“So, what exactly are you guys going to be doing in Uganda?”
Every time someone asks me this question, I’m a little bit taken aback- I mean, really, can’t everyone just read our minds and know what’s going on!? :)
But seriously- I discover from time to time that not everyone is up-to-date on the Alinaitwe’s plans. And, truth be told, the plans have changed a bit- we’ve tweaked things here and there, and we’ve been re-molding and re-shaping them as we see ever more clearly how God is preparing us for what His plans are for our family.
And so, to keep us all on the same page, here’s an outline to clarify what we’re up to:
1- Ugandan Water Project: Give Water. Give Life
The UWP started 5 years ago over a summer BBQ...and has grown into a vibrant humanitarian organization providing clean water to communities in Uganda, primarily through rainwater collection tanks. There are currently 136 (and counting!) tanks in Uganda, affecting the lives of 50,000+ people! UWP has also begun the next phase of affecting communities with life through the Second Steps program, using small business development projects to help individuals and families break the grip of poverty and move into meaningful relationship in their lives. (You can read more about UWP here.)
Almost from its inception, Collins and I have partnered alongside Ugandan Water Project as friends and collaborators. UWP Director James Harrington, and his wife Christy are close friends of ours, as well as mentors and our favorite people to bounce ideas off of for our “Uganda plans”.
We are now REALLY EXCITED to officially be joining the ranks of UWP personnel, and when we land on Uganda’s red-orange soil again, it will be as UWP missionaries!!!
(Its a little hard to adequately express just how wonderful this is! When I think back to the first time James and I met in Kampala, to the friendship our families now have, and to the way that God has answered prayers, it is simply incredible to look back and see how God has orchestrated so many events to prepare us and the UWP for just such a time as this!)
Practically, our role as UWP missionaries will be 3-fold:
A- Water Project Managers- Ensuring that pre-site prep work, tank installation, and follow-up maintenance happen in a timely manner and working to perfect the rainwater collection system process.
B- 2nd Steps Project Managers- Working alongside the 2nd Steps participants, we will be coaching them in the expectations, plans and goals for their small business development.
C-Team Hosts- The Ugandan Water Project is intentional about building meaningful relationship in order to transform communities. To do this, short term teams visit Uganda 3 times a year. We will help facilitate the teams’ experiences through education, mentoring, and logistics.
2- Street Kid Ministry
Collins and I have a unique burden for a specific group of street kids- we see so much promise in older youth, those who are right on the verge of adulthood. They need mentoring and coaching as they navigate a difficult time in any young person’s life. We want to provide them with resources and training to help them become responsible adults in proper relationship to their communities, their families, and with God. We know that, individually, we cannot change Uganda- but if we are able to point the next generation to God, He will raise up the next leaders of Uganda who will have a vision for what their country can become.
3- Supplemental Services to Homes
I remember a large New Year’s Eve celebration that a group hosted for street kids in Kampala one year. I counted approximately 500 children in the food line that day. I recognized a large majority of them. Collins knew almost all of their names. There is no lack for the children who need caring adults to pour into their lives.
At this time in our lives, and after a lot of prayer, we do not feel that God is immediately calling us to open any sort of home ourselves. God has given us two beautiful sons, and we know that as parents, we must pour into them. Somewhere down the line, we hope that God will open the doors for us to be able to again be parents to children whose lives have been redeemed from the streets.
Until that time though, we know many children who have been placed in rehabilitation and transitional homes. We worked with them on the streets and through our drop-in programs; both of us also used to staff homes and we know that constant need for more people to pour into the lives of the boys once they are off the streets. We would like to provide some of the services the boys need by maintaining our relationships with them and working alongside the organizations and staff they live with to help them as they develop into adulthood.
Originally, we had planned to transition our family from NY to UG in early January 2014. We know that God can move mountains, work miracles, and do all manner of things that we could never even imagine. Short of any of that, however, we will need to push that date by a few months. For months now, we have lived in a perpetual state of simplifying and minimizing our possessions, knowing that we’ll be packing up for good sooner than later. So, in a sense, we will be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
That moment hinges on several things out of our control.
Our move to Uganda is not for the money. It’s true, we love the weather there. We know without a shadow of a doubt that what we are embarking on is a small line in a story much greater than just us- it’s a story of God’s love and the way that He draws people to Himself! He wants each one of us to be involved in His story. And so we are inviting you to partner with us, to come along with us on this journey, and see what God has planned for these next moments in time- I can promise that you will not be disappointed!
This may mean that you buy a passport and come visit us and see first hand another angle of God’s love.
This may mean that you tell your next-door-neighbor about this couple with 2 curly-haired boys who are moving to the other side of the world...or maybe you’ll just hit “share” on a post on Facebook when you see us link the next blog post there.
This may mean you find creative ways to rework your budget so you can donate some money, either a one-time gift or on a monthly basis. (On the sidebar at the top of this blog you will see a link to our GoFundMe Account- this is a fundraising campaign for our plane tickets-to UG and back- and our start up costs for transitioning a family of 4 to Uganda.) (You can also share our fundraiser website with everyone you know!! It's simply www.gofundme.com/collins-and-jess!)
This definitely means that you reading this blogpost is no accident, and God wants YOU to be involved in restoring the relationship between Him and this world we live in...and we’re offering you a specific way to do that!
2- Our Sending Agency.
There’s a lot involved in moving to the other side of the world as missionaries. I did it once as a single woman, on a minimal budget. It was really easy to just jump on a motorcycle to get to whichever place I was going on any given day. I was very independent.
We are a family now, and moving as a family looks significantly different. We also want to bring you (and your friends and acquaintances and families!) along as partners in the journey. And we need help and support in doing that.
Collins and I have applied to and are going through the process of becoming part of a fellowship of missionaries. Because we are not finished with the process yet. we are not able to share too many details- but we would ask for prayers in this area. If all goes well, we are praying for a meeting with a committee in mid-December; once our meeting with the committee happens, and if we are approved, time will move very quickly and we will fly as soon as our budget is fully funded!
When we reach Uganda, we initially will be working full-time in the roles outlined above for the Ugandan Water Project.
We have committed to UWP for 2 years.
During that time, we will also be reconnecting and building the relationships and structures needed so that as we phase out of our roles with UWP, we will phase into parts 2 and 3 outlined above.
We’re excited about all that God has in store for us- we hope you’re excited as well, and we really, really hope and desire for you to join with us! We KNOW God is going to be doing awesome things in and through us, and we want you to experience that as well!
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Leave us comments. Visit the UWP site. Follow our GoFundMe Donate button or click here and share with us. Follow this blog so you know where we are and how our plans are being pulled together. It’s going to be a wild ride!!
So, that’s what we will be doing, in case you were wondering!