The big day has come. We found Ugandans had worked through the night and we still smiling! The site was alive with activity as the distinguished guests began arriving. Pastor Ruth who was the mistress of ceremonies appeared with some of her street boys. The Uganda AIDS representatives were in attendance along with many local government officials and parliament members. We were all in our places when the representative from the president’s office arrived. Hundreds of orphans were under a big tent, pastors and invited guests from the community were directly across from them and the VIP tent was in front. We all stood when the motorcycle escorting the Toyota SUV pulled in front of us. Pastor Ruth led the delegation to welcome the honorable Dr. Stephen Malinga, the minister of health. After he was seated on a comfortable couch the Pastor Ruth began the ceremony with a prayer and the Uganda National Anthem. She praised the work of True Vine and said, “It is easy to see God is at work here.” Next was the VIP of the grounds. Tom and Pastor Wilber gave an overview of what had been accomplished in the past three years as they walked the grounds. With great ceremony the foundation stone was unveiled and the tour through the hospital began. Dr. Stephen was impressed with our wanting a preemie ward. He asked, “Are you sure you want that? It’s very expensive to have a heart monitor, oxygen, incubators and all you need.” He paused and then added, “But then. There isn’t a preemie ward in all of Eastern Uganda. . .”
Back to the ceremony site we were treated to singing and dancing by some of the True Vine children who say, “We are no longer orphans because Jesus is our father so we don’t want to be called the ‘orphan choir’ but ‘African Children with a Mission.’”
Pastor Joseph, Chairman of the board of True Vine spoke, asking the president’s office and local officials for help in reducing the pollution from the cement factory. He also requested help in staffing the hospital.
Pastor Brendon told how we in the United States came to be involved and Pastor Joshua talked of our partnership and how people from every kind of background came together to labor in love for this project. Tom spoke of God’s grace, his love for the Ugandan people and hope for tomorrow. Pastor Wilber addressed the crowd telling of the background of True Vine team ministries; he told of the setbacks, achievements and future goals. He said, “Our services have no boundaries-we treat everyone-as God has no boundaries.” He requested help from the government for a number of things for the hospital such as an ambulance and an access road. He then appealed to Dr Stephen to intervene with a problem we were having with a container filled with medical supplies, electrical and construction goods and clothing, flip flops and blankets for orphans. It was being held up because they wanted to tax us a phenomenal fee.
After a number of speeches the honorable Dr Stehen stood to applaud the children whom he said, “are the reason we are here.” He praised our efforts and promised to help with our container and to look into other areas of concern. He passed out five of the 700+ backpacks we were giving to the orphans today. He ended his speech by talking of our Lord Jesus and how we were following Jesus’ example by reaching out to the orphans and the widows.
It was a great day! Everyone agreed the celebration was a great success!