Ford among area volunteers on mission to Uganda
A group of area volunteers recently shared their hearts and Christian values as part of a Baptist Mission trip to Kampala, Uganda. Lindsey Ford of Rector joined Marmaduke First Baptist Church members Kim Bridges, Kent Pieri, April Winn, Lori Long, Hannah Long, Bethany Long and Jessica Colter and Nettleton Baptist Church members Kevin Hoke, Jodi Waters, John Waters, Sherry Carter, Mandy Bauer and Jenny Vining as part of a relief and spiritual effort in the impoverished African area. The group flew out from Memphis to Dallas on May 27. A connecting flight in Dallas took the 13 volunteers to Amsterdam where another plane brought them to Entebbe. From there, the group travelled for two hours by bus to arrive in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. The group spent 12 days in-country, with an additional two days of travel time.
The difference in living conditions, especially in the areas the group focused on to offer assistance, was a stark contrast to life back home.
"It was like nothing I've ever done before," Ford, who attends Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, said. "The conditions over there are so much different than what we're used to here. It makes you appreciate everything, but at the same time it makes you that much more determined to help."
The group worked on numerous projects while in Kampala. According to Bridges, the senior pastor at Marmaduke First Baptist Church, the group distributed over two and one-half tons of food during their stay. Funds raised by the missionary effort were utilized to purchase four goats and 400 chickens, which were in turn given to area orphanages to help provide lasting supplies. Several of the men helped construct new roofs for a home and school. Others spent more time working hands-on with the people of Kampala.
"I worked in the orphanages and in food relief most of the time I was there," Ford said. "We spent five days on Vuvama Island where we did Vacation Bible School and handed out supplies."
Ford worked closely with native children during the trip, visiting orphanages, schools and a children's hospital. The warm, smiling faces of the Ugandan children created a stark contrast to the harsh conditions.
"You get there and you think, 'these kids have so little,' but then you realize they have so much love in their heart for each other and for God. They find so much joy in the things that really matter and are the most important."
Ford recounted her visit to the children's hospital and how the sight of the sight of the dirty, cramped spaces and the plight of the ill little ones broke her heart.
"There were three kids in every bed," Ford said. "There were kids on the floor--every inch of space was occupied. I was talking to three kids who were sharing a bed and another boy was under the bed--that was where he stayed. It was just too much. It was overpowering."
Ford and other volunteers brought treat bags to the children in the hospital. Each gift was a welcome surprise for the young patients.
"They were so thrilled to get the things we brought. It was just bags of soap and sweeties--what they call candy--things we just have in the hospital here. It meant so much to them."
While on Vuvuma Island, the volunteers stayed in conditions much like those they were assisting, having no electricity or running water. At night, the only light came from small lamps, either solar powered or makeshift oil-burning. The missionaries drank bottled water and ate meals consisting of ground nuts, toast, rice and beans. While in the large Kampala city, the group was able to maintain a more "western" diet, purchasing supplies from local stores.
The opportunity to help others has had a lasting impact on Ford and her fellow missionaries.
"It was something I wanted to do for so long," the daughter of Kirk and Leah Ford said. "It's not just something a person does, though. It's something you're called to do by God. I feel super blessed to have had this opportunity. The people there, especially the children, and their spirit even in the face of all these hardships, it changes something inside you. I'm grateful to have been a part of this, and I want to thank everyone involved and all the people here who supported me. This whole experience has meant so much to me."