David Paparelli's Blog

Matthew 19:26

Mukama Yebazibwe

with 3 comments

Where do I begin?  The last three weeks have been challenging, eye opening, and exhausting.  From the time we got off the airplane until now, Vera and I have been to a Ugandan wedding, spoken at the Youth Ablaze conference, and visited both Hands of Love orphanages.  The first thing we had to do was adjust to the Ugandan lifestyle.

Adjusting was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  We did not know what to expect when we arrived in the Entebbe Airport.  Our plane landed, we got off, and we got into the line to get our visas.  The line did not look very long but it took forty five minutes for us to get to the window.  The man checking passports took our picture and hand wrote a receipt giving us permission to enter the country.  As unofficial as this process looked, we were allowed to enter Uganda and that’s what was important.  Vera and I picked up all of our bags without an issue and made our way to the exit.

We passed through the exit and we were greeted by Pastor Elijah and several members of his team.  They were holding signs welcoming us to their country.  One of the signs was the poster for the Youth Ablaze conference that was going to be starting in a few days.  It had me and Vera’s picture on it and I was listed as a speaker.  This is about the time I became painfully aware that in a few days I would be speaking to 1500 Africans about financial management.

I had no idea what I was going to say.  I was asked to give three thirty minute talks about finance three days before I left for Uganda and one week before I was supposed to speak.  The only things I knew about my audience was that they were between ten and forty and were African.  So I knew nothing about them.  Not knowing your audience makes preparing a speech incredibly difficult.  Thankfully, Elijah has eight kids that are the same age as the majority of the people that attended the conference.  I talked to a few of his kids and found my content.  Now I just had to prepare my speeches.

All my preparation took place at Elijah’s house while adjusting to his family’s way of living.  We drove from the airport to the Pastor’s house at around 11:30 pm and it took an hour and a half to get there.  Since it was dark we did not get to see much of Uganda.  All we got to see was how insane the drivers are here.  Motor bikes are constantly weaving in and out of traffic, bicyclists are doing the same, and all the while trucks and cars are slamming on their breaks and swerving out of the way.  This is the reason 17 people die a day from motor bike accidents in Kampala alone.  If you are ever a tourist in Uganda do not take a Motor Border/borda borda (Motor Bike ride) to your destination.  It may be cheap but you are likely to get injured.

Vera and I made it to the house unscathed and we were welcomed into the home we would be staying in for the next nine weeks.  The house was and still is under construction, but what had been built was really comfortable.  As I said before, it was much easier adjusting than we thought.  Ruth had prepared us a great Ugandan dinner of slow cooked meats, rice, and potatoes.  We were shown our rooms and the facilities.  Everything looked comfortable so we ate and then went to sleep.

We woke up to find out that we were going to be resting up all day and adjusting to the time change.  I started talking to one of Elijah’s sons about the speech and we were able to outline the entire thing.  I could finally start preparing!  It was too bad that there was no time.

The next day we headed to eastern Uganda for a wedding.  Elijah was marrying one of his pastors.  The drive was four hours long and on the way we picked up Frankie (a member of the team from Atlanta).  Frankie (the international evangelist) made it in the night before and was revved up and excited to start preaching.  The drive was bumpy and was our first glimpse of Uganda.

The overwhelming desperation of the people here is unbelievable.  People walk for miles looking for water, there were over thirty thousand wandering children in the district we were in, and people lucky enough to have a home lived in a mud hut.  The wedding was in one of the poorest districts in Uganda and people still dressed there best.  People who have absolutely nothing were wearing suits and ties.  The bride and groom were dressed in the same thing an American bride and groom would be dressed in.  I can’t draw too many comparisons to American weddings because I have never been to one.  This was actually the first weeding I was invited to.

It was a great experience.  I got to see Pastor Elijah in action for the first time.  He married the couple, spoke about the importance of marrying one woman and staying faithful, and the bride, groom, Pastor Elijah, and the witnesses signed the wedding contracts right in front of the congregation.  I filmed as much as I could because I wasn’t sure when I was going to get to go to another Ugandan wedding.  We got back to the house late and rested the next day.

Youth Ablaze 2010 was starting Sunday evening and I was supposed to make a speech on Monday.  It was already Sunday and I had to get my materials together so I could talk the rest of the week.  Thank God Bill Leonard gave me materials for my speech before I left for Uganda because I did not have internet access most of the week.  Most, if not all, the material for my speeches were found in the few books Mr. Leonard gave me.  By the time I went to bed that night I had my first speech ready to go.

Elijah told me that I would be the last speaker of the evening on Monday.  Monday, which was the first full day of the conference, was too much to handle and, for that matter, everyday after that was as well.  My speech was postponed because Frankie started healing people through the Holy Spirit.  I can’t go into too much description about this because I don’t understand it.  I don’t think anyone truly understands it.  What I will say is that night he focused on people with migraine headaches and several testimonies came out of it.

As a result of the extra time, I had another night to prepare my speech.  I was now put on the schedule for Tuesday morning.  Tuesday morning came quickly and my first speech went well.  Pastor Elijah told me I sounded a little bit nervous for the first five minutes but eventually came into my own.  I think the entire week went like that for me, Mike, Frankie, and Vera.  We all came into our own.

Mike was well prepared for all of his speeches and was truly amazing.  Pastor Elijah would tell him it was time to go up and speak and Mike would go.  Mike knew he would speak everyday but rarely knew the exact time he would speak until the day of.  On the last day He did not know he would be speaking twice.  Mike had sat down and was thinking he was finished for the week when Elijah asked him to give another forty-minute talk.  Without any hesitation Mike got up and took the stage.

Frankie continued to praise lord and truly set the people in the conference ablaze.  He refused to let people in Uganda out praise him and I have to say they never did.  Pastor Elijah gave him the new title of International Evangelist Frankie Vega and Frankie lived up to it.  The man showed great faith in the Lord and was able to show the power of God all week.  Everyone could not help but smile when the international evangelist took the stage.

I was just trying to keep up these two guys the whole week.  Everyone told me that I did a good job, but I will have see the tapes before I know for sure.  My talks ended up being about a biblically based form of budgeting, saving, and what to do with the money once it was saved.  Having talked to Elijah’s family and gotten a perspective on the Ugandan people helped me tremendously and all of the prayer helped even more.

After the conference everyone rested for two solid days before we continued on with our mission trip.  Our next item was to travel all the way back to eastern Uganda to see the Namadhi Orphanage.  We drove four hours out to the orphanage to see the work that was going on and the children being supported.

This was the first orphanage that Elijah and his wife Ruth built.  It is in an area with no electricity and some of the worst poverty in all of Uganda.  On the way to the orphanage we stopped and handed out soap to some of the locals.  This gave us the opportunity to see the conditions that some of the people live in.  70% of Ugandans are under 18 so most of the people we were serving were kids.  All of the people we saw in this community were in terrible condition.

Most, if not all, of them were malnourished, living in mud huts (if they were lucky), some were limping, some had what appeared to be tumors, and they were all happy to receive just a bar of soap.  If this did not put life in perspective enough, seeing the quality of life the orphans at the orphanage had in comparison was astounding.

The orphans welcomed us by rushing our van and chanting ‘welcome’.  They all looked healthy and happy with muscles on their arms and new clothes.  We met the principal of the school and some of the staff and then we sat down to hear the schools chorus sing.  They had added our names into songs, which made us truly feel most welcome.  All of them sang beautifully and danced their hearts out.  Elijah gave us a short tour of the orphanage before we had to jump into the car and rush back to Kampala so Frankie could catch his flight.

Frankie managed to make it on to his flight and back to the states safely.  Mike’s departure date was coming closer and he had yet to do the one thing he wanted to do while he was in Uganda.  He had not seen his little girl.  Mike and his family sponsor a girl in the organization’s other orphanage.  Elijah finally took us to see Joy.

The children welcomed us the same way they did at Namadhi.  Even though it was the same welcome Mike reacted much differently when he saw Joy there.  He gave her a hug and some gifts from the family.  I think he knew the impact he was having on this little girls life and yet, like everything else in Uganda, he could not believe it until he saw it.  The realization in both their eyes when they met each other was incredible.  Joy finally met her dad and Mike met his girl.

The entire time we were at the orphanage Mike was either holding Joy’s hand or holding her in his arms.  Anytime one of the other children tried to get Mike’s attention Joy pulled him away.  It was an amazing moment to witness and I know Mike wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I met my parents sponsored kids and got to know them a little bit, but I had to keep in mind that I would be back and this day was about Mike and Joy.  I will let you know more about my Ugandan brothers and sister when I get to spend more time with them.  With this entire week and the powerful images it had engraved in our minds it was time to get back to work.

Mike had one last thing to do before he got on the plane to go home.  He had to meet with me, Vera, and Pastor Elijah to try and get the rest of me and Vera’s trip situated.  We had a six-hour meeting with Elijah, which safely resolved many issues.  The Americans were now informed about the entire organization and we knew where to start working.

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Written by davidpaparelli

September 8, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Uganda

3 Responses

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  1. Thank you David for taking the time to bless us here in the USA. I continue to pray for you and we are all so proud of you and Vera. love, dad

    Charlie Paparelli

    September 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm

  2. Great Video! That was a lot of fun – I can’t wait to meet Frankie someday. Thanks for sharing. Say Hi to Pastor Elijah, Ruth, the kids and of course Vera! You both look like you are in your “element”. You didn’t know you had a speaking style or an element. Did you? Love, Mom

    Kathy

    September 8, 2010 at 6:30 pm

  3. You will be happy to know that the UM alumni association here is a blast to watch football games with! Hope you’ll continue to update the blog- you got my hopes up last week when I got a blog update AND an actual conversation with you.

    Hilary

    September 13, 2010 at 2:22 am


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