Please Don’t Send Me to Africa”. We all learned so much during that show and we prayed that our hearts would follow wherever God called us. Guess where God called this Director???

When we first arrived in a rural village of Uganda, Africa, children came running from every direction to greet us. A few younger ones were reluctant, because for them it was their first time to see a Mzunga – a white person. But they quickly warmed up to us and swarmed us wherever we went. So many children, but where were their parents? 5 year olds were in charge of babies, carrying them on their backs. Many chewed on days-old corn cobs, all were barefoot, and most were dressed in rags.

At first I though how sweet they were to greet us, but it soon became obvious that they were starved for attention. Their bellies were empty too, (some swallowing paper just to fill their stomach), but their biggest need was for someone to notice them.

How could we help but notice them? Those precious faces, and those big brown eyes looking up at us. We were smitten, and then saddened when we learned that we were in the midst of orphans. They had no parents to love them, to feed them, to tuck them into bed at night. That’s when our hearts began to break for these needy, beautiful children. We returned again and again, and always there was heaviness in our hearts each time we left them.

Then God grew a vision and gave us a hope – a hope that we could make a difference in the lives of these orphans and in their villages. And our journey began. It became our desire to bring hope to these children by sharing the love of Jesus with them, giving them safe, loving homes, nearby schools and churches, and empowering them to become the future leaders in their villages.

Romans 10 says:

“And how can they call to Him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out?”

God has called us to bring hope to these children, and we have trusted that He will give us the ability. At first we simply offered Him our availability, and simply and humbly said, “Here we are, send us.”

Our hearts were touched, and King’s Kids Africa was launched.

God has shown us great favor and now, one year and many answered prayers later we now have a strong Board of Directors, a devoted building committee in Uganda, and currently two duplex orphan homes under construction in two different villages. Each home will house eight children and a momma. The houses will be completed by the end of this year and 16 very needy children are about to have their lives changed forever. We can’t make a difference to all the orphans, but we can make a difference to these.