The team from Templepatrick Presbyterian Church arrived safely in Arua, Uganda, a week ago. Holly is the youngest member of the team and shared some of what the they have been experiencing:
"Mickey, Joshua and Fred greeted us at the airport and took us to a Northern Irish stomach friendly brunch at Rojey Creamery. Afterwards at the Mothers' Union Guesthouse we were introduced to our hosts, Grace, Lilian and Nora. We then went on to meet Bishop Collins of the Diocese of Madi and West Nile, he prayed over us and commissioned us for our time in his diocese. We were warmly welcomed by a song of blessing from the church members gathered. We then joined to eat together as a family."
On their first day the team travelled by bus together to visit the diocesan refugee programme in Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp – one of the biggest refugee camps in the world.
“We entered the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement…best described as a huge rural village. We were welcomed by the sound of drums and dancing. Pastor Issac led us to the soon to be primary school, funded through CMSI, due to be completed in 2 weeks. The people immediately welcomed us into their community and their family. We then moved into the church building where they held a welcoming service and shared about the challenges they face daily.
We have learnt that eating together is an important part of the culture here. We had lunch together and traditional African Tea, something that definitely needs to return home with us!”
Food rations have recently been removed from all but the most vulnerable refugees in Bidi Bidi camp. Holly reflected on this on her return to the guesthouse:
“We gave thanks for our safe journey home and to be blessed enough for Grace to have a warm hearty dinner for us. So far in our 3 days in Uganda, the people we’ve met have been our highlight. The welcome and joy has been such a blessing. We have learnt so much already; to fully rely on God and to thank him for everything he has done and everything that can be made possible through him. Although the people we met in Bidi Bidi camp materially have little, they are spiritually rich and through this they expressed so much love towards us. A member of Bidi Bidi church said this: “Love has brought us together, and love has led us here.”