Lynne and son Trevor Counsel and Teach at Uganda’s Children of the Nations School

Dear PNME Friends:

Hello! This is Trevor! Thank you so much for your generous support of my, and my mom Lynne’s, August, 2011, mission trip to Africa! We seriously could not have done it without you! 🙂

Uganda Children of The Nations School

Children of The Nations Students

Our travels to Uganda encountered some difficulties which almost kept us from getting there! A delay in Detroit due to thunderstorms nearly made us miss our flight in Amsterdam, but we made it with only minutes to spare! Finally, after flights which felt longer than they actually were, we were hit by the awesome fact that we were in Africa!

There were so many things that were different from what I was used to in the U.S.. I quickly figured out that not many of the Americans who visit COTN (Children of the Nations) Uganda are teenage boys (usually women). So it kind of caught me by surprise when I was lifted up on Pastor Hardson’s shoulders the minute I got off of the bus 🙂

On the way up to COTN in the van, Mom and I had a lot of fun looking at the signs on shops. For example the “Trust Jesus Saloon”, or the “Covered in the Blood of the Lamb Meat Takeaway”. (We learned later that a “saloon” is a hair salon…but if you have to trust Jesus when you are getting your hair done, well that’s a problem!)

Everywhere we went children would run towards our van yelling “muno bi”. It means “white person hello”! Essentially everyone in Uganda is friendly, welcoming, and genuine. It’s a great place!

One of the things I got to do in Uganda was teach art to the children at the COTN school, supported by Bri and Danielle, who were on our team and helped immensely. We brought some art supplies along with us, and we taught a different grade each day. We drew with sharpies in P1 (equivalent to first grade); sharpies, glitter pens, and paints in P2 (that was chaotic); a personally colored paper cross and a plastic sun-catcher colored with sharpies in P3 and in P4; and foam photo frames for P5 (someone had donated a camera and photo printer that we brought). The awesome part about it all was how responsive and excited the kids were to do the crafts! One of the best memories from the trip was when we asked P5 class if they wanted to see the pictures we took of them, and they all stood up and started cheering and clapping! I’ll never forget that.

At the end of our trip we got to take a boat ride up the Nile River to Murchison Falls which was really cool! We saw hippos, giraffes, antelope, a lion, water buffalo, crocodiles, and elephants! On Sunday morning we got to drive through the game park before we left for the airport. Mom & I rode on top of the van for most of the way which was great til we passed three large trucks which completely covered us in dust!

Now it’s Mom Lynne’s turn. As we drove onto the COTN Uganda property we were surrounded by the smiling faces of children who had cut branches from trees and were waving them to welcome us, then treated as honored guests as they sang and danced for us! COTN Uganda is truly a beacon on a hill there. 68 children live at the COTN Village full time, and another 200 “Village Partner” kids walk in from the surrounding community to attend school. The support of these kids takes enormous stress off of families who are feeding orphaned children. I so appreciated the COTN vision: “Raising Children Who Transform Nations.” We were blessed by the COTN staff and the many ways they serve their community.

Before we left for Uganda, our family “adopted” Elizabeth as a Village Partner Child. She lives in a family group with 19 other people. Her mother is mentally ill, and her father’s whereabouts is unknown. Our $32 a month provides her school tuition, two school uniforms, two school meals a day, and medical attention as needed. Elizabeth has a smile that melts you, and I am grateful that supporting her keeps her in her family. There are 130 children who still need partners, so if you have any interest in sponsoring a Village Child, you can go onto COTN’s web page at www.cotni.com and click on “Sponsor a Child”. Then click on Uganda to see the sweet faces of the Village children whom you can sponsor.

I knew going to COTN that there were kids with a lot of trauma, and that I would be working with counseling staff there. The first 30 COTN children were victims of an attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Barlonya where nearly 800 people died and many had lost their families. I was blessed to partner with Mama Rose and with Lucio in working with kids. God seemed to unfold the needs as the week went on. What is very apparent is that God holds the hearts of these suffering children very tenderly. HE had work to do and I got to be a part of it!

There were many highlights, but a couple included being able to watch Trevor teaching and doing art with the kids, dancing with the kids the last night there, sitting and reading with the kids listening so closely, and playing soccer with just the girls! I said goodbye to Trevor in Uganda and he traveled back to Seattle with the rest of the team, while I went on to Kenya (right next door) for a week. My visit with our World Vision child in Nairobi was very sweet. The poverty this family lives in is overwhelming, but we celebrate the impact World Vision has on this community!

So here we are back in the USA. Our hearts are full from the opportunity to be in Uganda with the children and staff of COTN. Again we would like to say a HUGE thank you for helping us to be the hands and feet of Jesus there.