Sunday, June 26, 2011

From a different perspective...

Fellow bloggers Nick and Jaklin also kept a record of our trip to Uganda.  Click here to read about our trip through their eyes.

Thank You

Dear Friends,
I have been back from Uganda for about 3 weeks, and I want to thank you for joining me on this trip through your prayers and encouragement.  It was a great honour for me to go and see in person what God is doing in Uganda.  Thank you for participating in His work there through your prayers!  The people of Uganda thank you!
I hope you all get a chance to view my pictures (if you need the links to the online photo albums, let me know).  I feel that they really tell the story of what I saw and did better than I can tell you in words.  However, I do plan to update my blog with a few stories from the trip.
Here's a few pictures for you:
My sisters in Kampala, at Church on the Rock
Acholi children attending class in a mud school in Bul Kur
Me with Desire, who is both a teacher and the local health officer in Bul Kur
Our team in front of the new Galileo School
Desire and I in clinic, bandaging this man's foot wound
Elephants drinking from the Nile River
With love,
Katie Joy

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Hi everyone!  I am writing this from the Gulu in northern Uganda.  My team and I made it up here on Monday afternoon- it was quite the road trip.  We crossed the Nile river, saw baboons on the side of the road, and had what felt like several near death experiences as we passed big trucks within inches!  Our driver is excellent though, and he has done a great job.
We stayed at the historic Acholi Inn in Gulu for two nights.  For two days, we traveled out to Bul Kur and saw the brand new Galileo School!  It is a beautiful white building with a blue roof.  We were greeted there by all the children (about 150 of them), who lined up along the yard of the school and clapped and sang as we drove in.  The community also prepared a welcome ceremony for us, including speeches, testimonies, singing, and dancing.  Some of the women sang original songs about the Galileo School and Pastor Jackson (the country director).  We were told that when the Acholi people put you into a song, it means you are in their hearts.
During our time in Bul Kur, we had a field day with the children filled with fun games.  We also did Bible lessons and health lessons with the children there.  I taught a health class to about 100 parents, and we did a short health clinic one afternoon.
On Thursday morning, we departed from Gulu for Apac.  We explored the community there as a potential site for the second Galileo School.  The hotel we stayed in consisted of about 7 round huts.  Each room contained a bed with a mosquito net and a bathroom where the shower water covered the entire room!  Our liason there was Pastor Steven, a very nice man who showed us a primary school and a half-built school where we planted trees in honour of our visit.  We met with the church of Apac and shared testimonies with them.  The next day we did games, Bible lessons, and health lessons with the children in the primary school.  Afterwards, Steven took us out to visit a school of about 400 children, and then to a remote village (we drove our van down a bicycle path to get there) where we visited with the local church and ran a short medical clinic.  I tested about 9 people for malaria and gave out malaria treatments to 4 of them!
This morning we came back to Gulu and checked into the Pamelo Crown Hotel- we couldn't use the Acholi Inn tonight because President Museveni is visiting Gulu and booked the whole place!  This afternoon we went back out to the school in Bul Kur and did more medical clinic. 
Tomorrow we'll get to go out to Bul Kur to worship with the church there and then do more medical clinic.
So that's the scoop!  Thanks for your prayers- we sure appreciate them!
Katie Joy

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Greetings from Kampala, Uganda!  Thank you for all your "safe travel" prayers- they worked!  We arrived safe and sound and have already enjoyed a full day here.
We had a slight flight schedule glitch which, in my opinion, turned out to be a blessing.  Our flight out of Brussels to Entebbe had been cancelled and we were rescheduled to fly the next day.  This allowed us a full 24 hours in Brussels, which was amazing!  As soon as we checked into the hotel, we headed for downtown Brussels to see the sights.  We ate chocolate, drank coffee, admired the architecture, and most importantly, had the chance to get to know each other a lot better.  I got to hear about how each team member got connected to this trip and about their heart for missions.  Terrific!
The next morning we got on our plane and had a rather rough all-day flight to Entebbe (including a brief touch down in Kigali, Rwanda).  We arrived in Kampala that night.
This morning we got up and set off for a day of worship with Church on the Rock Kampala.  It always delights me to get to spend time with the Church in different countries.  I get to meet my brothers and sisters in Christ, and there is so much joy in those meetings!  We had enthusiastic singing and dancing, followed by preaching.  Six of our team members preached, including me!  Actually it was more like sharing from my heart what God's been teaching me than a sermon.  We wound up with prayer and lots of hugs and picture taking with our new friends.  What a great day.
Tonight we'll rest up and then tomorrow morning we will head out for Gulu.  We'll be staying in Gulu for a couple days.  Each day we'll drive out to Bul Kur, where the Galileo School is located.  We'll have a grand opening ceremony, a field day for the children, medical teaching and clinic, and meetings with the community.  We appreciate your prayers!
With love,
Katie Joy

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Prayer Requests

Hello to all you wonderful people who have made me feel so thoroughly supported and sent on this mission trip!  I am leaving today!  Thank you for all the prayers you have prayed already.  Here are my prayer requests as my team departs:

-          Safe travels; peace and calm while traveling
-          That God would both speak through us and speak to us as we meet with His church in Kampala, Uganda
-          For a fun celebration of the opening of the first Galileo School
-          That God would give me wisdom as I hold medical clinics and do health teaching
-          That God would use us to share the Gospel with those who are not Christians, as well as to strengthen and encourage the Christians there
-          For wisdom for the Galileo School board as they meet with village communities and scope out the location for the next school

The names of the team members are: Scott and Georgianna Noel, Chris and Abbey Carter, Jaklin Kaden and Nick Upathum, and Anne Cates.

Here’s a tentative itinerary for what we’ll be doing over the next 17 days:

-          May 21-22: Meet with Church on the Rock in Kampala
-          May 23-25: We’ll be staying in Gulu and spending our days in Bul Kur at the school.  There will be a field day for the children, medical clinics, and meetings with the community
-          May 26-27: We’ll be staying in Apac, holding medical clinics and meeting with the community.  This may be the site of the next school.
-          May 28-29: We’ll travel to several villages scoping out sites for future schools (Lira, Barlonyo, and Kitgum)
-          May 30-June 2: Vacation at Murchison Falls
-          June 3-4: Return travel to US

Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  I will take your greetings to your brothers and sisters in Christ in Uganda; and I will come back with a full report!

With love,
Katie Joy

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Galileo School

I’d like to share with you a little more about the organization I’m going to Uganda with: The Galileo School.  It’s been really neat for me to hear over the last few months about how God has been working in people’s lives to bring the Galileo School into being.  What I will share here comes from conversations with the founders (Scott and Georgianna Noel) and from what I read on their website ( 

Scott Noel is a businessman from Dallas.  Georgianna is a “missionary kid” who grew up in Kenya.  After they met and married, God brought a refugee family from the Sudan into their lives.  As they became involved in this family’s life, Scott learned that they had a great desire to return to their home in the Sudan.  Out of curiosity, he tried to find their village on the internet.  Because of the terrible conflicts that have gone on in that country, all he could find were pictures of destroyed, burned, and bloody villages.  As Scott said when he saw all this destruction, he realized that he “couldn’t let this sort of thing happen on his watch.”  God was working in the Noel’s hearts to somehow help war-torn communities in Africa.

Scott and Georgianna decided that one way they could help with the huge needs in Africa was to provide education to children in war-torn communities.  They believe that by providing top-notch education, they will be giving the community an opportunity to rebuild itself from devastation.  One of the things I love most about their vision is that it is holistic and involves the participation of the community.  Not only are they building schools and providing education for children, but they are partnering with villages and helping the community to get back on its feet with farming, clean water, and health care.

The most visible and exciting part of their ministry right now is that the first school has just been completed in Bul Kur, Uganda.  The Noels picked Uganda because of its history of having the longest running civil war in Africa.  The war is over now, but northern Uganda was devastated by it and most of the schools were destroyed.  Most children must walk 3-5 miles to go to school.  Some of the older children are able to walk that far, but it is a struggle for the younger children who need a good start in their education.  So the first school has been built in the remote village of Bul Kur, and now 200 children will have good education close to where they live!

Isn’t God’s grace wonderful?  I can’t help but delight in stories like this where He graciously works in the lives of regular people, just like me, and uses them to do His work!

I would highly recommend going to this link and watching the short videos where you can see some of the progress on the school in Bul Kur:  And here you can see pictures: 

And when I come back, I’ll bring you more pictures of the completed work!

A Brief History of Uganda

I was intending to make a post about the history of Uganda, but this article on Wikipedia summarizes it pretty well (and why reinvent the wheel, right?).  Here's the link:  If you are interested in how Uganda developed into its current day situation, check it out.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Video Links

A couple posts back, I told you that when I decided to go on this trip to Uganda, I realized that I didn’t know a lot about the history of Africa.  Reluctantly, I must admit that I am only slightly more familiar with the current events of the past few years. 

What better place to get your education than YouTube, right?  As I was preparing, I watched several videos on YouTube that helped me understand the situation in Uganda and what the people there have been experiencing. 
I have posted the links below, with a short description of each.  I want to let you know that watching these particular videos will not be easy.  They will break your heart and make you want to cry (and maybe want to vomit- they are graphic).  Why would I post this harsh material for you to view?  I want to recommend that you watch these videos because I think it’s important for us to know what is going on around the world outside of North America.  I also think it’s helpful to know what our brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing every day.  How can we pray for them and actively help change their living conditions if we don’t know about them?
1. War Dance
War Dance is a feature-length documentary about a group of school children from the Patongo displacement camp in Northern Uganda.  The film documents their journey to compete in a national music festival- I absolutely loved the music in this film!  You can watch it in 10 parts on YouTube.  This film contains interviews with children who share graphic stories.
2. Uganda Rising
Uganda Rising is a documentary about the sufferings of the Acholi people during the guerilla war with the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda.  You can watch it in 9 parts on YouTube.  This documentary is the most graphic one I watched- it contains interviews with graphic descriptions of events as well as graphic images.
3. Invisible Children
This is a home-grown documentary made by the men who founded Invisible Children.  You can watch it in 6 parts on YouTube.  This was probably the least graphic video I watched, but still contains very hard material.  This is probably the most fun to watch, because it’s about regular people like you and me who didn’t know what they were doing, but went to Africa, saw a problem, and did something about it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

God is Working

Eek!  In only 20 days from today, I will be spending my first day in Uganda!  The spring has sped by, and now there are only two and a half weeks left before my departure date.  I am now in the midst of shopping for travel necessities, packing, and praying for peace in Uganda.
I want to share with you how God has been working and providing for The Galileo School and for this trip over the past few months. 
A couple months ago, Scott Noel (the director of The Galileo School) asked me to check out a medical supply company called MedShare.  I researched the company and found out about the really cool mission they have!  MedShare collects surplus medical supplies that would otherwise become trash.  They collect and process supply donations from hospital systems and medical manufacturers.  MedShare then ships 40 foot medical containers to clinics and hospitals in countries where supplies are desperately needed.  They also provide smaller donations for short term medical mission trips…that’s us!  So I went through the application process The Galileo School was approved for a donation!  We received a 100 pound donation (about 2 suitcases worth) of dressing supplies, bandaids, thermometers, gloves, and other items.  We will use these items in medical clinics in several towns in Northern Uganda.  Thank you MedShare! 
On top of the medical supplies, Scott and Georgianna also received a donation of medicines such as ibuprofen, Tylenol, allergy medicine, and vitamins.  Another couple who will be going on the trip, Nick and Jaklin, ran a school supply drive at SMU and collected crayons, notebooks, and other supplies to take to the children attending the Galileo School in Bul Kur.  God is providing!
We have another fundraising opportunity this week.  If you know my family, you know how I was brought up to love playing board games.  Well, those games are going to be put to good use this Friday night!  I am hosting a game night with my church group.  It’s a social event with purpose: instead of going out and spending money on dinner and a movie or concert, come have fun with friends and donate whatever you would have spent to The Galileo School!  I would appreciate your prayers for this event.
God has also provided time and wisdom in planning for the medical component of our trip.  Last week I took a day off and got to spend it forming a medical lesson plan.  We’re going to have the opportunity to do some health teaching with the people in Bul Kur and Apac.  I have a very helpful book called Where There Is No Doctor, written specifically for health workers in remote villages.  We will be teaching on topics such as germs (what are they, how do they affect us), personal hygiene, clean water, latrines, and HIV.  Thank you for praying for me as I worked on this lesson plan.  Please continue to pray that we would be able to communicate in a way that the people of Uganda would understand.  Pray that the information we share would be useful and health would improve because of what we taught.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"The Africans"

When I decided I was going to Uganda, I realized that I know very little about Africa. I don’t remember studying much about Africa in school. I started to wonder about its history and culture, and how it has come to the place it is today. I love to read, so I figured the best place to start was Half Price Books! Sure enough, I found a wonderful book for $1 in the clearance section! I read The Africans by David Lamb.

I would definitely recommend this book if you want to learn more about Africa. Although not the most up to date (it was published in 1984), it is written from the first-hand experiences of a reporter who traveled all over Africa for 8 years, experienced life on the continent, met many of Africa’s leaders, and gained insight into the African culture. The book is like a collection of essays on different topics such as Africa’s history, culture, economy, wars, journalism, and health care (my favourite).

The concept that stuck out most to me from this book is the African’s outlook on life. They have a phrase, “Shauri ya Mungu” which means “It’s God’s will.” The author calls this attitude fatalism- whatever will be will be. And in one sense, this is an appropriate name because sometimes this attitude keeps the African people from accepting positive change (i.e. vaccinations, clean water). However, I think fatalism is a harsh name for an outlook that helps people go on in a very uncertain life. Africans have so much instability and suffering in their lives- so much that I have a hard time imagining myself in their position. My suffering is a drop in the bucket compared to theirs- and yet I find myself questioning God as if I have a right to escape all disappointment and pain. The agony of emotions that goes along with such questioning can seem crippling. The Africans suffer beyond what I can imagine, and yet they are able to accept their suffering and go on without blame and with gratefulness for life. That is quite amazing. I look forward to seeing what this is like in real life.

The chapter on healthcare in Africa stirred both excitement and sadness in me. Sadness because there’s so much need and so much suffering. Excitement because I get to go and help, if God wills. We’ll be holding clinics in two or three locations in northern Uganda. We’ll also be holding health education classes. I believe that health education is the most impactful way that I can attempt to help the people we will see. I hope that I can communicate the basics of health and disease in a way that the people will both understand and accept. I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and guidance as I do research and formulate a health curriculum. Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Maps of Uganda

Whenever I am getting ready to travel, I love looking at maps and getting a perspective of where I'm going in the world in relation to the continent, other countries, and how far I will be traveling while I'm there.  So if you're maps-oriented, you'll enjoy this post.

Here's a map of Uganda in relation to the world and Africa:

Here's a map I made in Google maps of my flight path:
We'll be flying from Dallas to Chicago, to Brussells in Belgium, and then to Entebbe in Uganda.  If you want to play with the map in Google, click here for the link.

Here's another map I made of where we will be traveling within Uganda:
The airplane symbol in Entebbe is where we will land.  We will then visit a church in Kampala, the capital.  The two medical symbols are at Gulu and Apac, where we will be holding medical clinics and doing health education, among other activities.  The Galileo School, which is in the process of construction, is located outside of Gulu in Bul Kur (but I couldn't locate Bul Kur on the map).  The camera icon is Murchison Falls, where we will be doing some sight-seeing.  Again, if you want to see the map in Google, click here.

I hope to add more details to these maps during my travels, so stay posted!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Considering God’s work around the world brings such joy to my heart! I am amazed by the scope of His love- from personal to universal. Over the past year, God has been going deeper with me into how personal His love is for me. But God’s personal love is not only for me…it is for people of all cultures in all countries! I am continually delighted by updates on how His love is being shared by friends in America, Canada, China, the Ukraine, Mexico, India, Germany, and now Uganda. This year, God has given me a new opportunity to share His love in Uganda.

Just to give you an idea of how this started….I have been on several mission trips in the past, and had the opportunity to do medical missions twice in college. When I went to India in 2009, we did one day of medical missions and I was reminded of how much I love to minister to people through nursing. So last summer, I started to have a desire to do another medical mission trip. After casually mentioning to my Dad that I needed to make Africa my next travel destination, Scott and Georgianna Noel came to my church to talk about their upcoming mission trip to Uganda.

Scott and Georgianna Noel started an organization called The Galileo School in 2008. They are currently building a school in the village of Bul Kur in Northern Uganda. Uganda is suffering from the after-effects of a 20 year civil war in which almost the whole population of Northern Uganda was displaced from their homes. Refugees in their own country, these people were forced to live in displaced people camps for years. Conditions in and out of the camps were terrible. Inside the camps the people suffered disease, starvation, and poverty. Many people were murdered and many children were kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers. The civil war is now over and the people have been forced to return “home”, but their homes have been destroyed and their country ravaged. The vision of The Galileo School is to help provide a future for the people of Uganda by providing an education for their children.

I will be joining the Noels and several others on a trip to Uganda in May. The school that is currently being built in Bul Kur will be finished in May, so we will be there for the dedication. We will be visiting with and encouraging believers in Kampala, Gulu, Apac, and Bul Kur. The part of the trip that I’m most excited about is the medical part! We will be serving the community by providing health education and medical clinics in several locations. We will also get to do some sight-seeing, including a trip to the source of the Nile and Murchison Falls.

I would love it if you would join me in this through your prayers! Here’s what you can pray for:

• Pray for the people of Uganda, for physical and spiritual peace in their lives

• Pray for the building of The Galileo School in Bul Kur

• Pray that God would provide for the needs of the many orphans attending the school in Bul Kur

• Pray that God would direct our trip and work out all the details

• Pray that God would give me wisdom in developing a health curriculum and preparing for the medical clinics

• Pray that my heart would be open to learning about who God is and what He wants to do in my life through this trip

I will continue to update this blog with more details about the trip (a taste of what’s to come: prayer request updates, maps, video links, Uganda history, more about The Galileo School). I hope you enjoy the updates!