Friday, April 8th, 2011

By:  Angie Simon

We started our day with a continental style breakfast here at the hotel followed by our first “family sharing time” around 8 o’clock.  During this time, Tom shared some wonderful information and insights into the different projects we are involved with here in Africa.  He also gave us some terrific pointers about engaging with the children and people we will meet during our stay.  Elizabeth also talked to us about how to interact with our sponsored child.  This is always an exciting time, both for the child and the sponsor.

After family time, we boarded our buses and headed over to Juba, a village only a few miles away from our hotel.  Here we met Pastor Peter and had the amazing privilege of attending the graduation ceremony for the Visionary Nursery School children from Kingdom Preparation.  We were greeted with smiles and hugs and an incredible performance filled with songs and dance and much joy!  These sweet, adorable kids were the epitome of “cute” dressed up in their graduation caps and gowns, all sewn by Pastor David who is the worship leader for Pastor Peter’s church.  They were very excited to receive their graduation certificates brought by Ken and Laura Dirks from Lord of Life Church – many thanks for this extra special gift!

After the ceremony, several team members had the chance to connect with their sponsored children.  We also toured the campus at Juba and saw the new temporary classrooms P3, P4 and P5 next to the new church site.  We saw the chicken coop – this is a source of income for this village and they take immense care and use a great deal of caution in looking after the chickens.  They have visitors dip the bottoms of their footwear in a disinfectant so they don’t track in bacteria that could harm the chickens and they work very hard to preserve a quiet, tranquil atmosphere – happy, relaxed chickens lay more eggs!

In the afternoon, the team had 2 choices of how to spend their time.  One option was to accompany Rachel (Tom’s sister) to a women’s tea in Juba where they gave the women manicures, pedicures and dressed them in beautiful scarves.  These resilient women are always SO very grateful for these small, loving gestures that we always come away incredibly blessed for having had the privilege to serve them in this tiny way.  The Juba women were very emotionally moved when some of the men from our team participated and also when the men gave them shoulder rubs.

Our other choice was to go with Angie to Seka, one of our sponsored villages.  When the team arrived, over 200 children and villagers greeted them with abundant smiles and joyful hearts.  They toured the village and went inside the church to help with a sanitation/hygiene lesson led by Sam Oketch.  It is so incredibly important for villagers everywhere to understand how they can lesson their risk of deadly disease, from things they cannot see with their naked eye, by following these simple procedures.  The villagers were very attentive and asked many questions afterward.  We also got to deliver school supplies that had been collected by team members to the nursery and primary schools – what a wonderful gift for these children who have so very little.  Unfortunately, we were caught in afternoon showers, so we didn’t get to actually play soccer with the children, but we left the soccer balls for them – they will undoubtedly get MUCH use.

Our day was not over yet, as many of us went to nearby Awingo House at 6pm this evening.  A retired engineer from Connecticut moved here over 5 years ago and bought this tract of land and built 3 houses on it – one for boys, one for girls and a third that is rented out to some missionaries.  There are about 25 orphaned children here that are sponsored by Hope4Kids and each visit they graciously host us for a time of worshipful singing unlike anything you have ever heard.  These amazing young men and women sing about the name of Jesus and not being discouraged with absolute purity and heartfelt devotion.  Everyone was incredibly moved and humbled.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to some time at the True Vine campus, but for now, we are looking forward to some deep, restful sleep.

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Hope 4 Kids International is 501c3 faith-based non-profit committed to help children around the world that are suffering from extreme poverty through Dignity, Health, Joy & Love.

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