In Our Own Words

For a taste of what the 2013 pilgrimage to Uganda was like, see the articles below, which were published in our parish bulletin.

studentsMy Ugandan Experience

by Jan Hanson, Twinning Committee

If someone would have told me that I would be traveling to Uganda, Africa this past summer I would not have believed them and I would have wondered WHY?! That question was answered many times over when my husband, Len and I, along with eight others visited our twinning sister parish of St Paul’s in Mukono, Uganda.

I start by thanking all of you who so generously support our sister parish and the projects that the people there are involved in. You have no idea what your support, whether it be monetary or spiritually, does to better their lives. The people of St. Paul’s are so very grateful for all that we do for them. I have never in my life met a more loving, caring and generous group of people as I did those two weeks of traveling to Mukono.

I learned from my new friends that even though many people we encountered lacked the things that we so often take for granted (like drinking water, electricity and toilets), they are so very happy. Hugs and smiles were the gifts that they shared with us…So many children stole my heart as we traveled to various schools that we as a church continue to support. We can only convey their thanks in the many pictures and videos that we wish to share with all of you in the near future. I hope that you are able to join us at that time.

The Men’s and Women’s Guild, as well as the Youth Group, have so many projects that they are involved in to better their lives. They are so proud of their accomplishments and kept thanking us over and over for our love and support.

As you can see, my question of WHY would I go to Uganda was answered many times over. I thank GOD every day for my experiences and new friendships.

Pictured: Students at Kasenge Primary School welcome us

school“Mway Buh Lay”

by Len Hanson, Twinning Committee

(That is “thank you to many” in Ugandan!) This “thank you” is from myself, Len Hanson, one of the many truly lucky and blessed to have traveled to Uganda on our twinning mission. Our friends and fellow parishioners in Uganda could not impress upon us enough to be sure to send their thanks, gratitude and love for everything that we here at St. Francis Borgia have graced them with.

It was truly a humbling experience, while also a rewarding journey! To see how LITTLE these people have, yet how peaceful, loving and happy they are, makes one pause and reflect on what is truly important in life.

Seeing the physical results of the support, both monetary and spiritual, that we have provided to St. Paul’s in Mukono, shows how worthwhile and valuable our twinning relationship is. Touring St. Francis Borgia HS, St. Paul’s nursery school, the piggery projects (there are many) and many satellite schools and churches shows what a little help can do.

When Father Yamid blessed the new well at the high school, the people could not thank us enough for water…yes, water! It was an eye opening experience. To see that the schools had, at least, some supplies, books, and other learning tools was very rewarding.

My greatest blessing of the whole trip was the children! They are so beautiful, happy and loving, yet they have so little. Through all of your generosity, we were able to take about 700 pounds of school, medical and recreational supplies to them. I will never forget how their faces lit up upon receiving a tootsie roll, super ball or Jesus bracelet. These were things that they had never had nor even seen. They couldn’t take their eyes off the crayons, markers and chalkboards.

So again, “Mway Buh Lay” for your prayers, generosity and blessings to the continued success of our beautiful twinning relationship with St. Paul’s of Mukono. Remember, “We are all God’s children.”

Pictured: A typical primary school classroom

highschoolUganda Pilgrimage Reflection

By Kara Simon, Twinning Committee

When I returned from Uganda, many people asked, “Was it everything you expected?” To which I thought, “What was I expecting?” Poverty? Starvation? National Geographic views? To an extent, yes, it was what I was expecting. It opened my eyes to what real life is for people who don’t rely on technology, money, or status to make it through every day. Instead, they value family, time spent with one another, and helping anyone in need.

The time we spent with the Ugandans will forever be a part of my life. They taught me how to cherish each moment…to truly live in each moment. The most important thing I learned is that we need to slow our lives down and enjoy what God has given and created for us.

I think the Ugandans live by the motto: Happiness is wanting what you have. They are so thankful for all you have done for them – giving them both spiritual and monetary support. They have accomplished astonishing things and have big dreams for their future.

I made lifelong friends in Uganda and, on their behalf, encourage everyone to make the pilgrimage to Uganda to experience an amazing, life-changing trip!

Pictured: St. Francis Borgia High School

plantingFr. Yamid’s Reflection on Uganda

By Padre Yamid Blanco Ariza, Associate Pastor

On June 18, I was part of a group of people from our parish who went to Uganda for two weeks. I personally had a lot of expectations, but also fears. Once I arrived in Uganda, those fears went away and everything I experienced was great.

The people, the food, the culture and how they live out their faith were very new to me. However, I learned something very important from them: “We have to enjoy every single moment with our loved ones while they are here, for when they are gone the only things that remain are the good memories.”

As the days passed, I was so afraid. Well, you might wonder, afraid of what? I was not afraid of any illness or wild animals. But I was so afraid that this wonderful experience would be over soon. And I would have to say good bye to them. That was the only fear I experienced day by day in Uganda.

Today I feel so blessed that God gave me the opportunity to live with our brothers and sisters in Uganda for two weeks. If I would have to go to Uganda tomorrow I would not hesitate to say yes. If you would ask me to define in three words my personal experience in Uganda I would say: “Life changing experience.”

Mis amigos, everything I experienced in Uganda was great. But if someone would ask me about the greatest experience I had in Uganda I would say: The greatest experience was being with the kids at the schools. Our goal was to bring a lot of supplies for the schools so we knew we would be giving. However, at the end of every visit I personally ended up receiving more than was given. Why? Because when I gave some supplies to the children I received hundreds of smiles.

I saw happiness in their faces. Their happiness filled my heart with a lot of happiness, as well. So I received more than what I gave. I received joy, happiness, gratitude, love, and thankfulness. My heart and life were filled with so much joy. The Uganda experience raised my spirit and enriched my spiritual life to a point that I cannot even express, but I feel it.

Pictured: Planting a Prunus Africanus tree at the Men’s Guild Eucalyptus tree project