July 26, 2012

Uganda Day 1 & 2

We are here safe and sound!!!

I had high hopes to be able to blog each day, but with jet lag, intermittent wifi access, and just plain needing quiet time to pause and reflect on what we've seen and experienced, I've gotten behind. 

Here's a quick photo I took with my phone of the town where we are staying.
Ggaba Rd. - we walked 15 minutes on this road to get to church

So we've been here for 3 1/2 days so far and I can honestly say that Africa is like no place we have ever been. Uganda is one of the most beautiful and unique places we've ever visited! From the moment our plane landed -it was culture shock! It felt like a scene out of movie - we were bombarded by driver after driver wanting to transport us to our hotel but, luckily, we found Gary and our driver Brian with no problems at all. Yet, when we began heading down the main road to our hotel that was when it really sunk in that we are in "Africa"! There were "stores" upon stores - and make shift street vendors lining both sides of the street almost the entire way from Entebbe to Kampala. There were ladies balancing baskets of bananas and men carrying sugarcane stacks on their bicycles. I have never seen so many people all in one place just walking to and fro (other than NYC). It was unbelievable! And as you travel around Kampala, that is very much the scene everywhere you go. Chris and I keep commenting every time we are in the heart of Kampala, how we can't believe there are this many people walking the streets and they don't get hit (well- they do, but we haven't seen it- thank goodness).

After we arrived at our hotel, Pastor Samuel of Return Ministries stopped by to check on us and share more about his ministry. We ended up jumping in his van to take a tour of downtown Kampala which we hadn’t seen. This was unreal- just scores of people on both sides of the street the whole way downtown and people selling things to everyone sitting in traffic. And not to mention the driving is CRAZY! The big mode of transportation  here is the "boda - boda" (small motorcycle) and let me tell you- they are crazy. I have video footage to show you later. They drive on the left, and it feels as if it is a free-for-all, but we’re told there is “order” to the madness. The “boda-boda” just shimmy between cars and sometimes they are carrying three people on them. Nuts!

My emotions have been all over the place the past few days…

The first night, I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling, thinking to myself – “What in the world am I doing here? Can I go home? Um… Nope! (as my 2-year old nephew says) – I’m halfway around the world and I can’t get home.” I think I had my first moment of anxiousness / culture shock, mixed with jet lag.

But I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and excited to explore. And as the day progressed, I began to let my guard down a little bit more and began to take in the surroundings. We decided to walk down to the local church and it was amazing! We passed many people along the way, but most would not wave unless we waved first. Then we would get the biggest smile ever! Once we arrived at church, we were greeted so warmly by everyone. It was a more contemporary service and they sang some of the same praise & worship songs we sing at Portico. They also sang and preached in their native language – Luganda, and English. When they sang in Lugandan, it was the most awe-filled moment of our day! I can’t wait for you to see the video.

Pastor Peter preached about using our God given talents to do His work and that God has equipped us all with different spiritual gifts. He also said that God often wants to help us develop those gifts. He quoted many scriptures, but one that stands out is Romans 8:28-“For we know all things God works for good for those who love him according to his purpose.” This was an encouraging sermon to hear on Day 1 of our trip – YES Lord!

But it made me think – what are my “gifts”? Have I really sat down to think about what I can offer to people – what I’m good at? It’s hard to do. I feel that one of my gifts is my passion for people. So going on this trip – serving others, spending time with people – is my passion. But am I really being of any use? One of my fears is that I'm only serving ME.

Yet, on the plane ride over, I began reading a book titled “Go and Do” by Jay Milbrandt- and one thing that he said that struck me was this…

“When it comes to our desire to go and do, the first thing we must realize is that it’s not about changing the world. Instead, it’s about changing ourselves. And the great thing is that if we allow God to change us, then along the way, he allows us to change the lives of those we encounter. It always starts with us- with God working in us.”

God has been changing both Chris and I through each encounter and experience we have. We have seen his intricate planning in every detail of this trip - from our hotel waitress Ruth - to some American volunteers from Visiting Orphans, to Francis and Adrienne, ministry leaders we met at church. He’s been providing for our needs during this trip and it is evident. Pastor Samuel said to me… “Thank you for coming. It is one thing to send money, but to be present is another.”

So even if we don’t move mountains, change is happening.

Please continue to pray for our health & safety.  Please also pray for our the children and families we are meeting and serving this week.


April & Chris

July 20, 2012

Last Minute Thoughts...

Just wanted to let you all know that we are almost ready to take-off for Uganda!  We're on our plane (which is ginormous!) and waiting for everyone to board. 

I wanted to get out some last minute thoughts...

The past few weeks, I've had all kinds of crazy thoughts entering my mind - what if someone steals my passport, what if I get some crazy, funky disease, what if our plane crashes over the ocean?  what if I get arrested for something I didn't do and get put into prison for the REST of my LIFE!  Ahhh...

As I shared this with Chris, he said to me..."What if? God is in control and if that is meant to happen, then remember that you will be in eternity with God forever."  He has had to continually remind me over and over that even if the worst happens, I can rest in the fact that I will be with my Lord forever.  

I shared these crazy fears with my sweet girlfriends from my Beth Moore bible study, and for the past 2 weeks, they have been sending cards with verses to remind me that the Lord is traveling alongside of Chris and I during this trip.  I can't tell you how special this was for me and how it calmed my spirit.

God has been doing a work in me the past few months, and as we travel to do this missions trip, I am reminded of His faithfulness.  There is so much all around us that we have witnessed where we have been reminded of His goodness and mercy- with new marriages, new births, new jobs...God is faithful! 

Even as we walked along to get to our gate, we ran into a family that had adopted 3 children from Ethiopia and Malawi! Then a stewardess spoke to us and asked where we were traveling. We told her to Ethiopia and then Uganda.  She shared that she is adopting a little boy next month from Ethiopia and shared his photo.  God has been reminding us that we are right where he wants us.

We are excited to see what God has in store for this missions trip. 

We love you - thank you for your prayers and for your encouragement.  We'll try to write more during our trip, but for now...I'll leave you with the verse that has spoken to me the most -

July 10, 2012


......HERE WE COME!!!!

In less than 10 days, Chris and I will be on a plane, flying more than 7,900 miles to Kampala, Uganda to serve on a 7-day missions trip!!!!  Chris's company has asked him to do some business in South Africa and Ghana, so we are traveling there as well at the tail end of our trip.

Details (as we know it)

We will be traveling with our missions leader, Gary Darcus, who is the Director of Africa for Advancing Native Missions, and we'll be partnering with three different ministries while we are in-country.  When we arrive, we will be visiting a ministry called Back to Bible Truth which is led by an amazing pastor named Alex Mitala.  There, we will be serving at their school, the Good Samaritan School, which has nearly 1,400 students, many of whom are orphans. 

Our second ministry is our orphanage, Loving Hearts.  We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to be able to see where our child(ren) will come from, even before we adopt.

And lastly, we will be getting to do some home visits around Kampala with Pastor Samuel from Return Ministries to deliver food and to spend time talking and sharing Christ with  several families.  He is doing some awesome work in Uganda and we are excited to experience it firsthand!  

Trip Needs:
People have asked us ways that they can help.  Here a few things that we need for our trip:
  • $ to purchase 2 or more cribs while in country (Loving Hearts)
  • $ to purchase $5 school t-shirts (Good Samaritan School)
  • $ for home visit bagged food (We will be delivering this food to families in desperate need - Return Ministries) 
  • $ for trip costs 
If you are interested in donating items or $ towards these items, we have a tax-deductible fund that is available through Advancing Native Missions.  You can donate online, using these steps and this link: Advancing Native Missions

                        Donate to:      Specific ANM Department
                        Department:  Missions Trips
                        Contribution: whatever amount (don't put symbols, ie: 10)
                        Comments#500 GFA / Hoffman Missions Trip
                                    (Specify what you want the $ used for) 
                       Press "Checkout" on upper right corner - fill out fields & submit
You can also send checks to:

                      Advancing Native Missions
P.O. Box 5303
Charlottesville, VA  22905
                      Memo line: #500 GFA / Hoffman Missions Trip

Even more than these items, Chris and I NEED, NEED, NEED your prayers!  Please pray for safety and protection as we travel.  Neither one of us has ever been to Africa and are definitely feeling some jitters.  Pray that God will use us, humble us, and mold us through this trip. 


April & Chris